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Thursday, 5 April 1973
Page: 1177


Order! The honourable member has made his point of order. Fatherly advice is outside the point of order. I invite the honourable member for Macarthur to continue his address on the motion before the House.

Mr KERIN - I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am referring to these matters because they are all matters that can be referred to the proposed Committee. I have pointed out that now quite a few Ministers will be associated with the welfare of the Northern Territory. I was quoting from a submission by Mr Kelly to a Senate Committee. He was referring to pasture improvement in the Northern Territory and said that the record was not good. He said that this was due largely to the failure of the large overseasowned stations to develop productivity. He said that despite all the funds invested in beef roads, pastoral research and tax exemptions there had been no significant increase in cattle numbers. He put this down to cases of severe erosion on overseas-owned properties, saying that the reason had been the tendency for these stations to be run on a low investment open range system in which profits were high in relation to the low investments made.

Profits are not a result of increases in productivity, but of a system of land use which is shortview in outlook and becomes exploitative of the soil,' Mr Kelly said in his submission to the Committee.

The beef cattle industry needs its interests looked after and I am sure that the Minister for Northern Development is well aware of them. The turnoff in 1969-70 was 260,000 head of cattle with a value of $22m. Seasonal factors caused a drop in the value of output to $ 18.6m in 1970-71. Beef is the second most important industry in the Northern Territory after minerals. Of interest are the plans for the development of buffalo farming on the coastal plain area.

There are also many problems in primary industry which are peculiar to the Northern Territory and which could be referred to the Committee. The Minister for Minerals and Energy also will be concerned with some aspects of mineral production which was worth some $38. 6m to the Northern Territory in 1969-70. A slight drop is expected in 1970- 71. It is estimated that the value of mineral production will be $200m by 1980, most of which will be earned by bauxite, manganese and uranium. I used to think that the agricultural potential of some parts of the Northern Territory was symbolised by the presence of the world's biggest rock. But the Northern Territory does have a vast tourist potential and I am sure that the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart) will optimise opportunities available on behalf of all Australians. Alice Springs is the hub of a secrets industry but increasingly, I think, the Northern Territory will assume more defence importance. As I understand the decision of the past Government, the stationing of Fill aircraft at Amberley means that we will be able to attack Townsville. We could do this equally well by stationing aircraft and Air Force units at Darwin. I believe the Northern Territory will assume greater defence importance.

The Opposition may claim that this Bill is only a question of degree but I doubt whether this can be said. The Committee will be referring more proposals to the Minister. In October last year the former Minister for the Interior transferred a wide range of functions to the Northern Territory Legislature and Executive. These functions included a wide range of community services and State functions and a lot of control over many forms of social legislation including, for example, workers compensation, gambling, censorship, consumer protection, the rights of women, the rights of minors, daylight saving and control of firearms. A wide range of measures was referred at that time. What the present proposal seeks to do is set up ways and means whereby the Parliament can be informed of the needs of the Northern Territory, discuss any matter referred to the Committee and report on all matters for further action. The Northern Territory legislature is still absorbing the last range of propoals and the proposed Joint Committee will in no way inhibit further rapid progress. There are many projects on which the Northern Territory legislature is well equipped to pass judgment and these include development projects involving public expenditure which can be referred to the Minister for the Northern Territory. At present most functions of the legislature are related to legal-governmental decisions rather than works programs.

There are many future development projects which I can see being referred to the Joint Committee quite apart from the many other projects being carried out by various other Commonwealth departments as at present. However, the most important matters which the Committee will be discussing will involve many social problems in the Northern Territory, problems such as education and Aborigines and problems intrinsic to the Northern Territory such as land tenure, mining leases and other related matters. Darwin provides a study in itself in social integration and much can be learned by all Australians from the harmony of its inhabitants. I commend the motion to the House and am sure that we all look forward to the result of this Committee's deliberations as part of the advancement of the Northern Territory.

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