Giles snubs Alice Springs on TIO and flood risk

p2147-Adam-Giles-1By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

Chief Minister Adam Giles has announced the NT Government will commit $50 million to flood mitigation works in Rapid Creek, Katherine and Darwin’s Rural Area if a decision is made to change the ownership of TIO, but he has announced nothing about Alice Springs.

 

Much of the town is on a flood plain and floods have caused the loss of life and millions of dollars worth of damage.

 

The construction of a flood mitigation dam across the Todd was subject to a Federal moratorium over sacred sites but that has now expired.

 

It is clear that climate change will make flood events more serious and and frequent.

 

Under the heading “Minimising flood risk to keep premiums down” Mr Giles announced today that “the Government is determined to see that some of the proceeds from any change of TIO ownership go towards reducing the flood risk and premium hikes faced by Territorians.

 

“The reality is that some customers in high-risk areas are already facing large premium price rises next year under the current TIO ownership.

 

“TIO is already moving to a system where they calculate risk for each individual property instead of averaging it across a whole community.

 

“Next year, this could mean large price hikes in high-risk areas such as Katherine and Rapid Creek and I know Territorians in these areas want us to do something about it.

 

“This is expensive work that no Government has ever been willing to do before. A change of TIO ownership would make it possible.”

 

A pool of $25 million would be set aside for works in Rapid Creek and the Darwin Rural Area, while another $25 million would be allocated to Katherine, says Mr Giles.

 

The $25 million for Katherine includes $7.6 million to move Katherine’s Ambulance Centre out of the flood zone. Options are being considered to improve the flood resilience of other Katherine emergency services.

 

Two new Flood Mitigation Advisory Committees would guide this work – one in Rapid Creek and the Rural Area, and the other in Katherine.

 

Alice Springs does not rate a mention in the release. Mr Giles’ media staff did not respond to an enquiry on the issue.

 

UPDATE: Mr Giles released the following statement at 6pm on November 21: “The Territory Government has prepared TIO asset realisation investment strategies right across the Territory, including Alice Springs, which if TIO were to change hands, would be announced at a later date.”

 

 

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14 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Bob Durnan
    Posted December 1, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Nice go, apart from the unnecessary abuse of the Labor side of politics, Jasmine Ross (Posted December 1, 2014 at 9:58 am). However, you misinterpret, or choose to distort, what I said about fiscal equalisation. Subsidising TIO premiums, in times of relatively normal operations and small to medium disasters, is a separate issue to the once-off bail-outs, via other special measures, following a catastrophic event, to avoid insolvency of key institutions and widescale flight by much of the population to less risky environments.

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  2. Jasmine Ross
    Posted December 1, 2014 at 9:58 am

    @ Bob Durnan
    Well Bob, I guess we will have to wait to see if Allianz will blow premiums through the roof as some of the opposition loonies suggest.
    My guess is that because we have a very competitive market it will naturally restrain these increases.
    I myself own a property in the Gap and insure with TIO. I am not a fan of Allianz but will keep my policy with them while they remain competitive.
    In fact TIO were not the cheapest when we first insured but I chose them because them because they were “local”.
    Apart from the nostalgic appeal of TIO people generally make choices based on economic fundamentals.
    Much like “Australian made”, we all say we would love to buy Australian but statistics clearly show that we generally buy on economic rationality.
    I absolutely refute your suggestion that the Commonwealth “fiscal equalisation” policy would shield the Territory from any major catastrophe and negates the “false economic” statements I made.
    Firstly, a major flood in Katherine will break the back of the Territory Budget well beyond forward estimates and will create widespread economic and social problems for years to come.
    The fiscal equalisation policy is not designed for major events but for general revenue expenditure where tax bases cannot cover costs.
    The expenditure of the Territory Government has always had a false economic basis because of the high costs of a low population.
    That doesn’t mean it gives us the right to make grossly idiotic decisions like keeping TIO when that risk should be borne by the insurance industry that are set up to absorb such hazards.
    Finally, we do need to money. The Australian economy is now in need of Government expenditure (stimulus).
    Unfortunately Labor Governments across the country had panicked during the GFC and blown budgets beyond any reasonable foundation.
    Australia was still experiencing a boom in private infrastructure spending and also tax revenue and yet those incompetent loonies (yes I don’t mind repeating this term) form the left couldn’t control their natural urge of blowing other people’s money.
    My point is this Government inherited a budgetary mess from those loonies and while everyone from the anti everything crowd is crying about Giles they conveniently forget he is trying to create activity while being economically hogtied. This is why he is turning to private development projects to help maintain and stimulate activity.
    The sale of TIO will now give them a little room with which to help kick our economy on, not only in the short term but like any sensible infrastructure program this will benefit people of the Territory for decades to come.

