16 August 2018




SUBJECT/S: Territory Rights

TOM CONNELL: The numbers were very tight in the Senate but in the Territories did not get there right back to make laws around euthanasia or assisted dying. Thirty-six to thirty-four it was defeated so it certainly won't be going to the House even if the PM planned on allowing a vote which seemed unlikely. Joining me live now is Labor Senator for the Northern Territory Malarndirri McCarthy thanks to very much for your time today Senator.

MCCARTHY: Hello Tom.

CONNELL: It was very close; all the (inaudible) beforehand seemed to think it was going to pass, who jumped ship?

MCCARTHY: Well it looked like that a few people who wondered whether it was about Territory rights or perhaps more about euthanasia were really struggling with their decision and ultimately decided to go with the no.

CONNELL: Because the clarity on this is, it was not a vote for euthanasia or assisted dying but to give the Territories back the right to legislate for it after the Andrews Bill.

MCCARTHY: Thats right. Absolutely.

CONNELL: So some people thought that it was a proxy by voting for this youre basically voted for euthanasia.

MCCARTHY: And there was a great deal of lobbying behind the scenes clearly that for those who are very anti-euthanasia that this was another step that they did not want to say happen and made sure that they canvassed pollies very comprehensively and in the end obviously that worked.

CONNELL: Right, because your position on this is really supportive of the move it's about the rights.

MCCARTHY: It is about the rights of the people of the Northern Territory. We elect our politicians, 25 members in the Legislative Assembly you know the people in the ACT elect their members and we are a democracy in this country and we've got to really question the fact well why is it that way say in the Federal Parliament that the people in the Territories opinions, experiences, consciences don't matter we need to tell them what to think.

CONNELL: Because we pay taxes we elect the Government as you say and yet it's not just this situation there are other rights issues as well. What's a longer-term solution do we go to the Constitution?

MCCARTHY: Look, I think firstly there's next week, and that's a shorter term solution. I do believe that the Prime Minister and Members of the Lower House need to be unafraid to allow this conversation to take place in the Lower House next week. We know Andrew Leigh and Luke Gosling are putting together to introduce a bill a Private Member's Bill. I'd certainly ask all Members of the Lower House to have a good look at that and certainly the Prime Minister I think that's the next step. In the long term, of course, the people of the Northern Territory and the ACT will no doubt advocate strongly for their future rights to be equal.

CONNELL: I'll get to that in a moment I suppose we'll see how it goes in the House. But what about casting forward of Labor when the next term in Government and you can put this on the agenda again, considering this is not a vote for euthanasia but it's a vote for Territory rights should that be a block yes vote for Labor should that be a consideration rather than a conscience?

MCCARTHY: I would certainly like to revisit it Tom, being reasonably new member at two years now and knowing that this was a conversation that took place prior to my entry into the Federal Parliament I would certainly like to see, should we be successful going to Government that this is a very important issue for our Caucus room.

CONNELL: And so possibly a block yes vote?

MCCARTHY: I would certainly want to be pushing for something like that yes.

CONNELL: OK, more broadly on the rights and if you look at the ACT, I know that Canberra bashing is a very popular sport out there, I am not from here originally but I live here now and it makes me wonder you know we've got a bigger your economy in Tasmania the population's not that much smaller, why dont we have the same rights, is it an anachronism, whats set out in the constitution?

MCCARTHY: Well its paternalism really isn't it. I mean it's about saying to people we want you to think this far but we don't want you to think too deeply or we don't want you to have the right to think about something as serious is this but we'll let you think about whether you can put in so many pools and schools and hospitals and things like that. So it really is you know it's almost about saying we want you to kind of grow up but don't grow up too big, we still want to tell you what to do.

CONNELL: But has it been hard to even talk about the Constitution you've got a constitutional backlog at the Labor Party

MCCARTHY: I mean you know with the Northern Territory we certainly, in my view as a Former Minister for Statehood, I think that we definitely need to continue to push to become the seventh state in the Federation. It is unfinished business as far as I'm concerned and in terms of the people of the Northern Territory, we should be equal with our fellow Australians.

CONNELL: Senator Malarndirri McCarthy thanks for your time today.

MCCARTHY: Thank you.