Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 27 November 2002
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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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 27 November 2002 development committee is indeed new. There has not been a committee like tha t... M r Baldwin inteijecting Ms LAWRIE: ... and it is new because - and give someone the decency of speaking without incessant interruptions, member for Daly. M r Dunham: Oh, yes! Thats not bad from you, you little hypocrite. You do it all the time. Ms LAWRIE: It is new because of the past from 19 ... Ms Scrymgour: Listen, listen! Ms LAWRIE: It is new because in the past, since 1977, which was the Second Assembly of this parliament, only an environment committee was established. There has never been an Environment and Sustainable Development Committee in this parliament. I believe it is also ground breaking because for the first time, it is not looking at discrete, tiny, segmented environmental issues. Really, it is taking an holistic approach of asking, is the Territory ready to mature like other jurisdictions and follow the path of an Environment Protection Agency that can oversee all of the issues that have been raised in this Chamber in debate this morning? It was interesting to listen to the shadow spokesperson for the environment, the member for Daly, because I have not heard him speak on the environment at all, ever, any time while he has been the shadow spokesperson. All of a sudden he has found his portfolio responsibilities. He is talking about flexibility, about looking at major issues such as gas onshore, the biodiversity protection in rural estates, saltwater intrusion in the Mary River, and he says that it is imperative someone has carriage of these issues. I can inform the member for Daly that the person who has carriage of those issues is the Minister for the Environment and Heritage; and there is a department called the Office of Environment and Heritage. So, if you have all of a sudden found a burning desire to represent constituents of the Territory on these issues, I very strongly recommend that you engage in dialogue both with the minister and his office. That is a proactive, reasonable and constructive fashion of going about your business. Unfortunately, the debate in this Chamber today has shown that people want to muddy the waters, they want to put in place every single barrier they can think of to prevent this committee doing the task that the government has identified is necessary; that is, investigating whether or not we end up with an EPA. Cane toads are already in Kakadu; they have been spotted in Tennant Creek and Katherine. Unfortunately, the previous government did ignore the issue of cane toads. Successive concerns were raised over the years by people saying, Cane toads are becoming a real issue in the Territory. Can something be done? The previous government sat on its hands and did nothing, saying, Their march into the Territory is inevitable and we do not think there is going to be such a big problem. Well, we are hearing anecdotal evidence already of the impact on freshwater crocodiles and our frogs. I am really pleased that a critical need issue at the moment is able to be tasked to the committee. However, it is my concern that the committee be given a body of work that it can realistically work through and achieve outcomes for Territorians. A committee that meets as a sessional committee, meeting from time to time, usually during the sittings or around the sittings period itself, with members of that committee already having their electorate, shadow portfolio, and other committee responsibilities - the reality is if we take on the whole world of every single environmental issue, we will be so bogged down that we will not actually achieve any real outcomes. People in this Chamber who have bothered to look at how committees operate in other jurisdictions and achieve outcomes, will know that committees these days are actually being tasked with specific tasks. They pursue that task, they receive an outcome of that task and then they move on to another task. I listened intendy to the member for Nelson, because I know he is genuine, rather than political grandstanding. I know that he is genuine in the issues he has raised, because he has raised them before. The issue of the wetlands, the Ware Peninsula, heritage, tramway preservation, genetically modified cotton, aquaculture, tourism and gas - these are all issues that the member has raised before in this term of government. He is proactively working to continue to ensure that this government is aware of the environmental issues out there. I know he makes representations to the ministers, and does his utmost to deal with the departments and to pursue outcomes for these issues. I do not feel that that will change. I am sure the member for Nelson will continue to progress these issues. However, my concern is that we are losing sight of the important task that we are here today to discuss, which is the establishment of the committee that can weigh up the future needs of the Territory: the opportunity to provide the environmental safeguards in accord with community expectations that Territorians out there are calling for. I strongly believe the current generation, people 30 years and 3049
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