Treasurer unsure of costs of reconstruction commission, financial forecast still up in the air

by | May 27, 2020 | News, NT Politics | 1 comment

Treasurer Nicole Manison has declined to release the total costs of the Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission as pressure continues to grow on the Gunner Government to release a financial update before the election.

Ms Manison said on Wednesday morning that while the reconstruction commission is doing important work to lay out a plan for economic recovery, she was not aware of what it will cost.

“I don’t have those figures in front of me to say,” she said on Mix 104.9 when asked for the costs.

“The payments that we would make to them would probably be very minute compared to the money they’re used to earning. I just have to applaud the fact that you know they are really keen to get on board and to work with the Northern Territory. We’ve got some very high calibre global business leaders here and some very well established senior public servants that have worked with Prime Ministers.”

The NT Independent contacted Ms Manison’s office for an update later, but her office did not provide the figures.

The eight-person reconstruction commission was struck by Chief Minister Michael Gunner to develop a plan to rebuild the Territory’s economy. Its final plan is not due until November, three months after the election.

On Tuesday, Mr Gunner said that he was aiming to release forecast financials for what the Territory’s economic position is, but said he couldn’t do that before now due to uncertain numbers. He was non-committal about when the forecasts might be released.

Ms Manison was not as confident about the prospect of forecasts and implied they may not eventuate.

“We’re going to try to get out as much information prior to the election as possible,” she told Mix. “If we get those (federal) figures in that we think we’re in a position where we can get out a really clear and accurate position, then we will put it out. And we know that GST is going to be the biggest issue that we deal with when it comes to the revenues coming in because that national pool is going to take a hit.”

The government will face the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday, but it’s not expected to reveal any financial forecasts at that time or provide any insight on the Territory’s mounting debt levels.

Opposition CLP Treasury spokeswoman Tracey Hayes renewed the CLP’s calls for transparency of the Territory’s finances and said Territorians have a right to know what the books look like under Labor’s financial “mismanagement”.

She pointed to other jurisdictions that have presented financial forecasts with federally provided figures as proof the Gunner Government could as well.

“The PAC is the Government’s preferred scrutiny solution and an opportunity to do the right thing and provide Territorians with clarity on our financial position,” she said. “Last time, the Chief Minister declined to answer any budget-related questions and, if the same occurs this time around, the whole process on Thursday will be shown to be a complete farce.”

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