Nobody knows exactly how much it costs to administer Income Management. But government estimates suggest that it could be as high as $150 a week per person in remote areas. According a recent report from the Australian National Audit Office:
… departments were aware that providing income managed services to people in remote areas would be more costly than providing services to those in rural and urban areas. The estimated costs were:
- remote areas—between $6600 and $7900 per person, per annum;
- rural areas—between $3900 and $4900 per person, per annum; and
- urban areas—between $2400 and $2800 per person, per annum.
The estimated cost in urban areas works out at around $50 per week per person. The same amount welfare advocates want government to add to the single rate of Newstart Allowance. Continue reading
My post on the Territory’s recent mini-budget has resulted in an interesting comment box discussion about Darwin property prices. At first blush general Troppo readers might not find it all that absorbing, but in fact the dynamics of Darwin’s property market provide an instructive example of the interplay between government policies and actions, market forces, demographics and a range of other factors.
Are Darwin real estate prices anomalously high? How about rents, which haven’t really figured at all in the comment box discussion? This article examines those questions in some depth, and then explores possible public policy solutions.
I haven’t been posting on Troppo much lately, mostly because I’m pretty fully occupied establishing with partners a new private legal practice in Darwin, Melbourne and Adelaide by early January.
However I haven’t been able to restrain myself from indulging in the first sign of madness, namely writing letters to the editor of the local Northern Territory News. They mostly seek to debunk its current lowest common denominator populist crusade against the entirely responsible economic policies of the new Mills CLP government. The NT News currently sees itself as the propaganda arm of the ousted Labor regime, which is rather bizarre given the biases of the Murdoch press elsewhere in Australia. Unfortunately the editor didn’t see fit to publish my last effort, and he probably won’t publish this one either, so I’ll post it here instead:
Although there are valid concerns about some individual spending cuts announced in the Mills CLP government’s mini-budget, its overall direction and settings are in my view modest, responsible and appropriate. As many would know, I am anything but an uncritical CLP apologist.
[This was written on Sunday. An edited version was published at the G8 universities site The Conversation late this afternoon.]
The Northern Territory’s Labor government led by Chief Minister Paul Henderson was swept from power at yesterday’s election by Terry Mills’ Country Liberals. Where Labor previously held 12 seats in the 25 seat Legislative Assembly and held minority government with the support of Independent Gerry Wood, at the time of writing it appears that the Country Liberals will now hold either 14 or 15 seats with Labor retaining either 9 or 10.
The remarkable feature of this election result is that it presents two completely opposing aspects, with dramatically contrasting results between the towns and remote bush communities. In the urban seats in Darwin, Palmerston and Alice Springs and the seats of Nhulunbuy and Barkley (centred on mining towns), the status quo has prevailed. Labor retained all of its existing seats and indeed even achieved swings towards it in a couple of seats.
Labor’s campaign strategy was to pour resources into limiting an expected anti-Labor swing sufficiently to retain its own marginal Darwin seats while targetting the northern suburbs Country Liberal seat of Sanderson which its polling said was vulnerable. There was a pro-Labor swing in that seat of around 2.3%, not enough to win it for Labor. The overall swing against Labor in urban areas was around 4%, significantly less than the 6% shown in a poll a couple of weeks ago commissioned by the local Murdoch outlet the Northern Territory News. In other words, Labor’s strategy worked almost precisely as intended in the towns. Had bush seats followed suit it would have been seen as a masterful campaign.
The federal implications of the NT election appear to be minimal. A swing of that magnitude probably reflects federal factors to a limited extent, as well as a muted local “it’s time” factor after 11 years of local Labor rule, but does not suggest that the Labor “brand” has been irretrievably damaged.
However, the picture in remote Aboriginal community-based seats seats could scarcely have been more different.
By sheer chance, on Sunday I found myself listening on ABC Classic FM to part of the 18th century opera ‘The Good-Hearted Curmudgeon‘. In her inimitable way, Jen couldn’t help suggesting that the opera might have been named after me. Little did I know that within an hour or so I would accidentally find myself rehearsing the lead role (though perhaps without the good-hearted bit).
We went for a family outing to a Darwin Festival concert at the Gardens Amphitheatre, featuring Kate Miller-Heidke and Megan Washington. It was partly to celebrate Jen’s 50th birthday, so we took along a picnic basket including lots of yummy Greek cakes, candles, tucker and bottles of water. We knew we couldn’t take alcohol and intended to purchase it at the Amphitheatre bar.
However as we went in we discovered that everyone’s bags were being searched, and we were required to empty out our bottles of water. Presumably the government organisers thought this might somehow stop teenage binge drinkers from smuggling in spirits disguised as water. As neither of us look or act as if we’re likely to be secreting gin, vodka or similar beverages, I rapidly mounted my high horse (conveniently tethered nearby as Gore Vidal once memorably remarked).