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Thursday, 27 September 1973
Page: 1654


Mr VINER (Stirling) - We heard the Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) attack and heap personal abuse upon the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). Of course, it does the Minister no good at all because he was constantly repeating himself and repetition does not improve a poor argument. The Minister spoke about a conspiracy between the Australian Country Party and the honourable member for the Northern Territory. 1 take it that, by implication, he also tried to draw the Liberal Party into that. Let us have a look at the Minister's conduct towards his own electorate, the Australian Capital Territory. We can see by the action he has taken that he, his Cabinet and Government supporters are themselves guilty of a conspiracy against those people whom the Minister is supposed to represent, a conspiracy to make the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory which is so capably represented by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), 2 socialist enclaves within Australia. That is what the Minister is about. To see the truth of this one only has to look at the socialist price controls that he has foisted upon the Australian Capital Territory - he would like to do the same thing in large measure in the Northern Territory - and the controls that he is exerting over the Australian Capital Territory by withdrawing land from the people. If he has a desire to bring prices down, what ought to be done is to release on to the market as quickly as possible as much land as possible to satisfy the demand for land to build on of the people that he is supposed to represent. How hollow it is to hear the Minister for the Northern Territory going on in the way in which he did.

One needs only to compare the actions of this Government in relation to Papua New Guinea with the paternalistic attitude that is now shown by the Minister towards these 2 areas to justify what I am saying. This Government forced Papua New Guinea along the road to self-government and independence at a speed at which the people of that country did not want to travel. They of course were looking to the time when they would be an independent nation and when they would have self-government. This Government certainly has sped them along that path. But contrast this with the attitude of this Minister towards the 2 areas under his responsibility. Is he speeding them along the path to selfgovernment or to independence as we know it within the federal system? Of course not. It is quite clear from the way he addressed himself to the House this afternoon that what he wants is to adopt a paternalistic attitude and to say: 'I am holier than thou. I know what is best for you. You do not know what is good for yourself.

I turn now to the second reading speech of the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) when introducing the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill. He said:

The purpose of this Bill - and this is its only purpose - is to provide a measure of representation for the Australian Capital Territory and for the Northern Territory in the Senate. . . .

What does the Leader of the House mean by a measure of representation'? What I would like to know and what I am sure the honourable member for the Northern Territory and the people of the Australian Capital Territory would like to know is: When are these Territories to get a full measure of representation of their area? What is a full measure of representation? Does the Minister say that 2 members in the Senate and one member in the House of Representatives is enough? Is that a full measure of representation? Is that what the Minister is saying is adequate for the people of the 2 Territories that he represents? The Minister remains mute. I can only take it from his silence that he considers that is good enough for the people of these 2 Territories. For me, it is not good enough.


Mr Enderby - Move an amendment that would give them ten.


Mr VINER - All right, but we have not heard the Minister propound any argument in favour of that. No doubt, the Minister is against that proposition, so why should I move such an amendment? By the Minister's statement he denies his own proposition that the people of the Northern Territory should be given as full a measure of representation as the people of the States of Australia. The Minister shakes his head, but I still do not hear him say anything.


Mr Hunt - What an ad hoc proposition from the Minister at the table.


Mr VINER - Of course it is. In addition, the Minister said: 'Why deny representation to the Australian Capital Territory which has half the population of Tasmania?' He quoted some statistics relating to representation in the Senate of 10 members and in this House of 5 members for that State, the State Parliament and the local authorities. But have we heard the Minister say that, by that comparison, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory should have at least half the degree of representation that the people of Tasmania have in the 2 Houses of this Parliament and in their State Parliament? Of course not, the reason being the paternalistic attitude of this Government towards the people of the Territories for whom the Minister is supposed to be responsible.

Let us make a comparison. Using a word that the Minister used so freely in his speech, I refer to the hypocrisy of the attitude of this Government when one sees what it is doing in Papua New Guinea by speeding it to selfgovernment and independence and compare that with the callous attitude of the Minister towards the people of these 2 Territories. We have not heard from this Government any proposals about self-government or a higher degree of independent representation by the people of these 2 Territories. I know that a prominent, well-known member of the Liberal Party in the Australian Capital Territory has put forward his own proposals for self-government for the Australian Capital Territory. I would be interested to hear the Minister for the Capital Territory tell this House what he thinks of those proposals or, if he disagrees with them in detail, whether he has any idea that the people of the Australian Capital Territory deserve a measure of self-government as distinct from a measure of representation in the Senate. Maybe one day he will enlighten us as to his views on this question and as to how far he and his Government are prepared to go.

