Crikey understands that it’s extremely unlikely that Parliament will return during the winter break, despite the Prime Minister promising a special session if necessary to debate and pass the legislation for the NT intervention.
To recap, here’s what Howard told the ABC in late June:
I think we do if we amend the Northern Territory Land Rights Act and the Northern Territory Self Government Act to the extent required … We do need to legislate and our advice is we can implement all of these things provided we’re willing to make amendments to those two pieces of legislation. We will do that and as soon as the legislation is ready, if necessary it will be presented to a special sitting of Parliament convened during the winter recess.
Senior sources have indicated to Crikey that an exceptional sitting won’t happen because of dissatisfaction within key government portfolios needed to implement the plans.
The discontent centres on a lack of consultation and proper consideration of the practicalities involved with enacting the NT operation.
Watch as the government will attempt to spin all of this as purely the result of nit-picking and dog in the manger behaviour from the opposition and critics of the plan. In truth, Howard is having troubles silencing the critic within.
Despite the obvious virtues of what the PM is attempting to achieve, it seems he simply hasn’t learned the lessons of the $10 billion bugger-up that was his Murray-Darling plan.
This is policy on the run and a sign of a rattled government grabbing at straws before it thinks.