Ordered to be printed by the
Legislative Assembly On 27 April 1999
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Report into appropriate measures to facilitate Statehood
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Report on the Reference that the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Legislative Assembly –
(a) inquire into the appropriate measures to facilitate Statehood by 2001; and
(b) the Committee consult widely with the Territory community and report its progress with recommendations to the Legislative Assembly within six months.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS 1
MEMBERSHIP OF COMMITTEE 10
CHAPTER 1: BACKGROUND 11
CHAPTER 2: PROCEDURES AND APPROACH ADOPTED BY THE
STANDING COMMITTEE 22
CHAPTER 3: THE INDIGENOUS CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTIONS 25 CHAPTER 4: REASONS FOR THE “NO” VOTE IN THE OCTOBER 1998
CHAPTER 5: ATTITUDES TOWARDS CONTINUING TO PURSUE STATEHOOD - DOES NO MEAN NO?
CHAPTER 6: COMMUNITY VIEWS ON APPROPRIATE MEASURES TO PROGRESS STATEHOOD
CHAPTER 7: A TARGET DATE OF 2001 50
CHAPTER 8: RECOMMENDATIONS ON MEASURES TO FACILITATE
APPENDIX A: DATA FROM COMMUNITY CONSULTATIONS
APPENDIX B: OUTCOMES FROM THE INDIGENOUS CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTIONS
APPENDIX C: MARKET RESEARCH REPORT BY MARKET EQUITY (SA) PTY LTD
APPENDIX D: WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS APPENDIX E: TRANSCRIPTS OF MEETINGS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
On 3 October 1998, Territorians voted on a referendum which asked the question: “Now that a constitution for a State of the Northern Territory has been recommended by the Statehood Convention and endorsed by the Northern Territory Parliament: Do you agree that we should become a State?”
The result was a No vote with a majority of 51.3%.
On 7 October 1998, the Legislative Assembly referred the following matter to the Committee:
"That the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Legislative Assembly, (a) inquire into the appropriate measures to facilitate Statehood by 2001;
(b) the Committee consult widely with the Territory community and report its progress with recommendations to the Legislative Assembly within six months of the day."
This reference was a direct result of the negative outcome of the Statehood referendum of 3 October 1999.
As required by its terms of reference, this Committee conducted extensive community consultations over the course of its Inquiry to establish whether there was community support for further work towards Statehood for the Northern Territory and, if so, what measures were considered by the community to be appropriate next steps.
The context – what does Statehood mean?
Statehood offers Territorians a number of opportunities:
1. Statehood offers Territorians the opportunity to constitutionally protect those rights won over the past 88 years - these are the rights which citizens of the States have held as constitutional guarantees since 1901. They include the right to have Northern Territory representatives in Commonwealth Parliament and the right of residents in any State not to be subject to any disability or discrimination imposed by the Commonwealth unless it applies to all States. The only way to guarantee those rights for Territorians is to become a State;
2. Statehood means the opportunity to take up the remaining state-type powers that were denied the Territory when self-government was granted in 1978; and
3. Statehood is the opportunity to write our own constitution, and to put in place our own framework for the way Parliament is elected, Government is formed and the Northern Territory is governed.
As a territory of the Commonwealth, the Northern Territory remains subject to the almost unlimited legislative power of the Commonwealth pursuant to section 122 of the Constitution. Even after the Commonwealth has conferred self-government on a territory, as in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, it retains ultimate power to legislate. Section 122 of the Australian Constitution (the “territories power”) states –
The Parliament may make laws for the government of any territory . . . and may allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
This section makes it abundantly clear that the Commonwealth Parliament can virtually do what it wants in relation to laws for the Northern Territory (as the debate on the Northern Territory's euthanasia legislation has shown) and in relation to our Federal representation.
It is equally clear that even those rights which have been so hard-fought over the years can never be guaranteed while the Northern Territory remains a territory because of the broad power contained in section 122. However, if the Northern Territory becomes a State, Territorians immediately gain those protections guaranteed by the Australian Constitution.
Only Statehood can protect our existing rights under the Australian Constitution. This is what Statehood is really about. It is the final step in an 88 year campaign.
The No vote
As a result of the Committee’s extensive consultation program, it became apparent that there were a number of key reasons why people voted No in the October 1998 referendum. This has been reinforced by the quantitative market research commissioned by the Committee. In addition, the Committee found that some issues were of particular concern to Aboriginal people, particularly in remote areas.
In summary, while there is a small core of people (approximately 23% according to the market research) who are opposed to Statehood, most who voted No are not opposed to Statehood per se but listed certain deficiencies in past processes as the reasons for the No vote. These included a lack of information and understanding about Statehood, concern about the Statehood Convention process and the events surrounding it, a lack of trust in those responsible for last year’s process, inadequate consultation, the role and approach of the Chief Minister, and a protest against the then Chief Minister and “the arrogance of politicians”.
It should be noted that the main reason for the No vote expressed throughout the Committee’s community consultations is quite consistent with the Newspoll market research conducted in 1995 which identified a demand for more information as the key issue. Long term concerns such as the uncertainty about the impact of Statehood , which were identified in the 1995 polling, were not properly addressed in last year’s process and, until they are, they will continue to be an impediment.
Aboriginal people voted very much as a block No vote and while the factors described above also featured, particular issues stood out. These were an almost total lack of understanding of what Statehood meant and a distrust of the Northern Territory Government. There was a fear that Statehood would increase the power of the NT Government, a strong lobby for the No vote from ATSIC, the Central Land Council and the
Northern Land Council (and virtually no alternative information), and no knowledge of the provisions of the Draft Constitution. These factors led to serious concerns in respect of losing existing rights, especially land rights, and concern about the impact of Statehood on law, culture and language. This view was reinforced by the Reeves Review into the Land Rights Act which had taken place during 1998. Subsequent events such as the decision on bilingual education have served to reinforce this concern.
Attitudes towards continuing the move towards Statehood
The overwhelming message from all over the Territory - whether it was from the public or individual meetings, written submissions or from the independent market research - was that Territorians do support Statehood and want the process of constitutional development to continue.
While there is a small percentage of people who believe that “No means No”, the greater majority of people who participated in the community consultations expressed the view that the Territory should continue towards Statehood.
