Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1985)
Debates for 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 27 February 1985 virtues of which are frequently trumpeted by honourable members opposite, that are more seriously affected by the sort of uncertainty that has been created in the past by the Northern Territory government. With respect to the recent announcements .by the federal ,Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, I am concerned that these throw into further doubt the findings of the Toohey Inquiry into the operations of the act. I believe that, for the ordered economic and human development of the Northern Territory, it is very important for the Land Rights Act - landmark legislation in Australia - to be allowed to operate in an unfettered way for a period of time. But, instead, we have various agencies creating uncertainty. I have referred to the Northern Territory. Believe me, Mr Speaker, I will not stand up and defend the actions of the federal government in this regard. I make no bones about that. I am quite dissatisfied with the nature of the proposals. There is no time to discuss them in this debate. I am also seriously disturbed by the ongoing uncertainty. Honourable members on the other side of the Assembly should not giggle without looking at the record of their own leaders. At least I have the guts to criticise mine when I believe it is necessary. I hope to heaven that some of those members have similar intestinal fortitude,but I doubt that they will have. Mr Speaker, I welcome the government's intention not to proceed with these particular and provocative bills - not all of them were provocative in content but certainly in the way that they were introduced into this Assembly. The particular tactics that surrounded their introduction were highly provocative and very productive of the sort of uncertainty of which I have complained. I doubt that I will be able to do my next subject justice in the few minutes that remain to me. However, let me put the government on notice with respect to its intention to alter the requirements for the approval of exploration and mining in national parks. In the Administrator's address, we heard reference to stringent .statutory requirements that must be met prior to the granting of any exploration licences or mining titles within a park or reserve. It is established practice throughout Australia and the world that there be plans of management. A minimal position in this respect. I hasten to add, is that mining be permitted in national parks only where there is a plan of management in operation. By way of apology for the government's intention in this regard, we had this statement: 'Procedures will be adopted to acknowledge a consultative role between the Conservation Commission and the Department of Mines and Energy in relation to exploration and, in addition, the use of procedures under the Environment Assessment Act will determine the terms and conditions of resource development proposals'. Mr Speaker, let us just look at this 2-pronged suggestion that will safeguard national parks in the Northern Territory: 'Procedures will be adopted to acknowledge a consultative role between the Conservation Commission and the Department of Mines and Energy'. That should be going on already and, if it is not, the responsible ministers should be ashamed of themselves. The final point with regard to the operation of the Environment Assessment Act, which is quite different from the statutory requirements at the moment, is that the Environment Assessment Act will come into operation only at ministerial discretion. Given the way that ministerial discretion operates so vaguely amongst these supposedly responsible people here, heaven help the national parks and heaven help one of the fine tourist facilities in the Northern Territory. Mr Speaker, time forbids me from providing a fuller description of problems in this regard. I am quite sure the opportunity will provide itself at some other time during this sittings. 71
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