Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007
Parliamentary Record 17
Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 17 October 2007 4864 country. When Australian jurisdictions, our states and territories, are competing for all sorts of things - whether it is police officers, nurses or slices of tourism markets - they will compete for improved trade opportunities. The Territory is extremely well placed. It is because of its geography and we are very lucky. I do not think I have been up there too many times since, but when the CLP was in government, I remember going up to the ministers offices and seeing the maps on the walls - which I assume are still there - showing Darwin as the southernmost city in Asia rather than the central and northernmost city of Australia. That was certainly indicative of the attitude of the CLP, and I feel certain that it is indicative of the attitude of this government. It is fair to say, historically, that after the introduction of self-government, the Territory did become aggressively Asian-centric. I was not around then, but I am advised that Territory Labor, to their credit, was supportive of that approach. I remember when Labor first came to office in the Territory, and certainly when the CLP was in government, there was lots of toing and froing about CLP ministers spending a lot of time in the region. I recall, early on in opposition, the CLP was having a go at the Chief Minister and some of her colleagues and urging them to travel more. It is great that they are now travelling more and good relationships are being cultivated. Recently, when I met with the Deputy High Commissioner in Singapore and her staff, it was very clear that former Chief Minsters and other CLP ministers were held in very high regard, and the work that they did in the region was appreciated. We are well placed. We have developed, over a long period of time, some natural and very progressive and mutually beneficial relationships with the region. I am the first to encourage this government to continue to do so. The relationship with China - and I know the Chief Minister has been there a few times in relatively recent times - is good and I understand that the Chief Minister herself is cultivating not only business arrangements, but professional relationships with people involved in key areas. That is important; there does need to be personal interaction. A relationship of trust needs to develop if other countries and the Northern Territory are going to be well served by ongoing relationships and economic relationships in particular, so I congratulate you, Chief Minister. It seems, from what I hear and read and observe around the place, that you are doing well in that regard. Congratulations. I hear that you are a natural lover of Vietnam. I have not been there, but I look forward to going at some point. China and Vietnam are good examples because they have had their share of difficulties over a long period of time. If you look at the growth of both of those countries, it has, in the last five years, perhaps maybe 10, been astronomical. I was advised that between 1978 and the year 2000, China increased its international trade from $34bn a year to $470bn a year. Of course, that generates wealth and jobs in China and has natural benefits for the Northern Territory. Despite what I am sure are reservations expressed by my colleague, the member for Blain, and which I share, and I feel certain are shared by members on the other side in relation to some human rights issues, the relationship with China needs to be continually fostered. We wish government well in continuing to do just that. I had a lot written here, but, with respect, because the Chief Ministers statement was so comprehensive, there is a certain pointlessness to me reciting it all back at you. I am not going to do that; I will cut a few corners. That is not intended, in any way, shape or form to step away from the comments I have made and the oppositions support of your governments efforts in the region. It should not be taken in that way. I am just trying to make the best use of the time I have and make a meaningful contribution. We congratulate you, Chief Minister, on your recent trip to Vietnam. In relation to the deal involving cattle, that was well done. We noted, with some degree of interest, as did others, that your minister for Primary Industries was not with you at the time. However, that is obviously a matter for you and your colleagues. Clearly, there are ongoing opportunities in South-East Asia for our livestock. It has been put to me that, indeed, the possibilities are endless, given the industry we have in the Territory. There is probably more work to be done, but I would naturally expect that to be done by the minister for Primary Industries with you beside him, Chief Minister, over a longer period of time. However, we congratulate you in any event. One wonders about camel. How is that going and what are the possibilities in that respect? There are growing industries to be found in aquaculture and the fishing industry in the Territory. Exports from Darwin into the increasingly wealthy markets of South-East Asia mean that future production looks bright. In vegetable matter, I note that Senator Bill Heffernan has been in the Territory recently
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