This is the full text of the Motion of No Confidence moved by Northern Territory Labor Party leader Michael Gunner in the Legislative Assembly earlier today, 1 December 2015.
After a full day of debate on the Motion it was put to a vote and defeated 13 votes to 9, with 3 Independent MLAs (Kezia Purick, Robyn Lambley & Gerry Wood) abstaining from the vote. Independents (former ALP leader) Delia Lawrie and Alison Anderson voted with Labor and Larisa Lee voted with the CLP.
I have posted this here in full primarily because it sets out Labor’s case against the CLP government and also contains Labor’s policy pitch for the coming election–early and not fully-formed as it is–that may be useful for future comparison.
I will post further speeches to this Motion as they become available and where I consider them relevant.
Madam Speaker, Today we are meeting as Members to talk about the future of the Northern Territory. The Territory confronts serious challenges. Successfully meeting them is crucial to delivering on our opportunities. The foundation for our endeavour as Territorians from all walks of life is stability and confidence in Government. It is on this foundation that we build our business confidence. It is on this foundation that we build our community confidence. People must trust their Government will listen to them and be fair to all Territorians
I believe that is part of the contract we have as public servants to the people. If Territorians cannot trust their government they will not have confidence in the Territory’s future.
Every day that goes by under an Adam Giles-led CLP Government we see the reputation of the Northern Territory diminished.
Our business community, our charities, our community sector volunteers … people who invest their time, money and confidence in the Territory … the basic thing they ask for is a Government they can trust, who will work with them and walk with them as we tackle our shared challenges. We do not have that in the Territory today.
We are currently ruled by an arrogant dictatorship more concerned with self-preservation than the best interests of Territorians.
Under the leadership of Adam Giles this CLP has destroyed the trust Territorians have in their Government with broken promises, salacious overseas travel scandals, failed midnight coups, corruption allegations, back-room deals, constant infighting and more.
That is why today I am asking you as Members to make a positive choice for the Territory’s future.
We can choose nine more months of arrogance and chaos under an Adam Giles led CLP Government or we can choose to trust Territorians. We can press the reset button
And provide Territorians the opportunity to decide who they have confidence in to be their local Member. Let candidates, independents, elected Members, parties put their case to Territorians.
I simply do not believe the Territory can afford nine more months of CLP rule. We need a fresh start. And the only people I trust to reset Government in the Northern Territory are the voters.
I trust Territorians. I trust them to get the decision right at every election. Over 3 years ago Territorians chose the CLP. Labor had served three terms and Territorians chose a new direction and Terry Mills.
They did not choose Adam Giles. They did not choose this CLP Government. This is not the CLP Government Territorians voted for
Today we are deciding if we have confidence or not in Adam Giles to lead the Northern Territory for the next 9 months.
Territorians deserve better than this Government. Territorians from all walks of life have urged me to do everything I can to fix this mess.
Up and down the track, east and west. As part of proving to Territorians that Labor can be a Government-for-all I believe it is crucial to show that we are an Opposition-for-all and I travel every week to meet and speak with Territorians.
From the red dust of Utopia to the island beauty of the Tiwis people are telling me we need a fresh start. Senior community and business leaders are telling me the CLPs incompetence is preventing the Territory from moving ahead. People are treading water, waiting for an election and the chance to move on.
We need stability and certainty and the CLP is incapable of delivering that. Territorians deserve the right to make sure the person representing them in Parliament is hard working, is listening, and takes their job seriously
This is the choice I am asking of Members – to put their trust in Territorians. That is what Labor will do, just like we do at every election.
If you agree with me – that 3 years of rule under Adam Giles has proven the Territory could not be in worse hands – then the next step is trusting in Territorians.
In the last three years we have seen decisions taken by Adam Giles in the name of Territorians without their permission, without consultation, by decree.
Three decisions stand out for their betrayal of Territorians:
– the rolling of the elected Chief Minister Terry Mills
– selling our TIO
– selling our Darwin Port for 99 years
We must see a return to Government decision-making that is grounded in consultation with Terrtiorians.
This is a Government that has betrayed the trust of Territorians. And the trigger for today’s no confidence motion in this Government has been a dirty deal, an arrogant decision and a botched act of vengeance.
Only a fortnight ago in this House we witnessed a Government descend into the kind of farce best reserved for the professionals of The Hollowmen or The Thick of It.
The Chief Minister decided … on the very first day that it looked like the CLP had the numbers on the floor … to execute the Speaker. This was a decision made on the back of a secret deal with the Member for Arnhem.
A deal Territorians still don’t know the detail of, do not know the price of, do not know what they are paying for. If it was above board we would know. The silence speaks volumes and scares Territorians. And on the back of that dirty deal an arrogant decision was made. An act of childish vengeance was attempted. It was five and a half hours of utter farce
Madam Speaker, Those five and a half hours have had a significant impact on the Territory that we all love. The message of this farce spread like wildfire through social media and media networks, through business and political circles, from ordinary Australians to people who actively make decisions that affect us in the Territory. What damage did those five and a half hours do to the national trust in the governance of the Northern Territory?
