The Opposition Leader, Terry Mills, has attacked the Government’s budget as “big on debt and small on ideas” during his budget reply speech in Parliament today.
The Government yesterday unveiled a record $5.1 billion budget, with a deficit of $268 million – $94 million more than it forecast last year.
The Government’s net debt, which includes its superannuation liability, stands at about $900 million, and is forecast to rise to about $1.6 billion by 2014.
Mr Mills said the Government has misled the public by claiming that more spending means conditions are improving.
“We are told of a record spend in health, a record budget for education, more money for law and order,” he said.
“We’ve heard it again and again.
“Yet Territorians wait longer in hospital emergency departments; Territorians have the poorest performing education system in the country.”
He said the Government’s projected net debt has unnecessarily saddled every man, woman and child in the Territory with about $7000 of debt each.
During his speech, Mr Mills made a number of announcements about how the Country Liberals would tackle issues affecting Territorians if his party was in government.
He said tenants with mental, alcohol and behavioural problems are making public housing a nightmare for their neighbours.
He said a CLP government would spend $25 million establishing a public housing site for such tenants.
“The current systemic tolerance of people misbehaving in public housing must end,” he said.
“Our … housing policy would shift these families into a newly-constructed emergency housing and provide them with professional help and support to help them deal with these profound social problems.”
He also promised an early education literacy and numeracy panel, a series of prison farms and to reduce the number of Government spin doctors.
The Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, challenged Mr Mills to say how he would cut the Government’s spending to bring the budget out of deficit.
“Step up to the plate and show some courage of your convictions and actually say which programs you would cut, how many people you would sack.”