May 7, 2014

NT should brace for budget pain

Northern Territory residents should brace for a vicious Tony Abbott assault on health, education and welfare spending in the May 13 Budget.

With the Abbott Government struggling to reconcile its ideologically driven war on services with its pre-election promises of no surprises and no cuts to health and education, it is increasingly clear this will be a horror budget that will hurt average Australians.

The Government’s Commission of Audit released last week proposes massive cuts to services and support relied upon by average families and provides a glimpse of Mr Abbott’s real political agenda – an ideologically motivated attack on fairness in this country.

Ending universal health care, slashing growth in the minimum wage and limiting access to the aged pension will turn life into a misery for millions of Australians.

This is completely at odds with his election commitments.

As well as recommending savage cuts to services relied upon by the NT’s least-fortunate, the commission also proposed damaging cuts to tourism industry support, including halving funding for Tourism Australia and eliminating industry grants.

Tourism provides more than a million jobs for Australians and is the lifeblood of the NT, creating thousands of jobs and income for businesses.

The Abbott Government, which does not even have a Minister for Tourism, will kill the sector and cripple Darwin and the NT if it proceeds with these reckless proposals.

Rather than slashing spending, Mr Abbott should use the Budget to outline his plans for the next wave of infrastructure development for the NT.

Since last year’s federal election, Mr Abbott and his ministers its election have travelled the nation re-announcing infrastructure projects that were planned, funded and, in some cases, delivered by the previous Labor government.

The re-announcements have included the final stage of the duplication of Darwin’s Tiger Brennan Drive duplication, which I inspected today and which the previous Labor Government announced in August, 2012.