Department of the Legislative Assembly

ANSWERS TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS

26 February 2002

5. Public Service Restructure

Mr BURKE to CHIEF MINISTER

The government says its public service restructure will save $4.4m in 2002-03 (Mini-Budget Paper No 3, Page 18):

1. What will be the source of those savings by component and value?

2. If attrition is to be the source of your savings from the public sector, does that mean that a recruitment freeze has been imposed on some agencies? If so which agencies are affected and what are the details of the freeze?

3. The government has identified $15m in savings in 2001-02 and $35m in 2002-03 from budget improvement measures. What will be the source of those savings by component and value?

4. What is the current size of the public service in terms of employees of all designations and what do you anticipate the figure being in 12 months time under the changes to the public service?

5. What staff levels have been set for each of the 18 agencies?

6. How many members of the public service are currently regarded as contract employees?

7. What allowance has been made for a public service pay rise in the calculation of the mini-budget’s Budget Improvement Measures?

8. What cost does the government expect to be incurred in changing stationary, uniforms, logos, pamphlets and the front counter areas to reflect your changes to the public service structure?

9. Labor’s promises contained in Paper No 3 of the November mini-budget commit the government to saving $500 000 a year through REDUCED attrition in the health and education departments. How can savings be made by reducing attrition while at the same time using attrition to reduce the size of the public service?

10. Will the displaced former public service CEOs be expected to take a pay cut to reflect their reduced responsibilities?

11. Will the CEOs of the 18 ‘super’ departments be given a salary increase to reflect their increased responsibilities?

ANSWER

Question 1

Gross agency amalgamation savings of $5 million (as set out in the table below) were identified from the November Mini Budget. These savings were offset by increased outlays of $0.6 million necessary to give effect to the new Government’s policies. Accordingly, Mini Budget Paper No 3 indicated $4.4 million in savings in 2002/03.
Gross savings
$
Employment, Education and Training (including OCPE)
1,900,000
Business, Industry and Resource Development
980,000
Community Development, Sport and Cultural Affairs
950,000
Infrastructure, Planning and Environment
970,000
Department of Justice
240,000

Question 2

No. A recruitment freeze has not been in force in any agency. The weekly Government positions vacant advertisements are evidence of that. In fact, the Government has a commitment in place for 100 extra teachers, 100 extra nurses, 50 extra police and 16 extra firefighters during this term of government.

Question 3

It is anticipated that the budget improvement measures were designed to deliver efficiencies and consequential savings. Details of the savings by agency were set out as part of the Mini Budget in November 2001. The responsibility for determining the way by which these savings were to be made lay with the Chief Executives of agencies, although the emphasis was placed on ‘back room’ support functions in order not to compromise service delivery functions.

Question 4

There were 14 377 FTE (averaged) employees in the NT Public Sector as at December 2001. As at December 2002, the figure was 14 397.

Question 5

There are no staffing levels mandated for any agency. Chief Executives have discretion within their budget level to determine agency staffing levels.

Question 6

The total number of contract employees as at June 2002 was 2656 (FTE) and at June 2003 was 2672 (FTE). This comprises various categories of executive contract officers and limited tenure employees. These numbers are consistent with historical levels in recent years.

Question 7

Provision of 3% was included in the Budget for the programmed Public Sector pay rise.

Question 8

The costs were minimal. In many instances, existing stocks continued to be used and replaced as required.

Question 9

The high levels of turnover in past years in Health and Education have imposed significant costs on the Territory in terms of recruitment and training. As a consequence the focus has been upon the development of strategies that specifically target these categories of employment to reduce turnover in these areas with a consequential saving to the community.

There is no overall strategy to reduce the size of the public sector, but components of the workforce may change over time.

Question 10

Public Sector Chief Executive employment arrangements are regulated by contracts and the provisions of those contracts have been honoured.

Question 11

The conditions of employment for Chief Executives are contained in their executive employment contracts. Chief Executive employment arrangements are reviewed in accordance with the provisions of their contracts.

