Department of the Legislative Assembly, Northern Territory Government


Madam Speaker Braham took the Chair at 10 am.

Madam SPEAKER: Honourable members, I lay on the Table Message No. 4 from His Honour the Administrator advising of his assent to proposed laws passed by the Assembly during the February/March 2002 sittings.

Madam SPEAKER: Honourable members, I acknowledge the presence in the gallery of the former member for Nightcliff, Ms Dawn Lawrie. On behalf of all members, I extend a warm welcome.

Members: Hear, hear!
Development at Entrance of Bayview

Mr VATSKALIS (Lands and Planning)(by leave): Madam Speaker, I present a petition, not conforming with standing orders, from 133 petitioners relating to the proposed development at the entrance to Bayview. I move that the petition be read.

Motion agreed to; petition read.
    To the Honourable Mr Kon Vatskalis, Minister for Lands and Planning, re proposed development
    for twin eight storey residential towers, Lot 6274 Town of Darwin, entrance to Bayview.
    We the undersigned residents of Bayview and surrounds, being concerned about the loss of quality of
    life and lowering of property values in and around Bayview if the above development of others of a
    similar nature proceed, hereby respectfully request the minister to direct the Development Consent
    Authority not to approve the above development or any proposed development with a height in excess
    of four storeys to be built within Bayview.
Timor Sea Gas Treaty

Ms MARTIN (Chief Minister): Madam Speaker, I do not want to preempt a major statement on Timor Sea Gas I will be making to the parliament later this week, but I do want to take this brief opportunity to bring the parliament up to date with developments over the past few days on this important subject. My colleague, the Minister for Business, Industry and Resource Development, and I met the Chief Minister of East Timor, Dr Mari Alkatiri, on Saturday to discuss the proposed treaty between Australia and East Timor which will be signed on 20 May, when East Timor marks its independence. This meeting followed Dr Alkatiri’s meeting on Friday with federal government ministers Downer, Costello and Macfarlane and the Prime Minister, John Howard.

After meeting Dr Alkatiri we were assured that the treaty would provide a framework for the major Bayu-Undan oil and gas development in the Timor Sea to go ahead. As members will know this has been a matter of great concern for this government. When we came into power last year, this project was on its knees. Differences between East Timor and Phillips Petroleum had led to Phillips threatening not to proceed with the gas project. We have worked long and hard behind the scenes to encourage the parties to get together for their mutual benefit. The developer of Bayu-Undan, Phillips Petroleum, plans to bring the three trillion cubic feet of gas onshore to Darwin via an undersea pipeline to an LNG plant at Wickham Point. This will provide many jobs and spin-off businesses for Territorians and we are very keen that it receives the go ahead as early as possible to provide certainties to the developer and their customers.

There are a few issues yet to be finalised. For example, tax issues with the East Timorese government, which should be fixed by legislation soon after independence, and ongoing negotiations with the Australian Tax Office, which we understand are close to finalisation. As well, East Timor and Australia appear to have agreed a way forward on unitisation of the Greater Sunrise field - that is the split between Australia and East Timor of revenues of the gas field.

After our discussion with Dr Alkatiri we are convinced that Bayu-Undan will proceed. The gas project will proceed. We believe that all parties are working hard to finalise arrangements for Greater Sunrise, and the fact that there are some outstanding matters will not cause major problems for the joint developers. Sunrise developers are in any case still split over the development of the gas field with Shell and Woodside pressing for a floating LNG plant on the site, and Phillips Petroleum pressing to bring gas onshore. It is no secret that we in the Territory want the Sunrise gas brought onshore for the benefit of Territorians and Australians generally.

What we are concerned about more broadly is how the Sunrise gas field fits into Australia’s overall energy needs for the future. I have called publicly for a special meeting of the Council of Australian Governments to deal with this very important issue of the country’s future energy needs. New South Wales Premier, Bob Carr, and Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks, have supported this call. I have also spoken to South Australian Premier, Mike Rann, and Tasmanian Premier, Jim Bacon, on the issue.

A recent peak conference here of petroleum producers and explorers heard that Australia was running out of oil and urgently needed to produce more gas to fill energy shortages. At this time it seems a grave mistake to allow the Sunrise Gas Field of nearly nine trillion cubic feet to be turned into LNG and sent directly to North American markets, which is the current plan of Shell and Woodside. We are determined to keep up our campaign to bring the Sunrise Gas onshore. This would help fuel industrial development and expansion in the Territory and could be piped into the national grid to underpin energy security for the rest of Australia. I am contacting all state premiers and the federal government to get formal support in getting a special COAG meeting to discuss Australia’s overall energy needs and to discuss the Sunrise Gas Field in particular.

Members will have seen our efforts earlier this month in building Team NT with business leaders, potential gas customers, trade unions and the opposition, to ensure that we get Sunrise gas onshore. By this broad coalition of interest, we are hoping to win more support around the country, and already we have some encouraging signs of interest from the media, company shareholders and government leaders.

Madam Speaker, I will be giving a full overview of this subject to the parliament later in the week, but I thank you for your time this morning to give you this brief update.

Members: Hear, hear!

Mr BURKE (Opposition Leader): Madam Speaker, I am cheered by the words of the Chief Minister that she will give a full overview of where we are at with the Sunrise project later on this sittings. It gives us an opportunity to truly work in a bipartisan way, including debate in this Chamber, to see that we can get the best outcome.

With regards to Bayu-Undan coming onshore, of course it is the end of very long road; a road that we have all played a part in. It is disappointing that the Chief Minister takes the attitude that it is only since she came to government that these things have gotten back on track. Rather than getting into that sort of debate I inform the House that I was invited to the Treaty signing by the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, directly because of the role that the CLP government and I as Chief Minister played for many years in trying to get Bayu-Undan gas onshore. I thank him for that recognition. I find it churlish and disappointing that the Chief Minister herself does not feel the same sense of applause for all the efforts of many people including politicians and officers who have worked so hard to get Bayu-Undan onshore.

I remind the Chief Minister of her own words. She said that maybe we talked up gas too much; maybe gas is not the future of the Northern Territory in the near term. These were words that quite easily ran off the lips of not only the Chief Minister, but also the opposition leading up to and after the election. It was one Denis Burke - who was called off his rocker at the time - who said Bayu-Undan will come onshore, and we should have confidence that Bayu-Undan will come onshore. What we are seeing now is the culmination of the unstinting confidence that I have had in that project for many, many years.

With regards to the COAG meeting, I say to the Chief Minister it is a very good initiative. I hope that it is successful. I hope that you garner up all the support of the state premiers in particular. I also hope that you can encourage the Prime Minister to be there because I believe that he would be attracted to such a meeting, provided there are real outcomes that can be achieved. I certainly give an undertaking that the opposition will work to achieve those outcomes and get some real substance out of such a meeting if it does occur. However, it would be disappointing if once again it is only a talkfest when we know that we really need a commitment by those south-eastern states to take energy from Sunrise. Otherwise, we really are only paying lip service to a very important issue.

Ms MARTIN (Chief Minister): Madam Speaker, I am not going to comment on the Opposition Leader’s words, because he is trying, I believe, in terms of gas and Bayu-Undan, and the relationship between the Territory and East Timor, to rewrite history. I am drawing a line there. We are not going to revisit this. But what I want is strong bipartisan support. This parliament, this Territory, needs strong bipartisan support for getting gas onshore. There is much more at stake than the politics which we have seen played in the past year. If the opposition is genuine in the words that are being spoken here, then we will have very strong bipartisan support for this move. We will not have misdirections or politics played here. It is very important for our future. So I draw a line in the sand. I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition is going to East Timor. I hope he will be welcomed at the Independence Day celebrations. I certainly hope he will be welcomed. It is something that I will attend on behalf of Territorians with much pride.
Multilevel Assessment Program Testing

Mr STIRLING (Employment, Education and Training): Madam Speaker, I take the opportunity to report to parliament on the Multilevel Assessment Program, commonly known as MAPs, testing carried out in our schools.

On 17 April, the Australian National Report on Year 3 and 5 literacy and numeracy benchmark results for the year 2000 were published. The benchmarks are an agreed national standard representing the minimum acceptable levels of literacy and numeracy achievement our students need in order to take advantage of their education. As Minister for Employment, Education and Training, I was disappointed but not totally surprised that the Northern Territory was outperformed by every other state and territory. The 2000 figures were worse than the results for 1999.

Preliminary 2001 results are available for the Territory, though the Australian National Report which provides the comparative figures has not yet been released. The Territory results for 2001 are slightly better than for 2000, but still lower than 1999. These figures show why education is, and has to be, an absolute top priority for the government. Even with some improvements in 2001, the percentage of indigenous students achieving the national benchmarks continue to be much lower than for non-indigenous students in all learning areas, particularly in remote schools. If you look only at the non-indigenous results, it seems the percentages of Territory students achieving the benchmark do not parallel those of students in other states.

In opposition, we constantly called on the government to do more to improve literacy and numeracy for Territory students. These results demonstrate our predecessors’ failure to act to support schools and teachers to improve those student outcomes. The challenge now is to improve literacy and numeracy results across the board. It has to be tackled for the sake of all Territorians. The government is introducing a range of initiatives to work with teachers and school communities as a matter of urgency to take on this challenge. We are committed to providing an extra 100 teachers in the term of this government targeted at areas of highest need. Each school will develop and put in place a whole school literacy and numeracy plan which will include a minimum two hour block of literacy and numeracy teaching per day. Most importantly, the work of the Learning Lessons Implementation Steering Committee will be pivotal in addressing the challenge of improving English literacy and numeracy achievement for all indigenous students.

MAP tests can provide direct feedback to parents on their child’s progress against the national benchmarks. The government took the decision late last year to make MAP results available to parents for the first time. We will announce the timing of MAP tests in the media this year so parents will know when their children are to be tested. How can parents be expected to influence their children’s education if we keep their children’s results a secret from them? The Learning Lessons report indicates in the past benchmark results for indigenous students were often not gathered or were buried. All students will be included in the MAP program in 2002, and counting all of the students in the Territory for the first time is likely to skew the results downwards as the students not previously included are likely to be students not performing well.

Given the legacy of neglect, we believe it will take two to three years before we expect to see any real evidence of a turnaround. The challenge of improving literacy and numeracy achievement for all students in the Territory, and particularly indigenous students, has been set. The Multilevel Assessment Program in conjunction with school-based assessment mechanisms will allow us to closely monitor the progress of our children, and target those resources accordingly.

Mr MILLS (Blain): Madam Speaker, the results that all could see has enabled parents, teachers and the department to respond to a very serious issue. The publication of these results came under the CLP government. However, that is not the point. We put something out there that we can now respond to in terms of those results. I would have to make comment on behalf of the teachers in requesting that we now implement a two hour block of literacy and numeracy instruction. It leaves the question of the community - and an unfair question of teachers of what have they been doing for that time? I would request that the minister make sure that there is very adequate consultation with teachers before the implementation of such a block which may appeal to those who are not in touch with what is going on in classrooms, but I can speak from a point of view of teachers, that you must involve the teachers in formulation of such a block.

Also, I think the figures point directly at a need to question our early childhood policies. There are only two jurisdictions, the Northern Territory and South Australia, which fared the poorest in both areas, literacy and numeracy, and I would have to say that both those jurisdictions have the same intake policies in regards to transition students in the early childhood area. I would request the minister look very seriously at the activity that takes place right across the spectrum in education in the early childhood section. I think your South Australian counterpart would agree that there are alarm bells ringing in terms of the programs that are operating in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Mr STIRLING (Employment, Education and Training): Madam Speaker, I would have thought that the results would show that we have more of a concern with what has been occurring in our schools in relation to outcomes than when kids actually go in to school. That question is under review, as the shadow spokesman did mention, but it is very much a case of delivering on literacy and numeracy and very much the case that that has to occur in indigenous community schooling. Because what we have seen in the 12 years that I have been a member of this Assembly, and indeed eight or 10 years prior to that, so over the last 20 years we have seen educational outcomes in indigenous schools going absolutely backwards. We are determined to arrest that and turn it around. We have the support of the federal minister, Dr Brendan Nelson, in achieving this outcome. We will be putting everything we can into it to see that turnaround achieved in the next two to three years.
Darwin and Palmerston Itinerants Research Project

Mr AH KIT (Housing): Madam Speaker, I rise to present a ministerial report on the Itinerants Research Project in Darwin and Palmerston. The government is fully aware of the high level of unnecessary aggravation that is being caused, particularly in Darwin and Palmerston, by itinerants. Generally speaking, itinerants are both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people who are essentially homeless, either by choice or because they cannot easily be accommodated in either the public or private sector. We are also aware, at least anecdotally, that more Aboriginal people from remote communities are living in the major Territory centres than ever before.

I want to make it clear to all Territorians that socially unacceptable behaviour, particularly where violence is involved, is not in anyone’s interests. Where people feel the behaviour of others is not appropriate they should have no hesitation in reporting the matter to the police.

The previous government and the previous Minister for Local Government deserve recognition for understanding that something more had to be done about antisocial behaviour than mouth inflammatory rhetoric. Consequently a research study of indigenous itinerants in Darwin and Palmerston was commissioned in August 2000. The study was completed late in 2001. The report was undertaken by a Brisbane-based group, Paul Memmot and Associates, who used key local people and a local reference group, which included the Northern Territory government, ATSIC, the Northern Land Council, the Larrakia Nation, and other community representatives. I am pleased to say the methodology used in developing the report was another example of the partnership approach I have been talking about.

Cabinet has been briefed on the report and I have instructed my department to continue the hard yards on working through the issues with all the stakeholders. The report recommends four key strategic areas to address itinerancy issues. They are:
    a patrolling strategy;

    an education and regional strategy;

    an alcohol strategy; and

    an accommodation strategy.
I am pleased to announce that the government wants to attack the problems caused by itinerants and antisocial behaviour. To this end we will devote substantial funding to the key strategic areas as outlined in the report. To give further impetus to the working group, I am also announcing today that we will fund a project coordinated to manage the four working groups, the working parties as such, which have representation from more than 40 service providers.

The government is committed to action over the itinerants issue, and we are committed to long-term solutions that will work. As I said in my statement in March: ‘Proposing quick fix solutions will not be my style. These issues will be fixed over time and with determined hard work. Our long term commitment to solving the problems will continue. The work will be done and all Territorians will benefit’. The funding announcements I have made today are the start of this government turning the itinerants issue around. That is what we will do. We will not mouth empty rhetoric. We will get results.

Dr LIM (Greatorex): Madam Speaker, I welcome the minister’s report. I anticipated that he was going to make a statement on this. I was instructed at a briefing that I had in his office there was going to be a statement. However, a report is adequate.

I thank the minister for recognising the CLP government’s efforts in commissioning this report. This issue has long troubled Territorians. It is, undeniably, about the urban shift and we have to recognise that people have the right to come into our major centres. However, how to deal with the problem is another matter.

I am glad to hear the minister announcing substantial funding for the coordinators of the four strategic areas. But it does not stop there. I anticipate that the minister will get back up here in six months time to give us a progress report on how those strategic areas are being developed. Otherwise it is all a bit of rhetoric from the minister and nothing more. The funding of the four positions are very significant and I look forward to a further report in six months time.

Mr AH KIT (Housing): Madam Speaker, the feedback provided by the shadow minister was very encouraging, and I welcome that. We are serious. Members on this side of government have no problem in recognising and giving credit where credit is due for initiatives taken by the previous government. That is not a problem and we will acknowledge that.

This is a good initiative. This is something that we need to follow through with. This is something that I am quite happy to keep the shadow minister and members on that side abreast of the progress. I will be providing reports to parliament as we progress. The announcement of the funding for the coordinators today will start to move things forward. We will start to tackle the problem and move to get on top of it.
Northern Territory Hospital Improvement Project

Mrs AAGAARD (Health and Community Services): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House of a major initiative of government, the Northern Territory Hospital Improvement Project, which was approved to proceed in November 2001. The objective of the project is to improve patient outcomes and the quality of care at Northern Territory hospitals. The project involves the five hospitals in the Territory with the initial focus on the Alice Springs Hospital. The work in Alice Springs has been intensive and a considerable change has taken place over the last few months. A strategic plan has been developed setting out a vision, a mission, core values and the key directions for the hospital over the next 12 months.

In addition, a new hospital governance structure, incorporating an expanded hospital executive, has been in place since March. This new governance structure will bring a much more strategic approach to the management of Alice Springs Hospital. It will focus on quality and service provision, with a rigorous approach to providing value for money, and maximising the dollars available at the bedside. This new structure is supported by two sub-committees - a budget management committee and a quality improvement best practice committee. The significance of having a budget committee lies in the fact that there has been no internal budget management committee or hospital finance committee despite the hospital having a budget of almost $70m. The membership of the hospital executive and these two sub-committees consists importantly of both clinical and non-clinical members.

The formation of the clinical services advisory group, consisting of senior medical, nursing and allied health representatives, is another new major work group put in place in the hospital. It involves senior clinicians shaping the future directions of the hospital, and reviewing the present range of clinical and non-clinical support services. This work group is well advanced in defining the role of the hospital and arranging a level of services that can be provided on a safe and sustainable basis. No similar work groups have existed in the past, and there has been criticism that clinical input to decision making was irregular. This group addresses that concern.

At the beginning of the hospital improvement project, three critical elements in improving patient safety and the quality of care were identified. These are:
    having consistent and effective infection control procedures;

    having consistent and easy to use patient complaints processes; and

    having consistent systems for the reporting of adverse clinical events.

Three separate groups, which include representation from across the Territory, have been set up to work on developing common processes and policies for each of these. A group has been set up to look at stores, purchasing and equipment supply. The objective is to look at the benefits of bulk buying, standardisation between hospitals and just-in-time purchasing. A further group has been set up to review staff recruitment and retention on a hospital-wide basis, and consider staff rotations or secondments. In the past, the hospitals have done this independently and there are benefits in taking an across hospitals approach.

The hospital improvement project also involves developing Territory-wide clinical services plans. Presently, a number of work practices differ between the Top End and Central Australia. The objective is to have consistency in treatment and access, looking at best practice in the speciality. Common integrated operational planning systems across all hospitals will also be developed because at present different approaches are taken at each hospital.

The incidence of renal disease in the Territory is extremely high, particularly in the indigenous population. Consequently, the first planning group has been established to develop a Northern Territory renal services plan. The renal group, which consists of clinicians and nurses from across the Territory, is progressing well, within an agreed planning framework. The next clinical planning group to be established is the rehabilitation services group. This will commence with a workshop in Darwin in early June. Its objectives are the same as those of the renal group.

A current initiative is benchmarking of the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit and Neonatal Special Care Nursery of the Royal Darwin and the Alice Springs hospitals. Comparisons are being made on staffing numbers, budget allocations, workload and patient throughput. This will be completed in May this year and will be valuable for ensuring equity in future planning within the two hospitals.

A major objective is to clearly define the future role of all Northern Territory hospitals. The work now being carried out within Alice Springs Hospital will be the model for use at the other hospitals. The goal is to achieve maximum self-sufficiency within the Territory thus minimising interstate transfers. For example, in terms of nursing numbers, there has been a significant improvement recently, with nursing numbers at the Alice Springs Hospital now at establishment levels.

The Hospital Improvement Project is a major initiative that is supported by communications strategy and industrial relations strategy. It is monitored by a top level departmental steering committee with implementation groups in the Top End and Central Australia.

Madam Speaker, I commend this project to the House.

Mr DUNHAM (Drysdale): Madam Speaker, it was interesting to hear the minister speak about this, and I note that she read comprehensively from notes. I hope that she understands what it is that she is about to embark on. It is something that has a long history, and it is beyond anybody to talk about it within the next two minutes, so I shall not do it. I guess the important thing is that we measure what is happening in our hospitals. This whole idea of setting up a variety of committees and work groups and splitting into a variety of fragments sounds pretty good.

But the point is, operationally, these hospitals are under great stress and there have been people taken out of operational areas and put, for instance, in the Health Gains Planning unit - not a problem necessarily, but there is a million bucks’ worth of talent being put into that unit - and we need to see this government not just talk about setting up committees and thinking of doing things and going to do things, we need some measurable devices.

There are many that are available to this minister. For instance, elective surgery is at least a two month wait in Alice Springs Hospital, I understand. It is interesting that renal is part of the Hospital Improvement Project, when it has previously been talked about as a community activity and, certainly, that has been the case with Barkly – it has been talked about as being a service in the community, as is rehab.

The test of this particular minister is whether her oracy is good in standing up and reading particular documents, or whether she can actually do things. I guess the biggest problem with the crisis in health services in the Northern Territory at the moment is that there is a great feeling that this is merely rhetoric that has been written by a bureaucrat. It sounds all right. I mean, we are certainly not going to stand up and say we don’t agree with hospital improvement. But we need to hear a bit more in the minister’s own vernacular, and a little bit more passion about improving the operational circumstances of our hospitals. Things like reducing interstate transfers is good, but it can be measured and it can be measured today. That is the sort of data that we need in this parliament to assess whether things are going forward or backward.

There are a variety of measurements, in terms of the additional $34m that has been provided, that the government is totally silent about. Likewise, the new initiatives the government is also totally silent on. We would like to see some debate on these issues, and we look forward to it.

Mrs AAGAARD (Health and Community Services): Madam Speaker, it is, once again, very sad to come into this House and be the recipient of these types of personal attacks on me. This is a House of debate. It is not a place where you are supposed to come in and make personal attacks on people. I am sorry if the member for Drysdale has some kind of personal issue with me but, as a minister for health, I want to look at the actual issues.

In relation to our hospitals, we have been left with an absolutely appalling situation …

Members interjecting.

Mrs AAGAARD: I have been told by the staff of the Alice Springs Hospital, because I visited there three times …

Members interjecting.

Mrs AAGAARD: … in the last two months - three times …

Madam SPEAKER: Order!

Mrs AAGAARD: … that this hospital has been in need of attention for at least seven years. What did the previous government do? Apparently nothing! But they are happy to come into this House today and criticise me on a personal level for things which they clearly have no understanding of.

I have spent a lot of time in each of the hospitals over these last few months, and spent time with the staff as well. They are very impressed with this project and, Madam Speaker, I commend it.

Reports noted pursuant to sessional order.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

Madam SPEAKER: Honourable members, I advise of the death on 30 March 2002 of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and that, with the concurrence of members, a motion of condolence be moved forthwith. I will ask honourable members on completion of the debate to stand in silence for one minute as a mark of respect.

Ms MARTIN (Chief Minister)(by leave): Madam Speaker, I move that this Assembly pass a motion of condolence for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

I rise today to recognise the life and contribution to the British Commonwealth of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother who died on 30 March 2002.

The Queen Mother’s remarkable life spanned a century. It was a century of tremendous change, and it was a life shaped by the unexpected. She was born at a time when the car was still an uncommon sight. World War I broke out on her 14th birthday. She witnessed the invention of television and jet aircraft. She was the last Empress of India.

In 1986, she became the oldest person to bear the title of Queen in the history of the British monarchy. She had seen 20 different Prime Ministers pass through Downing Street.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was the mother of Queen Elizabeth II, the present British sovereign, and the widow of the late King George VI. She was descended from the Royal House of Scotland and retained strong associations with Scotland during her lifetime. Having married Prince Albert, Duke of York, in 1923, she found herself Queen Consort on the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936 - a role she never anticipated. From the day of her accession as George VI’s Queen, she dedicated her life - and that of her family - to serving the nation and to supporting a shy and retiring King in his duties as sovereign. As Queen, she played a significant role in the life of the nation. There can be little doubt that the Queen Mother reinvented the idea of an active royal family following a period of malaise in the monarchy after Prince Albert’s untimely death in 1861, and Queen Victoria’s subsequent withdrawal from public life.

The Queen Mother’s powerful personality brought about many changes, including the now ubiquitous walkabout. The Queen Mother is particularly remembered for helping to uphold national morale in England during the worst days of World War II, by insisting that the royal family - including the young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret - remain in London during the bombing. It is said that Hitler, watching a newsreel clip of Queen Elizabeth laying a poppy at the First World War Memorial and noticing her poise and spirit, dubbed her ‘the most dangerous woman in Europe’, at least for him.

With the death of her husband in 1952, and the coronation of her daughter a year later, many would have expected the Queen Mother to slip quietly into the background. Instead, she continued with her royal duties for the next 50 years. Her public appearances continued right up to the end of her life. She was involved, often as a patron or president, in more than 350 charities, voluntary bodies and other organisations.

Madam Speaker, through all these events, tragedies and triumphs, the resilience, dignity and humanity of the Queen Mother were the enduring qualities of her life. Over the past six weeks since the Queen Mother’s death, we have seen many memorable tributes paid to her. A common thread in all of these has been her tremendous love of life, her warmth and humour, her strength of character and her devotion to duty. She is remembered, particularly, for her great enjoyment and love of life - surely the secret ingredient which gave her the energy and vitality for which she has become so well known. She showed how life could be lived and relished while not for a moment compromising her commitment to duty.

To me, it is that combination of integrity and humanity that made her such a respected and loved figure. No matter what one’s personal views are on the monarchy, she was truly an inspiration to one and all.

Mr BURKE (Opposition Leader): Madam Speaker, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was a lady in every respect. She was a lady who loved to gamble on the horses, loved being out in the countryside fishing and certainly enjoyed a drink - all qualities with which many Territorians could identify. Even though, from the cradle to the grave, she lived a totally protected and privileged life, she came to be symbolic of the monarchy and was held in the highest esteem and affection of the British peoples.

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was one of those rare people whose life touched three centuries. Born in 1900, the daughter of a Scottish earl, she married into the royal family of Great Britain in 1923 with her wedding to Albert, the Duke of York, the second son of the then King George V. Seventy-five years ago this month, as the Duchess of York, she joined her husband at the official opening of the first Commonwealth Parliament House in Canberra. Her expectation that, apart from such occasional ceremonial occasions, her life would continue in the obscurity and the protective fold of the aristocracy, was shattered by the abdication crisis of the mid-1930s and the ascent to the throne, as King George VI, of her Bertie.

For the next 66 years she was a public figure, first as Queen, and then in the role she made her own as Queen Mum. As Queen she coaxed her shy husband with a debilitating stammer to be an adequate replacement as King for the older brother who had fled the throne to marry an American divorcee, although it is said that she never forgave her brother-in-law and in particular ‘that woman’ for forcing her husband to become King. She endeared herself to the people of Britain, particularly those who suffered during the blitz in London by not only remaining in the city with her husband and two daughters, but by constantly visiting the devastated East End. She explained her stance by saying: ‘My children would not leave without me, I would not leave without the King, and the King would never leave’. She also famously said, after Buckingham Palace was bombed, that she could now look the victims of the East End in the face. But it was probably after her husband’s death that she became even more famous.

Her hopes of a quiet retirement to the castles and streams of Scotland rapidly faded as she became the Queen Mum to the nation. She made another triumphant tour of Australia in the 1950s when the popularity of the monarchy was at its highest in Australia. It was said she attracted even bigger crowds than her daughter had when she had visited the country first as the young Queen several years earlier. A widow for 50 years she came to be the symbol of the enduring monarchy untouched by the scandals that swirled about her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Over the years, her relevance to Australia faded to a presence in the glossy magazines but she had lived a grand life and perhaps the world is a little poorer for the loss of such a character and such an anachronistic lifestyle.

Madam Speaker, I support the motion.

Madam SPEAKER: Honourable members, I thank the Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition for those gracious tributes to the Queen Mother. As members know, the Monarch of the United Kingdom is also the Monarch of Australia and all of us here pay allegiance and take an oath of allegiance to the Monarch when we become members of the Assembly. So it is only fitting that we should also pay tribute to the Mother of our current Queen. She was someone indeed that we found to be a very good role model. Her life did span the entirety of the Federation of Australia. She experienced great moments in history. What a wonderful life she led. She embodied values of the old fashion patriotism and commitment to family and commitment to nation. Those are values that we would all like to adhere to. She certainly led an amazing life that was governed by her loyalty and by tradition and her commitment to the service.

But she was also, as has been stated by both members, a people’s person. She was patron of cross country racing and rejuvenated the steeplechase. Her horse nearly won the Grand National. The jockey of that horse was Dick Francis, the author, as I am sure you all know. She never lost touch with the common people and I think that was what set her aside as a great lady.

I ask all members to stand in silence for one minute.

