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 NT government agencies. I would like to welcome members of that committee to the Chamber today. The overall activities of Desert Knowledge Australia have been a remarkable exercise in community engagement. This is a hallmark o f my government. For the first time, a community representative group - in this case the Desert Knowledge Australia Steering Committee - has had a close hand in preparing the drafting instructions to Parliamentary Counsel as part of preparing the bill. It therefore not only reflects the aspirations of my government for Desert Knowledge, but also those of the broader community o f Central Australia. I am pleased and proud to say that this is a practical example of community engagement by my government. I would also like to acknowledge the support of the opposition, when in government, in backing some of these initiatives. For all of these reasons, I am confident that the bill will receive the strong support of the Assembly. I now turn to the details of the bill. The functions of the corporation I have already dealt with. The powers of the corporation will include: the right to enter into contracts and the ability to hold real or personal property that may be leased or otherwise disposed of; the power to seek and hold grants, sponsorships and other assignments for the purposes of Desert Knowledge Australia; the ability to create and hold intellectual property that may then be developed commercially; the right to borrow, invest and grant funds and enter into commercial agreements with the approval of the Treasurer; the power to manage property and to charge for information, goods, services and work undertaken by Desert Knowledge Australia; and establish membership groups and to collect membership fees. There are standard provisions in the legislation for the minister to give directions to the board, but this is expected to be a rare occurrence. This is, of course, a requirement to exercise transparency in these matters by tabling the direction in the Legislative Assembly and reporting on the direction in the corporations annual report. The bill makes provision for the nomination of members to the corporation who will be appointed by the minister. The board itself will comprise between five and 11 members, including a chairperson and a deputy chairperson, with half of the members nominated by participants. There is a provision to ensure that at least a minimum number of indigenous people are appointed to the board. A board o f five members will have at least two indigenous persons; a six, seven or eight member board will have at least three indigenous people; and a board of nine, 10 or 11 members will have at least four indigenous people. There is also allowance for the minister to seek nominations to the board from other jurisdictions in Australia, including nominations from the Prime Minister, a Premier of a state or any other person considered appropriate. It is the express intention that the Northern Territory government will do all in its power to facilitate a board that has a broad range of skills and represents the interests of all those in desert Australia. In this regard, the bill makes provision for the appointment o f persons who, in the view o f the minister, provide for an appropriate balance that represents communities in desert and arid lands, indigenous peoples of desert and arid lands, people with special expertise and interest in desert and arid lands, and people from different levels of government. The chairperson and deputy chairperson will be appointed by the minister from the board members, and at least one must be an indigenous person. The board must meet at least four times per year and may appoint committees to perform its functions and exercise its powers. The board may also appoint staff, including a person to be the chief executive, to assist in meeting its obligations. The board may delegate some of its powers to committees or to individuals, where this will assist the board to carry out its responsibilities. There are flexible provisions for the board to generate a cash flow from grant, sponsorship and other business activities. Rigorous accounting practices must be observed, including the submission of an annual report containing a financial report that will be laid before the Legislative Assembly. This report will be subject to a review by the Auditor-General, whose findings will also be submitted to the Assembly. I am confident that this process will ensure proper and reliable accountability of Desert Knowledge Australia to this House. Subject to the passage o f the legislation by the Assembly, the government will review the legislation in three years time. Desert Knowledge is a new and innovative project, appropriate for an economy moving into the developing field of knowledge and innovation. It is also a project that has been conceived, nurtured and developed with close community consultation. Accordingly, three years would seem to be an appropriate time after which the government intends to once again consult with the community on the legislation. I am confident that we will be reviewing a successful project by that time. Once again, let me say what a pleasure and privilege it is for me to stand before this Assembly in 3942