Territory Stories

Bees Creek - Public Meeting 30 October 1998



Bees Creek - Public Meeting 30 October 1998

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Tabled Paper 1230


Tabled papers for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT






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STANDING COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS - PUBLIC MEETING. BEES CREEK PRIMARY SCHOOL 30 October 1998. the people are saying, that we should go out and ask the peoples permission to agree to proceed down the path of a particular process, rather than just presume and charge down that path. I think what has emerged is a mistrust of the process we might develop. So its really saying: Do you agree that we should proceed down towards statehood along this road, through this method? It might be that you set up an independent commission with a bipartisan chairman, or there will be legislation to set up an elected constitutional convention through some mechanism, and that the results of that convention will be referred to the people for voting on to work out what is going to be in the document to be presented to the federal parliament. And when you have a proposal on what the conditions of the grant of statehood are, and you put those two together, then ask the people if they agree that we become a state on these conditions. So that is a staged process. At the end of the day, people are saying yes or no to statehood when they know what the whole body of the car and the engine look like. That is the feedback that I have been getting, but I dont think that I can even kick that off without saying: Do you, the Territory people, give us permission to move down this path, this way? Mr ELLIS: Are you saying actually have a referendum on that point? Mr HATTON: Have a referendum to ask whether you agree that we should proceed on a certain course of action in a certain manner. The reason for that is, if you say yes to that, it also triggers negotiations between the Northern Territory and federal parliament. There are two separate but related things occurring in the move to statehood. One is the convention and the making of a constitution, where we as Territorians are deciding on how we want to be governed by our government in the Northern Territory. The constitution creates the framework by which we are governed. Thats the constitutions job. Bills of rights are all about putting the limits and the fences on what government can and cant do. Thats how youre going to be governed. Separately, there is the negotiation on the conditions under which we get statehood. Thats between the Northern Territory and the federal parliament, because the Australian Constitution says that federal parliament can admit new states on such terms and conditions as are agreed by the federal parliament. Thats a negotiation on industrial relations, uranium, national parks and all those other issues. Dont mix them together. They are two separate processes. The view thats coming out - as I said, Alistair Heatley has expressed it, Marshal Perron has expressed it and other people have expressed it here tonight - is that once you have worked all of this out and we can see exactly what it is going to mean for us, then ask us whether we then want to proceed forward to statehood. Define it before you take that final step. That is not inconsistent, not out of step, with what they did leading up to Australia becoming a nation, you know. They had two or three conventions trying to develop up a constitution. They finally got a document together among all the colonies. They sent it off to the British parliament and it was passed through Westminster unchanged, so we have a precedent that we can use to try to convince the feds. Having passed it there, they said they wouldnt send it off for royal assent until each colony held a referendum and a majority of people in each colony voted to join the new nation. And after all the colonies had voted yes, they set up the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901. So there are similarities in what people are coming back to us on, how you might move down this road. 22

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