Debates Day 3 - Thursday 19 November 2015
Parliamentary Record 24
Debates for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Thursday 19 November 2015 7441 details, and I have encouraged them to back me and communicate with you directly. I acknowledge the department. Thank you very much because some of my lobbying has secured some very important work resealing some serious bulldust sections on the far northeastern end of the Sandover close to the Queensland border around the remote town of Alpurrurulam. It was great to see that work completed because there were very dangerous sections of road. There is considerable work going on around Annitowa Swamp, and I thank the minister for that flood immunity work. But the critical section is between Alpara and the Plenty Highway. The pastoral community, which no doubt will be contacting you, is now faced with increased charges to freight stock because the trucks refuse to use the Sandover Highway. Many of those in our export industry with cattle going south from high-productivity areas are now faced with transport operators that are going further up the Stuart Highway, coming in through Ali Curung and down through Murray Downs to access that part of the Sandover. That is creating considerable increases to their freight costs. That is important dollars off their bottom line and they are now very concerned. There are also families and pastoral residents travelling to access services in town who are incurring considerable damage to vehicles. We recently witnessed a grader and a maintenance grade start well and truly way behind program time. Normally I would expect to see three graders in a full maintenance grade operation. This year it has been very late. It seems to be very under-resourced. The pastoral community, the Aboriginal communities, the tourism industry and the beef cattle industry all share the concerns. We acknowledge your road infrastructure investment across the Territory, but you cannot ignore other high-productivity assets that deliver considerable dollars and safety for Territory residents. Finally, I have corresponded with the Minister for Housing. It was interesting to hear her talking of her recent visit to Elliott. I will not go through the infrastructure and services that were delivered in Elliott in my four years as a previous minister and in my time as the member for Barkly, but one area I will fess up to is I was unable to solve the housing issue. The minister visited Elliott and gave a short synopsis of the reaction she received. l will give you the other side of that. I was there very recently. The minister has offered $3m for housing repairs. That is money most welcome, and I acknowledge that. However, the hook is she is offering $3m for the Elliott community to set up an Aboriginal corporation. I have painstakingly gone through what this means in reality with some of the leaders in Elliott who understand the constraints around setting up an Aboriginal corporation with $3m, then inheriting a housing repairs and maintenance legacy which will go into tens of millions of dollars. May I ask that the offer of the $3m be directed through the Barkly Regional Council to be delivered on the ground by locals? There are some very talented local people experienced in housing repairs in Elliott already. They have a plan to buy in contractors to make safe the electrical and plumbing for the accredited outcomes, and it would seriously get the project moving. Madam Speaker, we have great concerns about the ministers rather disingenuous offer of $3m attached to forming an Aboriginal corporation that she knows would consume those funds, leaving an unfair housing legacy from her government for the good people of Elliott. Motion agreed to; the Assembly adjourned.