The North Territory government has been accused in parliament of “corruption and collusion” over a $10 million taxpayer-funded investment in a bottled water company that has gone broke.
The company NT Beverages went into voluntary administration in December after it received $10 million through the NT Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF) last February.
It also owes almost $500,000 more to government creditors.
The IDF was disbanded two years after being set up from the $200 million sale of public insurer TIO.
Independent MP and former NT Treasurer Robyn Lambley said Territorians deserved an explanation why the IDF, which was overseen by Treasurer Nicole Manison and had head NT public servant Jodie Ryan on its board, made such a poor investment.
“When it came about that this company was indeed insolvent, it went broke, the Gunner government ruled out referring the matter for investigation,” Ms Lambley said.
“That is $10.5 million in taxpayers money just out the door like it didn’t exist, no responsibility, no explanation.
“To me that sounds like collusion, perhaps corruption, it sounds like it could be misconduct, it sounds like it could be unsatisfactory conduct.”
The matter could be investigated by NT Independent Commissioner against Corruption, she said.
Ms Lambley was speaking in the first sitting of parliament for the year and in support of Opposition Leader Gary Higgins’ censure motion against the government over the NT’s fiscal and economic situation.
“With debt like $35.7 billion (predicted by 2029/30) our children, and their children, and their children’s children will be in debt for decades,” Mr Higgins said.
“They have put self-government at risk.”
Treasurer Nicole Manison accused him of making an hysteric and politically opportunistic speech and that the government was committed to repairing the NT’s economic and fiscal situation inherited from the previous CLP government.
The censure motion was defeated.
It was the first parliamentary sitting since Labor kicked three of its own members out of caucus for alleged disloyalty, including former Primary Industry and Resources and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ken Vowles, Scott McConnell and Jeff Collins.