Northern Territory Legislative Council was the partly elected
governing body of the
Northern Territory of
Australia from 1947 until
its replacement by the fully elected
Northern Territory Legislative
Assembly in 1974.
Prior to 1947, there had been several attempts by sections of the
Northern Territory population to introduce a self-governing body for
the region. In 1943, the Minister for External Affairs,
HV Evatt (who
at that time had responsibility for the Northern Territory)
recommended the foundation of a Legislative Council, arguing that
Northern Territorians should have the same self-governing rights as
those living in Australian administered New Guinea.
In 1947, Prime Minister
Ben Chifley government created a 13-member
Legislative Council consisting of six elected members and seven
nominated by the federal government, including the Administrator of
the Northern Territory, who held both deliberative and casting
votes. The Council could "make Ordinances for the peace, order and
good government of the Territory" but could be vetoed by the federal
government and had no authority over money matters.
The total enrolment for the 1947 election was 4443, all of whom were
white. The Territory was split into five electorates: Darwin, Alice
Springs, Tennant Creek, Batchelor and Stuart (see Table for further
Darwin and surrounds
Alice Springs and surrounds
Tennant Creek and surrounds
All area north of latitude 20 degrees excluding Darwin
All area south of latitude 20 degrees excluding
Alice Springs and
There were redistributions in 1959 (increasing the number of
electorates to eight), 1962, 1965 and 1968 (eleven electorates).
Every candidate at the 1947 election was an independent and it was not
until the 1951 election that the Country Party became the first
political party to field a candidate. Later the Australian Labor Party
ran candidates and usually returned between two and four members at
each election, while the North
Australia Party formed in 1965 and
elected Tony Greatorex, who then joined the Country Party. The
longest-serving member of the
Northern Territory Legislative Council
Harry C. Giese
Harry C. Giese from 1954-73.
Legislative Council members continued to oppose the federal
government's reluctance to grant them more power. The Government
believed that the
Northern Territory needed to be self-supporting
before greater powers could be given. This stand-off led to the
elected members resigning their seats en masse in protest in April
1958. They were all re-elected at subsequent by-elections, leading to
a promise from the federal government of a new structure encompassing
eight elected members, six government appointees and three nominees to
be drawn from outside the public service.
In 1962, indigenous people first gained the franchise to vote in
Territory elections, although none sat on Council throughout its
existence. Previous to this, the only non-white people eligible to
vote were Māori.
Further reforms were made in 1965, when the Administrator was replaced
by an elected Council President, and in 1968 when the three
non-government nominees were replaced by 3 further elected members.
However, the Commonwealth still held the right of veto.
In 1973, the
Gough Whitlam led federal Labor government formed a joint
committee of parliament to consider the establishment of a Legislative
Assembly in the
Northern Territory and as a response, the Legislative
Council was abolished to make way for a fully elected Legislative
Assembly, which held its first election in 1974.
^ a b c d e f g Jaensch, D. (1990) The Legislative Council of the
Northern Territory: An Electoral History 1947–1974, Australian
National University North
Australia Research Unit, Darwin.
^ a b Powell, A. (1988) Far Country: A Short History of the Northern
Territory, Melbourne University Press, Carlton.
^ a b Jaensch, D. (2003) "Northern Territory", Australian Politics and
Government, ed. Moon, J. & Sharman, C., Cambridge University
Press. ISBN 0-521-82507-5.
Government of the Northern Territory
Deputy Chief Minister
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
Other courts a