|You are at: Home > Presidents Page|
Dear Members and Friends,
Some members have queried how the Chamber operates and what role the regional committees play in highlighting issues to the Northern Territory Government and the Opposition. As you are aware, the Board of Directors meets regularly to discuss the strategic direction of the Chamber and to full fill our fiscal obligations. Issues from the regions are brought to the Board’s attention by the CEO who has access to the minutes of each regional committee’s meetings. Urgent matters are dealt with promptly.
1. Regional Infrastructure. There is ongoing concern in the regions about Capital Works projects that have been announced and in some cases no work has been done over two to three budget cycles. There is a belief that projects announced in a specific budget should come with an estimate of when they will commence and be completed. It is realised that this is not always possible to apply definitive timelines but some level of timing should be available when the project is announced. It is also noted with concern that the budgeted revote out at the end of each period has been exceeded in actual revote over the last few budget cycles.
2. Regional Migration Agreement. The Council is aware that the NT Government is intending to negotiate a Regional Migration Agreement with the Federal Government to assist small to medium enterprises to recruit from overseas sources. Of concern is the fact that the agreements have been split into regions and that the Darwin region is the one being negotiated first. Given the size of the Inpex project the entire Territory business community is likely to be effected and it is imperative that agreements for the other regions of the Territory should be negotiated at the same time or immediately after the completion of the first.
3. Police Response Times. A number of our Regional Chairs raised the issue of community policing at the meeting. There are a number of concerns here including the response times when the police emergency number (000) is called. Under the current automated system the local stations are not responding in a timely fashion to emergency calls. There are instances of calls not being responded to for hours after they have been made. The general level of business crime in the major centres of Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs is on the rise with increased levels of break ins and general antisocial behaviour during working hours. Getting police to respond appears to be half the issue and levels of manning at some of the stations would appear to be a contributing factor as well.
4. Housing Shortages / Affordability. The availability of truly affordable housing continues to solicit comment from Council every time we meet. The levels of available land in the regional centres is seen as being placed under increasing pressure with both Alice Springs and Katherine show concerns for what is in the market at this point in time. The issues raised in previous correspondence remains from Council remain.
5. Declaration of Public Holidays. The Council has noted with some concern the declaration of additional public holidays by the NT Government without any consultation with industry or any attempt being made to quantify the cost impact of such a declaration by the government. The issue is not about staff having time off to celebrate the holiday but is about the declarations being made to ensure that additional penalty rates become applicable on other than the regular gazetted days. The cost impost on private industry and the government has run into the millions of dollars over the last year for those businesses that do operate on the additional days. There is also concern that a precedent has been set that will be exploited at some later stage. If the NT Government continues to gazette additional days to make penalty rates applicable we would suggest that the current legislation be amended to not carry public holidays that fall on a weekend over into the working week.
6. Rollout of NBN. The Council notes that the expected rollout of the NBN has been delayed significantly from the original announcement date which had the Casuarina area being able to connect in November 2012. Recent advice from NBN Co would suggest that the earliest connection to the NBN in the Northern Territory will not commence until the end of 2012. While not an issue that can be addressed by the NT Government given the fanfare that surrounding the initial announcement it is disappointing that no follow through has been forthcoming to advise the business community of the expected delays.
7. Introduction of the Carbon Tax. There is a general acknowledgement that the introduction of the Carbon Tax is going to have an adverse impact on costs in the Territory. The Council would urge the NT Government to have Power and Water identify the Carbon Tax component on their billing statements from 1 July 2012 and recognise the fact that transportation costs, other than road, will rise from the date of introduction. The loss of the Diesel Fuel rebate will impact much more than the so called big emitters. It is also noted that Power and Water have already started to levy contestable customers to pay for the Corporations inability to meet their agreed renewable energy targets. Given the significant imposts already placed on the business community for doing business in the Territory this action is considered to be a further disincentive to attracting new businesses to the Territory.
If you have any queries regarding the structure or the workings of the Chamber please contact your local Executive Officer who will be willing to assist.
Previous articles by George Roussos during his term as President below.
Edition 18 - August 2011 PDF Version