Country Liberals Senator for the Northern Territory, Nigel Scullion, has expressed his surprise and disappointment at calls from the Labor Party’s Katherine MLA, Sandra Nelson, to cut funding promised for the Nitmiluk Gorge Skywalk Project.
Ms Nelson told the Legislative Assembly in her maiden speech on 18 October 2016 that she wanted the $10 million allocated to the project by the former Country Liberals Government to be redirected to needier projects in Katherine.
Senator Scullion said it wasn’t a matter of “either-or” and it appeared Ms Nelson fundamentally misunderstood the way governments allocated money.
“This money has been allocated to Territory National Parks and to deliver on Ms Nelson’s ill-informed comments would require a significant cut to the budget of the Department of Territory Parks and Wildlife,” Senator Scullion said.
“I support improved social services in Katherine, but not at the expense of one of the Territory’s most important industries that employs more than 15,000 Territorians (over 10 per cent of the Northern Territory’s total employment).
“The former Country Liberals Government did much to diversify the Territory’s economy, particularly through a focus on increasing tourism numbers. In 2016, there was a 29 per cent increase in tourism numbers on the previous year.
“Given this success, it is particularly disappointing Ms Nelson chose as one of her first official duties to ask Chief Minister Gunner to refocus the $10 million away from the Skywalk project.
“The Nitmiluk National Park is already a magnet for tourists who visit to experience the stunning Katherine Gorge and if built, the Skywalk will provide an added incentive for people to visit the region.
“Ms Nelson’s comments sends a terribly message that the new Labor Government is not interested in tourism and Chief Minister Gunner should intervene to ensure the project goes ahead.
“Strangling economic growth in Katherine is the worst thing Ms Nelson could do to her electorate.”