A book that explores power, politics and the sparks of conflict in the Northern Territory’s sometimes-fractious relationship with Canberra will be launched in Darwin next week.
“Speak for yourself” by former Chief Minister Clare Martin and historian Mickey Dewar captures the thoughts of the first eight chief ministers reflecting on their time in office.
Ms Martin, a Professorial Fellow with Charles Darwin University’s The Northern Institute, said each Chief Minister had a unique approach to tackling the job and the challenges that went with it.
“Each chapter represents a story from a key player in the history of the Northern Territory who tells of their political life and times, and the federal moves that challenged the Territory’s independence and authority,” Ms Martin said.
“They all had a view on the powers they didn’t have and how that influenced them.”
Ms Martin said that with the benefit of hindsight, it was a shame that the Territory missed the offer of statehood, made by Malcolm Fraser in 1975.
“We could have been celebrating more than 30 years as the seventh state of the Australian Federation, and this would have been a book about eight premiers.
“We would have had a greater voice in Canberra and most definitely we would have had a very different political relationship with successive Commonwealth Governments.”
Ms Martin said it could never be assumed that legislation passed in the Territory Assembly would stay passed while the NT remained under the legislative control of the Federal Parliament.
“It happened with euthanasia, the nuclear waste dump and the Emergency Response.
“Our reserved powers, and issues such as uranium, national parks and land rights have caused considerable friction with successive Commonwealth Governments, often making the Territory look uncooperative.”
Ms Martin said the book also celebrated some of the Territory’s finer moments, including the establishment of Charles Darwin University, the opening of the Alice to Darwin Railway and the development of relationships with Indonesia and other Southeast Asian neighbours.
“If there was one common element with each Chief Minister it was to grow the Territory’s population. We are all determined that a sustainable and stronger Territory depends on the need to build our numbers and skill the population.”
Chief Minister Terry Mills will officially launch “Speak for yourself” at Parliament House on Tuesday 30 October at 5pm. The book will be on sale and the authors will be available for signing at the event. Members of the public are welcome but seats are limited – RSVP is Friday 26 October to email@example.com. The book launch will be streamed live via the Northern Territory Library website – www.ntl.nt.gov.au/