Lock down Aboriginal lands but get the rest back to work


Sir – At the August 2016 NT elections the ruling CLP were given a well deserved flogging.
Labor won 41,476 of the 100,304 first preference formal votes across the Territory.
Michael Gunner in the seat of Fannie Bay took 2539 votes (58%) of the 4376 votes registered there. I
In other words 2.5% of the NT’s voting population put our current Chief Minister first. Until the Corona Virus arrived his tenure was looking very shaky.
In the three years to August 2019 a very bad bottom line figure blew out by hundreds of millions of dollars on some pretty dubious undertakings.
The inability to manage the Territory’s books is the talk of the town. The arrogance and incompetence of today’s politicians almost without fail was breathtaking.
The Corona Virus has enabled an incompetent Government to survive for another day even though destroying the very economy it is supposedly saving.
It’s possibly alright to blow the budget to mind boggling amounts following the Federal Government’s lead as they will probably come good to some extent, but a time must come when someone says enough is enough and here in the NT that time has come.
The Chief Minister must start to show more leadership. Anyone can stand and recite lines to an adoring media pack but a test of his leadership needs to be showing now by getting the NT back into production.
Even opening a golf course is more than has happened so far. Most other states have.
Apart from an early number of infected arrivals from elsewhere the NT has missed a bullet. As of a week or more ago the NT is for all intents and purposes clean. If the NT is to survive financially then action needs to be taken NOW not six or eight months down the road.
It is argued with ferocious intensity that the 30% plus of Territorians with indigenous ancestry are at risk because of lifestyle and therefore need special treatment.
Provide that protection by continuing to lock down the 50% plus of the NT that is under some form of trusteeship for these people.
The posts are still there where some years ago the “Intervention” was in full swing.
Remove the NO Pornography, No Alcohol signs with new ones saying NO access unless prepared for 28 days of isolation lock down: 14 on entering and 14 when leaving. No exceptions.
To sacrifice the viability of the economy until some mythical result is achieved shows a dearth of leadership and common sense.
The NT is in two parts. The 50% where 70% live and work and the balance held as inalienable land trusts under Federal Government stewardship where most of the remaining 30% live.
This is the area where the greatest concern is. To mitigate the possibility of infection these and other titled land with the word Aboriginal in their title must be kept under lock down by whatever means, but let some light into the rest.
To continue to lock the NT down for an indefinite period when there is a solution in place now shows that our current government, while having done a good job to now, must go to the next stage of getting the Territory back into operation.
Any government that follows the current one and future ones as well have the difficult if not impossible task of saving the Territory.
Graeme Hockey
Bayview (NT resident since 1977)


  1. Agree the Chief Minister should be showing more urgency about his planning for the rollback of restrictions.
    The situation in Australia, and even more so in the NT, is vastly better than any of our leaders or medical experts dared hope just a few weeks ago.
    Given the Chief Minister’s assurances about the steps taken to secure borders, enforce mandatory quarantine, protect vulnerable communities, extend resting etc it certainly looks like the residual Covid-19 health risk is now far exceeded by the compounding social, economic, educational and mental and other health costs of the current restrictions.

  2. @ Graeme Hockey: We campaigned for years to have our NO Pornography NO Alcohol sign at the entrance to Yuendumu removed. It only took a couple of days for it to be taken down after we painted it over with: “If you want porn, go to Canberra.”
    After reading your letter I’ve come to realise the error of our ways.
    I do however take issue with you implying that in the NT our leader is not showing leadership. Perhaps you didn’t notice, but the Territory Day fireworks cancellation surely shows true genius, as did the previous Government’s leasing of the Port of Darwin. Sorry Graeme, I must disagree with you, the NT is fortunate to be led by intellectual giants.
    Your inspiring letter has made me see the light, the NT’s road to recovery is palpably obvious.
    First move has to be the reopening of the golf course, which can be done without fear of hordes of “these people” swarming onto the course as appropriate signs could be erected to deter “them”.
    Then definitely, indefinite lock down of 50% of the land in which the 30% live is called for.
    Go one further, build walls.
    A wall and sign led economic recovery could be the NT’s equivalent of the Hoover Dam or the Snowy Mountain Scheme.

  3. Singapore thought they had the virus under control, that did not happen.
    Foreign workers came back and bang 266 cases to 5900 in a few days.
    The NT has most to lose, we depend on tourism, that means foreigners coming in and then worse this virus kills healthy young people as seen in Spain and Italy.
    Africa and Asia are uncontrollable and spreading the virus unchecked, there is no data because they cannot test, it is not going away quickly. 400 Australians arrived from India this morning into Adelaide.
    What are they bringing in?
    The reality is most Indigenous people are not healthy individuals in communities.
    If this virus is let to run loose it could wipe out thousands of Indigenous people in a few weeks.
    If the government lifts isolation rules then the only business that will be busy will be undertakers.


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