North fires up over NT statehood push
SUPPORT for the Northern Territory becoming a state by 2018 has reignited the independence push in North Queensland.
However, rather than statehood, North Queenslanders could be offered a vote on Scotland’s home rule model in a referendum at council elections due in March next year.
Federal MP and Katter’s Australian Party leader Bob Katter said he would be writing to North Queensland councils asking for a referendum.
“I want a referendum ... similar to that in place in Scotland,” Mr Katter said.
“There should be no taxation without representation.”
The issue has resurfaced with the surprise move by federal, state and territory leaders to back the Northern Territory to become Australia’s seventh state in 2018.
It was raised by NT Chief Minister Adam Giles and a formal statement from last week’s Leaders Retreat included confirmation federal and state leaders supported the push for NT statehood. A longtime advocate for North Queensland statehood, Townsville lawyer Peter Raffles, yesterday challenged Katter’s Australian Party to force the issue in State Parliament.
Mr Raffles said there had never been a better time with three North Queensland MPs, including two KAP MPs, holding the balance of power.
“They have the balance of power; have they the courage to go and put the issue back on the table and say they want a referendum?” he said.
Mr Katter and Mount Isa MP Robbie Katter both supported self- determination but stepped back from confirming they would force the issue.
“We don’t want to railroad people if we can avoid it,” Bob Katter said.
He sounded a warning to the State Government.
“If they think we are going to continue to see North Queensland treated with contempt, they have a big shock coming to them.
Robbie Katter said he was “solidly behind” rule for North Queensland but added their position did not ensure all outcomes.
Townsville economist Colin Dwyer said North Queensland had four times the population and gross product of the NT yet had less representation in Federal Parliament.
COURAGE QUERIED: Bob Katter wants the state to follow Scotland’s home rule model.