Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 23 November 1994



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 23 November 1994

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Parliamentary Record 6


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 23 November 1994 M r B E L L (M acDonnell): Mr Speaker, I rise to speak on a crucial issue for the Northern Territory and I refer particularly to the question o f unemployment and under-employment in Aboriginal communities and in the Aboriginal community generally across the Territory. I should mention in passing that, although we hear government speakers saying repeatedly in this Assembly how important economic development and job growth are, we very rarely see accurate information presented by government speakers. Time and time again, we see and hear these government ministers attacking their federal counterparts rather than working in association with those federal counterparts. For that reason, it was interesting to listen to the dorothy dixer asked o f the Minister for Aboriginal Development. I really do hate that term Aboriginal development because it implies the sort o f assimilationist approach that so many of the ministers colleagues demonstrate. I do not make the accusation against the minister himself. I really think it is high time that that portfolio was given the name that it is given in every other jurisdiction in this country where it is referred to as the Ministry for Aboriginal Affairs. The difference is that that name implies the sort o f self-determination that has been at the centre o f Aboriginal affairs policy from the 1970s onwards. However, I digress. The question o f under-employment and unemployment in Aboriginal communities is something that is not talked about enough. In yesterdays dorothy dixer, the minister was asked about economic development on Aboriginal land and employment generation in Aboriginal communities, and his response did not seem to be related to the question. He talked about cross-cultural education. I would like to make a few comments about that as well in a minute. It was surprising to hear the minister say, on the one hand, that he was hoping - and this was a very rare thing for a CLP minister to say, but nonetheless w elcom e-that relevant agencies in both the Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments have been working towards a common goal in the sphere o f economic development and employment generation. That is very heartening to hear. However, the big gap in the ministers response was that there was no reference to the Community Development Employment Projects - the work for the dole schemes. If there is one real frustration I feel in continuing in opposition here is contemplating what a Labor government that was prepared to work with the federal government could do. It would not regard the federal government as something that has to be opposed for the sake o f political gain, but would be prepared to work with it to supplement, administer and corroborate important programs such as the CDEP. I believe that, if the Office o f Aboriginal Development put more effort into working very publicly with the Commonwealth government programs, much more could be achieved. I mention in passing that, time and time again, these very generously funded Commonwealth programs are used apparently by this government simply to get itself off the funding hook in other key areas o f government expenditure. The examples that spring to mind are local roads funding and the Aboriginal Education Program. I have serious doubts whether close scrutiny o f the governments books in either o f those areas would show a reasonable effort on the part o f this government, but I digress. I want to concentrate on the Community Development Employment Project programs. These have grown around my electorate over the last 5 to 10 years. They represent an extremely constructive effort on the part o f those communities. They do not all work well. Not everything done in the name of CDEP is terrific. Let us bear in mind that one o f the difficulties in that regard is that we are asking long-term unemployed people 1866