2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to inform the House as to the date which will be set aside for the further consideration of the Fire Insurance Bill?
– I am not able to fix the date for the consideration of that or any other item of private business, but if, as has been the practice in the past, opportunities occur towards the close of the session, in the intervals of dealing with necessary Government measures, honorable members will be permitted to take advantage of them.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the remarks made by the Honorable V. L. Solomon yesterday in the South Australian
Parliament, especially to the statement that the honorable and learned gentleman’s recent utterances have shown that the question of transferring the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth has been shelved?
– I have read the reported statements, which are entirely inaccurate, so far as they imply that the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth has ceased to be a live question with this Government. As the honorable member knows, communications have been passing between this Government and the Government of South Australia, in addition to the correspondence on the subject of the transfer of the Northern Territory ; but I recognise that, in view of the political crisis which may be imminent in South Australia, it would not be judicious to press matters unduly. I regret that the references to the matter appear not to have been made in the interest of either the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth, dr South Australia.
– I should like to ask a further question of the Prime Minister, and, by way of explanation, I shall quote from the speech of the Prime Minister delivered upon the motion of the honorable member for Grey with reference to the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealths The Prime Minister is reported at page 1068 of Hansard, of 5th July last, as having stated -
If they come down with a practical proposal, we will with pleasure and promptness submit the matter to this House. What we want to get from them - if I may be pardoned for saying so, with every respect for their previous letters on the subject - is a reasonable offer. I look upon the proposal, directing us to construct a railway, and dictating conditions with regard to it, as not being such an offer as we ought to be asked consider.
He said further -
I trust that we shall soon be able to deal with a business question in a business-like manner.
Are we to infer from the answer of the Prime Minister that negotiations are pending upon the basis of some new offer, or some suggestion for a variation of the old offer made to the Prime Minister?
– The references which the honorable and learned member has quite correctly quoted, relate to the offer last laid before this House. It was then, and is still, the desire of the Government to obtain an offer worthy of submission to this House. This involves an alteration in some respects of the offer previously submitted. That offer, as the honorable and learned member is aware, was based on a resolution carried in the South Australian Assembly. Since then, I have received a communication in writing from the South Australian Government directing my attention to the resolution, and certain other matters, and I have received the assent of my colleagues to a reply in which an attempt is made to bring the question to a more definite issue. In the- meantime, other communications have been passing, and as soon as the prospects are of a satisfactory character, a reply which I hope will bring matters to a definite issue will be communicated to the South Australian Government.
.- With the indulgence of the House, and by way of personal explanation, I should like to call attention to the extraordinary perversion of some remarks which I made here on Tuesday last, in reference to the contingent vote proposal. These misrepresentations are becoming beyond endurance. I have here a copy of the Hansard report of my remarks, and of the pretended report of the MelBourne Age. While I was speaking, the honorable member for Kennedy interjected, as reported in Hansard -
In Queensland the electors were advised not to adopt the preferential voting system.
In the Agc, his remark appears thus -
– In Queensland they apply it.
– They do not.
– I am referring to the fabrication of the Age. When an honorable member makes a statement, this newspaper twists his words in such a fashion as to convey a directly contrary meaning. If this were the only instance in which that had been done, I should be inclined, as- we all are, to charitably suppose that a mistake had been made; but there are three deliberate alterations, one after the other, which make that- supposition impossible.
– The honorable member is getting very sensitive in his old age.
– No one is. more sensitive than is the young honorable member for Kalgoorlie. We can all be philosophical about wrongs done to other people.
– I have sat quiet under very considerable criticism of my,, statements.
– If the honorable member has done so, it must have caused him great internal suffering. I went on to say, as reported in Hansard -
It is made option.il in Queensland, and the electors have exercised the option by not expressing their preference.
The Age, however, reports me as saying -
I understand the Labour Party of Queensland makes good use of it.
That is the direct opposite of what I said. A little later the honorable member for Kennedy interjected -
The other side, also, says that it is not a good system.
To which I. replied, as reported in Hansard -
Then the system is doubly condemned, if both sides take the same view, and refrain from availing themselves of it.
The Age, however, reports me as saying -
Then they have exercised the option.
That is the direct opposite of what I said. As in those three instances this newspaper has reported honorable members as saying exactly the opposite of what they did say, its conduct suggests something very serious.
– The Age must have the right honorable member “ set.”
– It is the same old “set”; no doubt, under the same old instructions. I wish now to refer to another matter in connexion with which I have reason to make a complaint. It is suggested in the Age that the honorable member for ‘Melbourne Ports was responsible for the misquotation of a passage in my Free-trade Essays, about which I complained yesterday, because in a letter appearing in its columns this morning, signed “ Your reporter.” it is stated that the writer saw the honorable member during the afternoon, and took down what he read to him, afterwards attending his meeting, and checking the notes by what was said from the platform. The inference is, therefore, that the mistake was made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, not by himself. Strongly as we differ in our political views, I do not suppose that there is a man in the world who would accuse the honorable member for Melbourne Ports of reading out from a prepared document a quotation which was absolutely wrong, having been twisted. I acquit the honorable member of any such proceeding. By the frequency of their repetition, the abominable wrongs perpetrated by this newspaper are becoming notorious, and I deeply regret them.
It is a great pity that the statements madein this Chamber are deliberately twisted, and reported to the public in a form which makes honorable members appear to have said the reverse of what they have said. The press must be allowed the fullest liberty in deciding what shall be reported. It is entirely for its representatives to decide whether anything shall be reported; but when an honorable member’s remarks are given, they should not be twisted - as, in the instance to which I have just referred, on three occasions - to make it appear that something has been said quite contrary to the remarks actually uttered. We remember the indignation of the Attorney-General, which dissolved the House in tears, when a slight reference was made to something of which he should be proud, although he took it as a reproach.
– I did not take it as a reproach; but I objected to the statement being made as a reproach.
– A good many sympathized with the honorable and learned member, and cried over the occurrence with him. What lie had to complain of was not, however, so bad as these instances in which the words of honorable members have been deliberately twisted to make them appear to have said the very opposite of what they did say. I do not think that there could be a worse offence on the part of a reporter. As to the attempt to put me forward as the enemy of Australian manufacturers, which the Age is constantly makins, I should like, with the indulgence of the House, to make a short quotation from an essay which I wrote thirty-three years ago to show that I was perhaps the first in Australia to denounce the unpatriotic prejudice against colonial goods. In that essay I said -
The encouragement by consumers of industries which prove their utility by the production of good and cheap articles is a duty in which both free-traders and protectionists can and ought to heartily unite. Our local manufacturers have difficulties enough to contend with, without struggling, as they too often must, against the silly and unpatriotic prejudice which depreciates their goods, simply because they have been made in the colony. . . If everybody were actuated as they ought to be by the desire to try a local article, it would be better for industries than a protective duty. … A little good feeling on the part of consumers towards local producers would accomplish all the benefit protection could give us in a far better form.
Those passages were written thirty-three years ago. Since then I have been fore- most in joining a movement to decry this unpatriotic prejudice, and have addressed public meetings in Victoria in opposition to it. The Age therefore goes too far when it puts me forward as the enemy of Australian manufacturers, because I have my own ideas as to what is the Lest fiscal policy for this country.
– Then, is the right honorable member a protectionist?
– Surely a man may encourage Australian production without being a protectionist; and I have always done so in my personal expenditure. So far from having said, as in yesterday’s Age I am reported to have said, that I admit that manufactures can exist here only with the aid of sweated and pauper labour, in the essay to which I .have referred, which was written about the time when protection was first introduced in Victoria, I pointed out that there were in those days 1,020 manufactories here which were not indebted for their existence to a protective policy. I further pointed out, as I do again now, that the expressions of which I made use were directed to the examination of a proposition constantly put forward in the early days, though since abandoned. That proposition is that, if protective duties are imposed for a limited period, the industries which they protect will become strong enough to compete in the open markets of the world. In examining that proposition, I pointed out that our industries could compete in the open markets of the world only if we had cheaper raw material, which is impossible, better machinery, which could not be expected, or cheaper money, which is not likely. Then, referring to the subject of wages, I said that so long as Australian wages were higher than those of other countries, as I hoped thev always would be, we could not regard with satisfaction the adoption of artificial methods for encouraging competition with the sweated industries of Europe. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, when I referred to this matter on Tuesday, admitted that the industries which are protected here are those in which sweating occurs elsewhere.
– All Australian industries should be protected which have to compete with low-paid labour elsewhere.
– At the time when my essay was written, the views in regard to what is now called the “new protection” had not been ventilated. I wish my honorable friends who are opposed to me on this great question to believe that I chiefly, regard what is best in the interests of the great masses of the people. I have no possible connexion with manufacturers or capitalists. My only desire in this matter is to do that which is in the best interests of the great mass of the people-y-the workers of this country.
– I also wish to make a personal explanation, lest, in consequence of the action of the right honorable gentleman, my own silence, and that of other honorable members, may be misunderstood. I do not challenge the right honorable gentleman’s title to put himself right with this_ House and the country with’ regard to the statements to which he has referred. I take no objection whatever to that. I would only say that if I were to contradict the misrepresentations, equally gross and glaring, repeated continuously in some papers opposed to myself in Australia, I should have to claim the attention of honorable members at every sitting. I believe that the great bulk of the misrepresentations aire made bv mistake and unintentionally, and recognise that we have, in the interests of public business, to remain here and submit to being systematically misreported by newspapers, some in distant parts of the country. I wish it to be fully understood, however, that if we sit silent, it is not that we have no wish to put ourselves right, but that we feel that we must regard such misrepresentation as one of the necessary conditions of political life in this country. But, apart from this, statements that I have made in this House, in the presence of the right honorable member for East Sydney, and statements of mine which have appeared in print, which he must have read and could not misunderstand, have been quoted by him again and again in; distinctly differing versions, upon a dozen different occasions.
– That is owing to the fact that the Prime Minister has. expressed himself in different ways at different times.
– I do not think that any member of this House has risen upon fewer occasions than I have to take exception to observations made with regard to myself personally. The right honorable member for East Sydney has taken exception, and very properly, too, to misrepresentations which have been made with regard to himself. I can assure him that I have no sympathy whatever with any class of misrepresentations. I desire that we shall appear before the public as nearly as possible in our true character, and that statements that we have never made should not be attributed to us in this House or outside of it. I think that I have cause to complain of the right honorable gentleman himself. Not once, but on several occasions, in this House, have I sat silent whilst I have been grossly misrepresented, and whilst, I might say, my political character has been traduced by him. No one is able to charge me with having said anything personally derogatory to any honorable member, and I trust that no one will ever be able to reproach me with having said anything reflecting in the slightest degree on the personal character or honour of any honorable member. I should be ashamed to be a representative of the people in this House if I had resorted to any such tactics. I regret, however, that the right honorable gentleman lias not treated me with the same courtesy and respect with which I have always treated him.
– Did not the right honorable gentleman once call the members or* the Labour Fart v “steerage passengers”?
– No, I never said any such thing.
– I would direct attention to the fact that an honorablemember is permitted to make a personal explanation only by the courtesy of the House. I think that any honorable member who has a personal explanation to make should be permitted to do so as nearly as possible in silence. Interjections are not only disorderly, but tend to waste the time of the House.
– If in the course of a personal explanation an honorable member does not adhere to the truth, are we not at liberty to remind him he is departing from the facts.
– An honorable .member in the course of an explanation may, of course, make such statements as he pleases. Should he make any assertions that are not correct, this is not the time to take exception to them.
– I have no desire to make any statement that is not absolutely accurate, and if I should bv any inadvertence depart in any respect from the facts I shall be much obliged if honor able members will correct me. Last night the right honorable member for East Sydney accused my colleague, the PostmasterGeneral, .and myself of having entered into a conspiracy to hurl him from office. He stated that the Postmaster-General went to Western Australia for the special purpose of conferring with me in hatching that supposed conspiracy. He also said that I was accustomed to eat dust, or dirt.
– No; I said that the right honorable gentleman had stated so.
– I deny that I ever made any such observation. If the honorable member can fasten upon me any statement to the effect that I had done so, I hope that he will do so. He also said that some portfolios had been allotted to members of the present Government before the Governor-General’s speech was delivered at the opening of last ses-‘ sion.
– What does it matter?
– It matters a great deal to me. I solemnly declare that when I entered the Senate Chamber at the opening of last session I had no more idea than the man in the street that we were to be met with a speech, such as that delivered by the representative of the Crown.
– I quite agree with the right honorable gentleman in that.
– I absolutely deny that the question of allotting portfolios or of taking office had ever been discussed.
– Hear, hear !
– The right honorable gentleman also insinuated that he had something in reserve that would throw light upon the alleged conspiracy. I challenge him to produce anything that he may have in his cupboard that will reflect in any way upon myself or those with whom I am associated in the Government. The course of conduct followed by the right honorable gentleman may be all very well as an example of the way in which political warfare Should be carried on, but I hope that no one will ever be able to say that I asserted that I held in reserve some information that would reflect upon the character of an honorable member, when I had nothing of the kind. I sympathize with the right honorable gentlemen, or any one else who may have Iven misrepresented, but I would remind him that, while he complains almost daily of being misrepresented, he should not traduce others who throughout their long political career have endeavoured to do their duty and to do right.
– I desire to read the standing order relating to personal explanations. Standing order 260 reads as follo ws : -
A member who has spoken to a question may again be heard, to explain himself in regard to some material part of his speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood, but shall not introduce any new matter, or interrupt any member in possession of the Chair, and no debatable matter shall be brought forward or debate arise upon such explanation.
I must ask all honorable members to keep within that standing order. Otherwise personal explanations will degenerate into irregular, most improper, and unprofitable discussions.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he has any statement to make with regard to the attitude of the Government in connexion with the report of the Navigation Commission ? The report has been laid upon the table for some time, and I am sure that honorable members will be glad to know the intentions of the Government with regard to it.
– The honorable member is probably aware that we have been invited to send representatives to a conference to be held in London in the early part of next year, at which it is hoped not only the mother country, but her dependencies, will be represented, and at which the whole of the navigation laws of the Empire will be considered. The Government propose to send representatives to that conference. Beyond that, no action has been taken.
– I desire to know whether thePostmaster-General has been made aware of the fact that a telegraphic foreman met with a fatal accident this morning, and, further, whether he will make the fullest inquiry into the facts surrounding the accident, with a view to ascertaining, among other things, whether the late workman was reported as unfit, on account of deafness, to engage in such perilous work?
– Full inquiries will be made.
– I desire to know whether the Postmaster-General can supply the information asked for by me with regard to the proposed new charges for condenser telephone services in western Queensland and western New South Wales? He must know whether the charges are to be reduced, and I desire information upon that subject before the Estimates of the Post and Telegraph Department are considered. If the Postmaster-General has the information up his sleeve, he may as well communicate it to honorable members.
– I shall be verv pleased to furnish the honorable member with the information desired before the Estimates are discussed.
– I wish to know whether the Prime Minister is in a position to make any definite announcement as to when the House will go into a Committee of Ways and Means to consider the proposals of the Tariff Commission with respect to the duties upon agricultural implements and stripper-harvesters? I would point out that it may facilitate business, and, probably, lead to the early presentation of other reports, if the Commission are stimulated by the knowledge that the Government are determined that the reports already submitted to the House shall be considered at the earliest possible moment.
– I hope that the reports referred to will be considered early next week.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
– In the case of Australian goods which have gone away from Australia, and come back to it?
asked the Post master-General, upon notice -
– In answer to the honorable member’s question, I have to say that inquiries are being made, and answers will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether the Government have decided upon the appointment of any officer to succeed General Finn as the “ Inspector-General of Forces ; and, if so, have they been assisted by the advice of military experts either in Australia, or in Great Britain, or in any other part of the world?
– In answer to the right honorable member’s question, I have to state that the Government have decided upon the appointment of an officer to succeed Major-General Finn as InspectorGeneral of the Commonwealth Military Forces, and will lay before the House a full statement of the reasons for their action when the Defence Estimates are under consideration.
– In the meantime, will the Minister be good enough to answer my question ? Has expert advice been taken ?
– If the right honorable member willgive notice of any other question upon which he desires to obtain further information, I will institute the necessary inauiry.
– I have already asked the Question, but I will repeat it for tomorrow.
Mr. EWING laid upon the table the following papers : -
Amended regulation relating to cadet corps, paragraph 22, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 61 ; amended regulations relating to the retirement of warrant and non-commissioned officers, paragraph 123, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 59, and paragraphs175, 176, 181, &c. Statutory Rules 1906, No. 58; amended financial and allowance regulations, paragraphs 103, 113, 174, &c, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 60.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
– Upon a point of order, I desire to know whether there is no way of enforcing direct! replies; by Ministers to questions which are put to them? I have already had occasion to complain of the difficulty of obtaining information from the Government regarding the defence estimates, and other honorable members have experienced the same trouble. It seems to me that, in defence matters particularly, the questions which are put by honorable members are always evaded. Why it is so I do not know.
