Senate debates

Thursday, 4 August 2022


Restoring Territory Rights Bill 2022

1:48 pm

Photo of David PocockDavid Pocock (ACT, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

This has been a history-making week. Today the House of Representatives passed the government's climate change bill, legislating for the first time a 2030 and a 2050 target. Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the Restoring Territory Rights Bill. The next time we sit in this place, we will have to vote on both of these critical pieces of legislation. Today I would like to talk about the latter.

To my new colleagues: I look forward to having discussions about the territory rights bill and your support for giving the people in my electorate the same rights as the people who live in yours. The people of the ACT and Northern Territory deserve the same democratic rights as those who live in the states. Someone who lives in Tuggeranong or Gungahlin should have the same rights as people who live just across the border in Queanbeyan.

The bill simply seeks to restore rights that were removed from the territories in 1997. I ask you to join with me in putting an end to this quarter-century-old injustice. The bill enables the people of the NT and ACT, through our elected territory parliaments, to have the conversation on whether they want to legislate a voluntary assisted dying scheme. Every state has now had this debate, starting with Victoria and ending with New South Wales. There is no reason the ACT and NT shouldn't be able to engage in the same discussions.

I acknowledge the deeply-held convictions on this matter, but I also remind everyone that no-one is being asked to actually legislate on voluntary assisted dying in this place. This is about territory rights and whether or not we think that people who live in the territories should have the same rights as those who live in the states when it comes to debating and legislating voluntary assisted dying.