No new State has been admitted or established since Federation in 1901, despite periodic bouts of seeming enthusiasm for NT statehood on the part of some politicians. For most people, it is an issue that produces almost universal guffaws whenever anyone mentions it, not only in the rest of Australia but among Territorians. ‘Down south’ the reaction is seemingly fuelled by a perception that the Territory is a sinkhole for taxpayers’ money inhabited by Aborigines, crocodiles, and a handful of eccentric redneck Caucasians behaving strangely in the tropical heat.
It is generally considered that a major reason why Shane Stone’s statehood referendum failed in 1998 was because of opposition from Aboriginal organisations (especially land councils) and their supporters. That opposition in turn was to a significant extent due to a perception that Aboriginal interests were better protected by remaining under ultimate Commonwealth control.
Author: Ted Dunstan
I congratulate the progenitors of this excellent governance summit, the CDU Law School. It is a concept whose time has come. I note that it is appropriately not yet about statehood, whose time has definitely not come, but several steps before that (which may lead to it). Since self-government there has been a paucity of constitutional development, and such a conference may promote further debate on numerous aspects of Territory governance and surrounding issues.