Territory Stories

Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 4 December 2013



Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 4 December 2013

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Parliamentary Record 9


Debates for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Hansard Office

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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 Wednesday 4 December 2013 3112 will be elections held for new councils at a date to be determined by the minister. There will be a changeover day, and on 1 January 2014 the term of mayor and councillors for each new council commences. They have an election for both councils. My understanding of the reason you have these clauses is because Victoria Daly does not want a full election. Victoria Daly did not ask to be split; some people from another group in another council are saying it wants to split. That new council should pay for Victoria Dalys election or, if the government is putting money into this new council, it should set some aside for specific elections. If you have two elections on the same date, you will get a new council for the old part of Victoria Daly Shire and will have, at the same time, a council for the new portion of the Victoria Daly Shire. You do not need to sack anyone because all councillors automatically retire at the time of the new election. That is how it is done in Queensland, and how it would be done normally. You might say the previous government did a similar thing. I did not agree with the previous governments approach of appointing CEOs and not having elected members for the first six months or so, and I do not agree it is necessary. I would love an explanation of why you cannot live without those two clauses. Some people in LGANT believe the government will only use the bill in relation to proposed deamalgamation of some councils, but there is nothing in this amendment to say that. There are hints in the second reading speech, but nobody has a definition of restructuring orders or restructuring. It is not in the act and not in the amendment. A number of council mayors definitely do not support what you are doing. Call the mayor of Katherine; pop outside, call her and ask what she thinks. I will not say what she thought; I might get pulled up by the Speaker again. She thinks it is rubbish. The West Arnhem Shire mayor came into my office and he was absolutely fuming. There was no consultation, he did not agree with it and thought government did not care; that is the feeling you get from government. I rang Allan McKay from Litchfield Council and he did not agree. The member for Nhulunbuy has mentioned East Arnhem Shire as well. These are four big councils that do not agree Ms Walker: I forgot to mention MacDonnell Shire; they do not agree. Mr WOOD: MacDonnell wants to stay a shire, not a region. There is one other group of people we keep forgetting and that is the people who expect to be able to elect their local representative as a basic political right. Minister, you might say this is not what you are talking about, but this amendment could be used any way any minister wants, and that is what concerns me. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Australia is a signatory to, says, under Article 25: Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in Article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions: (b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors One of the privileges bestowed on new citizens when they attend a citizenship ceremony is the right to vote and elect Australias governments, which include ours. In the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978, section 6 which gives us legislative power says: Subject to this Act, the Legislative Assembly has power, with the assent of the Administrator or the Governor-General, as provided by this Act, to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Territory. Justice Evatt of the High Court of Australia stated, when deciding whether a law was validly made: The correct general principle is whether the law in question can be truly described as being for the peace, order and good government of the Dominion concerned. There is no doubt taking away the rights of people to vote for their representatives in local government and sacking councillors and mayors without good reason does not reflect good government. I would support most of this bill if these two clauses were removed. The Queensland regulations are able to provide certainty in the de-amalgamation process without sacking anybody, so it should be taken out of the legislation. The minister will tell me this can only be used when restructuring, but does not define restructuring. The intention might be to use it only in certain circumstances, but the clauses in the bill could be used anywhere, anytime, as long as the circumstances come under the term

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