Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 19 November 2015



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 19 November 2015

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Parliamentary Record 24


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 19 November 2015 7418 the Tanami Highway this year. That $7m does not sound like a lot, but for every year, for as long as I can remember, $2m went into the Tanami, which is about 3.5 km of road. We have increased it to $7m and are looking at increasing it again next year, because the more road we build towards the Tanami Desert along the Tanami Highway gives more access for new mines to open up gold mines in particular which creates jobs for the Warlpiri who live at Yuendumu, Yuelamu, Lajamanu or Papunya. The $10m we put into the Santa Teresa Road built a bridge which now means the community of Santa Teresa will not get cut off any time of the year except by a one-in-100-year flood. It will be fully accessible. We have improved the amenity so it is safer for people to drive and to come in and get goods and services, go to a job, then go back home. The Plenty Highway and the straight road combine to make the Outback Highway between Western Australia and Queensland. It is the longest inland freeway we know of. It is a very difficult road to travel. The last estimate I saw two years ago was it would cost about $512m to fully dual seal that road. We do not have $512m spare to put into that road, but we are working with the federal government on a 50:50 funding solution of $22.5m each for a $45m road package to improve the Plenty Highway by sealing as much as possible. That work is starting now. That is one of the important arteries of the Northern Territory. I spoke about the Tiwi Islands. There is $33m going towards the Pickertaramoor road. We have seen the building of the bridge over the Daly to support and improve access for the residents through the Daly River region to Palumpa, Peppimenarti, Wadeye, Woodycupaldiya, Emu Point and many other outstations. We are upgrading the road between Palumpa and Peppimenarti and working on Saddle Rail Creek on the Port Keats Road to connect people, but also to open up options for farming and business. I know those on Elizabeth Downs Station are looking forward to it so they can get tourists on Lizzy Downs, the big cattle station, and then employ local Aboriginal people for some of the cultural and fishing elements, which is a great opportunity. That is where we are driving reforms and change. A major road in the Northern Territory which has very poor access is the Central Arnhem Highway, which runs from south of Katherine up to Nhulunbuy. It represents a very big problem for connecting those who want to drive there because of the lack of river crossings. There are the Wilton and Roper Rivers, which we are looking to build bridges across now. That will help to open up country. We are upgrading the Buntine and Carpentaria Highways. There is $11m going to the top road between Cahills Crossing and Oenpelli. This is building infrastructure. Last year we spent more than $6m in a joint partnership with Telstra, 50:50, putting telecommunications into communities. Telecommunications connect people. Mobile phones allow people to talk to loved ones but they are also good for learning, whether it is simple text messages, accessing the Internet for news or using those ADSL services for educational purposes. Communities such as Alpara, Papunya and Peppimenarti now have access to these services as 16 communities were connected last time in a $6m deal. But right now we have $42m rolling out access to more communities in the Territory. By the time that $42m is spent, the two major communities that will not have mobile phone access will be Docker River and Lake Nash, but I am working on a program on how we can get money for those two. Communities such as Docker River, Imanpa, Finke, Titjikala, Wallace Rockhole, Yuelamu all in Central Australia will now have access. Bulman, Weemol, Umbakumba and Minjilang, are communities that will get mobile phone technology, 3G and ADSL2+. Communities like Timber Creek which already have mobile phones will be given ADSL2+. We are all connected with the world; we can all work in a business environment and be connected with one another. This is what building infrastructure is all about. This is the big picture which is building the infrastructure to open up the country and encourage communities whether they are Indigenous, non-Indigenous, regional, remote, or urban to get people working. That is business. The more people working, the better the Territory will be. We already have the lowest unemployment rate in the country. We have the highest labour force participation rate, which was 76.3% the last time I checked. That figure represents people who are in a job, looking for a job, or in training. The rest of our nation sits at about 62%. So if you want a job in the Northern Territory, you get one. That is what it is like. We have more work to do in the bush creating those economies, but the infrastructure will help do that. That is the big picture. We put that in conjunction with what others are doing and dovetail it. We started the north Australia agenda with our North Australia Development Office. The federal government has now come on board with its north Australia approach. We work in unison, which is a great approach.