Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - 23 April 1975



Debates Day 2 - 23 April 1975

Other title

Parliamentary Record 3


Northern Territory. Department of the Legislative Assembly


Debates for 1st Assembly 1974 - 1977; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT; 1st Assembly 1974 - 1977




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





Publisher name


Place of publication



pages 215 - 227

File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

222 before the Legislative Council in 1950, the gallery would have been full of people who opposed it strongly because of the hang-over of Victorian attitudes. I can do no other than commend the principle of this bill. However, I do agree that there should be another month before a definite vote is taken on it in order to let the members from the centre look at it more carefully. I too would like to go back to my electorate to show them this piece oflegislation and discuss it with them before I give my vote. However, I commend the bill. Debate adjourned. CYCLONE DISASTER EMERGENCY BILL (Serial 37) Bill presented and read a first time. Dr LETTS: I move that the bill be now read a second time. At the outset, I make it clear that I present this bill on behalf of the Australian Government and I will now proceed to give the case in support of the bill as prepared by the officers of that government. This bill arises out of doubts as to the adequacy of the Darwin Reconstruction Act 1975 to permit the present clean-up program to continue to completion. The Cyclone Disaster Emergency Ordinance passed in January 1975 contained the powers of entry upon any land in a cyclone disaster area, section 10 ( 1) ( d), and powers to carry out works and clear premises and dispose of dangerous structures and materials, section 1 (1) (m). These powers were those primarily relied upon to support the clean-up program in Darwin. This ordinance was due to expire on 31 March 1975 and the government sought the extension of certain powers beyond that date, including those powers contained in paragraphs (b) and (m) of section 10 (1) . However, these latter powers were not extended in the Cyclone Disaster Emergency Ordinance No.21975. Since the passage of the latter ordinance, the government has further considered the matter, having regard to the spirit of the intention of the amendments made by the Assembly and to the scope of the Darwin Reconstruction Act. Section 16 (2) of the Darwin Reconstruction Act provides that for the purposes of public safety or sanitation, the commission may, by its authorised servants, agents or contractors enter on land referred to in subsection (1 )-this presumably refers to DEBATES-Wednesday 23 April 1975 land not either occupied by the Darwin Reconstruction Commission or by Australia or a public authority in the Darwin area-and demolish dangerous or damaged structures, remove debris, goods and materials and perform work. Crown Law advice has been received to the effect that the powers in the Act are not adequate to cover the present emergency clean-up operation. The advice expresses the view that the object of the clean-up in many cases may not be to rectify dangerous structures or to avoid health risks and it may not be at all related to any requirement of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission to secure the land for its purposes. The object may be no more than to ensure and secure the safety of privately-owned and government-owned chattels and fixtures left on the land and the general tidiness of the area. In the latter cases, which may be quite numerous, the residue of powers held by the Director of Emergency Services would not support a program involving entry onto private land without consent as mentioned for any purpose other than one under paragraph (h) of section 10 (1) of the Cyclone Disaster Emergency Ordinance. Further, the powers under the Darwin Reconstruction Act only relate to the removal of goods and materials from the land. They are not adequate to deal with the disposal of damaged property that has no value or, where the property is considered to have some value, its storage and subsequent delivery to the rightful owners. There is no power in any other legislation enforced in the Northern Territory to deal with property in this manner. There are only limited statutory powers for specific purposes. For example, the courts can make orders dealing with property, the subject of a criminal offence, the health authorities have power to remove refuse of offensive matter for health reasons, and the Public Trustee has power to deal with the property of deceased persons. It is essential for the clean-up program to be completed as soon as possible and the persons undertaking this work are entitled to the protection of the law. This bill, if enacted, will give them this protection. It has been restricted to land which is apparently unoccupied as this should be the only case where statutory powers of entry will be necessary. The power of entry will be available for the purposes of clearing premises and the disposal of dangerous structures and materials. As a subsidiary purpose, the