Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003

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Parliamentary Record 11


Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005




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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 - Thursday 1 May 2003 suitable for development. Exclusion o f sacred sites and areas of cultural significance prior to the development is of utmost importance to the native title holders, and is a key point to the agreement. This government is determined to avoid the situation that developed in earlier Larapinta developments where sacred sites were included in the land sold onto the market, causing great distress to both the traditional owners and those people who bought the block of land. Release o f the first residential blocks is targeted for early 2004. In exchange for the surrender of native title rights and interests, the government will issue a development lease for half the development area, to yield a minimum of 30 blocks, at nil cost to the corporation owned or nominated by Lhere Artepe. The government has agreed that Lhere Artepe may nominate which half of the area it wishes to develop. The development lease will be issued immediately after the engineering issues are finalised and cultural consultations are completed. Lhere Artepe will develop the land as a commercial venture. The land for the second half of the development, also to yield a minimum of 30 blocks, will be sold as a development lease by public competitive process, once the first development is complete, or unforseen circumstances prevent its completion. Under the agreement, native title would be extinguished only where it is necessary to issue a title or to protect public works. Negotiation with the native title holders, who throughout the process have expressed a desire to contribute to the economic development o f Alice Springs, have been amicable and productive. The Larapinta agreement will not only achieve the release of residential land in the short term, but it has established a framework for the future development o f Alice Springs in partnership with the Arremte native title holders. By taking a negotiating approach to land issues, this government has not only released residential land but has also been successful in resolving a long-running bitter dispute between government and a private industry landowner, Mr George Whittaker, of the old Alice Springs abattoir. The combined effect will be to release residential and industrial land for the purpose of growing the town. I am very proud of the fact that in 20 months of government, this government has effected more land release in this town than occurred throughout the entire decade up to this point. Mr ELFERINK (Macdonnell): Madam Speaker, I respond to this - and this should be a ministerial statement because of the importance this issue has to the people of Alice Springs. I pick up on the comments by the minister in relation to Bellamack and, indeed, the railway corridor which were also settled by negotiation. It is an appropriate way to deal with these issues from time to time. However, the government has to remember that they promised to be turning blocks off in this town by Christmas 2002. It now looks like it is not going to be happening until early 2004, and the consequential land squeeze on this town has meant that the average price of a block of land is $103 000. That makes it very difficult for employers to fmd staff who have land in this town, and it has a direct effect on the economic development o f this town. I noticed that the minister has commented, saying that they have gone through a process by which the native title holders have the choice of the first 30 of 60 blocks to be turned off, and they can either sell those blocks in commercial arrangements and have the money then poured into the bank and Lhere Artepe has a nice amount in a trust account, and I congratulate them. It strikes me, though, as a long winded way to go around it when, at the end of the day, LhereArtepe effectively ends up with no land in its possession. I suggest that the government could have been turning off blocks 12 months ago if they had simply acquired the land and then placed the same value - half of the freehold value - into a bank account for Lhere Artepe. That means they would have had money in the bank account earlier; the land would have been turned off earlier; and land would have been much more affordable for the people of Alice Springs. Madam SPEAKER: Member, your time has expired. Mr VATSKALIS (Lands and Planning): Madam Speaker, I fmd it very cute for a member of the opposition to complain that we took 20 months to release land in Alice Springs when, the for the past 10 years, there was not one block o f land released in Alice Springs. In addition, would you like us to acquire the land and put money in the bank? They know very well that native title has not been valued by any court in Australia. Currently, there is a court case seeking to establish a real value on native title which has equal power to freehold. I am very proud to say that we have been successful in negotiations and, by the middle of next month, the report will be on my desk. The first indication is that we have significantly more than 60 blocks in the new land release. Not only that, but this government guaranteed that there will be a number of blocks for first home owners in Alice Springs. Members: Hear, hear! 3936