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Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 February 1989)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 February 1989)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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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 16 February 1989 Having attacked the minister for something that has occurred in the Tennant Creek Hospital, without talking about what the department has done to overcome the problem, members opposite say that it is all the fault of the minister, as if he sat down there and herded these people into the hospital so that they would cause problems to the nurses. They say that it is his personal problem because, under the Westminster system of government, ministers wear personal responsibility for the actions of their departments. If that is true, the corollary must surely apply: that, when the department does something really good, the minister should get the credit for it. The opposition cannot have one without the other. Why should the minister not take credit for the achievements of the department? Members opposite and members of the public are only too ready to attack the minister personally when something goes wrong, even when it is something which he could not reasonably be expected to have much chance of knowing about. He is the one, however, who takes the blame in the minds of the public: Don Dale did this, or Don Dale did that, or Don Dale did not stop it happening. He did'not happen to be at Kintore on the day when a particular event took place. When something really good happens in a location such as that, however, it is said to be totally improper for the minister to claim credit for it. What a nonsense, Mr Speaker! One would think that it is unusual for a government to take credit for the good things it does whereas, in fact, the minister would be negligent in his job if he did not continue to promote the good works of his department. When I was a minister, I used to go to my departments all the time and say: 'I want to hear about all the you-beaut initiatives that you are taking, and I want to get them advertised. I want to tell the community what a great job you are doing'. Mr Speaker, I can tell you that the departments really appreciated it and their morale went up significantly when they were getting very good vibes from the community. Staff like to see good reports about the work that is going on within their departments. I covered quite a few departments in the period that I was in the ministry. I would do the same thing again in similar circumstances, as I hope every minister would do, just as every Labor minister in every Labor government in this country does. I would like the member for MacDonnell or the Leader of the Opposition to walk up to Bob Hawke and say: 'You are unjustifiably spending taxpayers' money every time your picture appears with comment on something the government is doing'. I would like them to do that and to then issue a press release saying that they had done so. When they do that, they can come in here and criticise the Minister for Health and Community Services for doing what any responsible minister does. There is nothing wrong with it. Let us kill the nonsense that members opposite carryon about. They beat these things up to make some sort of a story. They know that they are talkirg nonsense. They see a chance to grab a headline by taking a cheap shot. Let us kill it now, because that is all it is: nothing more than a cheap shot that should go nowhere. Mr Speaker, I commend the minister for his statement and for continuing to inform the community of what is going on in the Department of Health and Community Services. I look forward to further statements on the continuing development of mental health services in the Northern Territory, which I have no doubt will occur and which, as the minister has indicated in this statement, the government intends will occur. Mr SETTER (Jingil i): ~1r Speaker, I was very disappointed today as r listened to members opposite speaking in this debate because, in my opinion, 5579