Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Tuesday 22 November 2011



Debates Day 2 - Tuesday 22 November 2011

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Parliamentary Record 23


Debates for 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Tuesday 22 November 2011 the Northern Territory; they are supporters of their own agenda and their own self-interest. Ms McCARTHY (Statehood): Madam Speaker, I support this motion and congratulate both Houses of the federal parliament for the important step taken in increasing the rights of Territorians. The journey for this parliament began long before I came into parliament. I would like to reflect on the last six years of work we have done as a parliament, in a bipartisan approach, working to improve the rights for the people of the Northern Territory on that equal basis, knowing we had to work together in order to do that, not only for the people of the Northern Territory but, naturally, in our discussions with the Commonwealth. It is a huge step to take when you consider what we are trying to embark on here. We are about to prepare for the Constitutional Convention in April. Talking to people across the Northern Territory, urging people to consider standing in the March elections for that convention, is a dialogue that is quite respectful. There is a great deal of interest out there and much curiosity. Many may not stand but want to understand what it is and why this parliament is proceeding down this path. The road to become the seventh state in the federation is a long road. It is a journey that has had its ups and downs. We know the first vote was a story in itself. After the 1998 Referendum this parliament convened to examine what it was about that process we did not want to repeat on the second process. If there is one thing I believe parliamentarians on both sides have consistently agreed on, it is the need to be able to represent the people of the Northern Territory at the highest level. The sense of equality we, as Australians, want to receive and, respectfully, should receive, and the dignity, comes with knowing the fight for the right to vote is a fight that belongs to all people of the Northern Territory, as much as it does to our fellow Australians in each of the states. For Indigenous Australians, it is four decades since being given the right to vote. It is still a very short time when we look at the history of democracy in this country for all Australians, recognising it is only a couple of decades for us to have so many Indigenous representatives at territory, state and federal level, with only this year, in this term of the federal parliament, the first Indigenous member of parliament. Again, we still have a long way to go ... Mr Elferink: Nonsense! Have you never heard of Neville Bonner? Ms McCARTHY: In the House of Representatives, I should say. Yes, you are correct, member for Port Darwin. We had Senator Neville Bonner as the very first senator and Indigenous person Mr Elferink: But not in the current parliament! Madam SPEAKER: Order! Order! Ms McCARTHY: in the federal parliament. We recognise we still have a fair way to go, but that should not block us wanting to strive to be equal with our fellow Australians. In order to do that Members interjecting. Madam SPEAKER: Order! Order! Ms McCARTHY: In order to do that we need to work together. It is incredibly difficult Members interjecting. Madam SPEAKER: Order! Member for Fong Lim! Ms McCARTHY: I have to say, it is incredibly difficult to maintain that bipartisan approach when you have some quite derogatory comments from the opposition. I commend those members who make a sincere effort in wanting to walk in a very bipartisan way, but there are others who lower the bar with their derogatory comments to the people of the Northern Territory. I thank those members for maintaining the persistence to walk in a bipartisan way. This year is our centenary year; 100 years from when the Northern Territory was surrendered to the Commonwealth. We were surrendered to the Commonwealth under the Northern Territory Surrender Act 1908. That act was about South Australia handing us over to the Commonwealth saying: You are too much of a problem, Northern Territory. We cannot deal with you; you cost too much, you are a long way away, we are not making any real gains out of having you, and we are going to hand you over to the Commonwealth. The people of the Northern Territory now have an opportunity to look at where we are going in the future. Are we to remain a people under surrender? I believe not. We are not to remain a people under surrender. We are a people who are very proud of our cultural languages across the Northern Territory, our incredible diversity with the multicultural groups who have made the Northern Territory home, with our cattle industry, and our history both good and bad. In this centenary year we have the opportunity to reflect on all those things so we can, in a mature and sensible way, look at where we wish to go as people of the Northern Territory to 1844

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