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Thursday, 27 September 1973
Page: 1644


Mr SCHOLES (Corio) - I reject the argument that has been put forward by the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke) and an argument which was put forward during a previous debate in the Senate on this matter. I do not believe the statement that people who live in the Northern Territory are not Australians. I do not believe the statement that people who live in the Australian Capital Territory are not Australians. That is what is being said. It has been said in this House and in the other House that the people who live in the mainland territories of Australia are to be considered as having no better right to Australian citizenship than to people who live in Norfolk Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands group and other trust territories. The people who live in these Territories are not under the trusteeship of Australia; they are Australians disfranchised by the Constitution. In the initial stages the Constitution was drafted by State governments with State outlooks and they did not consider people who did not live in the colonies of that time. Whilst the States now talk about sovereign States there were no States initially; they were colonies.

The residents of the mainland Territories are just as much entitled to be represented in Houses of Parliament where laws affecting their welfare or levying taxes on them can be made as were the people of the United States of America at the time of their War of Independence. I suggest that the attitude being put forward in this matter by the Liberal Party is the same as that which was put forward in the British Parliament at that time, namely, that people can be governed by a parliament in which they have no say whatever and which can make laws on their behalf but they are not entitled to be represented as citizens of that country. What utter rubbish it is for any member of this House or the other place to suggest that the Senate is a States House. One would be laughed out of any serious discussion if one tried to prove that the Senate votes on State lines. It is not very long ago - within the last 3 years - that a State of Australia directed its senators to vote in a certain way on a certain question. The senators representing that State, when the vote was taken in the Senate, split on Party lines.

Do not let us have childish nonsense. That is all it is. I suggest that the Liberal Party believes this argument; otherwise it would not have put up one of its most junior members to lead in an important debate such as this. It is childish nonsense to suggest that the Senate is anything but a Party House. It is a House where people are elected on a proportional representation basis. With only 3 exceptions, no member of the Senate would be there if he did not have his Party's endorsement and he would not stay there if he did not play the game by the Party which sends him there. Let us at least act like adults on this question. The suggestion made by the honourable member on behalf of his own Party that the Liberal Party could not get one-third of the votes in the Australian Capital Territory where the Public Service of Australia is based, where the residents are the people most likely in the best position in Australia to judge the performance of the Australian Government, I think is an indictment of his own Party.


Mr MACKELLAR (WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We could probably get them all at the moment.


Mr SCHOLES - If the Liberal Party could get them all I find it hard to understand why the leading spokesman for that Party said that although, with 2 senators being elected at one time on a proportional representation basis, his Party would require only 33 per cent of the vote plus one to get a senator elected, the Australian Labor Party would get the 2 senators for the Australian Capital Territory.


Mr Cooke - I said that the Minister probably thought that.


Mr SCHOLES - The honourable member's argument against this was that we would get 3 senators to one. His whole basis of argument was that we were trying to distort the numbers in the Senate. The facts of the matter are that these Bills are designed to give this representation without altering the balance of power in the Senate. That is what it is all about and we all know that. Surely even schoolboys know that. I do not want to delay the House for long.

The position of the Australian Country Party on this question is very interesting. I understand the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) will follow me in this debate. It will be interesting to see whether he will still stick to the position which he held before when the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) sat beside me on this bench and voted for this legislation or whether he now accepts the argument which is being put forward by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) and which was put forward in the Senate by a number of senators, that people who live in the Northern Territory are not Australians and are not entitled to be fully represented in the Australian Parliament. If that argument is valid and if the argument put forward by the honourable member for Petrie is valid, I challenge the Liberal Party to move an amendment to the Commonwealth Electoral Act to take the Territory members out of this House. This House is as much a part of the Australian Parliament as is the Senate. If the people in the Territories are not Australians for the purpose of electing senators, why are they Australians for the purpose of electing members of the House of Representatives? No one would seriously challenge the right of the honourable member for the Northern Territory to be here, except his opponent at the next election, and he would be only trying to replace him. No one would challenge the right of the Territorians to be represented here and have full voting rights. No one would do that. Apparently the spokesmen for the Liberal Party who are now putting forward the proposition that people who live in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are not Australians are the exceptions. They are saying that those people must be ranked beside the people who reside on Cocos Island, Norfolk Island and the other Trust Territories and not be regarded as full Australians. I conclude by saying that I think the most ludicrous suggestion I have ever heard in my life was the one which came from the other side of the House that next the Government will be seeking representation of Antarctica in the Senate. I know that penguins would be as good members of Parliament as some honourable members on the other side of the chamber, but there is no provision in our Constitution for penguins to be given the vote.

Mr CALDER(Northern Territory) 0.6)- I consider the remarks of the honourable member for Corio, who has just resumed his seat, to be wild, erratic and of no real consequence. He endeavoured to predict the way in which I will vote if the debate on this legislation comes to a vote. The Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), who is sitting at the table, also endeavoured to do so when this legislation was debated on a previous occasion. Once again I must remind the House and the people of Australia that the Australian Labor Party has in its platform a plank to abolish the Senate. That was referred to by the Minister for Services and Property when he introduced the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill 1973 on 22 May 1973. Quoting the Prime Minister (Mr whitlam), he said:

It has been said quite correctly that the Australian Labor Party is In favour of the abolition of the Senate.

The Australian Labor Party is being hypocritical in this respect, as we all know. I have been quoted by the Minister for Services and Property as being in favour of representation of the Northern Territory in the Senate. I said in 1966 that I was and I have been saying ever since that I am. Having said that, I will not back away from what I have said.

As a Territorian, I would seek to take advantage of the opportunism with which the Australian Labor Party has introduced this legislation. I see no real reason why the Northern Territory - I am not really discussing the Australian Capital Territory in this regard - would not gain from such a situation. I believe that the people of the Northern Territory shou'd be represented in the Senate. One of the Australian Labor Party's great catch-cries is 'one vote one value'. According to the last figures I saw the Northern Territory had an enrolment of 31,000-odd on the electoral roll on 27 April. If the Northern Territory were to be represented by 2 senators it would mean that it would have 3 representatives in the Australian Parliament for that number of voters. I am all for Senate representation, but I just cannot accept the Government's expressed purpose in introducing this legislation. There may be something in what the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke) has said. It may be that the Australian Labor Party is not being solicitous of the well-being of the people of the Northern Territory but is playing the numbers game. The honourable member for Corio said that residents of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are all Australians. I agree. They are very much so. In fact, I would say that if anything the people of the Northern Territory are tougher and more like Australians than a lot of the honourable members who are sitting opposite me at the moment, including the Minister.

It has been said the people of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory should have the same rights as the people of the States. That is fair enough. But what about the referendum on prices and incomes which the Prime Minister hopes to hold on 8 December? Territorians have no right to vote in that referendum or in any other referendum. I would ask the Government, while it is being so solicitous about the people of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, to give those people the right to vote in referendums. In all sincerity I ask the Minister to give that matter consideration.


Mr Daly - What was that again?







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