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Wednesday, 19 October 1949

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Clark (DARLING, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member should discuss the bill. He is not entitled to discuss general matters.

Mr McEWEN - I point out, with respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that if you had heard the speech of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson), when he moved the second reading of the bill, you would realize that I am right on the point. This bill provides for the alteration of electoral boundaries in the Northern Territory, and that is what I am discussing. I cannot refer to the alteration of boundaries without making some mention of the original boundaries. The original boundaries of electoral districts from which are elected members to this so-called Legislative Council ensured that most of the representation would be given to the town of Darwin, the town of Alice Springs, and the mining town of Tennant Creek. They left the great pastoral areas of the Northern Territory with such insignificant representation that it was not worth a hoot. Now the boundaries are to be altered in such a way as to increase the Tennant Creek area by taking in some of the surrounding pastoral country. The effect will be to subtract from the value of pastoral representation, and give greater representation to the miners of Tennant Creek.

Mr Johnson - Has the honorable member looked at the proposal, which is to make the Tennant Creek area include the country within a 40 mile radius of the town ?

Mr McEWEN - I know that the proposal, if given effect, will increase the area of the Tennant Creek electorate, and diminish the representation of the pastoral interests. That is bad in principle. If the great Northern Territory is to be developed, it can be done only by developing the pastoral industry, which is fundamental to the Territory, and not by developing an artificial town of Darwin or an artificial administrative centre at Alice Springs. If the Legislative Council is to serve any useful purpose, provision should be made for greater representation of the pastoral industry. The council has no executive power; it only provides an opportunity for representatives to talk and make recommendations.

My second point is that, whether or not the boundaries are altered, the representatives of the people should be allowed to express themselves freely. We should not place them under the iron heel of a government which has shown many Fascist tendencies.

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