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Permit changes to be reversed in NT

After the permit system was scrapped as part of the coalition government’s controversial intervention into NT Aboriginal communities last year – draft laws reversing the changes will be introduced into Parliament this week.

Under legislation introduced by the coalition last year, anyone would have been able to access common areas of Indigenous communities without a permit.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said legislation to reinstate the permit system would be introduced into parliament this week.

“The legislation will also include provision to allow journalists and government contractors to enter Aboriginal communities without permits, to carry out their work,” Ms Macklin said in a statement.

People undertaking government business on Aboriginal land, including police and child protection officers, can already enter communities without obtaining a permit.

The changes will not restrict any activity of staff involved in the intervention.

There are legitimate concerns that privacy would be compromised by the lifting of the permit system, Ms Macklin said.

Northern Territory police have stated that the permit system has an important role in policing these communities and keeping out grog and drug runners, she added.

Ms Macklin said she had also determined not to lift the permit system on major roads to communities, which she could do by regulation.

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