– No point of order is involved in the observations of the honorable member. I have no control over the answers toquestions which are given by Ministers. There are various ways in which honorable members can deal with the matter to which reference has been made if they so desire.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The object of the Government is to enable the majority of the electors in the various constituencies, through the medium of the ballot-box, to record the order of their preference in respect of the several candidates who seek their suffrages. It is my opinion that the electors should be given an opportunity of expressing their opinions of the various candidates so as to secure representation of majorities, in order that the laws which are enacted by their parliamentary representatives may truly reflect the views of the majority of the electors. That is the object of the Bill. The fundamental principle underlying our electoral system, so far as the House of Representatives is concerned, is that of single electorates. The whole of the Commonwealth has been divided into single electorates, and the principle of the Electoral Act is that there shall be, as nearly as possible, an equal number of voters in each constituency. Of course, as honorable members are aware, a variation is allowed’ from the quota under certain conditions. That is the fundamental principle underlying representation in this House - that we shall have single electorates in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act. This Bill does not seek to interfere with’ that principle, but it aims at affording the majority of- the electors in each of the electoral units throughout the Commonwealth an opportunity of recording the order of their preference in respect of the candidates who present themselves for election - the idea being that each successful candidate may represent a majority in the electorate. The Bill has not been introduced from any party motives. It is a measure which is submitted, upon its merits. We constantly hear the statement made that in Australia we should endeavour to secure the enactment of laws which truly reflect the will of a majority of the people. In other words, appeals are constantly being; made for majority rule.
– We shall have to get the electors to vote before we can insure that.
– I am aware that that is the objection which is raised by those with whom the honorable member is associated politically. At the present time, it is quite possible that a member of this House may tie returned by a minority.
– Does this Bill provide for compulsory voting?
– No. It is not our desire to compel an elector to record a vote against any candidate, but we do desire to afford every elector an opportunity to record his vote in such a way that he may express his opinion upon the merits of the candidates. Under this Bill it .will be entirely optional with him whether he does that or not. If he chooses to abstain from doing so, we can utter no complaint.
– Is not that the system which is in vogue in Queensland?
– I will deal with that point presently.
– I hope that the Minister will give the House his experience as a lawyer of the Queensland system.
– I have no objection to giving my experiences in that connexion. Several alternative schemes have been suggested. For instance, it has been suggested that we should adopt what is; known as the “ second ballot,” with the French system as a model. But I do not think that that system can be considered a. satisfactory one from an Australian stand-point. Under it an election takes place upon a certain day. A number of candidates present themselves, and no candidate can be elected unless he obtains an absolute majority of the votes recorded. If he does not secure an absolute majority, a second poll is taken at a later date. No restriction is imposed as to the number of candidates who may come forward, and upon the second ballot the individual who heads the poll is declared elected irrespective of whether he has obtained an absolute majority of the votes cast or not. That system has been adversely criticised. Another suggestion was that in the event of no candidate securing an absolute majority at an election, we should take a second ballot at a later date and allow the electors to pronounce their verdict in respect of the claims of the two candidates only who headed the first poll. But honor-, able members must recollect that we have to provide an electoral system for a continent in which the population is exceedingly scattered. It will readily be recognised that if we adopted the system which I have just outlined, a period varying from a fortnight to eight weeks - according to the exigencies of the case - would have to elapse before the second poll could be taken. Take the electorate of Grey as an example. The chief polling centre in that constituency is Petersburg, situated in the southern portion of South Australia, but a great many other polling places are located in the Northern Territory, so that before we could get the electoral machinery into operation to enable the second ballot to be taken a long interval must necessarily elapse, during which there would be confusion, turmoil, and uncertainty. It therefore seemed to the Government that there are very grave, practical, difficulties - apart from the question of expense - in the way of the adoption of a second ballot. It would be found that the expense of holding a second election in a division would be quite as great as in the case of the first election. I have taken the trouble to ascertain the number of constituencies which would have been affected at the last election if the system had been in vogue. I find that there were no less than thirteen.
– That is not many.
– It is a fair number, considering that there arc only 75 constituencies all told.
– What were the names of those constituencies ?
– There were two in Tasmania, two in Queensland, and nine in Victoria.
– Were there none in New South Wales?
– No ; but there is just as much chance of a New South Wales constituency being affected in the way I have indicated as there is of an electorate in any other State. The other day the right honorable member for East Sydney made certain suggestions as to why this particular measure had been introduced. I wish to assure him that this Bill has not been submitted as the result of any outside influence.
– When did the Government decide to introduce it?
– It has been under consideration for some time. The right honorable member is very sensitive when motives are imputed to him, and is always desiring us to credit him with angelic sweetness. Under the circumstances he ought not to object to credit others with a little touch of that purity which characterizes himself. The right honorable member has recently concluded a magnificent tour, during which the one principle which he strongly advocated was that of majority rule. Upon every platform he has appealed to the electors to speak at the ballot-box as a majority in order that laws might be enacted which would truly reflect the popular will.
– Was it his speeches which converted the Government ?
– There is no need for the Government to send any of its members to address meetings at the various centres which have been visited by the right honorable member. His speeches have had a very natural effect.
– Yet the supporters of the Government would not have granted me leave of absence if they could have avoided it.
– We find that wherever the right honorable member goes he does the work of the Government admirably. I do not think that he disputes the proposition that he has been expressing a desire for majority rule, and we are asking him now to assist us in placing on the statute-book a measure which will enable a representative of the majority of the electors in each electorate to be returned to this House.
– If it be shown that the Bill will not enable that to be done, will the Government abandon it?
– Our contention is that the Bill will enable the will of the majority to be expressed. This could not be done, except at very great expense and inconvenience to the electors, bv means of a second ballot. The Bill is necessary to enable the electors to accomplish at the one operation all that they could do by means of a second ballot.
– How many members of theQueensland Parliament represent a majority ?
– The contingent vote has been in operation in Queensland for some time.
– Has it been used?
– Yes.; it has affected, no less than five electorates.
– In fourteen vears.
– That is so. If. the principle be a sound one, there is no reason why the Commonwealth should refrain from adopting it, simply because it has not been availed of to any extent in Queensland. We ask honorable members to express their opinions upon the inherent merits of this measure, which is admittedly a non-party one.
– The number of members of the Queensland Parliament who represent a minority vote is greater than the number representing a minoritv in this Legislature.
– It is true that in Queensland the contingent vote has not been exercised as fully as was anticipated, but still the Statute in question remains in force. All democrats ask for majority representation. I do not think that there is one honorable member of this House who would say that he desires to hold his seat as the result of a minority vote .
– Are there three or two” parties in. the Queensland Legislative Assembly ?
– There are now four parties.
– I do not interfere with State politics, and have not attempted to classify the number of parties in the Queensland Legislative Assembly. Let us assume, however, that there are three. In some instances the contingent vote has been exercised there, and a different result obtained on the second count. We do not desire to restrict the choice of the electors; our desire is that there shall be no interference with their choice, and we think that we ought to give them the widest possible selection. This Bill has been introduced with that object in view. At present the choice of the electors is restricted. If there are three candidates for one electorate, the electors are able to exercise their choice in respect of only one of the three. Thev have no option. The result is that a candidate may be elected who represents only a minority of the electors. That state of affairs may be removed by the adoption of the system provided for in this Bill. I have circulated amongst honorable mem.bers a memorandum showing exactly the method pursued under this measure.
– The example given in that memorandum does not necessarily show majority rule.
– It illustrates the working of the principle. Under the Queensland system), if four candidates stand for a single electorate, the elector exercises his option by casting his primary vote for the candidate of his first choice. Having done that, he may place the figures 2, 3, and 4, in the order of his preference, opposite the names of the other candidates. But when the scrutiny is made cognizance is taken only of the first two candidates on the poll ; the other two are declared defeated.
– Supposing that an elector does not exercise the option offered him under this Bill, and votes for only one candidate ?
– Under the Queensland law an elector may cast his primary vote for one candidate, and refuse to exercise his option to declare his order of preference for the remaining ones. Under the Queensland system the two candidates lowest on the list are declared to be defeated, and the contingent vote is allotted to the first two, according to the preferences. The one who secures the larger vote of primary and contingent votes, when added together, is declared elected. This Bill, however, embodies a modification of the principle. When there are four candidates under the system proposed in this Bill, the candidate who is third on the poll might, after the preferences have been taken into account, be placed first on the list. We propose to allow every elector to exercise;, in addition to his primary vote, a contingent vote. The elector will vote for the candidate of his first choice by putting opposite the name of such candidate the figure 1. If there are three other candidates, he will place opposite their names, in the order of his preference, the figures 2, 3, and 4. If, on the first count, it is found that one candidate has obtained an absolute majority - that is, one more than half the number of votes polled - he can be said to truly represent the majority of the electors, and he is accordingly declared duly elected; but if no candidate obtains an. absolute majority it becomes necessary to strike out from the count the candidate lowest on £He list. The reason for this is that the electors have pronounced their judgment - thev have shown that he is the least favoured- and accordingly he must drop out of the count.
– But the man who is last on the first count might be first on the second.
– The first votes only are taken into consideration. As I have said, the candidate lowest on the list drops out, and all the ballot-papers on which No. 1 has been marked opposite his name are taken into account. The contingent votes of the electors who voted for the candidate who is lowest on the count in the first instance, are then distributed among the other candidates not excluded.
– What value is placed on the second vote under this Bill ?
– In, the case I have citer it would have the same value as a primary vote, because it would represent the opinion of the individual elector as to who should be chosen to represent him. Under this system the result will be the same as if a. second ballot were taken.
– Then there is no proportional value?
– No. The system amounts really to a series of plumping votes, enabling the absolute will of the majority to be obtained in the final selection of candidates.
– How can that be possible while the elector is allowed an option ?
– -We do not compel the electors to vote. Even if we provided for a second ballot, we could not compel them to go to the poll a second time.
– Nor could we compel them to go to the poll at the first ballot.
– -That is so. The experience of France in this respect has been rather remarkable. I find, on inquiry, that in some instances the number of electors who vote at the second ballot is exceedingly small - far below the number voting at the first. We desire to enable the electors to secure ait the one operation the full advantage of a second ballot, without incurring the great expense and inconvenience which a second ballot would involve. The scheme is practical, convenient, inexpensive, and effective.
– The intention is all right; but there is a difficulty as to the method.
– The method will be found satisfactory.
– -There is a difference of opinion on that point.
– Will it not offer a premium to organized parties to abstain from casting their second votes, whilst inducing others to give second votes in favour of their candidate?
– We have cliques and organizations in connexion with every election.
– That is why the system has be&n abandoned in Queensland.
– -It is still used in some instances. If some electors fail to exercise their option, that is np reason why the electors generally should be deprived of the right to have a voice in the final selection of their representative.
– Have the electors asked for this Bill?
– The honorable member’s party has asked for majority rule, and we think that we should give the people an opportunity to secure it.
– This Bill will not secure majority rule.
– We shall have to change the opinions of the people before we obtain majority rule.
– In the first place, the primary votes are counted, and the candidate lowest on the count is excluded. Thenthe preferential votes on the ballotpaperscast in favour of the candidate lowest on the .list are taken into consideration on each successive count until after one, two or three counts, as the case may be, a candidate who truly represents the will of the majority is returned. Successive counts are made until a candidate obtains an absolute majority, the lowest candidate or each successive candidate in turn being excluded.
– If the fourth man is struck out of the list, are his No. 2 votestreated as first votes?
– They are. The tables in the statement circulated demonstrate this. The same principle applies after the third man on the list has been struck out of the count, and only two candidates remain. The preferences of all the electors who have voted for the third and fourth candidates are taken into consideration in allotting .the votes to the two remaining candidates. Each ballot-paper is counted in every count, so long as a preference is indicated on it. The method is simplicity itself. An elector receives a ballotpaper bearing the names of all the candidates with a square opposite each, and all that he has to do is to record his preference by placing the figures 1, 2, 3t and ,4, opposite the names. As the honorable member for Barrier very properly reminds me. a labour plebiscite was recently taken ii> Victoria to select three candidates for the Senate at the next general election. Twentythree nominations were received, and the members of the political labour leagues recorded their votes in the order of their preference. Notwithstanding; the number of candidates, there was but a small percentage of informalities.
– As there were twentythree candidates in that case, and on lv three were required to be selected, why should it not be possible to apply this system to elections for the Senate as well as for the House of Representatives?
– No trouble will be experienced bv the electors. They have onlyto place the figures 1, 2. 3. 4, and so forth, opposite the names of the candidate? in the order of their choice. But a great many questions have to be considered in dealing with any alteration of the method of voting for the election of senators.
For instance, it has to be determined whether the representation shall’ be proportional, and which of a number of systems shall be adopted. The discussion and settlement of these questions would occupy a great deal of time, and our desire is to do now what is practicable under the circumstances ; that is, to apply the principle of preferential voting to the election for representatives in this House, where each member represents a single electoral division. Of course, if the Senate is prepared to deal summarily and quickly with the system under which its members are chosen, and to provide for preferential voting in this Bill, we see no reason why they should not; but we think that so many conflicting questions must be dealt with before any alteration of the present system can be agreed upon that we are not prepared to go further than is provided for in the Bill.
– Then there will be two systems of voting on. the same day, and in the same booths.
– Yes; but I do not think that that will create any practical difficulty.
– I think that it will.
– Experience shows that the electors exercise the franchise very intelligently, the informalities being relatively very few.
– There will be two different ballot-papers.
– On each ballot-paper can be printed directions showing how it must be used.
– Some of the electors may think that, in placing the figures 1, 2, 3, or 4 opposite the names of candidates, they are allotting to them so many votes, and will thus be led to indicate a preference contrary to that which they really desire to show.
– I think that a short explanatory note printed on the ballot-papers will make the system clear to every elector. I am not aware that the mistake to which the honorable member refers has ever arisen in connexion with this system of voting, which will accomplish what honorable members profess to desire - majority rule.
Mr.Johnson. - That is what it will not accomplish.
– I have explained the principles of the measure, and have shown that it. will not be difficult for the electors to exercise the option allowed to them, while the counting of the ballot-papers will be simple. All that the elector will be concerned with will be the marking of his ballot-paper in the order of his preference, and the ballot-papers will be counted by the Divisional Returning Officers, according to a system which is simple, and should not permit of mistakes. If the House will take this measure into its serious consideration, and discuss our proposals on their merits, we shall, I hope, pass a Bill which will do a great deal for the accomplishment of what we all desire - the making of the laws of Australia a true reflex of the views of its people.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Johnson) adjourned.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This measure amends the Copyright Act of 1905. It must be remembered that the term “ book, “ as here used, means a good deal more than is ordinarily understood by the word. Its definition, according to the principal Act being - “ Book “ includes any book or volume, and any part or division of a book or volume, and any article in a book or volume, and any pamphlet, periodical, sheet of letterpress, sheet of music, map, chart, diagram, or plan separately published, and any illustration therein :
Following the United States legislation, We propose to insert in the Act of last year, after section 31, the following section : - 31A. (1) The owner of the copyright in a book shall cause notice of the copyright therein to be printed on the title page (if any) or any conspicuous part of each copy published by inserting the words “Copyright in Australia”(followed by the name of the owner of the copyright and the year in which the book was first published in Australia).
The intention of this alteration is to give notice to those who desire to copy an article that it has been bought and paid for, and copyright in it exists, and thus to prevent any one who is acting in good faith from unwittingly using another’s property against his will.
– The Bill provides for the giving of notice similar to that displayed in the legend, “ Trespassers will be prosecuted.”
– Yes. The owner of a copyright must print on the copyrighted publication an intimation that it is his private property. It is also provided that-
proceedings are taken for the infringe ment of the copyright in a book, and
the defendant proves to the satisfaction of the Court that he has in his possession a copy of the book and that that copy was published with the consentof the owner of the copyright and does not contain the notice required by this Act of the copyright therein judgment may be given in favour of the defendant either with or without costs as the Court in its discretion thinks fit.
– Why is the defendant made to prove the consent of the owner of the copyright?
– That provision follows a principle laid down by Lord Thring, in England. When a defendant is found using property which contains on it the distinct intimation that it belongs to another, he should be compelled, if he wishes to avoid liability for his action, to prove that he acted bond fide. The plaintiff must therefore prove that the notice of the copyright required by the Act was printed on the book from which the copy was made. To that the defendant may reply that no such notice was printed on the copy in his possession, and that he acted bond fide in ignorance of the copyright. In other words, although the plaintiff may show that, generally speaking, he complied with the Act, the defendant may escape, if he proves that in regardto the particular book from which he made his copy the Act was not complied with.
– The onus of proof is not removed in all cases.
– The burden of proof may be shifted. After a plaintiff has made out a prima facie case, the defendant may exonerate himself in the manner I speak of.
– The burden of proof is shifted in certain cases.
– Yes. It is provided that judgment may be given in favour of the defendant. I spent some time considering whether “ shall “ or “ may “ should be used, and. I have thought it better to employ the word “ may,” in order to leave the Court free to judge of the circumstances. The consent of the owner of the copyright might, for instance, have been obtained by fraud.
– If that is the meaning of the provision, it should be made clear.
– I have, to some extent, followed the drafting of Lord Thring. Since the Bill was distributed, I have found some very late American cases, which lead trie to propose some amendments. For instance. I intend to amend the proposed new clause 31a, by inserting after the word “published” the words “in Australia.” A very strange case occurred in America, in which the Judge, much, against his will, because he thought the decision unfair, was compelled to decide against a plaintiff, since there had been publication abroad. Later on, I shall be glad to give the particulars of that case. Owing to that circumstance, the plaintiff was defeated. There was a publication in England, and although the plaintiff had complied with all the requirements of the American law with regard to publication, he was defeated. I propose to insert the words “ in Australia” in the first sub-section.
– How could that requirement be complied with in the case of a painting?
– This provision relates to books.
