Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 28 February 2001
Parliamentary Record 27
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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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 28 February 2001 to consign to the scrap heap the harmful misinformation being spread about by Territory Labor on these matters. I think the only way that these matters can be resolved is by a process of sitting down and talking. I think the process of involving lawyers and litigation does no one any good. In fact, when the whole process we are working on is based on legislation that was really the land councils desired legislation, it seems pretty sad that there are still some people in the land council organisations who want to continually thwart both the aspirations of Aboriginals, Territory miners, and Territory people, and also some other members of the land councils. Mr Speaker, I move that the Assembly take note of the statement. Mr AH KIT (Arnhem): Mr Speaker, my, my, my! What a statement! This statement attempts to get this minister off the hook. He has been told on many, many occasions, over the last five years since his Cabinet took a decision to not process exploration licence applications, that it would created a log jam and headaches further down the track. He has now come in here with a statement, he has put his hands up after he delivered it, and he said: Dont blame me. This minister is irresponsible. This statement says to members on this side of the House that, with that type of incompetency, he should resign. The minerals council has had the wool pulled over its eyes. The mining companies have had the wool pulled over their eyes. This minister has gone to Cabinet on numerous occasions and has given them wrong options, and a lets look around for a scapegoat situation has developed. And who is the scapegoat? The land councils; more so the Northern Land Council than the Central Land Council. But the minister says: The Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Land Council is actually a good friend of mine. Come on! Lets get serious, minister; lets not joke around. We have companies out there that want to invest. We have companies that want to get on the ground and explore and look for minerals. The situation has backfired. It backfired because the choice of Cabinet was to get then own native title regime in place and to get that supported in the Senate. And what happened? It got rejected twice. We continually told them: Get it right. Sit down with the land councils. Negotiate. Negotiate a native title regime that is mutually acceptable and satisfactory to both parties. But no, not this government. Not this minister. I think the mining companies have finally clicked: Were not going anywhere in the Territory. In fact, we have this log jam that we have to deal with. I m sure the Chief Minister must be taking calls from some of the people in the industry. Im sure the Chief Minister is doing his research and homework, and can only point his finger at one person. That is the minister responsible. The minister who has lead them up this garden path. The minister who has been incompetent all the way through, putting all his eggs in one basket, and hoping that, at the end of the day, the Senate would accept the Territorys proposal for native title regime. Members on this side of the House want to see a Northern Territory native title regime. It is in our interests to do business for ourselves, amongst ourselves, with the mining and exploration community. It is not in our interests to jump up and down and work towards statehood, and yet still be subject to a native title regime that is a national one. We never wanted that in the first place. This minister blames the backlog. We look at it and say: Now hang on, the backlog is the result of bad advice from the Minister for Resource Development; bad advice to people in the industry; bad advice to his caucus; bad advice to his Cabinet; bad advice to his Chief Minister. I am sure that people in the department, senior bureaucrats, must have pointed it out to him along the way that the gamble he was taking was a very serious high-risk gamble. It must have been pointed out to him that, at tibe end of the day, if the Senate did not approve the native title regime from the Northern Territory, you would be stuck with a log jam, and stuck with a lack of exploration and mining happening on the ground. We understand that one in a thousand do strike it. We have a thousand backlog. One of those companies might have been on the ground digging gold or some other resource that would be a great contributor to the Territorys economy. This situation is a reflection of the ministers lack of political judgement. There is no one else to blame. We do not accept that the minister can put a statement together and wholly and solely blame the land councils. When considering the lodgement of native title claims and their release, I look to the records as presented to the land councils the other day. They are processing 250. They are stretched with their resources. Whilst they are processing that 250, another 150 are coming in and being registered. It is very hard working against a backlog that continually remains a backlog. Our advice to the minister is to sit down and negotiate a sensible way of dealing with these exploration licence applications. You can trot out what funds the land councils have received in respect of their native title functions, but you havent gone through what one native title consultation takes; what is required to bring the right people together to make decisions about our country. 7530
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