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 business as usual for tourism operators with concessionaire arrangements within Northern Territory parks while the negotiation process takes place. Importantly, the path being taken by this government assists the delivery of certainty for our tourism operators. In the international market place, it is essential that consumers can have faith that their booked tour to a park will, in fact, occur. Without certainty in our parks, we cannot expect tourism operators to undertake product development. Had the Northern Territory followed this path, it could have stagnated our product at the worse possible time and called the whole product into question. Instead, we have the opportunity to negotiate new areas being open for tourism, a fabulous result. Madam Speaker, I commend this government and the Chief Minister for the conciliatory approach it has taken in working in partnership with land councils, and also looking to protect the interests of the tourism industry and other industries and, certainly, opening up a path for visitors to the Territory to experience the special beauty of our place, of our Territory, and understand more about indigenous culture. I commend this statement to the House. Ms MARTIN (Chief Minister): Madam Speaker, I will not take too much time. I thank my colleagues for their contribution. I cannot thank the two opposition members who spoke, because their contributions were not constructive. This was a situation that emerged from a decision of the High Court. There were two clear options for a government who wanted to see jobs created, enterprises started and flourishing, and when the alternative presented to government was simply to litigate and spend tens of millions of dollars on lawyers, I do not think that there actually was a choice for government. I am not keen on litigation. I will litigate, but I am not keen on litigation. With an opportunity like this presented to us with the 50-odd parks and reserves in the Territory, then what government has done - and it would have been nice to have had some recognition from the opposition that we have taken a potential problem and a potentially very tricky problem and created an opportunity for Territorians. This is what good government is about, and that is what we are determined to do. It disappoints me greatly that the Opposition Leader, who was given a detailed briefing before this was made public, and had opportunity to ask all the questions he would like about what had happened, what our approach was going to be, how we were going to ensure that the parks and reserves were accessible for all Territorians, talked about the principles we were going to take to any negotiation, walked out of that meeting and immediately started to distort what he had heard and mislead Territorians. It is very disappointing. It makes someone like the Opposition Leader irrelevant to the process, and that is not what we want. I was hoping that the Opposition Leader and other members of the opposition would listen to what the problem was, and work with us for a solution. But all we have is distortion. We have the CLP, whose patterns on this have been developed over many years, talking the kind of rhetoric we have heard before, Look what the Labor governments going to do, they are going to give away our parks, they are going to cost us millions of dollars, they are rolling over, and implicit in what we heard from the Opposition Leader was, you are rolling over to indigenous Aboriginal interests and casting again, in relatively sophisticated terms, that the land councils are not to be trusted. This is what cost us tens of millions of dollars in litigation, year after year after year. Because we had a CLP government that would not sit down and talk to indigenous interests, and certainly would not sit down and talk to land councils. While I am not pretending that these negotiations over the parks and reserves future are going to be straightforward I am not pretending they are going to happen in a short time frame. We think it will be somewhere between 18 months and two years. We think sitting down at the table shows good will. Not the head butting approach, the protagonistic approach we have seen before, but sitting down at the table and discussing these issues in a way that will benefit all Territorians, while recognising legitimate indigenous interests, native title interests and the land rights interests, recognising the indigenous and ecotourism potential of Territory parks and reserves, and creating a world class parks master system for the Territory. What an exciting opportunity. It is going to be tough, but what an exciting opportunity, to actually build our tourism market, build the potential of tourism for the Territory and at the same time be able to give tourists and our visitors, whether from interstate or overseas, the opportunities they are telling us they want more of. They want to know about indigenous culture. They want to see our beautiful areas, our pristine areas of the Territory, and they want that Territorian experience. You combine both and we really have magic here. Combine that with the opportunity to create jobs in those parks, and enterprises, while at the same time recognising the tourism interest currently there, and the mining interest currently there. What offended me about what we heard from the Leader of the Opposition, and also from the member for Macdonnell, was that I have gone out very clearly and said so many times, these are our core 3103