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 you could say, Okay Dr Lim, not only are you on the PAC, not only are you on the Use and Abuse of Alcohol, or whatever the grog thing is, but you are on this, and I will tell you what, he would be pretty good at it. They are the three probably hardest working committees of the lot. But he is precluded from being on the environment committee because we can only have two members. Now we come to the vexed issue of how dare he speak about the environment. He is very knowledgable about the environment, and while we do have shadow responsibilities, dont ever assume that in this pack here, there is not a repertoire of skills that would eat any of your ministers any day, on any issue. Dr Lim, my colleague, the member for Greatorex, I am sure would be very keen to be on this committee. The fact is, he is on several others. The fact is, you have made sure there are only a couple of seats there, and you could remedy that. I was interested then that the minister mentioned that cane toads are a good thing to look at, because he does not have a clue about them. I thought, oh my god, this will be good, we are on a voyage of discovery for him here, basically this is a little tuition session. Cane toads 101 for the minister. You have a whole department of scientists out there. You have a body of knowledge that goes back half a century across a couple of states of Australia plus the Northern Territory. We have debated it in this House. There was a brochure produced by the previous Parks and Wildlife minister to identify them. There has been some stuff put out for people who are interested in addressing this. He knows none of it. None of it! Here they have the gall to talk about my colleague, the member for Goyder, asking questions to elicit an answer, and you did not even, as a backbencher knocking on doors, big issue out there, they were all coming to you saying, Gosh, local member, we are really worried about cane toads, and what did he say to them? Nothing. Why? Because he did not know. So what he has done now as a minister? He has set us off to educate him on the issue of cane toads. Well, this is going to be a top terms of reference, because, I tell you, we can virtually write the answer and recommendations now. If he really wants lucid, scientific opinion he has a vast repository of knowledge within his department. He could even, dare I say it, put on a chap by the name of Bill Freeland, as a consultant, who is immensely talented in this area. Bill would provide him great knowledge. The reason Bill is not available to him as a public servant is because he was sacked. Let me see now, Clare Martin, ... under Labor there will be no job losses from the public sector . . . Well, there is one. And not only that, the reason, I guess, he was forced, was because there was significant job losses in the area that he once had. So here we go, here we g. Here are a couple of ways for the minister to get a little bit of knowledge about cane toads: he can get a book out of the library. He promotes himself as a wonderful researcher. He has this great boffin-like knowledge and vision of himself. Get on the net, surf the net, hit cane toads, search. He could even get some of the documents that have been tabled in this parliament. You can go to the NT Library. You can go to the parliamentary library. So there are three or four ways you can do it. Or, if he was in a particularly filibustering point of view and a mind to send us off on, dare I say, a wild frog chase, he could give us the terms of reference, because he knows what the answer is going to be. He knows he is going to be impotent - in a ministerial sense rather than any other - in terms of how to fix the problem, and he is going to find that he gets a report that is entirely self-evident, tells him things that have happened in Queensland, and over the last decade or so here, including extensive field experiments by our own Parks and Wildlife Commission and the former Conservation Commission in the Woolagorang area. So he has substantial knowledge that will be fed back to him in a tutorial type session. That is one term of reference. The other one is also to keep us busy, active and out of trouble. That is, tell us how we should regulate the whole business of environmental protection. Well, I mean, we have a little bit of a deja vu problem here because we could look at lots of places and come back and say, We have been to Tasmania and they have a really good model there and it might be something you want to have a look at. It is a great model. It fits well, dovetails with your policy, it has a great veracity with your rhetoric that you have said in public, and you might do a backflip like you did with the PAC. You might come here and say, No, dont want one of them, or you might use it to fob us off on this very busy errand where we are all going to be really busy for two years to get greater proximity to the election date. I reckon we can knock these terms of reference over in the first six months - less, three months maybe. I dont think they look that hard. I would like to think that the people who are on the committee with me are prepared to work hard. I would like to think that we can access some of the people in the ministers department and in the commission. These are pretty simple really, should not take us too long to do them, and then I would like the minister to put his head to something that he did not answer, and that is: how do we get our other terms of reference? 3060