17 September 2018




SUBJECT/S:Territory Rights

SERRATORE, PRESENTER ABC DRIVE ALICE SPRINGS: The debate over the rights of the Northern Territory and ACT to legislate on euthanasia might have been settled a month ago but both Governments are not letting it go quietly. Over the past few days a delegation of MLAs from both the Northern Territory and ACT have met both the Speaker of the Lower House and the President of the Senate to officially pass on their condemnation of the Senate voting down David Leyonhjelms Private Member's Bill last month. And you might remember the Private Members Bills in relation to allowing the territory to once again vote for or legislate on euthanasia. Now joining the delegation to pass on what is being called a remonstrance motion is the Northern Territory Labor Senator, Malarndirri McCarthy, she joins me this afternoon.

Malarndirri McCarthy good afternoon to you.


SERRATORE: Now I know the motion was passed by both the NT and the ACT Parliament. But why did you feel the need to join the delegation this week?

MCCARTHY: This is the Northern Territory delegation who came down and invited Federal Labor Territory members to join them. I think it is important to always show that strength and solidarity in particularly to the Northern Territory. It was important f course for the NT to have the ACT with them and I thought that they did a very good job.

SERRATORE: But what's the point of passing on this remonstrance motion?

MCCARTHY: Its a good question, one of the things about the Westminster system of Parliament is a procedural motions and procedural opportunities and that's what this was an opportunity for the Governments of the ACT and the Northern Territory to express in the most highest form in the Westminster system their opposition and their grievances against the Federal Parliament. So this is the highest form that you can go in terms expressing that complete objection.

SERRATORE: So is that it now that this motion has been passed on the Federal government knows how the N.T. feels, it's business as usual?

MCCARTHY: Well interestingly enough I think both the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President in the Senate were quite unsure of the steps in terms of the remonstrance. It was interesting to observe the way they received the remonstrance motion. In the House of Representatives it was at tabled and it would put forward by Luke Gosling the Member for Solomon and here in the Senate the President is still inquiring as to what he can do with the remonstrance and I'm certainly hoping on my bill to push for that motion to be put forward in to the Senate.

SERRATORE: What does it actually mean for the remonstrance motion to be to be put forward? What does a practically mean put for the Federal Government?

MCCARTHY: it means that there is a major grievance with two Governments of Australia against the Federal Government doesn't

SERRATORE: Wouldnt it essentially be water for ducks back though, to the federal government given it really doesn't change anything legally for them?

MCCARTHY: It is largely symbolic pull your pride but it does mean that the Federal Parliament is being put on notice that the people of the ACT and the Northern Territory are not going to stop here.

SERRATORE: Now I should mention that at least when it came to the Northern Territory delegation it wasnt made up of just Government but we also had the Leader of the Opposition Gary Higgins, and I suppose the Independent Speaker Kezia Purick as well. So from your perspective is it good to see that at least on this issue there is some bipartisan support in the Northern Territory?

MCCARTHY: It's essential that there is bipartisan support in terms of the rights of the people of the Northern Territory it's difficult enough in the federal parliament with the 200 Members and only four voices from the Northern Territory, so if we can have that bipartisan strength and that solidarity of the Parliament of the Northern Territory coming down n together it sends a very clear message here

SERRATORE: The Northern Territory Senators and MPs I suppose united in hoping to get debate over euthanasia happening again? Is there bipartisan support?

MCCARTHY: Well look when we had the vote, Senator Nigel Scullion and I voted together, and that seems a very important signal for that bipartisanship and certainly when the delegation can down this week, Luke Gosling and Warren Snowdon were very much a part of that as well. So there is no doubt that there is support for Territory rights between the four of us.

SERRATORE: But I suppose we know on the other side of the ACT side there is a Liberal Senator, Zed Seselja who voted against euthanasia, and I suppose hasnt been changing from that position, from one Territory Senator nobody says a disappointing to see him take that stand?

MCCARTHY: It was deeply disappointing to see Senator Seselja to take that stand and no doubt the people of the ACT I think a felt that more than we did. But I do have to point at that if we look at the context still have public going on at the time there were concerns that even from then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and that this was an issue they did not want to go to the House of Representatives so there was a lot of lobbying and the numbers went the way that it did.

SERRATORE: Will we ever see an opportunity for this debate again in Parliament? Be it in the Senate or in the House of Reps?

MCCARTHY: Well look I certainly want to be giving up for as long as I am Senator Paul. And I'm sure my colleagues here in the Federal Parliament from the Northern Territory will be supportive of that always.

SERRATORE: The voice youre hearing is that of Malarndirri McCarthy Northern Territory Labor Senator talking this afternoon about a remonstrance motion which is being put forward by the Northern Territory Government so basically a formal condemnation from the Northern Territory Government and I should mention the ACT Government to the Federal Parliament over the voting down of the David Lejonhelms Private Member's Bill. I suppose at the same time though Malarndirri McCarthy, weve seen a whole bunch of other issues in the Northern Territory specifically I suppose the Citys Deal for Tennant Creek, the regional deal as well and I suppose no word of that since the change of Prime Ministership a couple of weeks ago. Arent these I suppose stronger bigger issues that needed that need your attention right now as opposed to suppose simply the failure to pass a Bill over legalising euthanasia?

MCCARTHY: They are a very important issue to not just a remonstrance clearly there are so many issues that impact the Northern Territory and our lobbying hasnt stopped in terms of those areas whether it is the City's Deal for Darwin City Deal that's supposed to be brokered in terms of Tennant Creek., housing, in particular, CDP - we know we have a say the to get through and to get on with and that doesn't stop us doing that

SERRATORE: Has there been any discussion with the Government or with the Prime Minister Scott Morrison on those issues between yourself and the PM?

MCCARTHY: They're important questions so I think with regard to the new Prime Minister they've got some very very shaky ground in terms of Peter Dutton in terms of his position and they've had their former Deputy Leader has come out expressing that she may not support him depending on what happens on the day. So I think there's some very unstable conversations going on they're very fractured Paul in terms of being able to push for these other issues, it's very difficult in this climate.

SERRATORE: Malarndirri McCarthy we appreciate your time this afternoon.

MCCARTHY: Thank you, Paul.