The Northern Territory is a federal territory of Australia. The capital city is Darwin; the other two sizable settlements are Alice Springs (in the desert interior 1 500 km to the south) and Katherine (near the base of the Top End). Residents of the Northern Territory are often known simply as 'Territorians'.
There were four early attempts to settle the harsh environment of the northern coast, of which three failed in starvation and despair. The Northern Territory was part of New South Wales from 1825 to 1863 and was later part of South Australia from 1863 to 1911. On January 1, 1911, a decade after federation, the Northern Territory was separated from South Australia and transferred to Commonwealth control. During World War II, most of the Top End was placed under military government. This is the only time that an Australian state or territory has been under military control. After the war, control for the entire area was handed back to the Commonwealth. In 1978 the Territory was granted responsible government, with a Legislative Assembly headed by a Chief Minister.
The Northern Territory was briefly one of the few places in the world with legal voluntary euthanasia, until the Federal Parliament overturned the legislation. Before the overriding legislation was enacted, three people had been voluntarily euthanasised by Dr Philip Nitschke.
The territory has a legislative assembly. Whilst this assembly exercises roughly the same powers as the governments of the states of Australia, it does so by delegation of powers from the commonwealth government, rather than by any constitutional right.
For several years there has been agitation for full statehood. A referendum was held on the issue in 1998 which failed. This was a shock to both the Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments, for opinion polls showed most Territorians supported statehood. However, under the Australian Constitution, the Federal government may set the terms of entry to full statehood. The Northern Territory was offered 3 Senators, rather than the full complement of 12. (With 12 Senate seats, a Territorian vote would have been worth more than 30 votes in New South Wales or Victoria.) Alongside what was cited as an arrogant approach adopted by then Chief Minister Shane Stone , it is believed that most Territorians were reluctant to adopt the offer which was made.
The current head of government is Chief Minister Clare Martin who led the Australian Labor Party to their first Northern Territory electoral victory in August 2001.
The territory is represented in the Commonwealth parliament by two members in the House of Representatives and two members in the Senate.
At the local government level, there are 6 incorporated municipalities (3 town councils, 1 shire and 2 cities), 30 'community government councils' and 26 other bodies. See: Local Government Areas of the Northern Territory
There are many very small settlements scattered across the Territory but the larger population centres are located on the single sealed road that links Darwin to southern Australia, the Stuart Highway, known to locals simply as "the track".
The Northern Territory is also home to two spectacular natural rock formations, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), which are sacred to the local Aborigines and which have become major tourist attractions.
In the northern part of the territory lies Kakadu National Park, which features breathtaking wetlands and native wildlife. To the north of that lies the Arafura Sea, and to the east lies Arnhem Land, whose regional centre is Maningrida on the Liverpool River delta.
- Aligator River
- Daly River
- McArthur River
- Roper River
- Todd River
Victoria River, which flows for 560 kilometres until it enters the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf in the Timor Sea.
The population of the Northern Territory is only about 1% of the total population of Australia.
The Northern Territory's alcohol consumption is one of the highest in the world, and certainly the highest in Australia. In 2001 the alcohol consumption rate was estimated at 1,120 standard drinks, per person, per year.
The New Territories economy comprises mostly primary extractive industries, together with a significant amount of tourism.
The prinicipal mining operations are:
- Northern Territory Government of Australia http://www.nt.gov.au/
Last updated: 02-06-2005 20:24:34
Last updated: 04-25-2005 03:06:01