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 principles. I sat down with the land councils and said: We have two ways to go here. We can litigate. We can take the parks and the reserves one by one, and we can go through the court system. Just to attend a native title hearing, to go through the process without contesting it will cost you something like SI50 000. So to contest the parks and reserves, one by one, there is no change from $ 100m. Add the compensation to that, and you are probably looking at $150m. On lawyers fees alone, to go to litigation would be $50m to $100m. The other way, the practical, sensible, positive, opening up opportunities way is to negotiate. And I said to the land councils: This is where I want to go, but I will only go here if you two agree to the core principles, and that is all these core principles - not you pick and choose, not like the member for Macdonnell saying: Which ones are you going to give in on? It is not a picking and choosing exercise. It is the whole lot. It is the lease-back for a minimum of 99 years. It is no fees, no permits. It is the recognising of current interests in the parks for tourism and mines. It is certainly, where appropriate, engaging in joint management and it is working with us to create this master plan, this world-class master plan, for the Territory. So who loses? Who loses from this? The only loser is if we have to go to litigation. The momentum and the goodwill to negotiate and find an agreement here is very strong. But I said clearly to the land councils: This is a package. You cannot walk away from any element of these core principles. No element. And if you do, I will go back to litigation. This government will go back to litigation. That is very clear and I am putting that on the record. I believe we will not have to do that. When the Opposition Leader was saying: Go in and test some of that native title. Test one, just to show, at least he does understand that native title is not a simple thing. It is a bundle of rights, as established through the Ward High Court decision. It is a bundle of rights. So to test one means nothing; all you have done is tested one. There are no implications for anything else. Many of our parks and reserves in the Territory have very substantial native title interests that could be extensive and exclusive. The Opposition Leader - and implicit in this, the opposition - is saying: Go and work through each one of those. Dont give in, they are saying. Dont give in to a thing. But I said to the Opposition Leader in the briefing we had: We are only following the precedent that you have set in a number of cases: the railway corridor, Rosebery and Bellamack, Mount Todd. There are a number of different areas where the previous government said: We recognise that native title does exist; let us negotiate. There was not all the work done to test this; it did not go to the Native Title Tribunal. So the precedent set by the previous government on a number of occasions is the one we are using, and we believe it is the way to go. It is where the positive outcomes are. It does disappoint me that we have the Country Liberal Party, we have the opposition, trying to say: Let us see where we can divide here; let us see where we can go back to our old tricks. I was hoping they were old tricks, Madam Speaker, but they are obviously the current tricks. Let us start revving up some of the issues; let us start saying: Never trust the land councils, never trust Labor, because Labor is not about protecting all Territorians interests and worse, still, it is going to cost us a fortune. Implicit in this is Labor is rolling over to indigenous interests. Let me say, very proudly, I am standing up for all Territorians, for all of our interests, and very properly recognising indigenous rights and interests. We will have a very successful outcome from that. It will be a win/win for Territorians, it will be a win/win for job creation and it will be a win/win for enterprise development. Cost is another issue that was raised. So what is this going to cost us? Well, I spelt out how much it is going to cost us in terms of litigation if we go that way: $100m. Then add the cost of compensation on top of that. Even if the federal government picked up 75%, it would still be quite a significant cost. Then the member for Macdonnell says: So, spell out this cost! What is it going to cost in this negotiation? There will be a cost, Madam Speaker, of course there will be. A quite appropriate cost for government. Government is about creating jobs. Government is about stimulating the tourism industry. Government is about creating a world class master plan for parks and this is where the dollars should be spent. And if this government has a choice between spending money on lawyers, or spending money on job creation, enterprise development, tourism, parks management and a world class master plan for parks, then I know where we are going to be proudly putting the Territorys dollars and that is in the latter. So there will be a cost. Creating jobs will come at some cost, but when you think of the opportunities of creating jobs in remoter parts of the Territory this is an opportunity to be grasped. I am talking to the Commonwealth government about how they can be part of this and where there might be a financial contribution and it is welcome. I have already started to raise those issues with people like parks minister, Dr David Kemp. I am very gratified that we have in principle support for negotiation rather than litigation from both the Prime Minister and the indigenous affairs minister, Philip Ruddock 3104