Northern Territory

Northern Territory

Northern Territory, territory (1991 pop. 132,780), 520,280 sq mi (1,347,525 sq km), N central Australia. It is bounded on the N by the Timor Sea, the Arafura Sea, and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Darwin is the territorial capital. In the north are lowlands, in the southeast are low plains sloping toward the Lake Eyre depression, and in the southwest are the MacDonnell Ranges. The main rivers are the Victoria, Daly, Adelaide, and Roper, all of which drain into the northern seas. The climate in the north is tropical, with a monsoon season; the south becomes colder and drier as the elevation rises.

About three fourths of the population live in the Darwin and Alice Springs metropolitan areas. Australian aborigines represent nearly one fourth of the Northern Territory's population and own the land of 15 reservations with a total area of 94,000 sq mi (243,460 sq km); the Arnhem Land preserve is the largest. Much of this land is important to the uranium mining and tourist industries.

The territory's economic development has been accelerating in recent years. Gold is worked to a small extent; uranium, bauxite, manganese, iron, lead, and zinc deposits are increasingly exploited. Stockbreeding, encouraged by government development projects, is the major rural activity. There is very little farming in the territory. Peanuts, pearl shell, and trepang are the principal exports.

Northern Territory's first settlement was established at Port Essington in 1824 in an attempt to forestall French colonization. The settlement failed, and permanent settlement did not resume until 1869. Northern Territory was part of New South Wales from 1825 to 1863 and of South Australia from 1863 to 1911. Transferred to direct rule by the commonwealth in 1911, it was divided into two territories in 1926 but was reunited in 1931.

In 1974, the commonwealth-appointed Legislative Council was replaced by a fully elected Legislative Assembly. In 1978, full self-goverment was granted to the Territory, and in the 1990s statehood became a prominent political issue. Also politically important in recent years has been the issue of the treatment of and opportunities for the aboriginal population. The Northern Territory elects a member with full voting rights to the Australian House of Representatives.

In Australia, a Chief Minister is the head of government of a self-governing territory, while the head of government of a state is a Premier.

The Chief Minister is appointed by the Administrator of the Northern Territory, who in normal circumstances will appoint the head of whatever party holds the majority of seats in the legislature of the territory (in the Northern Territory, the Legislative Assembly). However, in times of constitutional crisis the Administrator can appoint someone else as Chief Minister.

Chief Ministers of the Northern Territory

Chief Minister Party Period in office
  Dr Goff Letts 1 Country Liberal Party 1974 - 1977
  Paul Everingham Country Liberal Party 1977 - 1984
  Ian Tuxworth Country Liberal Party 1984 - 1986
  Stephen Hatton Country Liberal Party 1986 - 1988
  Marshall Perron Country Liberal Party 1988 - 1995
  Shane Stone Country Liberal Party 1995 - 1999
  Denis Burke Country Liberal Party 1999 - 2001
  Clare Martin Australian Labor Party 2001 - 2007
  Paul Henderson Australian Labor Party 2007 - present

1 While the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly was created in 1974, self-government was not granted until 1978. As a result, members of the executive in the first parliament (1974-1977) and the first eighteen months of the second were known by alternative titles. While Dr Goff Letts and his successor Paul Everingham were officially known as Majority Leaders, their function was effectively the same as that of a Chief Minister from 1978.

Also See

List of Chief Ministers of the Northern Territory by time in office

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