Division of Northern Territory

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Northern Territory
Australian House of Representatives Division
Created 1922
Abolished 2001
Namesake Northern Territory

The Division of Northern Territory was an Australian Electoral Division in the Northern Territory for the Parliament of Australia. Throughout its existence, it was the only Division in the Northern Territory. At the redistribution of 21 December 2000, the Division was divided into two new divisions, which were named the Division of Solomon, which covered the area immediately around Darwin, and the Division of Lingiari, which covered the remainder of the territory.


Until 1911, the Northern Territory was a part of South Australia and from 1890 was represented in the South Australian House of Assembly by two members from the Electoral district of Northern Territory. From 1863 to 1911, Territorians had the same voting rights for representatives in both Houses of the South Australian Parliament as people living in South Australia. (see Suffrage in Australia.) This status had also qualified them as South Australian voters to vote in elections for both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament after 1901, which entitled both women and Indigenous Australians there to a vote. In 1911, however, the Northern Territory was transferred to the Commonwealth government, which also had the effect of depriving Territorians of all political representation. The first Commonwealth census held in 1911 disclosed the Territory had a non-Aboriginal population of 3,271, comprising 2,673 males and 598 females.[1]

National governments shied away from a hypothetical impasse where a few hundred Territory voters might some day hold the balance of power in an evenly divided Commonwealth Parliament,[2] but the Commonwealth Constitution did not allow for Federal electorates to cross state borders. The lack of representation became a significant factor in the trades union agitation, called the Darwin Rebellion, that led to the recall of the first Commonwealth-appointed Administrator, John A. Gilruth, in 1918 and the forced exit of his three leading officials eight months later. The Territory's non-indigenous population had increased to only 3572 by 1921.[2] In 1922, the Northern Territory Representation Act 1922 was passed by the Australian Parliament to give the Territory a single non-voting member in the House of Representatives.

The Australian electoral Division of Northern Territory created in 1922 was first contested at the 1922 federal election. The first Member of the House of Representatives for the Northern Territory was Harold George Nelson, who had led the agitation which unseated the Administrator in 1918. Before 1968, the Member for Northern Territory did not have full voting rights, and did not count for the purposes of forming government. Between 1922 and 1936, the Member for Northern Territory could speak in the House and take part in committee work, but could not vote. Between 1936 and 1959 the Member was only able to veto motions to disallow laws made for the Territory, and between 1959 and 1968, the Member could only vote on matters relating to the Territory alone. In 1968, the Member for Northern Territory acquired full voting rights.

The Division of Northern Territory was divided on 21 December 2000 into two new divisions — Division of Solomon, which covered the Darwin area, and the Division of Lingiari, which covers the remainder of the Territory — with Warren Snowdon, the last member for the united division, transferring to Lingiari.

On 19 February 2003, the new Divisions were nominally abolished and the Territory returned to a single Division, but on 28 April 2004 the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Representation in the House of Representatives) Act 2004 passed by the Australian Parliament had the effect of leaving the Northern Territory divided into two Divisions.[3]


Member Party Term
  H. G. Nelson Labor 1922–1934
  Adair Blain Independent 1934–1949
  Jock Nelson Labor 1949–1966
  Sam Calder Country 1966–1974
  Country Liberal 1974–1980
  Grant Tambling Country Liberal 1980–1983
  John Reeves Labor 1983–1984
  Paul Everingham Country Liberal 1984–1987
  Warren Snowdon Labor 1987–1996
  Nick Dondas Country Liberal 1996–1998
  Warren Snowdon Labor 1998–2001

Election results[edit]


Coordinates: 20°0′S 133°0′E / 20.000°S 133.000°E / -20.000; 133.000