Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999

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Parliamentary Record 20


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 - Tuesday 23 November 1999 relationships that need to be sorted through. I listened with interest this morning to the fact that an onshore company here will be setting up strong business relationships into South-East Asia. Thats not just a case of boxing up the hardware, taking it over there, dumping it on the ground and showing them how to push the buttons and going. That whole business activity is going into a cultural framework which is, in many ways, quite distinct from the types (of practices that we might take for granted in our own community. Potentially that will involve a lot of cross-cultural understandings being developed so that people know the mode in which they want to interact one with the other. Within the Territory, if you look at the network in the sense of people, their knowledge and their particular environment being linked together through a network of electronics, theres some very exciting possibilities, particularly for our remote areas in the Territory. I was speaking to a Bible translator during a recent trip and he had this vision - not a religious one, just an ordinary vision - under the reconciliation process that he has become actively involved in where he lives and works. He said, Well, what better thing could you do for reconciliation than to have people knowledgeable in Aboriginal languages and culture directly teaching in schools throughout the nation so that school children dining their formative years get direct interaction with traditionally knowledgeable Aboriginal people, so they can hear Aboriginal language spoken, they can see the environment, they can ask questions, and be taught. Thats a perfectly valid way of, in fact a very powerful way, pursuing overall reconciliation in Australia. The flaw in the argument, as he put it to me, was that he wanted to see traditional teachers tour and go around. I pointed out that there are thousands of schools out there and you would probably never see them again because you would be set in orbit going around doing this particular job. It would be much more practical if we had a powerful interactive digital network. It would be possible then to go to places where culture is most strongly represented and deliver that interaction to any of the schools that are similarly connected, and thereby create a system of casual lecturing and tutoring in virtually all of our remote communities in schools around the country. I found that combination of ideas extremely exciting. Youre taking areas that we typically say are difficult to find employment in. Im sure well have some discussions on this during the statement on Aboriginal education tomorrow, but Aboriginal language, far from being seen as a major positive, as it would be in this sort of development, is seen as some problem to be overcome. In the mad rush towards seeing a mono-language, a single language culture as being our best option, these other possibilities should be built strongly into our vision of ourselves in the Territory. I believe that if you multiply that example with other areas of potential use in the remote population of the Territory through a network, you could find quite a number of developments which would create employment, legitimise or validate the existence of these languages and cultural knowledge in the remote areas, and keep our population dispersed and spread through the whole land mass of the Tenitory. We would not see it all start to gravitate towards the urban centres, as it is happening all over the country for similar reasons. We need to find in a very pro-active way stronger and stronger reasons to maintain our range of population centres and not fall back into the Stuart Highway. One of the most powerful tools you could apply to that endeavour is an interactive digital telecommunications network. And Ive said this over and over again. On the part of the statement that deals with the knowledge economy, I repeat some of the qualifications Ive just been making as to the use of the technologies themselves. Knowledge is not detached from social relationships. You cant just go in with a specialised vacuum cleaner, stick it in the top of someones skull and suck out the knowledge that you want for commercial or other reasons. The moment you want to engage the knowledge thats present in any part of our community, you have to engage the social priorities of that person or that group of people. Because it exists in a person, it exists integral to the way that person wants to interact with other people. People over a great number of years have come to the realisation that knowledge is very much your own property in your own right, and that there are many legal and other mechanisms that are being developed with the recognition of that fact. Thats why we have things like copyright and privacy provisions within jurisdictions. We wouldnt have that if knowledge was just seen as simply a resource that can be plundered at will for someone elses agenda. Its not so much a problem as a challenge to unlock the relationship that will release that knowledge into a joint initiative of some sort. It means you have to get to know the group, the people, their priorities and work with them with due respect. I dont see that as being at all wrong. I see it as a major way in which you build up very strong mutually respectful relationships within the types of things we might 4789

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