– Why has the Minister selected special items for particular treatment under the Copyright Act?
– This clause deals with books, which include a very wide class of cases.
– Does the provision embrace everything that can be copyrighted ?
– No, because I do not think that every class of work would lend itself to such treatment. The United States Act does not carry the matter any further than we propose to- do. In the third clause we propose to make substantially similar provision with regard to artistic works. I propose to omit the words “upon the work “ in the early part of the clause so as to provide that it shall be sufficient to cause a notice of copyright to be printed or inscribed upon each copy of an artistic work. In another American case copyright was sought to be enforced in respect to a picture which was exhibited in London, and did not bear the words “copyright in America.” Although all the copies of the picture bore that notice, the fact that it was absent from the original caused the defeat of the plaintiff, who had no redress.
– There is no provision in the Bill with regard to theatrical works.
– Dramatic works are dealt with in the Act.
– But I refer to models of scenes, for instance.
– I shall be glad to hear any suggestions that the honorable member may have to make. I do not intend to draw any invidious distinctions between one class of works and another, because what is fair for one is fair for the other. Clause 4 relates to reciprocal provisions for the protection of copyright within the Empire, and, I think, will meet with the approval of honorable members. It is provided -
Where it is made to appear to the GovernorGeneral that any part of the British Dominions has made satisfactory provision for the protection in that part of the copyright in books, the performing right in musical or dramatic Works, or the copyright in artistic works, first published, performed, or made in Australia, the GovernorGeneral may, by order, declare that all or any of the provisions of this Act shall, subject to such modifications and conditions as he sees fit to direct, apply to the copyright in books, the performing right in musical or dramatic works, or the copyright in artistic works, first published or performed or made in that part of the British Dominions :
Provided that the period of protection in Australia shall not exceed the period of protection in that part of the British Dominions or the period of protection under this Act.
That is intended to give effect by enactment to legislation which may be passed in any other part of the British Dominions. There is another point to which I wish to direct the attention of honorable members. It was brought to the mind of the Government after the Bill had been distributed, and is a very important one. Honorable members may recollect that when the Copyright Bill was before us last session the Senate introduced provisions relating to the exclusive rights of newspaper proprietors to publish cable news. I propose to read the provisions contained in the Bill as reported in the Senate and forwarded to this House. In the Bill as it then stood, clause 34 read as follows : -
I should like to explain what that means. Copyright, so far as it relates to literary matters, gives the exclusive right of producing copies of works in a particular form, in particular language, and under a particular arrangement. It does not relate to the substance of the information conveyed, but to the form in which it is cast. This provision which I have just quoted purports to give to the proprietors of newspapers, or a news agency, something which the common law does not give them - something to which they are entitled as a matter of honesty. because news is a commodity which has to be paid for in hard cash, and should, therefore, be protected in the same way as if it were of a visible and tangible nature.
– Cannot the newspaper proprietors in some of the States copyright their cable news?
– - Yes.
– T do not know whether that is so or not. The clause from which I have been quoting provides further -
When these provisions came before Parliament, the matter proved to be so difficult, and the session was so far advanced that the Government agreed that, if the clauses were withdrawn, they would give honorable members an opportunity for the discussion of the whole question this session. The attention of the Government has been drawn to that pledge, and I now propose to carry out the undertaking then entered into. The first five sub-clauses, although they extend the rights of newspaper proprietors, afford them very proper protection.
– They are perfectly entitled to a copyright in regard to any news that they may obtain at their own cost, but that does not apply to cases in which they merely pick up information from other newspapers.
– That point is dealt with. If, because of the ethics and the justice of the case, we confer additional rights upon newspaper proprietors, they may be called upon to recognise that the public are entitled to have news disseminated so long as those who have to pay for it are not subjected to any loss, and that they should consent to allow other persons to publish their cables provided that fair and equitable terms are offered. The proposal is to make some verbal alterations in the first five subclauses.
– Is it intended that newspaper proprietors shall bear all the expense and risk of their enterprise, whilst any other person may share in the benefit if he pays for it?.
– We intend, for the purposes of discussion, to provide -
If any person who obtains news which under this section he has an exclusive right to publish, refuses without reasonable cause to supply the news to the proprietor of a newspaper, on fair and reasonable terms, for immediate publication -
In case of difference, the question what terms are fair and reasonable may, on the application of either party, be determined summarily by a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State.
It is just that the risk to which the honorable member refers should be taken into consideration, and, no doubt, it would have great effect upon the mind of the Court in determining what were fair and reasonable terms. If that element were taken into account, it would make the person who desired to share in the benefits of any arrangement, also bear his proportion of the burdens attached to it. We should not say to a newspaper proprietor, or combination of proprietors, who have to pay large sums of money for their news, and to take considerable risks, “ You take all the risks, but must allow other persons to come in and share in the benefits of your enterprise, upon merely paying a proportion of the cost of the cables.” That would be unfair. All the circumstances should be taken into consideration. If that is done, and we protect the newspaper proprietors, not only in regard to the verbiage with which they clothe their news, but also in regard to the news itself - which is not now, at least in some parts of Australia, protected at all - it may be considered a reasonable thing that other newspaper proprietors who have not the means at their disposal to inform the public, by means of special telegraphic news, should have an opportunity of sharing in the benefits of the service upon reasonable terms. Of course, the Court could not make an order compelling a newspaper proprietor to permit others to share in the benefits of his service, but the Act could make it clear to him that he could not enjoy certain new privileges in connexion with the protection of his news unless he was prepared to comply with the conditions laid down.
– Have they no right under common law ?
– To what does the honorable member refer?
– I am speaking of the information which is contained in their telegrams.
– They have no common law right in that respect. Very unjustly, I think, newspapers cannot complain if their news is stolen so long as its literary form is not stolen.
– I thought that it was decided otherwise in Melbourne?
– No.I was engaged in one case, and I can assure the honorable member that in Victoria the news itself - which is the most valuable portion of the information - can be pirated so long as the form of it is not stolen. In other words, a person may take the kernel so long as he does not annex the shell. The proposal in the Bill will confer additional benefits and protection upon newspaper proprietors, and the question is whether - in view of that fact - they should be asked to shoulder an additional burden. I shall be very glad to hear what honorable members have to say as to the fairness or otherwise of such a provision.
– How long will newspaper proprietors be protected?
– For twenty-four hours. I should very much like to hear the views of honorable members upon this question. To my mind it is a most difficult one. It is a question which involves private rights and public advantages, and it is one which is open to a great deal of consideration and argument. It is a difficult question, and I do not pretend for one moment to say that it is one-sided. I have placed the matter before the House, and I am sure that the Government will be infinitely obliged if honorable members will give them the benefit of their opinions upon this matter. It seems to me a shocking condition of affairs that newspapers should not be protected in the matter of the news for which they pay.
– It is also shocking that the newspaper proprietors should be able to form a combination to which they refuse to admit anybody outside the present ring.
– I agree that there are considerations which affect the public beyond those which I have mentioned.
– If the newspaper proprietors were protected for twelve hours in the matter of their news, does the AttorneyGeneral think that would be sufficient ?
– If the honorable member will place his views before the House the Government will be very glad to consider them. The provisions to which I have last referred have been placed before honorable members in the best shape that we can put them- in order to give effect to a pledge which was made by the Government last session. We then promised that some such proposal would be submitted in order that it might be discussed under as advantageous conditions as it would have been upon that occasion. It will be remembered that the Government were allowed to excise a certain portion of the Copyright Bill and to pass the Act in its present form, upon the distinct understanding that a further opportunity of discussing this particular phase of the question would be afforded to honorable members.
– I desire to call attention to a point of parliamentary practice which seems to be involved in this case. The custom is that, upon the motion for the second reading of any measure, its general principles, but not its details, are open to discussion. Its details are reserved for consideration in Committee. “Upon the present occasion, however, I have noticed that the Attorney-General, in moving the second reading of the Bill, has devoted more time to the discussion of some clauses which it is proposed to insert at a later stage than to the clauses which are actually’ contained in .the measure. His speech, therefore, involved a discussion, not so much of the provisions which are in the Bill, as of provisions which may be inserted. Of course, I was not able to discover this except as sentence after sentence fell from his lips, and therefore I did not feel justified in interfering. As I did not interfere with him, it will be necessary for me to allow every other honorable member the same liberty that he has enjoyed. I should like to say, however, that I do not think that I ought to allow the practice which has been adopted on the present occasion to become a precedent. Upon a second-reading debate I do not think that we ought to permit the discussion chiefly of clauses which are not in a Bill, but which it may be proposed to insert at a later stage. The practice is quite a new one, and I thought that it ought not to be allowed to pass without attention being called to it.
– I recognise the justice of what you have said, sir, but the position is that a pledge had been given by the Government, and, in order to discharge that pledge, I felt it incumbent upon me to depart from the ordinary practice.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Dugald Thomson) adjourned.
Order of Business : Administration of Papua : Re-introduction of Australian Produce: Appointment of Justices.
In Committee of Supply :
– I move -
That a sum not exceeding £748,363 be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the service of the year ending 30th June, 1907.
In submitting this motion, I desire to say that the Government are asking for supply for about two months. By the end of the present month we shall require funds, and therefore I am glad that I am able to place the Bill before honorable members at this stage, so as to afford them ample time for its consideration. The measure provides for the appropriation of £748,363. The Act which was passed at the beginning of the session appropriated £459,064, so that if this Bill becomes law the total appropriation up to date will be £1,207,427. That is a little more than one-fourth of the amount provided upon the Estimates. The sums set out upon the Estimates - after deducting special appropriations - total£4,434,431, so that one fourth of that amount would be £1,108,608. It will thus be seen that if this Bill be passed the total, appro . priation will be slightly more than one fourth of the total amount provided on the Estimates.
– What is the addition for?
– Some heavy payments will fall due in the first quarter of theyear. In connexion with our ocean mails, it is convenient to transmit the money to London early, so as to obtain the best terms in regard to exchange. The sum of £60,000 will be required for that purpose during the first two quarters, and ‘the Pacific Cable will probably involve an expenditure of , £28,500. Then there is the Corps Contingent allowances which have to be paid, and which amount to about £50,000. These three’ items ‘ alone involve an expenditure of £138,500. I may inform honorable members that the amounts set out in the Bill provide for the ordinary services of the Government, and include no items of a special character. In cases where increments of salaries are provided upon the Estimates-in-chief, those increases will not be paid until the Appropriation Act has been passed. In that respect we shall be following the practice which has al ready been established. In Western Australia my experience of interim Supply Bills was that no schedule was attached to them. They were Bills providing for expenditure which was based upon the votes of the previous year, and no new items were ever included in them. However, in this Parliament we have adopted theplan of attaching a schedule to such Bills. If honorabie members will look through the schedule to this measure,they will see that it contains no items of an unusual character. The Government merely ask Parliament to provide them with funds to carry on the ordinary services.
Mr.DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney) [5.15]. - The Minister has not fully explained why the vote that we are asked to grant is, as I understood him to say, , £200,000 in excess of one-fourth of the amount on the Estimates.
– I said that it was a little more than one-fourth of the amount on the Estimates.
– The right honorable gentleman has, I understand, assured the Committee that there are no new items in the schedule, and that we are not Leing asked to vote supplies in respect of something of which the House has not approved.
– Hear, hear.
– Or for increases of salaries ?
– Hear, hear.
– The Treasurer referred to a large item in respect of contingent corps allowances.
– It is to provide for the payment of the various corps.
– It is a defence item ?
– In view of the assurance of the Minister that the Bill covers ordinary expenses, and does not relate to any increase of salaries, I see no objection to it. We were promised some time ago that we should not be asked so frequently to pass Supply Bills. I see no objection to the passing of such a measure at this stage of the session, but their continued introduction at comparatively brief intervals would be a breach of the understanding to which I have referred. I should like to know when the Government propose to proceed with the Estimates?
– As quickly as possible.
– They ought to be dealt with as soon as possible. I am aware that precedence mav have to be given to some Tariff proposals, but it seems to me that extraneous matters which are not so important as are the Tariff proposals and the Estimates are being taken before them.
– I should like the Treasurer to give the Committee some information as to the item of ^224 for electric lighting and repairs fit Parliament House?
– I can only inform the honorable member that it is the ordinary vote.
– Then it is incorrectly stated, since the word “repairs” appears in the item ?
– That is the heading to the vote.
– I thought that possibly there was installed here an obsolete plant which was being repaired at considerable cost.
– The vote relates absolutely to ordinary services.
.- We ought to have an assurance from the Government as to the order in which, the remaining business of the session is to be taken. At present we appear to be proceeding in a haphazard way. After entering upon the discussion of the Estimates, they are suddenly withdrawn from discussion, and honorable members are asked to deal with measures of no urgency. What is the object of this? A few days ago I asked the Prime Minister when, in view of the expressed desire of the Government to rectify Tariff anomalies, and to relieve the distress alleged to be due to an inadequate Tariff, it was proposed to .proceed with the work of Tariff revision. In reply, the honorable and learned gentleman said that it was intended to proceed immediately with it. The business paper, however, affords no indication of a desire on the part of the Government to give effect to that intention.
– The Prime Minister said to-day that the question of Tariff revision would be dealt with early next week.
– We now find on the business-paper the Copyright Bill, the Preferential Ballot Bill, the Bounties Bill, the Lands Acquisition Bill, and other measures which certainly are not of great urgency, and with which, in the circumstances, the next Parliament might well be left to deal. At all events, I think that, before granting supply, we ought to have a positive assurance from the Government that they intend to submit the question of Tariff revision to the House during the present session.
Pir John Forrest.- - The Prime Minister said that it would be dealt with early next week.
– I doubt the sincerity of these promises, since the business-paper contains no reference to Tariff revision. We are justified in harbouring the suspicion that the object of the Government ‘in pressing forward other measures is to delay the consideration of this question, which was said by Ministers twelve months ago to be so urgent as to demand our immediate attention. The Opposition have expressed their desire to assist the Government in dealing before the general election with the Tariff, but apparently, so far as that question is concerned, the Ministry are adopting a policy of procrastination. Either the Government propose to proceed this session with the measures now on the notice-paper, or they are fooling the Parliament and the public. If thev have no desire to pass them this session, they are guilty, of a gross and deliberate waste of time, and are perpetrating an act of absolute deception upon the Parliament and public. The Treasurer is best able to determine whether a Supply Bill is necessary at this stage, but, having regard to the fact that the Government have received from the Opposition more generous treatment than they deserve, I think they ought to take us into their confidence and tell us what business we shall be asked to deal with this session, and also the order in which it will be taken.
– I join with the honorable member for Lang in urging the Government to let the Committee know what business they intend to proceed with this session. It is apparent that if the general election is to take place on 2 1 st November next, the session must soon close ; nevertheless, important measures are being put aside for comparatively unimportant ones. If the Government are anxious to protect- the mangled industries, of which we have heard so much, and to find employment before Christmas for the people who have been thrown out of employment owing, it is said, to the closing of certain works, they should lose no time in dealing with the Tariff. The people of Victoria consider that the question should have been dealt with last year, and yet the Government, who pose as the saviours of the working classes, are allowing important matters relating to the Tariff to remain untouched. It is time that we had from them some practical proof of the sympathy they profess for the great bulk of the people. I can well understand that the genial Treasurer, who has not suffered by the strangling of any industry, completely forgets the position of those who have suffered. If the Government are really in earnest in their professed desire to help the unfortunate men who are out of employment, they ought to give their Tariff reform proposals precedence over all other measures.
– The honorable member might give us a few words in favour of the single tax.
– I should be out of order if I did so; but I have dealt with it freely on the public platform. If I had the position and influence of the honorable member for Bland, I should not give myself up to pleasure whilst the working classes were suffering. I should endeavour, at all events, to put into practice the principles which I believed would afford them some assistance. The honorable member has no more faith in my principles than I have in those which he professes. The Government ought to at once bring forward their very important proposals with regard to the Tariff. Personally, I do not think that the alteration of the Tariff in the manner desired by Ministers will relieve distress. On the contrary, I am certain that it will benefit merely the wealthy. But, if honorable gentlemen were sincere, they would bring forward measures for Tariff reform, instead of taking up the time of Parliament with the discussion of Copyright and Preferential Ballot Bills. Honorable members cannot remain here much, longer. At the end of next week I shall leave the scene, and perhaps may not return.
– I am sorry that the honorable member is not coming back.
– I shall not care much whatever happens. All of us who represent large constituencies must leave very shortly, in order to prepare for the election on the 21st November, and Ministers should therefore do what they say is necessary to save the strangled industries of which we have heard so much. If they bring forward their Tariff proposals, we on this side shall be able to show that the manufacturers connected with the protected industries are making profits amounting to thousands of pounds a year, and that the suggested alterations of the Tariff would merely help the very wealthy to rob the poor still more.
– T desire to refer to a matter which has already been before honorable members, and was to have been dealt with bv the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, who has prepared a great deal of information in regard, to it. Unfortunately, he. is prevented by the serious illness of a member of his family from being: present. A few days ago the Prime Minister informed the honorable member for Moreton that opportunity would be given for the discussion of his motion in reference to the appointment of an Australian as Administrator of Papua. Those who take interest in the matter would be content to wait for that opportunity, were it not for the fact that the statement has since been made that a Commission is to be appointed to proceed to Papua this month to inquire into the administration1 there.
– The Commission has been ‘appointed.
– Its appointment is a distinct breach of faith.
– Why do honorable members merely grumble about it? Why do they not challenge the action of the Government ?
