• Santa Teresa Aboriginal Community, 80 kilometres east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory (AAP)Source: AAP
Looking back at its rich history reveals the NT has not always governed itself, while a landmark referendum on Statehood in 1998 would be controversially and narrowly voted down by Territorians, with a majority 51.3 percent no vote.
23 Jul 2015 - 6:28 PM  UPDATED 23 Jul 2015 - 6:28 PM

Back in the 1800s the Northern Territory was once part of colonial New South Wales before control passed to South Australia.

After Federation, the new Commonwealth Government took over responsibity for the Territory in the early 1900s.

But it wasn't until 1978 that the Northern Territory was granted self-government.

Fast forward to October 1998 and the long awaited referendum on statehood was held, but with a surprising result.

Territorians were asked yes or no to whether the NT should become a State.

The referendum was unsuccessful, with a slim majority of 51.3 percent saying no.

Nothing changes and I've been making that point but quite clearly, Territorians were forming up or firming up to the view that they would lose something, when as in fact they had everything to gain

One of the major reasons attributed to Territorians voting 'no' was because of a lack of trust in those responsible for the process and as a protest against the then Country Liberal Party's Chief Minister, Shane Stone who was a major backer of statehood.

The 'no' result would cost Shane Stone his leadership.

It was found that many Indigenous Territorians voted 'no' out of fear that the Country Liberal Party would take control of land rights and cultural rights.

A fresh push for a community-based statehood campaign was announced in 2003 by then Labor Chief Minister Clare Martin and a Statehood Steering Committee appointed.

But despite wide consultation throughout the Territory, that grassroots process ended in 2012, again due to political differences in the NT Parliament.

Now another NT Chief Minister is pushing for the issue to be on the national agenda with CLP Chief Minister Adam Giles gaining support from State Premiers and the Prime Minister at the COAG leaders meeting in July.