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




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 - Thursday 1 May 2003 patients having to wait arguably days for a hospital bed down in the accident and emergency area. It is a waste of infrastructure. Another complaint that I received is about mammography screening. It was not that long ago - in fact, it was about 18 months ago - that Alice Springs had a mammography screening service which was open full-time. Now that service is closed and instead, a locum comes to Alice Springs to conduct screening, usually over a three week period. Last year, that service was provided three times during the year. The last time it was provided was in November. It is going to be on again this May for three weeks. The end result is that women do not have access to a proven, useful, lifesaving screening process, which was definitely something that the CLP championed. It is very disappointing that this government has not made the commitment to maintain the mammography screening service in Alice Springs at the level which Alice Springs people deserve. I encourage the minister to do all she can to reinstate that service to its former very good standard. The minister, before she had to finish today, made a comment about her concern for Aboriginal health. I too have a long-term and long-standing concern for Aboriginal health. One of the things that concerns me is that, in my position, I hear complaints from patients and users of services. However, it is unusual for Aboriginal people to make complaints. I know that because I used to work at the Health Complaints Commission, and only about 4% or 5% of the complaints we received - given the fact that we were an established complaints commission - came from Aboriginal people. The vast majority o f people who complained were non-Aboriginal people. The reality is that, in the health service, the majority o f users are Aboriginal people - in excess of 50% of the people who use the health service are Aboriginal people. Complaints are always, at the moment, from non-Aboriginal people. I am concerned as to how the service is going for Aboriginal people; I am quite sure it is no better. That is a concern o f mine. Sure, I hear about the problems for non-Aboriginal people, but nobody is hearing, I suspect, about the complaints from Aboriginal people. They use this service, which is currently underfunded, there are major budget management problems and, certainly, problems with the services being provided. That will go across the board, including Aboriginal people who are in desperate need of a very good service. I urge the minister to do all she can with regards to the health services, and I urge the Chief Minister and the members of Cabinet to support the Minister for Health and Community Services in being able to deliver an adequate and, I would hope, very good health service here in the Northern Territory, and to the people of Alice Springs in particular. Ms SCRYMGOUR (Arafura): Madam Speaker, I rise in relation to the Chief Ministers statement. It is a great statement which paints a positive future and a vision for us as a government in Central Australia. I have listened to the debate over the last couple of days and there has been no positivity, no constructive debate. We have been accused of denying that there is a problem in Central Australia. We have never done that as a government; we do recognise that there is a problem, both here in Central Australia and also in the Top End. Madam Speaker, as you know, I have the privilege to serve as the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Select Committee into Substance Abuse. Both in my capacity as the Chairperson of that committee and, as an elected member of a predominantly Aboriginal electorate, I have listened with concern to some of the debate in these sittings regarding the incidence of crime in the Territory. Most of the debate in relation to the Chief Ministers statement has been in relation to crime and law and order. I thought I would focus on that area for a minute. My particular concerns arise from some of the comments made by members o f the opposition about their perception of crime and sentencing statistics in respect of Alice Springs. I hope they take notice of that because it is their perception of crime and sentencing statistics. What I have noticed is that there is a tendency to merge, or conflate completely different social groups and to lump them all together as a single sinister criminal force threatening the lifestyle and wellbeing of the good citizens of Alice Springs. The member for Araluen scoffs at the alcohol restriction measures in this town, and I would like to have the debate with her at some other time as to the value and effectiveness of those measures. However, I imagine that she would agree with me that the existence of those measures reflects a serious ongoing alcohol abuse problem that has not just surfaced in the recent past, but which has plagued Alice Springs for decades. What I want to focus on today, however, is the way in which the member for Araluen and other members o f the opposition have, as if by rhetorical sleight of hand, linked the existence of alcohol restriction measures to a tirade about lawlessness. I would be the first to admit that there is an undeniable association between alcohol abuse and the sort of 3968