– I regret that this course has been taken. The mail leaves Melbourne for New Guinea on the 27 th inst., four days hence, and it will be necessary for the Commissioners to pick up the out-going steamer. The gentlemen who have been appointed are Mr. Herbert, Mr. Parry-Okeden, and the Honorable J. A. K. Mackay. Thev are beingsent to Papua to whitewash Captain Barton. A short time ago it was notified inthe press that the Government had approached Sir William McGregor with a view to his reinstatement as Administrator of New Guinea. Why was that done if the administration, of Captain Barton is satisfactory? The fact that Sir WilliamMcGregor was approached is, to mv mind, conclusive evidence that the Government are dissatisfied with the administration of Captain Barton.
– Then why did the Government ask Sir William McGregor to take the position?
– A new Constitution is about to be proclaimed in Papua, and we wanted the verv best man obtainable. Sir William McGregor is a very eminent man ; there are not many like him.
– The Treasurer’s explanation does not make the position of Captain Barton any better.
– Captain Barton has asked for the appointment of this Commission.
– Did he nominate the Commissioners ?
– The honorable member knows that he did not. That is a dirty insinuation.
– Is every Government official who asks for the appointment of a Commission to have his request granted? Such strong dissatisfaction with the administration of New Guinea was expressed when the right honorable member for East Svdney was in office, that he sent the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs to the Territory to inquire into the complaints which had been made, with a view to reporting as to what should be done. That officer furnished a very able report, but, to my mind, every paragraph of it condemns the existing administration, as must be seen by every one who reads it carefully, and looks between the lines.
– What has been going on in Papua? What is the trouble about?
– I have here the papers in the Richmond case, and in the O’Brien case, and a letter which I read in this Chamber a little time ago. .
– What do they all prove ?
– That we have in Papua a very valuable possession in the development of which no progress is being made.
– The authorities have not had enough money.
– If the Treasurer thinks that more money should be spent there, why does he not ask for a vote? The fact that the Government desired to replace Captain Barton by some one else shows that they are not satisfied with his administration.
– I do not think so. Sir William McGregor is one of the most eminent men in the English Public Service.
– No one has anything to say against Sir William McGregor. What I wish to know is why, if the administration of Captain Barton is satisfactory, the1 Government wished to remove him?
– Because we desired to appoint to the position the most eminent man that we could get.
– And when they could not get Sir William McGregor, they appointed a Commission.
– Captain Barton asked for the appointment of a Commission. The Prime Minister has stated so.
– Has the Commission been appointed merely because Captain Barton asked for its appointment?
– We shall treat him fairly, whatever happens.
– Does any one know anything about the Commissioners? The only one whom I know by repute is a retired public servant.
– Colonel Mackay has been a Minister of the Crown in New South Wales for a number of years. He has been Vice-President of the Executive Council there, and leader of the Legislative Council. He also went to the war.
– He is the New South Wales poet.
– These do not appeal to me as good reasons for appointing him to the Commission. It seems to me that the Commissioners have been appointed to give a report which will be satisfactory to the man principally concerned.
– That is not fair. Words of wisdom are expected from members of Parliament, not statements like that. The Commissioners are as honorable, I hope, as we are.
– I hope so, too. It will take them three weeks to get to New Guinea, a considerable time will be occupied there in the collection of evidence, and afterwards they must draw up their report, by whi’ch time Parliament, which cannot remain in session more than another five or six weeks, will have been dissolved. What, then, will be done in the matter?
– The Government will take such action as they may think fit.
– What action will they take? The time has arrived for honorable members to express their opinions upon this subject, and there can be no better opportunity than the present for doing so.
– What is the honorable member’s objection to Captain Barton?
– I do not object to him personally, but I object to his administration.
– Are there any serious charges against him ?
– The position is that the Territory is languishing instead of progressing under his administration. I have nothing to say against his conduct in regard to the natives; that has been admirable.
– There has not been enough money to do very much.
– There are only 600 white persons in the Territory, and the number is not increasing, because land cannot be procured, and no development is taking place. When Sir William McGregor was there the planting of rubber and cocoanut trees was going on, and, indeed, it was asserted the other day in the press that a rubber plantation established by him fifteen years ago had only recently been discovered by the present authorities. The white residents of the Territory say that the administration is entirely unsatisfactory. O’Brien’s case shows a certain amount of looseness. In that case a man who had been imprisoned for the commission of a common assault escaped, and a Government official issued the notice that he might bo shot down at sight if he refused to surrender. The whole administration has been lax and inefficient.
– What is the complaint against Captain Barton?
– The complaint is that he lacks administrative capacity. That has practically been admitted by the Government : otherwise, why should they have approached Sir William McGregor?
– Whom does the honorable member suggest as fit to occupy the position?
Mr.BAMFORD. - I do not suggest any one, butI agree with the Prime Minister, who voices the cry “ Australia for the Australians,” and I think that an Australian should be appointed to the position.
– Even an Australian who has no brains.
– That isa nice thing for the honorable member to say - that Australians have no brains.
– I did not say that; and if the honorable member repeats the statement, I shall tell him, in a very few words, what I think of him.
- Mr. Atlee Hunt, in his report, says that we not only have the money necessary to provide for the development . of Papua, but that we also have in Australia men who are capable of administering the affairs of the Possession in a satisfactory manner.
– What about Papua for the Papuans ?
– I might be willing to agree with that sentiment. I am not so sure that it is not a matter for regret that we ever had anything to do with Papua. Unfortunately, however, the British Government showed such , a -want of sympathy with the aspirations of Australia, and such , a disregard of her interests, that we felt it incumbent upon us to undertake the responsibility attached to the control of the Possession. As far back as 1870, Sir John Robertson took action, and urged the Imperial Government to take possession of New Guinea, but they failed to do so, and, as a result, a large portion of the island passed under the control of Germany. It was very much the same in the case of New Caledonia and other islands in the Pacific. In conclusion, I desire to say that, in my opinion, the Commission has been appointed for no other purpose than to whitewash the present administration of Papua. I regret that it has been appointed, andI do not think it is too late even now to retrace our steps.
– Yes. it is.
– Then the hands of Parliament have been forced by the action of the Government. I do not think that the Commission should have been appointed until the motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Moreton had been disposed of.
– There is nothing hostile to that motion in the appointment of the Commission.
– I think that honorable members should have had a full opportunity to arrive at a decision upon that motion before any decisive action was taken by the Government. The report of Mr. Atlee Hunt is a condemnation of the administration, and my honest opinion is that the Commission should never have been appointed.
– The honorable member for Bland asserted that I stated that Australians had no brains. He must have known that his statement was not correct. As an Australian myself, I should never dream of making such a statement as that. The honorable member for Herbert suggested that an Australian should be appointed to administer the affairs of New Guinea, and I interjected, “An Australian even if he had no brains?”
– Where is the difference?
– When the honorable member for Darling cannot see the difference, the unfairness of the statement of the honorable member for Bland is fully indicated. Some Australians are idiots, and some are, of course, just like other men. I hold that Australians have just as much intelligence and strength as have other Anglo-Saxons. Some Australians are fair, and some are absolutely unfair. The honorable member for Bland is an adept at misrepresentation. Last session he made a statement in this House which I challenged as being unfair, and he then sought the intervention of the Speaker to make me withdraw the word “ unfair.” I do not believe in placing any one in a position of responsibility unless he is fit to occupy it. If an Australian could be found who was fit to administer the affairs of Papua2 I should have no objection to his appointment; but no Australian would be entitled to occupy- the position, unless he were fully capable of discharging the duties attached to it. All things being, equal, I would give the preference to an Australian. When the honorable, member for Bland made his interjection, he thought that he had got hold of something which he would be able to use for electioneering purposes. He has shown that he would be capable of adopting almost any means to serve his own ends.
– I am sorry, that I misunderstood the honorable member with regard to the interjection he made. He complains very bitterly about misrepresentation and unfairness, but according to his own statement what he said by way of interjection was intended to attach a certain meaning to the statement of the honorable member for Herbert that he knew full well that the honorable member never intended to convey. The intersection was of a most unfair character. The only inference that could ‘be drawn from it was that the honorable member for Herbert contended that any Australian was good enough to administer the affairs of Papua.
– Nothing of the kind.
– No one could conceive of the honorable member for Herbert putting forward such a silly contention, and it was most unfair of the honorable member for New England to suggest that he had taken up 7 n v such attitude.
– The honorable member for New England merely asked a question.
– I did not mark the note of interrogation. To my mind, the action of the Government with respect to Papua is hardly such as to give satisfaction to their friends. For a considerable period it has been evident to any one who has cared to take the slightest interest in the history of the Possession that it has been steadily drifting, mostly to leeward. When Sir William McGregor was the Administrator of the Possession, the most vigorous and sensible policy of development was pursued, and at the same time proper regard was paid to the interests of the natives. Although then, as now, money was scarce, there was something to show for what was expended. Ever since Sir William McGregor left the Possession the policy of drift has been in full swing, and that is why persons who have attempted to become settlers there have found themselves blocked at every turn. Upon the one hand, traders have found it almost impossible to obtain land. Many applications for land to be used for the purposes of trading stations have been held over for- a couple of years, and no satisfaction can be obtained from the authorities. The members of the mining community have had to get along as test thev could without roads, and even without tracks fit for pack-horses. They have been compelled to rely upon tracks along which it was possible to transfer their goods only on the heads of native carriers:
– Who have been killed off bv the score.
– I believe so. From the stand-point of settlement this condition of affairs has involved enormous expense upon, those who have been endeavouring to make their living in the Possession. Something like is. per lb. has been charged for the carriage of rations from the coast to the gold-fields
– The country is very difficult to travel through.
– Perhaps so, but no attempt has been made by the Administration to improve the conditions.
– How much money have they had at their disposal?
– They have had enough money to enable them to spend , £7,000 per annum upon the steamer Merrie England,, and yet they could hot afford to spend£700 per annum upon the improvement of the roads to the gold-fields. Seven hundred pounds would have gone a considerable distance if it had been expended upon the construction of tracks fit for packhorses.
– The officials have had as much, money as was placed at the disposal of Sir William McGregor.
– Yes; they have had more, because the revenue has increased. The miners have never asked for roads, but merely for tracks fit for packhorses, and yet until recently no effort has been made to comply with their request. Sir William McGregor insisted upon the natives planting cocoanut trees for their own good. That regulation which he brought into operation has, under the administration of Sir George Le Hunte and Captain Barton, fallen into disuse. Very recently the officials in Papua were astonished to discover a plantation which had been laid out by prison labour under Sir William McGregor, and which had been lost sight of since his departure from the Possession. There is nothing wrong in permitting prison labour to be employed in that way. It seems an admirable way of employing native prisoners. In bringing under Government influence members of savage and semi-savage tribes, it is necessary to hold some under some kind of duress until they realize what white institutions really are . These men have to be fed and emploved in some fashion, and Sir William McGregor entertained the very wise idea of utilizing their labour to put in Government plantations of cocoanuts. With his depart- ure that method of employing them was allowed to cease. Altogether the administration of New Guinea has been such that we cannot look back upon it with any degree of satisfaction, except so far as we have not been in full measure responsible for it. I hold that the responsibility for this policy of “drift “ rests primarily with the late Administrator, Sir George Le Hunte, and, secondly, with the Acting Administrator. Captain Barton, who has now been in the Possession for nearly threeyears.
– Where does the Government responsibility come in?
– I think that the Government have some responsibility, too. The blame for the general drift which has occurred lies primarily with the late Administrator, and, secondly, with Captain Barton. I am prepared to admit, with any friend of Captain Barton’s, that, so far as I have had an opportunity to judge him, he is a man for whom nobody can feel anything but the greatest personal respect. All that I have heard regarding his treatment of the natives, his safeguarding of their interests, and his securing for them freedom from molestation at the hands of the miners and other white settlers, is of the most favourable description. Concerning this gentleman, in a subordinate position, as Commissioner of Police, and subsequently, as Acting Administrator, there is not a word of criticism, but everything in the nature of commendation to be said so far as his treatment of the natives is concerned. But that in itself is not sufficient. No doubt the trait to which I refer is a very admirable one in his character, and one that the Common wealth Government should see is possessed by any future Administrator of the Possession, because we have a. right to jealously guard the interests of the natives who are placed under our care. But we have a right to do more than that. We. have a right to see that the funds of the Commonwealth are wisely expended, and that the burden upon the taxpayer is lightened by such legitimate settlement as New Guinea will permit. Further, we should insist that the natives in a reasonable measure shall help to make good to the Commonwealth the cost of administering the Territory, and of preserving law and order there.
– Are we going to settle these things always by the appointment of a Royal Commission ?
– That seems to be the latest idea.
– Did not the Minister of Defence visit New Guinea to investigate all these matters for himself?
– No; he merelv went as far as Thursday Island. Speaking as an outsider, who has endeavoured to give some attention to the Possession, I am in the highest degree disappointed with the administration which has characterized it for some time. Turning to other matters, I would point out that the gravest dissatisfaction exists amongst the white settlers there.- We also know that dissatisfaction exists amongst a considerable proportion of the officers. Whether in that regard the Administrator is right or wrong, I do pot pretend to be able to judge. That is a matter for the Government to decide. Ordinary members of Parliament who have not access to all the papers connected with these cases cannot be expected to express a definite opinion upon them. But, in regard to one case which has come before Parliament and the country - I refer to that in which Chief Surveyor Richmond was disrated because of a complaint which he lodged against the Administrator - I wish to say - after looking through the papers which were laid upon the table to-day - that the decision of the gentlemen in Melbourne who investigated it, necessarily at a disadvantage, owing to the fact that they could not examine witnesses orally, is an inexplicable one. They had the sworn testimony of four officers of the Executive Council, and against that they accepted the word of the Acting Administrator. I do not say that the Acting Administrator is likely to lie upon a subject of this sort, but I do say that it is more likely that one man would be mistaken than that four men would be in error, when they definitely swear to an actual happening. As far as the Richmond case is concerned, I think there is room for further inquiry. I am quite prepared to admit that there is room for a more detailed inquiry - for the examination of witnesses orally - in order that some estimate may be formed of their reliability. I knew Mr. Richmond as a Government official in New South Wales before he went to New Guinea, and all that I knew of him there was of the most favorable description. That, however, does not necessarily insure that he is right in this particular instance. There is another case which, to mv mind, indicates that the Administrator has not a proper recognition of his dutv either to the people of Australia or of New Guinea. In what is known as the O’Brien case, a prisoner escaped from custody. He was in prison upon a charge of assault, and he escaped bv attacking the native constable who was on guard. I do not wish to say anything in extenuation of his action in that connexion. He mav be one of the worst of scoundrels, and in any case the officers were justified in using every reasonable and lawful effort to recapture him. But the magistrate bv whom he had been tried - M:r. Griffin - posted a notice at the centre of the Yodda gold-field calling uponthe miners to assist in his recapture - a very proper thing - and further authorizing any miner whom O’Brien declined to accompany, in order that he might be handed over to the authorities, to shoot him at sight.
– The honorable member must recollect the circumstances of the country.
– The circumstances of the country form no excuse for going beyond the law of the Possession. The surest way to encourage law-breaking is for the responsible authorities to ignore their own laws. I do not say for a moment that Captain Barton was responsible for this magistrate having posted the notice ;n question, but I do say that after the papers had come before him, and when he was asked to make a report upon the sub:ject, he gave no indication whatever of an, reproof having been administered to that officer, or any intimation that he regarded his act as anything more than an ordinary incident. Even after the Chief Justice of the High Court had been asked to report whether, in his opinion, the notice was 1n accordance with the law of the Possession, Captain Barton, in his position as Administrator, did not rebuke the magistrate and ask him to keep within the limits of the law.
– What did the Chief Justice of the High Court say?
– When asked- as the result of action by the Prime Minister - to express his opinion upon the order which had been issued, he said that it was absolutely unlawful and without justification.
– In a wild man’s country it is necessary to take strong action.
– The regulations which were passed bv Sir William McGregor have not been altered by his successors. There are other circumstances connected with the O’Brien case upon which I do not wish to express an opinion this afternoon. There are matters upon which’ it is difficult for honorable members to form an opinion. Against O’Brien’s word there was pitted the word of a number of natives. If T were a magistrate. I should require to something of the circumstances and of the men before I would necessarily prefer the statement of a number of natives to that of a white man. Upon the other hand, it is quite possible that the magistrate knew sufficient of O’Brien’s general character to justify him in accepting the word of the natives upon the occasion. in question. But, irrespective of the consideration of whether O’Brien had a right to remain in custody, I say that the Administrator did not rise to a proper appreciation of his responsibilities when he allowed the notice to which I have referred to be issued by the magistrate without reproving him for his conduct. That notice was brought under his attention when he was asked to furnish a report upon the subject. As a matter of fact, he even forwarded the notice with the other papers bearing upon the case, but without uttering a word of comment in respect of this grave proceeding. In the case of Chief Surveyor Richmond, there is another circumstance which, to my mind, is a direct reflection upon the Administrator. When Richmond made his charges/ the Administrator suspended him. In doing so he acted strictly within his rights. But the proper tribunal to decide whether or not Richmond’s charges were correct was the Commonwealth Government. Instead, however, of leaving the determination of the matter to the Government, the Acting Administrator decided to bring it before the local Executive Council, of which Richmond was a member. When it was found that a number of the members of that body wert likely to side with Richmond, the extreme course was resorted to of swearing in a new member in order to secure a majority against him.