I thank honourable members.
Daisy Florence Ruddick

Madam SPEAKER: Honourable members, it is with regret that I advise of the death on 23 April 2002 of Daisy Florence Ruddick. I acknowledge the presence in the Speaker’s Gallery of family and friends of the late Daisy Ruddick. Unfortunately, I do not have all the names of the people present but I do acknowledge Rosanne Brennan, Josie and David Guy, Nicole and Chris Lewis, Cowen Bonson, Esther Carolin, Hilda Muir and Isabella Muir. I apologise to those other people whose names I do not have. On behalf of all members I extend to you a very warm welcome.

Members: Hear, hear.

Madam SPEAKER: I will ask honourable members on completion of debate to stand in silence as a mark of respect. I call upon the Chief Minister.

Ms MARTIN (Chief Minister)(by leave): Madam Speaker, I move - That this Assembly - express deep regret at the death of Daisy Ruddick, a senior Territorian of great note; acknowledge her place as a highly respected matriarch of one of the Territory’s largest extended families; recognise her outstanding contribution to tolerance in our community; and tender its profound sympathy to her family and her friends.

Madam Speaker, Daisy Ruddick’s life very much reflected the modern history of the Territory. The events she lived through affected her as they affected thousands of Territorians but Daisy Ruddick like others rose above events of discrimination, of intolerance and injustice, to live a life of determined endeavour, a life where the care of others became her primary source of inspiration.

She was born into the Nawala subsection of the Gurindji nation at Limbunya Station in 1915. Her mother was Demae and her father Jack Cusack, the manager of the station at that time. She had three brothers, Spider, Jack and Peter and a sister, Kathleen, and only Peter has survived her. Daisy and her brother Jack fell victim to the Commonwealth government policy of the day of removing so-called part Aboriginal children from their mothers. At the age of seven she was taken with two other children, sisters Ruby and Maggie Smith by Constable Tom Turner on horse back to Timber Creek and then by boat to Darwin. Interestingly enough the skipper of the boat was Cecibo Damaso, the great grandfather of Darwin’s Damaso family.

On arrival in Darwin, Daisy, Ruby and Maggie were placed in the Kahlin Compound. Daisy said that the first few weeks of life in Kahlin was the first time she had experienced fear and hunger. Despite the trauma of her removal to Kahlin, Daisy’s foremost memories of that time were those of gratefulness to those who helped her including Larrakia people and Bett Bett Bonson who used to pass food to the inmates through the barbwire fence.

After about five years in the compound, Daisy was put to work as a nanny at the age of 12. She worked for Mr E T Asche and his family. Asche was then the Crown Solicitor of the Territory. Her many duties included looking after the young Austin Asche, later to become Chief Justice and Administrator of the Northern Territory. Daisy and Austin’s time together was a formative period in her life. The Asche family encouraged and cared for Daisy and gave her wonderful opportunities and experiences that she cherished all her life. Especially important to Daisy was training she received in cooking, sewing, reading, music and a love of travel.

When she was about 18, the Asche family returned to Melbourne. Dr Cecil Cook, the Chief Protector of Aborigines, offered Daisy the opportunity to train to become a nurse at the newly opened Bagot Hospital, to my knowledge, the first trained Aboriginal nurse in Territory history. This was to be another formative period in her life. Her training gave her a critical employment skill that Dr Cook was quick to recognise. He sent her to Katherine to join the medical team of the original Flying Doctor, Dr Clive Fenton. She found Dr Fenton an absolute inspiration as a doctor and as an inventor, but a larrakin as a dare devil flyer. She learnt the latter after he took her looping the loop and buzzing Katherine one day on a joy flight. Daisy refused to fly with him again but always admired his flying skills. Nursing in Katherine brought her into contact with influential Territory nurses such as the late Eileen Fitzer, Jean Harris, the later Susie Markham, and her life long friend and sister, Hilda Muir. It is well known that these women and Daisy formed life long friendships.

On her return to Darwin, Daisy was encouraged by Dr Cook, Tiger Lyons and solicitor Geoff James’ father to buy one of the five Aboriginal trust homes recently built on the Stuart Highway. That house, at number 55, was to be the family home until Daisy moved to 36 Ryland Road, Millner in 1974.

In 1938, Daisy wrote a letter to the Administrator of the Territory challenging the curfew regulations that prohibited Aboriginal men and women from being outside after dark. By this time, Daisy had become engaged to Joseph Ruddick, a Victorian man working in Darwin. They married in 1939 and had four children – William, now deceased, Rosanne, Esther and Josie. The advent of the war in the Pacific and the bombing of Darwin meant that Daisy and members of the Carolin, Damaso and Bonson families, among others, were evacuated to Mildura where Rosanne was born. They returned to Darwin in 1946 and, soon after their return, Esther was born.

Not long after that, Daisy developed a serious kidney illness. This necessitated her hospitalisation in Melbourne where the kidney was removed by a surgical team that included the famous Changi doctor, ‘Weary’ Dunlop. They hit it off, as Daisy invariably did with everyone she met, and became good friends. At a reunion in Melbourne in 1990, ‘Weary’ Dunlop told of how, from her hospital bed, Daisy would run an SP book on her beloved Aussie Rules matches and horse races.

Due to the seriousness of her medical condition, doctors advised Daisy against further children, but in 1950 Josie was born. Daisy was too ill to care for Josie so the little girl was placed in the care of her cousin Lily Sevallos. Lily was also an inmate of Kahlin Compound. Daisy always acknowledged her as an extraordinary woman who had an important influence on her life.

Discrimination was still rife in Darwin after the war, and Aboriginal women who had married non-Aboriginal men were often the victims. Daisy encouraged her husband to do something about it. So Joseph, along with Babe Damaso, Jack McGinness, Paddy Carolin and others set up the Sunshine Club, perhaps the first of a long line of Darwin social clubs that were unashamedly multicultural and multiracial.

In 1952, Joseph and Daisy separated. Joseph removed the children and placed them in St Mary’s Home for Aboriginal Children in Alice Springs. They were later taken to Charters Towers and Home Hill in Queensland. When Esther and Josie were made Wards of the State in Queensland, Daisy fought to have them returned. Many helped in the successful task including Mick Paspaley and ‘Tiger’ Lyons.

The family was reunited in 1958 when the children returned to live with Daisy and her companion, Tom Dixon. Tom and Daisy lived together for 27 years, and this was a period of great joy and happiness for the whole family. It was during this time that Daisy’s home became a refuge for all sorts of people doing it tough. Daisy would bring people home who were down on their luck or children who needed care. There was always room for one more, even if it meant that her own children gave up their beds. Around this time, she gave up working in the health system and worked at the local branch office of Hastings Deering where she remained to the end of her working life.

As she got older, Daisy indulged her love of travelling, visiting Asia and the United States. As well, like many a Territorian, she loved fishing, especially at Kahlin Beach, the scene of her incarceration so many years before. Her other great love was sport, especially Australian Rules. She was a passionate Nightcliff Tigers supporter and equally passionate about the Footscray Bulldogs.

Sadly this year, Daisy was too ill to attend grand final day when her beloved Tigers were playing after many years in the outer. Though gravely ill, she begged her family to take her.

Those who knew Daisy Ruddick knew her as a sort of Pied Piper, a collector of people. There are so many people in this town she loved and nurtured, as she loved a nurtured her own children. This is evidenced by the fact that thousands from all walks of life attended the funeral, perhaps one of the biggest in Darwin’s history. She instilled in all of them - her family and all she came into contact with - the necessity of caring for others, no matter their race, their colour or their background. She urged them all to always give a helping hand to those who had met misfortune. She stressed the importance of always challenging injustice, discrimination and intolerance, wherever it lay. She understood that the best way to do this was by using the great potential tools of the downtrodden: education and a strong work ethic.

For so many people, Daisy Ruddick was a shining light in times when the darkness of intolerance, discrimination and injustice seemed to be everywhere. For so many people, Daisy Ruddick was a teacher, a carer, a friend and an ally. For us on this side of the House, she was an inspiration; a shining example of all that is best about Darwin’s multiracial and multicultural society. Indeed, Darwin would not enjoy its reputation as Australia’s premier multicultural city without the work of people like Daisy Ruddick. She understood that no matter our differences, our commonalties were far greater.

We are all better people for this remarkable woman’s life. I am very proud, Madam Speaker, as Chief Minister, that our parliament pays tribute to Daisy Ruddick and marks her significant contribution to the Territory. We thank her. We bid her farewell. We send our condolences to her large and loving family, whom we are very pleased could join us today.

Members: Hear, hear!

Mr BURKE (Opposition Leader): Madam Speaker, I won’t take too long as I know there are others in this Chamber who will wish to contribute to this motion and who have a far greater claim to do so than I.

It is a happy coincidence to my mind, that this chain of events has occurred such that we have had a Condolence Motion for the Queen Mother and now a Condolence Motion for Daisy Ruddick. In a small way, it is most befitting because in one sense they came from lives of enormous difference. One was a life of enormous privilege; and one was a life that was essentially one of battling deep injustice. The fact that we in the Chamber today are speaking about both these women, I believe the happy event is that in a small way Daisy Ruddick stands in our minds strongly alongside the contribution that the Queen Mother has made worldwide, and she has made most effectively and touched so many people in the Northern Territory.

Let me begin with some other words that were spoken in this Chamber about this lady. It was during the Statehood Convention in April 1998. The Chairman of that Convention was the former Administrator and former Chief Justice, the Honourable Austin Asche. He introduced Daisy Ruddick’s daughter, Josie Crawshaw – and I am very pleased to see Josie in the Chamber today – for Josie to make her first speech as a delegate to the convention. In introducing Josie, Austin said:
    Josie has many great qualities, but she has one great gift. She has a mother who is one of the great ladies of the
    Territory. I have had the privilege of knowing her most of my life and she is one to whom all Territorians should
    look to as a model. She is a lady who has walked with great dignity and ease and without any worry or
    embarrassment at all in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal societies. She is accepted in all, and known because
    she is a great Territorian.

On any telling of Daisy Ruddick’s life she comes across as an indomitable lady. Take, for example, the letter - and it was mentioned by the Chief Minister in her contribution -that she wrote to the Administrator of the Northern Territory in 1938 when she was only 23 years of age. It is quoted in Peg Havenen’s Under the Mango Tree in the chapter on this remarkable woman prepared by another of her daughters, Esther Carolin, and it is worth quoting because it is a remarkable letter:
    I the undersigned do hereby make complaint that I have citizen’s rights. I am 23 years of age, have been in
    medical service for seven years, but am subjected to being locked up in the girls home. I wholeheartedly
    resent this treatment, as I am engaged to be married, and I am quite responsible for my actions.

That is a remarkable letter from a young woman, given the time and the circumstances in which it was written. It is even more remarkable that it came from a young woman in her circumstances and shows the fighting spirit that permeated her life.

As her daughter noted in Under the Mango Tree, Daisy Ruddick was a Gurindji woman and, as we all know, they are a pretty determined mob as the world saw at Dagaragu, or Wattie Creek, in the late 1960s.

Daisy Ruddick was taken from her homelands and from her mother when she was only six or seven, but could still recall the language of her original country more than 80 years later. She spent most of her life in Darwin, an important member of a large family grouping that are now referred to as the ‘old Darwin families’. They are the families that gave Darwin a very special culture and made it the multicultural city it is today. Indeed, they had made it a multicultural city before anyone had even coined that particular term. Her standing in that community and her place in the history of this city was never more evident than at the service to mourn her passing last month. As the Northern Territory News recorded, it was probably the city’s biggest service.

I only had the honour of meeting Daisy Ruddick in the last years of her life, but she was always someone you looked forward to speaking with and sharing time with. Might I add, she always greeted me warmly, and I was deeply touched by that because often it was at a time when there was political conflict. I was being called all sorts of names and ‘racist’ was an almost kind term at that stage with regards to mandatory sentencing. I suppose whatever Daisy’s feelings about me, she always greeted me warmly. She always spoke engagingly with me. She always seemed to be pleased to chat with me, and in a personal sense I was deeply touched by that and it gave me a great sense of satisfaction that she would take the time to do that.

She leaves behind a large and extended family and an even bigger circle of friends and admirers, and to the family, one of whom of course is a fellow member of the Assembly, the member for Millner, we extend our sympathy for your loss. She will be missed most grievously by her family and by all who knew her.

Members: Hear, hear!

Mr AH KIT (Community Development): Madam Speaker, in joining this motion of condolence, I am very aware of how much Daisy Ruddick has been a part of my life and indeed the lives of many, many other people.

My first memories of her are from my Parap Camp days, and it must have been at the age of six or seven when even back then she stood out as a lady of great pride and dignity. I got to know her and her family better when they lived at her place in Salonika. She was a fierce fan of Nightcliff Footy Club, known then as Works and Housing. However, while people back then had strong affiliations to their footy side, it was the interrelationships between extended families that was most important.

I remember back then that she could be a bit stern towards us youngsters if we were playing up, but it was meant for the best. She would often take time out to chip me at the football oval if she had heard about some altercation I had been involved in. It was a bit of strictness based around the great love for all the kids around the camp. She was then, and remains, after her recent sad death, an aunty or nanna to just about everyone, and indeed everyone on occasion would bear the brunt of her boldness if you got on the wrong side of her.

I remember working with Phillipi Quall and Gerald Hodgson in the laundry at the old hospital in the early 1970s. It was not really the job for me, and I wanted to head to Alice Springs for the footy season, so I put in my resignation and, gammon, said in it that I was leaving because all the old aunties were being too hard on us and bossing us around. Big, big mistake! The next time Aunty Daisy saw me she bawled me out for putting in such a nonsense reason for quitting, because the hospital administrators obviously, instantly, had told her about it all. Nothing, but nothing went on at the old hospital without Aunty Daisy’s knowledge.

My favourite memory of her was seeing the enormous pleasure and pride on her face when her daughter, Josie, was the first woman across the line in the Northern Territory News Walkabout in the early 1960s. I had been pacing Josie until near the end and, unusually for Josie, who inherited at least her share of Gurindji toughness and does not like having people out front, she had let me strike out towards the finish line a fraction ahead of her. The expression on Aunty Daisy’s face was wondrous. Josie, of course, went on to win the race three years running and was consequently invited to the Administrator’s residence to receive a special award. It was the first time Aunty Daisy had been allowed to enter the building through the front door.

The fact that, as I mentioned, Daisy was aunty or nanna to so many people, Aboriginal, and non-Aboriginal people, I should add, speaks volumes about a woman who was so shabbily treated as a child, when she was removed from her family at Limbunya, and then later when she was separated from her own children. The astounding thing about her was her gentle resilience and great love of family in the face of a personal and shared history that was so blatantly anti-family, the era of the stolen generations.

It was with pride and humility that I was a part of the motion of apology in this place last year. Although she was pretty frail by then, she was still absolutely determined, as she had always been. The presence of Aunty Daisy in the House focussed for me the whole issue because her life spanned much of the time of this dreadful history. It is profoundly sad that she did not live long enough for the national apology I know she wanted to hear.

Daisy Ruddick, in her life and her love for her family and friends, always opposed the politics of bitterness and contributed greatly to the narrative of the Northern Territory history. It is a lesson of life we can all learn from.

Daisy Florence Ruddick, I say to you through your wonderful spirit, you are a Kahlin Compound, Parap Camp and Territory legend, rest in peace. I would also like to offer my deepest sympathy to Rosanne, Esther, Josie and all of her family and friends.

Mr BALDWIN (Daly): Madam Speaker, I too would like to contribute to this condolence motion and to formally record the passing of an outstanding lady who, in her long life, not only endured so much but also gave so much back to the Territory’s unique social fabric.

I, like so many other long-term Territorians, had met Daisy Ruddick on many occasions over the years. Like so many people, I was constantly amazed with Daisy’s ability to remember, not only a name and a face, but how they all fitted into the scheme of things in Territory life. Certainly, as a young person growing up in the Territory from the early 1950s onwards, I knew of Mrs Ruddick and certainly of her extensive connection with many of the old Darwin families to whom she has been the much loved matriarch.

It was probably not until in the very early 1980s that I formally met Mrs Ruddick and had a chat with her when she stopped into the Bark Hut Inn, which was owned and operated by my family. We had a good chat there, catching up. She knew my family background. I obviously knew parts of hers; not enough. But it was at least 10 years later, when I first came into this present position that I am in, when we spoke again. It was at a function, and she spotted me from right across the hallway and made her way over and said, ‘You are that young fellow from the Bark Hut’ and we went through the discussions again. Obviously, over the years since then I met her on many occasions.

She had an incredible capacity for recall, and a wonderful memory. Mrs Ruddick was also a member of the Evergreens along with my mother and a lot of other women in Darwin. Mum recalls Daisy as being a great lady who never missed the opportunity to entertain all of the members of the Evergreens with her fascinating stories of own her history, particularly her early childhood out in the Territory’s west, and being taken away from her mother and her people when she was brought to Darwin.

Daisy Ruddick, as we have heard, endured much throughout her life, particularly in childhood and early adulthood, but through all of that adversity she made great personal achievements and was obviously a very determined and a very strong individual. In an era of Australian history when Aboriginal people, let alone Aboriginal women, were struggling with issues of citizenship and equality, Daisy Ruddick managed to carve out her own place in our society and fought to protect and build her own family, and to work hard. And through all of this, to never - from what I could tell - hold a grudge for the cards that she had been dealt in her own life. That was something that came through, at least to me, quite strongly.

I am sorry I did not get to know Mrs Ruddick better than those occasional meetings that I had, and to hear her full story rather than the quick snippets that we chatted about here and there. As has been said here today, much has already been written about Daisy and I am sure that many more words will be recorded in the future about this woman who saw the Territory change from a real frontier to a much more mature and tolerant place. Perhaps the greatest testimony for any person when they move on from this place is that they can go knowing that they leave behind an extensive and healthy family network to proudly carry on, not only the name, but the origins and the stories that went before.

To all those family members and to the relatives who now make up, as we know, a large part of the Darwin and Territory community, I extend my sincere condolences, those of my family and also of my colleagues, on the passing of this unique Territorian, Mrs Daisy Ruddick.

Members: Hear, hear!

Ms LAWRIE (Karama): Madam Speaker, it is with great honour that I rise today to contribute to this condolence motion for a woman whom I referred to through a majority of my years as Nanna Nawala. Daisy came into my life in my very early teens when I befriended, very strongly, her granddaughter. One of the special sparkles in her eye was her granddaughter, Nicki or Nicole, the eldest of her grandchildren. I had the very great pleasure of growing up in a house surrounded by fun and laughter and incredible story telling. At the centre of all of this was Nanna.

Nanna was always there for us as kids when we got home from school. She certainly had to sort out and tick us off - like my colleague, the member for Arnhem, has indicated happened at the Parap Camp. The same sorts of goings on occurred in Rapid Creek and she had to tick off myself and my colleague, the member for Millner, his brother Luke, and his older sister Nicki, on many occasions.

What I really enjoyed the most was Nanna’s story telling. At a very early age, she took great pains to ensure that the daughter of a then prominent Territorian, Dawn Lawrie, learnt about her people’s struggles and her people’s history. She shared with me the stories of the Stolen Generation at a very early age. Certainly, before it was even part of national debate or discussion, Nanna, in her own way, was out there trying to educate Territorians about a part of Territory history that, intrinsically, we had to accept and acknowledge and embrace. In doing so, the Assembly has moved a sorry motion in the Territory and I share with my colleague, the member for Arnhem, sadness that Nanna passed away without the Commonwealth having acknowledged the Stolen Generation and without the Commonwealth having said sorry. Nanna’s stories told me of the hardships, the battles and the injustice, but she was never bitter. Her story telling had a great dignity in it as she talked through every aspect of her life. She wanted to impart knowledge, she wanted to let people know what had occurred so that we could have a far more fair and just society for the current and future generations.

She certainly had an incredibly strong, loving family around her. I acknowledge her daughters here today, Rosanne, Esther and Josie and her grandchildren, Nicole, Matthew, Luke, Chelsea and Travis, Bianca and Yassie. Poppa Tom, I see you there. I have very fond memories of the love and companionship that you and Nanna shared. As a child I witnessed that and it gave me great hope for my own future that I could grow up where companionship and love can be strong in relationships. I acknowledge, too, the great grandchildren who Nanna absolutely loved and nurtured from the day they were born. My godson Colin, little Ali, Nikits and Shana. Even the sons-in-law, Des, Mike, Robert, David and Steve, and the grandsons-in-law, Trevor and Chris. She brought each of them into her family and to her special way of love.

We have heard the former Administrator of the Northern Territory and former Chief Justice, Austin Asche, talk about the incredible upbringing he had with Nanna as his nanny. She had three passions: family, footy and fishing, and for anyone who witnessed her joy in embracing any of these passions it was truly quite an inspirational experience. I shared her passion in following the Tigers. I grew up opposite the homeground and I loved going to the footy with Nanna, because she had access to absolutely every single player, every club official, and she was one of the few people who the coach would stop and listen to and take tips from.

No one dared get in Nanna’s way when she saw a reason for things to change, and she was about effecting change. She taught us that very young. You do not have to accept what you are served up in life; you can get out there and, if you have a strong work ethic, you can change things. The influence she had on my life, and the influence on my colleague, the member for Millner’s life that I witnessed, is testimonial to the fact that the two of us are in here in this Chamber representing some of the people of the Northern Territory.

At her funeral, there were many people I recognised from my constituency of Malak and Karama, and they came from all backgrounds. It is a truly sad occasion in the Territory when we lose someone of such wit, strength, and humility. We heard about the passing overnight of Ruth Cracknell, who was named as a Living National Treasure. I believe that up there she has the occasion to swap some yarns and some jokes now with someone who, to me, was a living Territory treasure - and that was Nanna.

She overcame tremendous obstacles in life - obstacles that would shatter a far lesser person - being stolen from her family, then, in turn, having her family, her daughters, taken from her. She fought that injustice and got them back, raised them and nurtured them with love, with a great imparting of knowledge. She took on other strays, took on people like Willy Marcos. He was often a constant at her side and she raised him after the death of his own mother. She extended that love to people such as myself, who came within the sphere of her family.

She has left the Territory great hope for its future. Her eldest daughter, Rosanne, has been a leader amongst the indigenous community already, in very senior positions at NAALAS and the Northern Land Council. Her youngest daughter, Josie, a former ATSIC Commissioner heads up DEWRSB in the Territory now. Her grandson, my colleague Matthew Bonson, is the member for Millner. Her legacy lives on through her family; she has taught them well. We have every reason to be proud of each family member. They have all been contributing in their own very special, beautiful way to the Territory. I know that Nanna, who cared so much and so well about her family, can rest in peace.

Members: Hear, hear.

Mr BONSON (Millner): Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak briefly about …

Madam SPEAKER: Would you like to have your speech recorded in Hansard?

Mr BONSON: Yes, I would. And Madam Speaker, I request that the eulogy delivered by my mother, Rosanne, at my grandmother’s funeral be incorporated in the Hansard.

Leave granted.

Madam SPEAKER: We will record your speech in Hansard.

Mr BONSON: Thank you, Madam Speaker.
    Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak briefly about Daisy (Nawala) Cusack Ruddick, my grandmother. Daisy
    represented all things that I hope to one day achieve: honesty, integrity, community, respect, culture, love,
    kindness, warmth, caring, character, court, determination and leadership.

    In the Northern Territory, we often take for granted our lifestyle, our carefree nature and our fighting
    spirit. Self-government came to the Territory in 1978. However, there were many people who lived and
    fought for the things we take for granted today: the right to vote, the right to have freedom of movement,
    the right to marry whom we want, the right to work where we like. My grandmother was a fighter for those
    rights when they were not available in this country.

    She did not carry a weapon, she was not an activist as we might now define. Daisy fought for what she
    believed in by being herself. She was a walking, talking example of cultural and racial tolerance and

    There are many stories from the old days – both good and bad – but to me, none best describe the Territory
    character that she helped create and that was the welcoming meal to the newcomer, the stranger to the
    Territory. They themselves welcomed the newcomer and the stranger became a Territorian who followed
    her example and welcomed others.

    My grandmother was many things as a human being. She was complex in nature but promoted a simple
    message: that we are all in it together, and together we will make it through. As a descendent of the
    Gurindji people, she was proud of her Aboriginal heritage. But that was not the sum of Daisy Ruddick.
    Her history was part of the story of the stolen generation, but to many others, she was much more. She
    was never bitter, but always proud and generous.

    Austin Asche spoke at her funeral with tears in his eyes and a lump in his throat as he described a friend
    and family member. Effectively, His Honour said that some people are in the public eye and make a
    contribution to the country while others, less publicised, leave a mark on the country so fundamental and
    so strong that they become representative of their family, community and country. Coming from Austin Asche,
    this had great meaning for members of my family.

    My grandmother did not care which culture you were from, what religion, or the colour of your skin. You were
    a person with the potential to be anything you wanted to be. She was a proud woman: proud of her history, her
    work ethic, her community and, most importantly, her family. Daisy’s family was always first, second and third
    in her life.

    The fact that she did not define family in the way most people do – by some DNA connection – never seemed
    to worry anybody. In fact, we as a family were proud of the standing she had in the community as ‘Aunty Daisy’.
    It seemed a perfectly natural thing for a natural woman that everybody – white, black, green or purple; eight years
    old or 58 years old – called her ‘Aunty Daisy’. As I grow as a man in Darwin, I realise that her affinity with people
    was a two-way street. Nanna loved to show people love because she loved to be loved. It gave her great joy.

    For future generations, the years will roll by and we will all have some role to play in the creation of the places we live.
    My grandmother’s strength was her positive nature and spirit. She could not tolerate negative opinion. She would
    consistently fight for people to see the good in each other. My mother, Rosanne, said in her eulogy, ‘She was a collector
    of people’.

    My sister, Nicole, also spoke for Nanna’s grandchildren when she said in dedication to her: ‘Your sense of fun
    and adventure was contagious. Your sense of humour and humility your greatest strength. You are our Nanna,
    our confidante, our mentor’.

    My grandmother lived 86 years in the Territory. Born in 1915, she lived the Territory experience all her life;
    she helped create this experience and that cannot be forgotten. Along with other Territory families, they created
    our home, our values: fun loving, hard working, multicultural – everything that sums up the Territory’s uniqueness.
    The families and individuals to whom I refer include very well known Territory names: Ah Mat, McGinness,
    Carolin, Damaso, Bonson, Muir, Lewfatt, Ah Kit, Clarke, Cubillo, Butler, Calma, Cooper, Abala, Baird, Buckle, Tye,
    Michael Paspaley, John (Tiger) Lyons, Gilbert Williams, Eileen Fitzer, Jean Harris (nee Drysdale/Shewring), Keith
    and Irene Kemp, the Haritos family, Tom Harris Snr, Christa Roderick who was Marshall Perron’s mother, and the
    Katoope family.

    Administrators, Chief Ministers, Aboriginal Protectors and politicians will come and go, but people like Daisy Ruddick
    fought for how they wanted to live their lives.

    I would like to quote from a Eulogy delivered by my mother at Daisy’s funeral:

    To us, she was the female version of the Pied Piper. She was a collector of people.

    Although everyone knows that she had three daughters, nothing could be further from the truth for
    in this congregation today, and all around the country, there are many daughters, sons and grandchildren
    that she loved and nurtured as if they were her own natural children.

    To us, her daughters, she encouraged and nurtured the spirit of being concerned for others, to giving a
    helping hand to those who were less fortunate, or who had simply just fallen on hard times.

    Every one of my family members believes her feelings of a kind spirit and her ability to give confidence gave rise
    to a self belief that you could overcome any hurdle. When we look for leadership and role models, we often look
    to heroic figures of history. Such figures were human beings with two arms and two legs, just like Daisy Ruddick.
    All of them made us believe in a better life. We, as Territorians, want a better life for everyone.

    I would like to share with the House a brief story of another role model for me, Muhammed Ali, who was asked by
    a reporter: ‘Ali, how do you become great?’. Ali rose from his seat and looked down at the reporter in a dramatic
    fashion, adding humour to the situation as he towered over the reporter, and simply said: ‘Don’t look down on
    those who look up to you’. That summarised my Nanna: she never looked down on those who looked up to her.

    On this day we have also moved a Condolence Motion for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. In
    different ways, each woman represented strength, courage, kindness and love for country. My grandmother would
    run away from such a comparison because she was humble above all else. But like many events in her life that
    seemed like a coincidence, Nanna was also able to shine in the most simple manner on significant days.

    I wish to recognise the presence of my family in the Gallery, and of Aunty Hilda – another Territory icon and
    lifelong friend of our mother, grandmother and great grandmother.

