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Community leader

Empowering communities under Paul Hasluck, Minister for Territories

By the 1960s, Territorians 'were beginning to see their role as citizens in a rapidly evolving community', as Harry Giese observed. 'Services would grow and have some life in them for as long as they were operated and managed by the community itself.'

There had been few functioning self-managed community groups in Northern Territory towns in the early 1950s, although the Country Women's Association had branches in Tennant Creek, Katherine and Alice Springs, as well as Darwin. Local government simply didn’t exist. The best that people had managed to this point were Progress Associations. Halls were needed where people of all ages ‘could come together and talk about community problems, and where they could have meetings’ and store equipment. Through the Welfare Branch of the Northern Territory Administration grants and loans of up to 300,000 pounds for 60 years at 1 per cent interest were offered to get activities underway. Boarding hostels, YMCAs and YWCAs, church, youth, pre-school and elderly groups were all assisted. Housekeepers were provided for families in times of crisis. These were the only programs of their kind in Australia.

Gradually Territory citizens took responsibility for their own local services. By the early 1960s, Town Management Boards had been set up in the major towns to advise the Administrator on community affairs.

During Paul Hasluck's term as Minister, the Territory's budget increased from 6.12 million pounds in 1951-52 to 25 million pounds in 1963-64. This enabled greater provision of services and utilities, better administration and the creation of an environment in which both public and private enterprises could thrive. 

See discussion, Harry Giese, Interviews, NTRS 226, TS 755, Tapes 29, 26, 12, 1987-94 and Reg Marsh, Interview, NTRS 226, TS 90 , 1984, both at the Northern Territory Archives Service

Australia. Northern Development: Progress in the Northern Territory, statement by the Minister for Territories, Paul Hasluck, Canberra, 1962

NLA: MS5274, Box 38, The Northern Territory 1951-1963, Introduction, page 77