– Did the swearing in of a new member make more than the proper number of members upon the local Executive Council ?
– I am not quite certain ; but that is not material to the point at issue. The point is that the Administrator was so anxious to secure a majority in the Council against this officer - the Chief of the Survey Department - that he swore in a. new member. That gave him a majority.
– Does he admit that the new member was sworn in for that purpose ?
– The new member was sworn in immediately before the question was dealt with by the Council, and it seems to me that practically there is no answer to my contention. To my mind, that act was an evidence of incapacity on the part of the Administrator. Any sensible man would have referred the whole question to the Commonwealth Government 01: to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral.
– It shows a want of fairness.
– Viewed from any stand-point, the incident does not appear to reflect credit on a man occupying such a position. I do not wish it to be inferred that I am insinuating that Captain Barton deliberately went out of his way to injure Mr. Richmond, but I do say that he has throughout shown a lack of capacity. He has shown, to begin with, that he is not able to manage men or to control affairs in the way they should be controlled bv one holding so important a position. That is the only charge - if it be a charge - that I. desire to make on the present occasion. Coming to the question of the responsibility of the Government, it seems to me that they must have made up their minds some time ago that Captain Barton was not the best man for the position of Administrator. If thev did not arrive at that conclusion, why did they consider it necessary to go to so much trouble in endeavouring to secure the services of Sir William McGregor ? I admit that Sir William McGregor did splendid work in Papua.
– He is a “has been.”
– It is true that he is becoming an elderly man.
– He is only about fifty-nine years of age.
– I can well understand the Treasurer, who is only fifty-nine, regarding that as a comparatively early age.
– He considers that a man , of fifty-nine is at his best.
– Quite so; but the right honorable gentleman would hesitate to undertake in the tropics work that he would have been prepared to carry out there twenty or thirty years ago. rI am sure that he would scarcely care to again undertake at his time of life many of the great services which, as an explorer, he rendered to Australia in his younger days. At all events, the attempt on the part of the Government to secure the services of Sir William McGregor was a clear indication that they had arrived at the conclusion, after an experience extending over several years, that Captain Barton, although he might be an honorable and an estimable man, was not fit to discharge the important duties intrusted to the Administrator of Papua.
– Does the honorable member think that, if we induced Lord Roberts to take command of our Forces, our action would be regarded as a reflection on all the military officers of the Commonwealth ?
– I do not say that it would be a reflection on them, but it would be tantamount to an admission that the Government felt that they could not obtain locally as good a man to act as General Officer Commanding.
– But in this case, one man was to supplant another.
– That is so. Captain Barton had practically been acting as Administrator for three years, and it was decided - very properly, I think - to endeavour to enlist the services of another man to take his place. I fail to see how the Government can reconcile the stand they are now taking with their earlier action. They professed to believe that Captain Barton “was not the proper man to discharge these duties-
– He has had some experience.
– Having failed to secure the services of the gentleman whom they thought most desirable to act as Administrator, they proceeded to appoint a Commission to take the whole responsibility off their shoulders and to shelve the matter for a considerable time.
– And what sort of a Commission is it?
– I have no desire to criticise the personnel of the Commission, but it is not such a body as I should have chosen for the work to be dealt with. That, however, is not the chief point that I have in mind. The point is that the Government should have been prepared to decide this matter upon the information at their command. I do not say that the Richmond difficulty could have been so decided, but the question of appointing an Administrator must have been practically decided by them when they agreed to endeavour to secure the services of Sir William McGregor. What will be the result of the appointment of this Commission? It will mean, another three, four, or six months of inaction, so far as Papua is concerned. During the’ last four or five years, there has been a policy of drift in regard to the Territory, and I think that we shall not have a chance of recouping any reasonable proportion of the ,£20,000 per annum which we have voted until the drift has been arrested.
– We should make Papua self-supporting.
– Even if we cannot do that, the sooner we arrest the drift the better, and the first step in that direction will be the appointment of a man vigorous in mind and body to the office of Administrator. I do not care who is appointed. I have heard a number of names suggested, but the question of who is to be selected for this office is not material to the point at issue. It is for the Government to say who among those offering is the best fitted to carry on the work. There is a growing necessity for the appointment of a man who is mentally and physically vigorous. Complaint after complaint has been ventilated in Parliament, or in the press, as to the difficulties placed in the way of traders, miners, and the white settlers generally in Papua. Complaint is made that men cannot secure land - that they cannot obtain a decision in respect to applications for holdings. Quite a number of cases of that kind have been published, and practically no defence has been made.
– The white settlers also say that thev cannot secure fair treatment.
– The miners say that they cannot ; but I do not pretend to 1 able to express an opinion on. that point. I do say, however, that the condition of the settlement, the state of the tracks, and so forth, as well as the complaints of which we have heard and read, all prove conclusively that there is every need for a change. That being so. I regret verv much that the Government have seen fit. by the appointment of a Commission, to shelve this matter for some considerable time. It would take the Commission some time to reach New Guinea, some time to make its inquiries, and some time to return.
– What are thev going to inquire into?
– I do not know. I presume, however, that a number of complaints will be brought before them, and that thev will have to deal with them. Whether any matters have been specifically referred to them I cannot say.
– The papers have been laid on the table.
– Has the Commission been laid on the table?
– It has been kept backtill the last moment.
– The papers to which I refer were laid on the table about ten days ago, and they fully explain what is to be done.
– Even granting that the Commission is composed of clear-sighted consciencious men, it will still have a most difficult, not to say delicate, task to perform. The Commission are asked to say whether Captain Barton is so incapable, so inept, that he should be superseded ; they must set down in black and white their opinions on that point. I take it that that is what they are practically asked to do - to brand him as a man unfit to undertake such work in the Imperial service.
– They are not likely to do that.
– It is a verv awkward position in which to place sensitive men.
– At any rate, I suppose thev will give some reasons.
– The disposition of the right honorable gentleman! in these circumstances^
– What would the honorable member have done?
– I should have taken the responsibility of either affirming the appointment of Captain Barton as Administrator, or of appointing some one else. If the right honorable gentleman has not sufficient courage to take either of these courses I cannot help it.
– The honorable member might have done a grave injustice.
– I might have done, hut as a member of the Cabinet I should have had the advantage of information that is not now before me. The right honorable .gentleman has had at his command all the official papers that are in the Department. It has been open to him to consider the question in detail, and, having done so, to arrive at a decision.
– But this matter does not come within the Department of the Treasurer.
– I am aware of that. The right honorable gentleman asked me what I should have done had I been a Minister, and I am pointing out that all the departmental papers are at his command. The Question involved is not a highly technical one. It is simply one relating to administrative capacity. Surely one could form an opinion on that question without prying into every detail of the life of Captain. Barton’ or of his subordinates. The sole question is whether, in view of the resources at his disposal, Captain Barton has done the best for Papua. I contend, with all deference to the opinion of others, that that is a question which could be settled by Ministers in Cabinet on information already at their command.
– I have never heard am,thing against Captain Barton.
– I have not heard anything against him personally, but the right honorable gentleman’s hearing must be defective if he has not caught the sound of serious complaints in regard to the general administration of Parma.
– I have heard that some people wish to get rid of Captain Barton in order to put some one else in his elace.
– If that is the only point involved, why have not the Government confirmed Captain Barton’s appointment? Why have thev bothered about the appointment of a Commission? I should honour the Government for confirming the appointment of Captain Barton if thev were convinced that he was a good man, capable of doing excellent work, and deserving of the position of Administrator.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.30 p.m.
.- I regret that the honorable member for Herbert, in his criticism of the administration of Papua, said that he is sorry that the Commonwealth has taken over that Territory. Great Britain has been described as a weary Titan. Her burdens of Empire are so enormous that her statesmen may be pardoned for sometimes regarding them as too great to be borne. But we shall not live up to our duties and responsibilities if, after five short years, we, a vigorous and thriving young Commonwealth, adopt a tone of pessimism in regard to our only Territory. The honorable member’s remark was certainly not made in the spirit of an Empire builder; this is not the note of Empire. The position occupied by the United States of America is not quite the same as ours, because its Governments have always had to control Indian populations, and have thus acquired considerable experience in dealing with subordinate races. It is only since the recent Spanish war, however, that that country has acquired territory outside her own borders, and in the Philippines has now to govern a small minority of whites living in the midst of a large majority of coloured peoples. The United States have made mistakes, and the Tait Commission was appointed to inquire into the administration of their oversea territory. No doubt the Commonwealth, too, will make mistakes in its administration of Papua. Democracies and republics arc not ready enough to recognise that a benevolent autocracy is the form of government best suited to coloured peoples. To apply constitutional democratic methods is to court failure. What is necessary is the strong man with the strong hand, whose internal administration - as long as it is fair and just - will be uncontrolled. While the 600 whites in Papua understand constitutional democratic government, the natives there have always been accustomed to be ruled by brute force. Their traditions and their laws teach them to recognise the Government which is seen to have force and power behind it. In regard to the O’Brien case, I do not know who was in the wrong, but I would point out that on the confines of the Empire we cannot govern in kid gloves. A white man cannot be allowed to flout law and order merely because his gaoler is a black man, and should not expect to be treated in Papua exactly as he would be treated in Melbourne.
– But the authorities should keep within the laws laid down for their guidance.
– Sometimes what appears the most illegal process is the wisest and best to pursue. I understand that O’Brien was locked up on a charge of assault, and made his escape in defiance of the authorities. If that is so, it was the duty of the magistrate to assert his position, so as not to allow the natives to think that white men or black can flout the power of the Commonwealth. O’Brien should have been shown that he would not be allowed to break the law merely because his gaoler was a black man.
– No one objects to observance of the law being required ; but the magistrate said that, O’Brien might be shot on sight.
– Is there any proof of that?
– Yes; the fact is stated in the papers.
– Apparently the man was declared an outlaw, but no doubt the King’s authority had to be maintained.
– The honorable and learned member would not have tolerated it had he been concerned.
– I can conceive of circumstances in which, if I were a magistrate, I would feel it my duty to act very summarily, and ho doubt the honorablemember for Bland would support me in. doing so. It is regrettable that the Royal. Commission has been appointed at the request of Captain Barton, though I do not link that it is intended to be a whitewashing Commission. If the Ministry think that information is required which can be obtained only by this means, well and good. The fact that its report” cannot be presented before the dissolution of the present Parliament is immaterial, because the next Parliament will have a free hand to deal with the whole matter, and its members will be fortified with the evidence placed before them by Commissioners whom I have not heard spoken of as either incapable or objectionable. For my own. part, I shall welcome information in regard to the best way in which to administer Papua, no matter whence it comes. We have no right to criticise those who are administernig this Territory, unless we have full knowledge of all the facts. They are engaged in performing a very difficult task, and if we weaken their hands by adverse criticism without knowing the real facts, we shall not only injure them, but shall injure the Commonwealth, too. A white population, living in the midst of a large black population, is always inclined to be turbulent, and discontented, because its members have been used to constitutional government, and are not favorably disposed to other methods. Consequently, the Administrator and his officials have a very difficult task, and it is our duty to see that, so long as they do right, thev are assisted in upholding and asserting the supremacy of the flag and the authority of the Commonwealth and of the Empire.
, - I shall not labour this question, because 1 have already spoken upon it. In my opinion, the Government have not kept faith with honorable members iri appointing this Royal Commission. Knowing one or two of the Commissioners, I do not think that the best men have been chosen- The white people who have gone to New Guinea have, no doubt, done so to further their own interests, but they cannot do that without developing the resources of the Possession, and they have not received that, consideration from the Administration which is their due. It is all very well to talk about the consideration that has been shown to the natives. I do not think that any one has found fault with the way in which the natives have been treated. Although Mr. Atlee Hunt has described the miners of Papua as a rather rough lot, he had to pay them the compliment of saying that they have co-operated with the Administration in keeping intoxicants from the natives. They cannot be verv rough, since they will not descend to making use of native labour for the carrying of their tools and rations. ->
– Miners are always a chivalrous class of men.
– Exactly. It seems to me that those who have been sent to Papua to inquire into the conditions of life there have shown a certain degree of pre.judice tin characterizing these Chivalrous men as a rough lot. Mr. Hunt, in the concluding paragraph of his report, says: -
I hope that full recognition will be given to the two duties to which reference has been made as being imposed on us by our acquisition of British New Guinea : tha one to our dark-skinned fellow-subjects - to give them the advantages of civilization, divesting them, so far as we are able, from the evils that too often follow in their train ; the second to ourselves - to make the fullest use of the goodly heritage it is our privilege to possess.
I do not think that the people of the Commonwealth know what a goodly heritage the Possession is. Hitherto the Administrators of the Territory have not done their best to develop it. I have no personal knowledge of Captain Barton, and therefore have no feeling against him or his predecessors ; but, in my opinion, while they have been trying to bring the natives under the influences of European civilization, and to get them to conform to our customs and habits, they have not given that attention to the development of the resources of the Territory which they should have given. There are in the Possession indigenous plants of high economic value that will grow and yield a large return with a minimum of labour. But what has been done? The revenue of the Possession falls short of the £20,000 which we are paying for its upkeep. It amounts to a little more than £19.000. The condition of affairs should” be verv different in a country like Papua, where the possibilities are so great, and where the soil is equal in fertility to any in the world. When we compare what has been done in Papua, with what has been accomplished in German New Guinea, we have every right to declare that the administration of the former has not been- a success. The Germans have accomplished infinitely more than we have done, although the possibilities of their territory are not so great as are those of Papua. It is a matter for regret to me, as an Australian, that Germany was ever allowed to set foot upon the island. Like many other persons in Queensland, I was politically opposed to the late Sir Thomas Mcllwraith, but I recognise him as one of our . Empire builders, because of the action which he took in connexion with New Guinea. He did the right thing at the right time, but Britain did not support him. If it had not been for the remissness of the Imperial authorities upon that occasion, we should have been in occupation of that portion of New Guinea now held by Germany, and we should not have had a power, which may possibly become hostile - although I hope not - within easy reach of our shores. To our shame be it said, that Germany has developed her portion of the island, whilst we have allowed our Territory to remain in a state of nature, and have contented ourselves with trying to induce the natives to conform to laws which they do not understand.
– According to the honorable member’s argument, Germany should have taken possession of the whole of the island.
– My argument is that we should change our policy, and maintain the prestige of the British race, which has been the great colonizer of the world in modern times. I think that Great Britain is losing her prestige as a colonizing power when she permits another nation to get ahead of her upon territory adjoining her own, and possessing smaller potentialities. In every other part of the world where Britain has planted her Colonies she has been successful.
– Papua has not been a. failure. <
– It has been a failure so far.
– - I think that the Administrators have done remarkably well.
– They have done so well that some of the plantations laid out bv Sir William McGregor became so hidden in the scrubs that it was only within the last year or two that they were rediscovered. I freely admit that the new land ordinances will remove many of the evils of which we have complained, but I think that the Prime Minister will grant that no matter how good the law may be, it will not prove effective unless it is administered by sympathetic officials.
– No laws will remove the malaria from the country.
– The honorable member should not air that old fad. Malaria was once prevalent round about the Hawkesbury River, in New South Wales, and the settlers at Botany Bay and Sydney were at one time at the point of starvation, and had to await the arrival of provisions from England. The first case of malaria and fever and ague of which I ever heard was contracted on the banks of the Hawkesbury River. Wherever virgin soil is turned up, malaria becomes prevalent. It is not peculiar to the tropics, but is met with in the Arctic regions. _ I have heard people speak of New Guinea fever and Gulf fever and malaria as if a white man could not live in tropical regions where such diseases are known to exist. Some of the best men in Australia, however, are living well within the tropics. We are, however, dealing with the administration of Papua, and not its climatic conditions. The Government have admitted that the present administration is not satisfactory, inasmuch as they have approached Sir William McGregor with a view to inducing him to accept the position of Lieutenant-Governor. If that gentleman had consented, Captain Barton would have been superseded; Sir William McGregor cannot, however, make it convenient to come here.
– Why not?
– I cannot tell the honorable member.
– He can read between the lines.
– It is quite possible. Perhaps he knows that, if the Government appointed him, they would act against the wish of Parliament.
– Why does the honorable member say that?
– I think that the majority of honorable members are opposed to the appointment of Sir William McGregor.
– Why does the honorable member conclude that?
– I gather that from the opinions I have heard expressed all round. The administration of Papua under the Commonwealth should be a credit to us, and the Possession should be selfsustaining. Mr. Atlee Hunt suggests the necessity for a change in the administration, and also that it should have at its head an Australian citizen, in close and recent touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth, and with the needs, requirements, and conditions of Papua. He says -
It is not apparent that they (the Administrators) have been working in furtherance of any well-defined object.
– Mr. Hunt was in Papua for only about ten minutes.
– I do not care whether he was there for ten minutes or ten months. The Government are apparently acting upon his report. I think that it is about time that we began to work in furtherance of some well-defined object. Mr. Hunt further says -
It will be generally agreed that the time has now arrived when a goal should be set up to the attainment of which the Government officials should be instructed to employ their best endeavours.
At page 20 of his report, Mr. Hunt bears out my contention when he says-
It is, of course, not money alone that is necessary, but I feel confident that we in Australia can find the men possessed of the foresight, industry, and ability necessary to guide this great enterprise to a successful issue.
