Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995

Other title

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





Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication


File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

DEBATES - Wednesday 17 May 1995 near the barrage at Shady Camp today, although with care because there are numerous saltwater crocodiles in that area both to the south of the barrage and on its northern side. On the southern side is a beautiful freshwater billabong, full of lilies and freshwater fish, with abundant bird life whose habitat is there whilst, on the northern side, there is a tidal channel that becomes wider and faster all the way to the sea. I am not sure of the distance but I would estimate it to be 30 km or 40 km. Twenty years ago that was all part of the isolated billabong chain. For the sake of the future of the bird life and the fish and other wildlife, we must get it right. I would like to place on record my thanks to all who worked so diligently on this report: Rod Applegate, Graham Gadd, Liz McFarlane, my fellow committee members and all of those people, groups and departments that made submissions. They were all extremely important and taken into account when the report was prepared. I also commend the Minister for Conservation for addressing the situation in this manner. Mr Deputy Speaker, I commend the report to honourable members, and I emphasise that, in this particular case, we must get it right. Mr ADAMSON (Casuarina): Mr Deputy Speaker, I think my colleagues have summed up very well the feelings of the whole committee. It was a unanimous report and the members of the committee were unanimous in their concern, not only for the condition of the Mary River wetlands area to the extent that it exists at the moment but also to see that the development of the problem was halted and that hopefully we can literally turn back the tide. I guess that is a good way to put it. There is a dramatic problem there. The member for Millner has indicated clearly, both here and to committee members in the past, just how dramatically conditions have changed over the last 20 years. I must admit that I found his comments very useful in the committees deliberations, and certainly in my own. However, all it takes to realise that there is a problem is a simple flight over the area. There is no need to read any government reports or to talk to any pastoralists or fishing groups or whatever. A simple flight across the area will tell anyone that there is a problem and that it exists in many forms. Certainly, the most visible without a doubt would be the saltwater intrusion. I believe that saltwater intrusion is the major problem and the priority at this stage. There are certainly others. As the member for Wanguri said, the other major issue is Mimosa pigra. Saltwater intrusion has reached the stage where, while it has devastated great areas of the Mary River wetlands, it is threatening an even greater area by a factor of about 3 or 4. The time that we have to do something about that cannot be measured in years. In effect, we are talking probably about months and, the sooner we start on that task, the better. Without a doubt, saltwater intrusion is the primary priority there at the moment. We heard a great deal of evidence and many theories as to the cause of the extent of the problem. The extent of buffalo activity in earlier days has been raised. Other human intervention involving everything from fishing boats to the odd stick of dynamite here and there has all been proposed as representing some of the causes of the current problems. However, whatever the cause and however it happened, we must do something about it, and we must do something soon. I believe the Northern Territory government and the Commonwealth government have a joint responsibility in this regard. 3292