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Wednesday, 28 February 1973
Page: 98

Mr CALDER (Northern Territory) - Before speaking on the subject I wish to raise tonight, I congratulate you, Mr Speaker, on attaining your office. I feel certain that justice in this House will be meted out by you in a very fine manner, I note that you are reported to be a cueist of no small ability. I also notice that your offsider, the Deputy Speaker, is a golfer .of some ability. So not only will we have the humourous but also the sporting approach as well. .

I rise tonight to criticise strongly the Government's policy on the Northern Territory but before doing so I would commend it on introducing a Department for the Northern Territory. This is a step in the right direction. But I ask: What is this Government doing about the previous Government's offer to the Legislative Councillors of the Northern Territory to have discussions with them at ministerial level on the matter of greater autonomy for the Northern Territory Legislative Council? It is all very well to have a Department of the Northern Territory. This is .right thinking, if one has the right people there at the right time. The Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) has a very good man at the top of the Department now. He has been there for a year and a half and is experienced and able. But the people in the Northern Territory and the Councillors - the Country Party, Australian Labor Party and independent men on the Council - who were having discussions with Ministers in the previous Government, are entitled to have those discussions continued with Ministers of this Government. I would hope that the Minister, who is now in the chamber will do this, that he will pay these people and the Northern Territory the compliment of continuing these discussions with the Council.

The offer of the previous Government was very strongly criticised by several members of the then Opposition in this House. One was the present Minister for the Northern Territory and Minister for the Australian Capital Territory and the other was the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson). They said that the offer then made did not go far enough. They also said that ft would not be implemented quickly enough. Those are the 2 points they made then but there seems to be no sign now of them going to meet and carry on those discussions with members of the Legislative Council at ministerial level. Maybe the Government thinks that it does not have to do so because lt has established a Department for the Northern Territory.

In relation to the Department for the Northern Territory I ask the Minister whether he will reconsider and take action with other Ministers to replace or return the Commonwealth Departments and organisations that have been moved from the Administration in the Northern Territory. The Government has the machinery there to administer the Northern Territory but lt has removed the control of the police from the Administration and taken the surveyors away from the Lands and Survey Branch. Qf course, aboriginal affairs have gone to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant). However, there is community welfare as well and that means the welfare of the man in the street. This is in the hands of a Minister, considerate though he may be, whose Department is here in Canberra. The Northern Territory police, located 2,000 miles away, are run by the Attorney-General's Department either from Canberra or from Sydney. This is also the case of the Lands and Survey Branch. There is a tremendous need for land to be surveyed and for diagrams and plans to be drawn. Yet the Director of Lands and Survey is not to have his surveyors there. That is completely and utterly stupid. He has to call on the SurveyorGenera} in Canberra to provide a survey team to do the necessary sub-dividing, drawing and planning. These things are essential for the running of the Northern Territory.

I have commended the Government on the action it has taken in establishing the Department but it will have its men in the Northern

Territory with nothing whatever to do. I imagine this is part of the plan to control tha whole of the Northern Territory from here. The men there will be office boys and that is all. I ask the Minister to return these branches so that they can be administered by men who live on the spot. It is a very backward step to remove control of the police force, surveyors and others. I ask the Minister: What will he do about the welfare of the men in the street? There is a lot to be done for Aborigines but there are a lot of other people living up there as well and we should also see about their welfare.

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