Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 14 February 2007
Parliamentary Record 12
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 14 February 2007 3845 doorway into the home market, and that door is open to both first home buyers and those people who do not currently own a home, but have previously owned a home. The door is not shut to the latter group. HomeNorth is a scheme which has enormous benefits. On the issue of land release, you have to look at planning. We started the year off in a very positive sense with planning. We have introduced the new Northern Territory Planning Scheme. That scheme has been debated and consulted about for some seven years. It commenced in February, so we come into 2007 with a very consolidated, contemporary planning scheme that underpins planning for the Territory. I have given an undertaking to continue to work with all the stakeholders in the planning area to look at the use of area plans, for example. We are in discussion with Palmerston City Council about area plans of Palmerston. Those discussions will, obviously, be highly consultative and will be ongoing through this year. We are working, in the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, very closely with the Department of Chief Minister in background support on the Chief Ministers Creating Darwins Future, which is a very exciting, dynamic look at what we want our city to look like in the future, with a tremendous amount of public consultation. I know the Chief Minister is very proactive in getting out and listening to the people of the Top End about what they want their city to look like. A section of that will be a planning forum that I will host in April, bringing together key stakeholders - architects, Planning Action Network advocates, Property Council, HIA, TCA; all the key industry stakeholders participating. Importantly, I also want the public to participate. We are looking at mechanisms at how to engage the public - the person who is not an industry stakeholder nor an advocate per se, but is a resident of Darwin and wants an opportunity to have their input into what they think Darwin should look like, particularly the CBD. We will be tackling issues of what should be the heights of buildings in the CBD, what will be the set back for buildings, how we want our streetscapes to look, and the nutting down into those difficult areas of debate that, as a society, we are mature enough to tackle, and lay down a strong plan for Darwin as a city that will hold us in good stead for its development for the next five, 10, 15 and 20 years. A forum of this nature is very important and has not been held in Darwin. I am very excited about the opportunity to host it. We are building on the experience of jurisdictions elsewhere which have had similar forums. All our major capital cities have had similar planning forums which gave everyone certainty about what their city was going to look like, and the opportunity for input. In the area of my other agency of Family and Community Services, a key body of work this year will be looking at the implementation of any findings and recommendations that come out of the Chief Ministers child sexual abuse inquiry. In addition, we will implement our new legislation dealing with the care and protection of children and young people. We have received some 70-odd submissions on that legislation. I am looking forward to introducing that key reform of our welfare legislation, the first reform in 20-odd years, into this Assembly this year. We will continue to raise the issue of childcare and the lack of affordable childcare for Territory families. It is a cost that cripples families with young children and creates real barriers to entry into the workforce post having your children. It is something that is very squarely the responsibility of the federal government that they are ignoring and walking away from; that their own backbenchers are condemning them for. As minister responsible for Childrens Services, I will continue to take it up with the federal government and challenge them to start to listen to the cries of families suffering the financial burden of unaffordable childcare, and the barrier to even getting childcare. Childcare is often required so families can pay their mortgage and their bills. It is not necessarily a case of choice of returning to work; many mothers need to return to work post having their babies. In looking at providing for families and providing a co-located centre, a bit of a one-stop-shop model for families in need, we are continuing with the implementation of what we call the families hub in the northern suburbs of Darwin, co-locating organisations such as the Toy Library and SIDS, Kids NT and other non-government organisations that provide support to families. I am looking forward to the implementation of that really exciting one-stop-shop model. We will continue to tackle alcohol abuse in our communities. My division of Alcohol and Other Drugs is doing fantastic work in tackling volatile substance abuse, in wiping out petrol sniffing in our communities. It provides us with the opportunity to apply significant policy and operational input into tackling alcohol abuse, which is a core social problem and related to crime problems within our community. We will also be looking at the disability review, an important piece of work that was undertaken late last year, which is definitely before our government early this year and, hopefully, for implementation through 2007. We are working with the Commonwealth government. There is new mental health funding that has been opened up through the work of
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