Territorians should not have their rights restricted - Speech, Federation Chamber


Federation Chamber, 15 August 2018

In 1997, as the Commonwealth parliament sought to remove legislative rights from the ACT and the Northern Territory, then Liberal Chief Minister of the ACT, Kate Carnell, appeared before a committee of this parliament and said:

… what is at issue here is nothing less than the democratic rights of the citizens of the ACT...

She referred to the proposed Andrews Bill as 'limiting our self-governing powers'. Ms Carnell emphasised the long-term effects of depriving citizens of democratic rights enjoyed by those in the states. But the Andrews Bill passed the parliament, and the restriction of the democratic right of territorians is with us today.

Current chief ministers, Andrew Barr and Michael Gunner said, 'It's about our rights.' As Andrew Barr puts it, this remains 'Fundamentally undemocratic'. He continued:

One group of Australians are trusted through their state and territory parliaments to be able to deal with these matters [but] other groups, those who live in the territories, are not. And that can't be allowed to stand.

As he pointed out:

One thing Canberrans definitely don't need is assisted thinking.

Territory rights are about restoring equality to territorians and their legislators. As Senator Malarndirri McCarthy expressed from her experience:

… as a legislator and as someone elected by the people I had never felt so powerless as a parliamentarian. I had never felt so powerless, as a representative of the constituency of Arnhem and the people of the Northern Territory, that I had no voice. I had no say, along with 24 other members of the Northern Territory legislature.

Senator McCarthy, personally, does not support the current proposal for euthanasia. She shares the same position as Senator Dave Smith from the ACT and Luke Gosling, the member for Solomon, here in this House. They have their own uncertainties about euthanasia itself, but strongly support the territories' rights and the repeal of the Andrews Bill.

As I made clear in this House in a speech on 17 August 2015, I'm personally a supporter of euthanasia—like four in five Australians, including four out of five Anglicans, three out of four Catholics and nine out of 10 Australians of no religion. It ought to be viewed fully as an issue of territories' rights. I find it shocking that Senator Seselja, who is meant to stand up for the ACT, did not take the position taken by his Liberal predecessor, Kate Carnell, but has instead chosen to vote to restrict the democratic rights of Canberrans.

This is about restricting the rights of territorians. Territorians should not have their rights restricted in this way. We need to repeal the Andrews Bill, which is what my private member's bill with Luke Gosling does.

Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.