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Wednesday, 27 June 2018
Page: 4123

Senator McCARTHY (Northern Territory) (13:55): I want to share with the Senate, in the short time that I have, an important event that's going to happen on Sunday, 1 July. It will be the 40th anniversary of self-government in the Northern Territory, and I thought it'd be a really good time for the Senate to be aware of just what the Northern Territory's all about. I would like, at the end, to table this document, if I may take leave for that, Mr Acting Deputy President Whish-Wilson.

There's an important part of the Northern Territory: the Northern Territory flag. Many of you would know the flag, I'm sure. It's the only flag in Australia that doesn't have the colour blue, unlike the flags of the states and the other territory, the ACT. Our Northern Territory flag is ochre and black and has the Southern Cross on it. The floral emblem on our flag is the Sturt's Desert Rose. The Sturt's Desert Rose is normally known to have five petals. But on this flag it has seven. I always say that the seven is about the fact that there are six states across Australia and seventh one is unfinished business here for the Northern Territory. Our flag was designed not by a Territorian, unfortunately. It was designed by a Victorian. Mr Robert Ingpen designed it for the 1978 launch of self-government.

We have a tremendous way to go in the Northern Territory. We have made many steps along the way for constitutional development and growth for the people of the Northern Territory. We even voted no against statehood. That was 20 years ago, in 1998. We only just voted no, but there was a significant reason behind it. It wasn't because the people of the Northern Territory did not want constitutional development. It was a matter of process that got stalled and stymied just before the eleventh hour, as my colleague on the other side would remember. The aspiration of the people of the Northern Territory is for equality, to be equal with our fellow Australians in the other states. This is what the people of the Northern Territory are going to be thinking about, along with the fact that it is a significant day generally.

There are many people in the Northern Territory who, perhaps, don't know that sort of history, especially when they've come from other states around Australia or from overseas. The First Nations peoples as well very much aspire to be equal in this country in constitutional development. In the Northern Territory we have over 100 Aboriginal languages. Those languages are recognised in the Aboriginal Interpreter Service. But we need them to be recognised far more broadly across our country, respected constitutionally in every way possible. The Northern Territory is reliant on a fair distribution of GST that takes into account our high level of need, our disproportionate level of disadvantage, and that all Australians, no matter where they live, should have equal access to critical government services such as health, housing and education.

We have a long way to go. We have so many houses that still need to be built across the Northern Territory. On Territory Day, on Sunday, many people of the Northern Territory will be reflecting on their place in Australia. I ask senators here to consider, wherever you are, that there is unfinished constitutional business for the people of the Northern Territory, for the First Nations peoples across Australia, especially for those who will be coming together on this significant day on Sunday. Remote Australians, remote Territorians, are not second-class citizens and should not be expected to cop second-class service. Make sure on Sunday, as the people of the Northern Territory reflect, that this Australian Senate also does. Mr President, I seek leave to table a document.

The PRESIDENT: The document hasn't been seen, so—

Senator McCARTHY: I'm happy to show the document. It is the flag of the Northern Territory.

The PRESIDENT: Props aren't appropriate in the chamber, but I appreciate that saves us time. You can save us time, Senator McCarthy, and you can stay on your feet, as you have the first question of question time.