Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995
Parliamentary Record 10
Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 17 May 1995 the saltwater intrusion. However, it appears that, in some areas, the tidal flow is working its way around some of these barrages, and this situation must be addressed immediately. Some damage has been caused to existing barrages by the recent record Wet. I believe that no wet season of that size has been recorded in that area since the early 1950s, and therefore it was rather significant. This also must be addressed immediately. If salt water gets over to Alligator Heads or above the Shady Camp barrage, the environmental damage will be catastrophic, but it can be prevented if we act now. Alligator Heads is directly opposite Shady Camp on the western side of the Mary River flood plain. I first noticed Mimosa pigra in the area in the late 1970s. At that stage, it was present in very small and isolated pockets. Today, it covers thousands of acres from one end of the wetlands area to the other. It is an environmental disaster on a national scale. The Mary River wetlands is an area of major importance and significance, not only to Territorians and other Australians, but internationally. Clearly, the federal government must join with the Territory government in addressing this major issue in this internationally significant area and a strong commitment must be given to rid the Top End of this extremely noxious weed. The tourism potential of the Mary River wetlands area is well recognised, and it is marketed accordingly both interstate and overseas. There are many diverse interests in the area and it is essential that interested groups work together for their mutual benefit. It may well involve give and take on the part all of these parties to ensure that the future of the area is secure. The blending of all interests is vital. The area contains pastoral interests, tourism and recreational interests, horticultural interests, various government departmental interests, such as water resources, fisheries conservation and mining, other conservation group interests and Aboriginal interests which are of major importance. I say Aboriginal interests because I recall, back in the 1970s, travelling quite extensively in the Mary River area, particularly around an area known as Black Fella Island and all the way down to Shady Camp. We would come across what we used to call middens. They are old work areas where people would make axe heads and other tools. The evidence of that activity is still there today. I am also aware that the bamboo from the Mary River area was highly sought after, not only in the Top End but also down through the Centre. I believe that it was actually traded as far south as the desert country, believe it or not, and over to Western Australia. It was so strong and straight that it was regarded as the Rolls Royce of spearshafts. The recommendations in the report involve all of these interest groups coming together and forming one group to properly manage and oversee implementation of the recommendations. It is encouraging to hear that discussions are currently under way between a local pastoral property and the federal government concerning the possibility of a joint venture involving the commitment of plant, machinery, manpower and running costs to address saltwater intrusion in some areas close to the coast. I commend both parties if this joint venture does eventuate. I am confident that the cooperative spirit will be as strong between all other interested groups, from professional operators to people enjoying their leisure time, and from pastoralists to sporting shooters. The input of government departments is vital if we are to be successful in preserving this beautiful area. The recommendations of the report must be assessed and followed up as quickly as possible. I feel we will have only one decent shot at this and, for the sake of future generations, we must not blow it. The situation probably could be summed up by standing 3291
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