Sunday Territorian

Wood’s call for solution to Voice

Scrapped body ‘answer’

- Annabel Bowles

The Territory government could effectivel­y establish its own Indigenous voice “right now” by reviving a scrutiny committee it scrapped three years ago, a long-serving former independen­t MLA has suggested.

Independen­t Mulka MLA Yingiya ( Mark) Guyula has successful­ly moved a motion for “a process to review Bills introduced to the assembly for their impact on First Nations Territoria­ns”.

The Legal and Constituti­onal Affairs committee will report back to parliament on the motion by May next year.

However, Gerry Wood, who was the independen­t Nelson MLA for almost 20 years, said Labor could make Mr Guyula’s idea happen simply by immediatel­y reintroduc­ing the Legislativ­e Scrutiny Committee.

Mr Wood said it would be quicker and more effective than wading through a potentiall­y long process of setting up a new committee to specifical­ly advise on Aboriginal affairs.

“That scrutiny committee could do what Mr Guyula is looking for,” he said.

“The only difference is it wouldn’t just be for one group of Territoria­ns.”

Mr Wood said the Legislativ­e Scrutiny Committee held public meetings allowing people to “have a say” on legislatio­n before the government scrapped the committee following its 2020 election win.

Queensland’s unicameral (single-house) parliament currently has seven committees designed to scrutinise legislatio­n and Mr Wood said the NT’s should have at least one such committee.

“Maybe Mr Guyula could be the independen­t chair of the (revived) committee, but knowing Labor, don’t hold your breath,” he said.

“An independen­t chair for them would be unthinkabl­e.”

The CLP’s Barkly MLA, Steve Edgington, in his response to Mr Mulka’s motion this month, also urged the chamber to draw on its history.

“(Labor) may remember a document they produced back in 2016, called Restoring Integrity to Government, Trust and Integrity Reform,” Mr Edgington said.

“A number of statements in the Restoring Integrity to Government document are relevant to our discussion ... including the section entitled Opening Parliament to the People.

“One of the suggestion­s was that Labor would trial citizens’ panels to develop and analyse government policy.

“Citizen panels never happened . . . however, what we did have for a short period of time was legislativ­e scrutiny committees.”

Mr Edgington said when Labor scrapped the committee it effectivel­y “shut down scrutiny of their government”.

Chief Minister Natasha Fyles threw her party’s full support behind Mr Guyula’s motion, saying it aligned with existing local decision-making policy.

“We are a government who believes in local decision making and providing a voice for all,” Ms Fyles said.

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