Approximately 50% of people support the Yes case but, more significantly, 28% of people surveyed are what could be called “swinging voters”, a majority of whom are likely to vote Yes given another chance. The market research analysis describes these people as interested in Statehood, wanting more information and acknowledging it is their responsibility to become fully informed and make their own decision. Taking into account these findings, the market research report concludes “Territorians are sure they want Statehood and that eventually this will happen.”
The Indigenous Constitutional Conventions
Two Indigenous Constitutional Conventions were held in 1998: one at Kalkaringi in August and one at Batchelor in December. The Batchelor Convention resulted in a document entitled Standards for Constitutional Development. This document adopted and endorsed the Kalkaringi resolutions and proceeded to deal with such matters as an Inquiry into Self-Government, the Reeves’ Review of the Land Rights Act, Aboriginal law, land rights and other rights, human rights, education, good government, self-government, political participation, Aboriginal self-determination and process issues.
The Batchelor Convention noted that constitutional reform to recognise, enhance and protect Aboriginal rights is an ongoing process requiring further investigation, research, negotiation and development.
The Convention affirmed the principle embodied in the Kalkaringi Statement that Aboriginal people will not consent to Statehood until and unless there is a commitment that their rights and interests be recognised, enhanced and protected in a Territory Constitution and the NT Government is willing to enter into good faith negotiations under a framework agreement which will allow recognition of Aboriginal self-government.
An executive group arose from the Batchelor Convention, known as the Committee of the Indigenous Constitutional Convention, with the objective of pursuing those matters raised in the Kalkaringi Statement and the Batchelor resolutions.
Committee of the Indigenous Constitutional Convention
The Standing Committee met with the Committee of the Indigenous Constitutional Convention on 24 April 1999. The Convention Committee presented the Standing Committee with a position statement and asked that it be included in the Committee’s report and that it be read in Parliament.
The position statement requested that the Standing Committee –
“acknowledge the Kalkaringi and Batchelor statements as the representative position of Aboriginal people and the framework for inclusive constitutional development in the NT. The statements spell out the content and the process for negotiation with Aboriginal people. Negotiation over Statehood can only proceed when the NT Government makes a commitment to the negotiation of a framework agreement including:
§ The NT Government commits itself to protecting the Aboriginal Land Rights Act in its current form, and no change without the informed consent of Aboriginal people;
§ No major reforms affecting Aboriginal people and their inherent rights (e.g. local government, health, education and housing) are to proceed without recognition of Aboriginal law, recognition of traditional land ownership, or informed consent of Aboriginal people.”
The most powerful message from the Indigenous Convention Committee was that its call for a framework agreement must be addressed - with or without Statehood. The Committee of the Indigenous Constitutional Convention has made it clear that, prior to considering the Statehood question, Aboriginal people want to negotiate a framework agreement on the future relationship between the Northern Territory Government and Aboriginal people aimed at addressing the social and economic disadvantages of Aborigines and working towards their full, active and equal participation in the Northern Territory’s future. It recognises that this issue is quite distinct from Statehood but is not prepared to address constitutional development issues until its other concerns are met.
Aboriginal people are no longer prepared to come to the table to negotiate other people's priorities until their own concerns are resolved.
Aboriginal people tend to make communal decisions on political and voting issues. In arriving at their decisions, there is usually a high degree of community discussion, and advice is often sought from Aboriginal organisations such as ATSIC and the Land Councils. These organisations exercise great influence over the views of Aboriginal people, particularly in the communities. The conflict and controversy in Aboriginal affairs has left a high level of distrust amongst Aboriginal people and their organisations, much as it has amongst the non-Aboriginal population and the Government.
This Committee is under no illusions about the difficulty in reaching a balanced and mutually acceptable answer, particularly after so many years of suspicion and conflict.
However, this proposal may create the opportunity for a new beginning where agreed strategies can be developed to bring the Northern Territory community closer together to address the continuing serious health, education and social problems of Aboriginal people and to open up opportunities for economic development on Aboriginal
land and enable the whole of the Territory and all of its people to achieve their potential.
The Committee is of the opinion that the attempt should seriously be made.
Not only may such a process pave the way for removing the opposition of Aboriginal organisations to progressing towards Statehood, it will be a major contributor to overcoming the entrenched suspicion of the NT Government which exists within much of the Aboriginal community. Overcoming this distrust, combined with effective community consultation and education will, the Committee believes, lead to a broad community support for Statehood within the Aboriginal population.
Appropriate measures to progress Statehood
Given the broad community support for continuing the movement towards Statehood, the key aspect of the public meetings, oral submissions and many of the written submissions was the identification of strategies to progress Statehood.
Community education programs:
The first and most important priority was to ensure that the community was properly informed on the question of Statehood. People want to understand this issue, particularly from the perspective of themselves, their families and their jobs. Research also indicates that people are now far more conscious of the importance of understanding Statehood and making a personal assessment.
In light of the above, the first step should be the implementation of a comprehensive community education program. This was the single issue most consistently identified across the Territory. It is clear to the Committee that this will be a critical first step. A very detailed program is needed to respond to the range of information needs identified in the consultations and the market research. The education program will need to clearly differentiate between the question “What does Statehood mean?” and the issues associated with constitution-making, including the staging of a Constitutional Convention and options for the content of the Constitution.
Particular strategies will need to be developed to consult with and inform Aboriginal communities. This will probably require specific field staff resources because traditional information distribution through the various media and “mail outs” has been demonstrated to be totally inadequate.
Aboriginal people had different priorities to urban communities in the area of future measures. As in urban communities, there was very strong support for an education campaign, but the information sought focussed on the impact of Statehood on land rights, traditional law, culture and language. There was a widespread lack of trust in the Northern Territory Government, which information and consultation will to some extent overcome, although the extent of mistrust goes far beyond the Statehood issue.
Considerable concern was expressed about the lack of consultation, the requirement for more time to be taken in the move to Statehood and protection of Aboriginal rights. Given the level of distrust of the Northern Territory Government as demonstrated across Aboriginal communities, it is the Committee’s view that other measures need to be taken as an indication of good faith from both the Parliament and the Government.
Most people who participated in community consultations and many who provided written submissions agreed there should be another Convention to draft a Constitution for the Northern Territory. There was considerable support for a fully elected Convention or at
least one where a majority of delegates are popularly elected and which makes provision for the appointment of representatives from minority groups and/or of experts to assist the delegates.