    A notice which appeared in the Northern Territory News following Nanna’s passing encapsulates how people
    saw and regarded her:

      A Great Lady
      A Great Territorian
      A Great Australian
      A Great Friend

      Austin, Valerie and Wendy Asche

    Finally, I would like to thank the Chief Minister and parliament for adding a footnote to such a great
    Territory story.

    Vale Daisy (Nawala) Cusack Ruddick.


    Daisy Florence Ruddick (nee Cusack)

    Daisy Ruddick was born at Limbunya Station, approximately 90 kms from Wave Hill (Kalkarindji) in 1915. She was
    born to an Aboriginal Gurindji woman called Demae, and her father was an Irishman, Jack Cusack, the manager
    of the station. She had three brothers, Spider, Jack and Peter, and a sister, Kathleen. Her brother, Peter, survives her.

    Mum and her brother, Jack, became victims of the policy of the day, that is, the removal of part-Aboriginal children
    from their mothers. At the age of seven or eight years, around 1922-23, Mum was taken, along with two other
    children, sisters Ruby and Maggie Smith. Ruby Smith was the mother of the current ABC Radio sports announcer,
    Charlie King.

    It was to be 40 years before she saw her brother, Jack, again, and nearly 60 years before she saw her brothers,
    Spider and Peter.

    The policeman in charge of the removal was Constable Tom Turner who, along with an Aboriginal black tracker,
    escorted the three little girls by horseback and walking to Timber Creek. They then travelled by boat to Darwin.
    The captain of the boat was a Filipino man called Mr Damaso who is the grandfather of members of the Damaso
    families in Darwin. Mum described him as a kindly man.

    On arrival in Darwin, Daisy along with Ruby and Maggie were placed in the government controlled institution
    called Kahlin Compound. Some of her sisters, as she fondly referred to them, who were also in Kahlin are
    in the congregation today. Sadly, Ruby and Maggie have passed away. It would be an understatement to say
    life was extremely hard and difficult in Kahlin. Mum used to say that the first time she ever experienced hunger
    and fear was her first few weeks in Kahlin. Mum was forever grateful to the Larrakia people and Nanna Bonson,
    Bett-Bett, who used to sneak food to them over and through the fence.

    When she was about 12 years of age, Mum was put to work as a nanny. She was very fortunate to be placed with
    Mr and Mrs Asche. Mr Asche was the then Crown Solicitor of the Northern Territory. Her nanny duties centered on
    a little boy called Austin whom many of you would know as the previous Chief Justice and Administrator of the
    Northern Territory. A life long friendship was born and continued to the day of Mum’s passing. Mum always
    described her time with the Asche family as being one of caring and encouragement. The Asche family provided her
    with so many experiences and opportunities such as travel, music, reading, cooking, and sewing which were life
    skills that stood her in good stead. When Mum was around 18 or 19 years of age, the Asche family returned to Melbourne.

    Dr Cecil Cook, Chief Protector of Native Affairs, spoke to Mum about training to become a nurse at the newly opened
    Bagot Hospital. Mum was very enthusiastic and excited about being given this opportunity. After a period of time,
    Dr Cook sent her to join the medical team at Katherine led by Dr Clive Fenton. Mum described Dr Fenton as a
    wonderful, caring doctor, an inventor and a larrikin with a true love of flying. She never ceased to be in awe of his
    ability to create things from nothing, nor his daredevil flying antics.

    She tells a story of the day in which he took her up for a joy ride and proceeded to show off by flying upside down
    looping the loop and flying very low over the town ship of Katherine. Mum refused to fly with him again and
    decided that she would admire his flying abilities with her feet firmly placed on the ground.

    Dr Fenton serviced the town of Katherine and all surrounding communities and this would often mean flying and
    landing at night. To assist him in night time landings he devised a beacon which could be seen for many miles. The
    beacon consisted of a gramophone turntable, a piece of silver matter which acted as a reflector, and a tilly lamp
    placed in the middle of the turntable. When they heard the plane engines, Mum and an Aboriginal worker called
    George would light the tilly lamp and wind the gramophone up and with the circular motion the light could be seen
    by Dr Fenton. The next job was to light the strategically placed kerosene lamps which formed the runway.

    Her nursing experience was such a formative part of Mum’s life and bought her in to contact with not only
    Dr Fenton but nursing staff like the late Mrs Fitzer, Jean Harris (formerly Shewring/Drysdale), the late
    Susie Markham and her life long friend and sister, Hilda (Jarman) Muir. There was a bond between Mum
    and these women which lasted a lifetime.

    On her return to Darwin, Dr Cook, Mr John ‘Tiger’ Lyons, and solicitor Geoff James’ dad encouraged Mum to
    but one of the five Aboriginal trust homes that were available for purchase. This house at 55 Stuart Highway
    remained the family home until May 1974 when Mum moved to 36 Ryland Road, Millner.

    In a letter to the Administrator dated 28 November 1938, Mum challenged the regulations of a curfew she
    and other Aboriginal men and women had to comply with. We would like to read this letter to you:
      His Honour the Administrator Northern Territory
      Dear Sir
      I, the undersigned, do hereby make complaint that I have citizen’s rights, am 23 years of age, have
      been in medical service seven years, but am now subject of being locked up in the girls home. I
      whole heartely (sic) resent this treatment, as I am engaged to be married and I am quite responsible
      for my own actions. Trusting you will do something for me. I am your obedient servant.
      Miss Daisy Cusack.

    At the time, she had met and become engaged to our father, Joseph Ruddick who had come from Victoria to
    work in Darwin. Dad and Mum were married in 1939 and had four children: William (deceased),
    Rosanne, Esther, and Josie. In 1942, Mum was evacuated to Mildura along with the Carolin, Damaso and
    Bonson families. I was born in Mildura. In 1946, we returned to Darwin just in time for Esther’s birth.

    Not long after this, Mum became very ill with a serious kidney problem and she was flown to Melbourne in 1948
    to have her kidney removed. The attending surgeon was the well known Dr Sir ‘Weary’ Dunlop. Mum kept in
    contact with ‘Sir Weary’ and in 1990, on a visit to Melbourne, caught up with him and shared an enjoyable
    afternoon swapping yarns. I was with Mum and Mr Dunlop told a story of how Mum ran a book from her hospital
    bed on the AFL and horses. She was saddened to hear of his death some years later and always spoke of him with
    such warmth and admiration.

    In 1950, against doctors’ orders (due to her kidney problem) our sister, Josie, was born and Mum was extremely ill.
    Josie was brought home from the hospital and placed in the care of our cousin, Lilly Sevallos (nee Cusack). We only
    ever referred to her as Aunty Lilly because she was so much older than Mum and us. This wonderful woman, who had
    also been taken to Kahlin Compound, had such an influence on our mother and they adored each other, so it was
    without question that she would care for Josie until Mum regained her health. Mum would have been so proud to
    see the faces of some of Aunty Lilly’s children who have travelled from around Australia to be in the congregation
    today. She loved them all dearly.

    Another wonderful woman who Mum looked to for guidance was Polly McGinness (nee Wakeland), who unfortunately
    had her life cut short at an early age. We know out mother missed her terribly. Her children are also here to say
    farewell to our Mum.

    It was interesting times after the war in Darwin and although our father had served with distinction in the RAAF
    there were many social events in particular that Mum could not attend with our father because she was Aboriginal.
    This did not sit well with many non-Aboriginal men who had married Aboriginal women, and our father, along with
    Paddy Carolin, Jack McGinness, Babe Damaso and others, decided to do something about this situation. They formed
    the Sunshine Club which was for all social gatherings and, interestingly enough, all peoples of all cultures were
    welcome. Dad and Mum were well known for their ballroom dancing.

    Our parents separated in 1952 and our father removed us and placed us in the St Mary’s Home for Aboriginal
    children in Alice Springs. We were then taken to Charters Towers in Queensland and later lived at Home Hill.
    When Esther and Josie were made wards of the state, Mum sought help to have all of us returned. Two men in
    particular who assisted with our return were John ‘Tiger’ Lyons and Mick Paspaley. We returned in 1958 to live
    with our mother and her companion, Tom Dixon, who became a wonderful stepfather and poppa to our children.
    This was the beginning of a period of great happiness, joy and fun in our home. We thank both Mum and Pop
    Dixon for this wonderful time. Mum and Pop parted amicably after 27 years and remained good friends to the end.

    We can never remember having a room of our own, or for that matter a bed of our own a lot of the time because our
    Mum was always bringing home people who had fallen on hard times, or children who needed care, or just
    welcoming the many friends we, her daughters, had.

    After many years of service in the area of health she decided to try something different and went to work for
    a private company, Hastings and Deering. She worked for this company until her retirement and made many
    life long friends.

    During this period she formed a relationship with a young woman called Stephanie Ahmat which has continued
    until our Mum’s passing. We regard Stephanie as a member of our family and we thank her for the love and
    care she gave our mother throughout her life.

    As we got older, Mum was able to indulge her love of travel. She visited Asia and America and resided in Houston,
    Texas, for five months with Josie and her family. Josie tells the story that within the space of a few days she had got
    around and made friends with people who lived in the complex and all their children were calling her Nanna Ruddick.

    She was also able to enjoy one of the passions of her life and that was fishing. She spoke with fondness and love
    of the wonderful times she had with Jane and Chris Christopherson, Peter and Lena Pang Quee, aunty Kitty Moffat,
    Aunty Elsie Evans, Aunty Rose Craig, Aunty Ethel Buckle and Aunty Thelma White. We have it on good authority that
    she was one mean fisherwoman. One of her favourite fishing spots was Kahlin Beach, and she was none too happy
    when plans were outlined for the development of Cullen Bay, although she understood that progress at times cannot
    be halted.

    Her other passion was sport in general but in particular Australian Rules Football. She very rarely missed an
    opportunity to support us in our sporting endeavours. She was a long time supporter of the Nightcliff Football
    Club and the Western Bulldogs (previously known as Footscray Football Club). She was absolutely thrilled
    when on the occssion of her 80th birthday she received a message from Charlie Sutton, captain of Footscray’s
    last premiership team and the West Coast Eagles through her grandson-in law, Chris Lewis. Sadly, this year,
    she was unable to attend the NTFL grand final to watch her beloved Tigers due to her ill health. In fact, it was
    the first grand final in Darwin she had never attended, barring the war years spent in Victoria. Although, ill
    as she was, she tried to convince Esther to take her to the grand final and also asked any of her visitors that
    day to take her.

    She was a hands-on grandmother as all her grandchildren will attest to. Later on in the service they will share
    with you some of their thoughts.

    Our mother was an incredibly beautiful person who meant so much to so many people. To us she was the female
    version of the Pied Piper. She was a collector of people. Although everyone knows that she had three daughters,
    nothing could be further from the truth. For, in this congregation today and all around the country there are
    many daughters, sons and grandchildren whom she loved and nurtured as if they were her own natural children.
    To us, her daughters, she encouraged and nurtured the spirit of being concerned for others, to giving a helping
    hand to those who were less fortunate, or who had simply fallen on hard times.

    She stressed the importance of a good education and encouraged us to develop valuable wok ethics. She encouraged
    us to challenge prejudices of all types and to fight the injustices that impacted upon people’s lives. She lived in our
    lives completely. She was our greatest critic and greatest fan. She was our teacher, our friend and confidante and
    she made true the actions of unconditional love.

    She was our Mother.
Madam SPEAKER: I thank all honourable members for their very sincere tributes to a gracious lady and, on behalf of the parliament, I extend condolences to all the family. I ask members to observe one minute’s silence as a mark of respect.

I thank honourable members. I thank the members of the family for attending the House today. You are free to stay. If you would like to leave, please feel free to do so.
(Serial 37)
(Serial 38)

Continued from 28 February 2002.

Mr MALEY (Goyder): Madam Speaker, the opposition, having now considered the bill, can offer its full and unqualified support for the implementation of the legislation. It is the final piece in a great Commonwealth initiative; it symbolises a complete endorsement of that Coalition initiative.

The bill and the minor amendment to the Police Administration Act revolve around a national scheme. The purpose of the Witness Protection (Northern Territory) Bill 2001 is to provide the Northern Territory with legislation complementary to the Commonwealth Witness Protection Act. This will enable the Northern Territory, along with all the other states and territories, to participate in a national witness protection scheme.

A witness in another jurisdiction is now able, in a simple and easy fashion, to relocate, if desired, to the Northern Territory. Court orders can be obtained so that that particular person’s identity and date of birth can be changed and that person kept safe during the course of not only giving evidence but for a period of time after the completion of any National Crime Authority investigation, or an investigation by the federal, state or territory police.

The Territory is indeed obliged to carry its own weight in this national scheme and under the Commonwealth act is required to enact the complementary piece of legislation which we now see presented before this parliament. All other jurisdictions have already enacted protection legislation. The Northern Territory is really the last piece in this legislative framework. The scheme is designed not only to protect witnesses but sends out a message that witnesses, or people who have information, are encouraged to come forward and their identities will be kept safe. Indeed, members of their family can also be part of the program and protected and offered the protection of the state after coming forward and providing authorities with sensitive information.

When the bill first came before this parliament there was some media attention and, to put this on the record, some of the reports were misleading to this effect that this legislation is really the result of a national scheme. The Northern Territory government’s role is really to implement the legislation so that the national framework can operate.

In closing, the bill assists in a coordinated national approach to fighting organised crime. The bill is good law and the opposition supports the bill.

Mr KIELY (Sanderson): Madam Speaker, I rise in support of the Witness Protection (Northern Territory) Bill 2001 and the Police Administration Amendment Bill 2001. As the minister advised the House earlier, the purpose of the witness protection bill is to provide the Northern Territory with legislation complementary to the Commonwealth Witness Protection Act, to enable participation in the national witness protection scheme.

What is so pleasing about this bill is that it is yet another piece of the government’s plan to address crime in the Territory. In August last year, the people of the Northern Territory sent a clear message: they would no longer tolerate a head in the sand approach to illicit drugs and crime. They provided the Martin government with a clear mandate to attack crime and the causes of crime through protection, punishment and prevention. The community voted for the introduction of Labor’s tough on drugs 3-point plan and we can now clearly see Labor standing by its promise.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the provision of some form of witness protection has probably operated since time immemorial. We know for a fact that the earliest known Code 5 witness protection program was a witness security program established in the United States in 1970. Australia had to wait until 1983 until the Stewart Royal Commission highlighted the need in Australia for better use to be made of informants in attacking organised crime. At that time, arrangements for witness protection was a matter for individual police forces. Witness protection was managed as part of the normal policing function and was fairly ad hoc in its use involving, perhaps, increased guarding in the witness’s own home and, occasionally, temporary relocation to a motel or a country town.
In 1987, a Commonwealth parliamentary joint committee resolved to conduct an inquiry into witness protection in Australia. The committee’s recommendations were tabled in November 1988 and the government of the day was generally accepting of the recommendations, noting that some matters would necessarily involve discussions between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments. It would take over six years from the tabling of the joint committee report until the federal Witness Protection Act commenced on 18 April 1995.

Section 24 of the federal Witness Protection Act provides that Commonwealth identity documents such as passports and tax file numbers must not be issued for a person who is on a state or territory witness protection program unless there is a complementary witness protection law in force in the state or territory, and there is an arrangement in force between the Commonwealth minister and the relevant state or territory minister.

As the minister previously advised, all other jurisdictions already have witness protection legislation and comply with section 24 of the Commonwealth Witness Protection Act. In March 2000, the Commissioner of the Northern Territory Police advised the Commonwealth parliamentary joint committee that legislation is currently being developed in the Territory. Although it has taken some time and a change of government, the Northern Territory Witness Protection Bill finalises the legislative framework for the scheme.

The Northern Territory Witness Protection Bill used the Victorian legislation as a model which in its turn called on legislation which had already been drafted and enacted in other jurisdictions throughout the Commonwealth. Indeed, the National Crime Authority’s general manager of operations has made the observation that he has seen witness protection programs in other countries and believes that the witness protection programs in place throughout the Commonwealth are of a high standard. They have taken the good things from other systems and, from his point of view, advanced those to a level second to none.

In this context then, the Northern Territory Witness Protection Bill is not ground breaking, rather it is one of tried and tested substance. In the NT News dated 13 May 2002, Penny Baxter wrote a series of articles drawing the public’s attention to outlaw motorcycle gangs and their links to criminal activity and the subsequent profits that could be accumulated from such activity. Well, Madam Speaker, there is an even darker side to the activities of some outlaw motorcycle gangs than the manufacture and distribution of illicit drugs.

An Australian Associated Press journalist, Selina Day, reported in March 2002 that one of the bikies behind a car bomb slaying of two Perth men, labelled one of the worst acts of terrorism in Australia, will be given witness protection as he serves a life jail term. Sidney Reid pleaded guilty to the wilful murder of former police detective, Commander Don Hancock, and the murder of racing identity, Lawrence Lewis, both killed when a bomb exploded in Mr Lewis’ car. The judge said it was a cold-blooded, premeditated, planned bomb attack intended to take the life of one man for reasons of revenge without regard for who else might be killed or maimed in the process. He accepted Reid was not a ringleader, planting the bomb but not detonating it and noted Reid’s unprecedented and extensive cooperation with authorities at serious risk to himself. Reid’s defence counsel told the court Reid, a father of three, bitterly regretted his actions and the killings finally weighed so heavily on his conscience he talked to police.

Police said his assistance represented an Australia first breaking of the notorious bikie code of silence which has hampered police investigations. As a result of Reid’s contrition and the fact that he turned his back on the Gypsy Jokers, Reid had the maximum jail term of 25 years discounted to 15 years without parole. He has also been placed under the witness protection program within the prison system. This horrific tale highlights a number of characteristics of the operation of the witness protection program.

As commented on by an executive officer of the National Crime Authority, the majority of people who enter the witness protection program are primarily criminals and they are usually criminals of some standing, albeit not principles, but they are people from the criminal milieu. The witness protection program is not a guarantee for an exemption from custodial sentence. Effective witness protection programs greatly assist police to gather evidence and to mount successful prosecution action.

Over the course of these sittings we will be seeing breakthrough legislation in relation to drug houses. We will also be seeing state-of-the-art legislation addressing the confiscation of profits that criminals gain from their endeavours. This government is showing its appreciation for the fact that there is no one solution for tackling crime; you need a comprehensive strategy. The establishment of a modern, integrated witness protection scheme is another tool with which to furnish our police to tackle serious crime. In the long run, all of these measures will work together to make it clear that the Northern Territory is equipped to combat crime.

I received a very good briefing from both the Department of Justice and the Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Services, and conducted independent research on the proposed legislation …

Strangers on the Floor

Madam SPEAKER: Honourable members, please leave the Chamber. The House will resume at the ringing of the bells. All members, out.

Madam SPEAKER: I apologise to members for that intrusion on our sittings. I am quite sure we have probably learnt our lesson about keeping the door locked to the Chamber in future. Let’s hope that we do not have another such incident as the week goes by. Member for Sanderson, would you like to finish your speech.

A member: About how you are controlling crime.

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER: Order, order! Leader of Government Business, stop it! For goodness sake, haven’t we had enough in this House this morning without you joining in this debacle? I would suggest to members that, in future, you leave the Chamber and do not stand there on the side line and scream …

Mr Stirling: And it is a pity they did not listen, Madam Speaker.

Madam SPEAKER: I am speaking, thank you, don’t you interrupt me. Instead of standing on the side line screaming and yelling at the demonstrators that came in. It would be more appropriate that you observe some protocol and just left the Chamber when the Speaker left, and then we might not have this slanging that is occurring now. Let’s get back to sensible debate. I would like to get debate on this bill completed.

Mr KIELY (Sanderson): Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Mr Burke: Tell us about the strong law and order policy.

Madam SPEAKER: Order! We have just been through this.

Members interjecting.

Mr Burke: These are the ones that vote for you.

Madam SPEAKER: Leader of the Opposition!

Mr KIELY: Madam Speaker, I received a very good briefing from both the Department of Justice and the Department of Police, gladly putting to bed the legacy that the CLP has left us.

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER: Order! The member for Sanderson has the floor. That is enough chat across the Chamber, otherwise we will adjourn for lunch. Member for Sanderson, complete your speech.

Mr KIELY: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am confident that the Witness Protection Act is based on Australian best practice, and I commend the scheme to honourable members.

Members interjecting.

A member: What is your contribution?

Mr WOOD (Nelson): Very minor after that. Madam Speaker, I would also like to support the Witness Protection Act being proposed. I have two technical questions, one I asked at the briefing and I do not know whether the minister has an answer, the wording in division 2, section 7, which says: ‘conditions on which witness or family members included in the TWPP’. Then it goes on to tell you why they should not be included. The terminology seems to be in conflict.

The other question I have to ask is: what safeguards are there in place for the security of changes to one’s birth certificate? For instance, if your identity is changed, how can one make sure that those in charge of your original birth certificate are not able to release that information to the public?

Mr STIRLING (Police, Fire and Emergency Services): Madam Speaker, I thank members for their support, and their contributions. I understand I am getting some advice on the questions raised by the member for Nelson.

The origins of this bill go back to 1994-95. The Commonwealth legislation was passed and our predecessors looked at it in 1995. For various reasons, they did not proceed at that particular time. It was looked at again in 2000. Much preliminary work was done on this bill in relation to which other jurisdiction, which model, the Northern Territory would follow most closely. It has been a long gestation period for this bill. I put on the record our thanks, and those of our predecessors, for the work done by police and by the Department of the Attorney-General in getting this bill before us today.

It would seem to me, given our population spread and distribution in the Northern Territory, that we would be more likely to utilise this scheme in placing witnesses in other jurisdictions, rather than the reverse. Given our smallness I would not think that other jurisdictions would see us as a likely place to want to hide witnesses under threat.

I thank the member for Goyder for his support and I pick up on his statement that it does send a message. This legislation does send a message. If you are in strife, if you do have genuine concerns for your safety, if you do have information that you want to bring forward, there now is a process. There now is a process that can be put in place that will offer you protection.

I also thank the member for Sanderson for some of the historical research that he has put into this bill, and put on the record through his second reading speech.

In relation to the intrusion, Madam Speaker, I suggest that shows that this government is having a real impact. This is one bill. It is a complimentary package of a number of bills that will go through this parliament in relation to drugs and drug use in the Northern Territory. There are a couple of points I will make here. We have serious questions about the security of this Chamber, and that needs to be followed up post haste, and I do not doubt that your office will be straight on to that.

The other thing that disturbed me, and it was not completely the opposition, there were some of our members in here as well, but if you make a direction for members to leave the Chamber, you would expect, and I would certainly expect as Leader of Government Business, that that instruction would be followed. It was not the case, and in fact when it was all over and I came back in at the ringing of the bells, I noticed the opposition were here. They were here after you had issued an instruction to leave the Chamber …

Mr BURKE: A point of order, Madam Speaker! Is this a new debate, or is he closing debate on legislation, because if the Leader of Government Business wants to open debate on the incident in the Chamber, we are happy to debate the issue. But we will not sit here and cop a sledging from him, without any ability to respond.

Madam SPEAKER: I believe the Leader of Government Business is closing debate on the particular bill.

Mr STIRLING: In relation to the sledging from the other side in relation to this, I heard the Leader of the Opposition allege that these were our mates, that we had teed this up.

Madam Speaker, on May Day, that is a day on the calendar I am very proud to be associated with, May Day, Labour Day in the Northern Territory, and this followed an altercation I had with – I assume - one of these people who were in this Chamber before. ‘Drunken NT Police Minister destroys anti-drugs laws parliamentary petition’; that was circulated last week, Madam Speaker. These are not my mates, these are not my mates. It says: ‘Petition: say no to Labor’s drug laws’. Parliamentary petition circulated by NAP members.

I was sitting there with Kelvin Leach, an old mate from Dhimurru in Nhulunbuy, sharing a can of beer with my partner, Jenny, when this grub came up and was insistent that I sign this petition. Kelvin knew this guy indirectly and he introduced me as ‘Syd, the politician, the minister for police.’ Now, this grub well knew who he was talking to. I am proud, along with my colleague, the member for Wanguri, for the work that we put in, in the last two years in opposition, to get to this stage where we are able to prosecute a case, along with the Attorney-General, on the need for harsher drug laws in the Northern Territory.

So, this individual knew who he was talking to. If he had any knowledge at all of the issue - and I assume he would - he would know that I had been a proponent over the last two or three years, along with other members on this side, for harsher laws. He would know that I was an architect, in fact, and a supporter of these laws, as a minister in this government.

It says on the bottom - and this is the calibre of these people, the defamatory rubbish that they put out - ‘… a NAP member was unaware that the beer-gutted individual drinking a can of beer he approached to sign the petition was Syd Stirling, NT Labor’s police minister and Deputy Chief Minister’. He was introduced to me. He was introduced to me by Kelvin Leach , and yet they put this garbage out on the streets and they come in here and allege that they are our mates.

If I thought they had 40 that might fall out if you tipped them upside down, they would be worth suing them for the 40. But I do not believe that would be the case. So, as far as our mates …

Mr Burke interjecting.

Mr STIRLING: I will table that rubbish, Madam Speaker, because that is the calibre of these sorts of liars and scumbags …

Mr Dunham: You preferenced them before the CLP, mate!

Mr STIRLING: … that have no respect for the process of law and no respect for the process of making laws, it would seem. If they cannot respect the confines of this Chamber, well, we well know what they are probably prepared to do with legislation that is already in place.

I want to pick up on the issues put forward by the member for Nelson. In relation to the security of documents and information, it is only done by Supreme Court order. Any changes to birth records would be made by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. The order and identity documents would then be held in a secure facility at Police Headquarters. In relation to freedom of information and those sorts of things, these things would be barred off. There would be no access under any other government agency in relation to getting that type of information. I think that would fairly secure that.

In relation to the conditions of inclusions Division 2, section 7. I am advised there must be a risk to the person seeking protection, including the family, and it must be agreed to by the commissioner and the witness themselves. It would be subject to an extensive Memorandum of Understanding between witness and commission.

With those remarks, I would again thank members for their contribution and their support of the bill.

Motion agreed to; bills read a second time.

Mr STIRLING (Police, Fire and Emergency Services)(by leave): Madam Speaker, I move that the bills be now read a third time.

Motion agreed to; bills read a third time.
(Serial 46)

Continued from 5 March 2002.

Mr MALEY (Goyder): Madam Speaker, the opposition supports the bill. The bill is necessary because of an enactment by the Commonwealth of the Financial Services Reform Act in 2001. The Commonwealth legislation, for the benefit of honourable members, governs the provision of financial services and products to members of the public.

The bill is retrospective in effect so as to avoid some legal problems associated with the commencement date of the Commonwealth legislation. A fair portion of the proposed bill goes to a number of housekeeping type matters. For example, amending references to the Stock Exchange, deleting the words ‘Stock Exchange’ and inserting words like ‘financial market’.

As I said, the opposition has considered this bill. I commend it to honourable members and indicate that the opposition will be supporting the bill.

Dr BURNS (Johnston): Madam Speaker, I rise to speak in favour of amendments to the Corporations (Financial Services Reform Amendments) Bill 2002.

As the Attorney-General stated in his second reading speech in the February sittings, these amendments have been made necessary because of the enactment of the Commonwealth legislation, namely the Financial Services Reform Act of 2001. From the Commonwealth’s perspective, financial services reform is one element of the Corporate Law Economic Reform Program otherwise known by the inelegant acronym of CLERP. This program commenced in earnest in 1997. There are clear reasons for an updated regulatory framework and they are: technology, globalisation, competition and innovation in financial instruments, all of which are interlinked. But perhaps the most important aspect is the entry of the retail or household investor into the financial markets. Telstra and NRMA are just two cases in point.

For Australia in general and the Northern Territory in particular to attract both local and foreign investments there is a clear need for our financial markets to be credible and efficient. The need to continually update legislation in this area comes about through rapid and constant change in the vast array of financial services offered to Australians. Speculation has an inherent risk whereby profit is usually commensurate with the degree of risk. I believe governments must balance the right of investors to reap both the rewards and losses associated with speculation. However, there is a need to protect investors from unscrupulous operators and questionable advice.

This is particularly true for older Australians who are often seen as a target for the small minority of financial services advisors who use such questionable practices. In the recent past there has been a dramatic increase in the numbers of Australian adults who own shares indirectly through superannuation or managed funds; that is 52% as of November 2000, the source being Australian Stock Exchange. About 40% of Australian adults own shares directly. I am informed that the amount currently held in Australian Superannuation Funds exceeds $494bn, and that is Australian dollars. There is clearly a need for governments to ensure that households can be confident that their investments in superannuation, managed trusts and equities markets are secure and that those investments will ensure economic growth and employment opportunities for all Australians.