8 October 2002

15. Itinerant Accommodation Needs

Mr WOOD to MINISTER for HEALTH and COMMUNITY SERVICES

1. Has the minister identified any existing organisations that have the expertise and experience to accommodate the complex needs of our itinerant population together with the potential capacity to physically accommodate the needs of itinerant groups regardless of culture, nationality or gender?

2. If so, what existing facilities have been identified or considered to ensure that the duplication, or the enormous added expense of establishing new sites, can be avoided?

ANSWER

1. The Community Harmony Project (formerly the “Itinerants” Project in Darwin and Palmerston), in response to the ‘The Long Grassers’ A Strategic Report on Indigenous ‘itinerants’ in the Darwin and Palmerston Area, established four Working Parties to provide specialist advice in the areas of accommodation, alcohol and patrolling, education and regional, and data collection and research. There are some 50 organisations involved in the Community Harmony Project.

These working parties are advising the Project Management Committee on the implementation of strategies, including those organisations best placed to accommodate the needs of the group. In this way the Minister receives effective advice from the organisations themselves, from project staff working with those organisations and from Departmental officers with expertise in those areas.

There is a number of existing organisations within the service network that meet the criteria raised in part 1 of this question, and negotiations are continuing through the Working Party process to ensure that all strategies to be implemented by the Project are managed by the most appropriate organisation/s.

In the Darwin and Palmerston region, the construction and management teams have been working very closely with a broad range of stakeholders to assist organisations to develop and define infrastructure requirements including accommodation, health care and day facility options. These include:

ACCOMMODATION
Knuckey Lagoons, 11 Mile, Aboriginal Development Foundation
The facility includes refurbishment of a women/families facility, a men’s facility and an ablution block, construction of a community centre (incorporating overflow camping capacity) and a two room basic shelter dwelling suitable for two families. The target date for completion is December.

Christian Outreach Centre, Crerar Road, Berrimah
The facility comprises two large buildings, each with four rooms, shared ablutions and kitchen facilities and significant breezeway and verandah area for outside living. The target date for completion is early December.

Catherine Booth House, Salvation Army, Stuart Park
Planning approval has been recently received for the construction of an additional one-room facility for single women. The target date for completion is late December.
    HEALTH TREATMENT AND CARE
    Council for Aboriginal Alcohol Program Services, Boulter Road, Berrimah
    Site work has commenced for two new duplexes with additional beds for six clients and six support people. It is anticipated that this additional accommodation will be completed by January 2004.

    A New Start to Independence, Bees Creek
    An additional accommodation block is nearly completed at A.N.S.T.I. which will provide 16 places for people with complex alcohol and drug dependency whom are in need of long term care.

    DAY FACILITIES/ACTIVITIES
    Malak Shopping Centre, (June Mills is the project facilitator)
    The Artspace Project that commenced in June 2003 continues to operate effectively with a strong youth focus.

    Knuckey Lagoons, 11 Mile, Aboriginal Development Foundation
    A day facility is included as part of the accommodation development proposal.
      Ozenam House, St Vincent de Paul Society, Stuart Park
      An additional ablution facility is nearing completion. Art activities that commenced at Tamarind Park in the CBD have re-located to Ozenam House while Tamarind Park remains unsuitable until after the wet season.

      Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation
      Mechanisms for referrals are now being developed, with protocols to be developed and agreed between the Larrakia Nation Information and Referrals Office and the range of service providers participating in the network.

      FUTURE DIRECTIONS/DEVELOPMENTS
      For the medium to long term, the Accommodation Working Party has proposed some substantial strategies which can be explored and developed over a five year period. The proposed concepts will require thorough consultations with the client group, service providers and design, architectural and planning consultants. It is envisaged that pilot projects will be developed that will test models for appropriate accommodation options. Conceptual models include the following:

      Cluster village concept - approximately six living units with self-contained kitchen and ablutions, a small private exterior space and access to communal living spaces.

      Purpose built facility for renal and other complex needs clients who require a managed reception area with additional facilities to cater for communal activities, families and visitors.

