2021-22 Northern Territory State Budget Delivered
The Bottom Line
Northern Territory Chief Minister and Treasurer Michael Gunner has unveiled a $1.4 billion budget deficit in the upcoming financial year. Although the Territory economy has bounced back strongly from the pandemic, driven by windfall GST revenue, by the end of the decade NT net debt is still expected to reach $13.7 billion.
Proposed savings measures will affect the allied health workforce on several fronts:
- all NT government agencies are losing their expected 1.1 per cent increase in funding;
- zero per cent indexation has been set for the coming year (expected to result in savings of $10 million); and
- public servants will have wages frozen for four years, although $1,000 annual retention payments remain in place.
The Territory's economy is expected to grow this financial year by 4.2 per cent, up from last budget's estimate of zero per cent.
Health / Covid-19
- $20 million in additional funding for this financial year to maintain the government’s public health response, in hospitals, testing clinics and quarantine facilities;
- $5 million to fund the immediate logistical costs of delivering the vaccine and $15 million in interim funding for the public health response in the next financial year;
- $514 million contribution from the Commonwealth, to make sure the Centre for National Resilience at Howard Springs is achieving gold standard protection for the Territory; and
- The Territory Government is also building a new $12 million health clinic in Jabiru. Final design work is expected to be completed in June 2021 and construction is scheduled to start before the end of 2021.
Funding of $480 million has been allocated for community housing in urban, remote and rural areas of the Territory. Funding of $59 million has been provided to the Department of Infrastructure Planning Housing and Logistics for the maintenance of community housing, which is in line with previous allocations.
There continue to be issues around urban housing needs while significant amounts of money are being spent on remote housing. Pete Macmillan, Executive Officer with NTShelter, says: “… we are not having the conversation around urban and if we don't get that right over the coming years then we won't be able to support the jobs and population growth …”
An additional $13.2 billion has been committed to the National Disability Insurance Scheme in the NT over the coming four-year period.
Funding of $2 billion over four years has been set aside for early childhood education across the Territory, supporting access to at least 15 hours a week for all children in the year before school.
Mental Health / suicide prevention
There is a $2.3 billion investment in improved and expanded mental health care and suicide prevention programs.
The 2021-2021 Gunner Budget includes several initiatives to help increase Aboriginal employment and economic participation in the Territory.
Key measures include $8.5 million for jobs development for regional councils, $3.5 million in workforce and business development programs, $1.7 million to train Aboriginal mentors and rangers to enable Aboriginal communities to access economic opportunities from fishing, and $1.6 million for continued investment in a Regional Workforce Strategy.
The Territory Labor Government is investing $964,000 in a program to inspire Aboriginal students to strive for better education and employment outcomes. The Aboriginal Students Aspirations Program will be trialled in secondary schools across the Territory in Semester 2 this year with the program fully underway by 2022.
Funding of $1.1 billion has been allocated to support victims of violence, including financial and legal assistance and emergency accommodation.