Records 1979

Legislation Cabinet decisions

There was a lot of legislative change in the Northern Territory (NT) in 1979. Of almost 500 documents put before Cabinet in 1979, over 100 related to legislative initiatives.

This page presents three Cabinet decisions about legislation.

From the earliest days of self-government, there was a focus on providing the best opportunities for development of the Territory. In many areas this needed a new or updated legislative framework. 

With the transfer of self-government responsibilities from the Commonwealth largely complete, in August 1979 Cabinet decided that it was appropriate for the Territory to take control of state-type marine responsibilities and functions. 

This would need an amendment to the existing NT marine legislation to make sure it was sensitive to the needs of intra-territory shipping to give the NT control over a wide range of marine matters of vital interest including legal, administration planning and policy matters. 

While the proposed new legislation would apply to the fishing industry, commercial vessels, seafarers and shipowners, the Cabinet submission noted that the –

"Owners of fishing dingies [sic], car top boats and similar small vessels powered by small outboard motors may object to the control of such boats where they are to be operated in inland waters only... These controls will be seen by many as an unnecessary and inconvenient restriction on a popular recreational sport and are not proposed for inclusion in the legislation at this stage." (submission No. 701 – page 7)

The extent of functions to be transferred, funding and staff arrangements was to be subject to negotiations with the Federal Government through the Inter-Departmental Committee on Constitutional Development for the Northern Territory.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 701 / decision number 813 of 15 August 1979 PDF (1.3 MB).

At the same meeting, Cabinet decided to accept responsibility for all state-type air transport responsibilities and functions from the Commonwealth, except for air safety and navigation. 

This transfer was subject to arrangements with the Federal Government through the IDC on Constitutional Development for the Northern Territory. 

The draft policy on which the legislation would be based covered aerial work (mustering, surveying etc.), charter air services and regular air services.[24]

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 703 / decision number 815 of 15 August 1979 PDF (1.4 MB).

With the transportation of uranium concentrates in the NT due to start in early 1980, the Territory needed to develop its own legislation to regulate the possession, transport, handling and packaging of radioactive ores and concentrates to safeguard people and the environment. 

In September 1979, Cabinet approved the drafting of the Radioactive Ores and Concentrates (Packaging and Transport) Act which was passed by the Legislative Assembly and commenced operation in July 1980. 

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 756 / decision number 876 of 21 September 1979 PDF (1.1 MB).

Cabinet approved the introduction of other Acts including the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, designed to regulate and license motor vehicle dealers and give consumers maximum protection when purchasing a vehicle, and amendments to the Traffic Act to simplify the legislation concerning breath testing and breath analysis and to introduce compulsory random breath testing. 

Other Acts to be introduced included the Education Act, Mental Health Act, Firearms Act, the Fisheries Act and the Hospital Management Boards Act.

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Last updated: 14 April 2021

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