Now is the time to play to our strengths and act decisively – Opposition Leader Opinion Piece
The Territory went head first into COVID-19 with a crippled economy and extraordinary debt. Let’s not forget that. Under the Gunner Labor Government, the Northern Territory has consistently been the worst performing economy in the nation. Our debt was forecast to be $6.2 billion by July this year and that forecast was before COVID-19. That pre COVID-19 debt number is $25,000 for every man, woman and child in the Territory and the Gunner Labor Government has no plan to pay it back or even stop it from spiralling further. Territorians must have a Government with a vision and plan to rebuild our economy and chart a strategic course over the next decade. To plan for recovery, Territorians need the facts. Like the Territory, Queensland goes to the polls later this year. It will have a mini-budget that will publicise the books. The Gunner Government can do the same – but the Chief Minister refuses to. Now is the time to play to our strengths and act decisively. Whilst we have had a strong public health and safety response for COVID-19, the Gunner Government missed a critical opportunity. Right now the Government should focus on processing approvals for private sector investment. Now is the time for action. No investment approvals should be held up sitting on desks. Mine management plans, major projects, environmental approvals and planning approvals must be worked through. Just as importantly, the thousands of Territorians who have submitted applications for funding under various stimulus schemes should have their paperwork processed now to provide certainty to households and to tradies. Our goal should be that no one from the private sector exits COVID-19 waiting for the Government to act before they can take the next step. We need to put the ball back in the private sector court quickly. This crisis provides an opportunity to examine how we do business and reinvigorate our processes. We will peel back burdensome regulatory frameworks that increase the cost of doing business without measurable benefit to the Territory. COVID-19 has proved that when we need to move quickly, we can, and that we should be working tirelessly to simplify our regulatory regime across all sectors in the Territory to ensure that safeguards remain, but business is encouraged to be creative, take risks and invest. We must give business a reason to do business here. The can-do attitude of Territorians is one of our greatest resources, in fact it is what we are known for. We will get out of the way and let Territorians realise their full potential again and foster an ‘open for business’ attitude. My focus and that of my CLP team is on you and your future and that means we need jobs, safety and opportunity. We must focus back on our strengths as a Territory in order to rebuild our economy. That requires:
Investment in water security through preserving, capturing and storing water.
Utilising our red desert sun by thinking big at a time when our nation is searching for clean power.
We need to capitalise on our abundant, clean gas reserves, vast mineral resources, pastoral estate and agricultural land and the opportunity they provide.
We must take advantage of our proximity to Asia to support trade and innovation.
We must plan for the return of tourism. Nowhere boasts the spectacular landscapes, people, places and stories that we can share with our fellow Australians and in time, the world.
Liveability is key to our need to grow our population and so safety and access to a uniquely Territory lifestyle is core to our success.
If the Country Liberal Party is elected to Government this year, you can rely on my team to roll up their sleeves. We are the team for the Territory, we are your team and together we will rebuild.
Lia Finocchiaro Opposition Leader Leader of the Country Liberal Party
"Only together can we build a better Territory for you and your family.”
- LIA FINOCCHIARO MLA, Leader of the Country Liberal Party and member for Spillett