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Tuesday, 29 May 1973
Page: 2816


Mr SINCLAIR (New England) - Perhaps before the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) speaks I might raise a point on behalf of the Australian Country Party. In this clause we see the principal distinction between the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory in terms of the application of this Bill. The Australian Capital Territory is a federal territory and as a federal territory we see it as being in a relationship to the Australian Senate different from that of the Northern Territory. We believe the Northern Territory is embarking on a course towards statehood, lt is a State in the making. We hope that the Northern Territory, as one of those representative parts of Australia which is not tied specifically to the Australian Parliament and which is not designated specifically for the purposes of administration by the Commonwealth, might ultimately be developed and become an independent State. There is no likelihood of the Australian Capital Territory ever being given independent statehood. It is nonsense to think that it should be. On the other hand it is true that the Northern Territory is an entity which, at the moment for representative purposes, is under the control of the Commonwealth.

The Northern Territory was moving under the preceding Administration towards greater autonomy. The Legislative Council had advanced significantly from a state of total dependence upon the Commonwealth Government to a position where it more and more took decisions on its own behalf. Regrettably, since this Government has taken office, there has been a change. There has been a marked slowing down in the degree to which the Northern Territory has been given responsibility for its own affairs. Indeed, this is in marked contrast to the attitude which the Australian Labor Party has adopted towards the Australian Capital Territory. One of the tragedies in the change of government and change of attitude is that the Northern Territory, which one would hope would continue to advance towards achieving equal represen tative rights in every sense with the original States under the Constitution, is now being pulled back. It seems that the administrative direction which emanates from the office of the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) in Canberra is far more significant in determing the opportunities and rights of individual citizens in the north than it was formerly. In our opinion that is a great pity.

The Australian Country Party believes that the Northern Territory has a just claim for representation in the Senate. It is an immense area. The population of the Northern Territory includes the highest percentage of Aborigines when compared with persons of any other group within this community of ours. The Northern Territory consists of a lot of small communities spread over a wide compass. There is no doubt that if the Northern Territory bad the representation of 2 honourable senators it would make the opportunity for people of the Northern Territory to speak in this place even more effectively - outstanding though the representation of the present honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) is. It is impossible for any man with the tremendous extent of terrain and the spread of people to be as effective in this place as he would be if he had a tightly knit city electorate. For that reason the Australian Country Party believes that this Bill would be far better if it were to relate only to the Northern Territory and not to the Australian Capital Territory. In fact, because the Australian Country Party sees the Senate as a States House we are opposed to the provision of senatorial representation for the Australian Capital Territory. We look on the Australian Capital Territory as being permanently a body which must be apart from the States either in the present or in the future of the Commonwealth of Australia. I do now believe that it is likely - considering that this is the site of the Federal Parliament - that there will ever be an occasion when the Australian Capital Territory should enjoy the same representative rights in the States House as do the States around this continent. 1 agree with the point of view put forward by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) that the Territories outside Australia might share representation in the Senate. I do not see them in the same position as the Australian Capital Territory. When the original land grant for tht Australian Capital Terri- tory was made the purpose of that grant was to set up a home for the Federal Parliament. That home for the Federal Parliament had a peculiar relevance to the functions of this national House of Parliament. There is just cause for the Australian Capital Territory to have representation in this chamber. But one of perhaps many - certainly several - remaining areas of maintenance of objective within the Senate is that essentially it should provide a voice for the States at a Federal level. I do not believe that it is possible for the Senate effectively to represent the States if it is to be given what I would see as tainted representation for the Australian Capital Territory. For that reason, although I support the honourable member for Moreton in his request that senatorial representation be given to territories outside Australia and although the Australian Country Party supports the allocation of senatorial representation for the Northern Territory, we are opposed to that being afforded to the Australian Capital Territory.







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