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Tuesday, 29 May 1973
Page: 2804

Mr CALDER (Northern Territory) - In speaking to this Bill I point out that in 1966 Senate representation for the Northern Territory was on my platform and it has been ever since. But since that time there have been various political gimmicks which started from that day, and they have continued. During that time there was much argument and play about whether the Northern Territory had full voting rights in this House. After voting rights had been granted the then Leader of the Opposition, who is now the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), put a Bill like this on the notice paper. Whether he thought anything of the Northern Territory or the people in it I would not know, but certainly I would say from the way his Government is acting towards the Northern Territory at this moment that he and his Ministers think nothing whatsoever of the people in the

Northern Territory or of the Northern Territory. That Bill was in the form of a political gimmick.

I support Senate representation for the Northern Territory. I think that the people in the Northern Territory should have a right to have more say in their own affairs. But what this Government does not take into account is the feelings of the people in the Northern Territory. The decisions are made in Canberra but the effects are felt from Darwin all the way down to Alice Springs and the South Australian border. We have heard only recently of shoot from the hip style legislation on land acquisition. It has been decided by the people in Canberra or in southern cities that this Government will acquire a certain amount of land in the Darwin area. There is obviously no thought whatsoever about any plan. People say 'We will follow the Pak Poy plan' which was drawn up in some fashion. But the people who live in this 32-square miles area of land south of Darwin have not got the faintest idea what will happen to their land or their tenure, lt is freehold land.

That is an example of what happens with this centralist socialist Government. That is only one thing that has happened. We were to have abortion on demand thrust onto the Northern Territory without so much as the slightest consideration. No one asked the members of the Legislative Council in the Northern Territory for their views on this. No one mentioned anything to the people in the Northern Territory at all. The Minister for the Capital Territory is also Minister for the Northern Territory, so because he was going to run such an event in his home town of Canberra he decided that we would have to have it up there. That legislation was thrown out and it was thrown out quite conclusively. But the the principle is what I am getting at. Despite the fact that I am for Senate representation for the Northern Territory, this Government has shown all along the line in the very short time that it has been in office that it is not really interested in the Northern Territory or the people who live there. The portfolios of some of the new Ministers have swollen. The functions which previously were carried out in the Northern Territory have been shifted to various southern based Minitries operated by men who, despite their qualifications, would have little knowledge of and little interest in the Northern Territory itself. We have heard that the control of the Northern Territory police is to be removed from the Northern Territory Administration and placed under the auspices of the Attorney-General's Department in Canberra.

Mr Giles - Milte.

Mr CALDER - One honourable member has just mentioned the name Milte. A Mr Milte is to be sent to the Northern Territory to conduct an inquiry into the Territory's police force.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Luchetti)Order!I ask the honourable member to return to the provisions of the Bill.

Mr CALDER - Certainly, Mr Deputy Speaker. This Bill seeks to grant Senate representation to the Northern Territory. I say again that I welcome it. But let me quote what the present Prime Minister said when he was Leader of the Opposition. In speaking to the Territory Senators Bill which he introduced on 7 November 1968 he said:

It has been said quite correctly that the Australian Labor Party is in favour of the abolition of the Senate.

Yet we have this Bill before the House today. I am g'ad that it has been introduced because it provides a chance for the Northern Territory to get further representation in the Parliament. He went on to say:

One of the first planks to the Party's platform provides for an amendment to the Constitution to abolish the Senate.

I know that he went on to say other things but he was one who supported this, I think against some of his colleagues at the Labor Party Conference in 1969, I think it was. But the point is that the aspirations of Territorians would be far greater served if this Government were to continue the discussions which were being held before the last elections. The administration of some of these matters which I have mentioned were to have been handed over to the Northern Territory itself. Urban land was one of them. So rather than having more representation in this Parliament - which, as I said, I would welcome - the people of the Northern Territory are interested in having more say in their own affairs. The members of the Legislative Council in that Territory are elected by the Territorians. They know what is wanted for the Northern Territory. I urge the Government to go ahead and to pick up these discussions where they were left off. I know that the Minister for the Capital Territory and the Minister for the Northern Territory has intimated that he will go to the Northern Territory and have discussions with the people. I believe that the Prime Minister will pass through the Territory on his return from an overseas trip. 1 would hope that he will listen to the people in the Northern Territory to find out what they want because we heard all sorts of quotations and promises before the 1972 elections.

We heard of the promises that the Australian Labor Party would move more quickly than the former Government to give the people of the Northern Territory a greater interest in their own affairs and that an immediate move would be made for the Northern Territory to be controlled by a fully elected Legislative Council. But what does happen? Since the Minister has been in charge of the Department of the Northern Territory, instead of moving towards a fully elected Council he has removed 3 government members from the Council but has replaced them with 3 other government members. So the numbers are still the same.

The Government members were able to force through the Council only a week or so ago a move to freeze the transfer of land from leasehold to freehold despite the fact that every elected member but one voted against the proposition. A bloc vote by the government appointed members put the proposal through the Council to freeze the transfer of land. This action came as a result of direct instructions from Canberra. As I have said, the people in the Northern Territory would welcome Senate representation. But they want to have much more say in running their own affairs. We were told that talks on constitutional and political reform would be renegotiated by the incoming Government. After a period of 6 months no one has done anything about it at all. I feel that we are again seeing the indecent haste with which the Australian Labor Party has rushed into many other matters such as foreign policy and Northern Territory land acquisition. Action by this Government certainly will not assist the people in the Northern Territory to have a greater say in their own affairs. In fact, I say the reverse is the case.

This Government gradually is whittling away the authority of the Legislative Council. It has shown ever since it has been in power that it is determined to run the Northern Territory from Canberra. If we get 2 senators we will be able to make more noise but the Ministry will still be down here riding roughshod over the people of the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory will be administered from Canberra without the slightest thought or feeling for the people there. The recent example of the police investigation in the Northern Territory is a shocking state of affairs. Needless to say the members of the Northern Territory Legislative Council are up in arms about this and are objecting very strongly to it. I would be right behind them. I propose at the Committee stage to move an amendment and I hope I will be able to speak further at that time.

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