Mr GUYULA to MINISTER for EDUCATION
NAPLAN testing is today. This test is in English and uses English speakers’ world view as the means of assessment. This clearly puts Indigenous students at a disadvantage, many of whom do not speak English as a first language, and who live out of an Indigenous cultural world view. Will the Northern Territory Government continue to submit Indigenous students to this exam forever?
Madam Speaker, I thank the Member for Nhulunbuy for the question. It is a pertinent question, as this week is NAPLAN week for schools across Australia. It is a federal initiative, not one of those things the Northern Territory Government controls. It is also tied to Commonwealth funding.
If we do not do NAPLAN testing we would probably not receive funding from the federal government, which is also pertinent, as the federal government introduces its budget. There has been a lot of talk about the amount of money going into education across Australia. The story in the Northern Territory is not that good.
I think we all agree that NAPLAN is a point-in-time test, and is probably is not the fairest measure for kids whose English is a second, third or fourth language. But it provides data for a heap of purposes.
That said, by Year 5, 7 and 9—the older years—we hope all our Territory can close the gap and achieve better results. It is a measure of how well our students are going in English. Over the years it has had a greater emphasis than it should have. To me, it is just another test. We should not put so much stress on our students in regard to that test. Children are tested regularly in school and NAPLAN is just another one of those.
Member for Nhulunbuy, I hear your concerns regarding Indigenous children. The same goes for children who are refugees and migrants as well.
I visited Yuendumu recently and they were looking at testing children in phonics using their own language of Warlpiri. I think over time things may change with NAPLAN, but it is a federal initiative, and most of our principals and schools should take the pressure off children and encourage them to simply do as well as they can.
I rise to speak about the 2017 appropriations bill.
I come from the region of East Arnhem Land….. This region has contributed millions upon millions to the Northern Territory Economy for many decades.
Many in my region wonder if we get an equal return for that input. We often wonder if we would be better off separate from Darwin based governance….. This is a question worth asking, and of course a question worth waiting for an answer…..
But we have already waited more than 35 years.
This budget does not answer my question. There is nothing in it that sticks out and says yes there is advantage….. There is nothing in it that immediately says advancement….. However in a situation that is reported as difficult economic times we can see ongoing basic service provision…., this I support.
We do not want panicked reactions.
I am glad that the government has not reacted like the opposition.
The answer to economic difficulty is not to throw away caution and run from one problem into another….. The opposition yesterday made it clear that they want to improve cash flow by fast tracking fracking…. I don’t support this….. I support the Labors moderate approach….. Economic develop needs to be wise so it does not cost our children…., but the opposition talks about money debts and forgets environmental damage is a more costly debt!
Having said this, this budget lacks sense when it claims that infrastructure spending will improve jobs for Territorians. The proposed type of infrastructure spending has always led to serving fly-in-fly out Territorians….. Make your money and leave types….. This proposed building agenda may improve cash flow but why will it create jobs for live and die here Territorians, especially for long term work.
Local Territorians are the backbone of sustainable economic development in the NT, they must be supported.
I am also concerned that while Darwin receives money for things like improvements to the mall, a new museum and development of the Barneson Boulevard, basic infrastructure in our region will be neglected. I would be happy to be proven wrong about this, but our regions are grossly under developed.
In East Arnhem Land we need basic infrastructure like good reliable roads….. Roads that will service the basic connections between our regions towns and villages….. This is infrastructure that will directly lower cost of living and almost automatically improve enterprise opportunities.
Our region has a stable population and is growing. The little business outcomes, and a few big business outcomes will count enormously. Roads are an asset that supports both big and little business creation.
Yesterday in reply to my question about the Central Arnhem Highway the Minister for Infrastructure invoked a “10-year infrastructure plan” that would include the Central Arnhem Highway….. I am worried that the supplied 500 thousand dollars for maintenance of this road will not be enough for the coming financial year,….. but I am even more concerned that this road is not forgotten so that major improvements are continued year in year out until it is sealed from at least Gove to Raminginging-….. so that our region has basic connection.
