Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - 23 April 1975



Debates Day 2 - 23 April 1975

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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





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pages 215 - 227

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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-Wednesday 23 April 1975 clean-up teams will be able to collect and secure or remove property and deliver it to the Administrator for storage, if it has value, or dispose of it where it has no value. The Administrator will have power to store the property and deliver it to the rightful owners. The . power to store property will of necessity have to extend beyond 30 June 1975 as it may not be claimed by the owners by that date. Other powers given by the amendment will expire on that date. To give the clean-up teams protection at law, it has been necessary to validate actions taken from the time of the Cyclone Disaster Emergency Ordinance No.2 1975 came into effect until this bill becomes law. This provision is necessary as otherwise they could be liable to court action. On the other hand, if the clean-up teams have acted or should they act beyond their powers, the compensation provisions of the ordinance will still apply. Dealing with the specific clauses of the bill, clause 3 will have the effect of exempting proposed new sections 3A and 15A from the provision in section 2 of the principal ordinance terminating the ordinance on 30 June 1975. Clause 4 proposes to insert a new section 3A to validate actions taken by members of the armed services and persons acting under the instructions of the Director of Emergency Services or of the armed services in the interim period until the bill becomes law. Clause 5 proposes to insert in section 10 ( 1) of the principal ordinance the necessary powers to enable the clean-up program to continue and to provide for the collecting and securing or removal of property and its subsequent storage or disposal. Clause 6 proposes to add a new section 15A to give the Administrator powers to store property delivered to him and deliver it to the person who apparently had the right to lawful possesion. In cases of doubt as to entitlement to possession or where it is no longer economical to store the property, the Administrator may apply to a court of summary jurisdiction for an appropriate order. The bill is commended to honourable members by the people who prepared it and these notes that I have just delivered on their behalf. This is the third Cyclone Disaster Emergency Ordinance that this Assembly has considered during the past 4 months. The fate of the last ordinance passed by this Assembly is well known and I do not propose to dwell on it at this stage of the second-reading debate. Indeed, Mr Speaker, I believe that you would 223 probably call me to order if I went back over that ground in any depth except to express the disappointment which I have, and which I am sure all members have, at the fate of that previous ordinance as being a deliberate disregard of a parliamentary convention which has been honoured in respect of this Chamber and Australian governments over the past 27 years. I am introducing this bill only because of the convention which I have established with the Minister and with the government that I would be prepared to introduce government legislation when drafted and not in any way obstruct its introduction. As far as my views are concerned, I bring to the attention of the Assembly that it does appear that the participation of the army in the Darwin clean-up operation has drawn to a close. I understand that the army service units are on the point ofleaving Darwin and only a small task force will be remaining here. It would appear that one of the main purposes of this legislation is to cover things which may have been done rather than with a view to a major extension of the clean-up operation from here on. I do not altogether agree with the contention contained in these secondreading notes, that the Darwin Reconstruction Act would not cover most of the purposes of the clean-up operation. To suggest that the clean-up operation in many cases is not designed to rectify dangerous structures and avoid health risks is somewhat of an exaggeration because whatever kind of rubble is lying around on a property could certainly be interpreted as being either dangerous to children playing in the area or, if it is capable of collecting water, it would certainly be a health risk. There would be very few exceptions where the purpose of the clean-up operation was simply for the sake of valuables as suggested in these notes. I do accept the point that the Darwin Reconstruction Act and our ordinance do not really cover the point of somebody taking into custody valuables on behalf of absent persons and looking after them until those persons can be located. I am concerned that officers of the armed services or other agents acting quite properly themselves within the authority given to them by the Director of Emergency Services should be legally covered in respect of orders which they are only obeying. They should be covered legally from any action which may eventuate from things they do under such orders.

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