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 provide jobs and training opportunities until their status was decided. No sensible Territorian would want that outcome. Let us look closely at what we can leam from the arrangements the CLP put in place after the successful Jawoyn land claim over Nitmiluk. The first is that Nitmiluk continues to build on its success as one of the important tourism assets we have in the Territory. A key part of that success is joint management between traditional owners and the Territory government. Yes, the traditional owners of Nitmiluk have shown that Aboriginal and broader community interests can work together rather than against each other. The fact that Aboriginal interests are an integral part of their arrangement is because of the pride and certainty the Jawoyn people have in the recognition of their traditional ownership, and in their capacity to provide leadership on the board of management. Indeed, all the market research shows us that increasing numbers of visitors to the Territory value highly Aboriginal involvement in our parks and reserves and indeed, they want more of it. The second thing we can leam is that the economic venture half owned by the Jawoyn people, Nitmiluk Tours, has traded successfully and profitably throughout its joint venture with Travel North. This is despite the obstacles faced by the tourism industry in recent years, such as 11 September, the collapse of Ansett, and more recently, the tragic event in Bali. In this, I would like to pay tribute to Travel Norths Wemer Sarny and his previous partner, Brian Lambert, for their visionary contributions to developments at Nitmiluk, not least of which has been their willingness and desire to work closely with Aboriginal people in an important economic enterprise. The third thing we can leam is that it is entirely feasible to raise capital for ventures on Aboriginal land. Much of the expansion of visitor facilities at the Gorge over the past half a dozen years has been made possible through capital raised by the Jawoyn through private financial institutions. The fourth thing we can leam is that Aboriginal economic enterprise in national parks can provide sustainable benefits for Aboriginal people in training and employment. Visit Nitmiluk today and compare it to a decade ago. Aboriginal people are rising through the ranks of both the parks service and the enterprises in Nitmiluk in greater numbers. What we want is to leam the lessons of the past, and the lesson from Nitmiluk is that joint management can work. It is an interesting fact that it was the CLP that showed the way. In this case, what a shame now they are not following their own lead. We need to leam the lesson from Nitmiluk that when it comes to Aboriginal economic development, study the good partnerships that can develop with non Aboriginal commercial operators. We need to acknowledge the fundamental importance of recognising the legitimate interests of Aboriginal stakeholders in land and the importance that that recognition has in building confidence and pride and hope for the future. We can leam from the example set by the Jawoyn in their engagement with the capital market for investment funds. We must recognise the importance and benefit of sustainable long term training and employment for indigenous and non-indigenous Territorians. The resolution of land issues over parks and reserves can give us an important lead in this regard. The choice is between the shortsighted politics of confrontation and litigation versus the process of negotiation in which we can make a collective investment in the future for our national parks. It is time for a proper masterplan for our parks and reserves that incorporates all these positive elements through properly worked out plans of management taking into account all proper interests. We look, for example, the change of national parks, pastoral properties and traditional Aboriginal clan estates, being linked in terms of land management, such as through traditional and contemporary fire management regimes. We look towards visitor experiences that can maximise our assets such that visitors can pass through such a chain of different lands and sustainable land uses from north to south, and east to west of the Northern Territory. This might involve, for example, joint venture tourism operations stretching from Coburg through Kakadu and Western Arnhem Land, and south through Nitmiluk and Elsey and hence south east to the Roper and the Gulf or west through Gregory and Keep River, or south west through the Tanami. This is the kind of vision that all Territorians will support, not the knee-jerk rear view mirror appeals for litigation offered us by our opponents. Just because the policies are recycled does not mean that they are environmentally sound. I would like to make one final point: the financial cost of travelling the road of court battles and extinguishing native title and of forking out compensation has been estimated over the next decade or so at anything between $50m to SI00m. Imagine what the government could better spend that money on: Aboriginal and other private interests alike on investment in conservation projects, visitor infrastructure, accommodation, training and employment. I do not know about you, Madam Speaker, but it sounds a heck of a lot better approach than lining the pockets of lawyer for the next 20 years. Madam Speaker, I commend the statement to the House. 3097