Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 May 1995



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 May 1995

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Parliamentary Record 11


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 - Tuesday 23 May 1995 Aboriginal drunks in Darwin without realising that those people are refugees from situations where there are no jobs for them. When I came to the Northern Territory in the mid-1970s, award wages in bush communities under the Whitlam Labor government were running at about 70% to 80%. Over the 15 years that I have been a member of this Assembly, I have seen a gradual reduction to the point almost of non-existence of those award wage positions. Mr Reed interjecting. Mr BELL: I know that it upsets you blokes, but it is the truth. Mr Reed: It does not upset us. Mr BELL: It should. Your inaction, your cynicism and your supercilious attitude should be a matter of concern to you. It should be a matter of concern that people do not analyse what is happening in the bush. They become upset about the standard of behaviour of Aboriginal drunks in town, but do not bother to look at what causes it. Exactly those glossy, self-congratulatory comments that we heard again in the Treasurers budget speech, which totally ignored those issues, should be a matter of concern to every Territorian. Labor has a constructive approach to this. It is not an expensive approach We believe that constructive use of programs, such as CDEP, is a way of addressing unemployment and underemployment. It is a wicked shame that this budget makes absolutely no mention of the need for strategies of that kind. The only mention of projects in bush communities relates to tourism infrastructure - walking tracks and so on in some of the national parks around the Centre. They are good projects, and the government deserves congratulation for its development of some of the national parks. I am not suggesting that everything this government does is bad. However, I do suggest that the capital works program should be dovetailed with the overall employment situation around the bush. If you purport to speak for the Territory economy, you have to speak for all of it - not just the bit of it that you represent. The good must be taken with the bad. No effort has ever been made by this government to tackle those problems. I have raised this subject in budget debates before, but the point needs to be made again and again. Territory Labor would make constructive use of Commonwealth government programs. In 1983, this government made the political decision that it could not afford to work constructively with the federal government in any public sense. Some 12 years later, we see the results of that decision. Every time we look at health statistics, for example, every time we see mortality rates endemic to bush communities, it is impossible for members to pretend that they can ignore the failure of successive CLP governments to address the problems of unemployment and underemployment in bush communities. I could go on to talk about the lack of a recreation strategy for those communities, but that goes beyond the purview of a budget strategy. However, unemployment and underemployment do not. The absolute nonsense that this budget continues to push, and that is continually pushed by the NT News and a succession of ABC reporters who are not in a position even to be armed with the facts, is a matter of serious concern to me. I believe this is an underlying problem that a government can and should address. During 13 or 14 years in opposition in this House, what has frustrated me 3529