The Merrepen Arts Festival continues today, with a great showcase of art and a range of activities including FREE kids fun.
I joined with the local Malak Malak people yesterday to officially open the Festival.
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From breathtaking lush national parks, stunning waterfalls and golden beaches of the top end to sunburnt sand dunes and the wild outback terrain of the south, the Northern Territory is a vast environment covering more than 1.3 million sq kms with a population of about 230,000.
Famous for its relaxed lifestyle, the Territory’s people are as diverse as its terrain. More than 100 nationalities are represented. One quarter of the Territory population is Indigenous.
Most of the Territory’s population live in Darwin, with other major centres being Palmerston, Alice Springs, Katherine, Nhulunbuy, Tennant Creek, Wadeye, Jabiru and Yulara.
In the Senate, the Northern Territory is the largest electorate boundary in Australia, encompassing Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands thousands of kilometres north-west of the Australian mainland in the Indian Ocean. Mining, exports including oil, gas and iron-ore, and agriculture largely drive the economy, with tourism also a major industry.
The Territory has two Federal members in the House of Representatives who represent the seats of Solomon and Lingiari. The Solomon electorate includes the cities of Darwin and Palmerston, while the Lingiari electorate includes the rest of the Territory as well as the Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) islands. There are two Senators for the Northern Territory.
I was proud to stand up as Country Liberal Party Senator for the Northern Territory and speak to the restoration of the Territory's right to be treated as equal to every other state in this country. Second Reading speech below on Restoring Territory Rights (Assisted Suicide Legislation) Bill 2015.
I was born in London in 1956 and spent my early years between Malaysia and Malawi in Africa and England. I was educated in England and Australia.
From 1985 when I moved to the Northern Territory, I worked across a number of industries, including mining, fishing, maritime salvage, security and engineering.
Six years living off the coast of Arnhem Land really cemented my understanding of, and keen interest in the issues facing Australia’s first people, particularly those living in remote areas. From 1991 I settled in Darwin and there’s nowhere better to live than in our wonderful Northern Territory.
Since becoming a Country Liberal Party Senator for the Northern Territory in the Australian Parliament in October 2001, I’ve been privileged to hold a wide variety of portfolios as both a Minister in the Howard Government and as a Shadow Minister in Opposition.
In the Parliament, I sit with the National Party, and since September 2013 have been the party’s leader in the Senate. I take a very grassroots approach to my work as Senator, engaging a wide variety of issues spanning across my Ministerial responsibilities but also advocating for our wonderful Northern Territory.
The greatest honour I’ve had in my parliamentary career is to serve as the Minister for Indigenous Affairs in the Federal Government. The Coalition Government is absolutely committed to tackling disadvantage, wherever it occurs, including in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.