Territory Stories

Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007



Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007

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Parliamentary Record 17


Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT




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 17 October 2007 4856 wanted to know what was going on with local roads and about their local area. There is the opportunity with Rum Jungle Radio, which feeds into TEABBA but has a radius of something like 50 km around the Batchelor area. That offers opportunities in the rural and Coomalie areas whereby people can ring in and update about particular roads so people know whether to go one way or another. There are great opportunities with counter-disaster plans to make use of bushfire volunteers. They work very hard in the Dry Season, and we spoke about it last night. These are people who give their time, and are the type of people who are prepared to have a go. They love their community and commit to those communities. There is an opportunity during the cyclone season, which is really their off-season, to utilise their equipment and skilled personnel. They have a degree of knowledge about equipment, search and rescue and first aid for which they are trained by the Bushfires Council. There are opportunities there for Emergency Services to provide some additional training so that we have a resource available during the cyclone season which will not affect their firefighting duties during the Dry Season. Madam Speaker, I congratulate the Chief Minister on the amendments. It is a watching brief on our response to cyclones. It is incumbent on us to say that it is a total community effort; you cannot rely on Emergency Services as a full-time staff or the volunteers. The community has to participate and respect these situations when they arise. They have to be prepared before cyclones happen. We get a bit blas about them and then we panic when they happen. Congratulations, Chief Minister. I look forward to discussing this into the future. Mr VATSKALIS (Business and Economic Development): Madam Speaker, I have a brief contribution because it is very important to change the legislation. This brings us in line with other states, in particular Western Australia. As you are aware, for a number of years I lived in Port Hedland. The area in Western Australia from Broome down to Dampier is considered to be cyclone alley because most of the cyclones routes start in the north and then veer down to the south-west of Western Australia. They usually hit the Western Australia coastline between Port Hedland and Onslow. Many of the cyclones are significant and, by sheer luck, have avoided damage in some of the urban centres in Western Australia. I recall when I first came to Darwin with my family, we visited the Fannie Bay Gaol Museum which then housed the Cyclone Tracy exhibit. What was really frightening when the exhibit moved to the museum where it is housed now, with the small enclosure where you can hear the taped Christmas Mass of 24 December 1974, is that quite a few people cannot stand that exhibit because it brings back very sad memories. What was interesting was to hear the Mass and the sound of the people singing is blanketed by the sound of the wind, but also the scraping of debris on the road. That is one of the most frightening things in that exhibition. One thing we know is that with climatic changes, the prediction of scientists is that cyclones, especially in the north of Australia, will increase in severity and it will not be uncommon to have a cyclone Category 4 or even 5 hitting the coast from Queensland to Western Australia. We have seen some of these examples recently with some of the cyclones that have hit the coastline in the Northern Territory and some of the islands. I congratulate the Chief Minister for bringing these amendments to the House because I do not believe the Northern Territory is as prepared as other states, in particular Western Australia, with regards to cyclones. We tend to believe that we are used to living with cyclones and it will be all right, or that Cyclone Tracy was too long ago and probably will never happen again. However, we have to consider not only the severity of the cyclones, but the effect that the cyclones will have in a city like Darwin, considering the building activity going on. Most of the damage in Darwin in 1974 was not only because some of the houses were not built according to the standards - and the standards in those days were not as strict as today - but as the cyclone hit Darwin some of the houses that were hit first collapsed and the flying debris hit the second and third houses and so on. It was a domino effect. Of course, when the cyclone came back again, the process was repeated. As a result, a large percentage of houses were damaged. When I went to the Building Branch to ask for the plans for my house in Nightcliff, by accident I had a look at one of the photographs from after the cyclone. The only things left of my elevated house were the columns and the floor. When I asked the clerk where the house was, he told me it was somewhere in Berrimah because it was blown away by the cyclone. As I said before, I was living in Port Hedland and it is one of the most prepared towns in Australia with regards to cyclone, better than Queensland and, I have to say, probably better than the Northern Territory. However, we are catching up with these amendments to the legislation. In Port Hedland, everyone had a role to play in cyclones and the preparation for them, from the Emergency Services to government