Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 21 October 2010



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 21 October 2010

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Parliamentary Record 15


Debates for 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012




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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 - Thursday 21 October 2010 someone is in control - whether it is good control or bad control. I suggest we replace management with something which does not give people the expectation we have an area free of crocodiles to lessen the ambivalence some people have regarding crocodiles. We had the Coroners findings and recommendations into the death of Briony Anne Goodsell last year. It would be remiss of me not to mention some of the issues the Coroner found and some things where the department, in my opinion, may have been misled, perhaps inadvertently, in its actions. I wonder if we have done enough at this stage, given the findings. I will read from section 23 where the Coroner was told: the crocodile management zone has been extended to the Darwin rural area and that there will be increased intensity of trapping, an increased surveillance of the receding water bodies as the dry season approaches, increased surveys on the Adelaide River, and the development of a monitoring program for the Darwin rural freshwater areas, and increased intelligence gathering about human as well as crocodile activities. It says in section 24: I heard evidence that funding had been approved for the purchase of 20 new traps (and those traps have been purchased), however funding was not approved to increase staff numbers to the crocodile management team who set, monitor, and check those traps as well as respond to calls from the public about crocodiles in those traps or damage to those traps. Funding has not been provided to commence the program to monitor crocodile populations in freshwater rural areas. It is obvious that if the rangers or other personnel are expected to carry out more work over a larger area, more resources are required. I will read that part again: It is obvious that if the rangers or other personnel are expected to carry out more work over a larger area, more resources are required. One thing which disturbed me when reading the findings were several letters which had been sent to the Attorney-General and her recommendation to this parliament, which I will read: I am satisfied that NRETAS has considered the recommendation of the Coroner and is taking appropriate action. That letter was signed by the Attorney-General on 30 August 2010. I am concerned, when I look at some of the earlier letters regarding the Coroners findings - and it goes back to 16 July when the Attorney-General was sent a letter saying the department acknowledges receiving a commitment for an additional $190 000 per annum to expand crocodile management into the Darwin region, and will receive recurring funding of $75 000 per annum to continue the Crocwise public awareness program - something I absolutely support. I have observed the program at the schools and it is getting better every time I see it. The staff running it need to be commended. One criticism of it, particularly with younger kids, it could be a little tighter. It is a little too long and perhaps the key message is lost. The black signs with the red writing shown to younger kids are very important. However, in the time it takes to deliver the kids are getting fidgety. Perhaps it is because of the build-up and most schools do not have air-conditioned assembly areas; however, the message is very important and I commend the government for the Crocwise program. I hope the minister noticed, when he visited my office recently, the Crocwise sticker at face level as people walk in. It is a very important message. I return to the Coroners findings and these letters. The first letter, sent on 16 July 2010 to the Attorney-General, said it sought expressions of interest and had issued a select tender document for Darwin Harbour crocodile trap baiting, clearing, maintenance, and cleaning for a period of 12 months to further assess the viability of the private sector delivering crocodile management so existing resources can be redirected to manage other locations. The tender document was issued on 23 June 2010 and closed on 9 July 2010. A further written response was provided by Mr Grant, dated 12 August 2010, which is Attachment C - and I will get to that in a second - clarifying the plan to put crocodile management out to tender was made in response to the death of Briony Goodsell and that the additional $190 000 was allocated as funding for that tender. Mr Grant advised no tenders were received, and NRETAS was deciding whether to re-tender or expand the current crocodile management team. In either case, Mr Grant submitted the Coroners recommendation was being met. That surprised me because the next statement from the Attorney-General says: I am satisfied that NRETAS has considered the recommendation of the Coroner and is taking appropriate action, based on the fact the CEO said, in either case, the 6502