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 I would urge the minister, in those negotiations and consultations, to address some of those types of issues that undoubtedly exist and are taking moneys - important moneys - away from the direct on-the-ground delivery of services to people, and maybe get some consistency and coordination in the delivery of services in the communities. I think there are some good examples that can be drawn on. I quote again the Anmatjere Community Government Council. The minister referred to having perhaps larger community government type of councils, and that council structured itself as a series of large living areas, excision on pastoral properties. Each living area has its own subgroup which manages its own affairs, and they come together into the one council. It worked so effectively that the Ti Tree community - a non-Aboriginal community - successfully applied to join the Anmatjere Council, and it has been an exercise in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities coming together in local government successfully. I am sure there are many other opportunities for similar examples to occur throughout the Northern Territory, and perhaps dramatically improve the delivery of service to Aboriginal people in the Territory at the local government level, and the road funding level and across a wide range of other areas. Later on today - 1 may be in breach of standing orders presuming a debate coming later, but considering the number of predictions in Question Time today, I am sure I can get your minor indulgence, Mr Speaker, by saying that perhaps in the context of regional discussions about local government and other issues, the delivery of many of the other government service functions could be addressed and if they are consistent with traditional land ownership structures, perhaps there could be some consistency of approach with things such as the ATSIC structures. Perhaps there could be a bringing together of the ATSIC structures with the local government structures and we could even look at things like the relationships with the land trusts and the land council structures in those areas. Perhaps all matters of relevance for that particular group of people could be brought through some consistent framework that enables the people to make a decision over their own land in a way that is consistent with their own decision-making structures, consistent also with our structure which is designed to create the flexibility for that to happen and in such a way that people feel they are empowered and involved. Maybe, for once, we can get some real seriousness into the much-touted terminology, self-determination. I wish the minister well in her endeavours. I believe there is a potential here to do something very significant to advance the lot and the quality of life and the self-determination of Aboriginal people in a way that brings them more fully into the society of the Northern Territory. I wish her well in her endeavours. Mr MITCHELL (Millner): Mr Speaker, I would like to comment a little on the ministers statement. The Member for Nightcliff, I think, has a lot to contribute on this and I am sure the minister will take what he has said on board. I totally agree with many of the sentiments and comments that he made and I would like to add a few of my own. I believe the thrust of these reforms is to establish sustainable, accountable and culturally appropriate local government structures throughout the Territory so that the government can be assured that there is a strong and effective local service delivery network, which is what we are all about. No-one would argue that this has to happen, but how do we get there? The process will be very important. It will need to be transparent and accountable within a clearly defined framework. It will need to be consistent and equitable to all parties. It will also need to be consultative, involving the local government industry at each step of the way, and to a large extent we can rely on civic collaboration. We are all parties with a stake in an issue, joined together to develop a combined strategy for action. Much of the process will need to be voluntary, but we do need to be realistic about this, and I am sure the minister will take on board the comments the member for Arafura made earlier. South Australia has recently gone through a reasonably successful process of reforming its local government sector and it is a process from which we can probably learn a little as well. The South Australian government used a voluntary approach to structural reform, but used very substantial establishment packages to encourage quick movement. The number of councils was, I believe, reduced from about 120 to 70 and some of these were in rural areas. The South Australian reforms also relied on financial incentives for new councils and the same should apply here in the Territory. Now clearly, there are financial benefits to Territory community councils which can join together to provide a more efficient and effective service to their constituents. In addition, the minister has made it clear that the savings realised from the process will be used to benefit local government. I realise this will not be easy, given the huge distances, and in some areas, the cultural inappropriateness of certain groups coming together in this way, but by and large I believe it is 2776