Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (14 February 1989)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (14 February 1989)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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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 14 February 1989 Chief Minister will circulate his statement in the community because it is not long or difficult to read and understand. I believe Territorians would read a statement like this whereas we kid ourselves if we believe that more than one tenth of 1% of Territorians will ever read some of the documents put out on this matter, because of their complexity. I do not think the man in the street gives a tinker's cuss about them. He will not become involved to that depth. This is a very logical statement which should be circulated to Territorians and also to people interstate. I have found that, when people interstate understand the difference between our partial self-government and statehood, they come very heavily onside and agree that we should have the same powers that they have. I welcome the document from that point of view. However, there is no doubt that for us to obtain statehood will require the political will of the politicians in Canberra or the majority of them. In other words, the federal government will have to be onside and say that the Territory should have statehood. When that happens, all things will be possible. I listened with interest to the member for Bark1y's comment that, a few days before 1 July 1978, the Chief Minister at the time, Paul Everingham, rang up Prime Minister Fraser and said that it would not work. Malcolm' said that it would work and told him to jump. It did happen and it was a success. That brings me to another point. We have heard considerable talk today about bipartisan support. That is lovely, but it is not political reality. What will be required will be a democratic majority. If we wait until everybody is in total agreement on every aspect of self-government, we will never get it in a blue fit. The statement indicates that it is the Chief Minister's aim to approach Prime Minister Hawke and ask him to give us full self-government. What a terrible pity it is that the former Primer Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, gave us only partial self-government. We would not be debating this statement today if ,Mr Fraser had given us complete self-government. Maybe, at the time, many of our politicians were inexperienced. However, if our fellows had been bold enough to put the acid on Mr Fraser to give us complete se1f~government, we could have had statehood within 5 years, as Mr Fraser had promised. I also recall that, in the party room of the government - and I was a member of it at that time - the Chief Minister, Paul Everingham, said: 'I don't know about you blokes but we have this Memorandum of Understanding and we are doing pretty nicely'. He did not intend to push further for statehood. In hindsight, what a pity that was! That was a political decision, not a statesmanlike decision. Forward thinking would have indicated that the day would come when there would no longer be a reasonably benign government in Canberra which would keep funding the Memorandum of Unaerstanding, which was only a gentleman's agreement. It should have been foreseen that the day would come when we would find ourselves in iCy waters, and that day has come. In my view, there is no point in trying to obtain from Mr Hawke these total state-like powers because, given his record, he will not grant them. I refer honourable members to the referendum that occurred last year and to a speech I made at that time in which I pointed out that what the questions in that referendum were really about was Mr Hawke's political agenda, stated in the Boyer lectures many years ago and reiterated, might I say, by the Governor-General, Sir Ninian Stephen, in recent days. He said that we are overgoverned; that we should simply have regional governments and a central government in Canberra, and the states should go. Does the Chief Minister really think that he will receive any real support for the creation of a new state from Mr Hawke, who wants to get rid of the states? I say no. 5416

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