Up there under the rest of us

Apart from the fact they’ve half the population of Tasmania (which, in turn, has a third of the population of the next most populous State, South Australia), why precisely should the people of the NT continue to be denied the privilege enjoyed by the rest of the country, of having the rights all the rest of us enjoy as inhabitants of official States?

Okay, it would be a bit disconcerting if the 230,000 Territorians had the same number of Senators as the 7.2 million New South Welshmen – but the 500,000 Tasmanians already do, so where do we draw the line? The point is that it’s absurd that there are regions in this country where citizens have fewer democratic rights than the rest of us enjoy.


No, Territorians, you can’t count the crocs to boost your numbers.

That said, I can’t see the seven million New South Welshmen and the five and a half million Victorians voting to dilute their already less than adequate upper house representation even further. So, short of redesigning the Senate as a proportionally-elected people’s house (complementing the locally-elected lower house), it seems unlikely that this will ever change. Sorry, Territorians

On the plus side, that means we in the rest of the country can keep overriding your decisions whenever you do something embarrassingly sensible that our politicians are too cowardly to do themselves, like legalising euthanasia.

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18 responses to “Up there under the rest of us

  1. Jeremy, the Constitution only guarantees an equal number of senators to “Original States”. A condition of Territory statehood could be a smaller number of senators.

    A new state would also not be guaranteed 5 House of Representatives seats. Of course, it means that the NT would be underrepresented considerably compared to Tasmania, but it doesn’t mean they have to have 2.5 times the House representation and six times the Senate representation.

  2. Well, indeed, but it seems a bit inconsistent to start applying population considerations at this stage. Either the Senate should be a properly democratic House, proportionally elected by the entire country – or we should apply the same rule to the NT that we did to Tasmania. Constitutional permission otherwise notwithstanding.

  3. On the question of the Federal Parliament overturning the legislation brought to the NT legislature by Marshall Perron and duly passed permitting voluntary euthanasia – with safeguards – how did your meeting with the serial pest who was instrumental in overturning the NT legislation go? Kevin Andrews by name.

  4. Just re-merge NT into South Australia. I don’t really understand why it needs to be separate, anyway.

    I wouldn’t be adverse to merging Tasmania into Victoria, either.

  5. They rejected Statehood last time they were asked.

    I say abolish the States, Territories and local councils, and replace them with regional governments based on geographical/ecological/demographical common sense, instead of colonial arbitrariness.

  6. I agree Jarrah Job.

    I’ve often wondered if state government in particular wasn’t an unnecessary and expensive layer of bureaucracy.

  7. Splatterbottom

    The moment you try to abolish the states Queensland and WA will secede. Sadly, in Tasmania your mother will still be your sister.

  8. jordanrastrick

    Jarrah’s right, but I don’t think its feasible. Or rather I think it’s a reform that doesn’t have a worthwhile political pain to r gain ratio for any party to try and pursue.

    WA and Queensland already whinge about the southeastern states taking all their mining dollars. Even though they are massive net beneficiaries of cross-subsidization over the lifetime of the federation.

    And good luck trying to get NT to agree to reunify with SA. Darwin is already the most parochial city in Australia. When the territory government reduced the max speed limit on NT highways from infinity to 130km/h, the local newspapers were bursting with letters about bloody southerners who come up here and don’t know how to drive and how the idiot pollies didn’t understand that territorians are perfectly capable of doing 170 and don’t need no stinking road rules copied from the southerners. It was almost an election losing issue.

    Statehood with a sane number of senators seems like the fairest compromise that’s likely to be implemented.

  9. narcoticmusing

    “replace them with regional governments based on geographical/ecological/demographical common sense, instead of colonial arbitrariness.”

    And who would determine these new boundaries? The Feds? Because they demonstrated such a sound understanding of community links and needs in the proposed ‘medicare locals’ boundaries (that was sarcasm there in case you didn’t catch it).

    Those who think it is good to abolish the states put WAY too much credit in the Federal government. Lets face it, it is the same idiots that run NSW and QLD that currently make up the Feds… do we really want to unleash the NSW/QLD govt on the whole country?

    If you want to cut back on bureaucracy, then trim back the Feds and their interference – then the Feds would simply be a coordinating and facilitating body. The current setup is confusing for the common Joe who thinks the Feds are responsible for things they aren’t (say, hospitals for example). The current setup leads to blame and cost shifting rather than accountability. This isn’t, however, due to the states. It is due to the Feds making election promises over things they have no constitutional power to change and making people think they do.

    Go have a look at how badly the ACT health system was run when the Feds ran it – just like now, the Feds think throwing money at something is the solution without putting in any mechanism to ensure the money is spent well or actually achieving some outcome.

    Re-writing the constitution is an option (ie to give the Feds more appropriate powers either more or less power) – but it will NEVER pass. Referendums have a very poor history in this country.

    As for WA seceding – let them. They aren’t nearly as well off as they think, particularly as their current mining situation is so rigged against them (and they seem completely unaware of that): other than the obvious proportion of cash going elsewhere, it is short term cash for capital and instead of storing it they blow it on recurrent services. Without the mining capital they’d be subsidised as heavily as every other state (except NSW and Vic who are the only states that financially hold their own – well NSW would if it’s govt wasn’t so broken)

  10. “The moment you try to abolish the states Queensland and WA will secede.”

    Let them secede. Then we can build some bloody big fences to keep them out 😉

  11. … and let them only have WAFL matches played in their state. They’ll soon come begging for Federation. 😉

  12. “Sadly, in Tasmania your mother will still be your sister.”

    Thank you Benny Hill

  13. Lets face it, it is the same idiots that run NSW and QLD that currently make up the Feds… do we really want to unleash the NSW/QLD govt on the whole country?

    Huh??

  14. narcoticmusing

    zoot – I was referring to the disproportionate representation of NSW and QLD in the Ministries and Shadow Ministries, many of whom started life in the NSW or QLD state legislatures.

  15. Any reason why the ACT has been largely left out of this discussion?

    Ok, here come the avalanche of jokes.

    But seriously, the ACT is just another jurisdiction, one with with 330,000 average people going about their lives. But because it’s a ‘territory’ the Australian Government can over-ride the democratic processes of the place, e.g. when the current ACT Government, on numerous occasions, has tried to bring in civil unions (for gay and straight couples).

    Just because the ACT doesn’t have the character of the NT doesn’t mean it should be forgotten.

  16. Yes, what goes for the NT obviously goes for the ACT as well.

  17. Agreed narcoticmusing. I get far better service from my Victorian government than i ever would from a Canberra bureaucracy.

  18. narcoticmusing

    I’m not necessarily saying ditching a layer of government is a bad idea, merely that those that think ditching the States is the way to go have really over estimated the competence of the feds.

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