As outlined by the Attorney-General, the amendments mainly address the need to ensure harmony between the terminology and cross-references used in the Northern Territory legislation with that used in the Commonwealth legislation. Amendments will also cover the period between the commencement of the Commonwealth act and this particular act in the Northern Territory.

Interestingly, in line with the Commonwealth legislation, there are also a number of consequential amendments to other NT legislation, namely redefining the term ‘Stock Exchange’ to ‘financial market’ within the Agents Licensing Act and the Taxation (Administration) Act. To a large degree this reflects the growing diversity of financial instruments available to the investor such as investment warrants and derivatives.

The second point of this is redefining the term ‘futures market’ to ‘derivatives’. History has moved on from the time in 1960 when the futures market started as a Sydney greasy wool futures exchange. Investors now use what is known as ‘over the counter derivatives markets’ to embrace currency options, interest rate swaps and other sorts of options.

These amendments seek to support and strengthen Commonwealth laws governing financial services and to bring clarity to those Australians who provide such services. More importantly, these amendments are for the protection of those who use such financial services. Before closing, I would like to thank my old friend, Mr Allan Phillips, for assisting me considerably with research for this speech. Madam Speaker, in conclusion, I commend this bill to honourable members.

Dr TOYNE (Justice and Attorney-General): Madam Speaker, I thank the opposition for their support and honourable members for their contribution to this debate. This is really an automatic consequential piece of legislation to the federal enactment changes. I do not think anyone here has indicated that they are controversial in any way. Having said that, I propose we move to put the second reading motion of the bill.

Motion agreed to; bill read a second time.

Dr TOYNE (Justice and Attorney-General) (by leave): Madam Speaker, I move that the bill be now a read a third time.

Motion agreed to; bill read a third time.
(Serial 33)

Continued from 28 February 2002.

Mr MALEY (Goyder): Madam Speaker, the opposition has considered this bill and supports its passage through the House. In modern times the modern principle that the Crown should be treated as any other corporate or private entity is finally permeating the hallowed turf of the Workmen’s Liens Act.

As the Attorney-General stated in the second reading speech, the main purpose of the bill is to remove the exclusion of liability accorded to the Crown in respect of matters arising under this particular act. In my view, it seeks to remove the unnecessary distinction between the liability of the Crown and the liability that the act imposes upon other contractors, subcontractors and land owners or occupiers. The bill is, of course, only an interim measure and will remain in its current form until a more formal review occurs in relation to this particular area of law. That has already been foreshadowed by the Attorney-General. However, before the review can take place, and perhaps legislation modelled on the New South Wales Contractors Debt Act 1997 is in place, the substance of the Workmen’s Liens Act as amended will in our view certainly suffice.

The changes to this historically very complicated area of law really make the provisions more accessible and fairer. The Workmen’s Liens Act and the workmen’s liens and charges over money owed and work done by contractors is as important today as it was in the last century, particularly having regard to the fairly tight economic environment in which we operate. Secondly, it ensures that contractors and people in the private sector are paid quickly and are not strung out. We all recall the embarrassing situation when the Labor government failed to pay its bills and the effect that had on the private sector. We hope that does not happen again.

Madam Speaker, I commend this bill to honourable members.

Dr BURNS (Johnston): Madam Speaker, I rise to speak in favour of amendments contained in the Workmen’s Liens Amendment Bill 2002. I must confess that prior to speaking to this bill, I was unsure of what a lien is. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as: ‘A right on property to keep possession of it till a debt in respect of it is discharged’. The fact that we are seeking to repeal, consolidate and replace acts that date back to the 1890s indicates the rights of workmen in this respect have a long history under law.

In summary, these rights allow workers and sub-contractors to enforce a lien over land on which the work is being done and also place charges on monies payable under contracts. Nevertheless, as the Attorney-General pointed out in his second reading speech, such rights do not extend to claims involving the Crown. The crash of Di Mella Homes in March 2001 underscored the need for such rights to be accorded to those subcontractors and workers who had carried out work on the construction of seven housing units at Palmerston. The project was carried out by Di Mella Homes on behalf of the Northern Territory government. As a result of the crash of Di Mella Homes, some individual contractors were owed $250 000 and it was calculated that subcontractors collectively may have suffered over $600 000 worth of loss.

At the time, the Burke government appeared deaf to the pleas from workers, subcontractors, unions and the opposition to remedy this situation. Madam Speaker, I quote from an article on pages 1 and 2 of the NT News on 4 April 2001 entitled ‘Families hit as builder crashes’. I quote Mr Joe Gallagher, Secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union who, in speaking about the workers, said:
    …they have no protection and nowhere to turn - they are afraid if they rock the boat, they won’t get any
    more government work.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport and Works was quoted as saying that the situation was ‘unfortunate for the subcontractors’ and that the department was trying to minimise the risk to all concerned.

Madam Speaker, I seek leave to table this article from the NT News.

Leave granted.

Dr BURNS: Madam Speaker, the matter was raised by the then opposition in the May 2001 parliamentary sittings. I would like to read from Parliamentary Record No 28, 31 May 2001, page 1383. This is from the Questions section of the Parliamentary Record. It is a question regarding the collapse of building companies and subcontractor losses. It is a question from the member for Wanguri to the Chief Minister:
    The collapse of Di Mella Homes has left a large number of Territory subcontractors collectively suffering
    losses over $600 000 arising from the work they did on government housing projects in Palmerston. Chief

[as he was then]
    … the government has its housing and Di Mella is in receivership. Unlike private sector contracts, your laws
    prevent the subcontractors from suing the owner of this project because it is a government job. Your do-nothing
    approach has left construction workers and subcontractors high and dry on one of your projects with no chance of
    recovering their money.

    The opposition, by contrast, will take action and introduce amendments on the next General Business Day to the
    Workmen’s Liens Act to remove government’s privileged protection from legal action. Will you support these

Here is the answer from the now Opposition Leader:
    Mr Speaker, with regards the allegation of government’s involvement in Di Mella Homes and the government’s
    subsequent action, it is worth Territorians understanding that the contract relies on financial accreditation of
    contractors through an industry driven organisation, Contractors Accreditation Limited. Annual checks are
    undertaken by CAL. There was no indication from CAL that there were any problems with Di Mella. The
    department must pay the principal contractor for works completed or be in breach of the contract. The
    department cannot pay subcontractors directly because the contract is between the department and the
    principal contractor.

    If we were to pay the subcontractors direct, we would still be legally bound to pay the contractor as well,
    effectively doubling the cost of works. The Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Development can deal
    with the other issue.
    Ms MARTIN: A point of order, Mr Speaker! There was a very specific question directed to the Chief Minister.
    Will he support our amendment to the Workmen’s Liens Act so that government can be responsible when
    they issue contracts?

    Mr SPEAKER: Order!

There were some interjections there.
    Mr BURKE: Mr Speaker, to save time, I will not give a position on amendments we have not seen. We have not
    seen the legislation. The member gets up and parrots on. Get some details across to government, and we will
    have a look at it.

In contrast, Madam Speaker, just 12 months later a lot has happened. This government has moved decisively to redress this situation through amendments to the Workmen’s Liens Act now before the House. We care about the rights of workers; we care about financial protection for subcontractors. We are a party that stands for justice and equity, but we also believe that government should set a standard in such matters.

As the Attorney-General pointed out in his second reading speech, the Crown will be liable in specified circumstances to pay workers for first, work done or materials supplied or manufactured where the Crown has contracted or subcontracted the work; secondly, work done on land owned or occupied by the Crown. Nevertheless, we have also moved to safeguard the interests of the Crown in these amendments. This has been done by excluding registration of liens over land owned by the Crown and recognition that the Crown can pay debts without the need for a lien against Crown assets.

With the impending economic development associated with bringing gas onshore in Darwin, there is likely to be an explosion in building activity. This highlights a need to effectively protect workers and subcontractors who are the very backbone of our building industry so that they have equitable rights under law to recover monies owed to them. Whilst the current amendments to the existing act will provide such protection, the Attorney-General has also foreshadowed the need to reform the current legislation in a major fashion because it has become outdated and presents some difficulties in interpretation. To this end, he has commissioned the Department of Justice to prepare a discussion paper to examine legislation elsewhere in Australia and to ensure any changes are contemporary with changes with the national competition policy.

Madam Speaker, the current changes to the Workmen’s Liens Act will provide adequate protection for workers and subcontractors while consultation and discussion regarding the major overhaul of this legislation occurs.

I commend this bill to honourable members.

Mr BURKE (Opposition Leader): Madam Speaker, given the references that the member for Johnston made with regards to Di Mella Homes, I would seek clarification from the minister as to just how this legislation specifically addresses the issues that were raised with Di Mella Homes’ collapse.

I assume that given the member for Johnston has been fully briefed, the intent of the legislation as indicated by him was to specifically deal with issues such as Di Mella Homes. I would ask the Attorney-General now, to detail, and I am sure he has direct reference to the Di Mella Homes issue, how this new legislation would have comforted all of those subcontractors and ensured that they were paid monies owing in the circumstances of the Di Mella Homes debacle?

Dr TOYNE (Justice and Attorney-General): Madam Speaker, I can only give a broad understanding that I had of the Di Mella Homes affair. My understanding was that it was a project being built for the Northern Territory government and therefore, because of the structure of the Workmen’s Liens Act, action could not be taken by the subcontractors regarding the workmen’s liens because of the existence or the presence of the Crown as the prime mover of that project. My understanding would be that this would then correct that shortcoming.

Mr Burke: It will, this legislation?

Dr TOYNE: That was my understanding of it. This legislation has been amended according to the broad purpose of bringing the Crown back into liability for the payment of the subcontractors. That is what we have been focussing on as a law reform issue. I will get back to you - do you want further advice beyond my response?

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER: No, we are not in committee now. We are in the second reading.

Dr TOYNE: I do not have the details of that particular case. I am more than happy to provide advice if you feel you need it.

I thank the shadow spokesman for the support for this legislation, and the member for Johnston for his contribution. The purpose of the bill is fairly self-evident. As members have pointed out, in my second reading speech I have indicated that we have a much more major review and reform of the Workmen’s Liens Act in preparation at the moment.

I will clear up one section of the bill, which is the repeal of section 48 of the current act. That is not inherent in the papers that were available to the House. I will read that existing section out to indicate that it is very much in line with the intent of the bill:

48. Lands, &c., of Crown not affected by this Act.

Nothing in this Act contained shall create or give any right or remedy against land vested in Her Majesty or in any
person for or on behalf of the government, or increase or change the liability of Her Majesty, or of any person
procuring the performance of work for or on behalf of the government and except as between the contractors,
subcontractors and, workmen, this Act shall not apply to such work.

I am sure that is perfectly clear to members. It is simply saying that that was exempting the Crown from any liability for monies owed to subcontractors who were involved in a project. We are removing that. We are repealing it. That is in line with the repeal of the other sections of the Workmen’s Liens Act.

Having said that, I thank you again for the support.

Motion agreed to; bill read a second time.

Dr TOYNE (Justice and Attorney-General): Madam Speaker, I move the bill be now read a third time.

Mr BURKE (Opposition Leader): Madam Speaker, I appreciate the Attorney-General giving an undertaking that he will report back on this particular issue with Di Mella Homes. It is particularly important, when we have the member for Johnston, who has a great delight in hearing the sounds of his own voice, particularly when he makes gross generalisations in this particular Chamber. This is on the Hansard forever. He has made the allegation that an uncaring CLP government had no concern for the Di Mella Homes issue, and that this legislation would now fix the Di Mella Homes debacle.

I ask the Attorney-General to, again, give an undertaking to this House to firstly explain in detail, and I will take it by written answer, how in the issue of Di Mella Homes, this legislation would have protected those contractors and all those owed monies by Di Mella Homes if it had been in place at that time. And, clearly, where there would have been stoppages that had to be resolved notwithstanding this sort of legislation, had it been in place at that particular time. It is important, because it addresses the allegation from the member for Johnston that not only was the government uncaring, but if we had brought forward this particular legislation we would have fixed all those problems.

Dr TOYNE (Justice and Attorney-General): Madam Speaker, I will quickly respond to the Leader of the Opposition’s point. I will undertake to get that advice back to him and will see what that advice is. If it is in line with the intent of this bill, then probably nothing more needs to be done on it. However, if it can be shown that the Di Mella Homes issue is not inside this framework, I am more than happy to put that on the public record.

Motion agreed to; bill read a third time.
(Serial 39)

Continued from 7 March 2002.

Mr BALDWIN (Daly): Madam Speaker, the opposition will be supporting this legislation; there is no problem in that. This is something that has been called for quite some time. In fact, it has a fair bit of history, but obviously with the new emerging crab meat/crab bait industry, there has appeared a differentiation between that and the pet meat industry, and the consumption industry, and these are the amendments that need to be brought forward so the industry as a whole has certainty that there is a licencing regime for the slaughter, the transport and the sale or resale of these products, bait meat for crab fishing.

The industry has moved over 30 odd years to ensure that we do not have the problems that we once had in the past. In fact, back in the 1960s there was some very good substitution, and in the 1970s some very good cases of substitution supposedly going on around the country, where pet meat was supposedly substituted for human consumption meat, or in with human consumption meat. That caused a lot of concern in the Australian meat market to those producers of our human consumption products. It is a fitting thing that we move quickly to make sure that this new emerging industry, that is, in the bait meat area, is also regulated and licensed to protect that industry. It is something that obviously will be well respected by all in the industry.

There is a paragraph in the second reading speech that drew my attention:

The contamination of meat during field slaughter and processing is a major risk factor to the avoidance of
human health crises caused by food poisoning. The consequential detrimental effect on the red meat industry,
currently worth $4bn, would be substantial. [Which is very true.] The last major crisis in Australia was the
Garibaldi crisis caused by contaminated sausage meat in the late 1980s.

I thought it was a bit odd to bring those two together in this particular instance, in that sausage meat is human consumption product from the word go. Sausage products do not come from anything that is field slaughtered, and to tie those two instances together is a little bit odd. That is just something I thought I would raise.

Obviously the pet meat industry will welcome this, and so too will our major meat producers. I am sure that this growing market for this new product will be well received under a new licencing regime. We support the amendment bill before the House.

Mr HENDERSON (Primary Industry and Fisheries): Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the opposition for their support. This legislation is unique. It is the first of its type to be introduced in Australia. As the opposition spokesperson said, we have introduced this because it has been brought forward by operators in the pet meat industry in terms of ensuring, not only the protection of their industry, but also to ensure that we can continue to have absolute confidence in the human consumption food chain, as well as putting in place a licence keeping and a record keeping regime for the growing number of operators who are working in this business in the Northern Territory. This will also help to underpin confidence in the meat industry which is so important.

To pick up the member for Daly’s comments in regards to the Garibaldi crisis, I suppose the words in the second reading were all about that we have to have legislation in place that not only protects the safety of our human food chain, but also has the confidence of the public that we are doing everything we can by legislative controls and regulations, to ensure that that food chain is protected.

With those comments, Madam Speaker, I thank the opposition for their support.

Motion agreed to; bill read a second time.

Mr HENDERSON (Primary Industry and Fisheries)(by leave): Madam Speaker, I move that the bill be now read a third time.

Motion agreed to; bill read a third time.
Active Participation in Sport

Mr AH KIT (Sport and Recreation): Madam Speaker, since the election of the Martin government last August, we have faced a number of critical decisions in relation to the sporting infrastructure of the Northern Territory. Major decisions that required significant financial commitments. Earlier this year, Cabinet agreed to proceed with the resurfacing of Football Park at a cost of $1.25m, and we have also begun implementing our election commitment for the $5m upgrade of Traeger Park over four years, by allocating $800 000 for the replacement of the hockey field surface. This means that the highest level of AFL football will return to Football Park early next year. The hockey field at Traeger Park will be ready for the Alice Springs Masters Games.

Further, we have committed to a $1.265m upgrade of facilities at Football Park over three years in order to meet the standards required by the Australian Cricket Board for the staging of international cricket in Darwin. I am also pleased to report that we are currently undertaking repair work to parts of the track at the Arafura Stadium which will ensure that the proposed training camps in Darwin for the Australian Commonwealth Games and Junior World Championship teams will proceed as planned next month. So, within the financial constraints that the government finds itself operating, we are investing in the provision of top class facilities for highly-skilled competitors and, of course, creating opportunities for Northern Territorians as spectators to witness peak national and international events.

But sporting and recreational activities are so much more than just competition at the elite level - there must be an equal emphasis placed on participation at all levels. Not just because it is a good thing for the individual; it is now widely recognised that there are significant benefits for the broader community as well. However, what should be of concern to all of us is that there is increasing evidence that participation rates in sport, recreation and physical activities in Australia are declining. Many of us are guilty - and I include myself in this - of ignoring the advice that has been available for many years: that we can improve our physical and mental wellbeing by increasing our level of physical activity.

We know the benefits:
    physical activity throughout life provides important protection from developing cardiovascular disease
    and Type 2 diabetes;

    physically active people live longer, have better managed weight, lower blood pressure and healthier
    cholesterol levels;

    physical activity is important for healthy growth and development of the cardio-respiratory system,
    as well as the development of bones and muscles in children; and

    physical activity has mental and social health benefits - active people are likely to feel more confident,
    happy, relaxed, and be able to sleep better.

Yet, so many of us ignore it. And, the statistical evidence shows that increasing numbers of Australians are ignoring the message, and in the Northern Territory, even more so.

The irony is that we regard sport as such an important part of our culture. There is an extraordinary paradox in that on the one hand we have produced internationally successful athletes at a far greater per capita rate than almost any other country yet, at the same time, we are up there with the world leaders when it comes to the high risk ‘couch potato index’.

A report released by Active Australia earlier this year showed that in 1997 the percentage of adult Australians achieving sufficient time of physical activity for health benefits - that is, at least 150 minutes per week of walking, moderate and vigorous activity - was just over 62%. By the year 2000, this had declined to less than 57%. Consistently, across a range of surveys, the Northern Territory lags behind the Australian average by 2% to 3%. It should be said that there is some variation between the different surveys that have been carried out over recent years, and there are no nationally accepted uniform procedures for data collection on physical activity.

Nevertheless, I think it is worth reflecting on the following assessment of physical activity levels in the Northern Territory: some estimates suggest that only half of the Northern Territory population engages in regular physical activity, with only a third achieving the recommended daily 30 minutes of moderate exercise.

The fact is, we must arrest the decline that has occurred in recent years, and develop strategies for increasing the participation in sport and physical activities. As I have mentioned earlier, we all know the benefits of participation in sport and physical activities. But, on the other side of the ledger, we should be reminded of the costs of physical inactivity. Of course, it is health that springs to mind, and here the cost is obvious. In Australia, physical inactivity is the second leading contributor to the overall burden of disease, and it has been estimated that an increase of just 5% in the proportion of sufficiently active people across Australia would lead to a direct health care savings of $439m a year.

But, physical inactivity impacts on more than just health costs. Physical inactivity and motor vehicle dependency are like hand and glove, and increasing motor vehicle use has cost implications. Traffic congestion alone in Australia costs $100m weekly in lost time and productivity and, on average, this cost means that every Australian pays an extra $1000 per year for goods and services.

There are also impacts in the workplace. A recent Western Australian report referred to research that indicates that there may be increased costs for organisations that have physically inactive employees. These include reduced productivity; decreased employee satisfaction; increased absenteeism; increased short- and long-term disability payments; and increased levels of workers compensation. The report predicted that if an extra 10% of the population became active, potential national productivity gains of $590m could be achieved.

The fact is, increasing participation in sport and recreation and other physical activities has clear benefits both at the individual and societal level. So why aren’t we doing it? Over the last 50 years or so, there have been numerous changes in Australian society that have, inevitably, had an impact on physical activity levels. Some are obvious, some are more subtle. Clearly, activities such as television watching and computer games have provided alternatives to physical activity. Other trends and influences no doubt include the following:
    smaller family sizes may reduce extended family ‘backyard’ play and activities;

    urban and transport planning leading to smaller house blocks and apartment style living has led
    to less usable open spaces;

    the promotion of dietary habits and other consumer behaviours that undermine physical fitness;

    corporate advertising targeted directly at children that promotes non-physical activities;

    concerns about security and safety have led to restriction of movement outside the home environment;

    increasing car dependency reduces physical mobility; and

    more sedentary workplaces and longer working hours restrict opportunities for physical and family activity.
But there is no point in simply pointing to societal trends and admitting defeat. We must acknowledge that change is an inevitable part of modern day life and we must develop strategies and programs that will confront these challenges. Despite our overall declining rate of participation in sport, recreation and physical activities in the Northern Territory, there is one particular bright spot that provides us with a valuable starting point for new strategies.

In April of last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that more Territory children were participating in sport compared to the rest of Australia. At the junior level we have a participation rate of 66% which is 4% ahead of the national average. This gives us a great opportunity. We can harness that participation rate and provide the encouragement for young people to carry those habits into adulthood. It is essential that we capture the interest of young people because that will help establish the desire and motivation for maintaining lifelong participation in sport, recreation and physical activities. At the same time we can capitalise on the benefits of having kids involved in sport, one of which we all know is that it can keep them out of mischief.

Providing quality junior sporting programs keeps young people occupied with a choice of appropriate sport and recreation activities rather than antisocial, self-destructive and criminal behaviours. We need to establish the right mix of grass roots and elite level pathways for young people and the foundation of this structure will be the adoption of a junior sport operational plan which will be launched by the government in the near future. The plan will feature a more customer focussed approach to junior sport aimed at encouraging sports to increase the quality of junior sports programs, and developing innovative strategies that will increase participation rates. We will also be establishing a Junior Sport Reference Group made up of key stakeholders within the junior sport industry to assist and advise on key issues facing junior sport today.

In fact, my department recently convened a forum for youth from all over the Territory to provide their views on what is needed to improve junior sport and their views will be referred to the Junior Sport Reference Group. One of the main strategies will be to improve the links between schools and sporting organisations so that young Territorians make the transition from the local school oval to the local club competition. It must also be acknowledged that in remote areas our children often do not have the opportunity to participate regularly in club competitions. This government is committed to providing support and assistance for communities to establish organised competition structures and programs which will give young people the same opportunities as in urban areas.

As a first step towards addressing the problem this government has committed an additional $1.05m in grants funding over the next four years for the employment of full or part-time sport and recreation officers to promote participation in organised sporting competitions. We know that sporting activities at the grass roots level has the potential to motivate, inspire and forge a community spirit in the face of the ever present scourges of poverty, unemployment, domestic violence, ill health and apathy. We are determined to support remote communities in their efforts to strengthen their sporting programs. There are examples that show that with real commitment these programs will not only increase participation levels but they will also provide wider benefits for the community.

Port Keats, or Wadeye, now has a basketball competition as a result of the work undertaken by the community-based sport and recreation officer and the Indigenous Sports Program officer. The competition started with 12 teams and continues today as a six team competition. The Gapuwiyak basketball program resulted in the number of petrol sniffers within the community decreasing as they started to participate within the program by entering their own basketball team in the local competition. The competition was developed by the local Sport and Recreation officer in conjunction with the Office of Sport and Recreation’s Indigenous Sports Program officer.

In Maningrida, with the assistance of the government-funded sport and recreation officer, the community has developed a weekly touch football competition. This program has been so successful it has produced the first ever community-based team to compete in the Northern Territory Touch titles. The team also boasts a selection of five under-18 players in the Northern Territory team and three senior players named in the country-city selection trials.

Daly River has a hockey competition following the work undertaken by the community and the indigenous sports officer and the Northern Territory Hockey Association. ‘Hockey on the Daly’ was a school development program involving the community youth. One of the highlights has been a three day coaching and skills development program. The competition has four teams and they will travel to Darwin in June 2002 to compete against some of our local primary schools.

Sport has so much to offer young people and it provides them with experiences that they can take into adulthood. Naturally it improves health and fitness but it can also boost confidence and self-esteem, teach leadership skills, team work and social skills that can be used in all aspects of life. A leadership program currently being offered to many Northern Territory schools is aimed primarily at these things.

To date, the results have been outstanding with many young people coordinating sports programs within their respective schools and teaching skills to younger students - and young people, it seems, are more than willing to help other young people. The program aims to develop leadership skills in our young people as well as encouraging positive attitudes towards voluntary community service, and it introduces our young people to other pathways in sport that include coaching, administration, umpiring and officiating. In its planning for the future in remote communities, the Office of Sport and Recreation has implemented this sport-focussed leadership program as part of our commitment to the Active Australia Schools Network.

Student leaders in remote schools are currently being trained in leadership skills using sport as a focus and, so far, remote schools at Elliott, Ali Curung and Ngukurr are trialling the program. No doubt there will always be more that can be done but I remain confident that the Northern Territory will continue to lead the pack in terms of the participation rates we are achieving with our younger people.

The challenge that confronts us is to use this strong foundation to tackle the problem of lifting the overall participation rate and in this respect we should be prepared to examine strategies that are being developed and implemented in other parts of the country and indeed internationally. Western Australia, for instance, is clearly doing something right. It is a leader in participation rates in sport and physical activities and, in October 2000, it was identified by the Australian Bureau of Statistics as being the only state where participation rates were increasing. Its participation rate of 64.5% is around 10% above the national average and, where the national decline over 12 months had been nearly 5%, Western Australia had lifted its rate by a percentage point.

Despite this success, the Western Australian government convened a high level taskforce to provide strategies for lifting participation rates further. Not content with doing well in Western Australia, they are determined to do even better. Their task force was charged with the following responsibilities:
    prepare a physical activity strategy for Western Australia towards achieving a 5% increase in physical activity
    over the next 10 years;

    undertake an extensive state-wide consultation across public, private and community sectors;

    harness the collective expertise, resources and service provision capability across government and community
    towards formulation and subsequent implementation of a physical activity strategy; and, finally

    to monitor and evaluate the implementation of this strategy.
The task force has reported to the government with a comprehensive and detailed plan. It prescribes a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach around a central vision that:

the individual and community benefits of physical activity will be recognised, valued and supported by community and government; and environmental and policy support will allow a 5% increase in physical activity levels by 2011.

We will certainly be examining the Western Australian experience and where there are good ideas that are appropriate for the Northern Territory context, they will go into our policy mix.

It has also been brought to my attention that the New Zealand government has developed an innovative and creative program called Green Prescriptions, which is based around a coordinated approach to increase levels of physical activity. A Green Prescription is a health professional’s written advice to a patient to be physically active as part of the patient’s health management. It is offered as a starter program to link the patient with community resources that can assist with increasing levels of physical activity. It has been shown that brief interventions consisting of verbal advice on increasing physical activity and the provision of written materials, such as a written prescription and an information brochure, can produce short-term improvement in physical activity. Linking the patient to supports in the wider community helps sustain this improvement.

In New Zealand, those patients issued with a Green Prescription are reportedly enjoying long term benefits. In recent research:
    56% said they had been issued with a Green Prescription to lose weight;

    29% for high blood pressure or to reduce risk of stroke;

    23% for high cholesterol;

    about 17% for anxiety or stress; and

    14% for back problems.
After participating in the Green Prescription program:
    65% said that they felt better;

    37% felt fitter or stronger;

    47% had lost weight;

    40% had more energy;

    33% were more mobile; and

    26% felt more relaxed and calm.

About a quarter breathe easier, a fifth feel less pain and 9% delight at having to take less medication. And, most importantly, three-quarters of Green Prescription patients are still active six months after receiving their prescription. There is also feedback that suggests that a range of sporting clubs and facilities have benefited through increased memberships and usage, particularly at the gymnasiums and swimming pools.

Further to this, there are a range of surveys that indicate that New Zealand is leading the way in regard to sport and physical activity participation, hence the international interest and focus on the Green Prescription program. It is also significant to note that the program has enjoyed particular success within the Maori community.

I understand that modified versions of the program have been introduced in New South Wales and Victoria, and I intend to carefully examine the success of these various programs. If there are good ideas that are working in other places, then they might also work here. So, the task before us is to look at what we are doing well here in the Northern Territory, and look at what others are doing well elsewhere, and combine these to develop best practice strategies that are appropriate to our own environment and society.

Fundamentally, though, we need to accept as a starting point that this is not an optional policy area; this is not a question of should we do anything. It is a question of what are the most practicable and cost effective measures we can develop to encourage and maintain a shift in community participation in sport, recreation and physical activities. We all understand that there are significant physical and social health benefits to be gained and substantial costs that can be reduced. It is probably not even a policy argument as we would have the economic rationalists onside. I also hope that it is a policy area where we can build and rely on bipartisan support.