Why should the Northern Territory not be moved quickly along the path towards selfgovernment? Quite clearly this Bill is a movement away from that. Clause 6 of the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill provides that 'the term of service of a senator for a Territory commences on the day of his election and expires at the close of the day next preceding the polling day for the general election of members of the House of Representatives next following his election'. Why is it that the term of service of a Territory senator should be any less than the term of service of a State senator? What is the reason for that discrimination? The reason can only be that the Minister and this Government regard these senators as second-class senators because they represent only a second-class area. Of course, all honourable members on this side of the House would deny that implication quite forcibly and completely. If these Territories ought to have representation in the Senate, the term of service ought to be at least equal to the term of service of a State senator. The only argument that the Minister for Services and Property has given us is that it is the policy of the Government that the time of election for senators and members of the 'House of Representatives should be brought together. That is no reason for cutting down by half the term of service of a Territory senator.


Mr Calder - None whatsoever.


Mr Viner - It is no reason whatsover. If the Government wants to bring the 2 elections into line it can do that while still keeping the term of service a full 6-year term. I can only think that the reason for clause 6 of the Bill is that the Government does not think that the people of these 2 Territories are worth representation of a quality equal to the States' representation in the Senate. In the second reading speeches on these 2 Bills which we are dealing with in this cognate debate the Minister for Services and Property said that for the purposes of section 24 of the Constitution a Territorial senator is not to be regarded as a senator for the purpose of requiring that the number of members of the House of Representatives should be as nearly as practicable twice the number of senators. If a Territory is to be given representation in the Senate why should its representative not be regarded as a senator? If the Government were genuine about giving a full measure of representation to these 2 Territories it ought to introduce into this House another constitution alteration Bill for a referendum to give the Territory senators equal status with the State senators so that for the purposes of the Constitution-


Mr Giles - Instead of playing politics.


Mr VINER - That is quite right. This should be done so that they would have equal value before the people of this country. Along with all the other referendum proposals that are being put forward by this Government, pulled out of the hat after being put into the hat at the whim of Caucus, why is it that the Government has not thought of amending section 24 of the Constitution - if the legal advice the Government has received is good - so as to make it clear that the representative of a Territory referred to in section 24 is equal, under section 1 22, to a State senator? I call upon the Minister for Services and Property to tell us why the Government will not introduce a Bill to amend the Constitution to give to a Territorial senator status equal to that enjoyed under the Constitution by a State senator. There is no answer from the Minister now. Presumably he is not going to give us the benefit of his exquisite knowledge of the Constitution and his great desire to give representation to the people of these 2 territories.

There is little wonder that we see in these 2 Bills a full measure of hypocrisy on the part of the Government - not a half measure but a full measure of political hypocrisy. No doubt in his deep, dark mind the Minister for Services and Property has some good political reason for increasing the representation in the way in which it is proposed. We could guess at that quite well enough, I am sure. But when one looks at what the people of these 2 territories require one can see that the Government is intent upon denying them proper representation. Let us remember that there is a clear distinction between representation in the sense of representative government, and responsible government. We know that responsible government means independence for the people so that their representatives are responsible to the people they represent for the government of the particular Territory. But how representative and how effective can Territory representatives be in the Senate or in this House? The Bill proposes 2 senators for both the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory - 2 each out of 64. How effective could they be as a lobby, as an influence upon the Government or upon the Senate when a matter affecting the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory came into the Senate?

The Minister for the Northern Territory cannot really be persuaded that but 2 senators can be an effective influence in the Senate and can effectively represent the people of the Northern Territory when a matter touching upon the Territory comes before the Senate. That brings me back to the point I made earlier that, by a deliberate choice of language, the Minister for Services and Property in introducing this Bill, spoke of a measure of representation. Quite clearly he acknowledges that it is not a full measure of representation. But nowhere does he tell this House or the people of the 2 Territories the Government's view of a full measure. I have no doubt that we will not hear from him. It is for these reasons, along with those that have been so fully and amply put by the honourable member for the Northern Territory and others on this side who have spoken that we are not satisfied with this Bill. We are nowhere near satisfied with what is proposed. It is for these and other reasons that have been earlier expressed in another place that that other place rejected these 2 Bills. They nowhere near satisfy the aspirations of the people of these 2 Territories for effective participation by them in their own government.

The proposals put forward cannot cloud the paternalistic outlook with which this Government wants to administer these 2 Territories, saying clearly to the people that they are not able to decide for themselves what is good for them, that they must always come to the Government. Of course those people will readily and quickly appreciate that giving Senate representation of the limited kind that is given by this Bill does not necessarily involve those senators in the Government. By what I am sure is good luck the Minister for Services and Property happens to be a Minister of the Government, but the people of these 2 Territories cannot expect that by mere representation in the Senate they will be able to participate in the government of the 2 Territories. That above all things is what all people aspire to - government by themselves and for themselves so that their full aspirations may be reached. So there is every good reason to reject both these Bills. They are simply not good enough. All the personal abuse and all the personal attack that was heaped by the Minister for the Northern Territory on the honourable member for the Northern Territory serves him no good, serves the Parliament no good and certainly does not serve the people whom he is supposed to represent in Government any good.







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