House debates

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Constituency Statements

Solomon Electorate

10:16 am

Photo of Natasha GriggsNatasha Griggs (Solomon, Country Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise reflecting on my favourite paper, the Northern Territory News and their fair go campaign where they made a very strong case for a fair go by government for regional Australia. They looked at many aspects of life in the Territory from education to aged care, from roads to hospitals, from life expectancy to cost of living. They highlighted the challenges of living in regional and remote Australia when stacked against the major southern cities, especially Melbourne and Sydney.

I grew up in Alice Springs and attended university in Darwin where I raised a family and worked in the private and public sector, so I think I am pretty well qualified to discuss life in the regions. While acknowledging the political, economic and social priorities associated with funding for major cities, I believe governments, over many years, have held back national economic growth through their abject failure to properly fund infrastructure and services in remote parts of the country.

The Territory is experiencing a period of negative net interstate migration. While a number of factors are at play, how much is it to do with a lack of specialist medical services or the disparity of educational outcomes or the higher cost of living that comes with living in the north? Our beef industry is a case in point. The road cattle producers need to travel before they reach the major highway to deliver the livestock. In some cases, those roads are no better than dirt roads. This stifles productivity growth and holds back further gains in one of the Territory's most productive industries. It makes a great deal of sense to develop the infrastructure, say, for example, better beef roads to facilitate growth in the industry around the investment rather than waiting for the industry to grow and then following up with the investment. Let's not forget that Victoria and New South Wales benefited from gold discoveries that helped them establish their economies 170 years ago.

I am proud to be a member of a government that has an eye on regional growth through the $5 billion North Australia Infrastructure Facility. Billions of dollars have been committed under the defence white paper and the north Australian development paper. There has never been a better time to be a Territorian.

I would like to just finish by saying congratulations to Matt Williams who is the new Northern Territory News editor. I am sure he is going to do a great job. I would also like to congratulate Rachel Hancock on the extraordinary job that she has done as our first ever female editor. I wish her all the very best in her new role in Brisbane.