As I mentioned at the outset, I am pleased that we have been able to take decisions over recent months that provide the basis for ongoing national and international fixtures here in the Northern Territory. But it is just as important that we develop the community infrastructure for opportunities at the grass roots level, and the environment for involvement in less competitive physical activities. It is about improving the quality of life and acknowledging that the growing economic health and social costs associated with our modern, sedentary lifestyles cannot be sustained.

My Office of Sport and Recreation plays an essential role in supporting a range of activities throughout the Northern Territory, providing opportunities for Territorians to participate in sport and recreation leading to healthier and more active lives. Over the coming months, we will be examining ways in which the provision of this support can be strengthened so that our sporting and recreation opportunities continue to thrive.

This is also an issue that requires an integrated approach across the whole-of-government, and I know that my colleague, the Minister for Health and Community Services, has been considering policy options for enhancing physical activity levels, and we will continue to work together in developing a complementary approach across our portfolios.

Leading physically active lives requires us all to make the effort. As the Minister for Sport and Recreation, I acknowledge that I have a responsibility to set an example. So I have decided with my staff, within our office, we must ‘walk the talk’; we cannot just encourage others to become more physically active, we must be prepared to demonstrate a level of commitment ourselves. Those of us within my office who have fallen into the trap of sedentary lifestyles have made an agreement to change, and we are going to be accountable to each other for the individual targets that we have set.

I am confident that by the end of the year, we will all be in better shape and that we will be able to demonstrate the benefits of encouraging each other and, where necessary, challenging each other.

Madam Speaker, clearly, the ‘get more active’ message is one that we all must take seriously. It is a message that is about improving the quality of our lives and reducing the pressures on our health system. By working together as a community, I am sure that the Northern Territory has the capacity to lift its participation rates to the national average, and then go on to show the other states the way.

Madam Speaker, I move that the Assembly takes note of the statement.

Mr MILLS (Blain): Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the statement, Active Participation, delivered by the Minister for Sport and Recreation. Towards the end there is reference given to bipartisan support and there is no reservation at all in providing bipartisan support for increasing the participation in sport. In fact, it would be almost like mounting an argument against peace, because if you were to put into a search engine ‘sport and health’, or ‘physical recreation and health benefits’, you would have screeds of studies and comments and all kinds of levels of publications espousing that this is certainly a very obvious and strong link that we must maintain in working with each other.

The problem is how, how do we get that message to actually effect a change in the way people think and feel and act? That really is the most significant challenge and one that will pose a great amount of searching in terms of, ‘it’s not just policy, it’s not just equipment, it’s not infrastructure, there’s something else’. There is something underneath all of that too, and I will speak more about that later on.

I sincerely wish the minister all the very best in achieving his personal goals. We all know, particularly in this occupation - if you can call it an occupation - how difficult the lifestyle challenges are for us. I think all of us must make our effort to provide that kind of leadership in our communities because, one way or another, it is the enthusiastic attempt and humble attempts that we make in challenging the temptation to sit back rather than to stand up, or to lead and to show ourselves as getting on with the job. It is a challenge worthy of us all to step forward and do something.

Before I talk about the health benefits and how we can actually make some changes in our community, I do need to ask questions regarding these excellent announcements made recently. On Grand Final day, I heard the announcement, and the great response that it received from all the club presidents and their invited guests, regarding the $1.25m upgrade of Football Park. Good news, and that augurs well for the future. That facility, I believe, is going to be tied into a greater national profile in terms of matches being played here, particularly now with Channel 7 being able to broadcast the matches, and with some interest in broadcasting into the future, but more so with Foxtel. I understand that the Grand Final did attract a fairly wide audience and it has been repeated a number of times. That to me is just the thin end of the wedge. There is going to be a greater interest, I believe, up here and it is good to see that we finally get to the stage now where there is going to be an improvement to those facilities.

We are not going to be in the business of, you know, who did it and whatever. The issue is: if you are in government, that is your job. We were in government once, and I am sure that you could recognise that decisions were made responsibly at the time, and the issue is the facility and the issue is the Northern Territory, and getting the best out of those facilities which are there for all Territorians.

The grants of $800 000 to Traeger Park, $5m over four years; the $1.265m over three years for Football Park for the international cricket matches which, once again, is tremendous news. It is not news in the sense that anyone who has been following this knows that, in fact, the egg was laid along time ago and it has just hatched now. Compliments to the department for bringing this right through to the end. The Australian Cricket Board obviously is keen to have another venue somewhere in the nation to host international level cricket matches. It is going to serve many interests and will be of benefit to the Northern Territory community in many ways.

There is also the $1.05m in additional grants to recreational officers. The question is, are these in addition to the figures that have been released in the May mini-budget - $12.442m? Are these additional funds or are they within this mini-budget figure? It is a simple question, it is a necessary question to ask. I will look forward to the minister’s response in closing debate.

I went to a committee meeting last night for the Palmerston Magpies, didn’t bring the cup in folks, sorry.

Madam ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: You are forgiven.

Mr MILLS: Thank you, Madam Acting Deputy Speaker. Every time we meet, there is the acknowledgement of the promise that was made to that club, and I cannot let that go. There has been a promise of $2m made to the Palmerston Magpies, and I can tell you, anyone who knows that club – it is not a club that is going to go away or forget or be forgiving, so we need to keep that registered and placed squarely on the public record. They have an expectation. From a committee point of view, I would have to say, there has been a bit of disgruntlement. They thought that they should have had the announcement made on Grand Final Day, but I have let them understand these things take a bit of doing and cogs turn slowly but don’t you worry, the promise will come to pass, I will do my best.

I cannot let this go by in terms of all these great announcements and one we are waiting for, the $2m for the Palmerston Magpies, and that is regarding the issue of the international cricket matches - welcome news, the Territory rejoices - but the relationship between the needs of the Australian Cricket Board and the international matches, and the AFLNT. From a point of view of having a bit of a close interest in AFLNT, I trust that the negotiations and the consultation is really taking a high order of priority in terms of making sure that matches that have been scheduled by AFLNT are not going to be compromised by the shift in attention now to international cricket matches when, in fact, that is the AFLNT’s home base. I am sure that is occurring but I think it is important that that be mentioned.

I turn to the more benign issues of how do we actually get people more involved in sport and thereby as a community we all benefit. As I said before, it is benign, it is motherhood stuff. We know this is the issue. Any urbanised community, particularly, will cite the declining participation rate in sport, and see the resulting problems that we face as a community. I applaud the initiatives that are referred to in here. I am a bit puzzled as to why the body of the report states what you could find cited again and again in any basic search through literature, through libraries. It is good stuff. It is interesting that there are models in Western Australia and in New South Wales, and in New Zealand. I am sure we would be able to take bits and pieces from different places, as we would do anyway, because if you are in government, that is your job, to put policies in place that work.

However, I think we are looking at something a bit deeper - how do we get people more enthusiastic? I really would say we need to look more closely at Western Australia because, in many respects, it has a very similar jurisdiction as the Northern Territory. Some of the problems in the north of Western Australia are similar to ours - there are some keys there. I am not sure what they are and I will certainly be looking at them. There has to be because, not so long ago, Western Australia also was not so strong in the numeracy and literacy benchmark results, and also in that respect they have topped the nation. There is obviously a link between what is going on in Western Australia in terms of their education programs and what is going on in their sport and recreation. There is something, and I reckon that it has to fit back into the school system somewhere or another.

It did not seem to be that long ago when the activity in the schools, sports-wise, was far more pronounced than it is today. If we develop this argument, I guess the pressure then falls upon teachers and teachers would smart because, once again, society then says, ‘Oh well, there’s the problem, the answer is obviously lies with teacher,’ and the teacher feels the burden fall fair and square upon them. I do not think it is a problem that we have to solve by putting it onto a teacher’s shoulders, but it largely sits within the school. Once again, what are the obstructions to the interschool sports competitions that were once the main part of schooling activity, where you would go to play sport against other schools? I think what we are finding is the lack of leadership that we once had in the schools, in terms of the volumes of people who were able to step forward and participate in providing some leadership. Not just the teachers, but you had the wider community being able to give their time in terms of sport - sporting people or dads and mums - to be able to devote that time to make sure that sporting competitions could occur. That really is the seed bed for an active participation and that seems to have dissipated.

I know it is a societal thing. Through my time involved in schools, as the years went by, there were less and less people who were at home during school hours. Mum was not there; certainly dad was away, and there was the withdrawal of that resource where once, a parent was able to come in and assist by either driving the bus or helping with the water or coaching and that kind of thing. There is a societal change; that is a fact. We now have to work with what we currently have. Maybe there are other paradigms that we have to work on. Obviously, the same factors I am recounting here are the same issues in Western Australia, New Zealand or anywhere else. So, how do we get people more enthusiastic, how do we get them more involved? Once again, it does come back to schools. The ingredients have to be there somewhere, a very strong factor.

I would applaud the work of School Sports NT. I heard a word in the wind that there is a review going on. I would urge that this review be a very sincere review to make sure that the enterprises of School Sports NT is further enhanced to allow the aspirations that are alluded to in this statement to be achieved. Any sort of review always smells of cutbacks and withdrawals, and reallocations and a diluting. I would rather our community become more sensitised to the word review and think, ‘Oh, it is good, they are paying some attention. Now we are going to put some more resources in and enhance the value of these things’. But, unfortunately, sometimes it is code for quite the opposite, as we have seen with the DARE consultations.

There are other resources outside the schools but linked to the schools. It is probably the inspiration we take from fellows like Tim Forsythe, who was able to see the special needs that we have in the Northern Territory, particularly in remote communities, and then go back to Melbourne or Victoria - I am not sure where he comes from – and for he and his wife to then inspire others who might like to come and make some kind of contribution to a place of need like here in the Northern Territory. I would urge the minister - and I am sure that it is already occurring - to make sure that that kind of public goodwill we see in these elite athletes, is recognised so that we can draw others to contribute in that same way. That is the secret to this; it is not so much the dollars and the amount of money we have in budgets. It is actually being able to use that money to add the real value which is the human contribution and the public goodwill.

Once again, we have to go back to what it is in our community that is causing all of us to sit down and be goaded into activity. Life Be In It programs did not really work. The Active Australia message is probably a little more potent for those who stop and listen to it. But it seems to be those who are interested in being active are the ones who listen to it. I would have to say this lack of activity is a serious problem. When I understood the Active Australia message - and the simple message is that we have to get our whole community thinking about just being a little more active, whether it is walking - and a lot more people are walking - and running and being involved in sports. But, once we raise that notion, we then become aware of how many people are actually not even accustomed to the slightest bit of activity.

I tested this when I first learnt about the Active Australia message. I had about half the school to look after while the teachers were on an in-service and I thought: ‘The good old principal will come in here and look after the kids’. So I took all the kids on a run and I was shocked to see, in looking after these kids, how many of them - there is always that wild bunch up the front who want to run around the corner and want to run the thing twice, they just cannot stop running. Then there was the group in the middle who were a bit ambivalent and they jogged a bit and when they were not being watched they would walk and talk and look at the birds and the trees. That is great, I encourage that kind of thing. But I had about 70 kids to look after and wanted them all to be close together. What I was concerned about was the percentage of kids who were up the front running and enjoying running, enjoying the wind in their hair, and then the small group of kids who were huffing and puffing and having trouble walking - simply walking.

There were others who could run if they wanted to. But the body of kids at the back who ate pizza and watched TV and played Gameboys was huge and so distressing because these are little kids - these are primary school children who are going to grow up into what? Heaven knows! Unless we can get the parents to be more active and make sure that there is physical activity, we have a real problem. We have a serious problem. Once we encounter that, we can start to see the economic arguments as to what that is going to do to our community and our society if we allow that to occur.

We have to become more aggressive and more concerned than we ever have been. It is not a matter of talking about budgetary allocations as much as becoming passionate about our activity levels. It has to happen. We cannot let this go by, and if we want something to happen we cannot expect someone else to do something. There are people who step forward and become volunteers and assist in the coaching of sports. We should not just let that go by and think: ‘Oh, well, it is good someone stepped forward. It is good that someone is involved in a committee at a junior or an intermediate or senior level’. It is more than good, it is becoming a rarity, and I would suggest that we need to become very serious, as local members, and as government, to make sure that those who do make that kind of contribution are duly recognised and rewarded and appreciated because, unfortunately, they are becoming a rarity. That is really what we are talking about. It is something more than money. It is something we have to become very serious about.

Something came to mind in terms of the way society is changing and it may not be relevant but, perhaps it is as a point of contrast. Some of the societal breakdowns that we have heard commented on in the media, in the US with the shootings in high schools and so on, distresses us no end. But when we listen to sociologists, an Australian would ask of a sociologist: ‘What is going on in the US? What is it that is causing this morbid self-absorption, this sense of wanting to destroy our very society and becoming more and more isolated and closed off?’ There is always a link, like those characters who came in here today. I cannot imagine them going for a run or doing a bit of exercise. I am sure it would change the hormones in their mind and make them think a little different. But, in the US, some of the studies have shown that it is probably linking with what we have seen here: that smaller family sizes may reduce extended family backyard play and activities. I heard a sociologist talking about what they see in driving through the streets of the US. They do not see kids playing on the streets at all. They do not see them talking with the other kids, they are hidden from view because the society has become so insecure.

At least we have something here. We drive around our suburbs and we see the kids in the cul de sac out there kicking cans or footballs around or pushing things around or riding on scooters. That, from the eyes of a sociologist, was quite a remarkable thing - something in Australia that we have that in the US they do not. So we cannot be too down on this because we have something quite special here, and that is that we still have a sense of community. That is really where the energy should be focussed, of course, facilitated by appropriate policies, frameworks and appropriate resourcing. I totally agree with the minister, this is a very important area. It is as important as getting the budget right. In fact, it is probably more so because by making sure we make real progress here, we will be making sure that we build a society and a community that will be a far better one, able to care for itself and go from strength to strength.

It is heartening to see someone on our border in Western Australia doing so well in literacy and numeracy and now in participation levels in sport.

I could not see in this an actual target or a goal set in terms of the levels of participation. It would be useful if we were able to identify the increase we are actually aiming for. It would give us a sense of focus and people like to have that kind of focus, as we have had with the literacy and numeracy standards, to have a goal. We have a sense of moving forward and that is also a key. I have to be honest, in reading this I did not perceive a sense of vision. I got a sense of reporting things that have happened in other places and we are going to include these in our policy mix. This does not inspire me with a sense of vision. It gives me a sense that we are going to perhaps construct a policy that sounds good. We have to get a little bit more passionate about it. I am hoping that we do see in this a greater sense of vision in a bipartisan way. Don’t shy away from that. I am quite sincere in that and I do not think you will have any argument with anyone on this side of the House with regards to how important this issue is, and for my part I will do all that I can.

It is recognised that our participation rates in junior levels of sport are quite high. That is good, and it probably comes back to the role of Schools Sports NT and the strong leadership we see from many of our teachers in our primary schools in particular. The focus in the high school is unfortunately a sadder case, and the linkages between the act of participation in junior levels does not seem to translate through once the kids hit adolescence. That linkage is the area we have to focus our attention on, and I am sure the policy would be targetting that. I see encouraging the leadership of young people - and I did go to that network meeting at Marrara a couple of months back - and it was great to see a lot of those young kids contributing their ideas on how they could improve the profile of healthy participation amongst young people. However, it is the linkage from the act of participation in primary school into the secondary school that is pivotal to this issue. We lose so many kids at this stage and this is where the kids cause us grief - we drive around the streets, and who are out at one o’clock in the morning? Heaven help them if they are Magpies. They are not allowed to be out at that time of night during the footy season and the coaches …

A member interjecting.

Mr MILLS: Actually it did not make much difference. But it is good to see in a community that it is working, we had the coaches wanting to know whether their charges were out late at night and putting pressure onto them. Much better to have the pressure of a coach than a local constable, because they just want to run away and perhaps not listen and enjoy the challenge, but a coach can bite and put the weights on. It is those linkages into the senior sports that we are having trouble with.

It is good to see that we have a high level of Masters participation. But it is somewhere between the primary school and the Masters that we are losing something. I guess the policies should and will focus on that area..

It is beholden on all of us to provide leadership and make sure that we do encourage those who are actively involved in facilitating our youth to participate in sport in any way in our communities and to show the leadership ourselves.

Dr TOYNE (Central Australia): Madam Deputy Speaker, I would like to take as my starting point in my contribution to the debate a very pleasant experience I had a couple of weeks ago where I attended the Athletes as Role Models night at the Alice Resort. This event was to launch ARMtour, the Athletes as Role Models Tour, an event that happens twice a year in the Northern Territory, in May and October. Each tour lasts for two weeks. The object of the tour is to invite elite athletes to come to the Northern Territory and work first with urban kids - in this case in Alice Springs - and then do an extended tour through our remote communities to work with the kids there.

I pay tribute to the work of John Van Gronigen who is the organiser of the ARMtour. I have known John from long ago when he was based at Lajamanu community when I started work at Yuendumu in the early 1980s. I used to catch up with John when I went up north to Lajamanu. Ray Minniken, an Aboriginal man from Queensland, was travelling with this particular tour as the motivator. He is an absolutely brilliant speaker. He can convey enormous power and emotion into the message that he gives these kids. Sponsors - Nike is their major sponsor; the Qantas Voyager Resorts and the NT government. We have thrown in $15 000 to these tours. There have been comments earlier in this debate about the need to get maximum impact for the money put into Sport and Recreation. This is a classic example where a bit of government money put in alongside corporate sponsorship, and just sheer enthusiasm and voluntary work by the athletes and the organisers, is giving us a huge return here in the Northern Territory.

Let’s talk about the athletes. These are elite athletes; there is no question about that. Basketballer Mike Kelly from the Townsville Bullets; Daryl McDonald, who has played at the highest level in Australian basketball; and Chris Anstey who competed at the Olympic Games with the Boomers and played in the American league at the absolute highest level you can reach in his sport. Lauren Burns, our gold medallist it tae kwon do; Linley Frame, one of Australia’s famous swimmers from our world best swimming team; and perhaps a little bit oddly in the middle of the desert, our aerial skiing expert, Jacqui Cooper, complete with one bung knee at the time that she took off to visit the Papunya community and beyond. To have athletes of that calibre, experience and reputation working with our kids creates an enormous impact. It is a tribute to these athletes and to sport itself, because what sport does develop in those who participate through to the highest level is an enormous sense of your community and what you owe the community for what the community has given you.

Sport rewards its participants with a rich addition to their lives but it also always underlines your responsibilities back to the community. This is embodied in our athletes. They are prepared to give up two weeks of their time - often with a very busy schedule not only in their sporting participation but also in their responsibilities to their sponsors and to their other parts of their lives like their families - and come out bush and work our kids.

We also had music covered through Adam Thompson from Chocolate Starfish who came to work with the kids on music development. The communities visited by this ARM Tour, I do not have all of them, included Papunya, Docker River, Areyonga, Yuendumu, Warburton over the Western Australia border; all in a period of two weeks. I think they went to Kintore and one other place.

Specifically, there is $15 000 that the NT government has put forward alongside the money put in by Nike, together with contributions made by Qantas and Voyager, and the voluntary contributions made by the athletes. From this we have had what I can only describe as an absolutely inspiring result from the kids in Alice Springs. The kids who worked in that music workshop with Chocolate Starfish were so excited and proud of what they had done. In a period of 46 hours they produced a commercial quality CD of some amazingly funky music with a huge poetic line through it of basically how they saw it. These are street kids whom we are struggling to keep in our high schools and they were there with bells on. They were prepared to work 46 hours without sleep. In fact, what I was very impressed with was the ARM organisers understanding of teenagers. They did not work during the day. They worked all night. They were starting music sessions in the music workshop at about 11.30 at night with the full expectation they would be doing four or five hours work. The kids loved that. They thought finally we have an adult who understands what our lifestyle is about. We are very excited about the outcomes of these tours.

It is very much in accord with my experiences working at Yuendumu permanently and we had the Harlem Globetrotters come out some 10 years ago now. That tour was actually sponsored by Keep Australia Beautiful and the deal was that Yuendumu had to clean up the community if they were going to qualify for the visit by the Harlem Globetrotters. Well, 500 tonnes of rubbish later, the community was looking an absolute picture and out came the Globetrotters. But they got the Globetrotters back because the basketball courts at Yuendumu are famous for their basketball rings which are all at 30 degrees to the horizontal, so their three-pointers were not going in at all and the locals were just killing them in the scoring department. That sort of activity is as good as it gets out bush if you want to motivate kids.

The key themes they have hit onto is that kids, wherever they are, will always be open to sport and to sporting heroes. They will always be open to music as a way of expressing themselves at that age, and so why not start at the point where these kids are? Having a look at what the ARM Tour is doing and other previous tours like AFL players going out bush - I can remember several tours by AFL players - the kids talk about it for weeks before and they talk about it for weeks after. You just have to fill in the gaps between these motivational events and bring in some continuous activity to fill in. There are recreational officers, teachers out bush and council administrations who should see this as very much part of their responsibilities in those communities.

Much of it is going to be hard, slogging work to build on these high points of what can set up a year’s activity within a remote community. We have so many spectacular examples of kids who have been pulled out of absolutely drifting along, often sniffing petrol, being completely alienated from their own families because of other substance abuse going on amongst the adults, and they light on to a sporting involvement or music and suddenly that same kid is starting to be motivated, find a direction and get their lives on track again.

We have seen lots of developments by the remote communities themselves in terms of media associations - CAAMA Music based in Alice Springs - to promote the music side of things. Every bush community has at least one band and usually two or three, and out of those bands, there are the really young kids bashing away on flour drums or anything they can get their hands on - surplus to requirement guitars that the older players have given up on. It does not matter if they do not work properly, they are there trying to learn the music and follow the role model of the older people.

That is what is out there. That’s the guts of it; that’s the heart of it. Whatever we build and whatever the minister takes out there to develop our sport and recreation presence in the remote communities, that is the starting point. The ARM Tour is a very clear example of how powerful that appeal can be to the young people out there. If we can get them into sport and recreation and taking pride in what they are doing there, it is also the first step into getting them back into school and taking pride in other things that they are doing. Any decent coach will tell their charges that it is not just a case of getting your muscles right, it is a case of getting your head right as well if you are going to do well at sport, and part of that is to resume your personal education.

It is very exciting that we are embarking on this with a new government and a minister who, like me, has seen a lot of life out bush. There will be a new understanding of how we can build from the point that we are at to what we would all like to see happening which is an impact on health, on education, and on the ability of these kids to get employment later in life and, most of all, an impact on their self-respect and their self esteem.

Mr WOOD (Nelson): Madam Deputy Speaker, I also welcome the minister’s report on active participation. Certainly, with a society that now has more options for recreation, especially TV, videos and computers, there is a danger that many of our young people will not get into the habit of regular physical activity.

This is also important bearing in mind that today there is such an emphasis on eating fast food which, as you know, is generally food with a high kilojoule and fat content. While it is a fact that young people may be able to burn off this kind of food, those who are not active are on their way to obesity with all the health problems that can lead to. Of course, active participation is not just for young people, it is also for older people, especially as it is this group that can be in the higher risk group and set it their bad habits. Active participation needs to be promoted for all age groups in our society.

Active participation, especially in team sports, has special benefits for young people: teamwork, friendship, discipline, responsibility and possible opportunities for a career in sport. Parallel to these benefits, as the minister has stated, sport can help keep kids out of mischief. Considering the constant issue put before us in the media - that is young people roaming the streets, break-ins, drug problems, poor literacy, truancy, hooning around - it is more important than ever to give young people opportunities to break these habits. Of course, many young people do not get into trouble and many of our young people have become role models for others: Nova Peris Kneebone, Nathan Buckley, Stephen Koops, Fabian Francis and our latest star, Xavier Clark, and there are many others.

So how do we encourage young people to get into sport? Certainly, one way is to use these role models when they return to the Territory, and make personal contact with young people throughout the Territory. We also have to have the facilities available so that young people can participate in their favourite sport. This is a community, local government and NT government responsibility.

In the Litchfield Shire we have some excellent facilities which have been established through the efforts of the community and local and Territory governments. The facilities at Fred’s Pass Reserve and other reserves throughout the Litchfield Shire are testimony to that. The recent opening of the skateboard park is an obvious example of new facilities and opportunities for our youth. But more needs to be done. The government has promised a swimming pool for the rural area before the end of this term of office, and I know we have the swimming clubs anxiously waiting for the construction of this pool. Anyone who has seen the state of the athletic track at Fred’s Pass would see there is also scope for a quality running track and associated facilities.

The Litchfield Shire does its bit to enable its residents to have opportunities to participate in activities. Here is a list of them. I am just going to give you an idea of the number of sporting groups existing in the Litchfield Shire. We have AFL football, archery, athletics, baseball, basketball, lawn bowls, bicycle sports, BMX, boxing, callisthenics, cricket, cue sports, fishing, go-karts, golf, gun clubs, gymnastics, hockey, horse and pony clubs, martial arts and self defence, motorcycles, netball, orienteering, polocrosse, rodeo, running, rugby league, rugby union, soccer, softball, squash, swimming, T-ball, tennis and touch football. That is not a bad list for a rural area where a lot of those activities have basically come from community effort.

The member for Casuarina visited our new soccer facilities out at Fred’s Pass. I can now tell him that the toilet and change rooms are well on their way to being put up. He won’t have to worry about going behind a tree or something over at Fred’s Pass. But regardless of this, we still need to encourage people to join in. Our sporting organisations need financial assistance from both government and business. I know that government, through the Department of Sport and Recreation, does fund sporting organisations but I would urge the government to continue to support sport in the NT and increase that spending not only to encourage a healthy lifestyle, but as an investment in the future against young people getting into trouble as they enter their teenage years.

The Litchfield Soccer Club is part of a diversionary program. This is another way in which not only the club can receive financial assistance, but it gives a young person a chance, to use a colloquialism, to get a life. I do not agree with statements made recently by a magistrate criticising a particular football team for having some young men who have been in trouble with the law. It is better these young blokes stay in the team where they have a chance than to get out of sport where they will definitely get into trouble.

Besides government, I believe business has to help as well. I know there are many businesses who sponsor sports, and many have assisted sports over the years. One gentleman who comes to mind is Keith Kemp. It is people like him and others who have put a great effort into helping young people in our society. However, we need more. Business cannot complain about crime if it does not become involved in positive programs to make sure young people are assisted in participating in sport. One way may be to help individual clubs, especially with children in the 14 and 16 year old range, which seems to be the age they tend to drift away from sport. That is where assistance, I believe, will be of its most benefit. The member for Blain mentioned the difficulty in keeping children in sport when they get into secondary school. Whilst I would encourage more business involvement in sport, I would ask the government to be aware, and perhaps act on, some detrimental involvement effects, especially through advertising.

Advertising is certainly important for many sporting bodies. One of the major contributors to sport advertising is the alcohol industry. So while the minister talks about the benefits of active participation, especially a healthy body, surely a dominant and continuous association of alcohol in sport seems to be contradictory. This is not about having a coldy after a footy match. This is about advertising alcohol on TV football programs, on jumpers, grounds, in the media, sporting clubs and bars at the ground, even at junior functions. It seems we have a culture of alcohol in sport. Are the breweries there to assist in active participation or for a bigger slice of the growing market? Should we not question whether this is healthy and is it really promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Lastly, the government spoke about forums, reference groups and studies. Whilst I believe these have their place, I feel we need to concentrate our money on more than meetings and discussions, which are all very well. Perhaps the government should realise that there are many sporting groups out there already. We do not really need to have a lot of discussion about how they work. What we need to do is give them direct assistance, and encourage them to get better at what they are doing. Like all the sporting groups I mentioned in the Litchfield Shire, they are up and running. We do not need a big forum to discuss where they are going or what they are doing. Put the money directly into those areas, improve facilities, help young people directly. In our case, in Litchfield Shire, I would hope that we can get a permanent and long-term bus service because one problem we have in the Litchfield Shire is access to facilities. If mum and dad are working, kids have a lot of problems getting to sporting facilities.

I support the minister’s statement. It is a very good statement. I hope he will take on board some of the points I raised today.

Ms CARNEY (Araluen): Madam Acting Deputy Speaker, I rise to make a couple of comments. One series of comments is on behalf of those in my electorate, and the others are general comments in relation to the contents of the statement. On behalf of my electorate, I note that the minister, when he referred to Football Park, there was a minor comment in relation to Traeger Park in Alice Springs and, in particular, it was the resurfacing of the hockey field in Alice Springs. What the minister did not say, or counter in any way, was a suggestion that has been made by me, but importantly, others, that the government has reneged on its $5m promise that it made during the election campaign.

