Territory Stories

Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 28 February 2001



Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 28 February 2001

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Parliamentary Record 27


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 - Wednesday 28 February 2001 They are not a cheap exercise. But if the process is going to be done, it has to be done properly. Nor can I accept the minister saying that money is being used on other activities. The minister shows his ignorance of the Land Rights Act if he doesnt understand there is a particular section that allows the land councils to defend against any legislation that encroaches or encumbers Aboriginal land rights or native title. They are subjected to budget constraints, as is any other statutory authority. My message to the minister is this: I believe the Northern and Central Land Councils are utilising funding for the purposes and functions it was intended. I raise another concern. It is the Country Liberal Party that has been in government for the period in question; it is the Country Liberal Party that is ultimately responsible. There is no one else. They can sort it out and, hopefully, they will arrive at the same conclusion - it is the ministers responsibility. The government is also responsible to all Territorians for promoting the growth and development of our economy. This means resources must be managed and developed and supported. The minister responsible for this portfolio has been derelict in his duties. In fact, the minister has really become the Minister for Resource Underdevelopment. The Territory cannot afford to have the Country Liberal Party name major projects in the Northern Territory simply because they think it could gain some political mileage. They have to rid themselves of this arrogance because this arrogance is fuelled by Territory taxpayers dollars. Ultimately, at the end of the day, ordinary Territorians and the Territorys economy pays for the bad Country Liberal Party decisions. The 27% drop in dollars spent on exploration over the last few years represents the Country Liberal Partys failure to develop good policies. When mining companies decide to not invest in the Northern Territory, they are moving their dollars into other parts of the country. The CLP is taxing the Territorys development by sending mining companies and their exploration activities interstate. Without good advice, without good pohcy, without good ministers, the Territory will never have a good government. We have the same old tired regime falling down and leaving ordinary Territorians to pay the tab. We also have other concerns. We accept that the Territoiy has over 1000 outstanding exploration and mining applications, but how do they expect the land councils to deal with them over the next 12 months? If you were to release those over the next 12 months, it would be at the rate of about 40 applications per fortnight. That is mind-boggling - 40 per fortnight! They have three months to respond or they lose their right to negotiate. It is no wonder the land councils are concerned about rushing in, if they could, to get native title claims registered. If we look at the Wet season, how does the minister or this government expect the Northern and Central Land Councils to go out and consult on native title claims throughout the Territory given the cyclones and floods? If we have native title claims down in Kalkarindji and Daguragu, how do we go about doing them? Can you make a suggestion to the Northern Land Council or give them a couple of army helicopters to get down there? That has to be done otherwise it will hold up development in the Northern Territory. Let us be realistic about this, minister. It is important that you sit down - and I urge the Chief Minister to accompany you, given his statement on Kenbi, which is turning a comer, hopefully - have a talk, and work out how we can get these applications back on the tracks again. As you said in your last few words, minister, the last thing you want is lack of consultation and litigation. Well, there is the offer - take it up. Sit down in Parliament House, over at the MLC building, or wherever you like, and work out some sort of memorandum of understanding of how you are going to deal with each other, especially in regards to getting rid of this backlog. Work out the manner in which you will operate with each other so there is no opportunity for any backlogs to develop again. One wonders why the Central Land Council has not lodged native title claims, and the minister speaks highly of them for not doing so. But one has to wonder whether they had the resources, the time, and the staff to get those native title claims assessed, or whether they had other priorities. That is something that possibly only the Central Land Council can answer. I was going to go through this statement page by page and really take issue with the minister fobbing off a lot of the blame on to the land councils and to the Labor Party. We make no apologies for dealing with Aboriginal organisations, with business, with industry, and with Territorians from all walks of life. If we are to offer ourselves to Teiritorians as an alternative government, we need to talk to business about what will create economic development opportunities, especially opportunities that will be good for business and good for employment prospects in the Territory. The ministers paper is somewhat confusing in that one minute he has us in bed with the land councils, and the next minute he is saying he is good mates with the Chief Executive Officer. Well, thats lovely to hear, but I think his priority should be 7531

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