The public can now grill pollies in Estimates


p2160-Natasha-FylesLETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – The Territory Labor Government will open up the Budget Estimates Committee hearings to everyday Territorians, businesses and organisations for the first time in the history of Territory Parliament.
Territorians, businesses and organisations will be able to send written questions about Budget 2017 to the Estimates committee, which will then be put to Government Ministers on their behalf by members of the committee.
The CLP and Independent members have made it clear that they have no interest in representing their constituents at the hearings, deciding to not show up to Estimates at all.
I have written to the Independent and Opposition members of the Estimates Committee, urging them to do the job they were elected to do rather than play politics with the Estimates process. They  have proven themselves redundant as an opposition, so we are inviting Territorians do it for them.
Territorians, Territory businesses and community groups will now be able to ask robust and probing questions of Government.
The NT Government has made significant changes to the parliamentary system to make it more transparent. Allowing the Estimates Committee to scrutinise government’s annual reports, which track the government’s delivery of programs against the budget, is an important part.
This was something that we flagged in August 2015. The Gunner government has further provided scrutiny by allowing questions on Wednesdays only from Opposition.
We have also extended General Business Day for Opposition and Independent parliament business, providing extra time and bringing the time forward to a mid-afternoon start. This provides for the public to attend and allows for television coverage during that evening.
Natasha Fyles (pictured)
Leader of Government Business


  1. Given that this is the first opportunity for the taxpayers to question the Budget 2017, it would be prudent, transparent and a show of good faith if the public were invited to a live forum, where they could ask the questions and get immediate answers.
    Writing in with questions gives the Government an opportunity to vet the questions and write an appropriate (correct according to the Government) answer.
    A live forum would test how committed the Government is to its policies, as they would be under pressure to answer the questions live.
    After all, if they really believe in what they are promising, answering live will not be an issue.
    Perhaps hold an open forum in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine and Darwin.
    The benefits of gaining (not regaining) the taxpayers trust would be a small cost, in the scheme of things.
    Inviting people to write in with their questions is also counting on peoples apathy, in that a lot of people won’t be bothered to write in.


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