The Northern Territory government has fast-tracked $120 million in infrastructure projects to fire up the flatlining economy and keep the budget in check.
The changes include 37 new or brought-forward projects, while 19 others will be put on hold, with some being pushed back beyond the term of government.
Treasurer Nicole Manison says the overall $1.7 billion infrastructure spend for the 2016/17 financial year remains intact, with the aim to boost jobs ahead of challenging economic conditions in the next 12-18 months.
“The Inpex construction project is now transitioning to an operational phase, resulting in a wind down of job numbers,” she said.
“We have listened to business and we have made the tough decisions.”
The remote roads program will now be delivered over five or more years rather than four years, while other deferred projects include a Skywalk at the Nitmiluk National Park and upgrades to Ross Park Primary School in Alice Springs.
Ms Manison said the changes will save $200 million over the next four years.
But the new Labor government will still need to scrap a further $23 million in election commitments to achieve its goal of a budget surplus by 2019-20.
Opposition Leader Gary Higgins commended Labor for bringing forward big ticket items in a revision of the former CLP government’s policy.
“But those major projects do take a couple years before they kick in for the economy. You need the money there now,” he said.
He encouraged the government to reintroduce the home improvement scheme, which gave home owners $2000 vouchers to employ local tradies.
Mr Higgins also flagged his concern about the delay to improvements to the vast network of unsealed roads in the Territory.
“If we want to develop the north, if we want the cattle roads done, if we want to create employment in the bush, they are the projects that need to go ahead,” he said.
“A lot of the problems that we have in communities is due to access. A sealed road reduces the cost of building houses and access to education.”