Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 10 June 2009



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 10 June 2009

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Parliamentary Record 6


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 Wednesday 10 June 2009 3151 when the parliament sat in Alice Springs, that was one of the top three issues. He said: If people ring 131444, they pick up the phone. There have been problems ever since. In fact, there was an article on 24 April in the Centralian Advocate headed: Cops Cope With 2000 Calls 2000 calls. The first paragraph of this news article is as follows: Police are dealing with more than 2000 calls a week from people in Alice Springs reporting emergencies or criminal activity. For a town the size of Alice Springs, 2000 phone calls a week is an extraordinarily high number. They are just the ones who get through; the ones who do not hang up because they have been waiting. It is not the fault of any person at the police station, whether they are a police officer or a civilian helping out or working in the communications section. There is a fundamental problem with the police communication system in Alice Springs. A couple of years ago I asked the Chief Minister, who was then Police minister, some questions about it. The Police Commissioner came in and said: Yes, there are problems, but then there was another problem. It does not matter what we do to raise this issue, you people have not fixed it. I urge you, again and again, to fix this issue. I do not believe this system can be described as adequate; we all know it is not. Why on earth money has not been devoted to fixing it, I do not know. We do know - I believe it was last year, possibly earlier; no, last year - a person in South Australia, I believe, was commissioned to undertake an independent audit of the communication system. This report has never been produced or tabled in this parliament. I do not believe I have heard anyone from the government talking about the report. We all know it is around so, maybe, it would be an opportunity for the government to get the report, look at what the governments doing or not doing, as the case may be for Alice Springs, and say: We really need to fix this police system. Alice Springs misses out again. Therefore, when the Minister for Central Australia said in his media release: core services are being boosted to police - the communications system of the Alice Springs Police Station is a core service. I do not believe the Minister for Central Australia was as truthful as he could have been when he said in his media release: core services are being boosted to police because, if core services were being boosted, you would have the money to fix the communications system. What else has Alice Springs missed out on? The Ombudsmans Office has been in Alice Springs since it started, probably in the mid- to late-1970s. It was one of the last bastions in Alice Springs. It was one of the things people in Darwin have that we had in Alice Springs as well. But, no, what has the government decided to do? Close the office. If there was a proper degree of attention and commitment to Alice Springs, this government would not have let it happen. Shame on you all for letting it happen. For about 30 years, the Ombudsmans Office has been functioning in Alice Springs and, yet, you are going to watch it close. It has closed and you should be utterly ashamed of yourselves. The relevant minister - I believe it is the Chief Minister; and I note he has not replied to a letter I wrote some months ago to him on this will say: Not as many people as we think desirable are attending the service. That is part of the reason why the government does so badly in Alice Springs. It does not boil down to raw numbers all of the time; there is a principle. Do you think the people of Alice Springs should have an Ombudsmans Office they can walk into, if they want to? You people think not. We, on this side of the Chamber, believe the people of Alice Springs deserve to have the Ombudsmans Office in Alice Springs. If we were sitting on the other side of the House, we would have kept the Ombudsmans Office open. But wait, Madam Speaker, there is more! What else has the government not done with respect to Alice Springs? It has not tried hard enough with respect to another core service, a public utility - the Motor Vehicle Registry. I am pleased to say, this received some publicity very recently. As a local member, I have been approached about this and I know my colleagues have been contacted also. This might not seem very important to those of you in the Top End. However, let me tell you, it is important to my constituents; therefore, it is important to me. It is also important to me as a person who lives and works in Alice Springs. The hours of the MVR have been cut back. Not only has it physically moved and made it much more difficult to physically access, but its hours have reduced - from 11.30 am to 4 pm. This is the Motor Vehicle Registry - a public utility. It has been noted, with interest, that the Power and Water Corporation has opened a pretty flash new office in Alice Plaza, but it is in stark contrast to the plight of the Motor Vehicle Registry in the Greatorex Building. Why do those two public utilities have different hours of work? The reasons stated, not by a government minister and the Minister for Central Australia should have put his hand up to this and made a comment, but he did not, or the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure should have put her hand up and made a comment, but she did not it was fobbed off, it would seem, to a public servant, who said that

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