Records 1978

NT and Australia in 1978

This page has a historical overview of the Northern Territory (NT) and Australia in 1978.

In 1978 the Commonwealth passed the Northern Territory (Self Government) Act 1978, establishing the NT as a distinct political entity under the Crown, with limited state-like powers, effective on 1 July 1978. 

The Act gave the NT self-government, extending local autonomy to the Legislative Assembly of the NT, and providing power to the Administrator to grant or deny assent to proposed law. 

After this, the first Ministry of the new NT Government was appointed and the Legislative Assembly was given authority and responsibility for the finances of the government of the NT.

The 1978 Cabinet submissions and decisions show the challenges and opportunities the first Cabinet of a newly self-governed NT had to meet in order to establish a governance framework. 

Cabinet submissions

In 1978, the NT Cabinet received submissions relating to all of the following:

  • establishing the administration of the Northern Territory Government after self-government
  • local government for Katherine, Tennant Creek and "small and isolated communities"
  • Aboriginal health programs
  • the construction of community health centres
  • the development of the Ayers Rock Resort at Yulara
  • establishment of casinos in Darwin and Alice Springs
  • major project developments for the reconstruction of Darwin, including the Museum and Art Gallery at Bullocky Point
  • the development of the Araluen Cultural Complex in Alice Springs
  • the McArthur River Project in the Gulf of Carpentaria region and the Ranger Uranium Project in the Alligator Rivers region.

Cabinet discussions

Cabinet deliberations ranged over the following matters: 

  • introduction of new legislation after the transfer of powers from the Commonwealth 
  • establishment of various NT public service functions
  • approval of the 1978 to 1979 budget
  • establishment of government supply and tender boards
  • policy on regionalisation of government operations
  • civil works programs
  • law and order 
  • motor vehicle registration charges 
  • setting rates of stamp duty
  • government advisory committees.

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Last updated: 14 April 2021

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