Higgins calls Budget an enduring burden but builders are happy

p2239-Gary-HigginsBy ERWIN CHLANDA
The “wild spending” in the Budget will leave “a legacy of deficit, debt and interest repayments that will burden Territorians for years,” says Opposition Leader Gary Higgins (pictured).
“This is made worse because there is no plan to roll-back the deficit or to repay debt,” says Opposition Leader, Gary Higgins.
“Net debt will climb to $5.5 billion in 2021 – blowing-out the debt to revenue ratio from 36% to 87%.
“These are the debt levels the Country Liberals inherited from Labor in 2012 and worked hard to reduce. Manison’s Mastercard has returned unacceptable debt to the Budget.
“The vast majority of infrastructure spending is non-productive, won’t create long-term sustainable jobs and means, rather than generating wealth, operational costs will actually drain the Budget.
“It is bad enough that Labor has no plan to repay Manison’s Mastercard, but it is unforgiveable that they are actively turning away private investment dollars.”

Independent Member for Araluen Robyn Lambley says: “Putting the Northern Territory into debt to the tune of $5.5b over the forward estimates at a cost of over $1m in interest per day is not the hallmark of a responsible Government.
“In typical Labor style they have spent like there is no tomorrow and made little attempt to offset their spending with savings and creating additional revenue.”
However, the Housing Industry Association welcomes the ongoing commitments “that will help sustain activity and employment in the residential building industry,” says ED Neilia Humphries.

She names programs that will contribute to that as  the First Home Buyers grant for renovating existing homes,  the extension of the Home Improvement Scheme, further investment in public housing stock, the additional budget for the Immediate Works programs and  continued land release for residential development.
“Additionally the commitment to invest $1.75b in infrastructure is critical to supporting future development of the Territory and will improve confidence in the industry in the Territory,” she says.
“Combined with the introduction of the ‘Buy Local Advocate’ these Budget measures will be welcomed by the residential building industry.”
The Master Builders’ Dave Malone is even more enthusiastic, saying it was clear the government “will pull out all stops to meet challenges like falling local demand, population declines and significant reductions in GST revenue.

“A deficit of $1.3b, an Infrastructure Program of $1.75b, and a myriad of announcements in the run up to the Budget of new and potential projects say it all.
“They will go flat strap to turn the economy around … stepping in to replace some of the private investment that has evaporated in recent times.
“Of course, like any Budget, there were some decisions that raised concerns for our members. The most obvious is the unsustainable nature of the deficit,” says Mr Malone.
“We see it for what it is! A stimulus to push the economy forward, but it signals to everyone that the Territory will need to reach new heights in economic management in the coming years, if we are to dig our way out of a very big hole.”

Simon Bennison, of the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, says the Budget “confirms the importance of mining to the Northern Territory’s future.
“The Tennant Creek Mining and Mining Services Centre feasibility study recognises the long-term benefits of encouraging mining companies to get on the ground and start mining.
“The Budget forecasts that royalties are estimated to increase by $55m in the coming year – good news for the community, says Mr Bennison.
“In her speech, the Treasurer said $1.6b worth of resource projects are being developed in the NT.”


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