Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 21 February 1996



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 21 February 1996

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Parliamentary Record 19


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 - Wednesday 21 February 1996 inconvenience. I am not sure whether that perception is reasonable or not. It may be regarded as a means o f funding the development facilities in gemstone areas in order to attract tourists. Many of the fossickers will come from interstate. It may be a reasonable argument that, if they are using facilities paid for by Territory taxpayers, they should have to pay for a fossickers licence if they want one. If that argument is accepted, why not charge people to visit national parks? The bulk o f the visitors to our national parks come from interstate. The government may claim that it does not charge for visits to national parks, but it does. The taxpayers o f the Northern Territory pay for the maintenance and development o f those parks and allow visitors from interstate and overseas to visit them free o f charge. About 12 or 18 months ago, I was talking to parks people in Tasmania. They told me that they had introduced visitor charges and that there was considerable response from locals about having to pay to visit their parks. They introduced a fee scale related to short- and long-term visits to a single park or to multiple parks. For a small fee, which is only marginally larger that that for a short-term permit, residents o f the particular area are able to obtain a long-term permit. Tourists who want to visit for 1 or 2 days have to pay $5 or $10. A resident o f the area who visits the park regularly pays $15 for a long-term permit. I was told that that system resulted in quite considerable income that could be spent on park development. I am not advocating the introduction of park fees. However, it could be a source o f revenue that could be expended on facilities that are used by non-Territorians. In other words, visitors from overseas or interstate would help to pay for the parks. The idea that the parks are free is wrong. The rangers in our parks say that it would be great if they had a few hundred thousand dollars to upgrade this facility or to provide such and such resources. Mr Reed: They would say the same thing if they had money coming in. Mr BAILEY: It is very awkward. It is similar to the bed tax which everyone objected to. If the revenue from a tax is used in the area from which it is collected, people are more prepared to accept it. Most people in the tourism industry in the Northern Territory no longer object to the bed tax because it is used for tourism promotion. The Territory government did not become involved in the federal bed tax debate. It thought it was a good deal because tourists from around the world would actually pay the promotional expenses to attract more tourists. When politicians decide on a line to follow, they need to consider whether they are trading off an overall benefit for perceived short-term political gain. The reality is that nothing is free. Everything has to be paid for somehow. It is interesting that we do not charge for the use o f parks, but that we will charge people who wish to do a bit of fossicking. The bill indicates areas where fossicking may occur with permission - Crown land, private land, Conservation Land Corporation land etc. I ask the minister whether people will be able to fossick on Northern Territory Land Corporation land. It is my understanding that that land is not Crown land. I do not think that it is private land either because, due to the way that it is established, the corporation is not a private entity. Does this mean therefore that we are creating legislation that says that no one is allowed to go fossicking on Territory Land Corporation land? I am wondering why that is excluded when it would appear that everywhere else is included. Even Aboriginal land is specified, as long as permission is first obtained. I am wondering why land held by the Territory Land Corporation has been left out because I do not think it fits into any o f those classifications. 6600