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 2641 has decided to allow questions to happen - is a device against Independents. Whether you like it, we are members of the parliament and we should be able to contribute. The terms of reference need to be looked at as there is nowhere in the terms of reference that says shadow ministers go first, then other committee members, and then Independents. That is a decision of the committee and needs to be reviewed. We can take it in turns or you can say to opposition: Okay you have had 10 questions but let us have a break and give someone else a go as well. We need to review the whole process and I ask the Chairman of the Standing Orders Committee if you would take that on notice. There were a number of areas we did not get to question. Many of the questions I was looking at were more electoral bias, whereas the opposition tend to look at them on a whole-of-government approach. There will be a number of follow-up letters to ministers as a result of not being able to ask the questions that I wanted to. We spent a long time on child protection and I need to answer the member for Greatorex regarding him saying sex with a minor is illegal. Yes, we know that and unwanted sex with a minor is illegal; an adult having sex with a minor is illegal and there should be charges. However, we are putting our heads in the sand if we do not think there is consensual sex amongst teenagers. Go to high schools and find out how many kids are on the pill or how many go to the school nurse and ask them about it. Go to your hospitals and see how many young girls are having babies - and thanks John Howard; you offered teenagers $3000 for every baby they had. That was a great incentive for them to have babies. I reacted to the member for Greatorexs statement It is illegal; do something about it, because education is what you do about it. You do not go up to these teenagers who are having sex and say: You are charged; you should not be doing it, you are a minor. You talk about education and make sure high schools are educating kids well. Surely, prevention is far better than having young teenage girls with lots of babies. That is the reason why I questioned his outburst, it is illegal. You cannot take that stand in this day and age. You all have teenagers or had them, or know of them, and you would know exactly what I am talking about - even though the member for Blain is frowning at me. I want to place on record my thanks to all the staff and public servants. It must be frustrating for them because they sat there for so long and then they did not get a chance to answer. However, I say to them that it is okay; we will be asking you some of the questions by letter. I want to make comment to the Chief Minister regarding the handling of the idea of going to a summit, the question that has been raised continually on TV, even the handling of the member for Millners letter which I thought was a fair cop. Chief Minister, you have to show a little stability. I cannot let the Independent member for Nelson have it all his own way, so I remind the Chief Minister of a little song; perhaps it might help her to make up her mind. I will not sing it because you will die if I start singing but some of you will remember it. First you say you do, and then you dont Then you say you will, and then you wont You are undecided now, so tell us what you are going to do. Mr MILLS: Mr Acting Chairman, I will not be singing any songs or reading poems. I was surprised to hear this was the fifth estimates process. These are always challenging exercises and processes we all pass through. It is always good to come to the end of a period and reflect on what we have learnt from it. As an elected representative and a member of the opposition, you do learn a lot. You have the need to take responsibility as a shadow minister to endeavour to get across a range of portfolios and, without going into it, it is a considerable responsibility for opposition to do that in a global sense. Our responsibility as the opposition, as well as assess how much you actually understand of how the system works - the public sector, how government works, how government decisions are made and how they are followed through - is to make sure that we can do our job on behalf of Territorians who are expecting this parliament to work to hold government to account so that there can be proper scrutiny and a check and balance on government. Without it, we only have to look at what can arise in other places around this world. We do have an important role to play and one that we take seriously. There are bright moments and there are not so bright moments, highs and lows. When it is all washed through and we sieve it all out, we will find that there is some considerable merit in what we have all just passed through. Before I go any further, I am, as other members are, immensely grateful to the staff of the Legislative Assembly who supported these proceedings. They have done a wonderful job with such grace, patience and consistency. Sometimes, we reflect on how difficult it is as a member of parliament when we recognise that some of these officers were there before us and after us. Granted, in opposition, we have to prepare as ministers have to prepare, as do the members of the Legislative Assembly staff to prepare and lay the foundations.
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