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 government councils. It irks me to this very day that the minister still has to give approval to a town clerk. I can understand the reasoning for that, but on the other hand, I have been told by community government councillors and presidents that that is something they reject because it does not give them the opportunity to manage or determine what is best for them in their particular community. In one case - 1 think it was a western Arnhem community - the ministerial approval was given to a particular person who, I am told - and I will not name the person or the community, I will let members work that out for themselves - got the community into a great deal of strife financially, and this was after the ministerial appointment was made. So, there are concerns ... Mr Dunham inteijecting. Mr AH KIT: If the new Minister for Health thinks that Kalkarindji is in western Arnhem, then maybe he needs to have a look at the map of the Northern Territory. I said western Arnhem. Kalkarindji, as far as I am concerned, is not anywhere near Amhem Land at all. I turn now to the implementation of bringing councils together. Minister, in your statement you mentioned Tasmania and you mentioned Victoria. I cant emphasise it more than I have, I suppose, but community government councils, as you mentioned, are unique and we need to take into account that particular uniqueness. The next step is a big step, as the minister alludes to. When she mentions traditional decision making, Aboriginal decision making, Id like the minister to give some explanation, if she could, in her closing statement of what that actually means; what is her definition? I note that the minister for Lands, Planning and Environment in his contribution said that a very good example is the Port Keats/Wadeye situation. If that is how the minister has explained it, then I am sure that once I have had a look at it and feel that that is working properly and that is what the traditional owners of that particular want, and its what the community representatives on the council are happy with, that example if its practised through the implementation of this reform throughout the Northern Territory, is going to provide a very good example for the rest of the other community government councils. The problem has been that, in the past, traditional owners have been in conflict with community government councils, and understandably so. If we look back at the history of communities, how theyve been brought together, how they started off as missions and settlements etc, and how people came in off their traditional lands, we do have situations of conflict right throughout the Northern Territory. Others are in much more conflict compared with other areas, but there is definitely a position of conflict. We have a situation where, Im told, people at Maningrida cant get on with each other because the people who are the landowners are not the people who sit on the community government council, so you have that sort of conflict. But if this Port Keats/Wadeye situation is as the Minister for Lands, Planning and Environment says, then I think that if that example can be used, and if its acceptable to other councils throughout the Northern Territory, then, as I say, it will alleviate a lot of headaches. On the other hand, that is the major problem we need to work with. The minister mentioned in her statement on page 9 that a stronger relationship between traditional decision-making structures and service delivery structures would assist in creating local authorities with legitimacy and credibility. She goes on to say that innovative models for such structures are available and already a number of groups are positively discussing the ways that they could be introduced. I have no problems with that particular paragraph, but I would like to ask the minister if she could also, in her closing statement, inform members on this side of the House where these models are and can she table some of these models which have these structures that groups are already positively discussing, given that we have members who have interests in our particular electorates who are concerned about the future of community government councils and also local government. On page 9 also the minister said: the current system was developed in consultation with Aboriginal people and other residents. I find that a broad statement. Could the minister give us some idea of the extensive consultations about this new regime, the acceptability of that and ensuring that there will be a smooth transition? I also have concerns about the further objectives mentioned by the minister on page 10 and I wonder if she could table papers in regard to the paragraph on that page saying: These councils should ideally provide access to services for the entire Territory population. The government has no specific number of councils in mind. The number will be dictated by the other objectives that we are seeking to achieve. I wonder what these other objectives are that the minister and her department are seeking to achieve? As I say, we dont have any problems with what the government is attempting to do. I do have some concerns though about the bigger picture about what this governments master plan is. Is it a master plan that fits with the Reeves review and 2783