The Northern Territory is banking on the development on a shale gas industry to restore the Government’s fortunes.
A gloomy independent report on the NT Government’s budget today said change was needed before debt spiralled out of control.
The Government appointed experts said a new strategy was needed to return the NT budget to a sustainable position.
Their interim report highlights the budget pain caused by GST reductions of $500 million per annum and the increased demand on government services.
The biggest blow of all was the wind down of the INPEX construction project.
The experts also said the Government strategy “assumed stronger payroll tax, stamp duty on conveyances and mining royalty revenue over the projection period, reflecting an expected economic recovery driven by an expanded onshore gas industry”.
The government this year abandoned its moratorium on the controversial use of fracking to extract gas deep in shale rocks.
Gas companies are already preparing new drilling in the new year in the Beetaloo basin south of Katherine.
The experts said their examination of the government’s plans showed it was rely on a medium term turnaround – from 2022-23 – “reflecting an expected economic recovery driven by an expanded on shore gas industry”.
Combined, these mounting pressures are pushing the Territory budget to unsustainable levels and revision of the Governments fiscal strategy is needed.
The interim report highlights the need for government, the public sector and the broader community to work together to exercise expenditure restraint and implement significant whole of government reform to keep budget pressure under control.
Territorians are invited to have their say on the interim report and contribute to priority actions, which will inform a final report to government in the lead up to the May 2019 budget.
For more information, or to have your say visit: www.treasury.nt.gov.au
Treasurer Nicole Manison said: “Times have never been tougher and we know that many Territory families and businesses continue to do it tough after four years of CLP chaos.
“But the future is bright and the Government’s priority remains on creating jobs and making every dollar count given we are facing enormous fiscal challenges.
“Unlike the former chaotic CLP government - who failed to plan for the Inpex construction wind down and who cut vital frontline services, hiked power prices by 30% and who sold off government assets - we will take an informed approach overseen by expert advice.
“I will be travelling interstate next week where I will be speaking with Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen about the Territory budget and getting a better deal for the NT.
“I will also continue to fight for every GST cent we deserve, because the Commonwealth GST reductions were so devastating.”
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