For the first time in Northern Territory Parliament history, an interpreter has been permitted on the Chamber floor to translate a sitting member’s speech in their traditional language.
Negative commentary about plans for Australia’s first commercial space centre could dissuade other prospective investors to the East Arnhem land region, a local Indigenous group has warned.
Independent Member for Nhulunbuy Yingiya Mark Guyula criticised the NT Government for pushing the project, claiming “people out there [around Nhulunbuy] are not interested”.
“There’s enough trouble in the homelands out there already without this industry coming in that’s providing big dollar signs to the rest of the world … to Australia.”
Now Gumatj Aboriginal Corporation’s Klaus Helms has warned other investors from various industries are likely to be watching.
Millions of dollars intended for remote Indigenous students is not making it to schools, Independent Northern Territory MP Yingiya Mark Guyula said this week.
Mr Guyula said although the Federal Government had said it was paying the NT Government on the basis of enrolment, the NT Government was only paying schools on the basis of attendance.
“The Federal Government states it will provide $10,222 per enrolled student on Elcho Island in 2018,” Mr Guyula said.
Living in a remote Australian community, residents put up with a great deal of inconvenience and expense. In Gove, we generally agree that this is the price of living in paradise. To say that traveling by air to visit family members is costly is an understatement, to say the least. The prohibitive cost of using Airnorth’s service is having an impact on separated families. One shudders to think how this could be affecting the long-term economic prosperity of the East Arnhem region.
A reliable and affordable air service for Gove is essential for the development and sustainability of the entire region.
Where Is Gove?
Gove (also known as Nhulunbuy), is located in the Top End of the Northern Territory and is remote by any standards. The only road out of town is the 663 km, Central Arnhem Road which is unsealed and impassable, even with a four-wheel drive, for months at a time each year during the wet season.
Therefore, we are reliant upon affordable and reliable air transport!
On 29 November 2013 Rio Tinto announced the closure of the alumina refinery (but not the bauxite mine) by July 2014 with the loss of 1,100 jobs, or almost 25% of the town’s population. The refinery ceased production in May 2014. The closure led Qantas to suspend flights on the route in August 2014, thus giving Airnorth a monopoly on the route.
Gove is fighting for survival!
Insult to Injury
Airnorth tickets between Gove and Darwin can be in excess of $800 for a one-hour flight! If you had booked a one-way flight on Air North’s website on 14 December 2017 to travel from Cairns to Gove on the 27 Jan 2018, you would pay $319.00, however the person sitting next to you, travelling all the way to Darwin would only have paid $236.40 for the entire trip.
We pay 35% more than the person sitting next to us to fly a shorter distance.
Former Airnorth CEO Michael Bridge said he was aware of passengers who simply got off at the flight’s stopover in Gove, to save money and threatened to ban them from flying Airnorth.
That’s a potent threat to a Gove Local!
Quality of Service
Lines of communication to Airnorth ‘customer service’ remain largely unanswered. A litany of delayed and cancelled and flights with little or no warning has made Airnorth the local in-joke and byword for unreliability.
However, we all know that the joke’s on us!
The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee will report by 30 March 2018 on their inquiry on operation, regulation and funding of air route service delivery to rural, regional and remote communities. Submissions should be received by 5 February 2018. Please read more about the inquiry on Gove Online community news:
What We Need From the Senate
We the undersigned, being current and former, Gove residents, request Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, Senator for the Northern Territory, present this petition to the inquiry and tell them that:
“GOVE RESIDENTS EXPECT A FAIR DEAL. WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO SEE OUR FAMILIES, NOT ONLY FOR CHRISTMAS BUT ALL YEAR ROUND!”
Please sign our petition and leave comments below.
It’s almost the end of the year, and there are few important things going on in the lead up to Christmas.
Firstly, I’d like to clarify my position in relation to the Space Base/ Rocket Launch facility. My main concern is not about the project itself. I’m not against this project, although I do have concerns that jobs for Yolŋu people will not be sustained and that key jobs will be held by outsiders. However, the main issue is that many clan leaders in East Arnhem Land have not been included in the decision making process. Yolŋu communities were concerned after hearing an initial briefing about where rockets may fly, fall, land, be retrieved. People are still feeling worried and confused about the project and the leaders have not been properly consulted. My job is to listen to everyone and voice concern of the people, particularly the people that aren’t being heard.
