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Labor's selective democracy.

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9 March 2000 M34/2000




"Labor’s decision today to vote down a Government Bill providing for Australian citizens to have the basic right to vote in an Australian Territory is to be condemned," the Federal Territories Minister, Senator Ian Macdonald, said today.

The Norfolk Island Amendment Bill provided that only Australian citizens could in future be elected to the Territory’s Legislative Assembly, and also provided that Australian citizens permanently resident on the Island for more than six months could vote for local elections.

"These provisions were in line with those in the national Parliament, all of the States and the other self-governing territories," Senator Macdonald said.

"The Labor Party clearly believe that it is okay for foreign citizens to sit in an Australian parliament, to hold Ministerial office and to exercise authority over Australian citizens. Their vote today flies in the face of their often trumpeted support for equal rights for all Australian citizens, wherever they live in Australia.

"It was disappointing that the Australian Democrats joined the ALP in this approach.

"The next question really must be: How much does Labor value Australian citizenship? The obvious extension of their arguments in the Senate today are to abolish the citizenship requirement for election to our national Parliament," Senator Macdonald said.

Senator Macdonald said that in 1990 the then Labor Territories Minister, David Simmons, first mooted citizenship proposals for Norfolk Island’s Territory legislature.

"An ALP dominated committee looking at the specific matter subsequently supported the very same measures that Labor voted down today. Yet again Labor says one thing in Government and does another in Opposition. This is opposition for the sake of it. Or is it something more sinister?"


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