Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 10 October 2006



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 10 October 2006

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Parliamentary Record 10


Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Tuesday 10 October 2006 3113 relation to Alice Springs that she was committed to spending one week a quarter in Alice Springs. I do not believe that has happened. Far be it for me to encourage the Chief Ministers electoral prospects in Alice Springs, but you cannot have it both ways. You cannot say: Yes we are committed, but not follow through. That applies equally to other regions. I am not sure that the regions are doing terribly well at all; certainly, compared to Darwin they are not. As I am sure the member for Barkly knows, Tennant Creek has a range of problems. No doubt those problems have been there for many years, but it seems to me that the regional-type issues for Tennant Creek, some of which you have touched upon in this statement, are not being addressed. I know that you as minister cannot immediately pluck a doctor out of the air and put that doctor in Tennant Creek. However, it is incredible, is it not, that Tennant Creek has not had a GP for a significant amount of time? I know the work that the council and the government has been doing, indeed, with many others, however, if one talks about population growth and regional development in its most ordinary and basic sense, then you, as a government, any government, needs to provide those basic services to attract people to a town like Tennant Creek. In Alice Springs there are, again, a range of problems. Economically, Alice Springs is not doing anywhere near as well as Darwin. I can assure you that nothing irritates the people I speak to in Alice Springs more than Darwin government ministers going to Alice Springs and talking about how well Darwin is. And believe me when I tell you, minister, I saw a previous CLP Chief Minister try to do that to an audience in Alice Springs and it went over like a lead balloon. I encourage you, that when you and your colleagues are in Alice Springs, although I and my fellow Alice Springs residents have an interest in the future prosperity of the Northern Territory as a whole, all of us, all citizens of the Northern Territory tend to be a bit more proprietorial, I suppose, of the areas in which they live. If you are going to provide this thing called commitment to the regions, it has to be more than sentences strung together in a statement. It has to be real and genuine commitment. The regions do work in isolation. Now, from a government point of view, and I know in modern politics the Territory is no exception, there is the expression whole-of-government, whole-of-Territory. I believe, with respect, that when you are going around to the regions, the average person in those regions does not really care, to a large extent, about the overall picture. Perhaps I put that badly. To put it better, they are more concerned about the prosperity of their own patch than they are about other areas. If you do not know about the disquiet in some of the centres to which I have referred, and indeed others, then you should, and I ask you to address it in whatever way you can. If that means, having referred to the example of the Chief Minister spending more time in Alice Springs, then I encourage you to do that, to do what you can to ensure that happens. Minister, you said on page 3 of your statement, and I quote: It is vitally important to have good strategy when the challenges are so broad and long lasting. You went on to refer to the Chief Minister launching the Territorys Economic Development Framework last month, which you described as the flagship strategy for regional development. It is not word perfect to the Building a Better Territory document, the Economic Development Strategy for the Northern Territory, published in June 2002, but it is pretty similar. In the document, I am sure you will be familiar with it, this was held not long, relatively speaking, after Labor came to office. An economic summit was held from which a number of priority and other actions were agreed upon and there was a commitment to follow them through. On page 40 of the Economic Development Strategy there were the following sentiments in relation to economic development and indigenous economic development. It says: To adopt a whole-of-government / whole-of-community approach to supporting viable futures for indigenous people. That was the strategic approach, quite rightly I think, articulated in that document. That is very similar to you saying now in this statement, or the Chief Minister launching the Economic Development Framework last month. Also, on page 40 of the economic development document, it says that government will negotiate effective and sustainable governance arrangements in remote areas to support indigenous capacity building and economic development. I put it to you that the sentiments - and, of course, there is a strategic approach in one column of this document and then a list of priority actions in the other column. It was, no doubt, relatively easy to articulate the strategic approach; probably a little harder but, nevertheless, not all that difficult to articulate what we have described then as priority actions. It is several years on and the same sort of language is being used in the very statement that is before us today. That begs the question, I believe, as to the success or otherwise of the Economic Development Strategy document in the first instance and, in the second instance, it raises the question that can sensibly be put about whether government policies and initiatives are a bunch of words and concepts put together in this document or, indeed, in this document.

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