I note that the Government has offered money for improved renal services….. The way this money is used will provide the success….. Considering we need more not the same facilities the destruction of one renal facility in Nightcliff only to replace it…. this may not be the best use of money…..
I also prefer that services are de-centralised so that people are not forced to live in Darwin. We need full renal services in regional hospitals.
Once people are sucked into Darwin, they will soon be followed by family attempting to stay close. This de-stabilisation of family life makes many challenges and problems.
The Darwin centralisation of Health is a bad policy. It must be a large cost to travel patients back and forward from Darwin….., it certainly disadvantages patients and family by loss of income.
I want to encourage the Government to go forward with the banned drinkers register. This has social and economic benefit for the whole of the NT.
Like the case for the Banned Drinkers Register, economic measurement should be holistic. Education is like that. Education spending in our region is needed and required, but it is not effective without the right educational program.
Without Bilingual education the Government is basically throwing money away….. It is internationally recognised that in our circumstance, where children speak an Indigenous language at home, Bilingual education will produce not only the best learning outcomes, but also the best budgetary and economic returns.
It is not only racist to deny Bilingual education but it is economically dull-minded.
Another example of welcomed spending in this budget, but with policy questions is the remote housing project.
Housing spending is absolutely required, and with proper management these houses will be an ongoing asset to the NT government…. However, while homelands offer better health, better education and more likelihood of enterprise, it not good to be encouraging more and more people to live in towns.
Policing is also like this….. Policing is a major expenditure in our region,…. But does it offer returns socially and economically?
It costs millions to place police in our region and it costs more for those arrested to go through court…… It then costs more to imprison the people…. And all that doesn’t save one cent because when people get out of jail they just do it again… Also imprisonment breaks up families or leaves families uncared-for….. This just makes a new generation of people ready for jail.
We need to stop policing by outsiders and return conflict resolution and law enforcement to our authorities….. I want to say this clearly, non of the programs budgeted to reduce crime or imprisonment, or family violence, will have strong outcomes if they are run by NT Government agencies….. They must be run by Yolngu authorities.
The same principle applies to support of families and children, local authority is essential….. Also this is why I am glad that the government is putting some money toward the development of their local authority policy.
I note that money has been cut from Family support services in our region reducing this level from 4.3 million this year to 2.5 million in the coming year. This is a problem considering Child Removal issues I have already raised in this parliament.
Finally I commend the special expenditure on the Milingimbi airstrip and the safe house in Galiwinku.
Overall the budget does not provide advancement for my region. It is a budget of basic services….. While the government is talking about economic stimulus, this is all pointed toward Darwin….. This budget shows no belief in locals to enhance the economy. It certainly does not show belief in our region.
While the government is talking about lowering costs of living and raising job opportunity in Darwin, East Arnhem Land makes up more than 5% of the NT population and has some of the highest living costs in the Northern Territory….. Why is no attention being given to our stronger need?
If one thing was done for our advancement it is the ongoing improvement of the Central Arnhem Highway between Nhulunbuy and Ramingining….. This will lower living costs automatically due to travel expenses….. (thousands of dollars per family can be saved here)…., but it will also stimulate the network between Nhulunbuy, Yirrkala, Gapuwiyak, Galiwinku, Ramingining, Milingimbi and all the homelands in between….. It would also better connect us with Maningrida.
Improvement to the Central Arnhem Highway will connect the technical skills of Nhulunbuy with the primary industry potential of homelands…. It will improve immediately the viability of the developing tourism industry….. It will also create a market base for the sale and resale of consumer goods by small business…..
As I have said I agree with the governments agenda to maintain basic services despite the federal governments cut in our GST revenue…., I have challenged some of the policy directions of those allocations which will require more dialogue,…. but I want to strongly put to the government our regions need for economic related stimulus that benefits locals….. This cannot be ignored for the long term viability of the Northern Territory…. And this is especially the case in consideration of our regions decades of input into the NT economy….
