Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 27 November 2002



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 27 November 2002

Other title

Parliamentary Record 9


Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication


File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

DEBATES - Wednesday 27 November 2002 that the act may affect an acquisition of property. Our legal advice is that this means the current legislation is inconsistent with the provisions of the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978. Should the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act be found to affect an acquisition of property other than on just terms, then the act could be invalid in to to. That would mean that all of the authority certificates issued to date and all current applications would be invalid. It would also mean that no-one other than custodians acting in accordance with Aboriginal tradition could enter and remain on land that is a sacred site in the Northern Territory. The present bill is intended to rectify this omission by an amendment to allow compensation to be paid on just terms in the event that the act affects an acquisition of property. The proposed amendment is to have retrospective effect. It would apply retrospectively to 15 August 1989, the commencement date of the act. The proposed amendment is to ensure constitutional validity of the act. It is a precaution against a finding by a court according to the current state of law, that the existence of a sacred site and the provisions of the act would effectively sterilise the proprietary rights which flow from a persons interest in land. Without the amendment having retrospective effect, it maybe found by a court, prior to the amendment, that the act affected an acquisition of property otherwise than on just terms, rendering it invalid from the time of its enactment. This would invalidate all the things done by the authority from the time of its enactment including prosecutions and the issuing of certificates. The government is not prepared to allow such uncertainty to prevail and to effectively put the Territorys development at risk. Whilst this amendment may impact on three cases currently before the courts by removing a potential defence, if successful such a defence would allow the persons concerned to evade prosecution on a technicality. Moreover, this minor effect of the retrospective operation of the bill is balanced by the fact that we are acting to ensure the provision of a just terms clause that ensures land-holders proprietary rights are protected, consistent with the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978. The potential invalidity of the act could lead to enormous costs for the Northern Territory flowing from possible legal action by developers operating in accordance with authority certificates, and from the interruption to a range of projects of which the Darwin to Alice Springs railway is the most conspicuous. These wholesale risks are likely to be far more costly than compensation that may be due under the provisions of this bill. The value of just terms compensation in relation to acquisitions of property would be determined at law in relation to the facts of individual cases. In redressing this omission the bill will ensure a maintenance of the already high level of public confidence in the act and avoid situations that would tend to undermine this public confidence. For these reasons I commend the bill to the House. Debate adjourned. COMMERCIAL PASSENGER (ROAD) TRANSPORT AMENDMENT BILL (Serial 112) Bill presented and read a first time. Mr VATSKALIS (Transport and Infrastructure): Mr Acting Deputy Speaker, I move that the bill be now read a second time. The purpose of the bill is to amend the Commercial Passenger (Road) Transport Act to implement the first stage of the reforms which the government is implementing for the taxi, minibus and private hire car industries in the Northern Territory. When the government came to power last year, we found that the commercial passenger vehicle industry in some disarray. Whilst the previous governments actions in removing the controls on the numbers of licences had meant that there were sufficient to meet public demand, the industry itself was suffering from poor returns and poorly trained and motivated drivers. The community was suffering from poor driver standards which on occasion challenged the perception that taking a taxi or a minibus was a safe way to travel. This government decided, before we addressed these issues, that we wanted to find out what the industry and the community wanted from the commercial passenger vehicle industry. Also, as we were new to government, we needed to find out what could be realistically achieved. To that end, we put in place a temporary cap on taxi, minibus and private hire car numbers from 26 November 2001 to provide some stability in the industry while the review was undertaken. Terms of reference for the review were established and advertisements seeking comments were placed in all Northern Territory newspapers. In addition, I met personally with a diverse range of industry representative groups and individuals. Out of that initial consultation came a discussion paper which was circulated to interested parties in the industry and the broader community. Over 40 further formal submissions were received in response 3071