And it cannot be fixed in this term. It cannot be fixed by this Government. Adam Giles and the CLP are a laughing stock on the national stage. This House and all of its occupants were diminished in the eyes of the public once again by the CLP and in particular the Chief Minister. Once again the trust of Territorians in the governance of the Territory was dealt a body blow.
Madam Speaker, If Territorians cannot trust their government they will not have confidence in the Territory’s future.
Territorians who do not believe that this place is on the right track will pack up and take their skills and contribution elsewhere.
If you want any evidence for that look at our population statistics. In 2014 the Northern Territory lost 3500 more people to interstate migration than we gained.
That’s 3500 taxpayers with skills and a contribution to make to the future of the Territory. That’s 3500 people who won’t be spending their hard earned cash here on the businesses and shops of the Territory. They won’t be shopping locally, won’t be eating at the restaurants and pubs of the Territory. It’s 3500 people who will take their future somewhere else.
The Chief Minister dismisses this with a sweep of his hand saying we have always lost population – not true. Not true. The Territory Treasury’s own briefing papers show net interstate migration in the period from 2007 to 2010 was positive – the Territory gained more people from interstate than it lost. For a period of time in the mid 1990s this was also the case. In fact the current losses are the worst experienced for two decades. That population loss is rocking our businesses and our economy.
The CLP can put what spin they like on the economy but there are serious concerns in the business community about the loss of population and the loss of future markets.
It is making business nervous, conservative and they are cutting jobs. And once you get into the cycle of population loss, job cuts and more population loss you are on a dangerous path for a place with a small population base like the NT.
We must value all our Territorians, their skills, their knowledge, what they can contribute. It is critical for the government of the Northern Territory to give confidence to the people of the Northern Territory that they are in control, they have a plan and they are on the right track. We need to hit the reset button and give Territorians their voice back. Provide an opportunity for candidates, independents, elected Members, parties put their case to Territorians and for Territorians to provide a clear mandate for where they want the Territory to go.
Labor will put our case to Territorians with a comprehensive plan that has three clear priorities:
· Giving our kids the best start in life.
· Restoring trust, transparency and accountability.
· Creating and supporting jobs for locals and work for local businesses.
Most importantly, I pledge we will listen to Territorians and then act on their behalf. Labor is listening to Territorians in moving today’s motion and they have been clear. They are desperate to be heard. And they want a Government with a long term plan based on their voices. I promise they will see their voices in our plans.
Madam Speaker, We know that the CLP in debate today will tell you that the world is about to end.
The Chief has a standard line that he trots out about no experience. It’s not particularly clever. It’s not original. It’s not true. And Territorians have heard it all before. More importantly, Territorians have experienced an Adam Giles led CLP Government; they will not be afraid of making a change.
Madam Speaker, Let me deal with these issues. Labor governed the Territory for 11 years from 2001 to 2012. When we came to office not a single Member of the Government had ever been in Government. Our first Chief Minister, Clare Martin, a great Territorian, set the shape for what a Labor Government in the Northern Territory is, how it behaves. She told us all to trust the public service and work with them to grow the Territory. She told us all to go out and talk with Territorians and to stay in touch with people beyond the walls of the fifth floor of Parliament House.
She had regular business round tables – Labor will have them again in Government. She had community cabinet meetings, providing Territorians better access to Ministers and CEOs – and Labor will have them again in Government.
She was bold in her policy prescriptions for the Territory and visionary in looking to the future. That’s why she and the Cabinet ensured they took the baton from the previous CLP Government of projects like the railway and Conoco Phillips LNG and delivered them. That’s why she chased and got the Inpex Project, the Waterfront and the massive expansion of infrastructure expenditure right across the Territory.
Those exact same principles were taken up by Paul Henderson in his turn and delivered over the subsequent four and a half years.
Madam Speaker, the Labor Government also delivered 7 surplus budgets. Because sound governance is the Labor way.
For the CLP to suggest that these two great Territorians and Labor did nothing and drove the Territory backwards is both disrespectful and untrue.
The Members on this side of the House cut our political teeth in that environment and learned the lessons of responsible Labor government from those two great leaders. We are ready to govern for all Territorians again. And that is based on learning not just what we did well in Government but also from the mistakes we made. There is no question that in Government, Labor did make mistakes. Frankly Madam Speaker it is no secret that I believe we made a mistake in how we created Shires in the Territory. I have said so to the Land Councils and to community leaders. We didn’t listen and we should have. I am also prepared to say we made a mistake by not responding quickly enough to land release pressures. We moved to fix that but it was not quick enough. The CLP has changed the name of our policy from Housing for Growth to Real Housing for Growth and continued to implement it. Territorians have benefitted from that. But the advantage we have gained from being in and around a long term Labor government is that each and every one of us has learned what is required to run government properly.
We will listen, look at the evidence then act.
Madam Speaker, Labor has already announced a suite of policies, position papers and strategies with more to come. We have made it clear that we will focus our Government on children aged 0 – 4 in an effort to turn around the intransigent social issues that have bedevilled the Territory.
