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 There is also a dismissive attitude about the environment in terms of heritage and the protection of the environment that has been inherited by the new government. It is in pretty good shape: the harbour, the green belts around our city, the various protection organs that sit in government, and our monitoring devices are in good shape,. As a previous Essential Services minister, I spoke in debate about the wonderful work that is being done - the green work that is being done - through PowerWater and others, and that sustainable effort that has been put into place. It is on the Parliamentary Record in the term of this new government, and it was recognised dining that debate that some of them had quite a long heritage. I also worked for the minister for mineral resources at one stage, and there is quite a significant amount of environmental effort and benefit that comes from mining - surprise, surprise! However, we have to get to this stage where we realise there are often calls on a resource that are compatible - and I can understand what the member for Nelson is saying that sometimes they are in collision, and you have to mitigate one or the other so that harm is minimised. If you look at, for instance, a couple of them - look for instance at the Gouldian finch. Much of the Gouldian finch habitat research was largely funded by Pegasus Mining, which was running MtTodd at the time. A significant amount of money went into that from Pegasus. If you look at Enterprise at Pine Creek, the rehabilitation there provided some really good insights into how to rehabilitate natural scrub lands after mining. The Office of the Supervising Scientist is entirely funded from Ranger, and it has done work on various flora and fauna, including long-necked tortoises and emus, if I recall. This is this trivial work done under the CLP government. We had a look at a lot of the work that was done by the OSS - significant contribution to the scientific effort and body of knowledge in Australia, and probably the world, funded from mining, and available to be looked at by this committee, this trivial committee that the CLP had. If you look at a lot of mining effort now, including extractive, there are a lot of better techniques that can be used in carting and the problems that can have on the environment; in blasting, extraction and, obviously, rehabilitation. They are things we could look at as a committee, and I am sure there are plenty of mining companies around that would like to show us their green credentials. They would say: Look, we think we have a good record here, come and have a look. They are things that could be part of the work for the committee. I would like to see the committee have a wider look at this. I can understand the embarrassment, as I said, given that it is only less than two years that the then Leader of the Opposition had to sack the member for Arnhem for his comments in this area. I can understand that there is still a little sore spot there. However, I am sure we would get over that. Once we got out bush and started talking to companies, I think you would find that it would be work that we all enjoyed and the reports might even be of a bipartisan nature - heaven forbid! I am proud to be a member of this committee. I believe we can make it work hard. We certainly have to pack some swags and get on the road: we have to get out and see where the environment is. It is not, even though most of the news from the media and other places about the built environment and its close proximity to the vegetation here in Darwin and other highly habited areas - it is other areas as well. Mimosa pigra continues to be a problem, as do feral animals - a significant problem. Some of the problems we have had with bushfires in Alice Springs, if we do not have rain and that vegetation does not regenerate quickly, we have a significant problem with dust in Alice Springs. You have lived there long enough, Madam Speaker, to know that bushfires equals denuding of the flora, equals significant dust storms that can go as far as the eastern seaboard - and they have in previous times. There is a powerful body of work to look at. I believe that the body of work that was looked at by previous committees, and has been dismissed in this place, is tantamount to a reflection on this parliament. It was good, powerful work and, if there is to be such a fear of us venturing into places that will embarrass the government, take confidence in the fact that you have the numbers on the committee, even though that is another broken promise. Take confidence in the fact that you have the capacity for the minister to declare a forbidden area. He can do it still. We are not asking for that bit to be amended. He can still say, unless otherwise ordered. Thou shalt not look at mining, says the minister for DIPE. There are two great big caveats he has. He does not need this other one of saying it all has to come through parliament or the minister for us look at it. I suggest that some of the more powerful work of this committee might be contemporary references. So, if there is a cyanide spill, and if there is a variety of pieces of information going to and fro, from various agencies, it might be a good thing for this parliament to have some of the members look at it. In an effort, dare I say, to get to the truth. Because that is, after all, what we are about. We are supposed to be able to come from this parliament, interrogate the documents, departments, without fear or favour, 3052