Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 24 November 2016



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 24 November 2016

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Parliamentary Record 2


Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020




pp 503 to 561


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 24 November 2016 518 I think we share something in this House and this policy; no matter where you put a group of people together, you will find the discussion on children at the centrepiece of that interaction. This policy reflects that children are the centrepiece. If I go to that townI will visit shortly after this sittings, with a keen interest to learn more about the constituents and their issuesI guarantee that children will be at the centre of our discussions. It is not necessary to conduct this intense consultation, particularly while the Member for Nelson continues to bring it back to this House. It will happen naturally. The conversations over 36 years will be radically different and reflect the challenges of the big wide world, such as child protection, educationor lack ofand nonattendance, alcohol, drugs and substance abuse. These are challenges to traditional culture and it is why these kids will not listen to their elders or do what they are told. They will also reflect the challenges of mobility of families, family breakdowns, domestic violence, police intervention, health, chronic disease and of our elders and looking after old people. These are very modern conversations and this has been a very short period in history whereby we have arrived at this critical element of community development, which, in most cases, relates more to community disadvantage than community development. What better time for a Labor government to stop the bus and say, Lets look at how policy can be all encompassing. What is the most important element? Our children and making sure they are the centrepiece. It will be difficult with the bureaucracy. I spent 30 years as a teacher trying to change the bureaucracy and I got into this job to change it. I am still trying to change it; that is part of the work we sign up for. There are challenges in regard to the essential element that I define as parental responsibility. There is an intergenerational issue with disadvantage and trauma. There is an overarching issue within the electorate that I represent which relates to colonialism. These issues are real, deep and meaningful, and we have to make sure we are cognitively aware of how complex these layers are. The Labor government has said to the Territory, If we are judged worthy and elected we will implement this policy; it will cross over all elements of our work and underpin, as a matrix, in all Cabinet decisions that go forward to represent the expenditure of taxpayer dollars, and it will interface with each and every element of the work we do. This work is focused on generational change. I do not think any member in this House or the public will be under any disillusions. There will be a challenge for parliamentarians to manage expectations, and that is part of our job, but it will be a generations change and if we do not start then we risk losing further generations to disadvantage. There are some very important links in the work we have been charged with as members of this House, and which I have been charged with in my privilege as a minister. I want to reflect on what the Member for Spillett, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, said. She challenged the various aspects of this policy. She talked about jobs; jobs are about wellbeing in my estimations. Whether it was the uncle selling motorcycles or Billy Smith up the road on a garbage truck, everyone played a part in the community. The jobs provided another layer to social and family status, wellbeing and prosperity. In regard to the new housing policy, what members on the other side have chosen not to engage with is the underpinning element to engage local people in the processes and work. In housing we are talking about tenancy management and cyclical repairs and maintenance. The new Room to Breathe program establishes additional, innovative living spaces to take the pressure and stress off and improve outcomes. We are talking about critical government employee housing and new builds. When you look at it over a 10-year period, that is a sustaining program that can take a young person who is interested in the construction sector from the elementary levels of home handy person to the level of master builder. This is the dream. It is doable and real. In remote communities that translates to sustainability in running, managing, supporting and developing the infrastructure in each and every remote town. This is where the governments plan is long term. It is looking for a bipartisan approach. It goes beyond electoral cycles, but, most importantly, it looks at each and every aspect of community development. It is the cliche of doing this with the people, by the people, for the people. I am proud to say this was tested in an election. If you want to cut to the chase with the politics, leave it all aside. The two members of the CLP who rose from the ashes of that completely dysfunctional train wreck of a government, over four years, have to wear some of the responsibility because they were part of that. This is now the new government and new policy direction. It will be about delivery and testing policy every step of the way.

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