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 negotiate and give ground on an area where you have vacated the field, or draw a line in the sand and the matter ends up before an arbiter. Whether the Chief Minister likes it or not, that arbiter is none other than the courts. I am intrigued and I am heartened by the areas of principle the Chief Minister has outlined, but what I want from the Chief Minister today is a clear and unequivocal statement that those positions will not be retreated from at all as a starting point in the negotiated process. There is another aspect I am a little concerned about. Information has come to my attention which demonstrates that where the Chief Minister and the government have been prepared to give ground for purposes of goodwill negotiation, I am not entirely certain that the other potential claimants in this environment are entirely prepared to negotiate. That is evidenced by, as I understand it, a great deal of activity in the West MacDonnell National Park, where I notice that six of the gorges in question are located, there is a heavy amount of anthropological activity. That is indicative to me that the other party which is involved in the negotiation process may be preparing for a litigation process, because that is the sort of work that is required to be done to prove things. If they feel that they have to prove things when we have a Chief Minister who is in the position of saying, I am prepared to negotiate, then I am concerned that those are the signals that they are sending. I certainly hope that that is not the case, but I know in recent times that level of activity has sharply increased. I am also wondering if the Chief Minister can answer me a simple question as to how many of the parks in question - that is, Gregorys Tree Historical Reserve, Arltunga Historical Reserve, Chambers Pillar Historical Reserve, Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve, Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park, Ewaninga Rock Carvings Conservation Reserve, Finke Gorge National Park, NDhala Gorge Nature Park, Trephina Gorge Nature Park and parts of the West MacDonnell National Park are actually standing on LandCorp land, and how many of them are listed as reserves on the parks estate? I would like the Chief Minister to answer that question if she is able to do so. I am also intrigued by her comment in relation to seeking Commonwealth funds to assist with the management of the parks. I would like to see where the Chief Minister anticipates these Commonwealth funds coming from, and does this mean in any way that the National Parks and Wildlife Service will be gaining any form of control or input into the management of the Territory parks estate? That is also an important issue and a matter for Territorians to be reassured about. The other question that is worth posing is how much will this cost should there be a transfer of land title back into private hands in lease-back arrangements? Will we have to lease back roads, will we have to lease back quarters for the staff of the Territory Parks service, those sorts of things? It is also important that we have an estimation, at least, of how much that process will cost. I am curious to know also, how the Chief Minister anticipates, as a result of this, the parks estate of the Northern Territory is going to be larger and if the Chief Minister can indicate as to whether or not the other negotiating parties are prepared to put up other sections of the Northern Territory which they privately own, as being part of the parks estate, or whether she intends to purchase pastoral leases for that purpose? I am curious about the word larger because I presume it means bigger in terms of its physical size and that means acquiring land from somewhere to that end. I would like to hear from the Chief Minister exactly what larger means. In terms of better resourced, is she solely relying on the funds of the federal government to better resource the parks and what sources is she anticipating? Or does she anticipate that the potential private owners of the park will also place some funds into the bucket so that they can help develop the parks for the goals that the Chief Minister has outlined? It is very important, if they are planning to do so, that that also be announced. It would be good to see that goodwill coming out from the potential private owners of the parks estate. Ultimately, I also wish to point out that the CLP does have a history of negotiating native title outcomes. Rosebery and Bellamack have been discussed here today, and that is quite correct. It was a negotiated outcome. It is entirely possible at any time to negotiate for native title purposes over any piece of land, and yes, it does require the goodwill of both parties. The goodwill of the CLP was always available to other protagonists, and it must be remembered that the cost of litigation in relation to these sorts of claims begins when somebody makes a claim against the government. Which means that when we talk about $20m worth of litigation over a place like Kenbi, or we talk about the $lm worth of litigation over various other places, it was very often that the Northern Territory government was formally the respondent, which means that it was responding to a claim lodged against it. Madam Speaker, I support the comments made by the Leader of the Opposition in this House today. However, we are not in government. The Labor Party holds government, and the Chief Minister is the head of this government, and they have made a decision to pursue this process. I hope it works out for them and more to the point, I hope that it results 3099