Legislative and policy issues:
Legislative and policy issues were a further category of measures raised consistently throughout the consultations, for example, the desirability of freedom of information legislation, the need for a Bill of Rights, future control of the Land Rights Act and bilingual education.
The Committee’s community consultations delivered a clear message that the process of moving towards Statehood is far more important than any particular date. Most people who commented on the time frame felt that 2001 is now inappropriate and that it is not important to set a target date.
A future process
The view that the Northern Territory should re-commence the process of working towards Statehood was supported by the vast majority of people. Further, there was a high degree of consistency on the appropriate way in which the Territory should proceed.
Therefore the Committee is confident that the recommendations of this report will carry a high degree of community support.
The proposed stages of a future process are as follows:
The first and most important stage of the process must be a comprehensive community education program to provide a full and balanced understanding of the three distinct but related components of the movement towards Statehood:
(a) what Statehood means and what it doesn’t mean;
(b) the role of a constitution for a new State, the issues which need to be debated and their implications, and how to bring a constitution into being; and
(c) the issues which need to be resolved in negotiation with the Commonwealth Parliament to determine the conditions of the grant of Statehood.
The education campaign should be carried out, commencing as soon as possible, and using all forms of media, educational institutions, direct mail, the Internet and dedicated field staff, particularly for Aboriginal communities. The Committee notes that the Aboriginal constituency has special issues which need to be addressed as part of any move to Statehood. Specific strategies, including the use of dedicated field officers, are critical to ensure there develops a sufficient understanding of the issues involved within the Aboriginal population.
Only when there is evidence which indicates a sufficient level of understanding of the issues, and not before, should a move to the next stages commence. The Committee anticipates that, if sufficient resources were made available, this would take from six to twelve months.
Following the community education program:
(a) if the Commonwealth Government requires a referendum to re-commence the process, hold such a referendum, but only ask one question: “Do you agree that the Northern Territory should proceed towards Statehood?”; or
(b) if the Commonwealth Government does not require a referendum to re-commence the process, that the Northern Territory Government commence negotiations immediately on the conditions of a grant of Statehood.
Elections for, and the staging of, a Northern Territory Constitutional Convention where all, or at least the majority of delegates are popularly elected. The Convention must have sufficient time and resources to fully debate the issues in developing the Constitution.
The draft Constitution approved by the Convention must be referred to a referendum for acceptance by the people of the Northern Territory.
The outcomes of the negotiations over the terms and conditions of Statehood which are relevant to the Convention are to be referred to it. The outcomes of negotiations over the recognition of customary law and legal systems are to be referred to the Convention as appropriate.
This is a complex subject and we recommend that this Committee be given a further reference to examine it and make recommendations to Parliament on an appropriate procedure for developing and adopting a Northern Territory Constitution for referral to the Commonwealth Parliament. In developing the recommendations, it will be necessary to take into account the relevant resolutions of the Kalkaringi and Batchelor Conventions.
The Committee’s inquiry could be carried out concurrently with the public education campaign and the report to Parliament. This would also be the appropriate time for any necessary legislation for the staging of the Convention to be introduced into Parliament.
An education campaign should follow the conclusion of the negotiations over the terms and conditions of a grant of Statehood and the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention. This would lead to either separate referendums or a single referendum, depending on the timing of the processes, on the terms and conditions and the content of the Draft Constitution.
If a No result is the outcome of the referendum on terms and conditions of a grant of Statehood and/or the content of the Draft Constitution, the relevant processes will need to be repeated until an outcome satisfactory to Territorians is achieved.
Once a Yes result is achieved at a referendum on the terms and conditions of a grant of Statehood and the content of the Draft Constitution, Commonwealth processes should be
commenced at the earliest possible time to finalise the grant of Statehood and to refer the Constitution for the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth Parliament.
If the Commonwealth Parliament makes any changes of substance to the Constitution, it may be appropriate to hold a further Northern Territory referendum to determine whether the Constitution remains acceptable to the people of the Northern Territory.
Grant of Statehood and bringing into force of a Northern Territory Constitution.
That the Northern Territory should re-commence the process of Statehood and that no fixed target date be set. Any timeframe should be flexible to ensure ample time for community consultation and discussion. The process is more important than the timetable.
2.1 That the Northern Territory Government approach the Commonwealth Government to ascertain whether a further referendum would be required to re-commence the process of Statehood.
2.2 If the Commonwealth Government does require a referendum, that it be held following an education campaign and only when it is considered that knowledge of the issues in the community is at a sufficient level.
That there be a public education program to inform Territorians about what Statehood means and about the process of constitutional development, presented in a dispassionate, balanced and informative manner. It is essential that the education program not be presented in a ‘political propaganda’ manner and it should be validated by independent sources. It is recommended that the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs be directly involved in the broad development of the education program and the engagement of an independent consultant to devise and implement the program. Specific strategies should be developed for effective consultations and education in Aboriginal communities. This should commence as soon as possible to take advantage of the enhanced awareness of the issue which currently exists in the community.
4.1 That the Northern Territory Government commence discussions as soon as possible to explore the development of a framework agreement as called for by the Committee for the Indigenous Constitutional Conventions.
4.2 That specific priority be accorded to commencing the process of recognition and integration of Aboriginal customary law within the broader legal system. This work does not need to await the re-commencement of the Statehood process. The work of the Sessional Committee on Constitutional Development and its draft Constitution and the Draft Constitution prepared by the Statehood Convention, which was subsequently endorsed by the Legislative Assembly, could serve as a basis to commence this process.
That the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs be given a reference to research, and prepare recommendations for the Legislative Assembly on, the staging of a future Northern Territory Constitutional Convention consistent with the following framework:
§ that all, or at least the majority, of the delegates to the Convention be popularly elected;
§ that the Convention be allowed sufficient time and resources to fully debate the issues in developing the Constitution; and
§ that the draft Constitution approved by the Convention be referred to a referendum of the people of the Northern Territory.
In developing recommendations for the Legislative Assembly, the Standing Committee is to take into account the outcomes of the Indigenous Constitutional Conventions held in Kalkaringi and Batchelor in 1998. The Committee to have the power to send for persons, papers and records, to adjourn from place to place, to meet and transact business in public or private session and to sit during any adjournment of the Assembly, to appoint sub-committees, to be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources, to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the Committee, and to have such powers as are ordinarily assigned to Committees of the Legislative Assembly.
