NT Votes 2012
Christian are concerned about a broad range of moral and social justice issues. Christians want to see a more moral, just and compassionate society.
Each election, ACL surveys political parties’ policies on a range of moral and social justice issues.
Below you can read the responses provided by the Labor Party.
While we are disappointed the Country Liberal Party has not responded to these questions, Opposition Leader Terry Mills did address the ACL’s recent Make it Count forum in Darwin. You can listen to audio of Mr Mills’ address – as well as his answers to questions from church leaders – here. Chief Minister Paul Henderson declined our invitation to speak at Make it Count.
Labor’s questionnaire response
Abortion law in the Northern Territory currently offers some protection to those unborn babies who may be exposed to medical malpractice or traumatic injury, as well as expressing community values in favour of life.
Will your party oppose any attempts to further liberalise abortion laws in the Northern Territory?
We would assess any such legislation on its merits, taking into consideration the views of the community.
Section 8 of the Adoption of Children Act places the rights of children at the centre of adoption law in the Territory. In the NT only married couples and, in limited circumstances, single adults can adopt a child.
Will your party commit to ensuring that, wherever possible, the government ensures a child has a mother and a father by opposing legislation that might allow same-sex couples to adopt?
- The Henderson Government is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all children with record investment in the Department of Children and families of $177 million in 2012.
- This includes ensuring that the rights of the child and their best interest are at the centre of Adoption Law, and children will only be placed in supported caring placements, that will meet their development and emotional needs.
- The Henderson Government has committed additional funding to increase payments for foster and kinship carers to support them in providing loving homes and the best possible care for vulnerable NT Children.
The Henderson Government is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all children. This Government recognised the need for a thorough review of Child Protection and Out of Home Care services and in November 2009 announced an inquiry into the Northern Territory Child Protection system.
In October 2010 the Board of Inquiry handed down 147 recommendations for reforming the Child Protection system. In recognition of the significant work required to undertake the reform the Department of Children and Families was created in January 2011. In order to fund the massive reform agenda this Government committed a record $130 million in new funding over five years to build and strengthen child and family services. By working with the non-government sector and community partners the Henderson Government is bringing about much needed systemic change.
Charter of Human Rights
Christians are concerned for human rights, but have seen little evidence that Charters of Rights advance them. Charters of rights transfer power from elected politicians to unelected judges.
Will your party rule out supporting a charter of rights either as separate legislation or as part of a move towards statehood?
- The Henderson Government supports the Constitutional Convention and the process which enables Territorians to determine whether the Territory becomes a State, and whether the statutory protection of human rights is a part of this process.
- As a Government we have endeavoured to ensure that the executive power is properly exercised and have fought to protect the fundamental human rights of Territorians.
The Henderson Government introduced the Information Act in 2003. This act not only ensures the openness and accountability of the Government but ensures that a person’s basis right to privacy is upheld. This act introduced the Territory’s FOI regime and enables Territorians to access and correct information held by the public sector while also placing restrictions around the collection and use of personal information.
The Henderson Government is committed to the ongoing review and reform of child protection and youth justice regimes to identify youths in need and provide them with the support and protection they require. The Government has supported all recommendations from the Youth Justice Review and has begun implementing changes to support young people in, or at risk of entering the youth justice system.
Under Territory law, same-sex couples enjoy the same freedoms and rights as heterosexual de facto couples.
Will your party therefore rule out introducing civil-partnership or other legislation that might seek to mimic marriage should you win government?
The Henderson Government does not seek to implement laws which would “mimic marriage” for same sex couples.
The Standing Committee on Law and Justice has agreed to introduce an R18+ classification for video games. Will your party commit to ensuring the new R18+ category will not allow more violent and sexual video games – than are already available – into the Northern Territory?
- The Federal Government is responsible for the legislation regulating classifications and the classification of computer games is the responsibility of the Australian Classification Board and the Classification Review Board.
- The Henderson Government has supported the amendments to the Classification of Publications, Films and Computer Games Act to implement the new classification in the Territory.
- The Henderson Government has been involved in the development of the classification guidelines and supports the retention of the “Refused Classification” category to ensure that games not properly classified as “R18+” are not permitted.
The Henderson Government has supported the strengthening of the guidelines with respect to drug use, sexual and realistic violent and coarse language. However, the ultimate interpretation and application of the guidelines will be undertaken by the Australian Classification Board and the Classification Review Board.
Cloning and Embryonic Stem Cell Research
The lack of progress with embryonic cloning, coupled with the success of ethically sound research involving adult skin (iPS – induced pluripotent stem) cells, means the case for continuing the unethical practice of creating human life and then destroying it has been seriously undermined.
Will your party rule out supporting legislation that would lead to the cloning or destruction of human embryos for research?
Currently the Northern Territory does not do any research of this nature and there is no legislation in the NT relating to this issue.
Will your party commit to opposing any attempts to reintroduce euthanasia to the Northern Territory?
Members of the Australian Labour Party will vote on this issue according to their own personal conscience.
