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 Aboriginal communities people do not commonly regard the community store as an economic enterprise, but rather a convenient source of funds for other community interests. This may have a detrimental effect in regard to providing reasonable food prices and the committee recommended that a review should commence on the operation and management of stores within remote communities. I strongly support the committees recommendation in respect of remote communities and centres as they provide an opportunity for consumers in those communities to participate in food price regimes that would be based on fairness and equity. One comment I made at one stage was that it was a bit like a dogs breakfast. When you went to the different communities around the place, they all operated differently. Some operated extremely well. For others, a question remained over the way that some of them ran, operated, and what happened to the actual profits from that community. It also got back to the type of food that was actually going out on the shelves there. Other speakers I know have covered this. It is covered pretty comprehensively in the report and in the governments response. I thank all the people and all the organisations who willingly shared their information with the committee. I also place on the record my appreciation to the Northern Territory government officials and the committees consultants, thats Ernst and Young, all of whom provided support and assistance to this committee. I also thank again my colleagues on the committee and the officers of the committee secretariat. Without their commitment and support to this inquiry we would not have had the wide ranging outcomes that have been produced in the report, and I mention Rick Gray, Emma Mortlock, and Judy Herring. The support that they provided throughout the whole of the committees activities was outstanding. M r AH KIT (Arnhem): Mr Deputy Speaker, I add to the debate by stating that I enjoyed the times I spent with the committee. I still have problems with the terms of reference. We were very limited in scope. I tend to disagree with the member for Millner. I think the scope should have been and could have been broader, but that was the call of the Chief Minister and thats what we had to go with. However, whilst it may not make a lot of Territorians happy - the recommendations and the findings - as pointed out on page 11 of the report, the view of the committee is that the findings of this inquiry are of equal importance to the recommendations. I look forward to that particular point that we make on page 11 being picked up by the government, and when they take action in regards to the recommendations and the findings. Identifying the basket of goods and the comparable locations - all of those exercises were undertaken. We had Darwin with Caims, Alice Springs with Mt Isa, Katherine with Broome, Tennant Creek with Derby, Nhulunbuy with Wyndham. Tennant Creek we had a bit of a problem with because it was pretty hard to try and match up the store in Tennant Creek with a supermarket chain like Woolworths or Coles because there is none in the township of Tennant Creek. As speakers before me mentioned, we looked at the prices in the Northern Territory, the cost of doing business in the Territory, local food producers, all of the exercise of the national supermarket chains in the Territory, the remote centres and communities, and restricted trading hours. People expected great changes to be made once we were finished with this report. It was incumbent on the members of the committee to ensure that people didnt have their hopes raised too high. People were informed quite clearly that that was not the role of this committee, and they shouldnt go away with high hopes that we were about to bring food prices down and that our exercise was going to impact on our Northern Tenitory food bills. That certainly wasnt to be the case. The concerns the member for Millner mentioned in regards to Aboriginal communities, as we know there isnt a strict one-type operation for stores throughout the Northern Territory. I just hope that the government is able, either through the industry and business portfolio or more so through the Office of Aboriginal Development, to work out in conjunction and negotiation and consultation with Aboriginal communities proper ways of establishing stores, running them at a profit and ensuring that they do not get themselves into too many problems in regards to not being able to meet their commitments with wholesalers. Further, that they are able to operate their stores, especially in most of the smaller communities from 300 to 600 people. The store in an Aboriginal community is the only source of income generating enterprise and if anything is going to be made by way of a profit that is to be injected back into the community it will come from that store and that store only. One should also comment here that if people in the major townships, in Darwin or Darwin city, think we have problems in regards to the prices of food or the electricity bills or the payroll taxes, one 4814

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