06 July 2020

TOPICS: Legislating for two seats in the NT

ALEX BARWICK, ABC ALICE SPRINGS: Malarndirri McCarthy thanks for being with me. 

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

BARWICK: The first thing is, is why do you think this is so important to have the two seats?

MCCARTHY: Well we talk about wanting to develop the north, Alex, and we want to do that obviously with business, with growth and development and we need to do that with representation. Diminishing our voice is not the way to go.

BARWICK: But if we are shrinking as a population and we don’t actually deserve to have the two, if that’s the way the numbers game plays out, surely we just have to accept that that is it? We don’t have enough people to actually justify the two?

MCCARTHY: Well you could look at the comparisons with Tasmania. I heard the Chief Minister mention that and he’s correct on that. If we look at comparisons, certainly when Tasmania came into its current situation, its population was far less than us at the turn of the century. So I think the numbers itself is not really the critical question. The critical question is what is our future as the people of the north and our future has to be much greater than this surely.

BARWICK: But it’s not really apples with apples. We’re not a state and that also plays into it doesn’t it?

MCCARTHY: Of course. I mean if we were Sate, we’d have the same representation in terms of Senators. 12 states – I mean12 Senators in every state. So we’re not a state. I’d certainly like to see us become a State and I do think that that’s in our future. 

BARWICK: Now there’s been a bit of talk about this for months now, a lot of speculation. Were you anticipating this determination by the AEC to come through so early?

MCCARTHY: Look, we were aware that the AEC, as it does after every Federal election, reviews divisions right across the country. And we’d certainly been aware through our Federal Parliamentary library which projected that we would look at possibly losing a seat in the Northern Territory. So with that kind of information behind me, and certainly Warren and Luke, and in my discussions also with CLP Senator Sam McMahon, we knew that we had to put our political differences aside to fight for the people of the Northern Territory on this. It is incredibly difficult when you’re only four voices in two houses of over 152 in the House of Reps and over 70 in the Senate, we certainly cannot afford to lose one person.

BARWICK: If we do go to one seat though in the House of Representatives, will it be Lingiari swallowing up Solomon, or the other way around?

MCCARTHY: Look that’s something that hopefully we don’t even have to get to answer Alex, to be honest. I mean I’m really pushing hard. There’s two processes going on at the moment. One of course, as you’ve said is the Australian Electoral Commission doing what it has to do, but with pushing through the Private Senator’s Bill, we’ve now got a committee coming hopefully to the Northern Territory quite soon, and I’m just asking for people across the country, across the Territory to write to that committee, express your objections and concerns and if you can’t do that, go onto my Facebook, and sign a petition so that we can at least enter that to the committee.

BARWICK: We’ve got to go to the news in just a moment but before you go, what exactly will that Bill do, if it gets through?

MCCARTHY: Well, this Bill is about ensuring in legislation that the two seats will always remain in the Northern Territory irrespective of population

BARWICK: Really good to talk to you on the program. Thanks so much for your time.

MCCARTHY: Thank you.