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




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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 opportunities for everybody in this. I commend the minister on her statement today. Mr AH KIT (Arnhem): Mr Speaker, I do have a few comments on the ministerial statement. I would like to make it quite clear that I am not here to argue the land council case on whether they should be broken up or not. I am here to rely on my experience and my talks with constituents in my electorate and around the rest of the Territory when I visit. I am obviously not talking to the same council members that the minister for Lands, Planning and Environment is talking to, because I have continually run into criticism of the government and possibly the minister when he was the minister for Aboriginal Development and for Local Government, on concerns about the lack of consultation. Mind you, I do understand the governments dilemma in regard to following suit with local government around the rest of the country but, and its mentioned on page 2 in the ministerial statement: The Territory also has a unique form of local community government. That is where I think most of my concerns are. I believe that the Local Government Association, in conjunction with the government, would more than likely come to a situation where they can agree on how they can most effectively distribute the dollars to those municipalities to undertake the services that are required. But in respect of community government as mentioned by the minister it is unique. We need to be very careful to ensure that if any changes are brought in, that people have been consulted widely and extensively. As the minister mentions in her statement, there are 700-odd local government councillors that we are talking about, incorporating all of the local and community government councils. The member for Nightcliff might look a bit astonished but it is something that I read in the statement. Mrs Braham interjecting. Mr AH KIT: Councillors, people, which are mentioned in your statement. Am I correct? Mrs Braham: 68 councils, 700 elected people. Mr AH KIT: That is correct. Mr Hatton: That is people, not councils. Mr AH KIT: That is what I said. If the member for Nightcliff would like to go back and look at Hansard in the morning, he may stand corrected. But nevertheless, there are concerns that people have in the bush. From memory when the institution of local government was introduced, there was a great unholy rush. We have now come to a stand-still and we now have to go back out, or the government has the responsibility to ensure that people are going to be consulted widely and extensively and are going to assist in providing comments about how this amalgamation will take place and how the reform agenda is going to be acceptable to them, or whether it requires changes. I think the minister is correct in her opening paragraph on how the communitys health and strength is reflected by how strong its local government council is - either local or community government council. The minister is correct, on page 2, also in stating that no other state has done this. I would like to acknowledge from our side of the House that that statement is correct. No other state has paid the attention that the Territory has to ensuring that small remote Aboriginal communities have access to this level of government. I take issue with the minister on page 3 at the top where this word self-management is trotted out, and I wonder whether it is deliberate. I understand through the 80s and into the 90s we had self-control and self-management. I wonder whether it is deliberate. I understand through the 80s and into the 90s we had self-control, self-management, and self-determination. There seems to be, now, a walking away from this word self-determination. I would like the minister to give, in her closing statement, some explanation of the difference between self-control and self-management. Obviously, to me, self-management means an ability to manage oneself to a certain degree. If we are going to allow Aboriginal people, especially with the community governments councils, to take on this reform agenda and to start having a positive say in how it is going to affect them and how it should be implemented and structured, then we need to start talking in stronger terms of self-determination. The minister also mentions on page 3 the role and the function of each level is established by its constitution, and I agree entirely, and I emphasise that the constitution that is arrived at is one that is strong and manageable. The ability for a framework that allows for local government to operate effectively and efficiently is obviously something that all councils, whether they are local or community government, are looking for, and that needs to be continued. The problem with employing competent, qualified and ethical staff on the one hand can be placed back on the community, but it is also a responsibility of the minister and the department to ensure that there are solutions put in place and mechanisms that will allow for the proper recruitment of the right people into those community 2782