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Wednesday, 20 March 1957

Mr HASLUCK (CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Territories) - If I may, I will answer those questions in the reverse order to that in which they were asked. It has been considered that we might nominate to the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory persons other than officers of the Administration. Up to date, I think we have been limited in our action in that regard by the difficulty in finding in the Northern Territory community at the present stage of its development people who might - without offence to other citizens - be called public spirited citizens without any sectional interest. I think any nominations at the present time would necessarily draw from citizens who do have strongly marked sectional interests. The question whether the proportion of nominated members to elected members should be changed is, of course, a matter for this Parliament. The change could be made only by legislation of this Parliament. As to the first question that the honorable member asked, I would say that I think that, in his enthusiasm for and his constant advocacy of the interests of the Northern Territory, he has been misled into a false analogy. The people of the Northern Territory are Australians, like the rest of us. I do not think that we can envisage the degree of separateness between them and us that will be enjoyed in the British Commonwealth by countries such as Ghana and Singapore. There is in the Australian Constitution a clear path towards the creation of new States. There are procedures by which that can be brought about. I would think that statehood is the future destiny of the Northern Territory. Speaking generally, I would say that that is a consummation devoutly to be wished. Perhaps we can take one lesson from the reference to Ghana - and I speak in this, perhaps, personally rather than ministerially. Self-government for Ghana came about after a certain coalescing and integrating of diverse communities. Perhaps statehood for the Northern Territory might come sooner if we could envisage, across the whole of northern Australia, a community of interest which transcended existing boundaries and bound together a northern community strong enough to stand on its own feet as a State, maintaining its own electorates and financing its own affairs.

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