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Australian Capital Territory

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Senate (Representation of Territories) Act 1973 (Cth)
Senate (Representation of Territories) Act 1973 (Cth), cover
Senate (Representation of Territories) Act 1973 (Cth), p1
Senate (Representation of Territories) Act 1973 (Cth), p2
Senate (Representation of Territories) Act 1973 (Cth), p3
This document, enacted on 7 August 1974, provides for Senate representation with two Senate seats for the Northern Territory and two for the Australian Capital Territory with the Jervis Bay Territory. The size of the Senate was thus expanded to 64 seats.
Under the Australian Constitution the Senate is the ‘States’ House’, and neither the Northern Territory nor the ACT were represented there.

In 1973 the Labor government of Gough Whitlam (1972-1975) introduced this Act and the ACT Representation (House of Representatives) Act to increase the size of the parliament by granting representation in both Houses to the ACT and the Northern Territory.

The government did not have the numbers in the Senate and several Bills were blocked there. This Bill was one of those cited as grounds for the double dissolution of parliament under the ‘deadlock’ provisions of Section 57 of Australia’s Constitution. This double dissolution, on 11 April 1974, was only the third in the history of the Parliament – the others were in 1914 and 1951.

An election for the House of Representatives and the Senate was held on 18 May 1974. This Bill was passed at the joint sitting of both Houses on 6–7 August and the Assent enacting the Bill was signed the day after it was passed at the joint sitting.

The validity of this Act was challenged in the High Court in the First Territory Senators case. The High Court found that the Commonwealth Electoral Act (No. 2) 1973, this Senate (Representation of Territories) Act 1973 and the Representation Act 1973 ‘had been duly passed by both Houses of Parliament within the meaning of s.57’ and upheld.

The first election for the new Senate seats was on 14 December 1975, following the dismissal of the Whitlam government by the Governor-General Sir John Kerr.


Souter, Gavin, Acts of Parliament, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1988.

Sparke, Eric, Canberra 1954–1980, Australian Government Printing Service, Canberra, 1988.

Long Title:An Act to Provide for the Representation in the Senate of the Australian Capital Territory, the Jervis Bay Territory and the Northern Territory of Australia (Act 39 of 1974)
No. of pages:Cover + 4 pages
Measurements:28 x 21.5 cm
Provenance:The Senate and the House of Representatives
Features:The Assent signature of the Governor-General Sir John Kerr on page 3
Location & Copyright:National Archives of Australia
Reference:NAA: A1559, 1974/39