MIX 104.9: We must not lose one of our voices

06 July 2020


MATT HEPWORTH, MIX 104.9: Good morning Senator.

MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: Good morning Matt and good morning to your listeners.

HEPWORTH: Senator, what was your reaction when you heard this news on Friday?

MCCARTHY: Not surprised at all. Obviously disappointed, Matt. It’s actually the reason why I got on the front foot I guess, to put forward the Private Senator’s Bill with Senator Don Farrell, and Labor are behind it and I’m very appreciative that CLP Senator Sam McMahon and the Nationals are supporting me with this Bill as well and we’re really giving it a good hard push through the parliament.

HEPWORTH: We’ve spoken about this a lot, but I guess for those who are not in tune with this, why is it so important that the Northern Territory has two seats in Federal Parliament?

MCCARTHY: Look it could be just as simple as the fact that we don’t have too many numbers. When you think of 152 odd people in the House of Reps and only two are from the Territory, we cannot afford to lose one of those two seats. It’s really as simple as that I think Matt. Territorians are forever fighting to have our voices heard, our issues front and centre of the Australians Government’s mind, whoever’s in power, and we just struggle and I just think that if they want to develop the north, well then don’t diminish our voice.

HEPWORTH: What will happen to our two sitting members, being Warren Snowdon and Luke Gosling, if this happens?

MCCARTHY: Well clearly that’s something down the track which I hope we never have to really answer. I’m just so focused on making sure we get the support to fight this decision. I think one of the things Territorians are good at is standing up and fighting. It’s actually not about winning or losing, it’s actually about saying hey, this is wrong and it matters to us here in the Territory that you listen to us. 

HEPWORTH: Where are we at with this Private Senator’s Bill in stopping this from happening?

MCCARTHY: Yeah, no, good question. So I introduced the Bill in June, and what then happened was the Australia Government decided to send it off to a parliamentary inquiry and we want that parliamentary inquiry to come here to Darwin and I’d like them to go to Alice Springs to the regions as well, to listen to Territorians, so I’m hoping that will happen in the next few weeks, Matt. And then we go back to Parliament in August and I will want to push to see our Bill get through the Senate in August.

HEPWORTH: Do you think it will get through?

MCCARTHY: Look I’m reasonably confident that we’ve certainly got the Nationals on board with Sam McMahon and Labors all on board. I need to lobby the other Senators to get them on board: the Greens, the independents and Liberal Senators and I’m hopeful, I’m really hopeful we can get it through the Senate but that would only be the first step. We would then, even if was successful in the Senate, Matt, it then goes to the lower house. And there will be the real challenge.

HEPWORTH: I can’t imagine there would be anyone within the Senate, or even the lower house that would object to this Bill. I mean the idea that any jurisdiction, the Northern Territory or anywhere would be stripped down to one voice in parliament seems ridiculous. And that does seem to be the common consensus among Territorians. And I would imagine if common sense prevails in Parliament then that would be the same there as well.

MCCARTHY: Oh you’re spot on, Matt. I just wish common sense did prevail sometimes. It sometimes it can be just as simple as people not doing anything in terms of the many pieces of legislation that has to go through the parliament. They might want to put it on the shelf and let it sit there for a bit and let time go by and that’s really what we’re also battling, just that inertia, that unwillingness, and that in itself is almost equally as bad as attempting to stop it, because you’re just not helping it go through if you know what I mean.

HEPWORTH: Obviously the AEC has flagged that this is based on the Northern Territory’s decreasing population. If this goes ahead, and it would obviously be devastating it does. Is it something that could be reversed if our population increases in the future?

MCCARTHY: Yeah important question, our Federal parliamentary library gave projections that we would possibly lose the seat this time round but they’ve also given projections that our population by 2022, which is when we actually go to the next Federal election, is going to be above the current population. So it kind of makes no sense to remove the seat now, if our population’s just going to increase again in a couple of years.

HEPWORTH: Yeah, it really, it does baffle me. The decision obviously comes down to the AEC and they’ve sited their reasons why, being population and as you’ve just said, by the next election that will be irrelevant. I mean, are you angry at the AEC and those making these decisions?

MCCARTHY: No, look the AEC has to follow its mandated legislation in terms of what it’s got to do and I understand that but what we can do as political leaders in the parliament is we can amend legislation. And that legislation that impacts the AEC, we can amend that to say well lets definitely make sure the Northern Territory will always have two seats irrespective of population.

HEPWORTH: So what happens from here Senator?

MCCARTHY: Well from here I just call on every Territorian who I will meet, please put in your objections, either write a submission to this inquiry, go on my Facebook page, sign a petition if you can’t put in a submission, sign the petition that I will be putting up on my Facebook page today and we can deliver that as well. And just really, really make some noise on this. We’ve only got this week Matt. The submissions close this Friday so we’ve only got 5 days so I really just call on Territorians to go hey, let’s stop getting told by Canberra all the time what we have to do, let’s not lose or silence one of our voices, let’s fight because that’s what we do in the Territory.

HEPWORTH: Absolutely, well we certainly hope we can take this fight all the way and get this decision reversed. You did of course mention you’ve got bipartisan support from the CLP Senator Sam McMahon. We are going to catch up with her in just a couple of minutes as well. Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, thank you so much for your time this morning and please, keep us posted.

MCCARTHY: No worries Matt. Thank you, thank you very much.