Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - 02 January 1975



Debates Day 3 - 02 January 1975

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Parliamentary Record 1


Northern Territory. Department of the Legislative Assembly


Debates for 1st Assembly 1974 - 1977; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT; 1st Assembly 1974 - 1977




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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pages 30 - 50

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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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34 Mr WlTIlNALL: The bill introducedi by the honourable member can be described as the greatest intrusion into the freedom of peQple that has ever come jJefQre ,any parliament in Australia, and I include in that the parliament of the Commonwealth which considered the natiQnal wartime Iegislation in 1939. Any bill which comes befQreany house of parliament and which intrudes upon the freedom of action and the cultural freedom of people, deserves the greate8t perusing and the greatest criticism that any legislature can bring to bear. It is with this in mind that I have considered the purpose of this bill. The Englishspeaking peoples, particularly Australians, have been renowned thrQughout the world for their fierce independence, freedom of beliefs and, within the law, love of their freedom of ,action. HQwever, the law can curb that freedom of action and it is our task to see that freedom of action is not curbed beyond the minimum limits that may be necessary to meet the occasion at hand. However, there have been occasions when the curbing of freedom of action has been necessary and! emergency wartime legisl!lJtion is one example of this. I have examined this bill with a more than usually critical mind. I have examined it to see whether the vesting of powers in the hands of one person CQuid result in such abuses as would make the name of this Assembly stink. It does give the widest and most far-reaching powers. I have been concerned in conferences about this bill and it has been my concern to assist in limiting the powers and in providing curbs upon the exercise of the powers cQntained in this bill. I wish that I could have gone further but, jf I had! gone further, I would have negated the effect of the bill. The curbs in the bill are curbs on the length of time during which the ordinance will be enforoed and curbs upon the powers. The curbs upon powers are proposed by seotion 7. The director or an authorized person who acts in accordance with instructions from the director will have his conduct and the exercise of his power subject to the direction of the Administmtor in Council. This provision is welcome because it remov'es from the bill any aura of dictatorship and provides that there shall be somebody above the director who can curb t.he exeroise of his power by DEBATES-Thursday 2 J,anuary 1975 direction to him. I personally would not have proposed a law in terms that the Administrator in Council should exercise this power. I had in mind a more intimate council of 3 members of this Assembly resident in Darwin who would have been more capable of exercising a rather intimate control upon the actions of the director. In case I am thought to be suggesting things that are unlikeIy to happen, I refer to the questions I asked the Executive Member in charge of local ,government this morning concerning the prohibition of the return to Darw,in of two aldermen. One would have thought that the return of twO' aldermen to this city would have gone without saying, but it did not go without saying. As far as I know, it is still prohibited. If that sort of thing has happened, how much more should we fear somebody armed with the active powers which this legisLation gives him. Mr McHenry has no authority under the law to prohibit the return of Alderman McFarlane and Alderman Fitzgerald, but he did dO' it. What do you think he might have done if he had had the power? That must give us all reason to pause and examine this legi'3lation very carefully. If something like that can happen without power, how can we expect anything but dictatorship in the hands of a person armed with the power which this legislation provides? I am supporting the bill-but I am supporting it with a great deal of reluctanceonly because I think that something is necessary. I would urge upon the Administr,ator's Council that not only should it be there to give direction but it should! exercise the utmost surveillance over the actions of whoever is appointed to this position. The Administrator's Council has taken on a task which requires every member to be on hand in Darwin ever,y day all day, and I doubt if the members of the Administrator's Council are able to do that. If a small ,intimate council of 3 people living in Darwin had been appointed, this would have been an effectiv'e instrument for the control of the actions of the Director of Emergency Services. But since we are going to have the Administrator's Council, that council must be here not only because it might want to give direction but because its task is to

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