Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 10 October 2006
Parliamentary Record 10
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 Tuesday 10 October 2006 3103 The member for Arafura can be justifiably proud that she was the member of this parliament who introduced this legislation, and is the mother of the legislation. There is significant success as we have heard in this debate. I thank the member for Arafura for the commitment that she has shown, both in leading the parliamentary inquiry into petrol sniffing and following that up with the ministerial responsibility of driving through this legislation - all significant work done in creating a range of tools needed at the community level but, importantly as the member for Macdonnell pointed out, working with the community rather than imposing on the community to ensure we can tackle petrol sniffing. I know these members are very passionate about the subject. The community management plans were mocked by the CLP. They called them squiggly lines on a map. Communities have actually embraced the community management plans and, as you have heard from the member for Macdonnell and others, there are a dozen communities applying for them. The department is prioritising and speeding up the development of these plans because, as you have heard, there are many detailed issues that need to be taken into account such as the effect of industries such as pastoral and mining operations. My statement outlined the contribution that the roll-out of Opal has made. We have always said that the legislation is part of an overall strategy. We have been calling for the roll-out of Opal for a long time, and we are glad that it is being rolled out. We still think that it should be rolled out as a matter of course in all areas prone to sniffing. The CLPs position on the roll-out of Opal was that it was crazy thinking. The CLP also complained that there were not enough treatment places. The first point I want to make is that the CLP went to the last election and restated that this is still their policy; that they would scrap every treatment place. In contrast, the Martin Labor government is spending an additional $10m to provide these essential treatment services. As I have outlined in the statement, we are funding a raft of non-government organisations to provide these treatment services, and Aranda House will be refurbished. It will be a great facility for the treatment of petrol sniffers. Sometimes it is important to put in context the sorts of things that the CLP have said in the past. The former member for Port Darwin, during the debate on the legislation said: my prediction is that any positive outcomes from its passage will be minimal, if any, and that, generally speaking, it will create a lot of headaches. It will be interesting to hear what remote communities currently suffering from a petrol sniffing problem think of this legislation, police and health action after a year or so. My prediction is that they will not think much of it at all. The former member for Port Darwin could not have been more wrong. The fact is this legislation and the roll-out of non-sniffable fuel has been significant with amazing feedback from the communities, from the police, from the health workers, from the treatment providers, as to its effectiveness. The former member for Drysdales contribution was that $10m to address petrol sniffing problems is a dumb way to spend money. And he said: The idea that Australians have to power their vehicles with a different fuel because some people choose to inappropriately use it to their own detriment, and the detriment of their communities, is crazy thinking. He also said it was a knee-jerk legislative solution. Maybe it is views such as this expressed by the member for Drysdale which showed just how out of touch he was with the reality of the Territory. In stark contrast to that, the contribution made today by the member for Arnhem showed that the VSA legislation and the non-sniffable Opal fuel are having a tremendous impact on improving the life of Territorians in our Arnhem Land communities. I put on the record my thanks to GEMCO for its unwavering support a mining companys unwavering support - for the roll-out of the nonsniffable Opal fuel to Groote Eylandt. In the very early days of the roll out of Opal, GEMCO was front and centre in putting their hand up and saying: We want Opal on Groote Eylandt. We will absolutely do what it takes to get it here. In those days, the Commonwealth was opposing rolling out to areas such as Yulara and Groote Eylandt. Thank God, the Commonwealth turned around in the end and saw the importance of rolling out Opal to these areas. I look forward to January, February of next year, and seeing the final roll-out of Opal on Groote Eylandt because we know it will make a significant difference in improving the lives of the young people on Groote Eylandt. I thank people such as Michelle Clark for their tireless effort on the ground, working with petrol sniffers and their families in turning around their lives. I recall a wonderful trip I made to Groote Eylandt with the member for Arnhem and hearing the stories of young men at Angurugu, former petrol sniffers, who had worked in a huge effort on their local sports oval, and the pride that they had taken in the way that they were rebuilding and improving their community. These were people
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