Northern Territory: “State” of Ambivalence

This year is the centenary of the handover of control of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth by South Australia in 1911.  It’s a fascinating but not very well known story with many dimensions.

I was recently asked to deliver a paper to the Northern Territory Historical Society about sundry legal, constitutional and political aspects of the handover and their relevance to subsequent political history and governance.  I took the opportunity of making a multimedia recorded version of the presentation for CDU students.  However I thought I might also share it with any interested Troppo readers.  Apart from being a really interesting story in itself, the presentation will give you some idea of how we go about delivering lecture material to our students at CDU Law School (a topic recently discussed here).

Warning – the presentation lasts a bit over an hour but you can pause it whenever you like and navigate freely to sub-topics that interest you.

Long-time readers may note that the introductory music is from Jen’s and my wedding album and was performed by a Melbourne-based band led by a veteran pseudonymous Troppo commentator who should remain nameless for similar reasons to the Dark Lord of Mordor.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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12 years ago

Mmyeah…needs more theremin.

Clicked on the link before reading that last para. I was listening to the intro and thinking, “WTF?! Ken’s got _hir_ to arrange the intro music to his preso?!”.

Did your album look like a David Lynch montage?

Nicholas Gruen
12 years ago

I don’t think we have a Troppo policy on flatout high handed stupidity do we?

Bernard Leckning
12 years ago

Thanks for the link, Ken. An insightful lecture that goes to the heart of a deceptively complex and layered history and society.

But, I would have thought that a salient and contemporary factor in the “epidemiology” of Tropical Ambivalence Syndrome was missing: the Territory’s fluctuating population, especially due to high levels of interstate migration. Forgive me if it was mentioned, I did skip past a few minutes of the lecture here and there.

I have to remark that it is a tad ironic that your views on statehood seem a little vague and apprehensive (perhaps an exemplary case of the Tropical Ambivalence Syndrome, aye?).

Gerritson and Hansen as well as Rothwell seem to be suggesting that the problems with governance in the Territory are systemic. Your view, if I’m not mistaken, seems to indicate a history of endemic issues within a generally and increasingly functional system. Nevertheless, you’re implying that we don’t necessarily have the best system we could/should have, partly a problem of our brand of federalism. Centralism seems to continue apace because it works (I think we are a very pragmatic, technocratic type of polity), but it has costs surrounding the ongoing effectiveness of government. If the NT constitutes little more than a LGA “down south” (from a population perspective), wouldn’t it be more efficient and effective to allow some centralisation of service delivery rather than the inefficient (expensive and overlapping) regime that seems to be in place now? Wouldn’t this reduce the administrative burdens on a “small” government over a “large” territory? Wouldn’t something like this allow the NTG to focus more efficiently on issues that have a more localised scope?

Bernard Leckning
12 years ago

Also, the presentation seemed to cut off the audio a couple of seconds early. I’m not sure if it’s just me on my Mac using FF or if it’s a problem with the initial recording (e.g. audio is cut off mid-sentence on a couple of slides, but the running time indicates that I’ve reached the end of the recorded audio for the slide). I’m sorry I can’t point you to exact slides – it’s taking me too long to load the presentation again.