The evidence is clear – investing in our children is not just the right thing to do but the smart thing to do. Chronic illness, addictions, an unskilled workforce, high incarceration rates and more long term problems can all be significantly reduced by giving children the best start in life. Life long behaviours are learnt in the early years. We can make sure those are positive behaviours by supporting families and children so we don’t have to intervene in later years. We must make sure all children start day one, term one, year one, equal. We will make this focus even though it will take decades to reap its full rewards. We have taken this policy discussion to Darwin, Palmerston, Ngukurr, Katherine and Alice Springs. I have engaged with experts working with children in Nhulunbuy, Yirrakala, Jabiru, Maningrida, Utopia and more remote parts of the Territory.
People across the Territory have engaged with us in its development. This is a policy built on listening to Territorians and looking at the evidence. It is a long term plan for the Territory’s future.
Madam Speaker, Labor will restore the trust and faith that Territorians want in their government. This trust and faith has been destroyed by the CLP. Labor will introduce an ICAC. We will introduce an Integrity Commissioner and we will commit to improved access to information.
Labor believes in and open and transparent government. We will reform this Parliament to bring great focus to the business of government to this House and not the business of politics. We will work with whoever is in the chamber to make this place work better and with the interests of Territorians in mind. And, unlike the CLP, we support the Independence of the Speaker.
Madam Speaker, We will grow the Territory through the creation of jobs for Territorians and to attract people to the Territory.
As I have already noted 3500 more Territorians left the Territory for interstate than arrived here in 2014. This is the worst result in decades. The next Labor government will support those who work on the frontline. We will have a root and branch review of the resources available to police and we will provide them with 3 welfare officers and a properly resourced chaplain to support them.
By contrast the CLP has not delivered on its promise of 120 additional police, the welfare officers are nowhere in sight and police are being desperately stretched by patrolling the front of bottle shops because of the CLPs short-sighted political decision to scrap the Banned Drinkers register. We will bring back the Banned Drinker’s register.
Madam Speaker, Labor will support the Territory’s teachers. We have made it clear that Labor will resource teachers in the classroom and rebuild our schools following the ruthless cuts to teachers in our classrooms. We will introduce computer coding into our Primary Schools and secondary schools to ensure young Territorians do not miss out on being part of the next generation of jobs.
We have outlined how a Labor Government will support innovation in the Territory, to unleash the creativity and potential of Territorians.
Madam Speaker, I do not believe in 180 degree politics. The experience of watching the CLP come to power and destroy good programs simply because they were not theirs has been a salutary lesson. I will keep the Developing the North framework but will ensure that indigenous Territorians are more directly engaged in the program.
However, I can tell the House that the evidence is in on mandatory alcohol treatment – it doesn’t work. Internationally and nationally and here in the Territory this policy is a failure and will be scrapped. We will re-direct the $30 million per year to more effective programs.
Madam Speaker, Labor will commit more funds to building new houses in remote communities, to repairing existing houses and to support people to get into a home. We will commit funds from the Territory’s own infrastructure program towards this very important social and economic issue. There will be more houses, better maintained and built by locals.
Labor will publish a rolling 10 year infrastructure plan to allow business the opportunity to plan to tender or for their own investment decisions. Our Infrastructure spending will be planned around Darwin as the Northern Capital for Australia, making Alice as our nation’s inland capital – and a destination in its own right.
The critical importance of Katherine and the Katherine region in diversifying our economy and its advantages in being aligned with our supply chain, and Tennant’s massive opportunity to be services centre to the resource sector.
Madam Speaker, Labor will provide a steady, stable alternative to the dysfunction that is the CLP Government
We have policies and we have plans. We have the personnel to create a strong and effective government. We have announced a solid team of candidates for Territorians.
Working with the Deputy Leader and the Member for Barkly in the bush are people who are local to the community they seek to represent. In Lawrence Costa, Selena Uibo, Anthony Venes, Scott McConnell and Chansey Paech we have a group of Territorians with a diversity of backgrounds who are already out representing Territorians in the bush.
We have announced our full Palmerston team of Damian Hale, Eva Lawler, Tony Sievers and Phil Tilbrook. We have Alderman Kate Worden for Sanderson and Ward Keller lawyer Jeff Collins for Fong Lim in the Darwin seats.
There are more announcements to come, Madam Speaker, with candidates of great quality, community leaders who will lead bring a wealth of experience to this Parliament.
Labor is ready to put its case to Territorians. And Madam Speaker, Territorians deserve to hear from each and every one of you why you deserve to be their local Member. Personally, I hate early elections, but this is a crunch moment for the Territory’s future.
Every day that goes by under an Adam Giles-led CLP Government we see the reputation of the Northern Territory diminished.
I simply do not believe the Territory can afford nine more months of CLP rule.
We need a fresh start.
And the only people I trust to reset Government in the Northern Territory are the voters.
I am asking you to trust Territorians too. Now is the time to give them their voice back and put the fate of the Territory in their hands.
I urge all members to support the motion.