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Tuesday, 30 April 1968

Dr PATTERSON (Dawson) - The long delayed and reluctant decision of the Government to give the member for the Northern Territory full voting rights in the Parliament will be applauded not only by residents of the Northern Territory but also by all other sound thinking. Australians. The Hansard reports of this Parliament contain voluminous records of the verbal fight for full voting rights put up over the years not only by elected members of this Parliament but also by many responsible citizens of the Northern Territory. The Parliament will recall the many constructive arguments advanced by the members of the Nelson family who represented the Northern Territory in this House for many years. These men lost no opportunity to campaign for an unrestricted vote, just as the present member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) has done and in the same way as the member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr J. R. Fraser) never gave up his fight for full voting rights in the Parliament.

Why has the Government taken so long to give the Northern Territory the full political justice it deserves? There can be and there is only one answer. The Government will fight tooth and nail to hold on to every bit of power it possesses over the Northern Territory. It does not wish to ease in the slightest degree the stranglehold it has on the Territory, which has continuously affected adversely its economic development, its legislative processes and its supply of finance. The Government believes in government of the Northern Territory from Canberra, by departmental persons, many of whom, I regret to say, have never been in the Territory. Those who have been there have a knowledge of the Territory restricted to the streets, hotels and motels of Darwin or the air route from Canberra to that city.

The stranglehold which this Government maintains on the Northern Territory is vividly shown in the workings of the Legislative Council. As it now operates under the Northern Territory (Administration) Act this Council is toothless and clawless It is devoid of any real constructive power. The claim that the Legislative Council is an effective body is humbug.

Mr Nixon - This is getting away from the Bill, is it not?

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