Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 31 May 2001



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 31 May 2001

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Parliamentary Record 28


Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001




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 - Thursday 31 May 2001 resources or other assistance was provided by the government that helped to implement the Collins recommendations. I know, as a working teacher of long standing in the department, you could go around 20 years ago and you would find remarkable work being done in our schools by remarkable teachers and by remarkable communities that supported those initiatives. You could go round 10 years ago and you can go around today and find those. The issue is not whether they exist - hopefully they always will - but whether the government and this education system has provided any systematic support to the initiation of those types of programs or any ongoing resourcing of them. I have yet to find a convincing example around the schools where that has been done in a clearly definable way by the government. It is just happening there despite everything; it is not happening there because there is a strong implementation of Collins. Looking at the other two divisions in the education budget, NTETA has suffered a cut of S3.42m to the provision of training. I have commented on this already. At a time when we are implementing the railway project, at a time when we are three years away from the arrival of gas onshore, why are we cutting back the provision of training in such areas as trades and basic employable skills such as IT skills, numeracy and literacy? Why are we cutting that area back? It is absolutely insane, especially when you acknowledge we have an economy which is chronically undersupplied of skilled people and particularly in the critical skill areas that have been identified by the railway consortium and by the gas industry as being vital to the uptake of these projects in the Northern Territory. You could only describe this as being incredibly short-sighted, and incredibly untimely, to be cutting the NTETA budget as it appears to be in the budget papers. The Centralian College has dropped by $4.837m. I do not share the alarm of the Australian Education Union because I happen to know that that was the completion of the School of Hospitality facility at the Centralian College campus. All we are doing is returning back to the normal level of funding in the corporate services section of the budget. I am taking it that the Centralian College budget is basically business as usual. I am very pleased to see that that Hospitality Centre has been built and is now open and functioning. I turn now to Primary Industry and Fisheries, mango industry reform which the minister referred to, the establishment of cold storage facilities and other transport arrangements that have been discussed. I went to the mango growers crisis meeting after the last season. I think we all know that there was quite a disastrous outcome to the last mango season because of the sheer volume of the mango crop that came through in such a short timeframe, over four weeks. They simply could not move the crop quickly enough. There werent the storage facilities to hold it while transport was being organised. There werent enough trucks to actually move the crop in such volumes and when that amount of fruit hit the domestic markets, there was a huge slump in the price of mangoes. The upshot of all this was that most of the growers made a substantial loss at a time when we felt that the industry was really starting to consolidate. Now, there was no doubt what the solution was as put forward by the meeting. We need to get into export. We need to do it very quickly. We need to establish much more extensive infrastructure to handle the crop from year to year. So I welcome that there is serious discussion about cold storage and better transport. We would certainly give the same pledge on our side of the House, that a Labor government would take a lot of care with that industry along with other areas of horticulture. We do need cold storage facilities for everything from cut flowers to the perishable fruits and vegetables. We do need a much better transport support for this very strongly emerging industry. Quarantine provisions have remained a salient issue up here, with the outbreak of White Spot Syndrome virus from the research farm in Darwin Harbour and the global outbreak of Foot and Mouth. Again, with the rejigging of the budget papers, while we can see that there is a cut of $880 000 from the ecologically sustainable development of primary industry, we dont know where that cut is or what it means about the resource protection vote which I have been following now for a number of years because of the ongoing issue of quarantine. We dont know what this government is pledging to the maintenance of our quarantine screen. Is it being maintained at the same level? We dont know. We do know that the area in which those quarantine funds are lodged has been cut back overall by $.88m. I hope that doesnt mean we are dropping our guard at a time when we have Foot and Mouth potentially offshore. It could appear at any stage in our local cattle or feral animal population. We need to maintain absolute vigilance on this if we dont want to lose a significant part of our primary industry production. I will spend the last part of my time looking at the more local issues in my electorate and Central Australia. The member for Braitling and I have both been taking a keen interest in the Tanami Road situation. I might seem far more keen than the member for Braitling, seeing I drive on it all the 7806