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  3. Bob Durnan
    Posted November 26, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Thanks for your post, Jasmine Ross (Posted November 25, 2014 at 1:18 pm).
    On the subject of the TIO sale, I realise it is likely “that TIO would have increased premiums anyway” (at least, it would have done so under the tender tutelage of the cash-gouging Giles regime, although that would not necessarily have occurred if Giles had not wanted it to happen).
    However, the issue is the level of increase that would have been considered warranted if TIO had remained in public ownership (an issue connected with the government’s judgement about the level of subsidy needed, which is a social-political issue at least as much as it is an economic one), versus the extent that this will occur in future years under the autocratic rule of the corporate giant which has acquired TIO’s insurance operation.
    Will this corporate giant sacrifice the social needs of the Territory, as soon as it is able, in favour of what it terms the legitimate outcomes of “market forces” i.e. high profits for its own shareholders, and extremely attractive remuneration packages for its executives?
    As you say: “At the moment people have subsidised premiums for living in these zones. These subsidies are basically carried by other policy holders and ultimately the tax payer.”
    Exactly, but the great bulk of this subsidy comes from – and could have continued to come from – the fiscal equalisation grants which benefit the Territory government’s coffers from Commonwealth taxes, and these come from revenue raised by Canberra’s take across Australia.
    This is NOT “false economics”: It is an outcome of the determination of the Australian people as a whole to support having civil and defence services and administrative capacity (and consequently, some commercial operators) in the difficult living environments of Australia’s remote arid and tropical regions.
    You may think that TIO would have been “doomed to fail if we again have a major flood like the previous one in Katherine a few years ago”, but you would be wrong. The Commonwealth and NT governments would have taken steps to cover the balance, just as they did in the reconstruction following the bombing of Darwin, Cyclone Tracy and the Katherine floods, similar to what has occurred in Queensland following several natural catastrophes, and similar to what responsible governments did all over the world to prevent bank collapses during the 2008 financial crises.

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  4. Jasmine Ross
    Posted November 25, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    @Bob Durnan
    The early signs I mention have to do with the positive uptake within the goal itself to the program.
    As night follows day the exposure to regular, sustained employment has every chance of providing them confidence needed to remain in work beyond their sentence.
    The idea is to have prisoners begin work when they have at least nine months left on their sentence meaning that they will have at least this period to adjust to the normality of working life.
    This is something that most of these people have never had. These are the early signs, what part of this don’t you get?

    @Bob Duran
    The likelihood that TIO would have increased premiums anyway is real. At the moment people have subsidised premiums for living in these zones.
    These subsidies are basically carried by other policy holders and ultimately the tax payer. This is false economics and is doomed to fail if we again have a major flood like the previous one in Katherine a few years ago.
    The NTG is currently looking at flood mitigation which is has some merit but is not the panacea to the problem. I would go as far to suggest that the government open land for development for those that would be affected the most so the worst of the areas could be redeveloped to cope with major flooding at least to the one in one hundred year level.

    @Janet Lee
    “Your statements are outright ludicrous.” If you are attempting to retort my statements with fact please do so but don’t be so arrogant to just have a whinge based on an empty ideological disposition.
    BTW, I have lived here for 44 years and no I am not a member of the CLP but I recognise some of the good work they are doing under very difficult circumstances.
    One area that I would be critical of the current government is the lack of action with departments. The Government maintains that much of their budgets to the departments have not changed yet we find massive cut backs across nearly all.
    Either the government is lying or the departments have become dysfunctional. Either way the buck stops with the Chief Minister.

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  5. Hal Duell
    Posted November 24, 2014 at 9:06 am

    @Bronte Zadow
    Posted November 23, 2014 at 2:10 pm
    While I agree with you that Adam Giles is not the beginning and end of all our woes, I am intrigued by your statement that the Town Council is partially to blame for allowing building in a flood plain.
    Unless I am mistaken, almost all of Alice Springs is in a flood plain. To avoid building in it, the town itself would have to be moved.
    Also, the Town Council has never had control of building permission in Alice Springs. This control is firmly in Darwin despite many protests coming from the Town Council.

