Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 29 May 1973
Page: 2797

Mr ENDERBY (Australian Capital Territory) ('Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory) - I support the 3 Bills before the House. I am reminded that as long ago as 1970 the then Prime Minister spoke during a by-election in which 1 was elected to this House in support of the proposition that the size of the Australian Capital Territory was such - I quote him loosely because I do not have his exact words in front of me - that it either was or shortly would be ready for increased representation. Indeed I seem to remember the then Minister for the Interior echoing those remarks shortly afterwards. It is my recollection that in 1968 the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) when he was Leader of the Opposition introduced the Territory Senators Bill in an attempt to take account of the fact that in the Australian Capital Territory a gross injustice was being perpetrated by the people being so under-represented. Although the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) made some light talk about the burdens that all back bench politicians carry, it is worth reflecting that in the Australian Capital Territory, where there are about 180,000 people - a population increasing at about 10 per cent per annum compound - or half the population of Tasmania, there is one politician, one representative in the only body where any laws can be made affecting the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Compare the situation in the Australian Capital Territory with the situation in Tasmania where there are 10 senators, 5 members of a House of Representatives, 35 members of the lower State House, 19 members of an upper State House, all paid and treated as full time politicians, and well over 500 local aldermen. In all arguments such as those that have been put by the honourable member for Parramatta it is often overlooked that the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory for that matter, although not quite to the same extent, have their laws made by this Parliament on a plenary base. The Australian Parliament does not make all the laws for New South Wales. They are made in large measure for the people of New South Wales by the State Government of New South Wales. Many of the laws in New South Wales are made by local councils. But everything that affects the people of Canberra - from buses to the disposal of garbage, advertising, control of architects and the tower on Black Mountain - has in some way to come through this place.

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is a great experience.

Mr ENDERBY - It is indeed. I can echo that remark. But everything has to go through this place whereas almost 600 full time and part time politicians serve the needs of the people of Tasmania for these overall purposes. Tasmania has twice the population of the Australian Capital Territory where one person is required to do everything. I make no apologies for this and I want no sympathy for it but I suggest it does ram home the inadequacy of the representation of the people of the Australian Capital Territory. It is true that they have an Advisory Council charged with advising, passing resolutions and making comment on matters of its own initiative or matters referred to it by the Minister but its members, in the present situation, cannot be regarded as peoples' representatives in the sense in which members of this House or members of the Senate are regarded. For these reasons, in principle I support this measure as being long overdue.

I touch briefly now on some aspects of the speech of the honourable member for Parramatta concerning the Senate. He spoke of territorial senators as though they were a strange creation. Of course they will be different.

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - For the short term.

Mr ENDERBY - Yes, the honourable member referred to the short term aspect. The honourable member spoke as though this proposal would impinge on some compact made with the States back in 1900 or 1890. I like to think that I am familiar with the Australian Constitution. I recognise the historical fact that the Australian Constitution was originally created with the idea that the Senate would be a State House comprising 10 senators from each of the States. Does anyone seriously suggest today that it is a State House? That is a legal fiction, an outmoded piece of nonsense. Senators do not vote as State senators. In all my experience outside or inside this place I have never read of New South Wales senators voting against Victorian senators or South Australian senators voting against Tasmanian senators. They vote on party lines because since 1900 the party system of government, for good or bad - generally I take the view that it is for good - has come to fruition, although probably its best days are yet to come. The Senate, particularly in recent months, votes as does this House - along Party lines. There may be nothing wrong with that but to suggest strongly, as did the honourable member for Parramatta, that there is something of a betrayal of that original compact between the States by giving representation to the Territories seems to me to be completely inconsistent and not keeping up to date with trends and what actually has happened.

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Have you not heard of State governments communicating with their senators?

Mr ENDERBY - Yes, I have, but my point remains valid. The Senate, like this House, votes on Party lines. I do not know, nor do I think the honourable member for Parramatta or anyone else knows, how the people of the Australian Capital Territory will vote and whom they will return when they have the opportunity to put 2 people into the Senate.

Mr Killen - There will be a reaction.

Mr ENDERBY - The honourable member may be right; I hope not, but one does not know. I know that for years the previous Liberal-Country Party Government refused to give the Australian Capital Territory the representation it warranted for the simple reason that it could not work out a way so to achieve such representation that it would go to a member of the Liberal Party.

Mr Hunt - What an awful mind you have. That is unworthy of you.

Mr ENDERBY - I do not think so, and I will say it again.

Mr Daly - There is no way to argue with that.

Mr ENDERBY - You can work it out. Just look at the actions of the previous Government. It made repeated statements that increased representation was due, but repeatedly it failed to act. It was repeatedly faced with the fact that the people of the Austraiian Capital Territory voted for a party of which that Government did not approve - the Australian Labor Party. Compare the previous Government's record with the decision of the Labor Government to give increased representation to the Australian Capital Territory and also to give Senate representation to the Northern Territory. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) who sits opposite knows that his Party, the Australian Country Party, on previous voting patterns has a majority in the Northern Territory, yet that does not stop the Labor Government from saying that there will be 2 senators for the Northern Territory. There is as much chance in the Northern Territory of 2 Country Party representatives being elected as there are of 2 Labor Party representatives being elected in the Australian Capital Territory. However it is indicative of the different thinking of the 2 Parties - the Liberal and Country Parties on one side saying: 'We will not, because we cannot see advantage for ourselves in it', and the Labor Government saying: 'We will honour an election promise that has been in our policy for many years to do the right thing by the Northern Territory even if we cannot take advantage to ourselves as a Party from it, and we will do the right thing by the Australian Capital Territory at the same time'. It seems to me that that fundamentally is the difference between the 2 groups of parties. I do not think there is anything more I wish to say, except again to congratulate the Minister on bringing these 3 measures forward at this early stage in this Parliament's history so that this long standing inadequacy can be overcome and proper representation can be given to the people of both the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.

Suggest corrections