The Northern Territory has the highest rate of homelessness in Australia. What measures will your party take to address homelessness in the Territory?
- The Henderson Government will continue its efforts to reduce the rate of homelessness in the Northern Territory.
- We are approaching this from a range of angles and targeting urban and remote areas.
- As well as targeting supported accommodation, we understand that creating affordable housing for rent and to purchase are important actions to address homelessness.
The Henderson Government is committed to reducing homelessness. We have been working closely with the Australian Government and the non government sector to deliver more beds for the most vulnerable faced with homelessness.
This has included:
- $1.7 billion National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing. This has already changed the lives of over 3000 indigenous families who are now living in new or improved housing.
- $60 million recently delivered under the Nation Building Stimulus package that delivered 208 units of accommodation for affordable, supported and crisis accommodation.
- Created the Venture Affordable Housing Company that will deliver affordable rental properties.
- Committed to delivering more public housing.
- The new Homestart Extra that will help low to middle income earning Territorians move into home ownership.
For further information please view www.homelessness.nt.gov.au
What steps would your party take to improve health care, educational outcomes and economic opportunity for indigenous Australians?
- The Henderson Government is strongly committed to closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.
- The Closing the Gap of Indigenous Disadvantage: A Generational Plan of Action report released in 2007 (CTG NT) was the Northern Territory Government’s strategy for closing the gap in outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Territorians and its response to the Little Children are Sacred report. With an initial funding commitment of over $286 million, the staged five-year plan contained a vision and objectives for the future socio-economic wellbeing f Indigenous Territorians.
Much has been achieved and includes:
- 4 ½ year improvement in life expectancy for Aboriginal women
- Indigenous infant mortality rate has fallen by 37%
- Anaemia rates for Aboriginal children have fallen by 20%
- Cervical cancer rates have fallen by 61%
- Dramatic decline in mortality from cervical cancer, falling by 64% in non-Aboriginal women and by 92% for Aboriginal women
- Deaths from ALL cancers have fallen by 28% for Aboriginal women and 36% for non-Aboriginal women.
- Patients on Renal dialysis survival rates are now equivalent to the rest of Australia- an improvement of 7 years in their life expectancy.
Working Future is the Henderson Government’s plan for improving the lives of Indigenous Territorians who live out in the bush. Working Future outlines a strong vision for remote areas. It’s about government and local people working together to make our towns and communities better places to live.
For more information on Working Future and achievements to date please visit www.workingfuture.nt.gov.au
The Marriage Act (Cth) defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, voluntarily entered into for life.
Discrimination against same-sex couples was removed from Austrlaian law last decade. Same-sex relationships now enjoy the same freedoms and rights under Australian law as heterosexual de facto relationships.
Nevertheless, a minority of state and territory legislatures have passed symbolic motions calling on the Australian parliament to water down the definition of marriage by removing any reference to gender.
Will your party promise to support the current definition of marriage, countained in the Marriage Act?
The Marriage Act is Commonwealth legislation which is referred to in NT legislation.
If there is a proposal to amend the definition of marriage in the Territory, members of the Australian Labour Party will vote according to their conscience.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the best environment for raising children is with their biological parents. Complicated surrogcacy arrangements, particularly those involving same-sex intending parents, remove children from a tleast one of their biological parents. In the Northern Territory, this is facilitated by the Status of Children Act.
Surrogacy also poses serious physical and mental health risks to the birth mother of the child.
Despite this, surrogacy is largely unregulated in the Northern Territory. There are no protections for children or birth mothers.
Should laws surrounding Assisted Reproductive Technology or the Status of Children Act be amended, will your party commit to ensuring that wherever possible a child is not severed from his or her biological mother and father?
- The Henderson Government is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all children.
- The best interests and welfare of the child are the fundamental principles in any policies that are canvassed by the Henderson Government.
Prostitution and Human Trafficking
In June, the United States annual State Department report into human trafficking identified Australia as a destination country for trafficked persons.
A growing number of countries are combating human trafficking and prostitution by outlawing the purchase of sex and offering rehabilitation services to women trapped in prostitution. This approach was pioneered by Sweden.
Will your party commit to holding an inquiry into prostitution and human trafficking that will explore implementing the successful Swedish approach?
Currently the Henderson Government does not propose to hold an inquiry into prostitution and human trafficking.
In regards to prostitution there are a number of protections and regulations for this industry in the Northern Territory. For example:
- it is an offence in the Territory to keep or manage a brothel;
- escort agencies are licensed and all sex workers working for an agency have to register with the NT Police; and
- the NT Criminal Code provides that the offence of causing a person to enter into and remain in sexual servitude is punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment and this penalty is increased where the offence involves a child.
In 2003 the Federal Government implemented Australia’s National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons. It focuses on prevention, detection and investigation, criminal prosecution, and victim support and rehabilitation. Australia’s whole-of-government response to trafficking in persons has provided support to victims of trafficking for sexual and other forms of exploitative labour, and has seen the successful prosecution and conviction of a number of perpetrators. Work continues in this area today.