Opinion Number. 1377


Northern territory
territories power: power to divide northern territory: whether territory accepted or acquired by Commonwealth must be governed as whole

Key Legislation

Constitution s 122

The Secretary, Home and Territories Department

The Secretary to the Home and Territories Department has forwarded for advice the following memorandum:

The following is an extract from certain Notes prepared by Mr C. W. D. Conacher, Managing Director, Northern Agency Ltd., on the North Australia Bill, which has been submitted to the Minister:

Section 5(1)–I have heard legal opinion to the effect that it is doubtful if the Constitution permits the Government to divide the Northern Territory.

The Minister would be glad if you would kindly look carefully into the point raised, and favour him with an opinion in regard thereto at as early a moment as possible.

Section 122 of the Constitution provides as follows:

The Parliament may make laws for the government of any territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.

I do not think that section requires that territory accepted or acquired by the Commonwealth must be governed as a whole.

In my opinion, there is no legal objection to the Northern Territory being divided in the manner proposed by the Northern Australia Bill.

[Vol. 22, p. 399]