      In major regional centres outside of Darwin and Palmerston, consultations with regional stakeholders including community organisations, peak Indigenous organisations and government agencies are ongoing to determine effective strategies, processes and program delivery for the itinerant population.

      2. The development of the conceptual models for appropriate accommodation options envisages that the proposed facilities may most effectively be implemented by either expanding existing services, or by identifying the most appropriate service to manage the conceptual models.

      The lack of suitable accommodation for the client groups is a key component of the development of a range of facilities through the expansion and enhancement of existing services.

      I am greatly encouraged by the inclusive nature of the development of this strategy, which has arisen out of consultation and discussion and has the support of a wide range of community groups and service providers.

      I am confident that this process will develop appropriate accommodation models that will avoid unnecessary duplication and establishment costs, and that can be adjusted and replicated as appropriate. I am also confident that this process will identify the right group to manage the right facility.

      14 October 2003

      60. Economic Benefit from Laminaria/Corallina oil

      Mr WOOD to CHIEF MINISTER

      Apart from the fact that the operation of Laminaria/Corallina oil fields has affected the Territory’s import and export figures -

      What has been the size of the direct economic benefit to the Territory to date of the Laminaria/Corallina oil fields in the Timor Sea?

      ANSWER

      The Laminaria oil field was discovered in October 1994 and Corallina in December 1995. Darwin was the base for that exploration.

      The fields were brought into production using the Northern Endeavour floating production platform in November 1999. The fields have a design life of 12 years and initially produced around 180 000 barrels of oil per day

      The Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development estimated the Laminaria-Corallina project, operated by Woodside Petroleum, provided $60-65 million of annual economic benefits to the Northern Territory at the time of peak production through the purchase of goods and services, salaries and wages, and flow on effects.

      Major direct project purchases are for logistics support, helicopter services, fuel, supply boat services and accommodation.

      In developing the fields, Darwin supported the drilling of eight production wells and the installation of the production equipment at the fields. In 2002 Darwin supported the drilling of two additional production wells. This work of a capital nature provided significant additional benefits to the Northern Territory economy.

      It is expected that the Laminaria and Corallina fields will continue to provide significant economic benefits to the Territory economy for several years.

      However, production has undergone a natural decline to around 50 000 barrels per day leading Woodside to alter its methods of operation in an endeavour to reduce costs. It is also seeking to develop some small fields to provide more oil to the Northern Endeavour. The impact of those objectives has not been assessed.

      62. Grants for Business Growth

      Mr WOOD to MINISTER for BUSINESS. INDUSTRY and RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT

      Last year, your department provided this Estimates Committee with a list of Industry Development and Business Growth grants for 2001/02 – among the largest were $100,000 for Plant Investments, $92,000 for Upstream Petroleum and $50,000 for Capricornia Mining and Resources –

      (a) what do each of these companies actually do;

      (b) what did each of these companies use the grant money for; and
        (c) were each these grants acquitted?

      ANSWER

      The following grants were provided:

      Capricornia Mining and Resources P/L is a small barite mining operation around Dorisvale. It received $50 000 to assist with infrastructure to process drilling mud from locally sourced barytes. Was fully acquitted in January 2002.

      Upstream Petroleum is an oil and gas service company specialising in floating production facilities and subsea operations. It received $92 000 to assist with infrastructure for servicing offshore oil and gas equipment. Was fully acquitted in November 2001.

      Plant Investments P/L is a private family company located in the Douglas Daly region growing peanuts. It received $100 000 to validate research trials in relation to the management and economics of cropping peanuts commercially. This work was done in the Douglas Daly area. Trials were successful and the grant was acquitted.

      65. Land Grants

      Mr WOOD to MINISTER for LANDS and PLANNING

      In the Budget it is reported that the average cost per completed land sale or land grant is going to be $49,000 –
        (a) Why is it that according to the Government Gazette, the cost to many groups of a Crown land grant is NIL;
          (b) is not the taxpayer losing money by subsidising these grants to the tune of $49,000 per grant;
            (c) why isn’t it a user pays system for these grants; and

              (d) are there any other costs associated with this program of making land grants?

