Territory Stories

Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 30 October 2012



Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 30 October 2012

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Parliamentary Record 1


Debates for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016




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Hansard Office

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Tuesday 30 October 2012 263 fishing industry grow and prosper, and I recently met with the NT Seafood Council to seek its views on the priority fisheries that can be further developed to increase seafood production in the Territory. Most of the Territorys existing fisheries have growth and market expansion potential. The government is engaging with industry to address the priority infrastructure needs to protect and enhance the viability and profitability of our primary industries. We will continue to work with and for Indigenous Territorians to afford them every opportunity to be involved in the seafood industry and to play a key role in the expansion of the Territorys commercial fishing industry under the three-hub economy, including significant development opportunities in the form of food-tocommunity projects, and small and large-scale business ventures. This government is committed to reducing the regulatory burden on Territory fishing businesses and will put in place procedures, policies and legislation to ensure the Territorys regulatory environment is efficient and effective. The government will continue to support the Territorys aquaculture industry by providing technical support and research targeted to improve production, maximise economic returns and protect the industry from biosecurity threats. I am running out of time; however, I want to say in closing that we will continue to work with industry to ensure the primary industry and fisheries and mining and energy sectors remain strong and buoyant across the Northern Territory, that they grow commensurate with the requirements of the Northern Territorys economy, that they can contribute well into the future by bringing on new mines, new production mines and ensure every Territorian has the chance to benefit from the work being done in this sector. Mr WOOD (Nelson): Mr Deputy Speaker, I thank the member for Katherine for the best speech I have heard on primary industry since I came to parliament. I wish it was a speech on its own so we could contribute to many of the things you said. I missed the first part, but what I heard of the rest was a breath of fresh air. The other great thing is that we now have a Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries and a Department of Mines and Energy. I never want to see the Department of Resources again because for so long - I have said it many times - the department of Primary Industry was always the poor cousin of the previous government. I am very pleased to see the contribution you have put forward today, minister. That does not mean I do not have any questions, but that is what parliament is about. I understand you were talking about the Chief Ministers statement - the three-hub economy. I am not really rapt in this idea of the three-hub; it reminds me of a three-wheeled car. I would rather the idea of a multi-hub economy. I have always said we cannot rely on mines and energy, or some of those major industries only; we have to diversify. When times are tough and one industry goes down, at least you have other industries which can keep the economy moving along. There is great potential for agriculture and horticulture in the Northern Territory. There are doubters out there who say we will never be the food bowl of the world. They are probably right, but we might be what I would call the saucer. We can contribute to the food production of the world. I am probably going to get away from the few notes I wrote because, listening to the minister, I enjoyed what he was saying, and it raised some issues I have wanted to raise for some time and have probably mentioned before in speeches. It is great the government is going to have a look at the Ord River. Ord River Stage 3 is not as simple as people think; it is complex because of native title. There were proposals for an extension of Keep River National Park as well, so there is a fair bit of work to be done. However, we have to keep moving. The issue about which the government has to indicate whether it agrees with or not - and I will put up my hand and say I agree - is whether it will support the company that wants to grow genetically modified cotton. The member for Katherine comes from a region where a sevenyear trial of GM cotton was shown to be environmentally okay. If anyone has doubts they just need to obtain a copy of the results of that experimental work, and they will find that you could not have a crop that was sprayed less and it only uses the same amount of water as mangoes and peanuts use today. There is still great potential in the Ord. But also we really need to work hard on mapping those areas in the Northern Territory that are also suitable. I went down last year - I think it was, or the year before - towards Mistake Creek which is an Indigenous cattle station. On the way, you go across the Negri River which feeds into Lake Argyle. There are soil types through that area, towards Timber Creek, very similar to that of the Ord River area. What is the potential of using some of that land for horticulture and intensive agriculture? Of course, we have the Sturt Plateau which is ideal climate-wise, soil-wise, and rainfallwise, and has underground water potential for other forms of agricultural development besides the cattle industry. If we are serious about increasing food production in the Northern