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




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 - Thursday 21 October 2010 The Board is concerned that the momentum of the pastoral land monitoring programs has slowed in recent years. The ground based monitoring programs have fallen significantly behind schedule and there are more than 80 properties that have not been visited for more than 4 years, with some properties not being visited in more than 6 years. Moreover, Madam Speaker: Ground-based monitoring data provided to the Board for 2008-09 is limited to 22 properties across two pastoral districts (Barkly and Plenty). The Board is unable to provide an objective assessment of land condition in the remaining pastoral districts, although comments have been provided on pasture growth and standing biomass as determined by AussieGRASS models. Estimates of bare ground ranking using MODIS satellite imagery have been included in this report for the VRD, Tennant Creek, Northern Alice Springs and Southern Alice Springs Pastoral Districts. The Pastoral Land Board, which looks after that part of the Northern Territory representing 48% of the total value of the Territorys rural industries and fisheries production, has not been able to visit its pastoral leases, in some cases, for more than six years. It goes on to make some observations, and I draw honourable members to page 5 of the report: Monitoring and reporting on the condition of pastoral land is a key function of the Pastoral Land Board under the Pastoral Land Act. This is because the pastoral industry is seen as such a critical part of our economy, and trade into Southeast Asia in particular. Does the government care? It cares enough to bring a 25-page statement into this House. It cares enough to release a media statement relating to the 25-page statement. However, does it care sufficiently to ensure the statement and media release are supported by outcomes on the ground? Perhaps the answer can be found on page 8 of the report: Due to the limited on-ground monitoring undertaken during 2008-09, an assessment of land condition has only been made for the Barkly and Plenty Pastoral Districts. As outlined above, an estimate of bare ground ranking has been made using MODIS satellite inventory for the VRD, Tennant Creek Etcetera. We are all concerned about making a grandiose statement in this House on all the great things we are doing for trade, doing the odd trip into China and Japan - which I support. I do not believe ministers of the Crown travel enough; even politicians generally. I know it is highly criticised, however the more you have politicians promoting their own jurisdictions, particularly in places like Southeast Asia, our closest northern market, the better. That was the experience of the Country Liberals. The then Leader of the Opposition, Clare Martin, criticised the Country Liberals for not doing more of it. However, it has dried up in recent years, as has the interest in pastoral lands management. You go from a starting point of having a live export industry - which has run into some hurdles with the Indonesians enforcing their 350 kg limit - but we do not care sufficiently about our pastoral estate because it does not make for good and interesting press. Let us be honest, the Pastoral Land Board Annual Report is not what you call a good novel; it is not Patricia Cornwell. However, it is our bread-and-butter stuff; it is what generates wealth in the Northern Territory. We have a government more than happy to put out media releases and tell us what a great job they are doing, however they are not getting the fundamentals right. We heard it today regarding education. We talk about attendance rates. We do not talk about enrolment rates - attendance is something we feel comfortable talking about - we do not want to talk about things which are difficult. We do not want to talk about the mundane. How often do we talk about weights and measures in this House? That is core business well, it used to be; it has now moved to Canberra. These things are our bread and butter - boring as bat droppings but breadand-butter stuff. People make or lose their fortunes based on the quality of the information government produces. A ministerial statement produced by a department, vetted by a staffer on the fifth floor so political insults can be thrown into it, and presented in this House does nothing to improve the Territorys pastoral estate. What will improve it are the basics being done so the Pastoral Land Board is properly resourced to enable it to do its job. Sexy? No. Important? Vital. Madam Deputy Speaker, I am critical of this governments statement because the substance behind it is missing. This governments statements often remind me of a movie set. As you walk down the street of the great western town where the movie is being shot, the saloon and everything looks great. You walk around the other side of the movie set, and it is all bolts, 6507