Labor will continue to push for legislation to guarantee the Northern Territory two lower house seats in the Federal Parliament.
The Government last week referred the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Ensuring Fair Representation of the Northern Territory) Bill 2020 to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) for inquiry, after five Coalition Senators sided with Labor to support the bills introduction to the Parliament.
Nationals Senators Bridget McKenzie, Matt Canavan, Perin Davey and Susan McDonald joined CLP Senator Sam McMahon to back the introduction of the bill.
Labor is encouraged by this sign of cross-party support for fair representation in the NT and hopes it will help persuade the Morrison Government to do the right thing for NT democracy.
We will continue to make the case, through the JSCEM inquiry, for the Territory to be guaranteed two lower house seats by legislation.
Labor will pursue public hearings of JSCEM in Darwin in coming weeks.
Without protection through legislation, the Territory is expected to lose one of its two seats in the House of Representatives when the Australian Electoral Commission commences boundary redistribution processes next month.
If the Territory did become a single seat it would be the most under-represented in Australia, with just one MP representing nearly 250,000 Territorians.
The loss of an electorate based on a mathematical formula would not recognise the different communities of interest from remote outback towns to Darwin and Palmerston, nor the NTs strategic and economic importance to the whole of Australia.
It would not allow for fair representation of the Territory, with its vast outback, unique demography and many remote communities.
A single MP would be left serving communities as geographically and demographically diverse as the Cocos Islands, Darwin, Tennant Creek and Arnhem Land, across an electorate of over 1.4 million square kilometres, including the remote Indian Ocean Territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands.
Legislating for two seats in the Northern Territory will guarantee fair representation in the Federal Parliament for all Territorians, including the 27 per cent of the NTs population who are Indigenous.
That is why Labor will always fight for strong federal representation for Territorians and we call on the Morrison Government to support our plan to guarantee two Northern Territory seats in legislation.
We hope the cross-party support for the introduction of the bill will help persuade other Senators to support democracy and help ensure the Northern Territory continues to have the representation it deserves.
SENATOR DON FARRELL
SHADOW SPECIAL MINISTER OF STATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR SPORT
SHADOW MINISTER FOR TOURISM
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR NORTHERN AUSTRALIA
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR EXTERNAL TERRITORIES
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS
MEMBER FOR LINGIARI
SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY
DEPUTY OPPOSITION WHIP IN THE SENATE
CHAIR OF FIRST NATIONS CAUCUS COMMITTEE
SENATOR FOR THE NORTHERN TERRITORY
LUKE GOSLING OAM MP
MEMBER FOR SOLOMON