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Tuesday, 11 September 1973
Page: 751

Mr ENDERBY (Australian Capital Territory) (Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory) - I apologise for not being present in the House when this matter was introduced. I was engaged in a matter that will be of interest to the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder).

Mr Calder - I was engaged in some business, too, but I got here on time.

Mr ENDERBY - It concerned discussions with the Chairman of the land tenure inquiry and my colleague the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). But I paid the honourable member the courtesy of discussing this matter with him this morning when we both expected confidently that it would be brought on in the Parliament at or before noon. I and my ministerial colleagues can take considerable pleasure in this decision that has now been reached and reported to us from the Senate. Honourable members may recall the original discussion that took place in the House some considerable time ago. We discussed the best ways in which to bring about a situation whereby the people of the Northern Territory could have a say in their own affairs. At that time the honourable member for the Northern Territory moved an amendment that would have tied in a rather restrictive and clumsy manner - I hope that the honourable member will forgive me as I do not mean this in an offensive way - reference to the proposed joint committee of the question of how best to inquire into territorial government for the Northern Territory. That amendment was defeated in this House.

We know that the consideration of this matter by the Senate has been very considerably delayed. That is to be regretted. I think it is fair to point out that that delay is largely the result of the fact that the Government does not have a majority in the Senate. It is typical of the actions of Liberal Party and Country Party members who sit in the Senate with their Democratic Labor Party colleagues that they have stalled for so long this proposition that today is supported by the honourable member for the Northern Territory.

Mr Calder - Until you agreed to what we asked for.

Mr ENDERBY - The honourable member says that I agreed. I direct him to the Senate Hansard where Senator Webster incorporated my Press statement. That Press statement forms the basis of the proposition that has now been referred to this House from the Senate. My Press statement setting out what I thought should be done was adopted in its entirety by the Senate. I congratulate honourable senators for that decision. It is only to be regretted that they took so long in doing it. There is little merit to be gained in arguing here whether the Government did the right thing or whether the Opposition did the right thing. The fact is that the right thing has been done. Therefore, it is with considerable pleasure that I move:

That the Senate's modifications be agreed to. This will be the first step towards setting in motion in the Northern Territory discussion and investigation that we confidently hope will lead to constitutional reform in the Northern Territory.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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