We must see advantage to our relationship with Darwin and the NT Government.
Mr GUYULA to the TREASURER referred to CHIEF MINISTER
The 2017-18 Budget includes $2m for the remote aboriginal economic development fund. Many indigenous people in the homelands in North East Arnhem Land are seriously wanting to try and start small businesses but they are in need of support to get their initiatives off the ground. So often funds have been allocated in budgets for remote Aboriginal economic development but programs never connect to people at the homelands level. So often people at the homelands know nothing about these programs.
What plans are in place to ensure these people at homelands level are able to benefit from these economic development funds?
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question from the Member of Nhulunbuy because it goes to a body of work that we want to do. As you say, there are grants there are available for remote indigenous economic development. Not everybody is aware of them or had access to support around taking advantage of those grants.
I am doing a body of work, probably more the Department of the Chief Minister than DTPI but between the two how we can better coordinate what we do across the Territory remotely. There has been some good work done in parts of the Northern Territory around this already. The model through DCM that is in place at the moment for example in Wadeye has been quite good at coordinating and informing locals both in Wadeye and in the homelands about access to services.
We are looking at how we can work with the Office of Aboriginal Affairs and the regional economic directors to form a better connection with remote Territorians about what is available. It is not just, ‘Here is a regional indigenous economic development grant.’ for example but then there is the capacity building in other things that can go around it. NDIS provides an example of how we can do this in practice and help shape some of our investment.
We recognise that social need provides economic opportunity. It is a positive thing; we are looking at it through our hosing program too. NDIS provides an economic opportunity and delivers on a social need. As a government, we want to work with locals to be able to deliver on that.
It provides a good example of how we can provide a capacity building to then build into the development of a business that might receive some grant support to get up and going. Then it has a sustainable base, through the social money that has provided against that social need. In that instance NDIS.
If you go to the housing example how can we work with Indigenous business enterprises to build up, grow, have greater capacity and involve the homelands in those opportunities. These are things we can do if we work better as a government.
It is not, in this instance, necessarily about the grant pools or the size of them it is about how we better work with and communicate with remote Territorians. It forms part of our local decision making framework and how we can transfer this over.
It is about greater capacity and recognition that people remotely are capable of this economic and entrepreneurial opportunity, we just have to make sure we work and support them better, pull in that capacity of capability when it is necessary, provide access to grants. At the very heart of you question, we need to communicate with them so they know those opportunities are there.
This is something we are taking on as a government. I am working with my department on how we can better arrange ourselves to deliver on that.
Mr GUYULA to the MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, PLANNING AND LOGISTICS
Last year’s budget allocated $16m over two years to lift and seal the road between Ramingining and the Central Arnhem Highway. Has this money been used or is it accounted for in your budget announced yesterday?
Will your government’s budget include upgrades to the Central Arnhem Highway?
Madam Speaker, I understand that we do have some funding with regards to the Ramingining Road but I have not been able to find the location my the papers. I will get you an answer.
With regards to the Central Arnhem Highway we do not have any specific money beyond the maintenance where we have allocated $0.5m. We also have work happening there at moment. Graders are there at the moment. The Central Arnhem Highway will also feature in the 10-year infrastructure plan. It is a road that I have mentioned in meetings with federal counterparts. I have heard from your and others about the importance of the Central Arnhem Highway. We have a very extensive road network, a lot of which is unsealed.
I will get back to you member for Nhulunbuy with information on that particular road and access to Ramingining. The Central Arnhem Highway will feature in the ten-year infrastructure plan. We want to see more of it sealed over time to make it more accessible, particularly in and out of your electorate. We know that if you have a family the cost of coming in to Darwin for a while you have very limited options. Getting on the plane for some families is not affordable.
