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Thursday, 7 June 1984
Page: 2729


Senator HILL(11.22) —by leave-I move:

(1) Page 3, clause 3, sub-clause (1), line 38, definition of 'Northern Territory', leave out the definition.

(2) Page 4, clause 3, sub-clause (2), paragraph (b), after 'Territory', insert 'specified in a notice published under sub-section 79 (1) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918'.

(3) Page 4, clause 3, sub-clause (3), line 38, leave out the sub-clause.

The amendments relate to the question of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. I referred to the matter in my speech in the second reading debate. The Bill was amended in the House of Representatives by three Government amendments tying the islands to the Northern Territory for the purposes of a Commonwealth referendum. Firstly, the Northern Territory was redrafted to include the Territory of the Cocos ( Keeling) Islands. Secondly, the provision that a reference to a sub-division shall be read as including a reference to a district of that Territory specified in a notice published under sub-section 79 (1) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 was altered to exclude the latter words because the Cocos (Keeling) Islands are declared to be a district by the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Self-Determination Bill rather than a specification under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. Thirdly, the provision was inserted to provide the Act extends to the Territory of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

The purpose of the Opposition's amendments is to revert to the position that previously existed. In my speech in the second reading debate I said that it is the Opposition's view that the occupants of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, now that they have voted to integrate with Australia, would have the opportunity to express a preference as to which State or Territory they wish to be associated with for the purpose of Commonwealth elections, for voting purposes other than referenda. The matter will be dealt with subsequently in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Self-Determination (Consequential Amendments) Bill which we will debate later today. For the purposes of referenda, it comes clearly within this Bill. That is why the Government decided to implement its policy decision that the Islands be associated with the Northern Territory. We believe that the islanders may well have good reasons to prefer to be associated with Western Australia with which they have considerable ties such as communication ties as I mentioned yesterday and ties through the fact that many of the islanders now live in Western Australia.

We believe that they should have the opportunity, therefore, to express their view and should be consulted. In the Bill to be subsequently debated we intend to suggest a process of consultation that could take place. However, I do not think it is necessary to go into that at the moment. All we do by these amendments is to seek to preserve the status quo until a proper consultative process can take place with the people of those islands.