11 September 2017 NT News
TAX incentives to encourage populating Northern Australia will be raised by Chief Minister Michael Gunner and a major business delegation in Canberra this week.
Mr Gunner has already raised the issue with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Northern Australia Barnaby Joyce and received support from one key North Queensland Liberal MP, Warren Entsch.
“(There has) been early conversations with the Deputy Prime Minister at how the tax zone rebate works in the north,” Mr Gunner said. “It hasn’t changed or been touched in a very long time.
“How can we structure that in a way that builds our population?”
Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd floated the idea of incentives during the 2013 election.
Influential Liberal MP Warren Entsch has swung behind it suggesting his colleagues would support the Territory move if there were certain provisos.
Mr Entsch’s electorate of Leichhardt takes in Cairns and Cape York.
He said the tax zones needed to be redefined so regional communities most in need benefited.
“The first thing is there has to be jobs,” he said. “There is no point creating tax incentives to move if there are no jobs.
“The other thing is that FIFOs shouldn’t be allowed to benefit from it. One of the problems is that because FIFOs were spending so many days in an area they were claiming it.
“I would want to see those who are supposed to benefit from it, benefit.
“If the Chief Minister can put a strong enough case then I am sure he would get support out of Queensland MPs. Cooktown, Rockhampton, Mackay they are all facing this challenge.”
A delegation of 150 Territory business leaders will descend on Parliament House on Wednesday at a function called #FacingNorth.
#FacingNorth is an initiative of a major business advisory group formed to promote investment in the Territory.
Group chairman Ian Kew said the event was about showcasing what the NT is about.
“We want to make sure our profile with Canberra politicians is high,” he said. “Half of them haven’t been to the NT and we want to show them the opportunities that exist in the NT.”
Mr Kew said business was taking the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with Parliamentarians.
The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will attend along with the Outback Wrangler Matt Wright. Arnhem Land singer Yirrmal Marika will perform.
The bipartisan Parliament House event has been co-sponsored by NT Senator Nigel Scullion and Solomon MP Luke Gosling. All federal politicians have been invited.
More than 300 guests will feast on Territory delicacies including crocodile and pearl meat, and barramundi washed down with a Green Ant Gin cocktail or a non-alcoholic Kakadu plum and Dragonfruit Spritzer.
Six Indigenous trainees under the guidance of Karen Sheldon will prepare and serve the food in Parliament House kitchens.
The estimated $80,000 cost of the two-hour event has been split between the NT Government and the business group.