Fiscal emergency: Get rid of Ministers, says Opposition


p2405 Gary Higgins SM2By ERWIN CHLANDA
Getting rid of some ministers and their bloated support staff, each team costing more than $1.5m a year, would be a good way too start tackling the government’s fiscal emergency, says Opposition Leader Gary Higgins (pictured).
“There is absolutely no reason there needs to be a Cabinet of nine. I hope the Chief Minister isn’t wedded to keeping his ministry at nine just to keep his restless backbench onside,” he says in a media statement.
“We need small government going forward and the Chief Minister needs to set an example from the top if he wants to change the reckless spending culture.”
The Opposition also suggests a freeze on executive recruitment.
Meanwhile the government says in a media statement that it has begun “a root and branch examination of Government expenditure [to] assess agency programs against the government’s key priorities of creating jobs and attracting investment; creating generational change which will reduce demand for government services in the medium to long term; increasing community safety and cohesion and enhancing transparency and integrity of government”.
Government chief executives will be required to appear before the Budget Review Sub Committee to show how agency programs align with these key priorities.
“Efficiencies identified will be announced as part of the Budget 2019 and will be focused on curbing expenditure growth to bring the budget into operational balance over the medium term,” says the statement.
Says Mr Higgins: “We are living beyond our means. Reducing expenditure growth from 6% to 3% is a small step but it is still growth and still needs addressing.
“It’s like just making the minimum payments on your credit card and continuing to spend on it.
“In 2012 we inherited a net debt of $3.5 billion. By 2016 we had reduced that to $1.8 billion. Now it’s projected to be $35.7 billion in 2029/30.”


  1. Good luck trying to cut spending. The NT public service has a large portion of its spending dedicated to our first people.
    Unfortunately (currently) they take up a larger than proportionate amount of time from our police, hospitals, prisons and a lot more services supplied by the NT Government.
    Their culture doesn’t meld with modern culture so we can’t expect to treat them with modern techniques.
    The question is how to we get a round ball to fit into a square hole? The answer to this will save many many millions and lives.

  2. How to we get a round ball to fit into a square hole? It is feasible and mathematically the round ball in a square hole fits easier and better that a cube in a round hole. The question is who is or are the round hole, the round ball, the square hole, the cube?
    We have unusual individualists (by our standards) who could or would not fit into a niche or category with our majority.
    May be we have to get outside the square we are in and see reality from a new perspective.

  3. Quite ironic that we rely on handouts from the Feds (GST) which are significantly higher than other jurisdictions due to our Aboriginal and mixed race population – yet that same group of people is costing far more than what we receive.
    And it is increasing at an unsustainable rate. Maybe we need to look at the duplication of services and programs based on race? Focus on genuine need absolutely (to use Manison and Fyles favourite word!) – but not services purely based on race.
    If we focus on REAL need – those that are ACTUALLY disadvantaged – might have some chance of dragging themselves out of the squalor, depression and poverty that they are entrenched in. Or we can keep doing the same things and getting the same results.
    Whatever happened to the ALP mantra of Fresh Ideas – Real Results?
    Guess that was too hard. Sigh.

  4. Since Federation the bureacracy has gradually increased its influence on the Parliament, in a way that our Federation founding legislators never envisaged in their wildest dreams.
    The NT experience is no different from the other States and Territories.
    The staffers and their extension the departments are like poison ivy, climbing and choking the Parliament.
    Prune them back and the good pollies will breathe and blossom, making their own decisions.

  5. I believe most NT public servants are NOT incompetent. I am sure most work as best they can.
    Australia wide public servants directly accountable to Government of the day, less to Parliaments.
    Political party dominance appears to reduce Parliamentary accountability of the government.
    Political parties seem to regard elections as a winner gets all, with reduced accountability.
    IMHO the NT needs to introduce selection of the NT Administrator by popular vote.
    A popularly elected Administrator should select eight ministers to manage “The Administrator’s” NT Government, with a maximum of one third of MLAs, from elected MLAs to ensure they remain accountable to the Legislative Assembly, thus to voters.

  6. @ Pseudo Guru. Politicians are not public servants. Public servants are defined as “employed under the Public sector Employment and Management Act”.
    Politicians are not employed under this Act, as they are elected.
    They have similar guiding principles, however it is important to understand that they are NOT public servants.
    In many Acts, the buck stops with the CEO of the agency, a “Minister of the Crown” cannot be prosecuted or charged for a failure or breach of an agency under their portfolio.
    They are not elected to “serve the people”, rather to represent the people. Small words, but big difference.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here