Gas, justice and work: Lawler’s plan for NT election

February 12, 2024 18:22 | News

Northern Territory Chief Minister Eva Lawler has vowed to promote a “working mentality”, back major gas projects and review the Youth Justice Act to solve social and economic issues before the next election.

Ms Lawler, who won the top job when Labor colleague Natasha Fyles was ousted as chief minister in December, laid out her plan for the territory’s future in an impassioned speech in Darwin on Monday.

“A key priority for me is for all territorians who can work, to be working,” she said.

“You can’t get a job unless you have a mentality that is geared towards work.

“Aboriginal people need to be working in, and owning businesses and industries on country and across the territory to grow wealth, improve health outcomes, to get kids to school, and to truly close the gap in Aboriginal outcomes.”

Ms Lawler affirmed her support for gas projects in a press conference after her speech after it was pointed out she had barely mentioned the industry.

“No, no, I’ve been the chief minister that’s probably been the most vocal around that,” she said.

“Absolutely the Barossa (gas project) will underpin our economy.”

Ms Lawler also vowed to review the NT Youth Justice Act, which was the subject of several recommendations from the 2016 Royal Commission into Youth Detention.

“I know we need to do more to get at-risk young people on the right track,” she said.

“We want to see positive change in the lives of our young people.”

Eva Lawler
Ms Lawler said it was time to review the Northern Territory’s Youth Justice Act. (Neve Brissenden/AAP PHOTOS)

The review will examine areas including bail conditions and family responsibility agreements, and will consult experts and community members.

The review is set to take longer than the six months until the NT election, a delay likely to frustrate voters keen to see commitments to address youth crime quickly.

Ms Lawler defended the timeline, and said the Country Liberal Party should do the same review if it wins power in August.

“It shouldn’t be partisan,” she said.

“I think it’s timely that we have a look at it and I’m not saying we’ll throw out any of the (royal commission) recommendations, but I think it’s timely that we have a look at that whole area of youth justice, things have changed.”

NT opposition spokesman Josh Burgoyne called for urgent action on crime.

“Right now people are feeling unsafe in their own homes,” he said.

“We now have a government seven years after coming to power promising to review the very thing that they have broken.”

Several of the royal commission’s recommendations have been implemented, though not its recommendation that the Don Dale youth detention facility should close.

Ms Lawler also announced a potential new national park for Darwin’s northern suburbs and the opening of three new youth detention camps in Darwin, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek.

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