Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 February 1999



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 February 1999

Other title

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





Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication


File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

DEBATES - Wednesday 17 February 1999 offences with it. When he talks of mandatory sentencing for other offences, and he made a reference to sexual offences, I think it is one that we need to be very, very careful of. The former Chief Minister and former Attorney-General was talking about mandatory life imprisonment, for example, for rape. I do not think you can come up with more stupid policy, because what you would have to consider is what is going on in the mind of a rapist at the time of the attack. The rapist may well consider that, if they are going to do life for rape, they may as well kill the victim altogether, increase their likelihood of getting away with it because they are only going to get life for murder anyway. They have more of a chance of getting away with it if they kill the victim and there is less likelihood of them being identified. Now that would just be an absolute nonsense in law, and he needs to be very careful of how far he wants to extend these sorts of policies because of the implications that lie behind some of them. I think that would be terrible outcome for all involved. I welcome the Chief Ministers remarks that he sees an opportunity, and a need, for discretion to go back to the courts in certain circumstances. The opposition would welcome that move and encourages him to look at that. But, of course, we need to hear far more on the circumstances that he is referring to when he talks about discretion going back to the courts. Mandatory imprisonment was inherited by this Chief Minister as govemment-of-the-day policy, and I suppose as a new Chief Minister he would be reluctant to dump it altogether, even if he wanted to. However, as my colleague the member for Stuart said, the opposition will not be backing away from its stance to bring down the mandatory imprisonment regime. We will continue to raise our concerns with the policy in the Assembly and in the community at large. Motion negatived. MOTION Native Title Regional Agreements Mr TOYNE (Stuart): Mr Speaker, I move that: This Assembly resolve that: 1. The negotiation and resourcing o f regional agreements offer a crucial opportunity to grow the Territory economy, bring Territorians together and reduce the mounting cost o f the poverty cycle to the public purse. 2. The Northern Territory government urgently review its past policies o f confrontation and neglect and institute, with goodwill, genuine negotiations with all stakeholders aimed at the establishment o f regional agreements as a regional development initiative and as a positive response to native title. What I have to say starts with an indigenous land-use agreement conference which was held in Darwin in September 1995. Peter Conran put the position of the Northern Territory government, and it was a very typical position. It was virtually that the settling of native title claims was an end-of-the-world scenario; that the Northern Territory would be burdened by its contribution to any compensation payments; and essentially, that they would be looking to the federal government to alleviate some of the pressures on the Northern Territory caused by the High Court decisions on native title. Since then, of course, we have seen the process through the federal parliament by which the 10-point plan and the amended Native Title Act reduced the scope of native title as defined by the original act. With all the negotiations that went through the federal parliament during that process, one area of the Native Title Act remained as far as I know pretty near unchanged. That was the area dealing with regional agreements and the ability of the federal act to offer force to any agreement that was produced as a result of native title claimants being able to put their claims together against advantages they wanted to bring into their area. Among the current claims that are flowing into the Northern Territory, I want to focus in particular on the Alice Springs and the Larrakia claims. The Alice Springs native title claim is active at the moment, with further hearings going on in Alice Springs. It involves the testing of a whole series of ambit claims, or starting claims, by the native title claimants regarding the extent of their title in the Alice Springs town area. That will no doubt proceed until it is proved, and we will end up with a defined extent of valid native title across the Alice Springs town area. What will happen after that will be a mapping of areas on which valid native title was deemed to have existed and has been extinguished since the Racial Discrimination Act came into force in 1975. That will define the extent of loss of native title by the Arremte people in the Alice Springs area. On the basis of that defined loss, compensation would be settled by the tribunal. Potentially it can be a combination of cash and kind. It might be entirely a cash amount, as per the railway negotiations, or a combination of cash and maybe some service 2815