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 problem? She said: We do not have a strategy. I said: How on earth does the department focus, target and be strategic in what it does? There was another blank look and she said: We are here to assist the minister to go where the minister wants to. It was nothing more or nothing less than a glorified travel agency, for better, for worse. Over the years the walls of Parliament House have been full of MOUs and various documents attesting to developing trade relationships which did not lead to anything. We did not see any real commercial activity or investment as a result of the vast majority of those documents, and ministers had a lovely time swanning through Southeast Asia with very little investment or trade occurring at all, with a few notable exceptions. Madam Deputy Speaker, we have decided, since being elected, to be more strategic, more focused, dealing with China and Japan in particular, and we can see how that is paying off. Being strategic in our work with Indonesia, focusing on the eastern provinces, particularly the mining provinces in eastern Indonesia, is bearing fruit. Looking at the appetite for the commercial property sector in Singapore to invest in the Northern Territory, and opening up new markets for our cattle industry in Vietnam is about being strategic, it is about being focused, and it is about delivering for our economy. This strategy will hold us in good stead. Mr STYLES (Sanderson): Madam Deputy Speaker, I acknowledge the great work done by industry and by public servants who, in the main, work with challenging circumstances and in many cases not the greatest amount of support. I acknowledge the current government gives some support, however, there is room for greater effort by the government to provide support in a number of areas. Industry and the public service rely on leadership. In the Territory, with its small population and small number of businesses, it is very much the role of government to lead the way, and when we reach critical mass in these industries and services, private industry, with the public service helping achieve various outcomes, will be much easier. At the moment, it is the role of government, ministers, their staff and the departments to set the pace and lead the way in the development of trade. The Northern Territory is very reliant on its primary industries and mineral exports. Cattle and minerals make up a great proportion of our export, with education and tourism. These all need support, infrastructure and services in place to maintain and grow them. It is sad recent events could lead to deterioration in the amount of export dollars earned for the Northern Territory from those four things. There are quite a number of things in the statement of interest. I acknowledge the minister is trying to achieve results, however much more should and could be done. In relation to the comments around infrastructure development, a number of people in industry have said: What infrastructure? For instance, we do not have a really good cold chain hub to move things out of Darwin. We do not have air freight facilities. We have been slowly losing those as we have been losing airlines. We do not have a second crane at the port. My information is small ships doing the rounds of Indonesian island ports would possibly come to Darwin if we can reduce the cost. Many of these ships only want to drop off a few containers. They are small ships, however, as the old adage says: from small things, large things can grow. When we have ships with containers on board there is much juggling to get them alongside for the crane to offload them. Cost is another factor ships will not come here. Obviously, there are economies of scale when we look at loading huge ships and moving them to larger ports down south. There are niche markets, and if you develop them you give local industry the opportunity to build and grow. Looking at some of the small coastal trading ships which would come from Indonesia, they have capacity to increase the numbers of containers. They can swap ships of different sizes to do different runs when there is an increased demand for containerised products going from, or coming into, the Northern Territory from our close northern neighbours. The statement says the Henderson government is focused on the development of productive and enduring relations and trade links with our northern neighbours. It also says Territory business is best placed to take advantage of that growing relationship with Asia. The Henderson government has developed a five-year plan. Great! I am glad they have a plan; let us look at some of those aspects. It says: plan which acknowledges the importance of people-to-people contact as integral to the development of ongoing and productive relationships with our neighbours. That is true; I agree with that and believe government ministers should travel a great deal because that is how we discover what is going on. It is about building those essential relationships so we can grow trade and cooperation, not only in 6511