Debates Day 4 - Friday 23 June 2006
Parliamentary Record 8
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 Friday 23 June 2006 2639 increased; they may have decreased. That is a serious problem and I know it is not going to be a simple one to sort out. However, it is something that needs to be looked at more than ever. The saying that business is booming and that means the demand for airlines will be great and that they will come, has not panned out in the regional areas. I encourage that regional development board to look at things that can happen in our regions so that, maybe, there will be a demand for passenger seats back into rural NT. During the discussion of the Infrastructure and Transport portfolio, there was some time spent on the subject of road safety. It is a very sensitive area because we have had a loss of quite a few lives through road accidents, which is extremely unfortunate. The loss of any life is very sad. Naturally, the state of our regional roads is extremely important. Any money that can be put into regional roads is of vital importance. One of the questions I did not get to ask was just how much has been put into beef roads in the Northern Territory in this last 12 months, because nowhere enough has been put in. In that particular area, we also talked about the demerit system, what systems should be put in place - well, we did not actually talk about it, we discussed it very briefly. The demerit system is an interesting system because the states that the demerit system is operating in have not shown a significant decrease in road deaths. Those people that lose their demerit points do not really give a rip. They lose their points, and so what? A lot of them continue to drive, and do not get picked up either when they have lost their demerit points. Therefore, demerit points do not stop drunk people from getting into their vehicle and driving. The loss of demerit points do not stop people from driving recklessly. I believe that there has to be a road safety campaign far more intensive, rather than introducing a demerit system. However, I am very happy and willing to listen to any research that is carried out. That is the only way you can get a true feeling of what will work and what will not. I have always been quite against a demerit system but, as I say, you should never say never, you should always keep an open mind and look at the evidence. I am interested in seeing the evidence of how demerit systems have reduced road tolls - if they have - in other states. I am also very keen to get the taxi licences for the MPTs sorted out, because I believe that in some areas - and I am not saying it has happened everywhere - I know that that has been abused. It is a shame because I know of instances where disabled people have rung two and three days in advance to book a disabled cab and they have been told: Sorry, we are doing a bush job or they are doing something else. They have had to be carried out to an ordinary taxi and put in that taxi. The local cab drivers are very good; they will look after them and do the job, of course. However, they are supposed to be carried in a wheelchair inside a van that is made available for them. That is an area of concern. The area of concern is how do you police it? That is what I would like to know. How do you police that and ensure that those people do have that service available to them? I am skipping around the place, but this another area is a regional development one again. What happens in the instance when there is a development that is proposed, for instance, to have 35 000 ha of soya beans grown in an area? What happens? Do the people on the regional development board say: That is a great idea because there is a proposal to grow 35 000 ha of soya beans, but we will have to get an environmental impact study done on that? Then they cannot get enough water to grow it, or they cannot get enough land cleared to grow it. What we have is a catch 22. Where do these people go to have a major development like that? A development of that size, that is considered and is being proposed for the Katherine region, is extremely important to regional development in that area and would provide a lot of economy for that region. What happens there? We go over two or three different areas, we cover regional development, then the environmentalists will probably say that having 35 000 ha of soya beans is a disgusting thing to do. What happens there? I believe that any opportunity that is being put forward needs to be looked at in great detail. I know a lot of detail has gone into this particular investment, so I encourage the regional development board to strongly support something like that and bring it to the ministers attention as soon as possible. Another area that I found of interest was housing. I have a great respect for the Minister for Housing and I believe that some of the proposals that he has brought forward are going to do some good. I believe he is a very realistic man, and that those proposals are going to make a great difference to indigenous communities. One thing of concern that I noticed during his input to the Estimates Committee was that there has been so much talk about the lack of money for Aboriginal housing, and there has been a huge call on the federal government and, of course, the Territory government to make sure that they provide as much funding as possible for indigenous housing. Then, to actually find out that some of the IHANT funding that has been put in the budget for this year actually has to be used for the town camp redevelopments in Alice Springs was a little disappointing, because IHANT needs all the money that it had in its budget. I would have thought that government would have looked at additional funding to cover the redevelopment of the town camps in Alice Springs.
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