ABC ALICE SPRINGS DRIVE
THURSDAY, 16 AUGUST 2018
SUBJECT/S: Territory Rights
SERRATORE: Malarndirri McCarthy good afternoon to you.
MCCARTHY: Hello Paul and hello he listeners.
SERRATORE: So how do you feel I suppose 24- hours or so on from the Bills defeat last night?
MCCARTHY: Look I was deeply disappointed last night I think today I have been trying to navigate a way, where do we go beyond this? I'm firmly of the view that we fight. The people of the Territory have never given up, and I'm not giving up, and I certainly know that my colleagues arent.
SERRATORE: Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner tweeted, I'm not disappointed I'm angry is that justified?
MCCARTHY: Well as he would be and he should be as the Leader of a Parliament that has just been told by the Federal Senate that you cant make decisions, we will do it for you.
SERRATORE: Marshall Perron seems in shock by the Bills defeat, because he thought the numbers were going to looking like would go the other way round. Did it come as a shock to you?
MCCARTHY: I was always conscious that this was going to be close, Paul. I think when you say that being in Parliament and you know I that conscience votes change at the last second that is something that just happens on very emotive issues and I was always aware that this was going to be very close either way.
SERRATORE: Marshall Perron was saying he believed that some Senators voted based on the last person that they spoke to you, would you agree with those sentiments, did some people just hear one side right at the very end and go well actually no Im actually not going to vote for this Bill?
MCCARTHY: Well there was a bit of a concerted focus and strategy by those who are opposed to euthanasia to ensure that Senators got that message, and I'd say that you know many Senators were considering their positions very clearly for those who were wavering they were obviously influenced by different things and you'd have to speak to those people.
SERRATORE: Now, Pat Dodson, the Labor Senator for voted against the Bill because he was concerned about the effect would have on the Aboriginal people. Now I know this is something you spoke with Stuart Brash earlier in the week about but I supposed hearing that voice being concerned from another Aboriginal Senator what do you make of that concern?
MCCARTHY: Well there's two things one is it is a democracy and everyone's entitled to their views, and I think that's the wonderful thing about the Westminster system. I disagree obviously because I come from the perspective that I have been a parliamentarian in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. I know what it's like to be disempowered when the Federal Intervention came in 2007, and I represented the people of Arnhem and couldn't speak I had no voice to stop that. So I was certainly speaking from that perspective. But there is a deeper issue here Paul and that is that irrespective of whether it's euthanasia, abortion, taxes, education, health the people of the Territory have a right have a right like any other citizen in this country to be able to speak and what has happened now is that that voice is voiceless.
SERRATORE: What do you make of the fact that for many it was a concern of euthanasia rather than Territory rights that played out last night?
MCCARTHY: Well that was obviously the focus for many, and that simply worked. I believe that while I may not agree with euthanasia, I have difficulties with it myself in terms of my cultural backgrounds and things that I need to learn about more with euthanasia. I'm firmly committed to the fact that the people of the Territory have a right to have a voice.
SERRATORE: Now there's another private member's bill we know in the Lower House co-sponsored by Labor MPs Luke Gosling and Andrew Leigh. Andrew Leigh says he doesnt support euthanasia he supports the Territories right to decide on euthanasia but realistically will that Private Member's Bill ever see the light of day?
MCCARTHY: Well of course if it's a Coalition Government that's in power, and it's really to their discretion as to who they listen to. I'm calling on the Prime Minister to ensure that there is a possibility for that Bill to be debated at that pressure that can be applied by the people of the Northern Territory in the ACT or ordinary Australians who believe that this is unjust.
SERRATORE: You say that I suppose it is the coalition is in power but those I spoke with a long memory will remember that Tony Burke, currently the Manager of Opposition Business in the House, he was one of the leaders in the fight to take away the and his right to legislate on euthanasia back in '97. Is he one of the biggest hurdles on your side in the also hard for the NT getting the right to legislate again?
MCCARTHY: There is no doubt there are members within the Labor caucus who have a different view to myself and to Luke Gosling and Warren Snowdon. But what we're focused on is that we know, that certainly now two decades later that the Northern Territory and the people of the Northern Territory absolutely deserve a solid determination to make the voices heard and we will continue to do that.
SERRATORE: There might have been those who are opposed to it, but I suppose none have kind of taken the lead as Tony Burke did at that time, and I understand that he was in Darwin in 1997 and along with Kevin Andrews. So, given he's still in Parliament 20 years on, doesn't that hurdle still remain and he being one of the biggest hurdles on your side?
MCCARTHY: I'm an optimist Paul, and I have always believed that nothing's really impossible and I think that when there's a great deal of passion for a particular cause you just keep going and hopefully sometimes you can get the other side to see your point of view.
SERRATORE: Malarndirri McCarthy, appreciate your time on this one again this afternoon.
MCCARTHY: Thank you, Paul.
Authorised by Malarndirri McCarthy, ALP, Darwin