Article – Infrastructure tops NT budget wish list

9 May 2014
Neda Vanovac
Australian Associated Press General News
Money to build infrastructure in northern Australia tops the Northern Territory government’s wish list for next week’s federal budget.
“We need roads, we need bridges, and either it comes out of this budget or the next budget, we’ll wait and see,” Chief Minister Adam Giles said.
“We know they’re in a terrible fiscal position, they’ve got to be smart about how they spend money.”
At a strategic partnership forum on May 1 with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, WA Premier Colin Barnett and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, Mr Giles flagged three policy and three infrastructure plans for consideration.
“If we can’t get that infrastructure money now – although that’s what we want at the top of our wish list – let’s get some policy change to drive the future of the Northern Territory’s development,” he said.
NT Treasurer Dave Tollner said continued support from Canberra would “deliver a return in terms of increased investment and economic activity”.
He also hoped the commonwealth would maintain its funding commitments for indigenous programs.
The federal government’s National Commission of Audit recommended reducing indigenous bodies from about 150 to half a dozen, arguing there was excessive overlap and duplication between the commonwealth and the states and territories.
“These programs are of national significance, and I urge the commonwealth to continue to support these programs because … they are neither the sole responsibility of the Territory government or within its financial capacity to be the sole source of funding,” Mr Tollner told AAP.
The call to maintain infrastructure funding was echoed by NT Senator Nova Peris, who wants healthcare funding maintained.
“We’ve done a significant amount of work, particularly in remote communities in terms of primary health, and we can’t afford to go backwards in that area,” she said.
Courtesy of the AAP