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 Territorians, Aboriginal Territorians and all other Territorians. Dr BURNS (Tourism): Madam Speaker, I rise in support of the Chief Ministers statement. The Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environments division of conservation and natural resources will negotiate a new comprehensive parks masterplan with the NT land councils to expand and more effectively manage the Northern Territory parks estate. This negotiation process presents many benefits for the tourism industry, particularly in gaining access to previously inaccessible indigenous land, and in developing closer links with indigenous people. I understand that the Tourism Council of the Northern Territory Chamber of Commerce and Industry was present at the initial briefing on this issue and was very positive about the opportunities for the tourism industry. The Northern Territorys Tourism Strategic Plan 2003-07 identifies some of the major building blocks to build a better tourism industry in the Northern Territory. The two integral building blocks are nature-based tourism and cultural tourism. The importance of these two building blocks to our tourism industry is demonstrated by the following statistic. In 2001-02, 54% of interstate and international holiday visitors undertook to see indigenous art and engage in other cultural activities. While in the Territory, 50% went bushwalking. These were the top two activities for holiday visitors and the key points of difference that we can build on. It will be immediately obvious to members that there is potential for huge linkages between these two areas. Consumers have, for some time, requested more opportunity for interaction with indigenous people on their own land and this principle forms the basis of indigenous cultural product offerings. At an indigenous tourism workshop I hosted last Thursday in Alice Springs, indigenous people were clear that they were interested in further developing appropriate cultural tourism products that would be sustainable and match their lifestyles. They are very keen on joint venture-type arrangements to assist and advance projects. Talking informally with members of the tourism industry in Alice Springs last week, including some of these people at the indigenous tourism workshop, it seems that there are quite a number of tourists who are actually demanding, if you like, an indigenous tourism experience. Some of them, I am told, question quite closely: Where is this money going? Who is it benefiting? Often they will pick products based on that inquiry, so it is a very important aspect. The renegotiation of the parks master plan presents an opportunity to engage indigenous people, and to give tourists increased access to areas, such as Arnhem Land, which are currently largely inaccessible. As someone who has travelled quite extensively in Arnhem Land, in some of those more inaccessible regions, I know the beauty and potential of those areas and the wonderful people who live there. This represents a fantastic opportunity. There are places there just as special as Jim Jim Falls or Gunlom. Tourism operators feel these areas may well form the foundation of our industry right through this century and into the next. The essential part of this process is that we need to work in partnership with the land councils, not against them. I commend the Chief Minister for choosing this path; I believe it is the best way forward. I always believed that negotiation and dialogue is probably the best way forward, instead of conflict, battle and wasting valuable resources - but also setting up bad feelings, conflict, and enmity, which I do not think do anyone any good. During the indigenous tourism workshop last week, Nick Dicandilo and Robert Lee from the Jawoyn Association gave a presentation on their activities in the Nitmiluk National Park. Nitmiluk in Katherine, as the member for Arnhem said previously, is an excellent example of how successful a joint management arrangement can be for the Northern Territory government, the traditional owners and the tourism industry. I was very interested to hear the member for Arnhem talk about some of the history. I do not want to rake over the coals but I can remember watching 60 Minutes a decade or so ago showing people in the main streets of Katherine. There were some quite nasty feelings and things being said about doom and gloom and the sky was going to fall in. However, the last time I visited Nitmiluk, the place was full of tourists; the local operators were operating at full capacity and everyone was having a great time. We have to be careful when we say the world is falling apart and this is the beginning of the end. It sets up bad feelings between people and it is not constructive. Within Nitmiluk, as the member for Arnhem has said, the Katherine Gorge has remained accessible to all people and there is no entry fee to the park. Importantly, the visitors centre heightens tourists experience at the park through the sharing of the indigenous culture of the area. Again, consumers have been telling us that they want to gain an increased appreciation of indigenous culture during their Northern Territory experience and the Nitmiluk model is fulfilling this market need. The Northern Territory governments position, as stated by the Chief Minister, is that Territory parks and reserves will remain accessible to all Territorians and visitors on a no-fee, no-permit basis. This is strongly supported by the tourism industry. It will be 3102