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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 1788

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate) - The purpose of the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill is to provide senatorial representation on the basis of 2 senators each for the Australian Capital Territory, including the Jervis Bay Territory, and the Northern Territory. The Bill proposes that such senators will have the same powers, immunities and privileges as State senators and that both senators for each Territory will be elected under a system of proportional representation at the time of each general election of members of the House of Representatives, provided that the first election of the Territory senators will be held at the time of the next election of State senators if such is held prior to a general election of the House of Representatives. I want to say that the Country Party's opposition to the proposals set out in this Bill was made abundantly clear when the original Bills were debated in the Senate last June. The present Bills- the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill and the Representation Bill- are in identical form to the original Bills and no fresh evidence has been brought forward by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) which might cause my Party to reconsider the stand which it took in the Senate at that time. In fact, the second reading speech of the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) delivered in another place on 25 September 1 973 was a very feeble, pathetic and in many parts objectionable speech. The purpose of any second reading speech is to detail the proposals set out in the Bill and to state why those proposals should be adopted. I think that honourable senators look to the second reading speech for information on clauses in the Bill. But on this occasion the Minister chose to depart from tradition. He devoted half of his speech to an attack on those parties opposed to the provisions in the Bill, and particularly the Country Party. He said in part that the Country Party's opposition to the Bill in the Senate was a display of political gymnastics based not on facts, principles or reason, but straightout political opportunism. That sort of comment should not be made in a second reading speech when a Minister is explaining a Bill. If the Minister cares to read the speech I made when the original Bill was before the Senate on 7 June he will see that facts, principle and reason were the very basis of the Country Party's objection to granting senatorial representation to the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. I pointed out then, and I do so again, that the Senate is a States House and the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are not States. I said that the Australian Capital Territory, in particular, was unlikely to become a State in its own right. I also pointed out that the Australian Capital Territory, apart from having a member in the House of Representatives who is a Minister, is able to wield great influence through the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Australian Capital Territory which is composed of members from both Houses of Parliament. No State has a similar committee working for its interests.

Senator Mulvihill - Have you looked at the history of Alaska, senator?

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