The Government do not take that view. They have gone to Newfoundland to secure a man to place at the head of the administration*. Having, failed in that direction, they have appointed a Royal Commission to make it appeal that Captain Barton is the best man for the position. That is how it appears to me. One of the members of the Royal Commission is well known to me in his official capacity. I refer to Mr. Parry-Okeden, the late Commissioner of Police in Queensland. He is a man of considerable ability and bush experience, the latter having been gained for the most part in southern Queensland. He has been called the man from the Snowy River. He was born upon thf slopes of Kosciusko, or somewhere in that neighbourhood, and he is to be sent to New Guinea to specially inquire into the conditions of that tropical country. Had the Government really been earnest in their desire to secure the best information concerning the development of the Possession, they would have appointed to that Commission men who were possessed of a knowledge of tropical conditions- - -men who had lived in the northern portion of
Queensland or in the Northern Territory, and who had had experience of association with a virile race of natives such as is not to be found in the southern part of Australia. They would have limited their selection to individuals who have had to establish homes in tropical regions, and to blaze tracks for others- who might come after them. It is from this class that Commissioners should have been chosen to inquire into the conditions which are. likely to lead to the development of New Guinea. The appointment of a Commission to inquire into that question comes as a surprise to those who have taken an interest in it. We were led to believe that no action would be taken until the House had an opportunity of dealing with the subject. Yet, short of the appointment of the Lieutenant-Governor, the most definite action has been taken by the Government. I am - aware that we cannot undo the appointment of the Royal Commission. That is beyond our power. But I do think that we have not been fairly dealt with in this matter, and that an opportunity should have been afforded honorable members to fully and freely discuss the position before the Government took any step such as that to which I have referred.
.- It is very refreshing to find my socialistic friends at last exhibiting a lively interest in the public business. Three out of the four members who have already spoken1 upon this question have been members of the Labour Party.
– There are more to follow.
– It must be some extraordinary occasion which brings the members of that party together in such strong force1 - an occasion which does not concern the country at large so much as it does the party itself.
– A little while ago the honorable member was talking about unfairness. His remark is very fair.
– The honorable member exhibits extreme sensitiveness !
– I object to unfair insinuations as to motives even when they come from the honorable member.
– Then I should strongly advise the honorable member not to make unfair interjections. This afternoon he made about as mean an interjection against the honorable member for New England as it was possible to make.
– That is incorrect. I would ‘say something more if it were parliamentary.
– The honorable member would say whatever suited him, whether it was true or not.
– I rise to a point of order. Is this impertinent jack-a-napes to be allowed to insult honorable members?
– The honorable member for Bland must withdraw that remark.
– - In deference to you, sir, I withdraw, but I would ask whether the honorable member is in order in making statements such as he has been making during the last few minutes?
– If the honorable member for Wentworth has said anything to which the honorable member for Bland takes exception, I am sure that he will withdraw it.
– I do not wish to debate the capacity of the honorable member for Bland to make unfair interjections. I was merely remarking that it was very refreshing to see my honorable friends present for the purpose of cracking a socialistic whip over the Government. Of course, we cannot expect the latter to interpose in a debate of this character until they have ascertained the will of the Committee. But may I suggest that this is too small a matter for such a loud crack of the socialistic whip. The whole question relates to one billet which is being very worthily filled at the. present time.
– The question involved is the administration of the Possession.
– Is the honorable member content to allow the present Administrator to retain has office?
– I say that the administration of the Territory has not been what it ought to have been.
– After all, the sole object of the intelligent interest which the Labour Party are exhibiting in national affairs is to secure the removal of one man from a billet which he is occupying with credit.
– He is not occupying, it with credit.
– That is where we agree to differ. The socialistic party has obtained many concessions from the Government.
– It is not long since the honorable member himself took up a similar attitude with regard to another gentleman.
– I have never sought to oust any member of the Public Service from his position.
– That is not correct.
– It is correct, and I challenge the honorable member to disprove it. It seems to me that the genesis of the whole trouble is the anxiety of the Labour Party to get a gentleman who is in “ recent and complete touch with Australian
I nought ‘ ‘ into the position of LieutenantGovernor of New Guinea. They desire to oust the present occupant of that office, and to secure the appointment of a gentleman whose claims have .been persistently canvassed in each of the Houses of this Parliament. That would mean that the Labour Party would have a much easier election to fight in Western Australia than would otherwise be the case.
– That is worthy of the honorable member.
– In a matter of this kind it is as well to get the gloves off.
– And therefore to tell untruths.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member for Bland in order in accusing another honorable member of telling untruths?
– The honorable member for Bland would not be in order in accusing any honorable member of telling untruths, but I did not understand him to do so. If he did, I am sure that he will withdraw his remark.
– I should like to ask whether the honorable member for Wentworth is in order in imputing motives to us by declaring that we are advocating the claims of a certain member of this Parliament ? I gave his statement a flat denial .
– The honorable member for Wentworth would not be in order in imputing dishonorable motives to any honorable member.
– They are not dishonorable motives.
– I must remind the honorable member for Lang that it is not in order for an honorable member to interrupt when the Chairman is speaking.
– If this agitation on the part of my socialistic friends were successful, it would inevitably make an election in Western Australia more simple for them than it otherwise would be.
– We shall get three members returned to the SenaTe just the same.
– That is merely a side issue.
– As long as the honorable member admits it is an issue at all I am satisfied. I merely wish to sa.y now that if we require as Lieutenant-Governor of New Guinea a gentleman who has been in close and recent touch with Australian political thought, the Treasurer might very well be appointed to “ that highly ornamental billet.
– I am not a billet hunter.
– I do not think that the Treasurer is ! If, however, he thought it would be to the interests of the Commonwealth that he should go to that distant Possession, I am quite sure that he would go.
– We cannot spare him.
– I can conceive of nobody who is tetter qualified for the position than the Treasurer, because he has been in close and recent touch with every political party in Australia.
– He has the admiration of them all.
– Exactly; and they are, therefore, all anxious to see him take up this arduous post. However, I have no desire to continue this line of reasoning. In dealing with the office of Lieutenant-Governor of New Guinea, our first consideration must be the natives of that Possession. The administration of the Territory chiefly concerns them. The present occupant of the office of LieutenantGovernor is a gentleman who is heart and soul in sympathy with the natives. Certain honorable members appear to think that he is a man who has made no sacrifices, and who, to quote the words of the honorable member for_Moreton, “has lived in carpeted halls.”
– I think that he has considered the natives in every way. I said that all the Administrators of the Possession have been very considerate to them.
– And the present Administrator has been no less considerate than has any of his predecessors. This afternoon the honorable member for Bland stated that land concessions in the Possession could not be obtained, despite the fact that applications for them had been made more than two years ago. Does not that statement suggest that the cause of the delay may rest with this House? I shall refer honorable members to the Papua Act passed last session.
– It has not yet been proclaimed.
– It is just proclaimed, and will come into force on 1st proximo.
– The honorable member will admit that it has been in print for some time, and I do not think that an Administrator worthy of his position would have done anything pending its proclamation contrary to the spirit of the Act.
– In some cases these applications have been in abeyance for two years.
– And it is something like four years since the Papua Bill was first introduced. I propose to quote a provision) from the Act for which this Parliament must inevitably take the responsibility. In the first place, the fee-simple of Crown lands in Papua is not to be alienated.
– The same condition applies throughout the Malay Federated States.
– That does not affect this issue.
– What did Captain ‘Barton say as to the non-alienation of land? .
– Whatever his opinions may be, the honorable member knows that he has always endeavoured to loyally’ uphold the statute. In section 41 of the Papua Act it is provided that -
The Lieutenant-Governor shall not assent to any ordinance of any of the following classes, unless the ordinance contains a clause suspending its operation until the signification of the Governor-General’s pleasure thereon : -
Any ordinance dealing with the granting or disposal of Grown lands.
The honorable member for Bland has complained that Crown lands have not been alienated, and yet under this Act they cannot be alienated.
– What I said was that applications for land had not been dealt with.
– They were held over, perhaps, until the passing of this Act.
– No. Applications were practically made long before the Papua Bill was on the stocks.
– That would be more than four years ago.
– Less than that. At the time in question there were existing ordinances in relation to the lands of British
New Guinea, and the applications to which I refer - applications for trading sites consisting of, perhaps, an acre, or a fourth of an acre - should have been dealt with within a reasonable time.
– If the honorable member held office as Lieutenant-Governor of Papua, voald he be prepared to act on an existing ordinance, when he knew that a measure was being considered by the governing power which would affect that ordinance ?
– But the Administrator might give a man permissive occupancy of a trading site.
– I presume that’ would mean an alienation of Crown lands.
– Not necessarily. A mar* could be given some form of tenure that would enable him to occupy, perhaps, a quarter or a ha If -acre block.
– Then, again, in subsection 7 of section 41, we have a provision applying to -
Any ordinance relating to the sale or disposition of or dealing with lands by aboriginal natives of the Territory.
It is quite possible that native lands were applied for. Under this Act those lands cannot be disposed of. It is very clear that the case which the honorable member for Bland has put is one for which the responsibility lies largely at our own door, and not at the door of the LieutenantGovernor of Papua.
– I think that the alienation of Crown lands was stopped as soon as we agreed to take over the Territory.
– But I am speaking only of occupation, not of alienation.
– Sub-section 7 relatesnot only to the sale, but to the disposition, of native lands.
– The honorable member is arguing around the question. I say that the land to which I refer was available, and that it was the fault of the Administrator that applications were not dealt with within a reasonable time.
– The honorable member is usually very reasonable. I think hewill admit that, if he wished the Committee to support him, he should have shown at the outset that that was the position. He has just said for the first time that the land in question could have been dealt with by the Lieutenant-Governor. But even now he has adduced no proof of his contention. 1 have mentioned one instance in which this
Parliament has expressly prevented the disposition or alienation of Crown lands in Papua, and, so far as they are concerned, the Parliament must accept the responsibility. How arewe going to’ bring about the development of these possessions of the Commonwealth unless we allow their products free entry into Australia? How can we grant any means for developmental purposes unless we give the people of Papua a market for their produce? Honorable members of the party who are now complaining would be the first to deny to the Papuans a market in Australia for their products.
– That is another base assertion.
– Would the honorable member allow the products of Papuan labour from British New Guinea free entry into the Commonwealth?
– Under reasonable conditions. I would give them a preference, but I would not admit the products of all black labour on the same conditions as those of white labour.
– We wish to know what the honorable member means by “ preference “ ?
– I cannot explain by way of interjection.
– I shall give the honorable member an opportunity in a few moments to explain what he means. I have pointed out two directions in which we can help to develop Papua. The responsibility for not having availed ourselves of these opportunities rests absolutely with us, and not on any gentleman who may be, for the time being, administering the Possession. The present Administrator has very ably filled his position, and it is unworthy of this Parliament to make an attack upon him on no better grounds than the flimsy ones which have been mentioned during this debate.
– The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has made some reference to possible aspirants for this position that demands attention before the main question is dealt with. We all know that a member of this Parliament has paid special attention to tropical countries, and the best methods of dealing with native labour and tropical products. The Government have received recently from the honorable senator in question a very valuable report, and prior to that he had given the best evidence of his practical attention to these questions. I suppose 1 see more of the honorable senator in this building than most honorable members. During the refreshment hour he occupies a seat close to me, and I have often seen him on business matters outside this House. Never at any time, however, has he directly or indirectly suggested to me any ambition of his own to occupy such a position as that of Administrator of New Guinea.
– Nor so far as I am concerned has there been any canvassing.
– It is only due to the honorable senator who has been so directly indicated that his name might as well have been mentioned, to say that at no time has he taken any step, directly or indirectly, or so expressed himself, as to indicate any effort to secure such an appointment. At no time has he attempted to influence my judgment in connexion with Papua.
– I never said that he had.
– That is so. So far as I know he has not attempted to influence the minds of my colleagues.
– I said that some honorable members were anxious to secure his appointment.
– That may be because they think he is the best man they know for the position ; it may be for other reasons besides his undoubted ability. The question as to the way in which the products of Papua shall be dealt with by the Commonwealth will be a practical one at no very distant date. At present it is not. With the exception, perhaps, of a little coffee, the Papuans are producing nothing that is affected by the Commonwealth Tariff. But when we seek to develop the agricultural resources of the Territory, we shall be confronted with the question of what encouragement should be held out to the white settlers whom we hope to see planted there. That will become at no very distant date, a practical question ; at present, unhappily, it is not. May I point out that the whole history of this Possession has been marked by illfortune. In the first place, it includes only half the area that we ought to have obtained : in the next, when, in consequence of pressure from Australia, control was accented by the Imperial Government, it was used unwillingly and in the most grudging fashion. Whatever was accomplished during the early years, when Sir William
McGregor was Lieutenant-Governor, was due entirely to his own energy, initiative, and courage, and not to the stimulus he ought to have received from the Colonial Office. During the time it remained under the care of Downing Street, British New Guinea was a foster-child. It was unwillingly adopted, and received scant consideration. Then, in my opinion, it was prematurely forced upon the Commonwealth. In view of the action previously taken by the people of Australia, we could not refuse ‘ the obligation, nor would we have sought to refuse full control, when free to give it the attention it deserved. Unfortunately, we had to fake over nominal control, and to accept our share of a dual responsibility at a period when, owing to pressure of other responsibilities, this Parliament was quite unable to give to the’ questions affecting Papua the careful attention they required.
– We accepted it by our own act.
– Only in consequence of insistent pressure. We were perfectlywilling to accept it; but it was forced upon us too soon. The Imperial Government declined to continue the administration of the Territory, and required that we should, within the shortest time, take over responsibility for it. A delay of a few years would have been immaterial to them, but would have meant much to the Possession. When we acquired authority, we were confronted, not only with the difficulty of the dual control, as it may be termed, but by the fact that we had not the time or the opportunity to deal with the land, labour, or liquor laws. Fortunately, the latter needed no amendment. No new laws were promulgated pending the passing of the new Constitution. That passed last year, and will come into operation on the 1st prox. In a technical sense, it has not been proclaimed; but the Governor-General in Council has authorized the issue of the proclamation. Strictly speaking, the proclamation will take place on the 1 st of next month, when, from being a Crown Colony - governed according to the wishes of the .Government of the Commonwealth, but through the GovernorGeneral as representative of the British Government - Papua will become the first Territory of the Commonwealth under our Constitution, and under this Parliament. As honorable members are aware, we have lately taken the steps necessary to add to the Legislative Council the three members whom we were authorized to appoint. They will be representatives of the three small communities in the Territory. The new laws which have already been drafted and revised by us will be submitted to the new Council, on which the nominees are men who, so far as we can judge, would have been chosen if an election had been authorized. There are in Papua not quite 600 whites, of whom from 1 20 to 130 are women, and a few children. -
– The honorable and learned gentleman says that these men would have been selected, “ so far as we can judge.” He means so far as the Administration in Papua can judge?
– Those who have been chosen have taken a prominent part in local movements among the white residents, and are generally considered representative men.
– Will the Council be elected in the future?
– That is a matter for Parliament to determine. The new Acts have been returned with our suggestions for revision, which were laid on the table and, I think, generally approved. We are at last in a position to make a start. Ever since the acquirement of the “Territory its administrators hae had to struggle against grave difficulties, many of which are such as cannot be removed by any Constitution. It must be remembered that we are dealing with a country where a black population will probably always immensely outnumber the whites, who are few and scattered. There is no telegraphic communication with the mainland, and the Territory has to be governed from a distance of more than 2,000 miles, communications taking from six weeks to two months to go and return. In parts of Australia we have to deal with tropical conditions, and with sparse settlements, but the difficulties of doing so are very much greater in Papua. When a complaint is received from a white settler there, the map must be consulted to ascertainwhere he has made his home, and how far it is from the nearest mission station, or the residence of the nearest of our half-dozen district magistrates. The great distances, absence of roads, consequent isolation and climate, must be taken into consideration in appreciating the courage and persistence of the settlers of Papua, and the difficulties of its administration.
– The officials have the constabulary to protect them, whilst thesettlers have not.
– The native constabulary is an excellent force, but those who have seen photographs of its dusky members will not regard it as constituting society for white officials. As to protection, the settler gets as much as we can afford, and as much as he needs, the miner in Papua, as elsewhere, being generally well able to protect himself. Weary distances separate the homes of many of the settlers from the residences of the nearest officials and the seat of Government at Port Moresby, and it is rarely that even small boats ply along the coast. Many of the evils of the trying climate will diminish, and perhaps disappear, as the white inhabitants adopt the modern methods which are being popularized throughout all British tropical possessions; but at present malaria must be reckoned with. Neither officials nor set.lers escape its attacks, which do not tend to improve their tempers or brighten their outlook.
– The Yankees have got rid of malaria at Panama. ‘
– They are following the lead set in West Africa, and adopting largely the methods of Sir William McGregor, who is recognised as a leading authority on tropical diseases and complaints. I ask the Committee to recollect these complex considerations in endeavouring to measure the trials of the settlers and the methods of the Administration. It has been suggested that nothing has been done to make the gold-fields of the interior of the country accessible. That is not so. A track is now open from Buna Bay to the Yodda field, a distance of upwards of 70 miles.
– When was it finished?
– It has not been perfected ; but it was cut through early this year.
– Since this agitation began ?
– It has been in progress for the last two years.
– Practically little of it was done until very recently.
