Territory Stories

Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 28 February 2001



Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 28 February 2001

Other title

Parliamentary Record 27


Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication


File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

DEBATES - Wednesday 28 February 2001 points 1 and 2 , along with the other reforms put in place in 1996, should have the force of legislation rather than be reliant on the goodwill of the government of the day, and; (4) that the attitude of this Assembly in relation to treaties be communicated to both Houses of the federal parliament as well as the parliaments of the other states and territories. If you are serious about seeking real changes to the way treaties are dealt with by the federal government, this would be seen to be a rather curious way to go about it - a motion in the Northern Territory Assembly sent to other state and territory governments in Australia and then on to the Senate and the House of Representatives. I would have thought that, if the Chief Minister was dead set serious about this and really had a mind to achieve some meaningful change in the way this is handled, the first port of call is the senator. You should call Senator Tambling in and discuss with him what you are going to do and work out a process from there. He is the CLP representative in the federal parliament, whose province this very clearly lies within. I do not know that he contacted Senator Tambling at all. From the response of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, he certainly did not contact him before he raised this matter in here. So, I question the sincerity of this whole move by the Chief Minister and his seriousness with seeking real change. The existing system of dealing with treaties in Australia has widespread bipartisan support. Foreign Affairs Minister Downer and shadow minister, Laurie Brereton, both rejected the need to change the current system. As things stand, treaty matters are referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. This is a joint House of Representatives and Senate Committee with bipartisan support. The treaty committee is the subject of pubhc inquiry; it seeks and receives submissions from the pubhc, non-govemment agencies, and state and territory governments; and the committee reports its recommendations to parliament where the recommendations are debated in full pubhc view. This process happens before any binding treaties take place. Shortly after this motion in this Assembly last year, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer has this to say in The Australian on 6 November: Proposals fo r the Senate to have the power to veto government plans to ratify any international treaties have been rejected by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. Legislation is almost always necessary for treaties to have force in Australian law, Mr Downer said, and that meant the Senate as well as the House o f Representatives could already effectively vote down any government decisions to ratify such treaties. Northern Territory Chief Minister Burke told The Australian last week he wanted the federal governments role in treaty making curtailed and the states and territories given a decisive role. The latter could be achieved by ensuring that two thirds majority will need to be in the Senate - the states House - before any treaty could be ratified by the Commonwealth, but Mr Downer said: "Where there are agreements that have implications for the states and territories, they are aheady consulted. Under the Howard government, premiers and chief ministers meeting as the Treaties Council are routinely consulted about international agreements that affect them. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, is a member of the Liberal Party; he is in the same mob as the ChiefMinister sitting opposite. M r Burke: Not in my party. M r DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! M r STIRLING: Your former boss is their federal president. You can stand there and try to mislead Tenitorians all you like. He aint our lot; he has never been our minister. Lets get it straight - hes a bit closer to your side than ours. Drop him a line or pick up the phone. When you are down in Canberra, say to him: Listen, Alex, I have a problem with the way these treaties are handled in Australia and we want to look at some changes. Have a talk to him and have a talk to your Senator Tambling about how you might go about it. You might get a little bit of support from this side as to the seriousness of your motives. I will go on to what Laurie Brereton had to say, the shadow minister for foreign affairs. Given that the foreign minister has aheady said there is bipartisan support on this, you wouldnt expect Laurie Brereton to be saying too much different from the Minister for Foreign Affairs. On 3 November 2000 , the shadow minister for foreign affairs, just prior to the Minister for Foreign Affairs press release, stated: The shadow minister fo r foreign affairs, Laurie Brereton, today called on the Howard government to reject Northern 7544

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain the names, voices and images of people who have died, as well as other culturally sensitive content. Please be aware that some collection items may use outdated phrases or words which reflect the attitude of the creator at the time, and are now considered offensive.

We use temporary cookies on this site to provide functionality.
By continuing to use this site without changing your settings, you consent to our use of cookies.