Following the public education program, it is recommended that two parallel processes be commenced –
6.1 That negotiations commence with the Commonwealth Government over the terms and conditions of a grant of Statehood; and
6.2 That the process of developing a Northern Territory Constitution be commenced.
MEMBERSHIP OF COMMITTEE
On 13 October 1998, by Resolution of the Assembly, Mrs Hickey and Ms Martin were discharged from further attendance on the Committee and Mr John Bailey MLA, Mr John Ah Kit MLA, and Mr Peter Toyne MLA were appointed as alternate Opposition Members.
At this time, Mr Terry McCarthy MLA was also appointed as an alternate Government Member.
Mr Syd Stirling MLA was appointed to the Committee in the stead of Mr John Ah Kit MLA on 24 November 1999. On 16 February 1999, Mr Steve Balch MLA, was appointed in the stead of Mr McCarthy, following Mr McCarthy’s election as Speaker.
Mr Steve Hatton MLA (Chairman)
Mr John Bailey MLA (Deputy Chairman) (alternate) Mr Steve Balch MLA (alternate)
Mr John Elferink MLA Mr Chris Lugg MLA
Mr Syd Stirling MLA (alternate) Mr Peter Toyne MLA (alternate)
Executive Officer: Mr Rick Gray (October to November 1998) Ms Julie Nicholson (November 1998 - present) Administration/Research Officer: Dianna Harris
CHAPTER 1: BACKGROUND
What does Statehood mean for the Northern Territory?
Statehood offers Territorians a number of opportunities:
1. Statehood offers Territorians the opportunity to constitutionally protect those rights gained over the past 88 years - these are the rights which citizens of the States have held as constitutional guarantees since 1901. They include the right to have Northern Territory representatives in Commonwealth Parliament and the right of residents in any State not to be subject to any disability or discrimination imposed by the Commonwealth unless it applies to all States. The only way to guarantee those rights for Territorians is to become a State;
2. Statehood means the opportunity to take up the remaining state-type powers that were denied us when self-government was granted in 1978; and
3. Statehood is the opportunity to write our own constitution, and to put in place our own framework for the method by which Parliament is elected, Government is formed and the Northern Territory is governed.
From the questions people asked at meetings with the Committee, it was clear that many want to better understand the essence of Statehood. To do this and to properly understand the context of last October’s referendum, the Committee considers it important to outline the history of the Northern Territory’s struggle to recover those constitutional and political rights which were lost when it was surrendered by South Australia to become a Commonwealth territory in 1911.
At Federation on 1 January 1901, citizens of the Northern Territory (then part of the State of South Australia) enjoyed the same rights as all other Australians. They were represented in the South Australian Parliament and were part of the Federal Electorate of Gray.
On 1 January 1911, South Australia surrendered its Northern Territory to the Commonwealth and it became a Federal territory. On that day, Territorians ceased to have a right to the vote, had no Member of Parliament and lost virtually all the protections of the Australian Constitution. The Commonwealth could impose legislation on the Territory which it could not impose on the States. It could acquire land in the Territory without paying compensation. The Commonwealth was not required to give equal treatment to Territorians in respect of taxation, trade and the legal status of residents. In such ways, residents of the Territory could be singled out for discriminatory treatment.
The Northern Territory's history since that time is punctuated with demands and protests to recover our democratic rights; it is a history of Territorians railing against dictatorial authority, official disinterest and government from afar. Much of the character and attitudes of Territorians as we know them today have arisen from this 88 year struggle.
Below is a brief history of that struggle.
Commonwealth Parliamentary representation
1922 The NT gains its first House of Representatives member. However, the member is refused the right to speak or vote and his role is effectively nothing more than that of an observer.
1936 The Territory’s Federal member gains the right to vote, but only as to matters relating to ordinances of the Territory. He cannot vote on other matters affecting the Territory, or on matters affecting the States, or on any national issue.
1957 The Federal member is allowed to vote on any question relating to Territory matters, so long as it solely relates to Territory matters.
1968 Finally, 46 years after the Territory was first granted Federal representation, the NT’s Federal member is able to exercise the same full voting rights as every other member in the Parliament.
1974 The Northern Territory is granted 2 Senate seats. However, before our Senators can take up their role, the granting of the 2 seats is challenged by the States through the High Court on two occasions. Both challenges were unsuccessful.
1975 NT citizens are now represented by 2 Senators in Commonwealth Parliament.
1977 Territorians may now vote in referendums, at least for so long as there remains in force a Commonwealth law allowing Territory representation in the House of Representatives. There is an important limitation: referendums involve two counts – one to determine the view of the majority of Australians and one to determine the view of the majority of States. while Territorians are included in the population majority count, the Territory is not counted in determining the view of the majority of States.
A Government for the Northern Territory
1918 “The Darwin Rebellion”. Civil unrest in Darwin in December 1918 saw residents march upon Government House to protest against autocratic rule from Canberra. The Administrator flees Darwin by warship two months later.
1926 The Commonwealth Parliament establishes a North Australia Commission to administer the Territory. The Northern Australia Act divides the Territory into North Australia and Central Australia – each with its own “Government Resident”.
1930 The Commonwealth Government proposals for an elected Legislative Council for the Territory are defeated by the Senate.
1931 The experiment of dividing the Territory in half fails and the two parts are re- combined as a single entity with government through an Administrator but without any Advisory Council.
1946 There is strong local agitation for constitutional reform led by the Northern Territory Development League in Central Australia, and the Labor Party and unions in Darwin.
1947 A Territory Legislative Council is established with the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Territory. The Council comprises 6 elected members and 7 official members (appointed), with the Administrator presiding.
1948 The inaugural sittings of the Legislative Council take place in a Sidney Williams hut in Mitchell Street, Darwin.
A Select Committee of the Legislative Council is appointed to inquire into all aspects of the Commonwealth Northern Territory (Administration) Act.
Recommendations for constitutional reform are made in November 1957.
1958 April: All 6 elected members of the Legislative Council resign in protest against undue government delay in considering calls for constitutional reform.
June: All 6 members are re-elected - 5 unopposed.
1959 The Legislative Council is expanded to include 8 elected members and 9 appointed members, but it still has no power over financial or public service matters.
1962 The Legislative Council is given power to define its own privileges and immunities.
A Remonstrance to the Commonwealth Parliament in Canberra from the Territory’s Legislative Council sets out a list of grievances, including a protest about the lack of constitutional advancement for the Territory, and seeks greater local control over Territory affairs.
