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 issue forum and put forward primarily for the purpose of political grandstanding. Recommendation 4 proposes that government develops a feasibility study on the food supply system in the Territory, including the viability of establishing a wholesale market or food cooperative that will serve the Northern Territory and South- East Asia. While there is an argument to say that there is some merit in this proposal, the likelihood is that commercial realities will prevail and the government will be unable to influence long-term outcomes. I have to be convinced that further feasibility studies in this areas would tell us something that is not already known. Both recommendation 4 and recommendation 5 seek to further the potential of local producers through combined wholesale or cooperative arrangements. It also assumes wider markets locally and in South-East Asia. Recommendation 5 urges that local food producers organise themselves in such a way that they can readily compete with major producers elsewhere. Government will support that approach. Indeed there is nothing to prevent these cooperative arrangements at present. The fact that it has not happened may indicate its worth to local growers. The NT Horticultural Association is in a position to organise growers and the Territory government supports that association. The government is continually evaluating the opportunities for integrating logistics for local produce and identifying infrastructure deficiencies. I would add a cautionary note. To the extent that producers do band together and extract higher prices from buyers, there is a possibility that retail prices may rise rather than fall in the Territory. Recommendation 6 seeks an inquiry into store management practices and measures for improving operations within remote communities. Quality and cost issues in relation to food sold in remote communities rightly received considerable consideration in and by the select committee. In many cases it was clear that store management practices contributed to higher prices in remote communities. The government will explore ways in which it can assist stores in remote communities to improve their practices and their commercial structure. However, it is not proposed to set up another inquiry. Rather, the relevant ministers will be charged with responsibility for improving matters. The governments acceptance of recommendation 7 will also help to improve the operational management of stores by making available more trained personnel. The recommendation also suggested that the inquiry should assess the impact of GST on food prices in remote communities and the government does not support such a stance. The impact of the GST on food prices in remote communities will be subject to many variables and I certainly believe it would be well nigh impossible to predict the impact of the GST on food prices. Any effects will only be known once the GST is in operation and launching an inquiry to guess the impact of a tax measure about to be introduced seems to be a complete waste of time and resources. Recommendation 7 seeks government sponsorship of trainee programs for remote community store staff on all aspects of arranging and handling food and produce. The government readily accepts this recommendation. Again the relevant ministers will have responsibility for implementing this recommendation and implementation will require detailed consideration of the training issues. It will also involve close consultation with the responsible people in the communities and prime carriage of this matter will rest with the Northern Territory Education and Training Authority. Due to the number of agencies, both Territory and federal, involved or associated with this type of training, considerable co ordination of effort would be required and consultations would need to involve agencies, associations, communities and distribution bodies. Recommendation 8 proposes the development of an award system for stores in remote communities, to foster and promote best business and management practices in community operations. The recommendation is supported. The implementation of this recommendation will be coordinated through the Department of Industries and Business. As with similar awards - for example, in tourism, construction and apprenticeships - the proposed awards will provide an incentive to perform. Recommendation 9 asks that the government facilitate programs that will allow the establishment and development of local food enterprises and ventures such as market gardens in remote centres that will reduce food costs and provide food of high quality and nutritional value. The CLP government unquestioningly supports the facilitation of such programs. The particular details of these proposals and the allocation of resources to support the programs is presently being considered to ensure the very best outcome for all Territorians, particularly those in remote communities. In recommendation 10, the select committee does not support the regulation of prices, nor the 4817