Getting on the road is one way they can get back into town. It is a very important road servicing the region. I will get you more details with regards to the Ramingining question as soon as possible today. You have raised the Central Arnhem Highway with me, it is on the radar, you will see it in the ten-year infrastructure plan. There is much more work to do there, like many of the roads in the Territory.
Mr GUYULA to CHIEF MINISTER
Chief Minister, your government over the last few days has spoken about lowering the cost of living for people in Darwin. Even though Nhulunbuy is a private town the people who live there are part of the Northern Territory and pay tax. Could you advise how the government is looking after this town as the mining operations wind down and, given the high prices in rent, high council rates that are more than double Darwin, high airfares, difficult road access and general remoteness?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question. First of all on the council rates I think as someone who pays council rates myself, we always argue that all council rates are too high but that is not something we set. When it comes to housing in Nhulunbuy township there has been established, and we are working with developing east Arnhem Land around this, a group of houses to essentially encourage business investment in Nhulunbuy as diversification away from the mine to reduce reliance on the mine and try to create a private sector investment. From that point of view Nhulunbuy township are looking at that.
What we are doing as a government is looking at how we can better support housing in the region. The Minister for Housing has been speaking in recent days around what we are doing in housing through the Territory but also near your country as well. We have an investment I widening the seal at Milingimbi airstrip and we also have at Galiwinku—I know the minister has been in consultation with local women—a safe house at Galiwinku.
We are also working on, and this perhaps goes back to the very start of your question around cost of living in remote areas of the Territory, reforming the pensioner concession scheme for seniors and we recognise in reforming this that people have gone to jail over this scheme. In tightening it up we can have an opportunity to look at the fairness of the scheme and people remotely were not getting the same level of access to it so how can we tighten the scheme up but also make it fairer in its distribution or access?
Money has been allocated in the budget for that and it will be worked on between now and 1 January but we are very much aware as a government that remote seniors have not been getting the same access to that scheme. They are some of the things we are working on when it comes to addressing cost of living; I think that is an important one.
We are very aware of the importance of Nhulunbuy to the Northern Territory and we are working with the mine and yourself, we will work with anybody to make sure we are addressing issues there. From the point of view of my department we have a very good person in place speaking with the private sector about investments there and there are some good ones there we are trying to nurture up and work with.
We are in their hands to a degree with what we can say on those projects when they are ready but there are some very good, positive projects happening in your region that we are more than happy to work with you on.
Mr GUYULA to MINISTER for HEALTH
The government has promised $11.1m over 10 years for our new renal centre in Darwin and two new renal ready rooms in remote communities. Where will the renal ready rooms be built and why has the government not opted for renal centres that would lower patient travel expenses, lower economic disadvantages to patients and, generally, the burden on the system? Is this Darwin-centric model of renal health use sustainable?
Madam Speaker, Budget 2017 as mentioned will be delivering services particularly for critical health infrastructure around renal services not only for here in our urban centres in Darwin with the new renal unit to be rebuilt on the site in Nightcliff. I have been to the renal unit a couple of times. I was out there last week. It is a very outdated building. It was not purpose-built.
I think it was built as a community care baby centre and when you enter that space there is a lack of privacy, it is very dysfunctional for staff and patients alike. Our hardworking staff out there do a fabulous job-and I would like to pay tribute to them-in sometimes very trying conditions. We need to provide a building which currently has 28 chairs as well as the outreach unit there were people who have done training can give themselves their own dialysis.
This government is committed through the funding of a new $9.7 for a purpose- built facility on that site in Nightcliff. It is very important that we acknowledge that location in Nightcliff / Coconut Grove. It is close to transport, to housing support for those who do have to come in from out of Darwin to receive that treatment. It is something I was very proud to be a part of, to provide that service for Territorians who need that vital life-saving treatment multiple times a week but also to our very hardworking staff there.