1965 The Administrator is replaced as presiding officer of the Legislative Council by elected member, Harry Chan. He is the first elected president of the Council.
1968 The Legislative Council passes a motion of no-confidence in the Commonwealth Territories Minister.
The 3 non-official appointed Legislative Council members are replaced by additional elected members. However, the Commonwealth Government reserves the power to veto all or part of Council ordinances.
1972 The Commonwealth Government offers the Legislative Council limited executive control, including some financial powers but the offer lapses with a change of government in December.
1973 A joint Parliamentary Committee is established to review the Territory’s constitutional progress and to suggest reform.
1974 A fully elected Legislative Assembly of 19 members is established. The Territory now has a fully representative (but not yet responsible) government.
1975 Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser promises Statehood for the Territory within 5 years. Following the 1975 Federal election, it was agreed the NT would go through an interim phase of limited self-government to put in place the infrastructure necessary for Statehood.
NT citizens are now represented by 2 Senators in Commonwealth Parliament.
1978 The Northern Territory is granted self-government. For the first time, the NT has a ministry responsible for Territory finances and administration and assumes responsibility for a range of State-type functions. A Memorandum of Understanding establishes special funding arrangements for the Territory.
1979 Responsibility for education, health and the Supreme Court is progressively transferred to the Territory during the course of this year.
1988 The 1978 Memorandum of Understanding on financial arrangements is terminated. The Northern Territory is now funded on exactly the same basis as the States, and joins the Commonwealth and the States as a member of the Loan Council.
As this history shows, many, but not all, of the rights lost in 1911 have gradually been regained over the past 88 years. However, Territorians today possess these “rights” only by the grace of the Commonwealth; these rights carry no constitutional protection and can be removed or changed at any time.
The difference between being a territory and being a State
The above history tells of Territorians’ struggle for the opportunity to control our own affairs and our own destiny. Self-Government in 1978 represented a major step forward in this regard. However, the Northern Territory continues to be the subject of ongoing disadvantages simply because it is a territory.
As a territory of the Commonwealth, the Northern Territory remains subject to the almost unlimited legislative power of the Commonwealth under section 122 of the Constitution.
Even after the Commonwealth has conferred self-government on a territory, as in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, it retains ultimate power to legislate. Section 122 of the Australian Constitution (the “territories power”) states –
The Parliament may make laws for the government of any territory . . . and may allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
This section makes it abundantly clear that the Commonwealth Parliament can virtually do what it wants in relation to laws for the Northern Territory (as the debate on euthanasia has shown) and in relation to our Federal representation. It is equally clear that even those rights, which have been so hard-fought over the years, can never be guaranteed while the Northern Territory remains a territory because of the broad power contained in section 122. However, if the Northern Territory becomes a State, Territorians are immediately accorded those protections guaranteed by the Australian Constitution.
The disadvantages that Territorians will continue to experience for so long as we remain a territory include the lack of guaranteed Federal representation, discriminatory land acquisition by the Commonwealth within the Territory without just compensation, the power of the Commonwealth Government to disallow any Territory law within six months of the Administrator giving assent to that law, the ability of the Commonwealth to remove the Administrator at any time and the fact of the Territory not being counted in “the majority of States” count in national referendums.
Only Statehood can protect our existing rights under the Australian Constitution. This is what Statehood is really about. It is the final step in an 88 year campaign.
Pushing on towards Statehood
In August 1985, a decision was made to move to Statehood. The Legislative Assembly appointed a Select Committee on Constitutional Development whose task was to inquire into and report back to the Legislative Assembly on a new Constitution for a new State, on terms resulting in equality with the other States. The Committee was given a wide- ranging reference to inquire into, report and make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly on:
(a) the constitutional issues arising between the Northern Territory of Australia and the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Northern Territory of Australia and the States of Australia concerning the entry of the Northern Territory of Australia into the federation as a new State including, but without limiting the generality of the foregoing:
(i) the representation of the new State in both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament;
(ii) legislative powers;
(iii) executive powers;
(iv) judicial powers;
(b) the framework of a new State constitution and the principles upon which it should be drawn;
(c) the method to be adopted to have a draft new State constitution approved by or on behalf of the people of the Northern Territory of Australia; and
(d) the steps required or desirable to be taken by the Northern Territory of Australia, the Commonwealth and the States for the grant of Statehood to the Northern Territory of Australia as a new State within the federation.
Most of the Committee’s work in the first few years was directed at producing a number of initial papers, which were released for public comment in 1987. This was followed by an extensive program of public consultations throughout the Territory. In addition, further publications were issued by the Committee, and some promotional activities were undertaken.
In 1988, Chief Minister Perron wrote to the Prime Minister requesting full Self- Government. The Northern Territory did not even receive a reply.
From 1989, the Select Committee’s work focussed almost exclusively on NT constitutional matters and there was no further developmental work on Statehood issues.
In 1989, the Legislative Assembly resolved to amend the Committee’s terms of reference to change it from a Select Committee (with a set time to report) to a Sessional Committee.
In addition, the functions of the Committee were extended to other constitutional and legal matters referred to it either by a Minister or by the Assembly.
In April 1995, following submissions by the Northern Territory to the Council of Australian Governments, the then Prime Minister, Mr Paul Keating, agreed to the establishment of a joint Commonwealth/Northern Territory working group to examine and report on the implications of a grant of Statehood to the Northern Territory. The report of the working group was finalised in May 1996 and explores the major constitutional and policy issues that would arise upon a grant of Statehood.
On 26 November 1996, the Sessional Committee’s report on a final draft Constitution for the Northern Territory, Foundations for a Common Future, was tabled in the Legislative Assembly. The report recommended that a new Constitution be adopted for the Northern Territory to replace the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act, to be prepared by Territorians having regard to the Committee’s final draft Constitution. The report also recommended that the draft Territory Constitution be referred to a Territory Constitutional Convention for finalisation and to a Territory referendum for approval.
The Sessional Committee’s report noted that strategies for the future included –
• an on-going role for the Committee in oversighting matters of constitutional process and in contributing to that process where appropriate;
• oversighting progress towards a grant of Statehood for the Territory and in contributing to those developments where appropriate; and
• the undertaking of a role in promoting the awareness of constitutional issues to the Northern Territory and Australian populations.
