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 4893 by relying on traditional ceremonial knowledge and fire awareness. As well as the numerous projects Burlany was involved in, he and his wife, Anna Bolgi, looked after many children, including his own from his extended family. He will be sadly missed by Anna and Tanya Bolgi, the Dooley family and his numerous close friends and family. Mr WOOD (Nelson): Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like to speak about two issues tonight. The first is the rally today. I thank all the people who took part in the rally. I appreciate that they had to take time off work, many of them, and some of them had to travel quite a distance, but they were of one mind when they came to Darwin today. They simply ask the government to rethink its rigid time line on the local government reform and say that whilst reform is good thing, the process government is going through at the moment is too rushed and has not brought the community along with it. They would like you to start again, bring the community along, so we end up with a good process. People are genuinely saying to the government: We are not opposing the principle of reform; we would like you to do it better. I also thank the people who helped organise today, which was a wonderful exhibition of people power, if you want to call it that, where people came to voice their opinion to government. They did not come to abuse government or demonstrate any anger in a physical way. They had a good time, decorated their vehicles in the red, white and black, which is symbolic of many of the sporting clubs in Litchfield Shire. That was done on purpose because the issue that has very little discussion in this debate about local government and we do not see in a business plan is the issue of community. Black, white and red is symbolic of what our shire, the Litchfield Shire, is about. It is 22 years old and has other things besides council meetings, council chambers, budgets and rates. All those things might be important, and that is what a lot of the discussion is about. However, the other side is that it has a heart, which is made up of a lot of people who have lived in the Litchfield Shire for some time. When I passionately fight for my council, I am not fighting for me or the bricks and mortar of the council; I am fighting for the council as part of a community of people, which is something that was lost in this debate from day one. I go to a lot of sporting club training nights and presentation nights. I go to things like the Old Timers Bingo on Wednesday, the Fibre Craft Guild at Humpty Doo Village Hall on Wednesdays as well, there are all sorts of martial arts at night going throughout the shire at Humpty Doo, Bees Creek, Howard Springs. We have scouting groups, the Rural Garden Club, church groups, schools that are associated, you might say, with Taminmin, but they are all part of the Litchfield Shire. There is a feeling that you belong to something. That is important, and that has developed as the shire has developed. The shire is still relatively young, yet one has the feeling that it is going to get cut off in its prime as it is developing. Someone else thinks they can do a better job and that the economic modelling was not up to scratch. Someone else said the services that were being provided were not adequate, but they forgot to ask us and they forgot to involve the community. The same community is that football club, that rural garden club, those pensioners out there and the shopkeepers who run small businesses. No one has asked them for their opinion. Transition committees do not represent the community. They have a number of people who were picked to attend meetings on a Wednesday, a working day, when very few people from the public can attend. If you could attend, you had to be invited, and if you were invited, you had to listen in silence and were able to speak for four minutes. I hardly regard that as adequate community consultation. Community consultation is going out to the public and saying: The government wishes to reform local government in the Northern Territory. We are considering changes to your area, including large amounts of unincorporated areas such as Dundee, Marrakai and Douglas Daly. We also would like to propose that some of the existing councils should amalgamate with other councils, and then allow the community to have a think about it. Call some public meetings, allow people to have their say, allow people to put up ideas. Do not rush the timetable because the world is not going to drop dead tomorrow if Litchfield Shire Council still operates. Take in a lot of what people are saying. Do not just use the one model. That is what is happening at the moment. There is one model being developed to fit all, and that is a big mistake. The shires of Barkly and the Central Desert are not the shires around the Top End of the Northern Territory. They are different in geography, climate and people. Yet, there is this belief that for economic reasons - and I keep hearing the economic rationalist behind all of this - we must have one model to suit all. The Top End Shire, as the government, unfortunately, keeps calling it, with the Litchfield Shire, is the first cab off the rank and that model is being used as the basis for other shires. That is a great mistake.