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Friday, 15 June 1984
Page: 3229

(Question No. 886)

Senator Kilgariff asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories and Local Government, upon notice, on 9 May 1984:

(1) Does the Government intend to go ahead with its proposals to include the Cocos and Christmas Islands with the Northern Territory electorate for the purpose of voting in Federal elections and referenda; if so, will the Government allow the Northern Territory to attain statehood at a time when the Territory Government feels this is appropriate.

(2) What would then be the status of the Cocos and Christmas Islands; would they be included with the Northern Territory as part of the New State; if not, what does the Government envisage their future to be.

Senator Gietzelt —The Minister for Territories and Local Government has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The Government has decided to include electors on Cocos (Keeling) and Christmas Islands in the Northern Territory Electorate for Federal election and referendum purposes. In a letter dated 17 May 1984 to the Northern Territory's chief minister, the Prime Minister advised Mr Everingham of the Government's concern that the two territories should receive proper parliamentary representation at an early date. The Prime Minister said that because of constitutional difficulties with linking the Territories to an existing State, and because the Australian Capital Territory was clearly inappropriate on the grounds of remoteness and lack of community interest, it had been decided to link both Territories with the Northern Territory.

The question of statehood for the Northern Territory will be considered by the Commonwealth Government when an approach is made by the Northern Territory Government. The Commonwealth position at that time will be dependent upon the basis on which statehood is sought.

(2) The Prime Minister also told Mr Everingham that the arrangement regarding Cocos (Keeling) and Christmas Islands may need to be reconsidered at some future date should the constitutional position of the Northern Territory change.