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  6. Janet Lee
    Posted November 23, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    @jasmine Ross, obviously you are a CLP member or supporter.
    Your statements are outright ludicrous, or you haven’t lived either in the town or in the Territory for very long.
    Giles’s seat along with that of Lambley and Conlan is serviced by their arrogant and rude staff.
    Giles sent me an email saying he would be glad to see me back in the Alice. To date, I’m still waiting for him to return a phone call.
    I would say to you Jasmine Ross, WAKE UP to yourself and stop smelling the BS!

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  7. Bronte Zadow
    Posted November 23, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I don’t think blaming Adam Giles all the time is getting us anywhere. Why did the local council allow building in a flood plain? Do we have town planning? As I see it, the council has a lot to answer for.

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  8. Bob Durnan
    Posted November 22, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Re the threatened sale of TIO, Jasmine Ross (Posted November 22, 2014 at 11:40 am): You seem to be unaware that the many other insurance companies which offer flood and storm surge cover charge much more to policy holders situated in flood zones, and are usually much more reluctant to make prompt payouts.
    I believe that the sale of TIO will be an unmitigated disaster for a great number of Territorians, and the flow-on effects to the rest of us will also be severe, as house prices will dip significantly, and many people will be forced to sell up cheap and leave the Territory rather than face catastrophic risk without the adequate compensation that they thought would be available when they bought their homes.

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  9. Bob Durnan
    Posted November 22, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    I am intrigued by one of your assertions Jasmine Ross (Posted November 22, 2014 at 11:40 am). You state that “schemes such as Sentenced to Work [are] showing early signs of a revolutionary approach to stopping repeat offenders and potentially lower the appalling rate of Indigenous incarceration.”
    As a supporter of this experiment by Attorney General Elferink, I was not aware that any data was already released showing indications as to its efficacy in stopping re-offending. What are the signs you are referring to?

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  10. Sean
    Posted November 22, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Adam Giles … a local? Pleeeeeease, far from it!
    Guaranteed by January 2017 he won’t even be living in Alice or the NT. The Federal Government brought him here, it will be the NT Government that rids him.

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  11. Jasmine Ross
    Posted November 22, 2014 at 11:40 am

    TIO under Territory Government control (underwriter) is beyond a joke.
    Another Katherine flood has the potential to collapse the financial viability of our government so why would we maintain that risk. The crying from some of our contributors are simply self serving and most likely bias preaching from the rusted of left.
    We have plenty of alternatives to TIO for our insurance needs, 12 in fact with most of these offering flood cover.
    Sell TIO while we may get a decent price for it and put that money into infrastructure something that we are most in need of.
    As far as Adam’s seat is concerned I believe it is very safe, he is doing a great job.
    Since the outing those useless Labor leeches we have seen a great improvement to many aspects of this town.
    Notwithstanding the massive improvement in issues of anti social behaviour this government is making inroads into development opportunities which have been stale for over a decade.
    There have been great leaps made in our correctional services with schemes such as Sentenced to Work showing early signs of a revolutionary approach to stopping repeat offenders and potentially lower the appalling rate of Indigenous incarceration.
    Adam has continued to attract new and exciting opportunities such as the Summer Nats and he continues to maintain close contact with the members of our community at all levels.
    We have the potential of major projects such as the gas pipeline that will open up gas projects in and around Alice and the extra funding attracted from the Feds have help pump much needed money into our regional roads that serves both the wider Aboriginal Communities and the prospects of mining.
    So although Alice is suffering from what could only be described as a nationwide economic downturn we have a government that is walking the walk and not following the path of our last government who gave us only lip service.
    I truly believe the people of Alice are not that dumb as to consider Labor as an alternative!

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  12. Melanie Ross
    Posted November 21, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Adam, Matt and Robyn are sitting cosy in Alice and reckon they don’t have to do a thing to keep our votes in their back pocket.
    Well Alice Springs today is the day to let them know that’s not the case.
    If you are opposed to them selling off TIO and using the proceeds to shore up votes in Darwin and Katherine TELL THEM.
    Ring their offices and email and tell them DON’T SELL OUR TIO.
    Adam Giles – 8951 5463 electorate.braitling@nt.gov.au
    Matt Conlan – 8951 5531 electorate.greatorex@nt.gov.au
    Robyn Lambley – 8951 5588 electorate.araluen@nt.gov.au

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  13. Hal Duell
    Posted November 21, 2014 at 8:27 am

    For someone who has been spruiked as being a local, Mr Giles seems determined to sell Alice down the river.

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  14. Janet Lee
    Posted November 20, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    Does Giles really care about retaining his seat in the next election? NO – he is getting ready to get out and stay on the gravy train.
    A suggestion, Adam, leave before you make a proper fool of yourself and put the Alice into proper jeopardy.

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