Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 19 October 2016



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 19 October 2016

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Parliamentary Record 1


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




pp 65 to 124


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 19 October 2016 91 In my last speech in the 12th Assembly I said, My goodness, what a ride that was for a first term in parliament. I hope we never see a period like that in this parliament again. Territorians clearly felt the same way. We have a huge responsibility, but there is a great group of people here, from diverse backgrounds, who love this place and want to make a difference. I look forward to working with you all as we strive to do that. Mr COSTA (Arafura): Madam Speaker, fellow Members of the Legislative Assembly and members of the public, I first acknowledge and pay respect to the first people of this country, the Larrakia. I am a proud Tiwi man from Manupi. My homeland/outstation community is at Pitjarmirra, on the top north coast of Melville Island. I have inherited and learnt custodial responsibility for this land from my father, Urban Costa. I attended the Pularumpi School in the mid-1980s, and then went to boarding school at St Bedes College in Mentone, Melbourne. I was there for five long years and completed my VCE/HSC in 1988, the bicentennial year, in which Australia commemorated modern Australias beginnings as a British colony. However, my own Tiwi people, many years before Cooks arrival, had meaningful engagement with another European people, the Dutch, at a place called Karslake Island, just off the Melville Island coast. That was in 1644. After finishing my schooling I started a course at Melbourne University, which I deferred. I will be forever grateful to my father for sending me down south to get an education. It taught me who I was as a young Aboriginal man by experiencing racism for the first time. It taught me to be respectful towards other ethnic groups, many of whom were represented amongst the students enrolled at my school. I also learnt about discipline and perseverance. I met my wife, Ebony, at Melbourne University. After a while we moved back to the Northern Territory to be with family. Nine months later my daughter Juanita was born. I continued to work in Darwin for two years, then we moved to Tweed Heads so my daughter could get to know my wifes family. I found work in Tweed Heads as the Student Support Officer with New South Wales TAFE. I worked and studied there for three-and-a-half years. I learnt to communicate and solve problems in government and NGO contexts. One day I heard there was a job advertised for a CDEP Coordinator in Pirlangimpi. I successfully applied for the position in 1996. It now seems hard to believe that was 20 years ago. Since then I have had various jobs in local government, ATSIC and the health sector in the Northern Territory. I have held elected positions on various local government and other community-controlled boards. In regard to my local government background, I have been employed as the CEO of the local government entity responsible for the Tiwi Islands, which at the time was called Tiwi Islands Local Government. I have also been the Director of Community Development and Engagement for the Tiwi Islands Shire council. In my previous elected positions with ATSIC, I first served as the Deputy Chair of the Jabiru Regional Council, a role which was responsible for a significant part of the Top End of the Northern Territory. After that I became Chairperson of the Northwest Regional Council until ATSIC was abolished under the Howard government. My most recent work before entering politics was as a Health Services Development and Engagement Officer and AOD worker for Territory Health Services, based on the Tiwi Islands. My political and working experience has involved extensive interactions with communities and government at various levels. I will briefly talk about five previous Tiwi Islands elected members, individuals who have inspired me to follow in their footsteps. The first is the late Hyacinth Tungatalum, who in Tiwi way I refer to as my father, and I can see his son Richard sitting in here today. Even though he was with the CLP, he demonstrated to the Tiwi that we could aspire to take a seat and have a voice in the highest decision-making forum in the Northern Territory, which, in those pre-self-government days, was the Legislative Council. The second is the late Stanley Tipiloura, a large and imposing man, former police officer, someone who commanded respect and radiated confidence and authority. He was a man I strongly respected and saw as a role model in my younger years growing up on the Tiwi Islands. His son is also in the gallery. The third is the late, great Maurice Rioli, my friend, my brother and mentor over many years. Regardless of his fame and status as a VFL star, and then an elected member of parliament, I will always remember

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