THE Northern Territory Government's 2013-14 Budget is a responsible budget that builds a future for all Territorians and ensures that the Territory maximises the benefits from the expected economic growth it is about to experience, according to Treasurer David Tollner.
Mr Tollner, who this week handed down the Country Liberals' first Budget since gaining power in August 2012, said the government had inherited a projected $5.5 billion debt from the former Labor government and was now acting responsibly and pursuing a deficit reduction strategy.
"This budget ensures that the Territory maximises the benefits from economic growth – we are committed to reducing the annual fiscal imbalance in a sustainable way so as not to cause an economic downturn," Mr Tollner said.
"The fiscal balance will be restored in six years, rather than four years. This will alleviate the pain for households and businesses and will see the books restored by 2017-18."
Economic growth in Northern Territory is forecast to rise from 4.6 per cent in 2012-13 to 5.0 per cent 2013-14 and peak at 7.0 per cent in 2014-15, before falling to 4.5 per cent in 2015-16 and 3.9 per cent in 2016-17.
Growth over this period is expected to be underpinned by an acceleration of construction activity related to a number of mining-related projects, according to the Budget. Residential construction activity is expected to increase to near record levels, driven by strong growth in the construction of housing, particularly in the Darwin region.
Total infrastructure payments of $1.184 billion in 2013-14 is expected to be $64 million less than 2012-13 and will continue to decrease over the forward estimates. Similarly, the 2013-14 Capital Works Program is $840 million; $202 million less than the 2012-13 Capital Works Program of $1.042 billion. The government said the reduced spending is "consistent with a counter cyclical approach to reduce public investment when private investment is growing strongly."
Key transport, infrastructure and housing commitments include:
- $3.3 million for public transport infrastructure works, including upgrading/replacing existing bus stops and shelters across Darwin and Alice Springs;
- $1 million for a new ticketing and data collection system on the Darwin bus network;
- $1.04 million in ongoing funding to provide new public bus services in the new Darwin and Alice Springs suburbs of Lyons, Muirhead, Rosebery, Bellamack, Zuccoli and Kilgariff;
- $5 million grant to the City of Darwin for the duplication of Lee Point Road (Tambling Terrace to Vanderlin Drive);
- $27 million over four years ($3.8 million in 2013-14) to stimulate construction of affordable housing and provide additional affordable rental properties as part of the Real Housing for Growth Plan;
- $20 million to support accelerated land release at Palmerston East;
- $4.3 million to service the development of the new Alice Springs suburb of Kilgariff;
- $139.6 million for remote Indigenous housing capital works and $32.25 million for repairs and maintenance grants, under the joint Commonwealth and Territory governments' Remote Indigenous Housing Program and Strong Futures;
- $52.94 million to upgrade and improve existing public housing stock, including repairs and maintenance, tenancy support programs and refurbishment of existing public housing unit complexes; and
- $0.8 million to help the new NT Planning Commission plan for the Territory's future growth.