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Statehood for the Northern Territory

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Other Media Statements [Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local [Michael Ronaldson, Parliamentary Government] Secretary]

[Minister for Transport and Regional Development] [ Departmental]

M e d i a

R e l e a s eTHE HON ALEX SC Minister for Regional Development, Territories and L S77/98 11 August 1998


The Prime Minister, John Howard, today announced that Federal Cabinet had agreed in principle that Statehood should be granted to the Northern Territory subject to terms and conditions to be determined by Federal Parliament.

"The Government will ensure that the national interest and key Commonwealth policy issues are properly addressed," the Prime Minister said.

Simultaneously in Darwin, the Federal Minister for Territories, Alex Somlyay, made the announcement of the Government’s decision on Statehood.

"This decision accords with the Coalition’s 1996 election commitment to facilitate Statehood according to a negotiated timetable through a truly co-operative Federal partnership.

"The Government also agreed to facilitate the Northern Territory Chief Minister’s proposal that a Territory Referendum on Statehood be held at the same time as the next Federal Election.

"It is truly a landmark decision to move towards the creation of the first new State since Federation," Mr Somlyay said.

Mr Somlyay said that Statehood is an important issue for Northern Territorians. The Northern Territory Statehood Convention held in April this year was a significant event, which set out a draft State Constitution for the Northern Territory.

"The Chief Minister, Shane Stone, and the Northern Territory Government have been very effectively preparing the way for Statehood, including through the Statehood Convention."

The Commonwealth Government’s preferred process for the grant of Statehood is under Section 121 of the Constitution through an Act of Federal Parliament.

The Prime Minister advised that direct negotiations would now commence with the Northern Territory Government on the process, timetable and terms and conditions of Statehood.

"I have been asked to lead the negotiations with the Northern Territory Government," Mr Somlyay said.

He said the negotiations with the NT Government will be on a range of sensitive areas of Commonwealth Government interest which need to be resolved.

"These matters include Aboriginal land rights, payment of mining royalties, ownership of uranium, environmental control of uranium mining, the protection of world heritage areas, the management of two Commonwealth national parks, industrial relations powers and the possible incorporation of the Indian Ocean Territories and the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands into the NT." 16/10/1998


"The Commonwealth considers these are matters for further consideration and consultation but do not pose a serious barrier to Statehood," Mr Somlyay said.

Mr Somlyay said the landmark decision of the Government is a significant step along the path to Statehood for the Northern Territory.

Further information:Graeme Hallet (Minister's Office) 02-6277 7060

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