Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995
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
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 17 May 1995 intervene to stop its progress. Once we intervene, that should allow the natural processes to take the area back to the way it would have been if the type of damage inflicted by feral animals and people had not occurred. It has been reported that people have literally dynamited banks of rivers to allow easier access at low tide or to enable access for larger boats. With larger and faster boats on the water, the problem is compounded by the creation of larger wakes. Tidal damage is accelerated and the banks are scoured. I hope the Minister for Conservation will not say that this is simply another example of erosion at work. We all know his pro-erosion policy. Erosion created Katherine Gorge, he told us a few years ago. I hope he has moved on from some of his rhetoric of those times and realises that erosion is and has been highly detrimental to the Mary River area. The government will have to look at the cost implications in the short term of the capital works that will be required to stop the ongoing damage through the saltwater intrusion. If it cannot find the money in the short term, the cost in the long term will be many times higher. The other major problem is not restricted to that area. I refer to introduced flora species of which mimosa is by far the greatest cause for concern. Flying over the area, as we did on 2 occasions, we saw vast areas, almost like green deserts, where nothing grows but mimosa. These plants are 5 m to 6 m tall and the growth is totally impenetrable. If our helicopter had crashed into one of these large areas, we would have been unable to move any distance in any direction. It is possibly as dense and impenetrable as some of the mangroves areas that fringe Darwin Harbour. Some pastoral properties seem to be keeping the weed in check. They are spraying, burning, ploughing it up or are planting other species. On other properties, mimosa control seems to be minimal. Our recommendation is that the Northern Territory and federal governments put a greater joint effort into weeds control in the area, particularly in relation to mimosa. We have commented on the way assistance is given. We believe that the focus of assistance should be on outcomes. It should not be based on a pastoralist submitting an invoice indicating that money has been spent and asking for reimbursement. We believe that a much better method is to work with farmers to achieve the greatest possible damage to mimosa for the dollar expenditure. If landowners have and use a better way than spraying, they should be supported. The farmers should be reimbursed for results rather than simply expenditure. The subsidy should be for the most efficient means of achieving results. We are calling on the Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments to work together. The relevant ministers in the federal government must be made aware of the issues involved with the Mary River floodplain and lobbied for support. The work will be very expensive. However, wetlands are a very limited resource, and they are highly productive and are extremely important environmental areas. Equally, they are highly important tourism areas. Because people have failed to recognise the great benefits and the biological diversity of wetland areas in Australia and elsewhere, many of them have been drained. In Queensland, many have been used for sugar cane cultivation. Many years later, people ask what has happened to the fish and the birds that were previously plentiful in the area.. We have seen it happen with mangroves. We realise there are certain crucial biological areas. We must ensure that single interests do not prevail over general good. That is why the recommendation in the report is for multiple land use. In that way, land is not provided for individual benefit, but for the common good. It is provided for everybody, both now and in the 3288
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