As the member has mentioned, $1.4m has been allocated to establish two renal ready rooms to increase access to dialysis in remote communities. The member touched on it in his question, highlighting that if people can receive treatment in community they do not have to travel, and there are perhaps additional housing costs if they have to come into town for an extended period.
We are certainly through an evidence-based approach around a 10-year renal strategy for the Northern Territory and will look towards where those locations should be, where best serves the community. We want to provide more health services across the Northern Territory so Territorians can stay close to home and family.
When you are or have been diagnosed with an illness and you require ongoing medical treatment the one thing you wish for is to closer to home and family and perhaps keep working. In providing health care we want to provide health care in community across the Northern Territory. We are committed to providing those services. We are also committed to transitioning what are currently government community clinics across to community-led control over our four years of government.
We are very pleased to announce the $9.7m for the Nightcliff Renal Unit and $1.4m to establish two renal ready rooms in remote communities in the Northern Territory.
I would like to clarify my position on the proposed women’s shelter in Galiwin’ku. I am being told Labor Members are stating that I do not support it. This is untrue and I have explained my position to Minister Wakefield but maybe she is choosing not to listen. I support a proposal for the shelter that includes a whole community response: Yolngu leaders, elders and community being given the authority to provide the right response to violence. Yolngu law must always be present... in the safety of families. It has been and always should be and must be, so that we can work something out for the future of our people.
This about getting real outcomes for community safety.
Family violence is mainly the product of the influence of foreign culture and colonisation.
Widespread breakdown of Yolngu culture and law is leading to this. I woke up evey morning seeing my father grab a spear and go hunting for food. Now I wake up early every morning and it’s in my blood and in my knowledge from my family that I live with discipline and respect.
Now, some children see their parents waking up late in the morning and engaged in drug use and are not disciplined – and these young people are growing up to walk in the footsteps of their family. Young people are no longer disciplined strongly in line with yolngu culture – freely walking into the streets at night and learning behaviours from others – this is part of the current sniffing problem.
I would like to see the shelter become very effective in protecting Yolnu women, men and families through Yolngu law. Yolngu leaders in Galiwin’ku have said they want the authority for a shelter that will provide safety, discipline and rehabilitation: Yolngu miyalk leaders looking after women and senior male leaders looking after men and building responsibility through discipline and respect.
I am starting to believe that Labor is choosing to misrepresent my position. This is about dividing communities to discredit me. Yolngu culture is made up of strong male and female leaders. We are fighting to have authority returned to sovereign people, so we can make decisions about the problems that our people face. I stood on the platform Yolngu Rom Ngurrungu. Yolngu communties voted for me based on this message. I will stand strong, no matter what others throw at me. If you hear words about me that are untrue, come talk with me and I can tell you my story.
Yuw nhamirr bukmak?
February and March have been very busy months with 3 weeks spent in Darwin for Parliament sittings. The 13th of February marked the Anniversary to the Stolen Generations. I acknowledged this day in Darwin and called on the Government to support Yolngu families and Yolngu children and return Yolngu children in foster care in Darwin to kinship care in Arnhem Land. The Minister has been supportive and working to return children to their country. There is still more work to do in this area, as Yolngu communities need to be re empowered with the responsibilities of Yolngu child protection. Our vast kinship system allows for many carers of children if the mother or father are unable to provide care.
The AIATSIS Constitutional Recognition Forum was held in Darwin in February. The forum was weighted towards creating a pathway for Treaty, asking the question how far can we go and what are the steps for achieving genuine constitutional reform? We know that this is not easy. We spoke about making a key to open the Consitution to recognise Indigenous law and sovereignty. And asked how do we work towards getting all Australians to agree with constitutional change of this nature? The next forum will be held in Uluru with representatives of all States and Territories to discuss this further.
