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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7682


Mr GOSLING (Solomon) (10:39): I rise to second the motion. I want to thank my friend and colleague, Andrew Leigh, the member for Fenner, and also my colleagues from the territories, with that one exception that was just outlined by the member for Fenner, which is a great shame because at the end of the day the Restoring Territory Rights Bill 2018 is not about euthanasia; it's about the right of the territories—a right that was taken away 21 years ago—to legislate in an area which states can already legislate and in one case have already done so. The result in the Senate entrenches a system that treats Australians who live in territories—territories already underrepresented when compared to other small states—as second-class citizens. In a referendum to change the Constitution, the vote of a territorian is worth less than that of someone living in a state. So this is a bill to correct a wrong, to help correct a system which openly discriminates against territorians.

People living in Canberra, Darwin or anywhere in the territories are just as fit to make decisions for themselves as their counterparts are in Perth or Sydney, Adelaide or anywhere else in our great nation. To quote respected law professor George Williams, 'There is no good reason they are denied the same control over their lives. Their second-class status is an affront to our democracy and an accident of history that should be corrected.' It's now up to the Prime Minister to show whether he cares about territorians. The question is now for the Prime Minister: will he let a vote happen in the lower house? Will he let territorians have their rights restored? I urge him to speak to his cabinet colleague Senator Nigel Scullion about this issue and to listen to the speech given by my friend Senator Malarndirri McCarthy when this issue was debated in the Senate.

If the Prime Minister doesn't allow the bill to come to the House for a debate, what does this say about his view of territorians? Does the Prime Minister view territorians as second-class citizens? What is it about the Turnbull government's collective life experience that makes them think that they are better placed to make decisions for territorians? Are they somehow morally superior to the people of the Northern Territory or the ACT? Let's remember that this bill does not re-enact euthanasia in the NT or the ACT; it simply allows people who live in Australian territories the same rights as 24 million other Australians who live in the states: to legislate for ourselves. I have placed on the record my own reservations about euthanasia, but this bill isn't about what I think or what the Prime Minister thinks; it's about the rights of territorians and listening to what they have to say. This bill is about having a debate in the House about whether the territories should have the right to be on equal footing with the states. So let's have the debate. Let's see where the numbers stand. I urge the Prime Minister and I urge the House to support territorians and bring this bill to a debate.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of debate will be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.