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 deal? No matter which way you look at it, Territorians will be paying for access to their parks under this government deal. For many of the parks, that is not necessary except now for the actions that this government has decided upon. The Chief Minister has managed to forecast how much this would cost if the litigation route were followed. She says it would be between $50m and $100m over 30 years. To that, I simply say they must be a litigious lot, these land councils, because it is not the government that is going to litigate on any of these matters, so they must be a litigious lot, very generous with the taxpayers purse. Perhaps she could be equally prescient and tell us how much it will cost Territorians to lease back all these parks for the rest of time. Finally, Madam Speaker, I will put a suggestion to the Chief Minister. If she is so intent on doing a deal about our parks, why not make it really worthwhile and include Kakadu and Uluru and bring them back into the Territory parks estate? The former parks minister, the member for Casuarina, made the governments position quite clear on Kakadu and Uluru only last month when he said: The joint management o f those parks with the government is a matter for the traditional owners to decide. As minister for the Environment, I would like the Territory more involved in those joint management arrangements. I reiterate this is a matter ultimately for the traditional owners. So, in this global negotiation over the Territory parks estate, in this atmosphere of non-litigious goodwill, why not get Kakadu and Uluru put on the table and, in doing so, achieve a real expansion? Why not? It would not only be an expansion of the Territory parks estate, but I am sure the governments no-fee policy would be extended to these two icons. That would provide a tangible return and a positive aspect to this whole deal. In conclusion, we do accept that the government has to do something about the 11 parks affected by land rights claims. If they can achieve an acceptable outcome for those parks by negotiation, then on that score, that is a good thing. However, we are very concerned that this government is using the High Court ruling to pursue its own agenda of handing over large areas of parks that belong to all Territorians when there is no need to do so. The Chief Ministers statement today has done nothing to dissuade me that that is not their intention. I cannot understand why if one half of the negotiating table continues to protect their rights by ensuring that land claims continue to be made and will continue that based on the High Court decision, why doesnt the government follow the procedures that are laid down under the Native Title Act where the government can freely negotiate, but at the same time protect its interests to compulsorily acquire? In doing so, an acceptable negotiated outcome can be achieved and where it cannot be achieved under the processes of the Native Title Act, compensatory payments can be made for native title rights that may be deemed to have been lost, and that compensation will be shared equally with fellow Australians. From both sides of the equation, the procedures are in place and it can be done in an atmosphere of good will. The Chief Minister refers to the situation with Rosebery and Bellamack but what she cheerfully admits is that as part of reaching the acceptable outcome on Rosebery and Bellamack, the government maintained its position of moving to compulsory acquire. To give away that position at the outset, and claiming that this is a good deal, stating also that the claimant or would be claimants, because most claimants, have not even come to the table for 38 of the parks, to already concede that the claimants whom we do not know and who have not yet lodged a claim are already the traditional owners is, to my mind, like giving away every bargaining position you have. Well done, a good effort in your mind, good Territory Labor policy. Call us rednecks if you like. If that is your position, fine. I believe any reasonable minded person would believe that any government has an obligation to not only achieve a win/win solution, but also to achieve it in a way that protects the interests of everyone. It seems to me that at the start, at the outset, the interests that are paramount are those would be unknown claimants who have not even begun to claim. We know how powerful they are and we know the power of their representation. The government needs to ensure that it is equally armed to reach an equitable solution. It is a worrying statement. It creates, I believe, an alarming situation at the outset, where the Chief Minister quite cheerfully talks about title changing to many of our parks in a situation where it is totally unnecessary to make those statements. Those parks are there for all Territorians. The management regime that is in place is good. The opportunity for joint management arrangements and better opportunities for Aboriginal people remain and can always be improved outside of this particular action. I believe it is a sad day for Territorians when the Chief Minister and the government quite cheerfully look forward to the day that all Territorians can enjoy less and less of their parks estate. 3095