Leaders’ retreat gives nod to NT statehood

Described as Australia’s first “Camp David” summit, the leaders of Australia’s three tiers of government unanimously backed a statehood bid for the Northern Territory and keep GST changes on the table as they prepare to knuckle down on federation reform at the next COAG meeting.

It was a historic first at a historic location. One prime minister, six premiers, two chief ministers and the president of the Australian Local Government Association met outside the normal layers of Council of Australian Governments protocol in the comfort of the Regency-style Victoria Barracks in Sydney on Wednesday.

Adam Giles

Adam Giles

Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles asked for support for the NT to become Australia’s seventh state by July 1, 2018 — the 40-year anniversary of self government, and 20 years after the failed 1998 referendum. The resolve for NT statehood was agreed to unanimously. Giles will report on progress at the next meeting of COAG later this year.

The leaders issued a communique declaring that “now is the time for leadership” in federation reform, or Australians would face the risk of declining services in the future:

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