Opposition Leader, Delia Lawrie, says Chief Minister, Adam Giles’, Government is in crisis as a result of his inability to bring an end to the Tollner homophobic rant affair.
“The CLP wing meeting on Monday is now looming as a showdown between the MLA’s who want Dave Tollner out and Adam Giles who appears incapable of enforcing basic community standards,” Ms Lawrie said.
She said the CLP Member for Goyder Kezia Purick reflected the mood of many when she wrote on Facebook “Oh so it is now, oh poor me David, I am the victim? Give me a break.”
“While many Territorians are saying enough is enough and our society has no place for leadership that condones discrimination and offensive slurs we see Adam Giles more interested in protecting his mate than enforcing workplace norms and sending a message that discrimination will not be tolerated," Ms Lawrie said.
A chorus of commentators from the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner to gay rights advocates and the general public were outraged that Mr Tollner’s homophobic and abhorrent comments to a Ministerial staffer had gone unpunished.
“On talkback radio yesterday callers were speaking with one voice and were ashamed that nothing had been done," Ms Lawrie said.
“It’s making national news and the rest of the country is looking at the Territory and wondering why this behaviour is being accepted.
“I am appalled that this government puts itself before the care of so many in our community who deserve a message that any discrimination is intolerable."
Media contact: Cathryn Tilmouth 0427 500 667
Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, today said that Territorians are appalled by the homophobic rant the Deputy Chief Minister, Dave Tollner, unleashed on a Ministerial staffer, and is calling on the Chief Minister to sack him.
“Chief Minister, Adam Giles, is failing another test of leadership by trying to sweep the unacceptable actions of Dave Tollner under the carpet,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Offensive homophobic slurs are not acceptable in our society – especially from a Deputy Chief Minister.
“Territorians should be able to go to work feeling safe from bullying and persecution based on their race, religion or sexuality.
“In any other workplace an incident of this nature would result in the offender being sacked.
“These standards need to be applied to Members of Parliament and the Chief Minister needs to sack Mr Tollner from his position as Deputy Chief Minister.”
Ms Lawrie said this is not the first time Adam Giles has failed to appropriately discipline a minister following reprehensible behaviour.
“Adam Giles needs to show that there is no tolerance for discrimination and bullying and sack Mr Tollner.”
Shadow Minister for Resources, Gerry McCarthy, has called on Parks Minister and Member for Stuart, Bess Price, to come clean about her activities around the possible nomination of a nuclear waste dump site in her electorate of Stuart.
“It’s important that the Minister and local member is open and honest with the people of Stuart,” Mr McCarthy said.
“We’ve been receiving disturbing information that the Minister has been talking to traditional owners in her area about a possible nuclear waste dump and may even have flown over an area in the Rabbit Flat region.
“There are important questions that the people of Stuart deserve answers to.
“What role is she playing with traditional owners about the possible location of a nuclear dump site in Stuart?
“What promises are being made to traditional owners to encourage them to consider giving up their land to house a dump site?”
Mr McCarthy said traditional owners need clear, unbiased information about the ramifications of setting a nuclear waste dump, not political pressure and spin.
He said the Minister should also reveal whether the siting of a nuclear waste dump in Stuart was something that may potentially benefit her personally, as a traditional owner of lands in the electorate.
Mr McCarthy said the ALP’s position was clear, that any siting of a nuclear waste facility should be based on sound science and should involve a discussion with the whole country, not be based on secretive deals.
Shadow Minister for Education, Natasha Fyles said that the CLP Government’s education cuts are putting at risk efforts to improve the Territory’s NAPLAN results.
“It is clear that education outcomes are not improved by cutting funding for schools,” Ms Fyles said.
“The NAPLAN results show the percentage of students at or above national minimum standard is lower than in 2013 in 13 of 20 assessed areas including all test categories for Year 3 students, four out of five categories for Year 5 students and three out of five categories for Year 9 students.
“These latest NAPLAN results show that the CLP’s cuts are taking our students backwards.
“In the 13/14 Budget the CLP government budgeted $685.172m for public schools and this has dropped to $670.362m in the 14/15 Budget – a cut of $15m.
“In the last year the CLP Government has cut 125 teaching positions from Territory schools.
“Compounding the teacher losses, 60 support positions have also been cut from schools, meaning that more pressure is put on teachers and there is less individual attention on students as a result.
“Fewer teachers and fewer support staff is not the way to boost education outcomes in the Territory.”
Shadow Attorney-General, Michael Gunner, said pressure was mounting on Chief Minister, Adam Giles, to stand aside Attorney-General, John Elferink, over the Peter Maley affair, pending an independent inquiry, following a chorus of criticism from all of the Territory’s law associations.
“The Bar Association, Law Society and NAAJA have all weighed into the controversy,” Mr Gunner said.
“Yesterday on ABC Radio NT Bar Association President John Lawrence made it clear that it was untenable for a magistrate not to sever connections with a political party immediately upon being commissioned as a judicial officer.
“He stated that the longer Attorney-General, John Elferink, resisted calls for an independent inquiry into Peter Maley’s conduct, the more compromised he will be.”
Mr Lawrence said on ABC Radio: “Mr Elferink’s the Attorney General, he’s the first law officer, he has responsibility for the maintenance and the integrity of our legal system. He has to forget now that he’s a CLP Cabinet Minister, his duties now lie pursuant to these same ethics to now look after the integrity of our legal system…”
Mr Gunner said there was great concern within the legal profession. Cecil Black, the Secretary of the NT Law society stated: “Where issues are detrimental to people’s confidence in the Courts it is not in the interests of Northern Territorians that they continue to be fodder for public debate and comment.”
The Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) supported the Bar Association’s call for an inquiry, stating: “NAAJA regards it as appropriate for the NTBA to have raised these issues in the interests of ensuring public confidence in the administration of justice and to ensure that the judiciary is seen to be independent from government.”
“The Chief Minister needs to take urgent action to restore public confidence in the Territory’s judicial system,” Mr Gunner said.
“It’s unacceptable that the legal fraternity’s concerns are being so arrogantly dismissed by Adam Giles.
“He needs to listen to the experts on this and not take such a strident political position to protect his Attorney-General, who must be stood aside while Cabinet appoints an independent inquiry.”
Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, today congratulated the Territory Labor Candidate for Casuarina, Lauren Moss, on her pre-selection.
“Lauren brings with her energy, passion and a fresh new perspective, and is a fantastic candidate for Casuarina,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Growing up in the electorate, Lauren is very familiar with the issues facing Casuarina residents.
“Casuarina and Territory families are suffering under the CLP Government’s from the high Cost of living, brutal cuts to education and a health system in chaos.
“Adam Giles and the CLP Government are out of touch with Territorians.
“By voting for Lauren in the upcoming by-election Casuarina residents can send the CLP Government a strong message that their policies are hurting Territorians and won’t be tolerated.”
Ms Moss said it would be an honour to represent the community in which she grew up.
“The electorate of Casuarina was a brilliant place to grow up with its diverse cultures and vibrant community,” Ms Moss Said.
“But the CLP Government’s attacks on education, health and hikes to the cost of living are threatening to change what we all love about Casuarina.
“I hope to be a strong voice for Casuarina and help protect the electorate from the damaging policies of the CLP Government.”
Member for Barkly, Gerry McCarthy, today called on Chief Minister, Adam Giles, to come clean with Territorians about any discussions he has had about hosting a nuclear waste dump in the Territory.
“The Chief Minister, Adam Giles, has ducked a weaved the question of where he and the CLP Government stand on the Territory hosting Australia’s first nuclear waste dump,” Mr McCarthy said.
“What the Territory needs is transparency and honesty from the Chief Minister on this issue.
“What conversations has the Chief Minister had with his Federal colleagues about the Territory’s role in Australia’s nuclear waste management?
“The Federal Minister for Resources, Ian MacFarlane, is meeting with traditional owners of Muckaty Station in Tennant Creek on Thursday.
“Curiously, Mr MacFarlane, failed to meet with the Traditional owners during the prolonged campaign and Federal Court case against the nomination of Muckaty as the site of the proposed waste dump.”
Mr McCarthy said important lessons were learnt from the seven year battle of traditional owners and environmental groups who were opposed to Muckaty Station hosting the proposed nuclear waste facility.
“Australia needs to plan for proper safe and secure management of Australia’s nuclear waste,” Mr McCarthy said.
“The location of an appropriate facility need to be based on best practice science not a constitutional weakness or the shallow cash grab by the CLP Government.
“Territorians do not want a nuclear waste dump.
“The Chief Minister and the CLP Government need to ensure that they are standing up for the best interests of Territorians not letting financial opportunities override moral and ethical responsibilities.”
Shadow Minister for Health, Nicole Manison, said the CLP Government is more interested in bulldozer stunts than delivering the long overdue Palmerston Hospital.
"The Health Minister, Robyn Lambley, is trying to spin progress on the site but it will take a lot more action to make people believe that the Palmerston Hospital will be built in the next four years,” Ms Manison said.
"The CLP has bungled the important Palmerston Hospital project from the outset when they scrapped a serviced site for bush land, delaying the project by years.
“Adding to the mishandling of this project the CLP Government has now started land clearing on the site without consultation or communication with local residents.
"At this rate how can we have any confidence a hospital will be built by 2018?
"The tragedy is that Royal Darwin Hospital is overcrowded now and our terrific doctors and nurses are working under constant pressure.
"Patients are enduring long waits in the Emergency Department as staff grapple with bed block and we see yet more bungling by the CLP."
Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, is in Perth meeting with major Oil and Gas companies to discuss the potential for future major projects in the Northern Territory.
“It is important to engage positively with the industry and assess project potential at the midway point of the important Inpex/Total major project of Ichthys," Ms Lawrie said.
"Territorians are looking to the future and what the next big project is and the good news is that whether it's Bayu Undan backfill or additional trains in the pre-approved plants of Darwin LNG and Ichthys, the options exist and exploratory investment in those potential next projects is occurring now.
“Territory families, businesses, the construction and service and supply industries can be confident that the future in the Territory will continue to be prosperous. “
Ms Lawrie is meeting with ConocoPhillips, ENI, Woodside, Inpex and Santos in Perth to discuss the Territory’s options and potential for future major resource projects.
“The Territory has the potential to be an oil and gas hub for Australia and the brown fields of Middle Arm and our Marine Supply Base underpin this effort,” Ms Lawrie said.
“The Territory’s existing infrastructure and our delivery of the Bayu Undan and Ichthys projects have created an attractive environment for major oil and gas resource companies to invest.
“I will continue working towards enhancing the Territory’s relationship with the key players in the oil and gas industry to ensure that the Territory is top of mind when major projects in the future are being planned.”
Ms Lawrie strategically held discussions in the lead up to next week's SEAAOC conference to send an important signal of bi-partisan support to the industry.
"I am delighted that the Government plans to formally open the Labor project of our Marine Supply Base next week which was a key focus of my efforts," Ms Lawrie said.
"I have also taken the opportunity to promote the feasibility work of APA on the potential of an eastern seaboard pipeline link which has significant potential to deliver gas into our national domestic market."