Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003
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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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 1 May 2003 Assembly when he was Chief Minister. The member for Nhulunbuy sought to censure him for taxpayer funded voter opinion research - speakers: Stirling, Burke; then the question was put. Therefore, gagged after two speakers: one-on-one. The member for Fannie Bay sought to censure him for alleging a corrupt judicial system - speakers: Martin, Burke, Stirling, Reed. Gagged, two-on-two. Leader of the Opposition, Mrs Hickey, on the position of ALP on effects of native title on pastoral and town leases on the then Chief Minister, Mr Stone - sorry, this is the Seventh, but there again- two-on-two. The Eighth Assembly, the member for Fannie Bay sought to censure the Chief Minister on mandatory sentencing: one-on-one. It was gagged by the government after that. So it goes on. I have a whole list of those, but you get my drift. It is not unusual in our government in the past, particularly when Mr Burke was Chief Minister, to have censure motions where there was one-on-one, or two-on-two. To suggest that, because they could not have numerous speakers, they were being gagged is hypocritical to say the least. We have also had a huge debate - a waste of 42 minutes, according to the people in the gallery who listened to the debate - on whether we should have a meal break or not. The comments that I have here reflect what people in the gallery thought: Why are they doing this?; It is too long; It is often irrelevant; What has it got to do with government business?; Why dont they get on with it? So, we did a check of the Eighth Assembly. The times I am giving you are after adjournment break; so it is the business of the day and the adjournment break. February 2001 - 6.28 pm; 28 February - 6.55 pm, not very late is it?; 6 June - 6.38 pm, and I am just picking a few out. We have some here, 29 November 2000 - 5.51 pm, not even 6 pm, we adjourned. And this one here is great: 13 June 2000-4.41 pm; 24 February 2000 - 5.20 pm. And the list goes on and on of early stops in the parliament under Denis Burke, the Leader of the Oppositions government at the time. Therefore, to come in here and make this huge fuss about having a meal break, and suggesting that this sittings was not a proper session of parliament, to my mind is, it is insulting. Particularly as we can show the evidence that it has happened over and over again; that government and parliaments work like that and it is not unusual. For goodness sake, let us get on with the job! A lot of the people who were in the gallery for that debate left, I might add. They left because they said: What is going on, what has this happened for? They agree with me, that the debate was most unnecessary. We were here to do business, why didnt we just get on with it. The posturing that I heard, I believe, was very hypocritical because short days, to say the least, have occurred on many occasions within the parliament of the Northern Territory. I have no wish personally for accolades, even though the Leader of the Opposition said on Stateline that it was a case of self-promotion for myself. That is not true. I am not here for self-promotion; I am here to give the people of Alice Springs a look at how their parliament works. That is what it is all about. It is not about how good the Chief Minister or the opposition looks, or what am I doing in the Chair up there; it is about bringing democracy to the people of Alice Springs so they can see how we operate, how legislation goes through, and how on earth the parliament that seems to belong to Darwin can operate out of Darwin in a remote location. People continually asked me: Explain to us a bit more about what is going on the House. I guess if I had been more prepared I could have done that by handing out sheets to them. But what they have said most of all to me, is that these sittings were great. And might I add, many of these people were good, staunch CLP members - people I know who are members of the CLP - who said: Let us just get on with it. Let us stop this nonsense about the cost. Let us stop bagging it. We like it. We are glad to be here. And so we should. Therefore, when you have 1000 people a day - if I can do that - and if it ends up costing us $120 000 for the three days out of the Legislative Assembly bucket, then I would say - what did I work out? - it is about $24 a day per person to come to this parliament. I consider that pretty cheap; that is good value for money - that certainly is. This has been an enormous logistical exercise. Tomorrow morning, we are going into Youth Parliament. The staff here at the moment, while we are all sitting in here, are out there packing up because we have to clear this room straight after Youth Parliament. We have to clear that room for them to start for their next reception tomorrow. There is so much for us to do and, as I said, this staff have lost their Anzac Day weekend and their May Day weekend at home. I certainly owe them, and I am going to say: Take time off for all the time that you put into these sittings here in Alice Springs, because they deserve it. You have to realise that many of them came down last Thursday and they are not going back. If they do happen to go to the races in their own spare time, well and good. They deserve it. I can say to the Leader of the Opposition I was really disappointed. I did try to speak to him. He knows I sent him messages to ring me so he could 3997
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