Standing up for Territory rights at Labor’s National Conference

Released 17/12/2018

Federal Labor’s National Conference has unanimously passed a resolution endorsing Territory rights, as part of our ongoing campaign to see full democratic rights restored to Australians who live in the ACT and the Northern Territory.

The Territories are currently prevented from making laws on voluntary assisted dying because of legislation passed by the Commonwealth Parliament in 1997. With other communities around Australia now discussing and pursuing reform on this important social issue, it is unacceptable that Territory Parliaments are denied the right to even consider it.

The resolution I moved today emphasises Labor’s strong support for the principle of equal democratic rights for the Territories, and encourages all Federal Labor Parliamentarians to vote in favour of restoring these when this question next comes before the Federal Parliament.

The Australian Senate recently debated the repeal of the so-called Andrews Bill, with the matter narrowly voted down by just two votes. The National Conference’s clear and positive endorsement of Territory rights makes it more likely that repeal can succeed next time.

Our Government will keep campaigning for the repeal of the Andrews Bill in 2019, because it is simply not fair that some Australians should have fewer democratic rights than others based on where they live.

Our communities in the ACT and NT deserve the right to debate and discuss voluntary assisted dying, and decide on the way forward together. Today’s resolution brings us another step closer to restoring this right.

Resolution -

This Conference notes:

  • An enduring Labor value is that all Australians should have the right to exercise their democratic franchise to elect representatives to Parliament to make laws for their State or Territory.
  • Labor believes this democratic right should be held by all Australians irrespective of the State or Territory in which they reside.
  • Currently, the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory are prevented from making laws in relation to some areas of social policy, as their democratic right to do so was removed in 1997 by an Act of the Federal Parliament.

This Conference:

  • Believes it is unacceptable that Australians who reside in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory should have fewer democratic rights than other Australians;
  • Encourages all Federal Labor Parliamentarians to support reinstating equal democratic rights for residents of the Territories when such matters come before the Federal Parliament in the future.

- Statement ends -

Section: Andrew Barr, MLA | Media Releases

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