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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 1789

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I am looking at the history of Australia; I am not worried about Alaska. When I spoke previously I made the point that the first progressive move to greater parliamentary representation for the Northern Territory surely must be the establishment of a House of Assembly for that Territory. This would effectively give the people a voice that they seek in their own affairs. It certainly would not bring Territory senators into this place to try to get support for Government proposals such as that relating to land acquisition which was considered recently by the Senate.

I repeat that the Senate is a States House and we are here to represent those States. To grant the mainland Territories representation in the Senate is seen by the Australian Country Party as the thin edge of the wedge in the destruction of the independence of the Senate and perhaps of the Senate itself in the long run. Sooner or later, if the proposals contained in the Bill are adopted, two things will happen. Firstly, the Australian island territories will press their claim for Senate representation, and who would deny them the right of admission once the doors were open? I foresee that in the long term in such an eventuality the importance of the Senate would diminish. Secondly, the 60 State senators would be elected for a period of 3 years instead of the present 6 years to tie in with elections for the House of Representatives. I say that because this Bill proposes that the election of Territory senators take place at the same time as elections for the House of Representatives.

Senator McLaren - You said 60 senators.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN -Yes, because one thing leads to another. The thin edge of the wedge is apparent to the Country Party in these proposals. We make no apologies for continuing our opposition to them. The people of Australia do not need long memories to be able to acknowledge the worth of the Senate both as a States House and a House of Review. Many Australians have been thankful for the existence of the Senate in the months since Labor came to power. I am sure that they do not want any meddling with the independence of the Senate or any threat to its continued existence.

Senator Gietzelt - Where is your evidence for that claim, senator?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN -One can read of it in the paper every day. The Australian Country Party was opposed to this Bill on the last occasion when it was before the Senate. It has seen no new evidence in the second reading speech of the Minister to alter its view. It is still opposed to the Bill.

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