Labor’s campaign to guarantee two Federal MPs for the Northern Territory is another step closer to success, with the government agreeing to legislate for fair NT representation.
Under the formula the Australian Electoral Commission must use to determine the number of seats in each state and territory, the NT was set to lose a seat and become one vast, under-represented electorate, served by a single MP.
Labor has fought hard to ensure the NT is not left with only one lower house representative serving nearly 250,000 people across more than 1.4 million square kilometres, as well as the remote Indian Ocean Territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Labor introduced legislation nearly four months ago that would guarantee the Territory retains a fair level of representation; legislation that the Coalition Government could have passed at any time.
Since it was introduced to the Parliament in June, our bill to ensure the Territory retains two MPs has gained the support of both the NT Government and Opposition, the Greens, Cross-bench Members and Senators, NT CLP Senator Sam McMahon, and finally the National Party.
We had hoped Scott Morrison would listen to his Nationals colleagues and support our bill this week.
But we welcome Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack yesterday saying “There will be, here’s the assurance, two seats for the Northern Territory going forward”.
It’s great that the Morrison Government has finally got on board, even if it is only doing so to avoid the embarrassment of the Liberals and Nationals splitting on the floor of Parliament.
Protecting the Territory’s two seats by law will ensure that all Territorians, including around 30 per cent of the NT population who are Indigenous, will continue to have the representation in Canberra that they deserve.
Labor will always fight for Territorians and will be pushing for legislation guaranteeing two NT lower house seats to be passed by the Parliament in the next sitting period.