02 December 2020

SUBJECTS: Legislation to protect the Northern Territory’s two seats set to pass the Senate today.

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, SENATOR FOR THE NORTHERN TERRITORY: Good morning, firstly, I'd like to acknowledge that I'm standing on an Ngunnawal and Ngambri country and pay my respects to Traditional Owners past, present and emerging.

Today is an historic day for the people of the Northern Territory in terms of democracy. We are about to look at the bill to preserve the two seats of the Northern Territory, the seats of Solomon and Lingiari. It's a wonderful day in the sense that certainly the Labor Party has pushed this from the very beginning. When we learned of this issue late last year and early this year that we were going to lose one of the seats in the Northern Territory.

The people of the Northern Territory have fought hard to protect the two seats. The decision by the AEC to remove one of them, we found was unfair and unjust. And we are enormously grateful that the joint parliamentary committee on Electoral Matters also agreed that the two seats of the Northern Territory should remain. So today, we will see the debate in the Senate, which follows a bill, a Private Senator's Bill that was introduced by myself and Senator Don Farrell in June to protect the two seats.

And I certainly thank my Territory colleagues, Labor in the in the Territory, both Labor members, Warren Snowdon and Luke Gosling, but also my Senate colleague, Senator Sam McMahon, who worked with us. And this was one occasion where we did unite strongly to ensure fair process in terms of political voices in the Australian parliament. It's also a significant day for the families of Vincent Lingiari. The seat of Lingiari is incredibly enormous. It covers all of the Territory except the Darwin and parts of the Palmerston region. And the seat of Lingiari was named after Vincent Ligairi. So the people of Wavehill, the Gurindji, were incredibly saddened to hear that it was quite possible we would lose the name and the seat. And they fought strongly, too. And I'd like to personally say thank you to the children and grandchildren of the late Mr Vincent Lingiari for supporting me in this and also to all of those Territorians and Australians who signed the petition to the Senate to protect the two seats. This is because of you and your passion for effective democracy in this country. So it is an important day and I'm certainly looking forward to the debate and of course, to see the two seats go on for as long as they possibly can. Thank you.