Keeping up with the Canberrans

10 July 2019

Infrastructure spend and health funding were hot topics last week when the Opposition spent time with Federal Ministers in Canberra.

Opposition Leader Gary Higgins said maintaining a positive relationship with the Federal Government was vital.

"Unlike the Gunner Labor Government we work hard to ensure the Territory is front of mind in a positive way and in our meetings with Federal Ministers as we present positive opportunities that exist in the future of the Northern Territory," Mr Higgins said.

"Most notably were our meetings with Minister for Regional Development, Decentralisation and Local Government Mark Coulten and Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Nola Merino where we called for an acceleration of infrastructure investment, particularly for income producing investments like the Mango Roads, and bringing forward beef roads from 10 to five years.

"We also briefed them on the importance of indigenous housing and remote roads funding and the need to keep an eye on how Federal monies are being used by the Gunner Labor Government."

Mr Higgins said he invited Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price to the Territory to hear first- hand from industry on the capacity and capability they have to support defence projects, and met with Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt to discuss a range of issues including remote policing and the importance of recognising how communities function and hearing from Aboriginal Territorians what is important to them.

"We also discovered in a meeting with Minister for Northern Australia Matt Canavan that Federal Labor’s commitment to the ship lift project was on land that would need to be dredged at a significant multi -million dollar cost," he said.

"It wasn’t for the project as it currently stands – they wanted to shift it to a different area - more proof Labor cannot be trusted."

Health Minister Greg Hunt advised us the Commonwealth have increased hospital funding to the Northern Territory by 102 per cent, from 2013/14 to 2017/18, while the Territory has only increased funding by 42 per cent. He also said they plan to triple the funding by 2024/25. And if the NTG opens up beds at Palmerston Regional Hospital, the Federal Government will fund them through the agreed activity based formula. So much for blaming the Commonwealth for the Territory’s financial woes.

Mr Higgins also met with the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman and discussed the new arrangements which came into effect on 1 July giving international students studying at regional universities an additional year in Australia on a post-study work visa.

"We were in Canberra for three days, to coincide with the first sitting of the 46th Parliament, and didn’t see a single elected Territory Labor member," Mr Higgins said.

"We know how important it is to work co-operatively with the Federal Government, as distinct from the Gunner Labor Government who blame the Federal Government and the CLP for all the woes of their own making."