Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 May 1995
Parliamentary Record 11
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 - Tuesday 23 May 1995 ATSIC gives them. This is despite the fact that the Department of Lands, Housing and Local Government has advised the government that there is a need for at least 5000 houses to be constructed simply to catch up on the backlog. Earlier, the member for Nhulunbuy referred to some statistics that were tabled in the Assembly by the Minister for Lands, Housing and Local Government in relation to a report on the inadequacy of housing programs in remote communities. We often speak about these matters, but our words fall on deaf ears. The Treasurer claims that there is no need for additional infrastructure spending in the Northern Territory. That is a shameful statement. Some ministers commented recently to the effect that they recognised the connection between poor housing and unemployment generally and the atrocious state of Aboriginal health in the Northern Territory. Nevertheless, we still see no commitment of Territory funds to remote area Aboriginal housing programs. Instead, we are faced with cuts to Aboriginal essential services and cuts to Aboriginal housing and infrastructure programs. I was pleased to note in the budget for the Office of Aboriginal Development that there is an increase to allow for 3 staff and for operations in general. We need to see programs flowing through on the ground. I look forward to a change in government leadership this year and perhaps a change in the governments attitude to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. I hope that, when the member for Port Darwin becomes the Chief Minister, he will not suggest to us that matters like the Aboriginal Land Rights Act and the Mabo outcomes need not be considered in this legislature. We need also to see the Office of Aboriginal Development taking an active role in the constitutional development of the Northern Territory and in educating Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals alike about the entrenchment of Aboriginal land rights in a Northern Territory constitution. As well, we need to see a great deal more work done on developing employment opportunities in remote communities. I come now to the Office of Local Government. In effect, its budget has been cut by $2m. When we assess this years budget for population growth and inflation, all areas received cuts in real terms, but the main burden of these cuts has fallen on community government and other local government authorities. It continues the pattern established in this budget with the cuts to Aboriginal essential services. In the case of community government, some $694 000 has been removed, and this translates in real terms to $1.3m. Other local government services have been cut by $1.2m in real terms. This does not take into account the low base that these community government councils are working from, nor does it take into account the massive need for local government infrastructure in these communities. Mr Speaker, you would be very much aware of the fact that there are communities that need that infrastructure to ensure that the community services are able to be delivered. This budget means that the development and expansion of local communities taking control of their own local affairs will be undermined. Quite often, I have heard people in my communities discussing the Local Government Scheme because it offers more funding and gives them control of their communities. However, when they see the cuts that this government has made to funding of these local government bodies, it is no wonder that they decide to stay with the federal legislation. For example, Yarralin community has approached the opposition because it is very concerned about its move to community government. The Yarralin community has been advised by an officer in the ministers department that it will not be able to achieve community government status in the 3520
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