            ANSWER

            (a) It is Government policy to grant land at nil cost to community groups and in some instances local government as a contribution to the social well being of the Territory community;

            (b) The grants of land to community groups and to local government for community purpose uses are a taxpayer funded subsidy. A $600 application fee applies to community groups (but not local government). The output cost is not a nett cost as it does not reflect any revenue effect of the gazetted application fee.

            (c) Imposition of a user pays system would place a significant financial burden on many community service groups and increase the cost of provision of community facilities by local government; and

            (d) The revenue foregone by making a grant (as opposed to sale) of the land is an additional cost to the output cost of processing applications for land grants.


            25 November 2003

            69. Mereenie Loop Road

            Mr ELFERINK to MINISTER for TRANSPORT and INFRASTRUCTURE

            It is reported that there will be an expenditure of three million dollars this financial year on the development of the Mereenie Loop Road. Will you advise –

            (a) when that money will be spent;
            (b) what works will be conducted; and
            (c) at what place on the Mereenie Loop Road.

            ANSWER

            Government’s 2003-04 Capital Works Program includes a $3.0m item to extend the bitumen sealing of Larapinta Drive between Kings Canyon and Hermannsburg. Work will commence at each end of the road. There will be 14 km sealed at the Kings Canyon end and 4.5 km sealed at the Hermannsburg end. It is planned that the full expenditure will be achieved within this financial year.

            70. Kings Creek Area – Emergency Service Support

            Mr ELFERINK to MINISTER for POLICE, FIRE and EMERGENCY SERVICES

            The Kings Creek area is still without proper police or emergency service support in spite of a large number of tourists moving through the area every year. Apart from the minor support that has been afforded at this stage to the people who work and live in the area, what medium to long term approaches will you put in place to address the serious shortcomings in service delivery in the area?

            ANSWER

            During the last 6 months, the Watarrka/Kings Canyon/ Kings Creek area was provided with the following enhanced emergency service measures:

            A comprehensive UHF Radio coverage of the whole area, and highway approaches out to 30km, facilitated by the Northern Territory Emergency Service. This was made possible by the installation of radio repeaters at Santos Mereenie Tower to the northeast and on the Kings Creek area Telstra Tower to the south. Radio equipment, both base station/ vehicle and hand-held was supplied to Kings Canyon Resort, Kings Creek Station, the Kings Canyon Health Clinic, and to the Watarrka Parks and Wildlife Ranger HQ.

            The 11 Northern Territory Emergency Service Volunteer members at Watarrka have undertaken training in Road Accident Rescue, Vertical Rescue, and Radio Communications.

            The Volunteer Unit, currently a sub-unit of Ntaria (Hermannsburg) is fully equipped with motorised Road Accident Rescue equipment, Vertical Rescue equipment and a rescue trailer. The Parks and Wildlife Ranger headquarters and the Kings Canyon Resort have four (4) portable fire units comprising of a tank and pump, which can be placed on any utility at their disposal.

            The matter of a Police Station for the area is under evaluation at this time including advice from Treasury on the funding details.

            Presently Kulgera, Yulara, Ntaria and Alice Springs Police provide services to the area. Kulgera and Yulara are three (3) hours away by sealed road (300km+), and Ntaria via the Mereenie Loop Road (200km+). Each Station contributes to the conduct of one patrol per month (four in total), depending on operational contingencies; each patrol lasts three (3) days, and incorporates two (2) nights at Kings Canyon. Calls for emergency response are serviced by the most appropriate police resource under the circumstance.

            71. Reuse of Town Waste Water in Alice Springs

            Mr ELFERINK to MINISTER for PRIMARY INDUSTRY and FISHERIES

            There are developments being conducted at the Arid Zone research Institute (AZRI) near Alice Springs with a private investor being utilised for the development of reuse systems in horticulture for town waste water. I was briefed some months ago as to the intentions of the project as well as the fact that the project will move reasonably expeditiously. Could you advise as to what stage the project is at?