The minister can laugh, but I know people involved in various sports at Traeger Park, and they are ringing me up asking me. So the minister can address that in whatever way he sees fit, but that is the comment being made by many in Alice Springs. Judging from the way the minister has been shaking his head, I am hopeful that the government will follow through with its commitment to expend the remaining $4.2m on upgrading Traeger Park. I would hate to think that the government would concentrate on the northern suburbs of Darwin at the expense of Alice Springs. I gather from the nodding of the head from the minister for Central Australia that he too is careful to ensure that the government follows through with its promise. The noddings and the giggles I am getting from the other side of the House provide me with some encouragement. I will be the first one to pass that on to those who have raised their concerns with me and who play cricket and football.

It is the case, of course, that government having just received an additional $150m from the federal government, has more than enough money to fulfil its promises. It is in the interests of all Territorians that we continue to improve these sporting facilities that we have in and around the Northern Territory.

Having made those comments, I have to say that, with respect, I was a little disappointed in the statement. I thought that it would give the minister an opportunity to outline what it is that this government can offer in the area of sport and sport development under the heading of general participation. My disappointment became more apparent when I realised that there was little in it that was new; the main exception to that, of course, was the creation of the Junior Sport Reference Group. This is an initiative that I would have thought any sensible person would welcome. There is also something called the Junior Sport Operational Plan which, according to the minister, is designed to develop strategies that will increase participation rates. Once again, a good idea and one that is welcomed by the opposition.

However, the one question it raises, particularly in the context of the statement in its entirety, is that kids in sport is not really the problem. By the minister’s own admission and by his reliance upon ABS figures from which he quotes, children participate more in sport in the Northern Territory at the junior level than any of their counterparts elsewhere in the country. I think the minister’s quote is that, ‘at the junior level we have a participation rate in the Territory of 66% which is 4% ahead of the national average’. The minister says elsewhere in his statement that our younger people are ‘leading the pack’ in terms of their participation in sport.

While acknowledging that the participation rate of children in the Territory is better than anywhere else in the country, and at the same time saying, quite rightly, that adult participation is fairly terrible, this government, surprisingly in my view, comes up with something that is designed to increase junior participation in sport but very little that will address the present situation in relation to adults. In terms of adult participation, the minister tells us that the NT lags behind the Australian average by about 2% or 3%. He quite rightly goes on to say what a terrible situation that is, but I am disappointed to hear him say that the best he could do was to give us an overview of what exists in other jurisdictions. Indeed, the minister went on at great length about what was done in Western Australia, and then he meandered to other jurisdictions, New South Wales and Victoria. Then he went off across the Tasman to New Zealand. Whilst I enjoyed taking the trip with the minister, I was left a little underwhelmed at the end of it because there was nothing, in fact, about what it was that government was going to do about improving the adult participation rate in sport.

All the minister says is, if there are good ideas working elsewhere they might work here and we will look at them. Indeed, there might be ideas elsewhere that are very worthy of implementing in the Northern Territory. But in the context of standing in this Chamber with the opportunity of telling the people of the Northern Territory this is what this government is going to do to improve adult participation in sport, there was nothing. The statement, with the greatest of respect to the minister, just fell flat and was very underwhelming indeed. It is underwhelming and more disappointing because the ALP promised that it would do good by all; that it would introduce marvellous new policies for everyone to make the world a better place. Well, in this one there is a gap. People are watching the minister to ensure that he follows through with various sporting promises. Some of the recent announcements in relation to Football Park in Marrara are fabulous announcements. Any government would have moved heaven and earth to embrace the positive aspects of cricket and AFL football. I congratulate the minister for getting onto those challenges.

At the same time, however, we await a better outline of what it is that government proposes to do on this topic - that is, the topic of the ministerial statement - how do we increase participation? Junior sports is doing well; there is no argument about that. It begs the question: why on earth would you introduce programs to continue to improve that whilst, at the same time, not doing anything to improve the adult participation rate? Having said that, I do welcome the initiative of the Junior Sport Reference Group, as well as the $1.05m in sports grants funding, and I look forward to receiving more details of that in due course. In particular, may I ask for an undertaking from the minister that, over the next few years, he outlines where that money has been spent, so that all of us can be assured that the sporting grants have been spread geographically evenly throughout the Territory. I would certainly be grateful to receive the minister’s undertaking to oblige me in that respect.

Dr BURNS (Johnston): Madam Acting Deputy Speaker, I arise to support the minister’s statement on active participation in sport and recreation. Firstly, I would like to commend the minister and the government in the decisive way they have moved to address issues relating to the upgrade of Football Park. These issues have been ongoing for a considerable time, and my understanding is that the band aid solutions applied over previous years have only exacerbated the problem. The commitment of over $2.5m for the upgrade of Football Park will mean that football lovers in Darwin will, once again, be treated to AFL football, and we will also become a test cricket venue. I join many other people in congratulating the minister for his hard work and commitment to these projects.

Furthermore, I congratulate the minister for his commitment to improve Traeger Park in Alice Springs. This demonstrates that our government is truly committed to supporting sport in Central Australia, including the Masters Games.

Nevertheless, the minister has also raised the important matter of participation in sport and recreation. I refer to these jointly as physical activity, and I think the last speaker seemed to have the idea of sport as the only way of having physical activity and recreation. As I will point out in my offering here today, we have to look a lot wider than just sport. This topic has considerable personal interest to me, not only because like the minister I share the need to undertake more of it - I might say I did a bit of skipping this morning before I came to work – but also I believe that I have some experience and expertise in the area.

When I first came to the Territory in 1979, I was employed by the YMCA of Darwin as a sport and recreation officer at Maningrida. Although much of this job involved attempting to address youth issues such as petrol sniffing, a considerable amount of it was devoted to organising community sporting activities. The sporting life of that community, like many others, was abundant: men’s sport, such as football, basketball, and volleyball; women’s sport such as basketball and softball; children’s sport including all of the above as well as athletics and excursions. One thing I also noticed was the activity of older people - not necessarily sport - the way that they walked, hunted and gathered, as they had done in the years preceding 1957 when Maningrida had been established by the government. These older people were, by and large, very clean and comparatively fit. At that time, tobacco rather than obesity was their major health enemy. Many of these older people reached a considerable age before they passed away. The younger people, now in middle age, are afflicted with many of the diseases associated with obesity, such as diabetes and heart disease. This change reflects a change in the wider Australian society and, indeed, overseas in America, as levels of physical activity decrease and nutrition deteriorates into the high fat, high salt domain of fast food products, as the member for Nelson pointed out.

We know - and I pointed out in this place before - that diabetes in the Territory for both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people, has been escalating since the 1990s, and it is very unfortunate What is concerning is that it is even greater than the rest of Australia, where there is widespread concern about diabetes and obesity. The startling figures suggest a very worrying trend for Territorians - male and female, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal - namely, the death rate for diabetes has been soaring in the Northern Territory, even against the background of an alarming increase in the Australian population as a whole. It is my firm belief that these figures would be much, much worse without the wonderful work of Diabetes NT which carries out a fantastic service, and has been a strong advocate for diabetes prevention. I know there are some very interesting projects going on in the Darwin urban area, in terms of diabetes and diabetes prevention. It is something that I am certainly advocating - that this government pay a lot closer attention to diabetes and its prevention in the longer term.

Whilst the aetiology of non-insulin dependent diabetes is relatively complex, many people would suggest that physical inactivity associated with obesity are major contributors to these worrying statistics. This is backed up within the minister’s statement when he alluded to a number of surveys showing consistently lower levels of physical activity in the Northern Territory.

The minister has detailed the benefits of physical activity to the health of the individual and the wellbeing of the community: benefits such as reduced death rate from cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as mental health and social health benefits. The minister clearly set out the task that confronts us all: namely, that estimates suggest that approximately 50% of the Northern Territory population engages in regular physical activity, and only 33% engage in the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day. However, I was glad to hear from the minister that the Territory was well above the national average for children participating in junior sport. This is especially important for children - to pick up on the member for Araluen’s point - so that we can support a healthy growing body and also ensure that physical activity is an integral part in their lives. The decline in physical activity in children elsewhere in Australia is all about the factors that the minister mentioned: access to computer games and television. I think we have a good basis here to build on, to ensure that physical activity levels in the Territory amongst adults increases.

It is unfortunate that many older people believe that to achieve adequate levels of physical activities they need either to be elite sportsmen or to jog for miles. Nothing could be further from the truth. All that is required is 30 minutes of moderate physical activity such as walking, gardening - you name it. There is also solid scientific evidence that increasing physical activity to a moderate level, confers on individuals a benefit at any age, suggesting that it is never too late to start some physical activity. I will say that again: it is very important that, for any person who increases their physical activity to a moderate level – does not matter what age they are - it will confer benefits to health. So, it is never too late for any of us to start some physical activity.

Every day, in the environs of Darwin, it is pleasing to see so many people out walking, enjoying the early morning or the cool of the evening. They are setting a great example for the rest of us. As the minister outlined in his statement, the challenge for the Territory is to move towards a policy that will encourage more of us to undertake adequate physical activity, including sport and recreation. He has pointed to the Western Australian model as a possible success story that we may be able to emulate. I know the member for Blain also picked up on the Western Australian model, and I would agree. My observation is that there are many good things that come out of Western Australia. I know they have a very active public health group there. They have always been very active in the tobacco area, obviously very active in literacy and numeracy, and once again, they have shown themselves to be very active in building a policy framework that really has effective results in terms of increasing community participation and physical activity.

My experience with the National Heart Foundation, which has taken a leading role in advocating and supporting positive changes to increase the numbers of Australians engaging in physical activity, accords with this approach. I believe that the National Heart Foundation has been a leader in this area. Madam Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to table three documents from the National Hearth Foundation.

Leave granted.

Dr BURNS: These three documents are: the National Heart Foundation physical activity policy which details the evidence of the health benefits of physical activity, the amount and type of activity required as well as the types of interventions and programs required to increase physical activity amongst all Australians. The second Heart Foundation paper details the importance of promoting physical activity for children and outlines a whole-of-community approach for children. As I have said previously in that speech that is a crucial aspect of any policy. The third paper is titled Promoting Physical Activity: Ten Recommendations from the Heart Foundation. This paper outlines a more global approach for the whole of the Australian community. It outlines a very strong policy approach for the whole of Australia. I might say that that particular paper, as with most Heart Foundation papers, owes a lot to the expertise of the people who are on that particular panel. Professor Adrian Baumann is a leading epidemiologist in Australia and a leading epidemiologist in the area of physical activity and also evaluating programs and policy frameworks to increase physical activity within the community. These papers are expert papers.

The latter paper emphasises that physical inactivity is not just a problem for government to solve. It involves all levels of government including the development by local government councils of physical environments conducive to physical activity, and also includes schools, health professionals, the media, the non-government health sector and each and everyone of us as individuals. On the matter of encouraging local government and other community organisations to undertake locally based projects to benefit health, the Heart Foundation in conjunction with Kelloggs has an annual set of national awards to recognise achievements in this area. There is very stiff competition amongst local government councils in this area. I remember a couple of years ago, the Palmerston City Council received an award for encouraging and supporting young mothers to get involved in a morning walk group, the so-called BMW club. You did not need a BMW to actually join this group. Its name says it all - Brisk Morning Walk. That was a fantastic initiative, a very healthy initiative, for busy young mothers. Local government has a crucial role in this. I know that the minister has his role in local government and I would suggest that he encourage more local government councils to get involved in structural change.

In closing, I would like to make a practical suggestion to this House. Would it be possible for those of us who work here to be able to access the stairs and to be able to walk up to other floors? At present, the doors are locked - I guess we found out earlier today why - from the stairwells into the floors. Whilst I realise, and even more so after today, that security considerations and possibly lighting are potential barriers, the potential health benefits are immense. Madam Deputy Speaker, I believe you are on the House Committee. Could I suggest that the House Committee consider this matter? One small step for our parliament might also send a positive message to many of the building owners in the Territory who also lock their stairs in a similar fashion. Climbing stairs is a very healthy exercise and it is something that people in our occupation, as someone said, can engage in. So I would like to see those stairs opened up, with security and lighting, of course, and I certainly would be using them. I might even have a race up the stairs with a few of you!

In conclusion, I welcome the minister’s statement on active participation in sport, recreation and physical activity generally. It contains many highlights of this government’s financial commitments to the sector and also outlines the development of a specific policy framework to address the serious problem of physical inactivity amongst Territorians.

Madam ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Johnson, on behalf of the House Committee, your suggestion has already gone before the House Committee and is under current active consideration. We are waiting on a report from security and building maintenance.

Dr BURNS: Thank you, Madam Acting Deputy Speaker.

Mr ELFERINK (Macdonnell): Madam Acting Deputy Speaker, I rise to participate briefly in the debate today. The member for Johnson’s suggestion in relation to the staircases in this building is an excellent suggestion. I would like to see those staircases made available for everybody to saunter up and down because I know that they do make a very big difference to health and fitness.

Not that long ago, I was reading in an article that simply standing up at work all day burns something like 2000 calories. It was an article about a particular architect who insisted on doing his work standing up. As a consequence of that, he constantly walked around his office and the like, did not sit down for an 8 hour period, got used to it very quickly and was burning thousands of calories on a daily basis just making that simple adjustment to his lifestyle in his office.

I do not often share personal details about myself in this House, however, on this occasion I am going to make an exception. The issue of fitness amongst kids in school, especially, is one that is pretty close to my heart, because, believe it or not, there was a time when I was simply the fat kid at school and often ridiculed for being the fat kid at school. It was not a pleasant experience, I must say. Indeed, I think the only reason I made the 1981 Northern Territory school boys rugby tour to Melbourne is that I was well over 100 kilos at the time, and I was about 15 years old. I was not capable of running particularly far. I played a little bit of rugby but that was just because I was heavy enough to lean up in the front row where all the fat kids went. So I am very encouraged by what the minister is saying in relation to targeting children and seeing that kids do become active in sport.

Certainly in remote communities, and I heard the member for Stuart talking about this particular issue, there should be a lot of sport and sport should be encouraged, which is why I was very disappointed that the Minister for Community Development, the minister bringing the statement before the House today, was not able to find it within his budget to find a few thousand dollars to support the Hermannsburg football carnival. That carnival eventually went on, in spite of the minister’s reluctance to assist the Hermannsburg community with their carnival. I direct honourable members to my website, to see the photographs of this excellent carnival. You will see some great feats of athleticism on that particular website. But I am very disappointed that the minister has taken the stance to say, ‘No, you cannot have money for these simple things in the bush’.

The Minister for Central Australia stood up and said, ‘Oh yes, but we are doing this thing with athletes as role models’, an excellent program. It would have been nice to get an invitation to the launch, but an excellent program nevertheless. The thing that concerns me is the philosophical consistency that does not appear to be apparent in the minister’s speech. The money that he was talking about spending, the $1.25m on the Marrara sports complex to bring it up to standards so that they can get international teams here, is not necessarily a bad thing. But if you think of that in terms of its philosophical consistency, then what you are running into is a small problem. The reason is this: is that to spend that money, and the minister announced that has been effectively doubled, $2.5m on the Marrara stadium is largely for spectator reasons, so we can sit down and watch other teams come here and play.

I appreciate it is an important facility and it is used by Territorians extensively, but nevertheless if we are taking a philosophical approach which says that we are going to bring sports to the people of the Northern Territory to actively get them to participate in sport in the Northern Territory, then that is where the money should be spent, in active participation, as opposed to sitting down and watching sport on television or in this case, encouraging teams to come here. I know the importance of getting teams here and I know the importance of keeping facilities up to standard, but if we are going to take a particular approach then that approach must have a certain philosophical consistency.

I also picked up on comments by several members about the unfortunate state where you are starting to see more and more people living a sedentary lifestyle - and not just us as politicians; it is out there in the community. We see the rampant problems of ischaemic heart disease, the rampant problems of renal failure, diabetes and the like which are often related to each other. They are a product of not only sedentary lifestyle, but poor diet. I argue most passionately that one of the great criminals in this area is television. I remember Darwin prior to the arrival of television. I remember other communities around the Territory prior to the arrival of television. Before the arrival of television, the sports community of Darwin was enormous - the old basketball courts at the end of Daly Street were full. Every night there was a basketball competition from the little tackers of the under 5s competitions right through to the adults. The place was just crawling with people. It seems that we have almost hunkered down into our defensive little cocoons in our homes surrounded by this magical orb which we all sit there and watch at the expense of our own health.

I read a book a couple of years ago now called Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, written by a fellow with the unfortunate name of Jerry Mander. The fellow put together four arguments and he made several observations about the very nature of television and why it is such a damaging thing to people’s health. I do not think that even Mr Mander would seriously contemplate removing television from people’s homes, but at the end of the day he made some very good points about the nature of television and how insipid its destructive forces are.

Of course we live in a day and age now where we have interactive television so we get to sit there with our play stations, and I am sure that we are all demons on Doom and Crash Bandicoot and the like. But at the end of the day, the interactive nature of television is even encouraging us as adults, let alone our kids, to stay at home even longer and cocoon ourselves further into this shell. I mean, how long is it going to be before we directly plug into a broadcast by simply plugging an aerial into a socket that we have surgically implanted in our head? Then we will be totally sedentary.

The other comment that I picked up from the member for Nelson - and I was going to raise this myself - is the issue of liquor sponsorship in sport. I think it is quite an anomalous thing because in my experience and where I have seen liquor involved, it does not particularly have a good effect on sport and sports performance. I do not believe that Cathy Freeman runs out onto the athletics track after dropping half a bottle of Bundy. Yet there we see it being encouraged and thrust upon us in so many instances. I actually take some pride from the people in Hermannsburg where a liquor group was offering sponsorship, a message that I took to some of the women in Hermannsburg and they, on the spot, said, ‘No, we do not want liquor sponsorship’. Sometimes I wish that other sporting teams showed that sort of courage because their decision was immediate and absolute. Despite the fact that I thought I would at least offer them the first right of refusal, they did exactly what I hoped that they would do, they turned around and said, ‘No, we will find the money from somewhere else’. I hope that the people of Hermannsburg do not suffer too much under the hands of this government and their refusal to spend money in that community as well as other communities. I certainly hope that they will find the money from other sources and I will be endeavouring to assist them in every way that I possibly can.

I also pick up the final comments by the minister. As I said in my opening statement, I understand what it is like to struggle with a weight problem. Unlikely as it may appear, I understand what it is to struggle with liquor and I understand what it is to struggle with tobacco. I wish him the very best and indeed if there is any way that I can assist the minister in being an exercise partner or anything else like that, I am happy to offer him my time. I will take the member for Johnston up as well and I will race him up a staircase.

Sport is particularly important. When I went through training as a police cadet, for two years they made me run around and it was not a natural inclination of mine to be involved in sport. But what it did do was establish in my mind a routine and a habit which I have pursued to this day. I am nearly 20 kg lighter now than I was when I was 15 years of age and I find that being reasonably fit at the moment - I did a 10 kilometre run last night - helps me sleep, it helps me concentrate, it helps me to deal with the battles of fatigue that this job gives you. I now understand as I am getting older the importance of being fit and I hope that the minister has every success, not only on a personal level, but bringing these programs to the people of the Northern Territory.

Mr BONSON (Millner): Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague, the Minister for Sport and Recreation, for his informative statement on active participation. He has provided a raft of information about the government’s concern and determination to address declining participation rates in sport in the Northern Territory.

Amongst the compelling evidence, the honourable minister provided us with statistical evidence that shows most sectors of our community are participating at a declining rate in active sport. However, he noted that there was one bright spot on the horizon that shows us the way forward to improve sporting participation and that bright spot is the fact that more Territory children are participating in sport compared to the rest of Australia at the junior level where we have a participation rate of 66% which is 4% ahead of the national average. This is of particular importance in the Northern Territory lifestyle as outdoor activities have a direct effect on people’s lives. This is an accepted fact. However, sport and recreation have become a part of our unique culture and community fabric in the Northern Territory. As the minister has so correctly noted, this gives us an opportunity to improve and increase our participation rates by providing encouragement for young people to carry these good sporting habits into adulthood.

One of the basic principles that I live my life by is the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang - body and mind. The most successful times of my life have been when I have been at the peak of my physical and mental fitness. Sport has played a huge part in my life and has only contributed positively to my physical, social and intellectual growth. It is well known that there is a direct correlation between truancy, boredom, antisocial behaviour and self-harm. I well know, as do many of my generation, that people who are busy have greater self-esteem, less boredom and less opportunity to get up to no good. Boredom can arise because of a lack of sporting or other recreational activities, or the failure to take up such opportunities where they exist. Boredom can find destructive outlets like drug taking, alcohol and other substance abuse as well as crime.

My life in Darwin has shown me that there is a connection between sporting activities for young people and diversion from antisocial behaviour. Sport and recreation gave me, in particular, a fabulous option and that option was opportunity. Through opportunity in my life, I have been able to take them up and be successful. I am proud to be part of this government that takes as its essential philosophy in sport the belief that young people need positive outlets and opportunities to expend their boundless energy. We believe that providing sporting opportunities for our young people reduces the influence of boredom in their lives and, even more importantly, increases the chances of positive engagement for our very vulnerable youth.

My own experience of playing and coaching sport with young Territorians is that it not only diverts young people from destructive behaviour, it enhances their self-esteem and improves their social interaction skills and improves team work. This is done in many different ways. One of the ways is the opportunity to meet different people from different walks of life, different cultural backgrounds, and different races. Those different experiences only build upon a person as a human being.

The minister’s statement shows how the government intends to establish a Junior Sport Reference Group made up of key stakeholders in junior sport. I will make it my responsibility to take a proactive role in the reference group, and I will offer my assistance to the minister. There are a number of reasons why I would like to do that. I have been involved in sport ever since I can remember, and certainly arguably from the womb, as my mother and father were heavily involved in sporting activities. My family has been involved in sporting bodies in the Northern Territory since the early 1920s. In particular, my grandfather, the late Don Bonson, was a premiership captain of the Darwin Buffaloes three times over. He also won what is now known as the Nicholls Medal for the best and fairest player in the NTFL competition twice and was runner-up four times. My uncles and aunts, and my mother of course, represented the Territory in football and basketball throughout the last century. Two of my uncles represented Australia in basketball, particularly Michael Ah Mat who went to two Olympic Games. I simply followed their footsteps. The main message I gained from their experience was participation.

I am happy that an hour long meeting held with the staff of the minister was productive. I spoke about the importance of participation, and this has been taken up in the minister’s statement. This is fantastic. I welcome the minister’s initiatives. I have played football, basketball, soccer, rugby league and touch football in the Territory. I have also been a coach, committee person and volunteer and, of course, recently, a sponsor. I coached the last two women’s champion league team to a premiership – the University Rebels. I have also represented the Territory and Western Australian in basketball and soccer at national competitions. There is probably not one person within this parliament, except possibly the minister, and the member for Stuart, who knows the importance of sport in peoples lives in the Northern Territory.

Sport in my life is a love and is a keen interest and I will definitely be pursuing all options as a parliamentarian for sporting bodies and sporting communities, and youth in particular in the Northern Territory. I hope to work very closely with the minister, in particular with the Junior Sport Reference Group, which is made up of key stakeholders in junior sport. I will be looking forward to putting my input into that Junior Sport Reference Group and working with the key stakeholders over the weeks and months to come.

In particular, my family used sport as a bridge, I suppose, to cross-cultural differences throughout the last century in the Northern Territory, and also to gain employment. One of the great things about playing sport in the Northern Territory is the people you meet and the sporting opportunities that give you the chances of employment. I remember the very first job I had was at the rugby league at Richardson Park. I was told, ‘Well, give us a ring on Monday’, and it was a Sunday. I gave them a ring and I had a job. And that is one of the very keen aspects of sport that I would like this government to take up.

However, above all else it was about gaining respect in the community, particularly myself and my family. There is a sense that if you compete at the highest level and you try your best, whether you reach the highest level or you are playing under 14’s, or you are playing under 16’s, or you are playing C grade, people respect the fact that you are out there and you are having a go. As a person they see you in a different light and the old adage of the level playing field or sporting field is very important to a lot of people in the Northern Territory.

I would like to reiterate that I will be pushing very hard to be involved with the Junior Sport Reference Group because I am a member of the sporting community. I suppose the highest participation rate in sport in the Northern Territory is basketball. I have been involved with that since probably about 1980, and coached at different levels. Being a committee person and player of course, there is not a person there that I don’t know on a first name basis and enjoy a good relationship with.

Aussie Rules has one of the biggest followings in the Northern Territory and I have recently become a radio announcer for games. That radio announcer is broadcasting games from 94.58 KMB Larrakia Radio, and if anyone is tuned into that they will no doubt tell you that it is one of the funniest things you have ever heard in your life. That is the way we aim it at, and that is the crowd we look for. We go for the ‘Roy and HG’ style rather than the boring and exact method of describing a football match.

As one of the youngest MLA’s ever in the Northern Territory, I am still in touch with the reference group’s target community which is the youth. With my knowledge of the AFL/NTFL, which has been developed over many years, in another life I was interested in sports management of young players leaving the Northern Territory to travel south, and assisting them in getting opportunities to play in the SANFL and the Western Australian Football League and, of course, the AFL.

One of the guys I saw playing on the weekend, and he played a very good game, is Mathew Whelan. I also played football with him here. He was only a 17 year old kid at the time and now he has been drafted. He is 21 or 22 years old and is doing very well. I had a phone conversation with the Melbourne recruiting officer which was of great assistance to him and he was drafted number 56 in 1999. The funny thing about that was that two other clubs wanted to draft him and he was going to go 57 or 58.

I reiterate my commitment to the Minister for Sport and Recreation that at any time I am willing to offer the most important resource in any of the sporting bodies, and that is the person himself as a volunteer. I will definitely, with the passion that I have for sport, be hoping to back you up for many years to come.

I recommend this initiative, as I know this Junior Sport Reference Group will assist many other outstanding Territorians out there working tirelessly and without pay to enhance junior sports. They deserve our support for their selfless endeavour. I am sure the minister’s statement and government action shows that this government understands well how sport fits into, not only a physically healthy community, but a socially healthy community.

Some of the members today spoke about alcohol within sport. I suppose that one of the best things that sport taught me was how to deal with alcohol and other drug related matters, and I did that by looking at people as an example. Two of the people who had a heavy influence on me in junior sports were Eddie Motlop and Paul Motlop. They showed me that as a human being you can be part of the general community but still represent yourself and maintain a high regard through sport. It is good to see that Eddie Motlop’s two sons are doing very well with the Kangaroos. Hopefully, they will be very successful for a long period of time.

Finally, I would like to put my full support behind this initiative. I will be working with everyone in this House, and every remote area and every urban area, to promote sport and health lifestyles.

Dr LIM (Greatorex): Madam Speaker, I went through the minister’s statement quite thoroughly today and was surprised at many of words that he used. The significant initiative he has brought about is the Junior Sport Reference Group, and nothing more than that. I was concerned that he was so ready to laud the success of the funding that he provided for Darwin, for Football Park - $1.25m immediately and, over the next three years, another $1.265m - while Alice Springs continues to languish.

The Traeger Park reference of $800 000 for the replacement of the hockey field was something that the Northern Territory government, under the CLP, had promised. I am glad that the current Labor government has fulfilled the promise. But the other $4.2m which they promised prior to the election is yet to be shown. I heard the Minister for Central Australia saying earlier, by way of interjection, that ‘It’s in the bag’, and promised that initiatives for Traeger Park to use up the $4.2m dollars will be announced shortly. I look forward to hearing from the minister what will be done for Traeger Park in the short term.

Things have happened in the Top End all the time, but Alice Springs continues to be forgotten by this government, unfortunately. We need to be shown what they intend to do - even just talking about facilities that are in Central Australia. The minister needs to support sporting activities down there, and also make sure that the Masters Games is a success this year. It took us a lot of argument and cajoling to ensure that the minister and his department paid attention to the success of the Masters Games, which will take place in less than six months time. I look forward to the minister taking part in some of those activities as well, apart from the opening ceremony.

