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Tuesday, 11 September 1973
Page: 751

Mr CALDER (Northern Territory) - I note with very much regret that the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) is not in the House at this time.

Mr Reynolds - He has arrived. He is here.

Mr CALDER - He is here now. I am not running the timing of the House. The Government is supposed to be doing that

Mr Reynolds - The honourable member has said nothing.

Mr CALDER - I would not be the only one. I am looking right at you. I would have thought that the Minister would have been here to introduce this motion. In actual fact he has agreed in principle with the amendment which was introduced into this House but which was defeated by the Government. With others it was introduced once again in the Senate. I am glad that the Minister has agreed to it, because in the Northern Territory the Legislative Councillors were becoming somewhat dismayed at the fact that the negotiations which were taking place in regard to political reform were not getting anywhere. They grasp the formation of the Joint Committee on the Northern Territory as a means of helping them to achieve political responsibility and constitutional reform. Those are the words which were actually used in an amendment which was agreed to in the Senate. But this does not mean that members of the Legislative Council and the people of the Northern Territory accept that this Committee is the be all and end all of their aims which, as I have indicated, are political responsibility and constitutional reform. They accept this only because of the negotiations which were taking place and which were at a stage at which an offer was to be made by the previous Government to the Legislative Council to take over the responsibility for a great many items some of which, of course, have been taken from the responsibility of the Northern Territory. For instance, the control of the police has now descended to Canberra and to the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy). Serious objection is now being taken to the Minister's attitude towards the acquisition of land in the immediate Darwin area. Urban land was to be under the control of the Northern Territory Legislative Council.

The people see these and other rights of self-determination being swept away before their very eyes. I am certain that they do not accept that this Committee is the answer to their hopes and aspirations. I am certain that they would agree to its formation, as I do. But I would hope that the Minister and his colleagues would reopen their discussions with the members of the Legislative Council. I have heard the Minister say in the House that he has already done so. He may have reopened discussions with some of his Party colleagues, but I do not think he has done this to any great and significant degree with the members of all parties. So whilst agreeing and not objecting to the formation of this Committee, I would urge the Minister and the Government once again to look at the proposal which was advanced under the previous Government. I know that the Minister has virtually agreed to study the hopes of the Legislative Council as the first item to be referred to this Committee. But I also notice that in the resolution the following words are used: . . to examine and report on measures that might be taken in the long and short term to provide the Northern Territory with responsible selfgovernment in relation to local affairs-

Since the Minister will be speaking after me, no doubt due to some mistiming of arrangements, perhaps he would be able to explain to the House what-

Dr Jenkins - He has allowed you to speak first.

Mr CALDER - Certainly, I quite agree. Probably I would have a greater knowledge of the situation than he. I would like the Minister to explain to the House and to the people of the Northern Territory exactly what he means by 'in relation to local affairs'. The original amendment which was defeated in this House and agreed to in the Senate dealt with the advancement of political responsibility and constitutional reform for the 'Legislative Council. Those items seem to me to be somewhat different. I ask the Minister when he speaks on this matter to deal with that. Although I support the resolution, I say on behalf of the people whom I represent that it is no substitute for what was originally planned with regard to the discussions between the Legislative Councillors and this Government. I ask the Minister to deal with that.

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