The recommendations of the report were never formally endorsed or rejected by the Legislative Assembly.
The report also identified a preferred procedure for adopting a Northern Territory Constitution. This included referring a draft Constitution to a Northern Territory Constitutional Convention with broad representation from across the Northern Territory community, with the draft Constitution subsequently to be submitted to a referendum of Northern Territory electors.
A Newspoll conducted in March 1995 found that Territorians were strongly in support of the proposition to make the Northern Territory Australia’s seventh State. The findings were based on a sample of 1000 adults throughout the Territory. The survey found that 68% were in favour of the Territory becoming a State, with 46% strongly in favour.
A qualitative assessment of community attitudes towards Statehood found that there was a demand for more information on Statehood from virtually all sections of the NT population. People wanted to know how Statehood would affect their families and their lifestyles. The polling suggested that the information campaign needed to be factual rather than party political. People wanted an assessment of the advantages and
disadvantages to be presented in an impartial manner ideally by someone who was not seen to be strongly identified with any one side of politics.
The survey found that because most people did not understand the Federal/Territory fiscal relationship, there was an underlying current of fear in their discussion of Statehood.
Some appeared to believe that all Federal funding would be immediately curtailed if the NT became a State. The survey concluded that the only inhibition towards full embracement of Statehood is the fear of economic disadvantage. This fear was induced by ignorance in that people do not have any real comprehension of the way the Northern Territory is financed or indeed the way any of the States operate their fiscal relationship with the Commonwealth Government.
The survey found that very few people had even a vague awareness of how the Territory differs constitutionally to the other States and that most people did not know that the NT has 2 Senators and the States have twelve.
According to the 1995 survey, Territorians were acutely aware that because they are small numerically, the Northern Territory is financially vulnerable. There is a belief that the Northern Territory only exists because of the largess of the Commonwealth Government. This is a view which is strongly resented and is very much responsible for Territorians’ insistence on superiority to people down south in just about every way.
The survey concluded that most Territorians wanted the Northern Territory to become a State. They did however need reassurance that Statehood is not the same thing as financial secession and that the name ‘Northern Territory’ would not change.
Events leading to the Statehood referendum The Statehood Convention
In March 1998, a Statehood Convention was held in Darwin to consider and report on four important issues relating to Northern Territory Statehood. These were:
• whether the Northern Territory should become a State;
• the form of a Constitution for the State of the Northern Territory;
• the name of a new State of the Northern Territory; and
• when should the Northern Territory become a State.
Of the 53 delegates appointed to the Convention, 26 were elected from government- nominated organisations and 27 were appointed, including the Chairman and 2 Deputy Chairmen.
The Convention sat over a period of three weeks on 26 and 27 March 1998, 31 March, 1 and 2 April 1998, and 7, 8 and 9 April 1998.
The organisation and structure of the Convention generated controversy from the outset because of the method applied in appointing delegates, its timing and duration. This had the following outcomes:
• the Northern Land Council and the Central Land Council boycotted the Convention;
• an activist group, Territorians for a Democratic Statehood, was established; and
• a number of delegates withdrew part way through the Convention.
On 27 March 1998, one of the Government representatives introduced a model for a draft Constitution as an alternative to that drafted by the Sessional Committee on Constitutional Development. This was seen by some as having pushed aside the Sessional Committee’s Final Draft Constitution for the Northern Territory which was developed following ten years of community consultation. On 1 April 1998, the Convention Chairman announced a ruling from the Resolutions Group that the primary purpose of the plenary sessions was to speak in general terms to the Final Draft Constitution for the Northern Territory and that the Resolutions Group, with the assistance of Parliamentary Counsel, would draft resolutions that would be sequenced to aid correlation with that draft.
The Convention finalised a draft Constitution and resolved that three questions should be put to the people of the Territory at a referendum. These were:
• Should the Northern Territory become a State?
• What should the State be called?
• Do you accept the draft Constitution?
Amendment of the draft Constitution
The Statehood Convention’s report, including its preferred Constitution, was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on 30 April 1998 and debate on its recommendations concluded in the August Sittings. A number of amendments were made to the draft Constitution by the Government before its tabling. These were:
• the inclusion of transitional provisions in the event of Australia becoming a republic before the commencement of the Constitution;
• to provide for the appointment of a Lieutenant-Governor and an acting Premier;
• a reduction in the period of time from 7 days to 3 days that a member may be absent from the Assembly without permission (in line with prevailing practice); and
• minor drafting amendments.
The Convention’s work was adopted by the Parliament on party lines.
On 30 April, following the tabling of the Report of the Northern Territory Statehood Convention, the then Chief Minister introduced the Referendums Bill (Serial 74 of 1998).
Debate on the Bill was resumed and it was passed, with amendments, on 12 August 1998. During debate, certain Members of the Opposition expressed concern about the forms of advertising on which the legislation would permit expenditure of public monies.
The then Leader of the Opposition moved an amendment to the Bill to ensure expenditure would be limited to actions taken by the Chief Electoral Officer. The motion was defeated.
Date for the referendum
During an address to the Legislative Assembly on 11 August 1998, the then Minister for Territories and Local Government, the Honourable Alex Somlyay, MP, announced that, at the request of the Chief Minister, the Commonwealth Parliament had agreed that a referendum on the Statehood issue would be put to residents of the Northern Territory at the next Federal election.
Target date for Statehood - 1 January 2001
On 11 August 1998, the Prime Minister announced in Canberra that the Commonwealth Government supported Statehood for the Northern Territory and set 1 January 2001 as the target date.
The referendum question
The referendum question, as proposed by the Chief Minister, was debated on 19 August 1998. At that time, the Member for Barkly proposed that the question should contain three parts as recommended by the Statehood Convention, that is, with a question relating to whether the Northern Territory should become a State, whether there was support for the name "the State of the Northern Territory" and whether the draft Constitution should be adopted. The Assembly divided on the content of the Chief Minister's proposed question twice and, consequently, the Member for Barkly’s amendment was defeated.
As a result of the Resolution of the Assembly to adopt the referendum question as proposed by the Chief Minister, on 20 August 1998 the Speaker called for nominations by Members in favour of or not in favour of the question. All Members nominated that they were in favour of the single referendum question as follows –
“Now that a constitution for a State of the Northern Territory has been recommended by the Statehood Convention and endorsed by the Northern Territory Parliament:
DO YOU AGREE that we should become a State?”
