Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 27 November 2002



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 27 November 2002

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Parliamentary Record 9


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 - Wednesday 27 November 2002 words. I move that the following words be inserted in paragraph (3) of the motion standing in the name of Dr Bums: That the motion be amended by inserting in paragraph (3), after 'matter the words including those Those are the two new words to be inserted. Speaking to that amendment what it does is allow the committee some flexibility - not excluding those matters that are referred by this House and the minister-but some flexibility to look into matters that it thinks should be looked into. We will get to the motion regarding references to this committee at a later point. We have two references: one is to look at an Environmental Protection Authority and the other is to look at cane toads, very good things to look at, I am sure. But there are other major issues that have not at this time been referred that are now of great importance to Territorians, and have been for some time, and some issues that will become of major importance in the future. I talk particularly of the onset of gas onshore in whatever form it might take including LNG onshore, even if it is floating platforms, what sort of environmental impact will that have on our harbour, and that is the major issue that is facing Territorians, particularly people living in Darwin in the future. That is not all. We could go on all day about what are important issues. The government is moving to sustainable development and so they should; all governments are around Australia. We are talking about land clearing reforms and biodiversity protection in our rural estates. They are matters of great concern that this committee should have the power to overlook; not necessarily get involved in but to have a watching brief on. One major issue that is threatening the environment currently, and has for some time, and the previous government put a lot of effort into it, is salt water intrusion of one of our most important wetlands in the Top End, the Mary River system. There have been enormous ... Ms Martin: Significant commitments through COAG go into that. Mr BALDWIN: ... amounts of money put into that. I note that the government, in its last budget, reduced the amount of money that will go into that during this financial year. They talk about money from COAG and probably from the salinity action plan. All those things are in train, but it is imperative that somebody has carriage of having a watching brief on those sorts of issues. You could go on, as I said, on all sorts of issues pertaining to the environment and sustainable development. All I am asking for here in this amendment to the motion is a very simple one to say including those matters. Like the PAC, this is no different from the PAC. Where the PAC has had ... Dr Burns: The PAC is not self-referring. You know that as well as I do. Mr BALDWIN: The PAC has had the ability, Madam Speaker - 1 am not asking for this to be self- referring. I am asking for this to be the same as the PAC. Where the PAC can take on Auditor-General reports, all sorts of things, scrutinise all sorts of activities, and if they were serious about the environment, they would let this reference go through. They would let this amendment go through if they were really serious. They have shown they are not serious by the fact that they took 18 months to reintroduce a sessional committee of this parliament that is one of the most important after the PAC. That is how serious they are. If they were really serious about giving this committee the ability to do its job on behalf of Territorians, they would let this go through. They are not serious. This is all window washing for them. They like to go out there and say, We stand up for the environment. It only took us 18 months to do something about it. A minister who could not be bothered. It had to take a new minister to bring it forward after my colleague kept reminding them month after month after month, and then I bring forward a reference like this that allows a bit of flexibility. Already I can see the reaction, No, dont let them go off looking at all sorts of things because that is self-referral. That is the same as the PAC, and what is wrong with that? What is wrong with that? I am sure Territorians would agree with me that - I am sure the Environment Committee, whom you like to get into bed with would agree that this committee should have some latitude. That is all that is being asked for here, some latitude. If they do not do this, they are recalcitrant in their job because they have already shown that they do not want to go near the environment The terms of reference that we will get into later on will deal with the establishment of an Environment Protection Authority, which is not a bad thing. Ms Lawrie: Agency. Mr BALDWIN: Agency, authority - you call it what you like. It is probably not a bad thing. But it also deals with the staged introduction of an EPA. 3042