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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Page: 4000


Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (11:47): When I was re-elected to parliament in September last year, the voters of Solomon understood exactly what I stood for. I promised to be part of a government that stopped the tragic deaths in our northern waters as boat after boat sank in turbulent seas, with tragic loss of life. I promised that the government in which I served would repeal the carbon tax and the mining tax and, despite the best efforts of the Labor opposition and the Greens, that is exactly what we intend to do. I promised to secure funding for the duplication of Tiger Brennan Drive. I promised that the Abbott government would provide funding for a new hospital in Palmerston—another box that has been ticked by my good friend, health minister Peter Dutton—and I promised to be part of the government that reigned in the debt and ended Labor's waste. This long journey began on Tuesday night, and we will continue until the economic settings are right for the times in which we live.

As with all journeys, the going will be easier for some than for others. Along the way, I know there will be people in my electorate of Solomon, and indeed in the Northern Territory more broadly, who will face additional challenges and more pressures as a result of the measures we have had to introduce. To those who are concerned about the future, I say: 'Stay with us; the decisions we take today will future-proof the national economy for you, your children and your grandchildren.' For the genuinely disadvantaged there are safety nets that will continue to provide necessary support. What has changed, though, is the value of the tax dollar, which has increased substantially. Every dollar that is collected from hardworking people, every dollar that is collected from business and every dollar that is collected from the families that are the backbone of the Territory, and indeed of Australia, now has a higher premium than it has ever had before. Gone are the days of the Rudd-Gillard Labor government, where $900 cheques were handed out. Gone, too, are the days of investing billions of dollars into a pink batts scheme, the terrible legacy of which continues today. This and the other Labor disasters left us with interest payments of up to $1 billion every single month. I can only imagine what that $1 billion could do in the Territory—for health services, for education services and for roads.

On the subject of roads, budget night saw some terrific outcomes for the Territory that show the benefits of having a focused government determined to drive economic growth and create jobs. The Abbott government's Economic Action Strategy has seen a record $593.7 million invested in building the infrastructure of the 21st century for the Northern Territory. As well as the $70 million spend on Tiger Brennan Drive, which I mentioned earlier, the budget includes $90 million for a Regional Roads Productivity Package and $77 million for the Northern Territory roads package. The productivity package will see upgrades to the Roper and Buntine highways, Port Keats Road, Arnhem Link Road, Central Arnhem Road and Santa Teresa Road; while the roads package will see the Stuart, Barkly and Victoria highways, three of the Territory's most widely used roads, strengthened and widened.

The $20 billion health research future fund will provide enormous opportunities for the locally based Menzies School of Health Research going forward, for the nation and for the world. There is also, for the first time, funding for sub-degree courses and a huge boost for training for kids in Darwin and Palmerston. At a micro level, budget 2014 contained funding for the Northern Territory Table Tennis Association, shades at the Robbie Robbins Reserve, an upgrade to the Palmerston Football Club and almost $100,000 for South Darwin Rugby League Football Club upgrade.

In clear contrast to Labor in government, the coalition has delivered an honest budget—a contribute and build budget. We are keeping the faith with our commitments to Australians. We are getting the budget back on track and we are doing it as quickly as possible. I would like to reiterate to those people in Darwin and Palmerston and, indeed, around the Territory: please stay with us. We need to do this together.