            ANSWER

            Progress is continuing on the development of the Alice Springs Water Reuse Scheme. This scheme will deliver many benefits through elimination of dry weather overflows into Ilparpa swamp by using recycled water, (a currently wasted resource), for the development of horticultural enterprises at the Arid Zone Research Institute. This will contribute significantly to the local economy, creating up to 6 permanent and 50 casual jobs.

            Design of the transfer pipeline has been completed and is currently out to tender.

            The Minister for Transport and Infrastructure has approved a consultancy for design and construction of the treatment process upgrade. It is expected that the improved quality recycled water will be available at the AZRI site by the end of 2004.

            Research and investigations relating to the innovative Soil Aquifer Treatment process and underground storage system proposed are progressing well.

            Statutory processes relating to the on site planning for sacred sites, flora and fauna and environmental impacts are currently being worked through.

            Negotiations with the preferred horticultural development proponent (selected through an open Expressions of Interest process) are continuing.

            Effective communications are also continuing with an open community forum held on 14 October 2003.

            background
            The scheme involves an upgrade in the treatment processes at the Alice Springs Waste Stabilisation Ponds, construction of a pipeline to transfer recycled to the Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI), construction of an innovative Soil Aquifer Treatment and underground ‘water banking’ storage system, and development of horticultural enterprises on the AZRI site to use the recycled water.

            73. Kintore Police Station

            Mr ELFERINK to MINISTER for POLICE, FIRE and EMERGENCY SERVICES

            1. When is the Kintore Police Station to be built.

            2. When do you expect the building to be completed and when do you plan to have the station operational with police operating from it.

            ANSWER

            Construction of the new Kintore Police Station is currently underway and is scheduled for completion by mid December 2003.

            Kintore Police Station is scheduled for commissioning by mid December 2003, and members will be operating there, once the Station and houses are completed and handed over. Tenure for members will be for two years.

            A member of the Western Australia Police Service will also be stationed at the location and members of both jurisdictions will jointly police communities in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

            74. Palmer River Bridge

            Mr ELFERINK to MINISTER for TRANSPORT and INFRASTRUCTURE

            The Commonwealth government has allocated $6 million to the Northern Territory government for the construction of a bridge at Palmer River. When will work be completed on this bridge.

            ANSWER

            It is anticipated that construction work for the new bridge on the Palmer River will be completed towards the end of the 2004-05 financial year.
            The Federal Government gave approval to proceed with the design of a new high level bridge at the Stuart Highway crossing of the Palmer River on 9 April 2002.

            There are two alignments currently being investigated for the new bridge. Option 1 is to offset the new bridge and approach roads about 50 metres upstream of the existing alignment. Option 2 is located about 1.1 km upstream of the existing alignment.

            The advantage of Option 2 is that the approach road works will be located outside the Palmer River floodplain, but capital costs may be higher. Should this alignment be selected then resolution of from Native Title issues will be required.

            Currently, concept designs and estimates are being completed for both alignments and Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority clearances have been requested.

            A decision on the alignment option to be selected is expected in December 2003, provided the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority clearances are received, following which it is anticipated that design and documentation will be completed by April 2004.

            Construction is targeted to commence early in the 2004-05 financial year, subject to resolution of Native Title issues, should Option 2 be selected.

            The procurement process will take about two months and the contract will have a six to seven month construction period.

            75. Larapinta Drive, dual carriage way

            Mr ELFERINK to MINISTER for TRANSPORT and INFRASTRUCTURE

            Is there a works program for the construction of a dual carriage way on Larapinta Drive to and from Milner Road roundabout in Alice Springs to the Larapinta Sub Division. If so, when will it be completed and what is the construction timetable for its construction.

            ANSWER

            There are no projects included on the current Capital Works Program for duplication of Larapinta Drive between Milner Road and the Larapinta subdivisions.

            The current project for the next stage of the residential subdivision in Larapinta Valley includes the construction of a new intersection, including turning lanes and street lighting, on Larapinta Drive to access the subdivision.

            The section between Milner Road and Bradshaw Drive has been identified for capacity improvements, and will be considered relative to other priority projects, and within available funds, for inclusion on the Forward Works Programs.
            Last updated: 04 Aug 2016