Darwin

New laws to legalise abortions were passed by the Northern Territory parliament on March 21. The bill passed by 20 votes to four after a lengthy and emotional debate.

The new laws mean the NT joins the ACT, Victoria and Tasmania in decriminalising abortion and stands in stark contrast to NSW and Queensland, which have Australia’s most restrictive abortion legislation.

The West Papuan Friendship Mural in the Darwin CBD, which has become a poignant symbol of solidarity between the people of West Papua and Australia, was half painted over on March 4 after strong pressure from the Indonesian Consulate.

The mural was painted in June 2015 as part of a week of action in solidarity the West Papuan struggle for independence from Indonesia.

The Court of Disputed Returns has dismissed an application by the Northern Territory Electoral Commission to render void the election of Yingiya Guyula to the Northern Territory seat of Nhulumbuy.

Guyula is a Yolngu leader who ran on a platform of treaty and bicultural education for the Yolngu majority seat in the August 27 NT election. After preferences were distributed, Guyula toppled the sitting Labor member Lynne Walker by eight votes. Walker was the only Labor candidate to lose their seat in that election.

The deadline for submissions to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory has been extended by four months.

The royal commission was announced on July 26 by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to investigate allegations of abuse of minors in the NT’s child detention system.

It came on the back of a July 25 Four Corners episode that showed youth detainees being stripped, beaten and strapped into a chair in “Guantanamo-style” conditions.

The federal environment minister Josh Frydenberg has again approved the use of a marine supply base at Port Melville in the Tiwi Islands without an environmental impact assessment and with none of the environmental conditions that were previously imposed.

A spokesperson for Frydenberg said on December 15: “The department has decided the operation of a marine supply base at Port Melville is not likely to have a significant impact on the environment and can proceed without further assessment under national environment law.

The Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation and the University of Tasmania have joined forces for a refreshing new study on Black–white relations in Darwin.

Telling it like it is: Aboriginal perspectives on race and race relations is the “first study to undertake comprehensive research on how Aboriginal people view settler Australians and settler Australian culture”, according to UTas’s announcement of the study’s early findings.

The Federal Court has overturned the federal government’s decision to allow a $180 million deep sea port on Melville Island near Darwin without an environmental assessment.

Approval of the Port Melville oil and gas marine supply base on the banks of the near pristine Apsley Strait was reversed on October 21 after legal action by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) on behalf of Environment Centre NT (ECNT).

The decision means the operation of the base at Port Melville now has no Commonwealth approval and all operations must cease.  

Larrakia welcome to country and smoking ceremony

Two hundred people rallied outside Parliament House in Darwin on October 18, demanding the new Labor government keep its pre-election promise for a broad scientific inquiry into the unconventional gas industry and a moratorium on shale gas fracking.

Aboriginal candidate Yingiya Mark Guyula has won an upset in the seat of Nhulunbuy, toppling sitting member and deputy-chief-minister-to-be Lynne Walker by only eight votes after preferences and recounts on September 9.

Guyula delivered the NT Labor Party its only defeat in the August 28 election — it now holds a whopping 18 seats in the 25-seat parliament. The seat was previously seen a safe one for the popular Walker.

Northern Territory voters kicked out the ruling Country Liberal Party (CLP) government on August 27 in what has been described as an “election bloodbath”. Voters rejected the CLP for many reasons, which opens up the possibility of a more progressive politics in the NT.
ABC's Four Corners released CCTV footage on July 25 of horrific abuse of youth offenders in Darwin's Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, spanning six years of consistent abuse by detention centre staff of repeat offenders as young as 11 years old. Some of the footage shows systematic abuse of youth offender Dylan Voller. Voller can be seen in solitary confinement being stripped naked and held down by staff. He can be seen beaten in front of other inmates for taking too long on the phone. Other incidents show guards trying to block cameras before beginning a round of abuse.
The Australian government released its National Strategy on International Students 2025 in April. At its heart lies a strategy for exploiting international students and increasing the commercialisation of the education sector. It aims to swindle hundreds of thousands of international students and normalise the neoliberal idea that students are consumers and that education and learning are commodities.
Earlier this month, Department of Employment figures about the government's remote Work for the Dole scheme proved what critics have known for some time: the policy is failing. In Arnhem Land, people are buying less food since tough Work for the Dole penalties were introduced.
A report released by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis on May 19 has said that the $800 million gas pipeline planned for the Northern Territory is economically unviable, to the extent that it is described as the “whitest of white elephants”. The pipeline, known as the North East Gas Interconnector (NEGI), has been the crown of the NT Country Liberal Party’s economic strategy in the lead-up to the August election. The pipeline is designed to transport the vast shale gas reserves in the NT from Tennant Creek to Mt Isa for sale to the rest of the world.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles announced a new policy on Facebookfor the Territory election in August on May 14. The policy, called “Knowledge Territory”, promises $500 education vouchers if the Territory receives royalty payments from onshore gas fracking. The ALP has announced it will declare a moratorium on fracking if it wins the election and this is Giles’ latest attempt to sell the Country Liberal Party’s position of supporting gas fracking across the Territory.

On March 27, international award-winning artist Gurrumul Yunupingu was admitted to Royal Darwin Hospital vomiting blood and unable to talk. The treatment he received there has led to accusations of structural racism in the NT health system. Gurrumul has suffered from Hepatitis B since he was three years' old, and his liver started bleeding as a result of his condition, causing him to vomit blood. His friends and family had taken him to hospital and left him there, confident he would be quickly treated and come home safe.

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