Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 13 February 2014



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 13 February 2014

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Parliamentary Record 10


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




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Hansard Office

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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 13 February 2014 3417 If the Chief Minister can only resort to personal attacks upon me, it shows he has nothing to say. To describe me as bitter is reasonably accurate. I am not as bitter, angry and devastated as people in Nhulunbuy or business owners who stand to lose everything. Overnight with the announcement by Rio Tinto, their businesses have been devalued to the point no one would buy them. We heard about shop owners, Jeff and Kelly Murray, who set up Gove Tackle and Outdoors, who are paying in the vicinity of around $11 000 a month in rent. They are currently taking $300 a day through their till. These are not the only businesses which are suffering. If I am bitter and twisted, then think how bitter, twisted, angry and devastated people in Nhulunbuy are. Eleven hundred jobs are going because the gas to Gove deal was pulled by the Chief Minister. That is just 1100 Rio Tinto jobs. Public servants are only guaranteed their positions until 31 March. If you are a permanent teacher, at the end of Semester One you will get your marching orders, or maybe you will win the lottery and get to keep your position there. For every Rio Tinto worker departing the community, who are they taking with them? Perhaps there is a nurse, a teacher, someone from the retail sector, or someone who works hard on their feet in Woolworths. We are talking about much more than 1100 job losses. We are talking about a population which will decline from 4000 to - according to the Chief Ministers estimation - as little as 1200. How does that become a sustainable community? When I talk about, in the future, a road to nowhere, it is because there will not be much left there. I am not talking my community down, I am talking about the reality that there is a community which services a wider region of some 10 000 Indigenous people, shrinking before our very eyes. Curtailment has commenced. Families are leaving, businesses are closing their doors and the future is incredibly grim. I want to deliver a bit of a history lesson today, because it is my duty to remind people of what has unfolded here with some of the promises made and deals we were led to believe were done. The member for Blain, as the Chief Minister, worked incredibly hard in a difficult environment to deliver gas to Gove and made that announcement on 13 February. When the government said, There was no deal done, I am sorry, but no one believes them. The member for Blain, throughout that entire process, was talking constantly about Cabinet. In discussions with my Cabinet; I will be taking this to Cabinet; when Cabinet makes this decision ... There are a number of members on the other side who were in Cabinet at the time and who praised the Chief Minister, as they should, for getting the gas to Gove deal over the line. Following a gas to Gove statement delivered by former Chief Minister Mills, announcing the good news, this is what the member for Araluen had to say: The Chief Minister, who clinched the greatest deal in the recent history of the Northern Territory for all Territorians He has clinched the deal to provide great security for the people of Nhulunbuy and people across the Northern Territory. More than anything, it opens the door to great economic prosperity and growth what this government is all about. Good on her, that praise was well earned. She believed in it, she was around the Cabinet table. What about the member for Brennan who, at the time, was minister for Business? He put out a media release on 26 February, praising the decision, welcoming the news, as we all did: Through the Territory governments decision to release enough gas to the Gove alumina refinery for the next 10 years we are providing the foundation for a solid future, he said during a visit to Gove. Big industry is in the headlines but there is a huge flow-on effect to the domestic sector that goes right down to the smallest business. By providing the security we are setting the scene for small and medium business to seek new opportunities and for the training and upskilling of more workers. I ask, if you had read that media release and listened to the member for Araluen and the Chief Minister, with his media release titled Gas to Gove deal, done deal, words to that effect. Would you not believe a deal was done? Would you not think people in Nhulunbuy, on the strength of that decision, would make decisions about their lives: buy a house they had been looking at that had been on the market, if they were an investor, or if you were a local business owner, buy a house and refinance your business? That is what happened. On the strength of that announcement in February about a done deal for gas to Gove, people made decisions about their lives. The Mines minister was around the Cabinet