Wood’s call for solution to Voice
Scrapped body ‘answer’
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.