I visited with the Shepherdson College School Council on Elcho Island in February and in March I attended the Nhulunbuy Primary School Council. I attended to listen and understand and observe. For indigenous schools in the region – I firmly believe that properly resourced Bilingual Education is the only approach that will produce real outcomes. UNESCO’s "Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All" study shows that all across the world, many kids don't attend school because the language of instruction is a foreign language and their recommendation is for Multilingual Education.
Also in my visit to Elcho Island I listened to discussions about the proposed Women’s Shelter. I will continue to work with all levels of the community to support the process for a Women’s Shelter that is underpinned by Yolngu Rom. This article outlines the community’s commitment to address family violence: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-31/arnhem-land-community-devises-plan-for-family-violence/8406136
In Nhulunbuy we held our first General Public Meeting in March to discuss local and regional issues. I stated at this meeting that I want to represent the Electorate of Nhulunbuy both Yolngu and Balanda and I will do my best to do that. Some issues that were raised at the meeting for further investigation were: drug dealing in Nhulunbuy, high costs of living in town including council Rates and travel, and the conditions of the Cental Arnhem Road as well as support for bilingual education. Myself and members of my office are discussing these issues with various stakeholders including the relevant Ministers. I hope to have several public meetings each year for residents to come and discuss local issues.
The recent weeks at Parliament have seen debate around the Bail Amendment Bill and the Termination of Pregnancy Reform Bill. I did not support either of these bills because of my concern for their implementation in remote settings and the lack of time given for proper consultation with the Electorate. Both of these bills were passed through the parliament.
A few weeks ago I met with the UN Special Rappouter on Indigenous Rights, we spoke about Treaty and members of the Yolngu Nations Assembly presented her with the letterstick declaring Yolngu sovereignty and recognition of Yolngu law. We also discussed the justice system, child protection, and language rights. Part of the language rights dicussion also included the motion that I have put to the Parliament about the right of Members to speak in a language other than English.These changes will assist myself and other indigenous Members to participate equally in the chamber.
During the March sitting period the NT News stated that I said I did not represent all of my Electorate. This is not true and it is not what I said, when I said "I stand here not as a member from the Government or the opposition; I am here as an independent member from the Yolngu Nations Assembly". This means that I'm not in alliance with the Government in power, and I am not in alliance with the opposition or the other independent members, I am a member of this Parliament and will stand and represent my electorate as an Independent member. I come from and was supported by the Yolngu Nations Assembly but I am here to represent all my constituents in the electorate of Nhulunbuy, all clans and all people.
NT news also published that I am not interested in jobs for young people and that I have been heavily lobbied on this issue. As a person that had an opportunity to train and be apprenticed I understand the importance of this issue for young people. I want young people to have these opportunities and yet I have not been heavily lobbied on this issue. But I would like to be, as it is an area that I consider a priority and I do not feel that major industries are listening to me alone and we may have greater success if we work together. I am also concerned about claims in relation to tribal law. Many Yolngu (men and women) still live by our traditional system of law – it is this system of law that creates strong, powerful leaders, both men and women. Where it is compromised by assimilationist ideals, and men and women do not participate in ceremonies that build discipline and respect, Yolngu find ourselves in a weak place where we experience sickness and disempowerment. I want my grandchildren to grow up on country with the traditional law growing them strong as Yolngu individuals with strength to walk in both worlds.
My electorate office in Nhulunbuy is open and is welcome to everyone with questions, concerns etc. As my Electorate covers Nhulunbuy, Yirrkala and homelands, Gunyaŋara, Birritjimi, Galiwin’ku and homeland centres, Yurrwi and homeland centres, Ramingining and Homelands centres, I want to move around cover these places which means you won’t see me at the Nhulunbuy office all the time. But my Nhulunbuy office is open and my electorate officers and staff are there to assist anyone. Furthermore, if anyone wants to meet me concerning any matters, call or come to my office and make an appointment.
During this month I will be in Yurrwi, Ramingining, Galiwinku, Nhulunbuy and I hope to have a public meeting in Yirrkala before returning to Parliament for 2 weeks of sittings in May.
