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 straight out of the Native Title Tribunal: are not being given land under native title. So, how does that sit with what we have been told today by the Chief Minister? She seems to be saying that native title claims and land rights claims are interchangeable. No title to the parks needs to be changed to address native title issues; that is clear. Yet, that is what this statement aims to do. The Chief Minister is sending the very clear signal that as part of resolving the land claims over the 11 parks, she is willing to hand over title to some, or all, of the other 38. That point should be very clear to Territorians. It should be very clear that this Labor government is preparing to relinquish the rights of all Territorians to the park estate to solve this so-called crisis. That should not be done; it should not be entertained; it should not be on the table. Any native title that exists over any of the parks may have been extinguished, or it may need to be compensated, or it may co-exist with the operation of the park. We need an assurance from the government that in its negotiations it will explore and resolve exactly what native title rights do exist, and not just do a blanket deal and accept that the full bundle of native title rights exist in all cases. The spurious suggestions by the Chief Minister, that somehow her policy of handing over the parks will enable, in her words, the establishment of a viable and well resourced park system, is a damning and undeserved indictment of all those who have strived for years, and for so long, and so hard, to establish the great parks system that we already have in the Northern Territory. She says her deal will lead to investment in park infrastructure and development, improve tourism services, opportunities and indigenous employment opportunities. I ask the question: why cant that happen now? What is the thing that is somehow tied up in this High Court decision that is hamstringing that particular initiative and development now? If it is not happening now, it is not happening because of this decision or anything that the Chief Minister intends to negotiate. And in fact, it did happen under previous CLP governments. There were many opportunities in many parks for indigenous employment, and development, and enterprising ventures. Any deal this government is preparing to do does not preclude it happening now or make it any more likely it will happen in the future. Nor do you need any deal to have Aboriginal involvement on the board of the management of the parks. The government can do that now. You do not need to do this deal to have Aborigines involved on the board of management. The Chief Minister says that the end result will be a larger and better resourced parks estate for the Northern Territory. But I ask the question: how does handing over the parks estate contribute to them being larger or better resourced? These actions of the government have no impact whatsoever for a larger and better resourced parks estate. That should be their aim now, as it was to CLP governments, to have large and good resourced parks. It does not change because of these rulings or these actions. That is proved, from the CLP point of view, if you look at the parks estate, you look at how well resourced they are; actions that we have been conducting since 1978. But this deal is totally opposite to that particular ideal. Let me pick up on a number of other points that the Chief Minister made. She criticises me for not saying how long an ordinate approach would take, but offers no time scale for how long she will take to hand over the parks estate. Will it take six months, 12 or 18 months for these negotiations? How long does it take to sign over the parks? The second point is the Chief Ministers attempt to blame the previous government for the crisis she claims exists. Somehow, the previous CLP government was supposed to have worked out native title 14 years before the High Court did. Somehow, the previous CLP government was supposed to have second-guessed the latest ruling, even though it came as a surprise to her government and to the land councils. I am also becoming a little tired of the mantra continually trotted out about how much money the CLP cost Territorians by contesting land claims. The government has already found out that land claims have to be tested. They are doing that themselves. Somehow, you justify your actions by claiming it is in the public interest when you do it, but when the CLP did it, it was red-necked and racist. What hypocrisy! The final point, Madam Speaker, is more crucial. I ask the question: just how much are Territorians going to have to pay for their parks in the future? The Chief Minister is at pains to point out that parks will remain accessible to all Territorians and visitors on a no-fee, no-permit basis. While I accept that as a core principle of this government, it does not address how much of Territorians funds will be paid out each year to lease back the parks that she hands title over for. Will it be a global figure for the whole deal? Will it be an annual fee for each an every park? Will further fees be charged to rent back any of the infrastructure already developed in any of the parks? Will tourist developments or cafes and canteens have to pay fees to the new owners, or will they be wrapped up in the governments leasing 3094