The minister, in his statement, spoke about the benefits of sports and other recreational activity. Without a doubt, there are a lot of health benefits to be gained from taking part in sports. I do not know whether he recalls, or how many of you recall, reading an article in The Australian, published about a year-and-a-half ago, around the turn of the century. There was an article about the life span of the average Australian. The article stated that back in 1900 the average life span of an Australian was some 43 years of age. By 1950, after the advent of sulphur drugs and penicillin, the average life span of an Australian had gone up to 63 years. By the year 2000, the average life span had increased to 83 years. This exponential growth of our life span will continue to increase with improved health care, and also improved awareness of what disease entities can do to our bodies.

I commend the minister for recognising that sports and health are intimately linked, and the fitter we are the better we will be. Yet, when I look around the Chamber, there are many of us whom I have not seen down in the gym, ever - even the younger, newer members have never been down there.

Ms Lawrie: It doesn’t mean they are not exercising.

Dr LIM: And you ask the question - they don’t need the exercise, you see. You have never been down there.

Ms Lawrie: There are other forms of exercise than the gym at Parliament House.

Dr LIM: Well, there you go. There is a beautifully equipped gym downstairs that costs hardly anything to members, and they do not even bother to support it.

When the member for Johnston spoke about the National Heart Foundation, the Executive Officer, Mr Graham Opie, was in the gallery earlier today. I am sure that his program is recognised as one of the leading ones in this country. The National Heart Foundation has continued to promote good health with good sports. Jump Rope for Heart is one of the programs that they have continued to encourage around the schools. With improved sports there is obviously improvement in cardiovascular disease and diabetes; blood pressure and cholesterol levels are maintained or lowered, in fact. What I think is of significance also, is that there are benefits in the psychology of the person, as the minister called it, mental and social health benefits.

But it is interesting though, that the Chief Minister had found cause to advise the member for Millner not to take part in sports, and I think that is a little bit contrary. You should be encouraging the member for Millner to take part in sport, so that he can continue to be in a fit condition. The only problem then is his behaviour and how he is going to manage that. The member for Millner requested of the minister that he be allowed to take part in the Junior Sport Reference Group. I hope if he does that, he maintains his behaviour, shows a good example to the children so that it does not end up with further altercations with other sports people.

When the minister spoke about the Western Australian experience where inactive employees caused reduced productivity, decreased employee satisfaction, increased absenteeism, increased short- and long-term disability payments, etcetera, I just wonder what has happened? Maybe it is really that side of the House being very inactive, because their productivity has decreased significantly. Over the last nine months, the ministry has produced very little in terms of activity for the Northern Territory. If that is the case, then I recommend all the ministers get involved in sports and get themselves active, and maybe their brains will be working much better and then they can fire on all cylinders, rather than with half the cylinders missing as they are at the moment.

Talking about physical activity and work ethic, I was at the Jape Homemaker show two weekends ago, and there were literally thousands of people attending the function over the two days. You know what I saw? The member for Millner’s office was closed - all dark, no lights on, and there was nobody there, nobody home. This is the sort of thing I am talking about, where members are not performing their work for many reasons, including inactivity. It is funny that the minister was speaking about sport and mental health and all that, and yet he has not shown the member for Millner how to do the right thing.

The member for Macdonnell drew the minister’s attention to the fact that he rejected a plea from the Hermannsburg people - Hermannsburg or Ntaria, Tjuwampa and the outstations around that area – who planned to hold a sports festival in May of this year, at the end of this month. It is 125 years since Hermannsburg’s formation as a community after the first missionaries arrived in the region, and it is 20 years of local self-government. It is a very significant celebration. A sports festival is also planned for that weekend and literally thousands of Aboriginal people from Central Australia will attend. I thought a $5000 contribution from the Minister for Sport and Recreation to that festival would go a long way to ensuring that this community has a successful weekend. I wrote to the minister on 5 March. He knocked me back, saying that it is not within his portfolio. I wrote back again a month later saying that I believed it was, especially in light of the statement he made about Aboriginal people shortly before that. Again, he wrote back saying that it was not his responsibility, and he recommended that I approach the Community Benefit Fund.

If the minister is not able to deliver as the Minister for Sport and Recreation, where then does it support his statement that he is interested in supporting sports and activity in the Northern Territory? We are talking about bush sports here and it involves not only the adults in the communities, it involves many many other children out there at Hermannsburg and Tjuwampa and the outlying district. It is important that this government recognises that Aboriginal sports festivals are very important social gatherings. It brings together people from many communities who can work cooperatively together in the name of sport. It is a very short-sighted action of the minister to not support Ntaria sports weekend. I hope that the minister has been able, by some other means, through one of his colleagues in Cabinet perhaps, to help fund the Ntaria sports weekend.

The minister spoke about the Green Prescription and it is interesting how it has come about through the New Zealand government being able to coordinate the whole of the country. I suppose with 3 million people it is easy to coordinate that. General practitioners for many decades have prescribed physical activity as part of their armamentarium of treatment facilities for patients; the patient advised to do certain physical activity to help in their lifestyle diseases. This is nothing new. I am certain that they are doing it as a coordinated measure, recruiting the assistance and expertise of general practitioners around the country and making this type of program very successful. It would be very good if the minister, with his colleague, the Minister for Health and Community Services, could coordinate this program and recruit the services of doctors in the Northern Territory to help promote the Green Prescription Project and get Territorians fitter. Maybe the members opposite and my colleagues would like to see me and I would be more than happy to help them with a prescription - the Green Prescription that is and not prescriptions…..

Mr Ah Kit: They refused to have him in East Timor.

Dr LIM: What does East Timor have to do with the Green Prescription?

Members interjecting.

Dr LIM: Oh, I see! Well, taking on that interjection, Madam Speaker, that the minister said that East Timor rejected my offer to help them. That is a lie. No doubt. That is definitely incorrect and the minister should know full well that if he wants to talk about that then he should do it at another time. But that is definitely not true and I can tell you stories about that, that are otherwise, at another time.

Madam Speaker, it is interesting to read about the social and health benefits of sport and I support the minister in that regard. That is something that has been highlighted by medical practitioners and other health providers for centuries. We have to continue to promote good sporting activity to ensure that Territorians enjoy good health. The best way to promote this is by personal example. I recommend that every member in this Chamber actually do it by example, whether it be publicly, privately, in clubs. If we went out there doing it and if all of us here could make a resolution to perform 30 to 60 minutes of exercise at least every second day and publicise that we are doing that, it will show Territorians that they all should do it as well, I think we would encourage many waverers to follow suit.

I look forward to the minister responding to some of the queries I posed to him and also reinforce the question that was put to him by the member for Blain, whether this funding for a football park is new money or is it something within his mini-budget. This is something that is very unclear to us and it would be good to hear the minister’s definite response to it. With regards to the Western Australian report, it is worthwhile getting more detail about it so that we can decide whether it is going to be useful for us. As for the Junior Sport Reference Group, let’s not let it degenerate into a talk-fest but something that will bring about action for Territorian children.

Mr AH KIT (Sport and Recreation): Madam Speaker, it pleases me to have had such a good and varied response to the statement I presented on active participation. I thank the members on this side of the House for their contributions. They were very supportive. A lot of thought had gone into the statements of the Minister for Central Australia, the members for Karama, Millner and Johnston.

Maybe the member for Araluen did not read and understand the statement’s heading, which was talking about active participation, because she made comment about being disappointed that it did not cover that general participation. Might I add for her information that when I do present a statement on general participation I will notify her. But I was seeking comments today in regard to active participation as headlined in the ministerial statement.

As an aside, the member for Blain raised the issue of consultation with the AFLNT over international cricket developments. The fact is negotiations between the Australian Cricket Board and the government needed to be dealt with confidentially. If we did not apply that we would never have pulled it off. The AFLNT, we have that asset, it has been neglected by the former government. It was developed by them, it was built by them, yes, congratulations, but you walked away from your responsibilities with the leasee arrangements until we were elected and until I came along after the former minister for sport.

We are starting to fix the problem so that is what you have to learn. You have to learn that we are a progressive government. We will accept responsibility and we will start to fix a lot of the stuff-ups that you have made over the years. In this particular regard, yes, I acknowledge that the AFLNT have their noses out of joint. I was actually there on the Monday and made the announcement on the international cricket and Bob was quite happy with that. I talked to him personally, so I do not know what happened over the last couple of weeks because I have been doing trips into the bush as a good bush member should do. I hear now that he is grumpy. I have been trying to catch up with him and iron out any of those concerns.

We also need to lend an ear to the Northern Territory Cricket Board because they were kept out of the picture also - deliberately - because of the confidential nature of getting these international fixtures for …

Mr Elferink interjecting.

Mr AH KIT: …international fixtures for Marrara. And if the member for Macdonnell does not want international cricket to come to Darwin, to the Territory, please get up and say so in your adjournment debate tonight. Because what you have to realise is that there are a lot of cricket lovers out there contrary to what the member for Macdonnell’s position is. And there are a few more over there smiling because they do not really want international cricket to come here. That’s obvious, look at the smirks on their faces. You can see the smirks on their faces, Madam Speaker.

Unfortunately, the member for Araluen was less than charitable in her remarks without any basis…

Members interjecting.

Mr AH KIT: And talk to the bloke next to him because he understands a little bit about legal basis.

… without any basis you tried to suggest that the government was not going to deliver on its promise to redevelop Traeger Park. Now, why haven’t you rung my office, member for Araluen? Bring the member for Macdonnell with you, if you like, and especially the member for Greatorex; and sit down and work out when you can receive a briefing about Traeger Park.

Dr Lim: I have asked for a briefing and you keep saying no. I asked for a briefing and you kept knocking me back.

Mr AH KIT: Well, I will pick up that interjection, Madam Speaker, I am told by my staff that an appointment was made for 2pm on Monday.

Dr Lim interjecting.

Mr AH KIT: You are in opposition. Learn that and understand that because we, on this side as ministers, are very busy. We are very busy and so are our ministerial staff. What you have to understand is, if a time was given for 2pm on Monday for a briefing, then I would like to see the shadow minister and the member for Araluen take up that briefing. I notice that there was a briefing on 9 May with the Leader of the Opposition, your leader, on the Kenbi land claim, briefed on 13 May. Not a problem. He is your leader, but you have problems. You want me to fit into your schedule at 2 pm? Understand that you were the minister once, but you do not call the shots now. I am busy, so are my staff. I will try to accommodate any request you have in respect of your shadow portfolios and in respect of your electorates. But make the appointment, seek the briefing, keep the appointment and you will get your briefing. If you think that in my office you can organise the time and date, then it is not going to happen.

Madam Speaker, let’s come back to Traeger Park. $800 000 has been committed and will be committed to upgrading the hockey oval for the Masters Games. I remember in the last sittings being attacked by members opposite, the leader and the members from Central Australia, that there was ‘no go’ with the Masters games, ‘You are doing nothing; it’s going backwards,’ and we come out and announce $800 000 and we proved to you that there were more people signing up for the Masters Games than two years ago. So you have changed your position quickly. The Masters Games is going to go ahead and it will inject millions of dollars into Alice Springs and the $800 000 oval for the hockey complex will be up and running in time for the Masters Games.

Dr Lim interjecting.

Mr AH KIT: The $4.2m - and if the member for Greatorex can listen for a little while, Madam Speaker, he might learn something because I am talking about his back yard here. He obviously has not spoken to the Alice Springs Town Council. He has not, along with the member for Araluen, spoken to the Traeger Park Users Group. Do you understand they exist?

Ms Carney interjecting.

Mr AH KIT: Do you understand they exist? I deal with them as the appropriate bodies to provide direction to me as the minister on the next priorities…

Ms Carney interjecting.

Mr AH KIT: Listen. You will learn something. … on the next priorities they want to start spending the $4.2m on. We have said we will not roll out the $5m in one hit. We have promised that. Contrary to what the member for Greatorex said, it was their $5m promise and we are honouring it. We gave a commitment through the Minister for Central Australia and the member for Stuart that we would inject $5m into Traeger Park and that is what we will uphold. That is what we will do. And we have committed $800 000.

On the $4.2m, I will get advice from the Traeger Parks Users Group in conjunction with the Alice Springs Town Council, which owns the complex, to work out where next. Is it going to be the football oval? Will it be the basketball courts? Will it be the baseball diamonds or will it be the tennis courts? They will provide direction. There is a Traeger Park Users Group. I recommend the members for Greatorex and Araluen go along and introduce themselves, as I have done, and also to keep in touch with Alice Springs Town Council which owns that complex. We will spend that $4.2m before the next election. Hopefully, that settles them down.

Let me now come to Hermannsburg. Yes, I have a letter from the member for Macdonnell.

Mr Elferink: And you gave me a reply saying no.

Mr AH KIT: Well, you have to understand, we are in government. We have inherited a bit of a budgetary problem. And if you think that we are going to conduct ourselves as ministers in a government running around doing what you people used to do when you were in government, well you have another think coming. Previous ministers in your government established sports programs. We are following those programs and those guidelines, okay? I have not changed anything around. I have not gone to Cabinet and said, ‘We need to change all this around’. We are operating under the same guidelines and programs that you had in place; your government and your ministers for sports over the years. So you are asking me to override a decision and a briefing from the department, both you and the member for Greatorex to…

Mr Elferink: Are you running the department or is the department running you, Jack?

Mr AH KIT: Well that’s something…

Madam SPEAKER: Order! Minister, would you address your remarks through the chair?

Dr BURNS: A point of order, Madam Speaker. He is addressing the member by his name.

Madam SPEAKER: That is right, and you know better than that.

A member interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER: Don’t start across the Chamber!

Mr AH KIT: Madam Speaker, that is an interesting point, and I would like to respond to the member for Macdonnell because what he needs to understand is that that particular statement is so important in terms of how they ran government and interacted with their departments and their CEOs as opposed to how we run government and interact with our CEOs.

Mr Elferink interjecting.

Mr AH KIT: You can hear the member for Macdonnell say, ‘Here we go’. What he is basically saying to me is that ministers in their government interfered with the processes and programs. We got $1.2m from the Treasurer who moved that across with Cabinet support from the member for Daly when he was in charge of that Community Benefits Fund and we saw the pork barrelling that happened before the election. We do not operate like that.

Madam Speaker, we have programs in place that they put in place and we will abide by those. I will receive briefings from the department and if we can fund it and the dollars are there - because we are certainly not a government that is going to go out and tell everyone that applies for funds that you will definitely get them. We have a lot of common sense attached to us in terms of the way we govern.

I wrote to the member for Macdonnell. He does not accept that. He has probably gone around Ntaria, Hermannsburg and bad-mouthed me. He could have looked at putting in an application for the Community Benefits Fund. There were other places to go. Some of these requests are ridiculous. I think I have another one here from the member for Greatorex asking for $500 for the Pentecostal Church. What I am telling them to do is to start using their initiative, as we did in opposition and as we still continue to do, to start looking around to get support for other dollars.

Madam Speaker, this was an opportunity for members opposite to raise issues in regards to the statement. They chose to do a bit more than that and raise issues that they have gripes with the sports and recreation programs and lack of funding to particular things that they support. Overall, the member for Blain was very supportive, and I welcome the bipartisan support that he has offered in terms of moving this forward. This is a statement to move forward, and I say it in the manner that we need to bring this out, debate it, get responses back and feedback from sporting organisations and teachers, etcetera, people who are involved in sport across the Northern Territory, to start providing feedback. It definitely was not deliberate in being put together as a visionary statement that would set aims, goals and objectives and all that sort of stuff. This is more or less the foundation to start moving things forward.

I see there is support, and hear there is support, for the Junior Sport Reference Group. I am glad that has just about everyone’s support in terms of how we develop that and move that forward. I am keen to see that initiative progress because it will provide us with relevant information on how we move the issues within the statement forward.

Once again, I thank the members for their contribution. I look forward to receiving feedback from them in writing so that I can have those comments taken on board and considered as we move forward in progressing some of the aims and objectives of the statement.

Motion agreed to; statement noted.
Revocation of Casuarina Coastal Reserve No 1677

Mr VATSKALIS (Lands and Planning): Madam Speaker, pursuant to section 76(7) of the Crown Lands Act, I hereby table a copy of a recommendation to His Honour the Administrator giving notice of a proposal to revoke a section of the Casuarina Coastal Reserve.

Casuarina Coastal Reserve No 1677 was proclaimed for the recreation or amusement of the public, and this proclamation appeared in the Northern Territory Government Gazette G37, dated 17 September 1982. It is now proposed to revoke part of the reserve to enable freehold title to issue over proposed Lot 9733, Town of Nightcliff, to the Northern Territory University for a proposed ceremonial drive, passive recreational lake, weir and associated works.

This cannot be revoked unless the minister has made a recommendation to the Administrator. The Legislative Assembly needs to approve the recommendation. I am further required to table the revocation in this Assembly for six sitting days. Once this time has elapsed, approval is deemed to have been given. In proposing this revocation, I am fulfilling commitments made over a period of time by the previous government to the university to pursue the building of this entrance statement.
Renewable Energy Initiatives in the Northern Territory

Mr VATSKALIS (Essential Services): Madam Speaker, I rise today to deliver a ministerial statement on the national campaign to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, and significant initiatives by our own Power and Water Authority, otherwise known as PAWA, to foster the use of renewable energy. Specifically, I will outline the vigorous campaign that PAWA has undertaken to achieve the Mandatory Renewal Energy Targets set for electricity retailers and other large buyers of power.

While I wish to focus today on the achievements for renewable energy initiatives by the Power and Water Authority, I would like to quickly comment on two vehicles that the government has taken delivery of for evaluation for use. These vehicles, one based in Central Australia at the Desert Knowledge Centre …

Mr DUNHAM: A point of order, Madam Speaker. The minister appears to have diverted from the copy of the statement circulated, and I wonder if this is a recent …

Mr STIRLING: Madam Speaker, we have had this rubbish before. That’s it; there will be no further speeches sent across to the Leader of the Opposition’s office in future - any time. That is given as a courtesy by the government and if he wants to argue, forget it. You do not get any advance copies of speeches from now on. The Leader of the Opposition apologised at the last sittings when the member for Macdonnell raised this rubbish, and he assured me it would not happen again and it has. You do not get a copy of the statement again.

Madam SPEAKER: Leader of Government Business, that outburst was completely unnecessary.

Mr DUNHAM: I understood I had the floor. I am merely making a point of order. I wonder if I have the right draft. I am not trying to create mischief. I am vitally interested in his statement.

Mr STIRLING: You already have, sunshine. You don’t get advance copies any more, so you don’t know what it says in future.

Madam SPEAKER: Leader of Government Business, I am giving you a warning. Your outburst is unnecessary. May I just say we have had this debate before, and it is a courtesy that government provides a statement. But it would also be courteous if the statement that was distributed was the statement the minister was delivering. That has been the normal procedure in this House for a long time, that we do that. And I would hope …

Mr DUNHAM: I am really not trying to be tricky, Madam Speaker. I am merely asking if the draft I have is the up-to-date one.

Mr STIRLING: If I could just make the point - when the member for Macdonnell raised a similar incidence, either in the last sittings or the sittings before, and we had this same debate, and the member for Macdonnell would remember this, and the Leader of the Opposition subsequently came to me and said, ‘I apologise for the rubbish that went on earlier. It will not happen again.’ Well, it won’t happen again because they won’t get advance copies of ministerial statements. They will get them distributed at the time the minister rises to make the statement, and it will never occur again.

Mr DUNHAM: Could that be distributed now please, Madam Speaker.

Madam SPEAKER: Look, this is getting out of hand. According to standing orders, if a minister rises to make a statement, the statement should be delivered to the House, it should be distributed.

Mr Stirling: The leader can’t even keep his own word.

Madam SPEAKER: That is enough from you. You have been warned once. I am not going to warn you again. We have had this debate before. It is only courtesy on the part of ministers to distribute the statement that they intend to deliver. If you intend to change it, then don’t deliver it the night before - simple as that. But you are getting out of hand, Leader of Government Business, and I am not very impressed with what you are saying. It is a courtesy and convention that has occurred in this House for many years - don’t you stand up when I am speaking, you sit there - and it is something that I think we have all accepted as common practice, and it has been a practice so that members on both sides of the House can prepare their response to a ministerial statement. And I expect that sort of courtesy to occur.

I will raise it again at the Standing Orders Committee meeting next week. I think what is happening, and I don’t say it is deliberate on the part of ministers, particularly new ministers, you must realise that it gives an opportunity for all people to be able to respond in a considered manner. I have always assumed that the paper I have received is what the minister will deliver.

I do not really want to continue this debate much longer. I have been very clear on what I have said, and unless you have something relevant, I advise you to sit down. Minister, you continue your statement and perhaps you could clarify the matter as you go on.

Mr VATSKALIS: Madam Speaker, I am surprised that this statement has not been distributed. If there is a variation, it is obviously a small variation. I will make sure that the members receive a copy of what I have in my hands today. It might be that you delivered one and you just type a couple of paragraphs and the members were not using new copies. I will make sure at the end of my statement the copy I have in my hand will be distributed to members on the other side.

Let me go back to the vehicles. These vehicles, one based in Central Australia at the Desert Knowledge Centre, and one based in my own Office of the Environment, are to be tested by government to assess their suitability and future use by NT Fleet. Toyota produced a hybrid vehicle that combines a petrol engine with an electric model to reduce fuel usage and emissions. It is estimated that the vehicle will use 50% less fuel than other similar sized vehicles, resulting in a significant reduction in the emission of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming. We will be testing those cars to assess their performance and their suitability for inclusion in the government fleet. This is about government leading the way, showing an example to others about what can be achieved in the fight against greenhouse emissions.

The Northern Territory has a proud history of pioneering renewable energy systems, and that record continues to strengthen in the face of global warming. First, by way of background information, I would like to touch very briefly on the important terms used in this whole debate, namely, the enhanced greenhouse effect and renewable energy.

Greenhouse gases form a natural part of the earth’s atmosphere. They trap warmth and keep our planet’s surface temperature at just the right level to support life. But the activities of the industrial age have disturbed the natural balance. We have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases by using fossil fuels, and clearing and burning vegetation. In fact, the world now draws about 80% of its commercial energy from non-renewable fossil fuels. This creates the prospect of climatic change. It is what scientists call the ‘enhanced greenhouse effect’. Carbon dioxide makes the biggest contribution of all to the enhanced greenhouse effect, accounting for almost three-quarters of it. Methane makes the next biggest input, about 20% of the total.

What exactly is renewable energy? We define renewable energy as an end source of energy we can use without emptying its reserves. Examples include sunlight or solar energy, wind, wave, hydro and biomass energy. Biomass energy comes from any recently produced organic matter we can use as an energy source. The Australian government has set out to boost renewable energy as an important part of its overall plan to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. During the Kyoto negotiations in 1997, the government committed Australia to developing new renewable energy sources as one of its responses to the greenhouse issue. A new set of laws followed, when the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000, came into effect on 1 April last year.

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Australian government wants renewable energy sources to contribute an extra 2% of the nation’s electricity mix, by the year 2010. This includes direct investment in alternative energy sources such as solar hot water heaters. That is a target of 9500 gigawatt hours. It is estimated that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as seven million tonnes. Our own objective in the Northern Territory is 57 gigawatt hours. There are milestones for each year until 2010, and all electricity retailers and other large buyers of power are expected to play their part.

The Australian Greenhouse Office, as lead Commonwealth agency on greenhouse matters, is responsible for delivering a swag of renewable energy programs. These schemes feature a number of important initiatives, including support for drawing on renewable energy for remote power generation, and for the use of solar power in residential and community buildings. Green energy - in the form of solar power, solar hot water, wind, hydro and biomass - now attracts subsidies of up to 50% from the Greenhouse Office.

Some state and territory governments, including our own, have taken up the campaign to increase the uptake of renewable energy. Of course, the search for renewable energy sources is nothing new to the Northern Territory. Ever since the first day of self-government in 1978, the Power and Water Authority has set its sights on finding innovative and environmentally friendly ways of delivering services to customers. Power and Water appointed its first environmental services officer when the Channel Island power station was being designed in the 1980s - a move seen as recognition of the need for good environmental practice among Northern Territory agencies.

In 1997, the Power and Water Authority signed up as an inaugural member of the Greenhouse Challenge, a joint voluntary initiative between the Commonwealth and industry to abate greenhouse emissions. Such agreements provide the framework for undertaking and reporting on actions to decrease emissions. Although the Power and Water Authority was among the first 100 companies to join the Greenhouse Challenge, it had earlier made a substantial contribution to developing a Northern Territory greenhouse strategy at the very start of the decade. Three years later, it was well on the way to introducing the measures outlining that strategy and, by 1996, had further acknowledged the need for environmental efficiency through the formation of an environmental management committee. In March 1999, PAWA formed an environmental management branch.

Today, the Territory has a lot to be proud of when it comes to clean, green energy. For a start, PAWA relies almost entirely on natural gas piped from Central Australia as a fuel for generating power. Per unit of energy, natural gas gives off less carbon dioxide than any other fossil fuel. We are operating in a much cleaner and greener manner than other power utilities in this country whose activities are coal-based. The process of burning gas generates about one-tenth of the emissions put out by coal.

In the Northern Territory, common concerns about global warming form only one part of PAWA’s overall environmental strategy. The Power and Water Authority is committed to first-rate environmental management as part of its drive to maintain overall business efficiencies. One way or another, every activity PAWA undertakes will have some impact on the environment. So, as a good corporate citizen, PAWA naturally wants to perform its functions in an environmentally sensitive manner. The practice of using the resources efficiently forms one of Power and Water’s key business objectives: it is good business sense.

Members of Power and Water’s Board, management and staff have set themselves a goal of gaining community recognition of the organisation as a clean and green provider of sustainable power, water and sewerage services. To achieve this objective, the entire team seeks to foster a best practice approach to environmental management and delivery of services. The Power and Water Authority bases its environmental management on statutory obligations, an overarching environmental policy, and a corporate-level environment management system. In fact, Power and Water recently completed its first annual environmental management plan, covering the year 2001-02. The plan encourages further integration of environmental duty of care into Power and Water’s business plan and day-to-day activities.

Everyone involved with the Power and Water Authority is encouraged to keep environmental considerations in mind at all times. It is not hard to understand why. In a part of Australia that still retains a great deal of its natural beauty, Power and Water employees often find themselves working in a landscape that is strikingly beautiful yet, at times, hostile to them and their projects. We are all familiar with the Territory’s extreme of climate and long distances. With a population approaching 200 000, the Northern Territory is a sparsely settled area with none of the long history of industrial development common to other states. Therefore, it is very difficult to achieve the economies of scale enjoyed in Australia’s more densely settled areas.

Nevertheless, Territorians like to get things done, and we like to use our initiative. Obviously, over the years, this prevailing attitude has found its way into the culture of Power and Water. We find evidence of it, for example, in the installation of new generators at Tennant Creek Power Station. There were some rehabilitative problems following the installation of these generators, but these problems are now being addressed, and this facility now uses leading-edge spark ignition technology that cuts the amount of fuel consumed by more than half when compared with the previous gas turbines. Five megawatt gas engines have been installed to achieve a much higher operating efficiency and to replace older equipment that had reached the end of its useful life. Because of low gas usage, this new technology will bring savings of about $2m a year, but it will also reduce greenhouse emission, with a cut of more than 27 tonnes anticipated.

At Yulara Power Station near Uluru, similar technology will bring a reduction of 700 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. These improvements in generating capacity at Yulara will cater for load growth related to the tourist resort. Both installations will make a significant contribution to the Territory’s drive to reduce our overall greenhouse gas emissions.

The Power and Water Authority services an area of nearly 1.352 million km - more than four times the size of Britain. So, a large part of its efforts have been devoted to bringing renewable energy to more than 80 remote communities scattered throughout this vast area. Most of these communities are reliant on diesel to generate electricity, so the use of renewable energy would significantly reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Solar power has been used to pump water to 200 Aboriginal communities and outstations since the 1980s. Some members of this House will recall the introduction of solar cells to radio repeater sites. They will also remember a bid to harness tidal flows through an experimental turbine set up in Apsley Strait, between Bathurst and Melville Islands, as a Northern Territory University research project. Unfortunately, the tidal power project was not found to be viable.

Other projects involved wind monitoring at Tennant Creek, a wind turbine for a pilot project at Epenarra, south-east of Tennant Creek, and the establishment and operation of a solar energy test site at Djilkminggan, near Mataranka. The Djilkminggan project is a fully operating power station that receives a substantial amount of its energy from various solar arrays. In fact, it was this site that showed we can reduce peak demand on a diesel system by adding one-third photovoltaic systems.

