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 If you are really, really paranoid and jumpy about us getting some sort of a sneaky jump on you and getting some sort of exposure about the ministers incompetence and the various falsehoods told by people leading up to an election, you can still veto that. You still have the chairman with a casting vote. Even if we could get the Independent to side with us, you have the votes, you have the numbers. You can also declare it under the terms of reference that we passed mere minutes ago as a verboten area: the committee shall be empowered unless otherwise ordered The minister can say, No, I dont want you looking at that area. I cannot understand why they are running so scared on the issue of lets look at issues of environmental concern for the Northern Territory. I can tell you that we will be looking at them anyway, regardless of whether this committee is in place; we will be looking at all sorts of issues that impact on the Northern Territory as we have always done. It is part of our ethic. If you think that you can set some sort of a sump-up, a little gammon - this is where all the action is and it does not take place anywhere else - you are sadly mistaken. Because if this turns into a committee that looks at its navel for a long time as a holding pattern to get you close to an election, we are not going to be part of that sort of politics. Words like strategic do worry me a bit because it is that sort of, lets sit around and talk about imponderables, but for gods sake, dont talk about action. Anything we do in this parliament should have recommendations that can lead to action. They are some of the issues of concern. I have a greater issue of concern and that is funding, because when I talked about the ministers capacity to hobble us, as I said, he can do it by his numbers, he can do it by giving us only certain things. He can do it also by resources. I am pleased that Rick Gray has found himself as the executive officer to this committee. I have known Rick for possibly 20 years now and he will perform a good and competent job as an officer of this parliament, but you can only do so much. I understood Rick was pretty busy. Lets assume he has been relieved of some of his workload or, alternatively, he is going to get this as an extra. Lets say he is getting an extra. Lets say we think that we should travel to see some of this. Where is that budget? You really nobble something if you do not allocate any resources. There has been a big silence here. Where is the cash? What you have done is appended onto an already busy officer a whole new workload. We all know, because we are all on committees, that some of the work up there is already rationed; it is rationed across officers who are already busy doing other things. Members would be aware that we asked questions in this area during estimates, and members would also be aware that when we talked about our Estimates Committee, one of the strong recommendations that flowed into that was it must be resourced. The best way the government can nobble this committee is to set it up with a great big name plate in brass over the door, various ads in the paper, calls for submissions, but do it on a shoestring. For the minister to set up a committee like this, there should be something to give comfort to those people who think that this is paraded out as good government, dare I say it, that this will actually do things. If the committee had met at lunch time today, I would like to have talked about where we might go to look at other places Environmental Protection Agencies. I would like to have talked about, for instance, how long we were going to take for our work schedule, whether it included travel or not, whether there were some places we should look at as models, a la PAC, the aborted Tasmania PAC trip. That is essential to this. And if the minister is serious about proscribing terms of reference, proscribing what we are going to do, he has to describe the how. It is not good enough to say: Rick will give you a hand. That is just not good enough. I would like to hear the minister, in his rejoinder to this debate, describe two things: the first thing I have already called on him to do and he has not, and that is how other items for the committee will be provided to the committee, and the route by which that will happen. If it is to come through this parliament or through the minister, I would like to know if that is going to be a frequent thing. Can we make suggestions to him? Can third parties or members of the community go to him and say: These are issues we think should be afforded some priority status? This business of: They are going to be really busy, - 1 dont really care. I am not in this job for a holiday. I dont care if we are really busy. This is something that has to be done. If the members for Karama, Barkly and Millner find this workload a bit odious, perhaps that is a problem for government. I can definitely speak on behalf of my colleagues, the members for Daly and Nelson. We are quite happy to put the work in as long as it is productive. Let us have some discussion about how new references come aboard, the route by which that will occur, how other people can shape that priority list and shape that reference list. Lets talk about resources; lets talk about a guarantee to the parliament and I am sure you would be keen to 3061
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