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




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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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 The master planning process will involve extensive consultation with mining interests to canvass options to accommodate their needs within the parks estate. These principles retain the essential operation of our parks as they are today by the enhancement of those operations by leading to the resolution of all outstanding legal issues. Those outstanding legal issues have tied up our park management for many years. Since 1998, the previous government and this one have had our plans for park expansion and development tied up in legalities. The declaration and expansion of further parks had ceased. The Limmen National Park, for example, is actually not a real park. It is a park in name only, a sign at its entrance. There is no legal basis for its existence. Park expansion in the Gregory region has ceased, and yet, here we have an area with two parks divided by Aboriginal land that should be merged into one large park. The implications for management, the implications for weed control, feral animal control and for biodiversity management are clearly damaged by this arrangement and the government must act to fix it. In Central Australia, our existing park master plan calls for the establishment of a greater park stretching from Palm Valley through Watarrka to Uluru. Such an expansion of the parks would add enormous value to the conservation effort of the Territory and contribute greatly to the national effort. This plan has been stalled from day one because of the title and land tenure issues. It must be acted upon and resolved. When this government inherited the parks portfolio, we inherited the Devonport Murchison legal matter, the Cobourg Peninsula legal problems, the breakdown in management of wildlife programs in some areas due to legal matters, the Murganella legal standoff, the Limmen Park legal standoff, the Gregory Park stall, the ongoing dispute over the Devils Marbles, and the list goes on. We inherited a parks system in legal crisis. All of these things and more had been bogged down in a legal mire for a number of years. Can we afford to have them bogged down for another 20 years? I think not. Once the original shock of these decisions settled, and once the government saw a clear policy path, we opened our eyes to the opportunities created by this decision. It is more than just an opportunity to overcome damaging, divisive and costly legal matters; it is the opportunity to expand our parks system. It is an opportunity to improve our conservation and biodiversity regimes. It is the opportunity to expand the tourism industry. The Tourism Master Plan identifies parks as being our crown jewels. It identifies parks and our environment as a key attractor of tourists to the Territory. Tourism industry representatives to whom we have spoken see this as a unique opportunity. They want more infrastructure in parks and a resolution of legal issues that have been holding up their expansion. This will be achieved by these negotiations. It is also an opportunity for the Territory to lead the nation in practical reconciliation. For too long reconciliation has been used as a buzz-word; sometimes I feel that no practical outcomes are easily identifiable. By approaching this type of situation in the way we have, the government is demonstrating reconciliation. By responding positively in the way we have, the land councils are now confirming their willingness to be part of this reconciliation and the future of the Territory. I am very pleased to say that we have reached several agreements with the land councils and one, in particular, that will interest you in Central Australia. We have a new way of doing business with the land councils. They trust us, and we trust them, and soon we will have some very good news to announce about Central Australia. News that will certainly please the tourism industry and the building industry. The outcome of all of which will be positive and will be the demonstration of practical reconciliation. It will mean jobs, training, careers for Aboriginal people and it will bring money to depressed Aboriginal communities. It will also help the general community in the area. It will provide, in some cases, title to areas of significance to Aboriginal people. It is a significant shift from the politics of division and litigation and one I am proud to be part of. With these positive outcomes and the likely result of the negotiation, I fail to see what, if any objections, can be held by the CLP. After all, the Labor government did not create this issue. The High Court made this decision. The legislation that failed was not legislation that we introduced but legislation the previous CLP government introduced. We have not highlighted this to score political points. We would like to, but we choose not to. We understand the moveable nature of legal opinion. I urge all members of this House to approach this issue in the same positive framework we have, and urge all members to await the outcomes of what will be tough, but interesting, negotiations. These negotiations are not going to be easy. There are vested interests, our vested interest in the Territory. They will be tough negotiations, but I believe at the end, the outcome will be very positive. At the end of the day, it must be outcomes that are judged here, and I believe these outcomes will be extremely positive for the Territory, for all 3101