The NT Land Rights Act made provision that decisions should be made based on traditional law. In Yolŋu law, decision making process must involve multiple clans and includes the Yothu-Yindi, Märi-Guthurra, Waku-Yapa clans. Many clans are involved in a decision making process through rringitj alliances. This is how we maintain harmony and interconnection, and this runs through Ŋarra, Garma and any official business. This is Yolŋu Law, it is how we maintain Law and respect authority.
The current system employed by the NLC leaves many Yolŋu disempowered on their own land. As part of moving towards solid business enterprise for the region I want the issues of land ownership to be resolved, and proper consultation processes employed, so that there is a strong foundation for business and the region can prosper.
Another area of concern, I have been informed by the Department of Education that all Indigenous schools in the region will be losing funding in 2018. Schools need to be funded for all the students in the community, so that the hard-working Yolŋu and Balanda teachers can create relevant programs that engage all the children in the school. I know that teachers, school councils and school leadership are working hard, and losing funding just makes their jobs harder. Some of these schools have lost funding every year for the past decade. This is disappointing for the schools and the communities and I will continue to advocate for a better system for all.
On a happier note, I have been honoured to sponsor awards for many schools in the Electorate and I wish to congratulate all those students that have tried their best during 2017. I also congratulate the teachers and communities who support all the students of the region. Congratulations also to all the students graduating at every level of study. A great achievement.
It is with sadness that I want to remind people about the dangers of alcohol and drug use. Just a kind reminder with Christmas around the corner and my main message is for our beautiful teenage young people who might be celebrating. You might want to celebrate your graduation by getting drunk on alcohol and or getting high on drugs. Just remember that is not a wise decision to make, and it’s not necessary, and is not compulsory to life. It can and it has led people into addiction and dangerous situations. So stay safe and use your intelligence for something useful and preserve your cultural knowledge systems to show your children and the future generation that life is worth living.
Also in relation to health, I have been in contact with the CEO of FCD Health Limited and they advise the town of Nhulunbuy that they have secured a regular ongoing service with a long-term Territory doctor, Dr Gerry Goodhand who is based at Endeavour Health Service from Wednesday to Friday each week, with evening appointments. The practice has also secured a full-time registrar who will work at Endeavour Health service full-time from January 2018. This will be a great outcome for Nhulunbuy to have two doctors working each week in January. I wish to thank all the Doctors, Nurses and health professionals who are working hard across the communities to look after us and our families. And thank you to all the carers of family at home too.
I know that many people across the electorate are unhappy about the Airnorth Service. I have been in contact with Airnorth about these concerns from the electorate earlier in the year but I intend to follow up with the CEO again, and advocate for better service and prices. In April this year I lobbied the Chief Minister to consider remote travel subsidies. His response was not in favour of subsidies. His response outlined that the Government is working with the East Arnhem Regional Economic Development Committee and local stakeholders, to develop and implement a range of regional air, road and sea transport and freight services. Please contact his office directly about this process. I am also aware that there is a Senate Committee Inquiry announced in November into Regional Airline Services. The committee has announced they will hold a consultation in Darwin, and I have invited them to come to Arnhem Land to consult with communities here. Anyone can make a submission and they are open now: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Rural_and_Regional_Affairs_and_Transport/RegionalAirRouten
In November, I met with some people of the Uluru Statement of the Heart and they continue to work towards Treaty. There is momentum as the nation continues to move towards Treaties. Also in November I attended the Annual Report Hearings at Parliament. This is a good opportunity to question Ministers and Departments. I have a MLA facebook page where I detail these questions and other information. Please send a friend request if you want to see more; Yingiya Guyula MLA.
Thank you to everyone who has supported my office this year. With 5 towns, many homelands and 12 weeks at Parliament, I do not get to spend long in one place. I appreciate the time people have made to meet with me and as I have always said I will try to represent the needs of the people in this electorate fairly, both Yolŋu and Balanda.
I’d like to wish everyone a very happy and safe Christmas and New Year.
Thanks to all those many people who have dropped into the office, called or emailed me with your concerns. I really appreciate hearing from you. Please don’t hesitate to contact the Electorate Office if there’s anything we can possibly help you with. Djutjtjutj.
MLA Office is located upstairs Arnhem House, Endeavour Square, Nhulunbuy Town
Ph: 8987 0125 Email: Electorate.Nhulunbuy@nt.gov.au