North fires up over NT state­hood push

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAGGATT tony. raggatt@ news. com. au

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.

Pic­ture: JUSTIN BRIERTY

COURAGE QUERIED: Bob Kat­ter wants the state to fol­low Scot­land’s home rule model.

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