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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 13683

Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (19:31): I wish to talk about more government inaction and how Territorians have been let down yet again. I am disappointed and saddened by the lack of attention to our health system. Unfortunately, I am still waiting for a meeting with the Minister for Health and Ageing, Ms Roxon, regarding the $5 million that was taken away from the Northern Territory only to be given to a Labor seat to help fund the Redcliffe GP superclinic. This money was originally allocated to Darwin, so it should have been returned. It is absolutely unacceptable to withdraw it and it should go to other important health priorities that desperately need funding. And how rude is Minister Roxon! She has not even bothered to respond to my request for a meeting to discuss the issue—a request I sent to her last month. Instead, she has somehow found the time to meet her Territory Labor colleague the Minister for Health, Kon Vatskalis, in Melbourne. How interesting!

I met with a group of doctors the other day. This dedicated group of doctors have almost finished building a bulk-billing private practice in the northern suburbs—a practice they have established with their own money. In fact, it is due to open next month. I am not sure why the government still insists that it needs to spend money to build a new GP superclinic in the northern suburbs when this one is almost already completed and it did not require any government funding. These doctors saved their own money and pooled it to provide a service to Territorians. In fact, they advised me that they met with the Territory health minister earlier in the year to let him know of their intention to build a bulk-billing GP practice in the northern suburbs. They said the minister could not offer any support at all. Interestingly, this is the same minister who now declares that he has secured funding from Minister Roxon for a GP superclinic in Darwin. And he has secured a deal with a provider. What happened to the tender process? It all sounds a bit rushed and a bit dodgy to me. Close attention will need to be paid to what money this tricky Labor government is going to give to its Labor mates in the Territory.

I would also like to share some success from my constituents. I acknowledge and congratulate Ryan and Nathan Morris of Jingli BMX Club who were representing the Northern Territory in the 2011 Victoria BMX championships in Shepparton. Ryan will now be going off to Victoria in 2012, and that is even after he experienced some difficulty on his third straight—but he had a great comeback. Nathan should also be acknowledged for making the semi-finals and now knows what to work on before contesting the South Australian championships next year.

Preparation for the national titles, however, would have probably been better for this pair and other Territory BMX competitors had there been an all-weather BMX track in Darwin, as promised by the Gillard Labor government at the last election. Despite asking the government several times about this commitment, there is still no movement. Unfortunately, there has been no progress on this promise and it is disadvantaging our talented Territory riders at the national level. This is a shame.

Finally, a Darwin portrait has caused a little bit of controversy in recent times. Last year, artist Catherine Paton was commissioned by Somerville Community Services to paint a portrait of their beloved namesake Margaret Somerville to enter in the Portrait of a Senior Territorian Art Award. As reported in the Northern Territory News, Ms Somerville led Indigenous women and children to safety when it seemed the Japanese were invading Northern Australia during World War II. She is now 99 and living in a seniors home in Sydney. Unfortunately, the painting was barred from the competition because the Speaker of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, Jane Aagaard, said someone who had lived in the Northern Territory for only 19 of her 99 years could not be considered a Territorian.

I have lived in the Northern Territory all my life and the amazing achievements of Margaret Somerville exemplify her significant and valuable contribution to the Territory. I took it upon myself to conduct a straw poll on this issue and everyone agreed that her legacy should live on for all Territorians to recognise. If Margaret Somerville does not match the criteria of making a significant contribution to our Territory community, then I do not know who does. As far as I am concerned, Margaret Somerville is indeed an outstanding Territorian.