July 24, 2015

Horse 1945 - Northern Territory Statehood

One morning this week after the nation arose from its rage induced coma, following on from the fact that the Speaker of the House of Representatives will not be be investigated for misappropriation of travel allowances in chartering private helicopters, the fact that more people have died on our asylum seeker concentration death camp on Nauru than have actually been resettled, or that the state premiers have decided to collude and scratch at the wallets of the nation for 15% in GST rather than 10% (because it's more "efficient" to steal food from the tables of old and poor people than it is to beg like cowering little wusses at licenced bandits on George St, with their diamond encrusted, Bentley stained head kicking boots), someone had the bright idea to distract us all with the shiny new toy of statehood for the Northern Territory; thus pulling the wool over our eyes as we are being fleeced.

Personally, in my not very well paid opinion, the idea of statehood for the Northern Territory is more obvious than an eight tonne hamster at the front door - open the door and let it in. Constitutionally it's dead simple because section 121¹ allows the Federal Parliament to admit states as it sees fit and if it were to be taken to a referendum, it would be a simple Yes/No question of "Do You Approve Of Statehood For The Northern Territory?". Functionally the Northern Territory pretty well much already acts as a state in its own right now and culturally it already has its own identity, with the crocodile and explosive obsessed NT News being the most visible exponent.
The problem of whether or not the Northern Territory should be a state or not, has nothing to do with the logistics of the Northern Territory being a state. The biggest problem that I can see is what all the other states have to say about it it and in that respect, we should instruct all the bakers in the country to start pulling triple overtime shifts because the bunfight will be absolutely epic; so we need to start making lots of buns now.

The way that the Australian Parliament works is that there are an equal number of Senators from each of the states to act as a house of review (the reason for this was so that the bigger states didn't bully the little ones) and that the number of members in the House of Representatives is as close to double the number of Senators as is practical. Currently and due to Section 3 of the Representation Act of 1983, the number of Senators for each of the states is twelve² - twelve shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be twelve. Thirteen is right out. There are six states with twelve Senators and two senators from each of the big mainland territories (Jervis Bay Territory which has legally been a territory in its own right since 1989, votes in the NSW House Of Representatives seat of Eden-Monaro because JBT only contains about three dozen people and is nominally ruled by a cat called Wiggles, with an iron paw).
If the Northern Territory were to become a state then it would be entitled to a full compliment of twelve Senators and it that were to happen then six kinds of venom would be spat large by the other states.
The first and most obvious argument which would be put forward against Northern Territory statehood would be that it is too small to be a state in its own right. At only 240 thousand people, the whole of the Northern Territory contains less people than some local councils in Sydney or Melbourne and no-one is particularly suggesting that the eastern suburbs of Sydney should be a state. The obvious counter argument to this is that in terms of area, the Northern Territory is absolutely massive. To put this in perspective, the surface area of Pluto is 1,765,000km² and the Northern Territory has a land area of 1,420,970 km². Maybe that's an argument for Northern Territory planethood. Also, at the time of federation in 1900, Western Australia only had 184,124 people and Tasmania only had 172,475 people³; the Northern Territory has more people than either of those when they became states.

Maybe the solution is to snap existing states in twain and reduce the number of Senators to six each. Numerically, Parliament doesn't change all that much and several areas across Australia would no longer feel like they're getting gypped by their state governments who ignore them - no, they can be gypped by their new state governments instead.
To that end, I propose the states of New England, Capricornia, Riverina... er... Tasphobia, Central Woop-Woop and Rinehartland (the latter where everyone works for $2 a day on 457 Skilled Slave Labour visas just like their Queen's bizarre dream).

I suspect that the main reason why statehood for the Northern Territory will probably fail, is due to the waves of abject terror that would course through the house on the hill in Canberra. The Liberal Party and their minders at the IPA, hate the idea that actual democracy and the extension of the franchise might be given to ordinary people; especially when they've spent many years being as cruel as the law will allow with the NT intervention. That and their previous suggestions to abolish the states in the first place. Giving statehood to the Northern Territory might install hostile Senators who would keep the lower house in check. The Labor Party would hate the idea of Northern Territory statehood because those extra Senators just might curb their unique brand of incompetence to the point that they might have to undertake some actual governance - shock; horror!

As I've indicated previously, I like the idea of statehood for the Northern Territory with the proviso that six of its Senators are Aboriginal-only Senators. Quite frankly, I think that the fact that our first peoples have never properly been represented in the parliament and have never really had their voices speaking to the floors of power, is a 115 year disgrace.

Once we've sorted out Northern Territory statehood, let's turn our attention to an equally pressing matter - why are there no Northern Territory teams in the AFL? The Darwin Crocodiles - bring it on!

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