Happy Easter Wishes
Yingiya Mark Guyula
MLA Office - Upstairs Arnhem House - Nhulunbuy
Mr GUYULA to CHIEF MINISTER
Can you report on any discussions your department is having with Rio Tinto Alcan about the end of mining on Gove Peninsula, and in regard to the future of Nhulunbuy town?
I catch up with Rio regularly to talk about what is happening on the peninsula and its mining operations. There has been a lot of debate about the future of Gove during the last term. Towards the end of the last term the establishment of DEAL, developing East Arnhem Land, which was done between the government and the CLP, has provided a good model that we are still regularly talking to them about.
I was recently in Nhulunbuy, towards the end of last year, for the opening of physio services that had established and expanded themselves in Nhulunbuy as a result of support from government and DEAL, which has increased on the services available in Nhulunbuy. That is a good outcome. It shows good community work.
I am in regular conversations with the company. It has assured me it will have good regular public conversations with the community, which I always ask of them. It is something that is always important to discuss that. The company has committed to it, and will be talking with the community on a regular basis about what is happening with the mine site in Nhulunbuy, so there is as much confidence within the community as there can be within the current circumstances.
We will continue to work with the local community. I will be in East Arnhem Land soon to talk to them myself. We need to have good, regular conversations with the people of Nhulunbuy township about the impacts of this, as well as the Nhulunbuy electorate at large. The DEAL process has been a good one. I will continue to talk to Rio, and Rio will continue to talk with the local community. The lines of communication are open between all parties, and Rio will be very happy to catch up with you, Member for Nhulunbuy, if that has not happened. Rio will be happy to talk to you and brief you on what is currently happening with the mine site.
Mr GUYULA to MINISTER for ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
In relation to your government’s treaty policy what does ‘local authorities’ mean? For example, what powers will local authorities give to first nations to self-govern?
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question from the Member for Nhulunbuy. The process we are taking with treaty is a bit slower than that. That is jumping ahead. We are saying at the moment that we support the debate about treaty and a treaty, but we want to hear from people what their versions of treaty are. There are a significant number of people who have differences of opinion about what should or should not be in a treaty.
We will have that conversation which will build up to decision on what you are asking about. We will go through a consultative process that works up to what would or would not be in a treaty and how they are taking this approach in other places. There is conversation about whether you have a Territory-wide treaty or work on a more regional basis with different groups. It might be that treaty takes on different forms in different parts of the Territory.
It is something we have to work through which is why we will have that subcommittee of Cabinet to make it very serious, elevate it and have a strong conversation about what is in or out of the treaty. For me, it falls into a bundle of issues we have at the moment that are important for recognition and advancement of issues – Aboriginal justice agreement and strengthening local decision-making. There is a natural logic to get the local decision-making agenda into the treaty agenda. If you get the local decision-making settings right and trust the decisions locals make – which may take the form of an MOU or other types of agreements with locals on the ground – that then is a natural platform, potentially, into a strong treaty situation.
For me, there is a lot to work through in this area. I note and pay respect to the fact that there are a number of people with differences of opinion about what this means. The mistake I do not want to make is to stand in the white house of parliament, as the Chief Minister, and dictate this to people locally. We have to make sure we get this the right way around from the ground up and we are very much listening and taking on what people are saying, then acting. There will be a series of processes we will have to work through to get there. This has to be something that is in the hands of the people, where there is clear trust established about what it means and entails.
For me, it has to embody that recognition of local first people and have a practical outcome at the other end about how we deliver better services and provide better trust and decision making for locals, with greater control over their lives, which is the meaningful outcome we all want. That is the process we have to work through. We have to take people with us along that journey and we have to do it from a position of initially listening and saying, ‘We agree on treaty. Let us talk about the details and how we get it right’, not rush it and I do not sit here as Chief Minister in Darwin dictating the state of affairs.