– A horse or mule can now travel along it as far as a stronglyflowing river, whose name I forget, where the traveller must ferry his possessions across, and obtain another beast if he can for the resumption of his journey beyond. The work has cost a great deal of money, because it has been largely experimental, but future enterprises of the kind will be less costly. A track, 34 miles in length, leads to Sagari from Port Moresby, passable for either horse or mule. Other tracks have been marked out, and will be gradually ‘cleared. Within the last month or six weeks I have been able to make £750 available for work of this kind. The Government intend that these undertakings, which are preliminary to all settlement, shall be pushed on as fast as. funds permit. The question has fairly been asked, why Ministers, while recognising the difficulties in the way of the present Administration, considered the possibility of persuading Sir William McGregor to return from Newfoundland, where he holds the honorable position of Governor-in-Chief, to a country with whose early days he was associated. Franki)-, from this distance, and with the light thrown .upon the position by official reports and conflicting communications received from time to time, it is impossible for a Minister to say how far any delay in providing means of access to the mines, or in putting settlers in occupation of land, is due to the circumstances to which I have referred - the distances, the difficulties of transit and of examining the country, and the smallness of the official staff - and how far to other causes.
– Did not the honorable and learned gentleman say that the land laws have been practically suspended ? .
– Yes; but not so as to render it impossible to grant leases, although there has been great delay even in dealing with applications for short leases. The Administrator declares in emphatic language that the Land Office has failed ir* its duties by neglecting to push forward ap=plications, while those censured have retorted that the delay on their part has; been unavoidable, the central executive being chiefly at fault. It is suggested! by the papers in the Richmond case, ant! in one or two other instances, that the officials in Papua are not working together well. But at this distance, having but a slight knowledge of the personnel of the staff and of the natural conditions of the country, it is impossible to pronounce definitely either upon the work being done or left undone. Attention has Been called to a significant sentence in the report of Mr. Atlee Hunt, who spent a month in the Possession last year.
– Read what Mr. King says.
– The white residents of Papua have no more hesitation about expressing their opinions in regard to official and other reports than have Australians, and their verdict generally is that Mr. Hunt’s report, although based largely on the experience of others, is the best compendium we have of the knowledge available, and contains many valuable suggestions. Mr. Hunt called attention to the significant fact that no definite policy appears to have been laid down for the government or development of Papua. Sir William McGregor is a strong, resolute, capable, daring man, who carried his life in his hands from the day he landed. He did not fear to visit, alone and unattended, natives who had never seen a white man, nor heard the Eng’lish speech, and were unacquainted with the means of protection which firearms afford Europeans. Bv force of his strong personality, although sometimes acting in high-handed fashion, he dealt with the Possession in such a way that, during his tenure of office, it developed remarkably. This development was due, not to the encouragement given to him, but to his personality and energy. It seemed to us that he, having succeeded under most arduous and difficult circumstances, not in making himself the favorite of every one, but in winning recognition due to his zeal, courage, and devotion to duty, we could not do better than tn, to induce him to renew his connexion with the Possession, which he had been the first to conquer. We were aware that it would be only two or three years before his time for retiring might come, but we hoped that this period would suffice to enable him to do what no Minister residing in Australia can do, that is. to decide how far the progress of the Territory has been impeded by official inertia, mistakes, or neglect, and how far it has been impeded by natural difficulties, the existence of which must be admitted, which would have hampered anyAdministration.. With his knowledge of work and conditions in tropical climates, and his capacity for controlling men, he would have been able to step in and decide how far the existing personnel of the Administration was capable of carrying out the forward policy we desire to see adopted. The verv fact that we looked to Sir William McGregor implied a certain recognition on our part of the fact that the Territory has not made the progress we expected or desired. It is impossible, however, for us to judge how far the Administration is responsible for the tardiness of the development of the Territory, or to decide between the officers who, unfortunately, are not in unison as to the policy to be pursued, or as to the degree of responsibility to be attached to the various Departments. So far as I can see, the officials of Papua are, on the whole, a fairly efficient body of men. Captain Barton is a most amiable gentleman, very deeply interested in the care of the natives. Further, he made a most excellent officerwhen he was in charge of the constabulary. He has under him a number of other apparently good men, most of them thoroughly interested in their work. In fact, I do not know how any man could remain in such a country, unless he was interested in his work. But there are two distinct lines of thought among those who are resident in Papua, including those who are charged with official duties. Almost the whole of the miners and storekeepers claim that the administration is unsatisfactory, and is not calculated to induce white people to settle in the country or to make the best of its resources. This -is also the’ opinion of a few of the chief officers of the Territory. On the other hand, a majority of the officials are of opinion that it is not possible to afford that encouragement to white settlement, which is desired bv the miners and others, without unduly trespassing on the rights of the natives or involving an amount of supervision which the present finances will not permit.
– Has not Captain Barton permitted to fall into disuse the regulations relating to the planting of cocoanut palms by the natives? I admit that he has done extremely well in protecting them against aggression on the part of the whites.
– The Administration has made the care of the natives its main’ object. It has acted in accordance with the traditions of the Colonial Office, which, I think, we mav fairly claim are the best in the world, in regard to the treatment of the coloured peoples. We may not be very well satisfied with all our past dealings’ with subject races, but the task beyond all others to which the Administration in Papua has devoted itself has been the extension of the sphere of peaceful control of the natives. I am sure that we are all in accord that this should continue to be the main object. A number of the white residents say - and some of the officers, too - that whilst continuing paternal care for the natives, and protecting them as at present, we can bring the unused lands of Papua under tropical cultivation. They urge that this should be done, not only with a view to the profit of the whites, but in order to enable the natives to lead’ a healthier life. It is an undoubted fact that since village has ceased to war with village, the physical condition of the natives is deteriorating. Nearly every village may be said to be occupied by a separate tribe, and prior to British occupation of the Territory outbreaks used to occur, almost yearly between them. This kept up the stamina of the natives, and maintained them in better physical condition than, they show when thev are mere idlers no longer called upon to protect themselves. There are signs, especially commented upon by the Administrator and his officers, of deterioration among the residents of those villages which have been longest under our control. The one exercise that the natives had previously was the exercise of arms in which they indulged, because of the necessity of protecting themselves against aggression. Now that this necessity is removed they have next to nothing to do, because, being a chivalrous people, they prefer to leave to their wives the task of cultivating the ground, and of providing the supplies which they are graciously pleased to consume, as a favour. Consequently, critics have the support of the Administration when they say that under present conditions the physical condition of the natives is not likely to be maintained at the standard of the old days, and that the encouragement of tropical agriculture coupled with a close control of native labour, such as that how observed, would not only develop the riches of the country, but would provide a measure of beneficent employment for such of the natives as could be tempted to undertake it. Not only would the country be developed, but it would be settled bv white men, who would help to insure its protection.
– What about providing a market for the products of the settlers in New Guinea?
– That will become a practical question as soon as we encourage white settlement in Papua.
– I think that it is a practical question now.
– Except for a little coffee produced in Papua, we do not receive from there anything that is dutiable. When Papua produces something besides copra, which is free, and a few other articles, which are of no concern, we shall have to consider the question of providing a market for the products of the Territory. I have no doubt that the House will then be prepared to cope wilh it. It has to be admitted that in Papua there are two currents of opinion, towards one of which the white population inclines, and towards which I think this Parliament is also bound to incline. I think that honorable members will be in favour of adopting an Australian policy of development for the Possession. We already have a considerable area of unused lands, and could easily obtain more without depriving the natives of the very large tracts reserved for their use, which are carefully guarded against encroachment. We have abundance of land for white settlers, and if we had been content to accept a chartered company as a tenant some years ago, we should long before this have had a large area settled and rendered highly productive. The Australian people were unwilling to place any portion of the lands or the labour of Papua in the. hands of a chartered company. They preferred to proceed by the slower means of encouraging white settlers to make their homes.. It must be admitted that, according to the statement of the miners and many of the traders, mining and settlement have hitherto received scanty encouragement. Although there are difficulties which no Administration could overcome, the charge that there has not been a sufficient amount of sympathy on its
Dart towards the development of Papua bv means of white settlers has still to be substantiated or disproved.,
– It has not been want of sympathy, but want of capability on the part of the Administrators.
– If the fault has been due to the Administration, I would rather suggest that it was due to that want of initiative and energy characteristic of those who have their vitality burnt out of them by years of residence in malarial districts.
The man who can sustain two or three attacks of malarial fever yearly, and preserve his energy unimpaired, is little short of a marvel. Recently a visitor landed at Port Moresby, and found every official down with malaria.
– That is why we want to appoint as Administrator an Australian, who will be inured to malaria.
– Malaria is to be met with in Australia, as well as Papua, although it is rapidly disappearing from our coasts, as it will also disappear from Papua in the course of time. The two currents of opinion to which I have referred clash. On the one hand, there are the advocates of the old Crown Colony policy of protecting the natives and resting content with that. On the other hand, there are those who support a progressive policy, which, although not less regardful of the interests of the natives, aims at the development of the country, and its garrisoning by means of white men, not paid as an army of occupation, but using the land under such conditions that they can obtain a reasonable return for their labour. Papua, although it is only a portion of the island of New Guinea, is, as Mr. Hunt vividly points out, a land of contrasts. It possesses inaccessible mountains and sodden morasses. In some portions it has a heavy rainfall, whilst in others droughts prevail. It has soil of all classes, and is capable of producing a variety of products. It has great mineral resources, which ought to be tested and developed ; and presents great facilities for the development of some tropical products which ought to be profitable. Now that we are becoming directlv responsible for this Territory, the Ministry of the day and the Parliament behind it cannot evade the responsibility of deciding for one policy or the other, and of also deciding by whom that policy shall be carried out. It would have implied no personal reflection upon Mr. Barton, who has been Acting Administrator of Papua for two years or more, if a man like Sir William McGregor, so much his senior in years and standing, and possessing greater experience in the Territory itself and elsewhere, had been asked to occupy the position of Lieutenant-Governor for the next three years. It would have conveyed no reflection on the existing Administration if Sir William McGregor had been asked to set our house in order in the manner that his judgment and know ledge would have enabled him to do. When it became impossible for us to secure his services, the responsibility - whch I had no desire to evade - fell upon us to determine what course should be followed from the 1st September next. No portion of the duties that I have had to discharge as a member of this or any previous Governments has occupied more time and attention, or given me more anxiety, than those connected with the control of the affairs of Papua - a Territory 2,000 miles away, which I have never seen. Towards the place and its people I have every desire to act justly and wisely. Although I have twice lived in the tropics for short periods, and have passed through them at other times, thus gaining some experience of what life in the tropics means, I do not* feel competent, with the materials before me, to sav whether the Administration has justified itself, or whether it is open to fair challenge, for having missed opportunities and for having governed by inertia rather than progress. It was while I was thus perplexed that I received with surprise a letter from the Acting Administrator. So far as I can judge from the date of that communication I do not think that any news regarding the offer which had been made to Sir William McGregor could then have reached him. The letter was written in July last, and reads -
Sir, - An idea having, by some means, gained ground in Australia that the present Administration of British New Guinea is unsatisfactory, I have the honour to request that a Roval Commission may be appointed at an early date to visit this Territory, with a view to inquiring exhaustively into the matter.
Not only do I regard such a course as eminently necessary in order that ill-founded impressions may be authoritatively dispelled, but also in the future interests of the Possession, for unless existing charges and grievances - whether real, imaginary, or malicious - are ventilated, injustice will inevitably be done to’ individuals, and the nature of this may be more far-reaching in its injurious effects than is at present evident.
I shall esteem it a favour if you will inform me, by telegram, whether my request is favorably regarded.
I have, etc.,
– In the early portion of the letter he refers to “ ill-founded prejudices.”
– He refers to “illfounded impressions.” In the face of that letter, arriving as it did whileI was per- plexed, honorable members will see that, in justice to the Possession itself, and to the officers concerned - who were not in harmony one with another, and have recently been interchanging mutual charges as to their several responsibilities for administrative delays and difficulties - the Government could not refuse an inquiry. What possible ground had we either for confirming the continuance of the Acting Administrator and his officers in a position in which they admitted complaints - alluding, perhaps, to the McGregor rumour, or more probably to the statements which have been made in this House from time to time-
– They are nothing by comparison with the statements which have been made in the press.
– It was only fair to grant him an inquiry when he asked for it.
– He did ask for it.
– But he can be judged by his work.
– How can we judge it when we are 2,000 miles distant from the Possession? We cannot know how far the Administrator may have been hampered by incapable or unsympathetic officers.
– Have not officers been appointed during Captain Barton’s term as Acting Administrator?
– Not with the exception of juniors. The Government felt bound to support the Acting Administrator, and I have never failed to lend him effective support.
– Whilst he remains in his present position he deserves to be supported.
– We severely punished the officer to whom the honorable member referred - Chief Surveyor Richmond - and he has certainly accepted his punishment like a man. He has gone out to the backblocks to take up his work, appealing for an opportunity to be heard orally, with a view to clearing himself of what he regards as an unjust decision.
– A very manly stand for him to take.
– I admit that. When an Administration is rent asunder by such dissensions, how can it be confirmed in office or dealt with by dismissing either one party or another, without a proper investigation being conducted upon the spot?
– Did not Mr. Atlee Hunt report upon the conditions obtaining in New Guinea?
– These difficulties began to come to the surface just about the time that Mr. Hunt was leaving the Possession, and only ripened afterwards, I think that we have had enough Royal Commissions appointed recently - not that I am opposed to their use in obtaining information. Certainly nothing but the extreme remoteness of the Possession, and the difficulty of arriving at a just decision in regard to its present deadlock, would have led the Government to appoint the present Commission.
– What is the scope of the Commission ?
– I will read it. Its purpose is summed up under two headings, namely, “ How far, and in what manner, the Government can assist the development of the Possession ?” We put that consideration first. Mr. Atlee Hunt stated in his report that there was no definite policy pursued in the Territory. Out of his knowledge, he recommended the adoption of a policy. His recommendations have been criticised by the Administration, and we have also ideas of our own concerning a suitable policy. The Government consider their first duty to the Possession is to lay down a consistent line of policy, which should be pursued with a view to its development. The second matter into which the Commission will inquire is, “ Whether the existing personnel and methods of administration should be altered, and to what extent ?” Honorable members will recollect that the Administrator with three or four chief officers, is located at Port Moresby. There are only two resident magistrates within easy reach of him. Some of them are visited only at long intervals. Each has practically a kingdom under his control. These kingdoms are peopled in parts by hostile tribes, which require to be treated with firmness. We have, therefore, to risk mistakes being made. Undoubtedly, Mr. Griffin made a mistake in the O’Brien case. Mistakes must occur when we have officials who are only visited once a year by the Administrator, and many of whom never see a white face in twelve months. These officers live amidst surroundings from which most white people would fly. Yet they remain. They have heard, as Kipling writes, “ The East a’calling,” and thev have sacrificed home, family, friends, and, in some instances, the prospect of a career elsewhere, in order to undertake a task, always ungrateful, and which can only be carried on at great cost to health. I omitted to mention to the Committee that these officers are not under the Colonial Office. They have no pension. They have no claim to any consideration, unless in the future we may decide that a gratuity shall be given to officers who have served in the Possession for some years. Therefore, every man endeavours to cling to his post. At the present time, we are faced with the difficulty that some of these men are approaching the age when their retirement will be rendered necessary. So far as we can judge, from the discord between the officers, some of them must go. The question therefore arises, “ How are those to be dealt with who go and how are those to be dealt with who remain ? “ Can these problems be solved upon purely documentary evidence 2,000 miles away from the Possession?
– The Government have an Administrator, and they should either support him or appoint somebody else.
– But we must act upon evidence. The Administrator himself has been censured, and now asks for an inquiry. Even the honorable member for Moreton must admit that it would be hard to find men who have had a wider experience than have the members of the Royal Commission which has been appointed.
– Will they be the guests of the Administrator in New Guinea ?
– No. A special residence has been provided for them, and their requirements will be supplied independently of any officer whatever. That has been done to enable the Commissioners to speak their minds in the freest possible way. Mr. Herbert, the Government Resident of the Northern Territory, has lived there for a number of years, and is a barrister by profession. Mr. Okeden, to whom reference has been made in this debate, has had long official experience in Queensland. Colonel Mackay has been a member of the New South Wales Cabinet, while in South Africa and elsewhere he has seen a good deal of the black races, and is acquainted with the best methods of handling them. Certainly, the Commission will not be a whitewashing one, so far as any instructions which have been issued’ can control its decisions. Its members will be sent to New Guinea perfectly free. They will assume nothing either for or against any officer, but will satisfy themselves on the spot as to the natural conditions which have to be surmounted, as to the work which has to be done, and deal with the charges which will be formulated in connexion with the re-hearing of Mr. Richmond’s case, a re-hearing to which he is certainly entitled by every rule of justice. When they have dealt with the official complaints, they will examine the methods of administration pursued, and criticise them fearlessly. They have nothing to hope or fear from their recommendations, which will neither govern the Government nor the House, unless they commend themselves to us by reason of the case which the Commission are able to make out. We must trust to the members of that body a great deal, because they will have opportunities of acquiring knowledge personally which practically none of us enjoy.
Mr.Poynton. - Will the Commission have power to recommend what shall be the land policy of Papua?
– That has been settled.
– We have settled the land policy under the new Act, but we shall have the criticism of the new members of the Council upon it. If the Commission choose to glance at that question they may ; they are not invited to do so unless it comes directly within the sphere of their observations.
– The land policy of Papua is settled by Act of Parliament.