The absence of an official No case
When the Legislative Assembly voted on the issue of the Statehood referendum, all members voted in support of the motion. This exposed a problem in the construction of the Referendums Act, which resulted in there being no capacity to prepare an official No case. Accordingly, the Northern Territory Electoral Office prepared and distributed a yes case but did not prepare a corresponding No case.
On 20 August 1998, the Member for Nightcliff presented two petitions, with a total of 2,182 signatures, relating to a demand for democratic and popularly elected peoples' constitutional conventions. The petitions further requested that any future Constitution be decided by the people in a referendum and not the Parliament.
The Kalkaringi Convention
An Indigenous Constitutional Convention was held from 17-20 August 1998 at Kalkaringi in the north west of the Northern Territory and was attended by 800 people. The objective was to discuss the issues of Statehood for the Northern Territory, the draft Constitution which had been endorsed by the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly and the proposed referendum on Statehood. The Kalkaringi Convention endorsed a “No”
position on the referendum due to concern that the process was being rushed, a perceived stifling of public debate in the lead up to the Convention, the lack of popularly elected delegates to the Convention and concern about the legal validity of some parts of the draft Constitution.
The Kalkaringi Convention and its outcomes are outlined in more detail in Chapter 3.
The referendum campaign
During the course of the Convention in March 1998, a community group named
“Territorians for a Democratic Statehood” was formed with the primary aims of promoting the cause of democratic Statehood for the Northern Territory, promoting discussion and debate on both Statehood for the Northern Territory and the new State’s Constitution, and to further the cause of directly-elected and representative people’s conventions with majority input into the question of Statehood and the new State’s Constitution.
Territorians for a Democratic Statehood became the principal “No” campaigner leading to the October referendum.
The smaller political parties, the Trades and Labor Council, the Aboriginal Land Councils and ATSIC also campaigned for a “No” vote.
The “No” campaign focused on concerns about the process of drafting the Constitution, the absence of popularly elected delegates to the Convention, the referendum question, and the lack of an official "No” case.
While both sides of politics officially sanctioned the Yes case and the Government ran an aggressive advertising campaign for the Yes case, the Opposition raised concerns over the process.
The Statehood referendum
The Statehood referendum was held on 3 October 1998, concurrent with a general Federal election. The result was a 51.3% No vote.
The formal voting figures by polling category are as set out in the following table.
Yes vote No vote Informal % Yes % No %Informal Static polling
booths 33864 31848 677 51.0 48.0 1.0
teams 128 111 2 53.1 46.1 0.8
Teams 3315 9921 298 24.5 73.3 2.2
Teams 74 158 2 31.6 67.5 0.9
Postal Votes 1696 1084 6 60.9 38.9 0.2
PrePoll Votes 4677 3760 48 55.1 44.3 0.6
Provisional Votes (names not on the roll on the day)
948 1359 35 40.5 58.0 1.5
TOTAL 44702 48241 1068 47.5 51.3 1.1
The urban vote (static polling booths, postal votes, pre-poll votes) delivered a majority Yes vote by a margin of 3545 votes - 40237 to 36692.
The remote area vote (remote mobile teams and the prison mobile teams) delivered a majority No vote by a margin of 6690 votes - 10079 to 3389.
This result reflects a dichotomous vote between predominantly non-Aboriginal and predominantly Aboriginal voting blocks.
CHAPTER 2: PROCEDURES AND APPROACH ADOPTED BY THE COMMITTEE
In order to provide as many Territorians as possible with the opportunity to have their say on the constitutional development process in 1998 and on appropriate measures for progressing Statehood if desired, the Committee:
• invited written submissions;
• conducted public meetings; and
• held meetings with, and took oral submissions from, individuals and organisations.
In addition, the Committee arranged for polling to be conducted to check whether the feedback being received through the submissions and meetings was reflective of wide community opinion.
An extensive advertising campaign utilising television, newspaper and radio was undertaken from October 1998 to March 1999 to notify the public of various meetings to be conducted in their respective areas and to call for submissions.
The official deadline for receiving written submissions was extended from 27 November 1998 to 29 January 1999, although the Committee agreed that late submissions would be accepted and continued to invite and receive written comments through to April.
During the course of its Inquiry, the Committee –
• received 87 written submissions (4 of which came from Members of the Legislative Assembly advising of surveys they had conducted in their respective electorates, which resulted in responses from 257 constituents)
• held 40 public meetings throughout the Territory attended by approximately 1151 people
• met individually with 14 organisations and 13 individuals – a total of 248 persons in all.
Between October and December 1998, the Committee conducted public meetings and individual consultations at Batchelor, Bees Creek, Yulara, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine, Pine Creek and Darwin. The Committee also attended part of the final day of the Batchelor Indigenous Constitutional Convention on 4 December 1998. In February 1999, the Committee held meetings in the Darwin CBD, Nightcliff, Casuarina, Sanderson, Palmerston, Howard Springs and Humpty Doo.
During the recess of the Assembly between the February and April Sittings, the Committee conducted meetings principally in Aboriginal and other remote communities.
Across the “Top End”, the Committee held meetings at Angurugu, Umbakumba, Alyangula, Yirrkala, Nhulunbuy, Milingimbi, Ramingining, Maningrida, Minjilang, Jabiru, Nguiu and Pirlangimpi. The meeting at Pirlangimpi involved delegates from Milikapiti.
Consultations were then conducted in Katherine and its region and these included Barunga, Bulman, Timber Creek, Wadeye, Daly River, Ngukurr, and Borroloola in the Barkly Region. Communities visited in Central Australia were Lake Nash, Mutitjulu, Papunya, Yuendumu, Utopia, Santa Teresa and Hermannsburg.
Meetings were also scheduled at Galiwin’ku, Kalkaringi, Lajamanu, Numbulwar and Oenpelli but due to circumstances beyond the Committee’s control, these meetings were unable to proceed.
