Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 February 1999



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 February 1999

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Parliamentary Record 14


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 - Wednesday 17 February 1999 without any attempt to mesh the two things together. From what I am aware of the Community Government Act, there is nothing in the letter of the law, there is nothing in the wording of that act, that would preclude the inclusion of some relationship to the traditional owners and their authorities. For example, some right to take core decisions back to that forum before they are ratified as a major change being brought in by the council. Thats never been done either at the time these councils have been constituted or since. I know the 2 main land councils have taken 2 different views on this. The Northern Land Council is quite happy to work out some pragmatic arrangement place-by-place to allow that kind of unification to happen. The Central Land Council is still highly suspicious of the Community Government Act. It is not the act itself but it is the way its been implemented as a political agenda. They have both chosen their paths and we will see where it all goes. Whichever way theyve dealt with it, it doesnt negate what Im saying about the need for this core relationship to be formed. When you judge the ministers statement by that kind of framework, there are a lot of things that will cause some problems. If you set a target of 2000 people as being a notional size of a community council, that will not accord with any dimensions of traditional ownership that Im aware of in my travels. It may in some cases just simply because it does, but in most cases there will be working groups that people have chosen in recent times and for contemporary reasons but for others, it is an age-old period of time where all sorts of things formed up the size of groups and the areas that they called home. It would have to be a much more complex process than simply running a ruler through the population centres and saying that we need 2000 people so lets put Walungurru at Kintore in with Mount Liebig with Papunya and with Haasts Bluff. That will immediately cause an enormous amount of mutual suspicion and will probably lead to a lot ... Mrs Braham: It wont happen that way. Mr TOYNE: ... of trauma. I know you are saying its voluntary and I know you are saying that you are prepared to support small groups. But it would be much more creative and productive to go back and look at how people work together, or would like to work together, and then go back to the proposition of this new formation. No-one is against reform. Most people would look at a creative idea as long as it accords with these guiding principles that pertain out bush. Mr Lugg: The perfect argument for small land councils. Mr TOYNE: No, no, it is the perfect argument against small land councils, I dont think you understand the plot. Thats the major area that I have concerns about. If were going to go into a reform of the community government on the sort of presumptions that you are making, that big groups are going to be more efficient and you are going to have less upheaval in the operation of councils, the fact of the matter is that is just simply not true according to whats out there. There are other factors. It almost feels like a shadow of the bilingual debate. Here we are, beating ourselves to death over bilingual and non-bilingual programs, when the factors that are causing the performance of schools to be good or bad do not relate to what programs are in there; it is other things to do with the community. In fact, overwhelmingly so. Things like the poverty cycle, truancy rates, the economic strength of the community, all those things are much more important than the nature of the school program itself. You will find the same with councils. You will find that the major thing to be done is to make sure that there is a socially cohesive group around the council. It is not the size of the council or the supposed efficiencies. If there is not a very clear framework for the community to exercise a good partnership with the staff of the council, if they cant get groups together that can go to a town clerk or to a council worker who is in some way not functioning well, and have the strength of their group to be able to take to that problem and make a clear decision about it, then within that hiatus there will be mayhem. We have had some famous examples even recently. One guy bought a restaurant in Alice Springs, for Gods sake, using the municipal funds. Mrs Braham: So you do agree that we need to look at it. We cant leave it as it is. Mr SPEAKER: Order! Mr TOYNE: I am quite happy to talk to you about it later because Im trying to be constructive. I will certainly talk to you about it later. I conclude by saying that even though these ideas sound simplistic, they are very fundamental. If you dont get these right, no amount of tinkering with the types of buildings and number of staff and interviewing procedures will work, because the community isnt a community that the council is actually serving. If you put a council structure over communities that arent cohesive, then youre just going to have 20 years of heartburn. 2779