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, 30 April 1968

Mr JARMAN (Deakin) - Mr Speaker,for the people of the Northern Territory, this is quite an historic day. Yet, when I listened some time ago in this House to the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) I could have been excused for feeling that I was listening to the recital of an obituary at a funeral. I must say that the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) was much more cheery in his approach. He made quite a point of saying that full voting rights would not have been given to the honourable member for the Northern Territory if the member for that electorate had been a Labor supporter. I wish to point out to the honourable member for Grayndler that we on this side of the House do not need one additional vote. Unlike the warring factions in the Labor Party, one vote, one way or the other, does not matter very much to the Government. The country returned this Government with the biggest majority that any government has ever had in this House. If we were one vote less, it certainly would not worry us. This dispels the argument advanced by the honourable member for Grayndler that our motive in introducing this legislation was to get one extra vote. As honourable members well know, the campaign to give full voting rights to the people of the Northern Territory started in the 1920s and it has continued for some 47 years, including periods of Labor governments when the vote was not given to that area. It sounds rather hollow to hear Labor members complaining tonight that the vote has never been given to the Northern Territory, because when they sat on the government benches they did not do anything about it.

Mr Duthie - That was over 20 years ago and before you were born.

Mr JARMAN - That is a flattering remark. I am glad to know that the honourable member thinks I look so young. The Northern Territory did have a member in the South Australian Parliament until 1911, but in that year the Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth and the people thenceforth had no direct representation. In 1922, however, after twenty Darwin men had been sent to gaol for 28 days for refusing to pay income tax, the Territory was given one member with limited voting rights. Like the people of Boston many years before, these men had maintained that there should be no taxation without representation. The demand for a full vote was one of the issues which caused all members of the Northern Territory Legislative Council to resign in 1958.

As has been said previously tonight, much of the credit for the introduction of this legisation must go to the present member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). He has pressed continuously for this provision and honourable members will remember how strongly he stressed the importance of this matter in his maiden speech here. He has spoken about it many times since. He has made personal representations to Ministers and he has presented a petition to the Parliament. He even led a protest march through Alice Springs with a gag over his mouth. I am quite sure that many honourable members opposite would like to gag him on the numerous occasions when he so successfully refutes their arguments. In one year he has achieved what Labor members failed to achieve in the 20-odd years that they represented the Territory in this House. The Government has intimated that some day in the future the Northern Territory will become our seventh State. The fact that as a result of this Bill the member for the Northern Territory will be placed on the same footing as all other members of the House is one mark of the growing recognition by this Government of the Territory's importance. Only 17,800 electors are enrolled so far from its 524,000 square miles, but this is not the place for rigidly applying the one man one vote principle to which the Labor Party so glibly gives lip service. The tiny Federal electorate of Melbourne, represented by Mr Calwell, the Labor

Party's former Leader, now has only 29,000 electors. Even he could cross it on foot before breakfast.

Dr Patterson - That is more than you could do.

Mr JARMAN - The honourable member would be surprised. The honourable member for Dawson seems to see some evil motive in any measure that is brought forward by the Government. 1 remember when J was in Kununurra last year picking up a local newspaper and reading a report ot a speech he had made there in which he complained bitterly that the south was milking the north. 1 have said before, and 1 say again, that this idea of setting the south against the north and the north against the south is not in the best interests ot Australia generally. This Government looks to the good ot all Australia and to the future of all Australia and it does not sectionalise one part or the other. I expected the honourable member for Dawson to have quite a deal to say about the desire of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) that the Northern Territory should send senators to Canberra. This proposition is neither realistic nor practical at present. I imagine that this would require a constitutional amendment, because the Constitution provides for only ten senators from each of the six original States, lt is extremely doubtful whether the Australian people would agree to this at the present stage of the Territory's development. In fact, the Australian people showed clearly at last year's referendum that they did not want more politicians in Canberra. But then, the Labor Party takes very little notice of what the people think, which is why it has spent the last 18 years wandering in the wilderness of opposition and why it will probably still be doing so for the next 18 years. If its performance in the last fortnight is any criterion there will be no doubt about it. Wanting extra senators is just a political gimmick by the Opposition to hide their pique because a Country Party member has achieved what a Labor Party member failed to do.

Last year, as a member of the Government Parties Mining Committee and the National Development Committee, with other Government members I was invited by the honourable member for the Northern Territory to visit his constituency. I was most impressed with the vast development that has taken place there. No one would doubt that the Territory has a great future. I was impressed by the high esteem in which the honourable member is held by his constituents. The Northern Territory is fortunate to be represented by such a man who has at all times worked tirelessly in the interests of his electorate.

Originally the Government announced that this legislation would take effect after the next election, but recently in this Parliament the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) stated that the Government was so impressed by the representations of the honourable member that it decided that there was no need for further delay. So this amendment will be passed tonight. The honourable member for the Northern Territory is a fine member of the Parliament. I congratulate him on the success of his efforts and on becoming the first member for the Northern Territory with full voting rights. I hope, in the interests of this Parliament and of the people of the Territory, that he will continue to represent them for many years to come.

Suggest corrections