Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has led Territorians to believe the Central Arnhem and Buntine Highways would benefit from $280 million worth of upgrades – but Budget 2018 has revealed the bulk of that funding is at least five years away.
Northern Territory Treasurer Nicole Manison said the vast majority of that funding ($210 million) doesn’t kick in until 2022-23 – at least two federal election cycles away – and is already part of the currently being negotiated new National Partnership Agreement for roads.
Ms Manison said while the funding is essential to the Territory, the Federal Government should be clear about its timing.
“Roads funding is critical to the Territory’s future, however the $5 million allocated in 2019/20 for each of the Buntine Highway and the Central Arnhem Road will barely touch the surface.
“The NT Government has fought hard over the past 12 months to ensure we get a fair deal for all Territorians, having had an estimated $3.4 billion cut from GST revenue over the forward estimates.
“We have decades of need and neglect to redress – in infrastructure, roads and remote housing – and if the Australian Government really wants to develop the North and close the gap on Aboriginal disadvantage, every dollar is needed.
“Our Government is investing $1.1 billion in remote housing to reduce overcrowding in communities, because we know this has an enormous impact on health, wellbeing and productivity.
“We are investing in the outcomes of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, because we know that this work needs to happen to deliver safer, stronger communities.
“We are investing in our cities and towns, revitalising the Darwin and Alice Springs CBD’s to attract more tourists and create more liveable cities.
“We are investing in infrastructure to create jobs because we know we need to grow our population to support businesses, build our economy and help restore our GST.
“I’m pleased by the recognition of the Federal Government that the drops in relativities over the past two years are unsustainable, with the recently announced funding top up.
“But we cannot relent on this issue because Territorians deserve the same access to services other Australians enjoy, and the impact of what we have lost in GST over the last two years will take many years to repair.
“I look forward to more constructive conversations with Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison over the next 12 months.”