But there may be ways of reducing the amount of expensive diesel for electricity generation. Not so long ago, the Kings Canyon Resort and the Bulman community in Arnhem Land were chosen for a ground-breaking research project. The project aims to mix solar and diesel technology to achieve the best results, and would be a first for Australia. This hybrid system would certainly lower fuel costs, reduce operation and maintenance costs, and provide greenhouse gas abatement benefits by using renewable energy. Kings Canyon and Bulman are different, yet similar. One is a large resort in the arid zone, with a maximum demand of 650 kilowatts, and servicing a national park. The other is a remote Aboriginal community in the tropics with a demand peaking at 160 kilowatts, yet Kings Canyon and Bulman do have similarities. Neither community is suitable for wind generation and both pay much more than the average Northern Territory remote community for power generation, which means they will benefit most from a successful outcome.

Power and Water will build, own and operate the facilities and will use as much local and Australian content as possible and will involve the Northern Territory Centre for Energy Research as part of the project implementation team. Using Kings Canyon as a demonstration site will ensure thousands of visitors can see the project every year thus helping to promote sustainable energy principles to the wider community. Success in this venture would have wide spread benefits for remote settlements. Power and Water has investigated other initiatives such as wind turbines at Tennant Creek, biodiesel for other communities, which is methanol mixed with diesel fuel, or a blend of diesel fuel with vegetable oils such as canola. Then there are the photovoltaic dish concentrator systems to be installed at three remote communities - Hermannsburg, Lajamanu and Yuendumu.

This technology consists of high powered solar cell banks combined with a parabolic dish reflector that traps the sun. Sunlight shines on the reflector mirrors and is then focussed on the cell bank in the receiver where it is converted directly to electricity. After several years of talk and investigation, Power and Water and Solar Systems Pty Ltd eventually achieved a set of understandings that will enable the installation of this unique technology. At this stage, eight solar systems will be installed at Hermannsburg, 12 at Lajamanu and eight at Yuendumu. It is anticipated that the first solar power station will be on line in about twelve months and we hope this project could one day lead to the setting up of as many as 200 dishes in remote communities. Power and Water and Solar Systems selected these three communities as the ideal locations for the first three power stations. The partners intend to construct the full complement over several years using the government’s renewable energy rebate program.

Which brings me to an exciting new campaign I launched last November to encourage Territorians to buy solar hot water systems. The solar hot water rebate scheme offers a rebate towards the cost of a solar hot water system, and I am pleased to say that the people of the Northern Territory have risen to the challenge.

As I mentioned earlier, purchasers of wholesale electricity, including the Power and Water Authority, would be obliged to meet a share of their renewable energy target in proportion to their slice of the national market. As part of the drive to achieve this, PAWA, like other electricity retailers, needs to collect and surrender what are called renewable energy certificates, or RECs, to the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator. Solar hot water systems installed after 1 April last year are eligible for these certificates. Consumers obtain the certificates when they are buying solar hot water systems and then present them to Power and Water for a discount. The rebates are worth as much as $900 depending on the size of the hot water system. And don’t forget, domestic and commercial customers who install hot water systems will also make significant savings on their electricity bill. In an average household where the quarterly power bill averages $300, solar hot water can take as much as $100 off the cost. That is a worthwhile saving in anyone’s language.

Madam Speaker, Territorians have recognised this. I am proud to announce that to date, 5248 renewable energy certificates have been collected since 1 January this year. This is out of a year’s total allocation of 7000. Clearly Territorians are into solar power and our record stands for all to see. At the same time, Territorians will make a difference to the environment. In fact, by converting from electric to solar, the average home can reduce its greenhouse gas emission by as much as three tonnes a year. This is like taking a small car off the road for the same period; no small achievement in terms of the environment. But as we have seen, participation in the rebate scheme represents just one of many Power and Water efforts to force the development of renewable energy.

Madam Speaker, both the Power and Water Authority and the Northern Territory government will continue to make a significant contribution to a clean, green future for our planet. Looking at what Power and Water has achieved so far, it is easy to see there is no limit to what this organisation can achieve in the future.

In conclusion, Madam Speaker, I move that the Assembly take note of the statement and applaud the efforts and the hard work done by the management and the workers of the Power and Water Authority.

Members: Hear, hear!

Mr DUNHAM (Drysdale): Madam Speaker, I readily applaud the efforts of the team at the Power and Water Authority, as the minister said in the conclusion of his statement, and I readily support the statement. It is a very good statement to bring to the House. It is something that needs reporting on from time to time.

Certainly, there is not a civilised society in the world that can be devoid of power. I remember Professor Harry Butler once saying, ‘Unless you want to go back to eating raw meat in a cave in the dark you need to be able to generate electricity and generate power’. It is incumbent on governments as they develop to work out ways to harness energy in a way that does not cause other environmental problems.

I note too, the minister’s generosity in recognising much of the pre-history in this statement. On his way through, he talked on a number of occasions about the heritage that goes back to the 1980s and 1990s. I note his generosity in recognising the work that has been done by the previous government on this. I also applaud those couple of new initiatives that are in here. The one that caused the wrath of the Leader of Government Business was about the solar cars. I had hoped to talk about the minister’s involvement in this matter in my rejoinder. I remember reading the press on it. It is a very good initiative. When he did speak about that early in his speech, I was worried that I had missed a couple of pages. I can assure the House that it is my great interest in the issues rather than trying to trip the minister up or anything which caused the seeming wrath of the Leader of Government Business.

I note too that the system that was employed by the previous government about the encouragement of people, and you yourself, Madam Speaker, put out a press release on this, I remember, about 18 months ago, when it was introduced by previous government to encourage people to move to hot water systems. It was something that had quite a long period of debate of about a year or so. I note that under current arrangements that has been further developed. I applaud that move because the installation costs are prohibitive to the extent that often people will forgo that saving the minister talked about because they really have to cut costs at the time they build their house, or whenever they are doing the installation.

The Centre for Energy Research that was, or I think it still is, headed by Associate Professor Dean Paterson, has had some good research come out of there, the solar car being but one of the special outputs from the centre. Territorians have now become fairly blas about the solar race across the continent but at its inception it grabbed the notice of the world. It is interesting that now we are seeing the minister include in his statement the fact that there are cars running partially off solar. In 1998, the Power and Water Authority actually sponsored the establishment of the Northern Territory Centre for Energy Research. So it has a very close relationship with our own NT University and the very small engineering facility there, but a very research-focussed one.

I recall opening a national conference in 1999 and we had several international speakers. There were papers selected from around Australia and a few international ones. There were six, in fact, accepted from students from our own NTU, and it was a source of some pride for me that we could put our research into such an environment and go head to head with some of the notable speakers around the world.

The key roles for the centre are the development of local strategies to meet our obligations under the Kyoto protocol on renewable sources, and the research and development of the appropriate technologies here in the Northern Territory. That is why we have been able to, as the minister alluded to in his speech, come up with local innovations that are appropriate for some of the climatic conditions that he described and some of the harsh realities of places where these projects have to be successful.

One that is, I think, about through its pilot phase - and I note that the minister did note it and say he would come back to the parliament on it - is the use of the noxious weed mimosa pigra in a biomass energy production unit. The technology seemed fairly simple at the advisory stage I was at where we had actually moved to the manufacture of briquettes and we were about to use it to fuel a redundant generating set and provide about 200 kilowatts of capacity. This is obviously win/win/win. We already have to pay somebody to eradicate this noxious weed. In doing so, we just fire it up and create more greenhouse problems or, with some simpler technologies, we could move to these biomass briquettes and use it to fire a set. I am very hopeful about this project because I think that - and the minister did talk about this in his statement, albeit fleetingly - about some of the tourist capacity, certainly at Kings Canyon. The hybrid system there has the potential to attract tourists’ interest. Likewise, this project would be on the way to Kakadu National Park and it would be another tourism product that people could see, in a very tangible way, some of our environmental credentials in terms of eradicating this noxious weed and also putting it to a good use.

With the ongoing research into biomass and other renewable energy sources of tidal power, wind power, solar energy, they offer some very valuable opportunities for PAWA to achieve that 2% renewables mandate which has been set for us under Kyoto protocols. I used to mourn the fact, I guess, that the Kyoto protocols came in after we had already introduced fairly efficient systems and we got no credit for that. Whereas, those systems that were running on that terrible, inefficient, noxious black coal or brown coal on the eastern seaboard, I would say it was much easier for them to meet the principles than it was for us where we already had moved to cleaner power. But nonetheless, I think that 2% renewables mandate is something that could be taken on. We have shown great spirit in saying, ‘Okay, well let’s look at ways of doing it’, and necessity being the mother of invention, it will drive a lot of the technology and environmental research here in the Territory and a lot of the trialling.

I agree with the minister that Power and Water does have a proud record of innovation and it has certainly demonstrated a commitment over many years, decades now, to environmental matters. It has played a very significant role in exploring new technologies - not just, as I said, through the Centre for Energy Research through our own NTU, but also through the placement of students and through assistance with human and other resources for research capacity.

I have visited our 80 kW wind generator at Epenarra and I have seen the wind monitors on the hill that overlooks the power station at Tennant Creek. That initiative followed research by the Authority in conjunction with the Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy, ACRE. I guess it is a bit of a sad fact because we have in our own Trade Development Zone very significant wind generation technology. That particular company has introduced that technology in several sites around Australia in including Queensland and Western Australia but it is a fairly difficult thing to achieve here because the potential for wind generation has a wind belt and people like the member for Barkly would know about the wind belt across the Barkly. Unfortunately it does not coincide with population areas nor with the need for that sort of energy in terms of infrastructure.

So, we know where the wind is, we know how to harvest it but there is not much point if we are creating energy that is redundant, if you like. But it did not stop the Power and Water Authority from looking at that wind belt that crosses the Barkly and right into the Tanami region. It is a fairly predictable wind belt. It has very few geographic and other features that would inhibit harnessing that energy. I think that some of the technology that is there could be used. For instance, we know this is an underexplored geological area that is potentially very rich, and it is one of those research things that we could safely tuck into a drawer and pull out at another time.

ACRE also cooperated with our solar energy test site at Djilkminggan. I have also visited this site, where about one third of the energy is produced to lop the top of the peak which is diesel generated, as most of our remote Aboriginal communities are; a heavy, noxious, expensive fuel. By lopping the top off the peak, it gave us savings in being able to not have to produce more generation, so we could run off less sets than having to equip for those small peaks that you see in those small communities.

The scenario for power industries really is that the research has got to be economic. It has to be not far fetched stuff; it has to be able to deliver tangible outcomes because every generator is going to find himself in the same boat and those commercial realities will intrude. That is why it is a good thing that some of those initiatives that come from Commonwealth programs do have a monetary and real value attached to them because it has the capacity – like, for instance, the credits that the minister talked about with the hot water solar system - for the commercial reality to be wedded to some of the environmental realities.

In 1997, PAWA signed a Greenhouse Challenge Cooperative Agreement and that program involved the Commonwealth, industry and other voluntary measures and I think it flowed out of Kyoto. If it didn’t, it occurred at about the same time. That aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions to 1995 levels by this year or the last few years. I think we achieved that where in the year 2000 we achieved fewer emissions than we did in 1995. And we did it, as the minister said, through some of the technology. For instance, in Tennant Creek we put in the spark ignition technology, the Cat machines there and I, too, recognise we had some reliability problems. But, as I said, with the innovation and can-do attitude in the Power and Water Authority, I understand from my contacts, they have been largely ironed out and the savings are enormous.

The authority, as I said, already starts from a very good position environmentally because our major power stations are already gas fired and they emit less carbon dioxide than coal fired power stations. The environmental efficiency of our power stations is measured in carbon intensity. PAWA operates at about 0.6 kilotons of carbon dioxide per gigawatt hour which is two-thirds of the Australian average and, as I said, a good benchmark to start from in any event. I remember when we installed those generators I talked about in Tennant Creek and the fuel supplier said, ‘Are you sure there’s not something wrong with the valve, the flow metres?’, because they were stunned at just how much less fuel these new sets used. They are hooked up in tandem and instead of firing up a big set, you can match your peak loads much better with these cat generators.

That leading edge spark ignition technology reduced the amount of gas fuel used by 50% in the last couple of years and that is an enormous saving in terms of burning of fossil fuels, in terms of the economics and all the rest of it. That equated to about $2m. But interestingly - and these are dated figures so they could be wrong – it has reduced greenhouse gas emissions with a cut of 27.2 thousand tonnes, 27 tonnes less out at Tennant Creek. So these are good news stories. The thermal efficiency in Tennant Creek also increased from 19% up to about 33%. I was fortunate also to be at Yulara when we opened the new sets there and it was pretty much the same technology, albeit not at the same levels as Tennant Creek because I think the initial sets at Tennant Creek were pretty inefficient in any event.

Channel Island uses gas fired turbines. I was able to be on site when we commissioned Set Seven and, like Tennant Creek, we experienced some significant technological problems which were ironed out. But there are some big savings to come from this. It is aero-derivative technology, the same set as is bolted under the wings of Boeing jets, and it has the potential to save us big bucks in terms of its efficiency. When we look at some of the innovation, Channel Island has a very obvious one. It is colloquially called the ‘Big Esky’, where we use off-peak energy to chill water there and that water is put through the intake fans to reduce ambient temperature and thus increase the efficiency of the motors. That is not a local invention, the technology is well known, but that was all installed and done here.

The Apsley Strait that the minister mentioned – it is a pity that it was not efficient, but it basically worked off a turbine sitting in some of the fastest flowing waters in Australia, and that is between Bathurst and Melville Islands, where you have tides of up to seven and eight metres that rip through both ways, obviously one way or another, every six hours. I still think there is hope for tidal technology. Certainly the French in Normandy, in Northern France, have harnessed it. They have not done it by way of direct turbine; I think they have used some sort of a dam system. There is still the basis of that research sitting there, as I said, and it is available to other innovators and dreamers to look at and to see how it might be adapted in the Northern Territory.

I can recall when Pivot were looking at a aquaculture facility at Point Hurd on Bathurst Island. I did ask them to make contact with the Power and Water Authority to see whether there was potential for the equipment, which was obviously redundant or being deployed somewhere else, to be used for this fairly remote site, where they also had caged barramundi. So they were already in the water. They were already able to anchor and harness their gear, and it could well have been a small augmentation of that power system. I am not sure if that ever came to pass.

In the 1980s in Katherine, I was also pretty lucky that we were installing lots of infrastructure in remote outstations, particularly in southeast Arnhem Land. The member for Arnhem would be very aware of some of the communities there, Boomerang Lagoon and Wagamurr and Numaluri and places like that. They are very small communities where people have moved on traditional land and often it is just a natural billabong. People take up residence and leave on a fairly unpredictable and spontaneous basis. We had the problem of water tanks where the water stewed, if you like, because it wasn’t moving over. So we put solar systems on it, we flushed the water out of the billabong and through the tank on a continual direct basis so that there was no power storage. It was basically done on when the sun was up. Those systems worked pretty well. In fact, I can remember going out after one of the cyclones in the late 1980s and all of the solar arrays were still in place. The systems were all pretty much working - I am surprised to say they were almost vandal proof - and in the 1980s it was a pretty impressive thing to see this technology being used in such a way. It was cheap once you put it on site, it required very little and it was perfectly adaptable as the appropriate technology for the place.

The business about the photovoltaic arrays with the condensers, or whatever those dishes are called. I applaud the minister on this. It is something that we should continue to look at. Basically, they harvest and intensify energy so that you have a much more powerful source than you would with a normal PB array. I think it has the potential to work in Alice Springs. As I said, with the biomass and other technology, I think it has got the potential to be a tourist attraction. People are very interested in this sort of stuff and they like the fact that they come to Alice Springs and they see that we do things differently and better, and that there is an innate sense in all of us that we believe the environment is something that should be cared for.

I would like to see more work with wind, and I know that that will happen. Australia, with its ubiquitous windmill on the flat plain is pretty much the icon image of the place. It shows that this sort of energy has been around for a long time, and it has been harvested by people for a long time. Some of the next generation of technological breakthroughs like, for instance, the solar cars, was not just a matter of the efficiency of harvesting the energy through the solar array, but also the amount of area that it took. Some of the big breakthroughs obviously will go to issues like storage, because it is quite a difficult thing to store energy other than these big cumbersome batteries. If you go to remote communities where they use a lot of photovoltaic, the batteries certainly are a big problem for them.

I commend the minister on his interest in this area, which I think is evident in his statement. What he has provided for us here is a bit of a catalogue, if you like, or smorgasbord of things that are happening. I hope that we get fairly frequent reporting on these things, because I would be surprised if there aren’t a lot of people interested in it. I would be very surprised if there aren’t people anywhere that see it as anything but good news.

I encourage the minister too, in the business about the Chief Minister talking to premiers from other places. Certainly, we are led to believe that they are keen for gas to come onshore, but there are some downstream issues to that. The major downstream issue is, will you buy it? And if you buy it, will you use it to replace the cheap brown coal? This is a pretty gutsy decision for governments to make because, essentially, in mouthing those words, they are talking about their power rates going up, which is the inevitable outcome. It is in the interests of Australia to do so, and if the Chief Minister can take them those next couple of steps, and that is not only do we think it is in Australia’s interests to come onshore, but we are a customer and we will put ourselves in the place of being a predictable foundation customer so that you can bank on us, and we also believe that gas is a much better commodity for generation of energy in any event, that we are going to move away from our extensive and cheap resources of brown coal.

There are some things that could be reported as we go. I still believe that the Northern Territory is vastly underexplored in relation to other jurisdictions. I believe that there is the potential for significant finds of, certainly gas, and maybe oil energy onshore as well as offshore, and that matters relating to breaking the back of some of the technologies relating to solar power will see that as becoming a very mundane, pedestrian energy source here in the Territory.

Madam Speaker, I commend the minister on his statement and I look forward to hearing further on some of the initiatives that have been outlined here.

Ms LAWRIE (Karama): Madam Speaker, I rise this afternoon to congratulate Minister Vatskalis for his statement on renewable energy initiatives. It is a subject dear to my heart, and I commend the member for Drysdale for his very supportive comments in response to the minister’s statement. Having read the statement carefully, I note that the Power and Water Authority, for many years, has been pursuing renewable energy initiatives in the Territory. I have a copy of Engineers Australia, dated January 1995, in front of me, singing the praises of the Northern Territory Power and Water Authority, with several projects underway that are aiming to develop alternative energy sources.

It is heartening for someone who cares greatly about our environment and about the obvious need to pursue alternative energy sources to see that a jurisdiction the size of the Northern Territory is pursuing its role at the cutting edge of looking at alternative energy sources. And I say cutting edge because the projects that are occurring in outback regions of the Northern Territory are extremely exciting for people who have an interest in energy sources. I congratulate the Power and Water Authority in terms of looking at the gas that it relies on in terms of Channel Island and energy production in the Northern Territory. We are ahead already because of the initiatives undertaken by the Power and Water Authority, and the statement delivered in the Assembly today shows very clearly, unequivocally, that this Territory government is absolutely committed to pursuing and expanding upon alternative, renewable, energy sources.

I am pleased that the minister made particular note in his statement of the Northern Territory Centre for Energy Research. Without research and development, renewable energy would still be a pipe dream held by a few who hope to leave something for future generations. That is, some of us do not want to retreat to the cave and eat meat, as mentioned by the member for Drysdale. I am glad to see that he concurs with my concerns there.

Essentially, it is beholden I believe, on affluent industrial societies like Australia to use its wealth generated in business and industry, and through taxing of its people, to pursue research and development that could ultimately benefit the entire world. That might seem to some people a very long and large claim to make, but already, in August of last year, we saw the announcement of a Northern Territory company called PowerCorp, providing wind energy in Antarctica. That just goes to show that research and development needs more jurisdictions like the Northern Territory. Whether that research is through government or private organisations, I believe that research has to occur in an environment where government is really at the forefront of encouraging that research and development and those initiatives.

It pleases me greatly to see in the ministerial statement such as the one delivered this evening in the Assembly by Minister Vatskalis that, in a short space of time since taking government, he has stepped up, taken action and put crucial initiatives out there. The Kings Canyon Resort initiative is really ground-breaking in its aim of mixing solar and diesel technology to achieve terrific energy results and – as the member for Drysdale indicated, and Minister Vatskalis told us - the importance of this Kings Canyon project is complemented by its geographical location, and by the fact that tourists go there and are drawn to it. I strongly believe that it is the role of public awareness, in identifying that renewable energy sources are being sought and are actually operating on the ground at the moment in the Territory, is fundamental to changing public perceptions about the importance of renewable energy sources.

Complementing that is the solar hot water system rebate scheme that Minister Vatskalis implemented after Labor took government in the Territory. That scheme is sending a strong message to consumers, whether they are household or business consumers: put in solar hot water systems and you will get cash back. That cash, fundamentally, makes such systems affordable to people, averaging around $700 back; that is a large amount of money. It is certainly the difference, for a lot of families, when deciding whether or not to go for solar hot water. I heap praise on my minister for this initiative. People come to the Territory and say, ‘My goodness, look at the sun. You have such potential here for solar energy sources’. The obvious one for many people is solar hot water systems - that technology has been around for quite a while. I remember in the early 1980s witnessing solar hot water come into our household and thinking that naturally everyone had it. It shocked me that people were not moving at the rate I expected to introducing solar hot water systems.

Again, it makes power affordable; it reduces power costs per household. If you introduce solar hot water, it can knock $100 a quarter off your electricity bill. Whilst we know there are cost savings there for consumers, there were financial barriers previously existing to them in implementing solar hot water systems. Those financial barriers, through this important rebate scheme, I believe have been removed. There are no longer barriers for people to introduce solar hot water systems. Every effort that every individual consumer makes, adds up to the big picture of crucial embracing of renewable energy sources.

I congratulate our government for pursuing the eight solar systems to be installed at Hermannsburg, the 12 at Lajamanu and eight at Yuendumu. It is exciting to see that, in these remote communities where often they are the last to receive initiatives, that they are, when it comes to renewable energy, at the forefront of government and the Power and Water Authority initiatives.

Whilst I took on board the comments made by the member for Drysdale and expert advice I have received in terms of potential for wind power in the Northern Territory, I am aware that the Barkly seems to be the wind belt of the Territory. Wind power therefore, in that region, seems to be viable, but elsewhere is perhaps questionable. In my experience, technology - and research and development associated with technology - can advance things to the stage where what seemed impossible five years ago is possible today. I would continue to encourage the minister and the Power and Water Authority to look at the options of wind power. I know the winds in the Territory, other than the Barkly, are deemed to be unpredictable. I believe that companies such as PowerCorp, which has been at the cutting edge of research and development in wind power, hold us in good stead to continue, with government encouragement, with the Centre for Energy Research, to pursue options for wind power in the Territory.

Like the member for Drysdale, I actually haven’t given up the ghost on tidal power. We are very tidal up here in the Territory at various places. Certainly, in working with groups such as ATSIC and the Northern Land Council, identifying pilots for places for tidal power, I see it as part of our future - certainly, it is not part of our present. We are pursuing solar energy options and wind energy options at present, but I would like to see - and I do believe that in a jurisdiction as small as the Territory, where we have a government working cooperatively with key stakeholders industry researchers - we can perhaps pursue the issue of tidal power as well.

I look forward to a statement from the minister in future sittings of the Assembly in reference to biomass and the role that weeds can play in being energy sources, particularly the noxious weeds that are responsible for destroying vast sections of the Territory environment. In all, I would like to strongly commend this statement to every member of the Assembly. Like the member for Drysdale, I hope that the media picks up on this statement and promotes it throughout the Territory. Energy is crucial to all of our ways of life. We are sitting in here under lights tonight, we are talking into microphones which require an energy source to run. Our society would shut down without increasing use and reliance on renewable energy sources. It is a fact that fossil fuels will not be able to sustain the global energy needs in the future. I urge each member of the Assembly to be supportive of the efforts made by Minister Vatskalis, of the efforts made by the Power and Water Authority and the officers who work with Mr Vatskalis, in pursuing renewable energy resources.

Mr VATSKALIS (Essential Services): Mr Deputy Speaker, I will comment on one thing that my colleague, the member for Karama, said: we live in a society where we rely a lot upon electricity. If, by any chance, electricity disappeared from our life tomorrow, our society would cease exist or cease to function. As we become more and more sophisticated, we rely more and more on this kind of energy. I suppose many of us were born in an era when we learnt to turn the switch on and all of a sudden the light comes on. We rely upon efficient refrigeration. Most of us cook - especially in the Territory - on a hotplate, or on a stove, rather than with gas. But the problem, of course, is we have to find a means to generate electricity. We are not fortunate enough to have the resources that other states or other countries have. We have plenty of sun, we have plenty of wind - at least in some areas - and we have plenty of coal in Australia.

However, the problem with some of these resources is they are non-renewable. For example, coal or oil; there is so much down there we can use, after a while it will disappear. Other countries have found that out the hard way. The other, of course, is the effects on the environment of using these kinds of fossil fuels, not only the localised environment, but environmental damage that will affect other countries. I want to remind you of the acid rain in the 1980s, and the destruction of the forests and some of the lakes in Europe, and also in America, because of the high emission of sulphur dioxide by burning brown coal. We tend to think that coal in Australia is plentiful, it is very cheap to dig out of the ground and to produce it and take it to the factory, but nobody has ever put a pure value on the effects on the environment. How much it will take to replace that forest if it disappears from Europe? How much it is going to actually take to clean the lakes in Australia to return them to what they were before? When we do that, what is going to be in the lakes? Most of the animal life or the fish life will have disappeared.

I have said many times before that in the Territory we rely mainly on two industries, the building industry and the tourism industry. If we want to survive either jurisdiction, we have to develop some real industry, but in order to develop real industry, we need to have plenty of energy and also cheap energy. Electricity from renewable resources is exactly what we need in the Territory. That is why this government, my colleague, the Minister for Business, Industry and Resource Development, and other ministers pursue with such vigour for gas to come to Darwin even if some parties disagree about the location where it is going to land and where the liquified gas factory is going to be. However, we have to admit if we want to survive as a jurisdiction, if we are going to see a population increase, if we are going to become a real state, we need energy. And we need energy which can be translated to industry. That is the only way to the future.

I thank my colleague, the member for Karama, and also the member for Drysdale for their good words. I acknowledge their strong interest in power and water, and not only producing and generating sufficient electricity. I am a very great supporter of using renewable resources to produce electricity. One of the things that drove me to choose hybrid cars is because I want to have something that is modern, something that we can use at a later date if NT Fleet assesses them and finds they are acceptable, something that actually can use less fossil fuel and can use renewable resources, something that is not going to pollute the environment.

I found out that we are a bit unfortunate in the Territory because using the airconditioning increases the fuel consumption of the car dramatically, and while it usually uses about 10% to 15 % of petrol, here it would use about 50 % of the petrol that other cars will use. At the same time, the selection of those two cars is encouraging for industry to look at in the future and to produce more efficient and better cars. You never know, in a few years’ time the majority of the cars out in the streets might be hybrid cars. I was advised by the company representative that they were expecting to sell 30 cars in Australia in a year - they sold 130 hybrid cars in the first three months because of a strong interest generated by the advertising of course, but also by the car itself. It looks like and behaves like a normal car.

One of the things I am very interested in is the different power stations in the Territory because energy is essential and important for all Territorians. I have visited all of them, and I intend to visit them again. I want to keep in touch with the people working in Power and Water, and also I want to encourage Power and Water to find new innovative ways to produce energy. Energy that will cost us less and also reduce the impact on the environment. I must admit that they have done really well. As I previously mentioned, the new generator in Tennant Creek and Yulara use 50% of the fuel that the previous generator was using. That of course results not only in savings in our economy, but also savings in the emission of greenhouse effects and its impact on the environment. Some of the agreements were not to my liking, but I can live with that for the time being – there is no way I can get out of it, but at least we have new equipment that actually is very efficient at producing energy at a reasonable cost.

I want to assure the House that I will update you on any new innovative procedures that Power and Water employs, any new advancements in technology, and of course any savings that we achieve. Not only savings because we use less fuel, but any positive impact on the environment. I am looking forward to see if we can use some of the biomass in the Territory to produce electricity - mimosa pigra would be an ideal medium to use - we get rid of the weed, and at the same time we can use it to produce electricity.

We are working very closely with some companies in South Australia and other southern states. Companies which come to us with some innovative ideas, we would be prepared to sit down and discuss them and why not try them here. If you don’t try, you will never find out if it works, and we are trying to make things to work for our benefit.

Motion agreed to; statement noted.

Ms MARTIN (Chief Minister): Mr Deputy Speaker, I move that the Assembly do now adjourn.

Motion agreed to; the Assembly adjourned.
Last updated: 04 Aug 2016