AANT joins our members and all Territorians in celebrating Territory Day. On 1 July 1978, self-government was finally here, bringing with it a sense of relief and excitement that the Northern Territory could now stand on its own two feet, no longer dictated to by the Commonwealth Government.
The first Chief Minister Paul Everingham reflects on the day with a sense of achievement. “We were all very chuffed, we were elated that we finally had got there and although the challenges were very big, at the time, we thought we were up to meeting them.”
The Territory’s aspirations for self-government stems back to the early days. At the time of Federation the NT was part of South Australia before it was surrendered to the Commonwealth. In 1947, some progress was made when the Territory was allowed to make its own legislature. But it wasn’t until 1974 that real change was in the air, with Gough Whitlam telling Australians that the Northern Territory would soon be granted self-government and a Legislative Assembly was formed with 19 members.
“Even though self-government was announced in 1974, it took another four years to prise the federal public servants’ hands off the steering wheel,” says Mr Everingham.
When self-government became a reality in 1978, the Northern Territory became responsible for most state-like functions. The only exceptions related to Aboriginal land, uranium mining, national parks and some industrial relations matters.
Stay safe and have fun!