Records 1988

1988 Cabinet decisions

Under the Northern Territory Information Act, public sector organisations are required to transfer their records to the Northern Territory Archives Service not later than 30 years after the record was created.

Most archived records enter an “open access period”, whereby they are available for public perusal 30 years after the record was created. This includes the Cabinet records.

The original copies of all Northern Territory Cabinet submissions and decisions are filed by meeting date, and bound into books. These books are then transferred to the Northern Territory Archives Service for safekeeping and preservation.

Please see below a list of highlights for 1988 Cabinet records.

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Formation of a Two-Man NT Police Force Gold Squad

Between 1986 and 1987 the Northern Territory experienced a marked increase in the number of gold mines operating (from 11 to 16), which led to a subsequent increase in gold production. However as mines and production increased, so did criminal activity. The Chamber of Mines estimated a loss of $1 million in gold royalties over the previous five years due to theft.

With a 277% increase in gold production projected between 1986 and 1988, the Government agreed to the formation of a two-man gold squad to specialise in the investigation of all criminal activity associated with the gold mining industry. Members of the two-man police gold squad would receive specialised training and knowledge of gold production. Close liaison with the Chamber of Mines and Department of Mines and Energy would greatly enhance investigations involving the gold mining industry.

Establishment of the Gold Squad was conditional on a levy on Territory gold producers of 20 cents per ounce of gold produced in the NT, and a review of the effectiveness of the Gold Squad after three years.

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Development of Kenaf-Based Pulp and/or Paper Industry

In 1987, Government was briefed by the then Department of Industries and Development on the possible development of a kenaf based pulp and/or paper industry. Kenaf is a tropical hibiscus plant of the mallow family, yielding a fibre resembling jute used to make ropes and coarse cloth. Other products under investigation for development in the NT included peanuts and soybeans.

Government noted the estimated costs for 1988/89 to continue investigations into the agronomy of kenaf (and testing of other annual fibre crops) and development of a cropping system, with kenaf as the principal crop.

Following consideration of the Submission, Government endorsed the following:

  • the objective to develop a proposal for commercial investment in a pulp/paper industry based on locally grown kenaf and other non-woody fibre crops;
  • the principle of substantial private enterprise involvement in the development of a kenaf industry as soon as possible; and
  • progress to date, and the plans for 1988/89 for work on crop agronomy, computerised crop modelling, pulping and paper making tests, market analyses, locational analysis and a study of possible commercial structures.

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Priorities For Park Development in the Northern Territory: 1988 To 1993

This submission provided a set of priorities for the development between 1988 and 1993 of parks that fall under the care, control and management of the then Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory.

Proposals were based on a tourism study and a road development strategy which would form the basis for wealth generation in the tourist industry, have positive employment implications, and facilitate other resource development in the Northern Territory.

Park development was approved on the following priorities:

  • Priority 1 parks requiring enhanced access and facilities - including the ‘Wetland’ parks east of Darwin, Berry Springs Wildlife Park, Litchfield Park, Katherine Gorge National Park, Upper Roper Park at Mataranka, Yulara, Kings Canyon, the West Macdonnell Ranges area, and Alice Springs.
  • Priority 2 parks were associated with major tourist routes (Stuart, Barkly and Victoria Highways) to cater for the needs of the travelling public, and
  • Priority 3 parks were associated with tourist outback adventure where 4WD access and basic facilities would be provided.

Parks categorised under the priorities are listed in the submission.

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Natural Death Bill

The purpose of this submission was to approve introduction into the Legislative Assembly of the Natural Death Bill to give legal effect to directions against artificial prolongation of the dying process. The Natural Death Bill 1988 (serial 113) – papers tabled 249, 256, 307 would only apply to terminally ill adults of sound mind and with no reasonable prospect of any temporary or permanent recovery.

The aim of the Bill was to ensure a terminally ill patient would be able to issue a direction that extraordinary measures are not to be taken when death is inevitable and imminent. The Bill would allow people who are about to die to have a say in their dying process, thus lending them a final dignity.

The Bill was closely modelled on the South Australian Natural Death Act passed in 1983 and was similar to Victorian legislation.

The Bill was passed in the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory on 4 October 1988 and the Act was repealed by the Andrews Bill in the Commonwealth Parliament, which was assented to on 27 March 1997.

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Education Act - Truancy

The purpose of this Submission was to seek approval to draft an amendment to empower authorised persons to escort truant children from public places to the schools at which they are enrolled.

The submission outlines the advantages and disadvantages to the option of amending the Act; to only police officers currently based at schools to be authorised as truant officers; and to making truancy a criminal offence.

Following consideration of the above issues, Government approved the drafting of legislation to amend the Education Act to empower authorised persons who observe children apparently of compulsory school age in public places where there is reasonable ground for believing that such children should be at school, to request of the children their ages and name of their school, and to escort the children from those places to the custody of the Principal of their school.

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Northern Territory Law Reform Committee Report on De Facto Relationships

The submission contains a report by the Northern Territory Law Reform Committee who examined the law of de facto relationships, excluding the issues of custody and maintenance of children. At the time, the percentage of de facto relationships in the Northern Territory was 14.5% of all couples – more than twice the national average.

Submissions were considered from community and church groups, along with statistical and social information on de facto relationships, and legal reforms and studies in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The Committee concluded that the existing law contained a number of anomalies in the way it treated de facto couples and recommended the law be changed. Its principal recommendations were:

  • De facto couples should be able to make contracts regulating their financial relationships and the division of property upon separation,
  • Courts be empowered to settle property disputes in a fair and just way, instead of being determined by a set of technical legal rules,
  • Courts be empowered to order maintenance of de facto partners in limited circumstances.

Government agreed to the Report of the NT Law Reform Committee on De Facto Relationships to be tabled in the Legislative Assembly to allow public discussion of its recommendations.

Tabled paper no. 684 is available at

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Last updated: 14 April 2021

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