Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 30 October 2012
Parliamentary Record 1
Debates for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Tuesday 30 October 2012 264 Territory we have to ensure all the required information is there. One of the failings of the CLP government in years gone by was because we did not tell farmers the right information; that is, the Douglas Daly. The Douglas Daly was promoted as not quite the food bowl, but it was going to develop into agricultural production of sorghum, soya bean - I think it might have even been canola; I might be wrong. There were plans to bring people up from Queensland who would take up farms in the area and develop that land agriculturally in the Douglas Daly. Unfortunately, people did not realise that although there might be a 50 or 60 inch rainfall, it does not always come evenly. It comes at different times of the year and many of those crops need fairly consistent rain to be successful. They may be all right under irrigation, but they certainly were not all right relying on natural rainfall in the area. To some extent Fleming - which is a town in the Douglas Daly where the silos still stand - is testament to poor decision-making based on poor information. Of course, the Douglas Daly has moved on, it now has hay production, there is some vegetable production in the area, and it has intensive beef production. It has moved on from what it was originally meant to be, but it has not quite grown into what was envisaged when our planners decided that Fleming would be the town in that area. It was also good to hear the minister talk about more research and development into cropping. That is the only way you are going to move forward to develop primary industry in the Northern Territory; research and development has to be continuous. Many crops are specific to this part of the world. Sometimes commercial people will not put the money in because they do not see the return at the moment, but that is where government has to step in and put some money in to look at those various crops. Rice is a good example. The previous Northern Territory government had been doing experimental work at the Coastal Plains Research Farm on rice varieties. Some of that information is also valuable to other parts of Australia, especially Kununurra where they are looking for rice varieties that are not subject to some of the fungal diseases - or blast, as it is called. I appreciate what the minister has contributed today. I would like it as a statement so I can get my teeth into it overnight and see all the matters he has put forward today, which would make a fulsome discussion. He also touched on food exports to Asia. I am pleased to see he did not say just Asia. We must take our place in part of the food production cycle for Australia. We have our Dry Season when other parts of Australia are having their winter, and that in itself, temperature wise, climate wise, is advantageous to producing crops that can be sold down south. We produce many watermelons in the Dry Season, but they are fairly limited because, if it is 10C in Melbourne, it is not watermelon eating time. Whilst some of the crops are good crops to grow, they are not always the right crop to eat when you are living in a colder climate. The minister talked about a fair and equitable distribution of the fishing stock. I totally agree, but I find that at odds with the governments decision to close down the remainder of Finke Bay and Chambers Bay. The objective of the Fishing Act is to have an equitable share of the resource. At the moment, one of the mistakes - and that is what politics promises to sometimes - is we tend to say one group can have this area at the expense of another group. We are trying to bring this debate on and I am not sure it will happen tomorrow, because there was still a fair bit on the general business paper, but I hope the government does not make any decision about the future of those two bays until we have had a proper debate in this parliament about those two very important decisions the government has proposed, which I believe are wrong. They are poor decisions and they are unfair to the commercial industry. In this case, I believe both the commercial and the recreational fishing people can live side by side; that is what we should be aiming for. In relation to tourism, there is an area which is often left out. The government has put a great deal of emphasis on saying we need to get out into the regions. Well, you are not going to get out into the regions until you develop infrastructure in the regions. The member for Braitling spoke about it last week. There are many issues that must be sorted out, and I have spoken about these before. One is the ownership of roads. Roads cannot be on private land if you are asking public authorities such as councils or governments to put money into them. We need to sort out the ownership of roads. We need to sort out the leases in these growth towns so we can create some certainty for business to invest, and for tourists to be able to travel to these places without having to go through too much bureaucracy. Once we get over some of these issues we have a far better chance of developing internal tourism, especially from the broader Australian local market - many people do not go into those remote communities because of the difficulty in doing so - then we can expand that into international markets.