Parliamentary record : Part I debates (14 February 1989)
Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990
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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 14 February 1989 roads. That principle was generally acknowledged and it is now an accepted part of the land rights process that, in cases where a long-term access has been established, it is not to be closed off. In allowing the existing situation to prevail in respect of the Fitzgeralds, I put it to the Chief Minister that a precedent is being set for the land councils which, in future, may take the position that, if closure of roads and lack of access is no problem in the Darwin rural area, the same situation should apply in respect of public roads on Aboriginal land. Mr Perron: In your opinion, is this a public road? Mr TUXWORTH: Mr Speaker, I am saying to the Chief Minister that it has been used as a public road for 28 years. Mr Finch: How is a 'public road' defined? Mr TUXWORTH: I will pick up the interjection from the Minister for Transport and Works, Mr Speaker. In its consideration of what constitutes a public road on Aboriginal land, the Territory community and government has maintained that, if a road has been used historically by the public for passage over what is now Aboriginal land, it should remain open as a public road. Mr Perron: We are talking about the public, not private . Mr TUXWORTH:, I am tal king about a public thoroughfare over an area of land that now is private land. That applies to roads over Aboriginal land too. You cannot establish the principle on Aboriginal land and then say that it does not apply to farmers in the rural area and that it does not matter if they become landlocked. Mr Perron: Tell a pastoralist that the road to his front door is a public road. ' Mr TUXWORTH: It could well be. Mr McCarthy: It is a private road. Mr TUXWORTH: I will take up the issue, Mr Speaker. Let me refer to the road that leaves the Stuart Highway and goes out to Epenarra, passing several stations on the way. Whilst it may not be a public road for the last few miles to the last station, it is certainly public for the first 2 stations which it passes. You can argue until you are blue in the face but the reality is that the road which formerly gave access to the Fitzgerald property has been used as a public road for 28 years. Mr Trezise may be well within his rights to close it off but it is not smart for the Northern Territory to have small businesses landlocked to the extent that they may go out of business because of the lack of access. On one side of Mr Fitzgerald's farm, you will find a creek that is virtually impassable most of the time and which has a quagmire on its far side. It could be argued that that is Mr Fitzgerald's problem. However, given that he moved there when a public road was available and, historically, had been available for 28 years, one would not expect it to be closed off without due consideration for the access problem. I will now come back to the Chief Minister's question. If the government wishes to accept Mr Trezise's proposition that he can simply close off the 5447
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