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 suggest self-referral, although that is the benchmark, of course, that was taken out to the last election. That is your mandate. But he did say that it could be modelled on a PAC where you could go, for instance, to the annual report of the department, DIPE, and you could ask DIPE that if things appear in the annual report they could be taken on for further investigation by this committee. I cannot understand why the new committee is so jumpy about this. This amendment that my colleague has proposed is that we can take some other issues on. Now, if you dont want to self-refer, we can come back a level. We can say: Well, okay, what about issues that have been canvassed broadly in the annual report or some other report? Dont forget there are still two gates that they can lock. Gate number one: ...the committee shall be empowered unless otherwise ordered... So the minister or the parliament could say: No, please dont look at matters relating to biodiversity or genetically modified cotton. They could say that to the committee. So there is the first gate they could slam in our face. The second is: they have the numbers. So as we sit in committee, and as we say: Okay, well, my colleague, the member for Nelson, and the member for Daly and myself might say we are really keen to look at some of these things like, for instance, the cyanide spill on the Tanami Highway. The numbers that are in that committee could preclude us from doing it. So there are two great big steel gates they can clang in our face without having to worry about it having coming from the minister or the Assembly. They have set up three doors that can be shut. All he is asking is open one of them. If you are really worried, if you are really jittery about it, you still have unless otherwise ordered so you can order us not to look at the Tanami spill, and you can still use your numbers on committee not to investigate it. Why are you so frightened about this amendment? What is causing you so much concern? You still have the potency, you still have the power. All we are saying is that there are some other issues to look at. Cane toads are important, but I can guarantee I can tell you what the answer is going to be: this is a big problem and there is not much we can do about it, but here are some of the things we can do to mitigate it; but the cane toad is here to stay. That is what it will say. We have been given an invitation by the Leader of Government Business, and he said there are other things you can look at if you so choose. So I would suggest that in this debate, the minister - at least the dot points put to him by my colleague, the member for Greatorex, when he put out a press release that probably kicked this off because this was probably the straw that broke the camels back, the one that said: For Gods sake, put a committee into place. Lo! and behold: here is the committee. All plaudits to Dr Lim. Some of the things that he mentioned here such as the cyanide spill on the Tanami Highway, are deserving of the work of the committee. I think we should look at that. The damage to endangered bird sanctuaries and the draining of waterholes along the Alice Springs to Darwin railway line, possibly that is something we could look at; it should not take too long. The contaminated water at Perkins Shipping is probably a good one. In fact, there is a link between those two because there is at least one gentleman with his fingerprints all over both of them. The lack of monitoring of the uranium province in East Amhem is something we could put back on. It has been done for some decades and we should continue with it. Another is the impact of onshore gas coming to Darwin Harbour. I suggest that the minister, in his rejoinder could, as a ministerial reference, give us at least those. I am sure the member for Nelson, although he is precluded from speaking again, could probably think of some others. Whilst the new chairman is saying: Look, we are really busy and We had better not take too much on because we are going to be really busy, I could suggest that if she is a bit more punctual, for instance, at turning up at meetings, then we could get a little bit further. I know that there was some difficulty with her at least getting to the new membership of the Public Accounts Committee ... Ms LAWRIE: A point of order, Madam Speaker! The member for Drysdale is casting aspersions on my punctuality at meetings ... M r Dunham: Yes, yes. Ms LAWRIE: ...and that is incorrect. I have been punctual to all meetings. Madam SPEAKER: There is no point of order. Mr DUNHAM: I am just suggesting that you could modify your behaviour, a little more diary control, and when you are called to a meeting immediately at the commencement of the luncheon adjournment, for instance, you could get there. So there are little things like that where you would get through a lot more business now that you are the chairman. So, there is something you could do. I think you could also get out of Darwin a bit more often. Katherine might be a good start. It is not that far away. If you start doing that, you might have a bit more notion of what the environment is. 3051
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