Additionally, meetings were held with ATSIC, the Nightcliff Evergreens, the Central Australian Tourism Industry Association, Elliott Town Council, representatives from the Waanyi/Garawa Aboriginal Land Trust, Mr P Morgan, Mr I Fraser, Mr T Dunstan, Mr C Jeffries, Mr P Carroll, Dr P Kruse, Ms B Auld, Mr R Brunt, Ms J Watford, Mr P Somers, Mr J Duguid (Lawyers for Reconciliation), Mr R Hitchcock (Miscellaneous Workers Union), Mr C Draffin, Mr T Webb, Wadeye elders group, Alpurrurulam Community Government Council, Ltyentye Purte Community Government Council (Santa Teresa), Mr L Silvester, representatives from the Ethnic Communities Council, representatives from Jabiru Town Council, Territorians for a Democratic Statehood, and the Committee of the Indigenous Constitutional Convention.
Procedure at meetings
The approach adopted by the Committee at meetings was not to promote Statehood but to turn the meeting over to the attendees for their comments on why people voted No in the referendum and what future processes would be appropriate if Statehood is to proceed.
An indication by way of a show of hands was usually sought at meetings as to the proportion of people who voted Yes and No, and what proportion of people supported Statehood in principle, subject to the process adopted.
In almost all cases a majority of the attendees indicated they had voted No while a large majority of people at meetings indicated that Statehood ought to be pursued.
The Committee was originally required to report to the Assembly within six months. This would have resulted in its report being presented during the February 1999 Sittings - there being no further Sittings until late April 1999 - an effective consultation period of less than three months taking into account the December-January holiday period.
The Committee was strongly of the view that this timeframe was inadequate to conduct comprehensive and effective community consultations. This was reinforced following a request from the Northern and Central Land Councils that consultations not be conducted in Aboriginal communities until after the Indigenous Constitutional Convention which was scheduled for Batchelor in early December 1998.
As a result, on 16 February 1999, the Legislative Assembly granted approval for the Committee to defer the presentation of its report until the April 1999 Sittings.
This Committee was mindful of the possibility that, by relying only on public meetings and written submissions, it may not be receiving the views of a full cross-section of the public.
In addition, the information being received in these ways was strictly qualitative in nature and was not able to be extrapolated with any confidence.
For this reason, the Committee decided that independent market research would provide a measure against which other feedback could be assessed and would provide a more reliable statistical indication of the views of Territorians than the qualitative findings.
As a result, the Chief Minister’s Office commissioned Market Equity (SA) Pty Ltd to undertake a post-referendum poll for the Standing Committee. The purpose of the study was to provide a quantitative measure of general opinion on the issue of Statehood. In addition, the Committee requested that the poll measure public feeling on Statehood as it was last October and identify where, if at all, there have been changes in attitude or opinions about this question since then.
The study was conducted by telephone and was directed at a randomly generated sample of 550 persons, representative of the Territory by location, age, gender, and work status.
Interviewing was conducted at the end of February 1999.
CHAPTER 3: THE INDIGENOUS CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTIONS
Two Indigenous Constitutional Conventions were held in 1998. These conventions resulted in two documents: the Kalkaringi Statement and Standards for Constitutional Development.
Following the boycott and walkout from the Convention, ATSIC, the Northern Land Council and the Central Land Council took the decision to campaign for a No vote and to separately develop their own Constitutional Convention process, essentially ignoring the work of the February Convention, and focussing on issues specifically of interest to Aboriginal people.
As a result, a Constitutional Convention of Central Australian Aboriginal people was held at Kalkaringi in August 1998. The Convention resulted in the Kalkaringi Statement.
This was followed in December by an Indigenous Constitutional Convention held at Batchelor which agreed on principles and standards for constitutional development in the Northern Territory. The Batchelor Convention documents are known as the Standards for Constitutional Development.
3.2 The Kalkaringi Statement
A meeting of the group known as the Combined Aboriginal Nations of Central Australia met at Kalkaringi over the period 17-20 August 1998. More than 800 people came together to discuss the issues of Statehood, the draft Constitution which had been endorsed by the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly and the proposed referendum on Statehood.
The Convention adopted a set of aspirations and concerns identified by delegates in relation to Statehood, constitutional development and governance. This is entitled the Kalkaringi Statement.
The Kalkaringi Convention endorsed a “No” position on the Statehood referendum (irrespective of the wording of the question). There was widespread concern at the rush by Chief Minister Shane Stone to achieve Statehood by 2001 and about the Northern Territory Constitutional Convention held in March 1998.
The Kalkaringi Statement adopted the following general principles.
(a) That we do not consent to the establishment of a new State of the Northern Territory on the terms set out in the Draft Constitution adopted by the Legislative Assembly on 13 August 1998.
(b) That we will withhold our consent until there are good faith negotiations between the Northern Territory Government and the freely chosen representatives of the Aboriginal peoples of the Northern Territory leading to a Constitution based upon equality, co-existence and mutual respect.
(c) That the Northern Territory Government must provide adequate resources and negotiate in good faith a realistic timetable for such negotiations.
The Kalkaringi Statement is attached to this report at Appendix B.
3.3 The Batchelor Convention Resolutions: Standards for Constitutional Development
A week-long Indigenous Constitutional Convention was held at Batchelor College from 29 November – 4 December 1998. Arising from the Convention was a set of resolutions entitled Standards for Constitutional Development.
Standards for Constitutional Development adopted and endorsed the Kalkaringi Statement and went on to deal with such matters as an Inquiry into Self-Government, the Reeves’ Review of the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act, Aboriginal law, land rights and other rights, human rights, education, good government, self-government, political participation, Aboriginal self-determination and process issues.
The Batchelor Convention noted that constitutional reform to recognise, enhance and protect Aboriginal rights is an ongoing process requiring further investigation, research, negotiation and development.
The Convention affirmed the principle embodied in the Kalkaringi Statement that Aboriginal people will not consent to Statehood until and unless their rights and interests are recognised, enhanced and protected in its Constitution and the NT Government is willing to enter into good faith negotiations under a framework agreement which will allow recognition of Aboriginal self-government.
The Convention also called upon Northern Territory and Commonwealth Governments to make adequate resources available to implement the resolutions of the Convention.
It was agreed that the executive committee which was formed at the Batchelor Convention would commence a process of negotiation with relevant political organs, government representatives and others regarding the further development and entrenchment of Indigenous rights and interests in the Australian and NT Constitutions, in particular the terms and conditions for the establishment of the Northern Territory as a State.
A full copy of Standards for Constitutional Development is attached to this report at Appendix B.
3.4 General comment
The list of demands from the Kalkaringi and Batchelor Conventions is long and detailed and will have a significant influence on the Northern Territory’s constitutional development.