Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995

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Parliamentary Record 10


Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 17 May 1995 result, 18 written submissions were received, and 27 witnesses gave evidence at public hearings. The committee carried out inspections of the Mary River wetlands both before and during the wet season. These visits gave the committee members their initial exposure to the most immediate serious problems facing the wetlands - those of saltwater intrusion and mimosa infestation. For someone like myself, unfamiliar with the extent of the floodwaters which inundate this northern part of the Territory during the Wet, it was a sight never to be forgotten. Stretching as far as the eye could see, from the elevated position of a hovering helicopter, a sheet of water flowed out towards the ocean. It was impossible to tell where the water ended and the land commenced. At the time of our initial inspection during the Dry, the enormity of the saltwater intrusion problem was readily visible from the air. Salt water had inundated many thousands of hectares of what was once highly productive freshwater grassland and melaleuca forest, leaving as a testimony a moonscape of dead tree trunks. Valuable input to the committees inquiries was gained by members as a result of their attendance at a wetlands workshop hosted by the Conservation Commission in December 1994, under the chairmanship of Dr Goff Letts. There were over 100 participants, including representatives of various public groups and organisations as well as interested individuals. Several international speakers shared their experience and knowledge of wetlands in their own regions which are facing similar problems. Members of the committee participated in workshop sessions and were able to hear at first-hand from stakeholders regarding their concerns. They gleaned valuable information from detailed discussions of a range of possible solutions and their implications. The outcomes of the workshop were referred to the committee for consideration in conjunction with its reference on the Mary River wetlands. An equally important part of the committees reference, other than environmental protection, was the multiple use of the wetlands. This inherently charged the committee with the responsibility of investigating strategies for successfully achieving multiple use. To achieve a commonality of purpose and direction to develop appropriate strategies, the committee had first to determine what it understood by the term multiple use. The committee saw fit to reject a literal interpretation of the term as meaning more than one use on a given parcel of land and instead viewed the achievement of multiple use as a regional land-use goal. To achieve this requires, on balance, adherence to the following principles: (1) ensuring long-term economic and social sustainability of individual enterprises; (2) maintenance of the resource base on which these enterprises depend; (3) promotion of opportunities for new enterprises based on as yet unutilised resources; (4) protection of the regions biological diversity; and (5) maintenance of essential ecological processes which give rise to the very valuable mix of resources being used. 3284

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