Northern Territory should not be ‘punished’ with SA merger due to Labor’s incompetence, Opposition says
Opposition Leader Gary Higgins said merging with SA would “take away the Territory identity”. (Facebook: Gary Higgins)
Future Northern Territory generations should not be “punished” with a merger with South Australia due to the current Government’s incompetence, the NT Opposition Leader has said.
- The NT Opposition Leader has joined the Chief Minister and the SA Government in rejecting the idea of an NT-SA merged state
- He says Territorians shouldn’t be punished for the Labor Government’s financial incompetence
- Idea proponent John Elferink has been a strong supporter of NT statehood in the past, says the Speaker
Former NT Country Liberal Party minister John Elferink, who now lives in Adelaide, has once again floated the idea of merging SA and NT together to create the new state of Centralia as a way to alleviate the Territory’s current budgetary woes, with its deficit projected to balloon tenfold to $35 billion by 2030.
His proposal was backed by former Australian deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, who said it was time Australia seriously considered the idea.
The NT was once the Northern Territory of South Australia, having originally been part of New South Wales before it was passed on to SA to manage in 1863, which it did until the federal government took over in 1911.
The NT did not gain self-government until 1978.
But Country Liberal Party (CLP) Opposition Leader Gary Higgins dismissed the idea.
“I think South Australia gave up its option to have any say in the NT back in 1911,” he said on Thursday.
“It will take away the Territory identity. We have fought long and hard for independence and there’s no way we should give it up.”
He pointed out that all advocates of the plan — Mr Fischer, Mr Elferink, and the NT independent Member for Nelson Gerry Wood — all had connections to SA.
“Territorians are the ones that need to be listened to and Territorians, I’m pretty certain, don’t want to consider it,” Mr Higgins said.
When asked if the proposal was a reflection of the national perspective on the NT’s financial woes, he said: “No, I think people need to put into perspective that the Territory, and future generations of the Territory, should not be punished because of the incompetence of a government we currently have.”
Former CLP minister John Elferink’s proposal to merge SA and NT has been rejected. (ABC News: Tristan Hooft)
Elferink supported NT statehood: Speaker
NT Speaker Kezia Purick was a one-time member of the CLP and was Mr Elferink’s colleague before turning independent.
“My goodness, the question to be asked is why is Mr Elferink writing such a letter now when he was such a staunch supporter of statehood?” she wrote on Facebook.
“Check Hansard records, Mr Elferink regularly spoke about statehood and his unwavering support. Strange indeed.”
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said on Wednesday that as the first Territory-born leader of the jurisdiction, he believed very strongly in self-government and self-determination.
“I think the best people to find the pathway for the Territory, to grow the Territory, to diversify the Territory, to deal with our challenges, are Territorians,” he said.
“I do not believe we should be looking to delegate or defer or hand these decisions to anybody else.
These are things Territorians have to solve for ourselves; the solutions are here in the NT.”
The SA Government equally hosed down the suggestion.
“The [Steve] Marshall Government has no plans to merge South Australia with the Northern Territory,” a spokesman for SA’s Liberal Government said.
‘Why would SA want an overpriced, underperforming lemon?’
On Facebook, readers had plenty to say:
If the NT was a profitable land of milk and honey then SA would be all over it like flies on shit. There’s a reason why they don’t and it’s not the crocodiles. — Sean Trewartha
If Gunna hadn’t stuffed the NT budget with his spend, spend, spend culture this conversation wouldn’t be happening. — David Ramage
Why would SA want an over-priced, under-performing lemon… case closed — Tim Tee
It would be best if any amalgamation was across Northern Australia. The north has been largely neglected by successive governments dominated by southern politicians who are incapable of providing the infrastructure the north needs. (eg a Melbourne to Townsville and Darwin high-speed, high-capacity, all-weather standard-gauge rail line powered by natural-gas-electric locomotives . A concerted Northern Australia voice is needed for it not to be held back by Sydney and Melbourne-based politicians. — Jon Carman
There is always scrapping self government and going back to being controlled by Canberra. Seeing as we are asking for them to bail us out anyway. — Chris Fishy
Adelaide and South Australia would have a lot to gain by enhancing its trade and socio-economic relations with Asia through Darwin and the Northern Territory as one state. Alice Springs as the state capital would then be given the merit and status it deserves as the Indigenous and wider community cultural capital of the Nation. If Las Vegas can arise out of the desert so can Alice Springs — but not as a gambling capital, rather the Centralia State Capital. — Duncan Dean
Stupid idea. Merging a basket case territory won’t help. Better idea is give the NT to the Indonesians or Chinese. Solve our (your) tourist problem overnight — Steve Dawkins
Underline the word former. John Elferink was part of the train wreck that was the former, repeat former, CLP government that got tossed on the rubbish tip in no uncertain terms by the people of the NT … It would seem John Elferink sees this as a way to get back into politics because it is extremely unlikely he’d get back into the NT Parliament. As for Tim Fischer, stay in your own backyard, there’s a good chap, and get used to the term “has been”. — Peter Henri
While you’re here… are you feeling curious?