The Gunner Government’s budget handed down yesterday was an exercise in financial mismanagement and misleading statements from a Government that has quickly proven it can’t be trusted to manage the Territory economy.
“I share the very real concerns raised by the Northern Territory Opposition Leader, Gary Higgins, about the spend-a-thon put forward by Territory Labor that has seen the deficit blow out to $1.3 billion next year and net debt spiral out of control to $5.5 billion in 2021,” Senator Scullion said.
“This is not the legacy a Government should leave for the children and grandchildren of the Territory to pay back.
“It is no wonder Territory Labor sought to mislead Territorians by enormously inflating its cut in GST revenue in order to blame the Commonwealth for its looming budget hole.
“Territorians should be able to expect sound financial management from its Government – and unfortunately all Chief Minister Gunner has delivered is a budget spend-a-thon not seen since the days of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments.
“Even worse, Chief Minister Gunner’s budget announces a number of Commonwealth-funded projects as if they were new items of expenditure by the Northern Territory Government.
“Out of the $200 million in roads funding announced by the Chief Minister, more than three-quarters ($154 million) is funding from the Commonwealth.
“For example, the Commonwealth is funding $62.3 million of the $78 million upgrade to the Arnhem Highway and $20 million of the $25 million upgrade of the Tablelands highway.
“I am at a loss as to how Chief Minister Gunner has mismanaged his budget to the point that he is trying to use Commonwealth funding announcements to offset the deficit that is spiralling out of control under his watch.
“I join with Country Liberals’ members Gary Higgins and Lia Finocchiaro to call on the Northern Territory Government to focus on opening up industries with high employment like energy and tourism rather than spending the hard-earned money of Territorians.”