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Tuesday, 27 March 1973
Page: 688


Mr ENDERBY (Australian Capital Territory) (Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory) - 1 move:

(1)   That a Joint Committee be appointed to inquire into and report on such matters relating to the Northern Territory as are referred to it -

(a)   by the Minister for the Northern Territory; or

(b)   by resolution of either House of the Parliament.

(2)   That the committee consists of 3 Members of the House of Representatives nominated by the Prime Minister, one Member of the House of Representatives nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, one Member of the House of Representatives nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the House of Representatives, 2 Senators nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and 2 Senators nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

(3)   That every nomination of a member of the committee be forthwith notified in writing to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

(4)   Thai the members of the committee hold office as a joint committee until the House of Representative, expires by dissolution or effluxion of time.

(5)   That the Prime Minister nominate one of the Government members of the committee as Chairman.

(6)   That the Chairman of the committee may, from time to time, appoint another member of the committee to be the Deputy Chairman of the committee, and that the member so appointed act as Chairman of the committee at any time when the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the committee. «7) That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of 3 or more of its memhe rs and to refer to any such sub-committee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to examine.

(8)   That the committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to move from place to place and to sit during any recess or adjournment of the Parliament.

(9)   That the committee have leave to report from time to time and that any member of the committee have power to add a protest or dissent to any report.

HO) That the committee may proceed to the dispatch of business notwithstanding that all members of the committee have not been appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy on the committee.

(11)   That J members of the committee constitute a quorum of the committee, and 2 members of a sub-committee constitute a quorum of that subcommittee.

(12)   That in matters of procedure the Chairman or Deputy Chairman presiding at the meeting have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, have a casting vote, and that, in other matters, the Chairman or Deputy Chairman have a deliberative vote only.

(13)   That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the standing orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the standing orders.

(14)   That a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution and requesting that it concur and take action accordingly.

This motion seeks to establish a Joint Committee of the Parliament on the Northern Territory similar in all respects to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory.

With the creation of my portfolio of Minister for the Northern Territory and the establishment of a full Department of the Northern Territory, based in the Northern Territory, this proposal is both logical and valuable. I have discussed the proposal with members of the Northern Territory Legislative Council and from all accounts I believe it is widely supported by them. We see the Committee as a valuable link between the Territory and the national legislature; a means of raising the general level of awareness, in this Parliament and elsewhere, of the Territory and its problems; and a proper recognition of the new situation created by the Government's new administrative arrangements.

So far as the composition and functions of the proposed Committee are concerned, the terms of the motion are identical with those for the Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. There will be a total membership of 9. Five are to be drawn from the House of Representatives in the proportion of 3 from the Government and 2 from the Opposition. Four will be senators - 2 from the Government and 2 from the non-Government membership of that chamber. The Chairman will be nominated by the Prime Minister, and either House, in addition to the Minister, will be empowered to send references to the Committee.

There are many subjects likely to form the basis of references to this new Committee, all of them of considerable significance to both the Territory and its legislature and to this national Parliament. One of them, widely canvassed in the Territory itself, is the question of future steps in the process of territorial involvement in the government of its affairs. I believe the Committee has an extremely valuable role to fill and that it will quickly come to be recognised in the same way as its counterpart in the Australian Capital Territory. I warmly commend the motion to the house.

Debate (on motion by Mr Malcom Fraser; adjourned.







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