– That is so. If it is amended it will be in consequence of the representations of the people who live there.
– We shall have control over the question.
– Absolutely. It is unnecessary for the Commission to inquire into the liquor, land, or labour ordinances-
– Will they inquire into the treatment of the indented blacks?
– They will if any one invites their attention to it.
– Have not the Government instructed them to inquire into that question ?
– No; because no one has set his name to a charge of abuse as regards the indented blacks.
– The death rate of 23 per cent. ought to be sufficient.
– The honorable member knows that was of one year, and it spoke, not of ill-treatment, but of the unhealthy conditions arising in newly-opened tropical country. The death rate, to which the honorable member alludes, was followed by a fall almost as remarkable as was its rise.
– These indented blacks were immigrants.
– That is so. They came from another district. They had livedin another altitude, and were then engaged in opening up ground which had never been mined or cultivated.
– Would that account for the death rate amongst them being so far in excess of that amongst the white settlers in the district?
– Yes, because the blacks are immediately engaged in the work of opening up malarial lands.
– Does not great mortality always follow when whites undertake such work ?
– The mortality is great amongst whites when they undertake the work of opening up new ground in tropical countries, as in Panama lately.
– Does not the Prime Minister think that the Commission might well inquire into the question?
– We have had it inquired into by the magistrates, who took such precautions to conserve the healths of the blacks that the death-rate fell very rapidly. Since then no application for inquiry has been made; but the Commission are free to inquire into this as well as into any other question.
– The latest death rate is 6 per cent. ; that is heavy.
– It is not heavy when we recall the fact that the Papuan is unaccustomed to continuous labour. He undertakes the work of mining and opening up new land in a new district because of the inducement held out to him.
– But surely the high death-rate ought to be inquired into.
– It has been; and we are endeavouring to prevent natives of one district being put to work in another where their health will suffer.
– The inquiry was made by men who are responsible for the conduct of their own Departments.
– No; it was made by magistrates, who have no interest in the mining operations. Complaint is often made of the severity of their supervision, and it is said that they have little sympathy with the miners. There is no objec tion to inquiry. I should welcome it ; but the probability is that those living on the spot are better able to suggest how the deathrate might be decreased than are men who remain for only a few weeks.
– If in developing thecountry it is found that the interests of the blacks conflict with those of the whites, is the question of who shall be supreme to be considered?
– Yes; in our opinion, Papua belongs first to the Papuans. Their well-being is to be studied in most respects even before that of men. of our own colour.
– The first question relates to development, and development may be a bad thing for the blackfellow.
– No; I have already pointed out that there are many unoccupied areas that can be devoted to cultivation and mineral research without encroachment on the native lands, which are more liberally granted than anywhere else. Our labour regulations in Papua are, I believe, among the most severe in force in any part of the world. Every precaution is taken before the natives are allowed to sign on, and when they leave their employment care is taken that they receive the full amount of wages due to them. They are protected in every way. That is our first line of policy, and we have stated that fact in a letter to the Commission. I was about to say, in answer to the criticism to which we have been subjected, that we hope to see our Australian policy applied to the unutilized portions of the Possession. That means the policy of development to which I have alluded, and that it must necessarily be carried out by Australians. On the score that they are not Australians, complaint has been made of the proposal to appoint Sir William McGregor, or to allow Captain Barton to remain. Although Captain Barton is not an Australian, his experience in Papua extends over so many years that he is very like an Australian.
– I think he is fairly qualified on that ground.
– No less than half of the officers under him - I admit that most of them are in the lower branches of the service - are Australians. The number of Australians on the staff is increasing every year. As men die or leave the service,’ the vacancies so created are filled by appointments from Australia. In a few years every officer in Papua will be an Australian. I see no objection whatever to the appointment of an Australian to the chief office or to any other position in the Territory that becomes vacant.
– Provided that he has the necessary qualifications.
– Exactly. But it has been urged that the mere fact that a man is an Australian should be sufficient to justify or to bar his claim for an appointment. Of course it is not.
– The policy of the Government is “Australia for the Australians.”
– Our policy is “ Papua for the Papuans, and then for the Australians.” So far as Australia is concerned, it is “ Australia for the Australians “ first and foremost, because our aborigine population is so small and so well provided for that it need no longer be taken into consideration. Four or five years hence 90 per cent, of our staff in Papua, from the chief downwards, will be of Australian birth.
– Is the Chief Justice an Australian?
– He is, and several of the leading departmental heads are Australians. So far from Australian birth being an objection, it has been a recommendation.
– I wonder that the Government were able to find in Australia a mar capable of taking the position of Chief Justice.
– I think we have a number of men capable of filling the position, but there are not many prepared to live in Papua.
– Have we not an Australian who is fit to act as Governor of Papua?
– We shall have Australian Governors in the future. To make the Australian policy there a sound one, we need to give Papua the best possible staff, trained by men who have spent their lives in handling natives, and who have lived in tropical climates. It was for that reason I thought it most desirable to endeavour to secure the services of Sir William McGregor - a man who could have trained up a body of young Australians according to the best traditions of the dealings of the British, Colonial Office with tropical countries. I looked forward to such an appoint, ment, not as being opposed to the policy of “ Australia for the Australians,” but as calculated to put that policy on a firm basis. I have to apologize for having detained the Committee so long, but it is rarely that the attention of honorable members is focussed upon this distant dependency. From the 1st September next it will be part of our own territory, and we shall have to deal with it in a practical way. I make my apology only to honorable members present, and not to the Parliament, which must now take into consideration the fact that Papua is in our hands. It is a great trust. It is a country with a population of hundreds of thousands of savages, to whom we are giving opportunities of education and progress, of which advantage is being taken by the missionaries. We provide the opportunities, and the missionaries go ahead of us in giving the natives that education and assistance and training in the useful arts that will enable them to live in a higher sphere than they have yet reached. We have this great responsibility on our shoulders; we have also to face the responsibility of effectively occupying Papua with as many white settlers as possible, in order that it may be safeguarded. Poor as our progress mav seem, it bears comparison with that made by our German neighbours, who are spending twice as much as we are on State subsidies, and yet are unable to show better results. It is true that they are undertaking plantations on a great scale. They are pushing on, and will soon outstrip us unless we take vigorous action.
– Is any alternative course to the Commission to be proposed ?
– I know of none. Whilst the honorable and learned member was temporarily absent I detailed a number of complications due to the difficulties of administration, and ‘ pointed out that they could be dealt with only on the spot.
– Some one will have to go there eventually.
– Quite so. We shall send the Commission to Papua. They will submit their recommendations, and then this Parliament will decide the policy to be adopted and the persons to be intrusted with the work of giving effect to it.
– The Committee must be grateful to the Prime Minister for the many interesting particulars he has given as to the climatic conditions and the general administration of Papua. I think, however, that he has failed to justify the appointment of the Commission which is shortly to leave Australia for the Territory. He has stated that the staff at present ex- isting there is as capable and as experienced a staff as we are likely to secure for such an out-of-the-way place. And yet the Government, in order that they may determine what shall be the administration of the future, propose to send to Papua a Commission which, however capable it may be, has not the experience nor that intimate knowledge of local conditions which is possessed by many of the officers - to whom he has referred as being capable men - now in the Territory. Those officers have devoted years to the study of the conditions of the Territory, and to the carrying out of the policy which first emanated from Great Britain, and was subsequently continued by the Commonwealth. In these circumstances, surely they are in a better position to arrive, at a conclusion as to questions of administration, as to the laws most desirable for the natives and the whites, than are gentlemen who at the most can remain there for only a few months, and will have to form their conclusions from the rapid survey of the conditions which they can make during that short period.
– The officers do not agree.
– As to that point, the Ministry have on the Commonwealth staff officers who have possiblymore experience of such matters than have the members of the Commission. Such an officer should be as capable of judging and dealing with all these matters. He could give more time, if necessary, to their consideration; his inquiries would cost less than will those of the Commission, while his conclusions would be far more likely to be reasonable and satisfactory.
– A Commission of one man ?
– If these Possessions are to be governed as they ought to be, we shall have ‘to trust largely to one man, and the Government will have to put themselves behind that man. lt has been the giving of support to the men selected for the administration . of territory too distant for those at Home in Great Britain to be able to say what is best to be done that has helped to’ build and maintain the Empire.
– - We should pick our man, and back him up.
– That must be the principle adopted. Let us remove our official if we have cause for dissatisfaction ; but, so long as we have faith in a man, and believe that he is acting rightly, we should support him, and let him take responsibility.
– Does the honorable member think that an officer in close touch with the Minister is the right person to authorize to make inquiries?
– There are officers in our service who, without disparagement of the Commissioners, have greater experience of the conditions existing in places like New Guinea, and are in that respect more capable of conducting an inquiry such as is needed.
– Does the honorable member think that one officer should be appointed to inquire into the conduct of another officer ?
– Certainly. The Minister who controls the affairs of New Guinea has a perfect right to satisfy himself, either by means of a personal visit or by the sending of a trusted officer, that things are being properly conducted there. I do not say that an officer should be appointed to come to any determination, or to award punishments; but he might very well be asked to put the case clearly before his Minister. He would act as the ears and eyes of his political chief, and, after making inquiries in various directions, would report the situation as he found it. If necessary, more than one officer could be sent. The inquiries of an officer could be more extended than those of the Commissioners are likely to be.
– Is there not safety in numbers in’ these cases ?
– I do not think that it is necessary to appoint any large number of persons to make an inquiry of this kind. I would rather leave it to one man, whose previous experience had qualified him for the work. I am sure that the honorable and learned member would not regard himself, as I should not regard myself, as well qualified to make an inquiry of this kind. The person sent should have lived under conditions similar to those existing in New Guinea, in some other British Crown. Colony, and should have had to do with native races and their management. It will be most unfortunate if we have to send Commissions to New Guinea whenever there is a quarrel between officers there. No doubt the excuse for asking the Commissioners to report upon the present disputes is that they will be upon the spot, and therefore it is desirable that they should report on the subject. If, as I suppose, the letter which has been laid on the table is merely an elaboration of the terms of the Commission, the inquiry will have a very wide scope, and will require more time than, I think, the Commissioners will be prepared to spend in that climate. The dispute between Captain Barton and Mr. Richmond has been already dealt with by a Board, which has come to a decision in regard to the matter.
– It has been dealt with only on the papers ; no evidence was taken. Mr. Richmond has appealed.
– If every officer who appeals after the consideration of his case by a ‘Board is allowed the appointment of a Royal Commission, we shall have Commissions going to New Guinea every few months. The only excuse for re-opening this case is that, as the Commission has been appointed to visit the Territory, we may as well take advantage of the opportunity to examine Mr. Richmond and his witnesses. In addition to a number of other matters to which the Prime Minister has alluded, the Commissioners are asked to report ‘how far and in what manner the Government can assist the development of the Possession, whether the existing personnel of the administration should be altered, and, if so, to What extent. It is stated, in regard to the natives, that -
There appears to be no reason to believe that in the past their interests have been to any noteworthy extent diregarded, but any suggestions from you that will tend to enhance their wellbeing will be welcomed.
The Commissioners are also told that the question how to further the mining industry will doubtless receive their best attention. Some of them, no doubt, have had no experience in connexion with mining, and none of them know anything of the conditions under which’ it is being carried on in New Guinea.
– Mr. Parry-Okeden knows a little about mining. He has had experience in Northern Queensland.
– The Commissioners are to report on the state of the law in regard to mining. They are also told that the agricultural development of the country largely depends upon the land laws and their administration. This forms another subject of inquiry. The letter concludes with the statement that it is the desire of the Government that the Territory shall be rendered self-supporting at as early a date as possible, under which head suggestions will be looked for in the report, while its contents are not to be regarded as in any way attempting to limit or regulate the scope of the inquiry, but simply as pointing out the directions in which improved methods are possible. I do not know when the Commissioners will come to the end of an inquiry such as they are asked to undertake. They cannot deal with all these subjects in the time at their disposal.
– They will consider all that thev think it necessary to consider.
– After their report has been received the Ministry must deal with it, and then it must come before Parliament. When are we to get finality ?
– We are only just making a start.
– In my opinion, we are beginning wrongly. It would have been better to appoint an efficient Administrator, and leave matters in his hands. A policy of drift has existed since the Commonwealth took control of the Territory, for which both the Ministry and Parliament are responsible. In 1902 the Prime Minister assured us that it was necessary to take speedy action in legislating for the administration of the Territory, but the Papuan Constitution was not passed by this Parliament until 1905.
– Would the honorable member blame Parliament for that?
– I do not say how the blame should be apportioned -between the Parliament and the Ministry, but, in view of the fact that Parliament includes the Ministry. I take it that Parliament is mainly to blame. I think that some reproach attaches to those honorable members who elevated a comparatively small matter into a position of the first importance, and prevented the Bill from becoming law until that matter was settled. With regard to the proposal that an Australian should be appointed as LieutenantGovernor of Papua, I should be very pleased to see an Australian appointed, if we could feel assured that he would prove a. successful Administrator. We must procure the services of a man who has had experience in the handling of native races. Our treatment of native races has not been such as to indicate that a purely Australian policy would result satisfactorily to the coloured inhabitants of Papua. I am sure that the desire of this Parliament is that the natives should be treated as they have been in the past, under British control. The treatment of the natives in Australia in the past, even up to the present day, has not been such as to lead us to believe that an Australian would necessarily prove the best Lieutenant-Governor who could be chosen for the Territory. I am not reflecting in any way upon Australians. I believe that they are capable, and that many of them would be animated bv a desire to govern the Territory to the satisfaction of all concerned. But I think that in the first instance we should indicate the policy that we desire to be carried out, especially as applied to the natives, and then select the best man that we can find, whether he be an Australian or otherwise. We know that Sir William McGregor’s great success was due to the fact that he was able to handle the natives with the most satisfactory results. It was his capacity in this direction more than any other that made him such an able administrator. If a spark were kindled by a tactless act on the part of the LieutenantGovernor, the whole Possession would be ablaze, murders and outrages would follow, and peace would be restored only by the use of the rifle and sword, the resort to which we do not desire to see. The first qualification of. the LieutenantGovernor, whether he be an Australian, or not, should be capacity to handle native races. If the Government lav down the dictum that it will be impossible to outline a policy for Papua, except bv means of a Commission, thev will go a long way towards admitting that the Possession should be governed by a Commission. I hope that no consideration will be given to any suggestion of that kind. Personal government has been shown by experience in British possessions of this character to be the best and most successful. I should have been very glad if Sir William McGregor had been able to undertake the government of the Territory, which he so ably administered in days gone by. As the Government have not been able to secure his services, and as it is clear that they are not satisfied in all respects with the present Administrator, thev should have grappled with the question themselves, without falling back upon a. Commission. When the report of the Commission is received, Ministers will have to decide two matters, namely, as to whe ther the present Administrator shall be retained, and as to what weight should be given to the Commission’s recommendations. They will further have to decide whether we should appoint a new LieutenantGovernor before we give, effect to the recommendations of the Commission.
– Captain Barton asked for the appointment of the Commission.
– If the Government are satisfied - as they seem to be - that Captain Barton is not in all respects suitable for the p”osition - although his suitability in some respects is admitted - they should face the position at once. The Commission may find that there is nothing to be said against Captain Barton - that he is not to blame for the present position of affairs. What will the Government do in that case? Will they retain in the position of Lieutenant-Governor a man with whom they have admitted that they are not altogether satisfied? I do not for one moment say whether Captain Barton is not a suitable man. I am not in a position to judge. But it would be most undesirable to retain the services of any man whom the Government think is not suitable. The position of LieutenantGovernor of Papua is a most important one, in view of the foundation work that will have to be done. Difficulties will have to be met and removed, and openings will have to be afforded for a sufficient number of white settlers of a desirable character. Care will have to be exercised to guard against the introduction of undesirable characters who mav cause trouble with the natives. The desires of the white settlers must receive every reasonable consideration, but they must not be conceded merely because requests are preferred. There is very great danger of a conflict of interests between the white settlers and the natives, especially in a place like Papua where the latter so fully occupy the ground. It might be pointed out that the natives do not find it necessary to work, and that it would be better for them if thev did work. That might be so. We can always find a reason why some other man should work. It might be claimed by some of the Settlers that thev should be allowed to engage natives to work for them, and when it was discovered that the natives were not anxious to work, it might be recommended that, in the interests of the natives themselves, they should be made to work. Then the trouble would begin. Either the natives would have te be taxed,, or else they would have to be forced to work. Therefore, we should have to be very careful in listening to the recommendations of those whose interest it is to obtain labour as cheaply as possible, so that they may become wealthy in a short time, and clear out of the country. Then again, we should be very careful in dealing with complaints preferred by settlers against officials. Very often intense feeling is excited against officials, because they will not allow settlers to make the use they desire of the natives. Once an Administrator has been approved of, we must stand behind him, unless the very strongest proof of his incapacity is produced. I say that every complaint ought not to be brought into Parliament. The Administrator should be supported until circumstances arise which demonstrate that he is unsuitable for his position. I really do think that during the short life of the Commonwealth Parliament, we have already gone far enough in the way of appointing Royal Commissions.. They are very expensive bodies. In my opinion they do not generally elicit any information which cannot be better obtained in other ways, and when they do elicit it, it is at an unnecessary cost. We must recollect that, although Members of Parliament serving upon Commissions are not paid, their travelling expenses in visiting different parts of the Commonwealth represent a considerable sum. Therefore I am sorry that this Commission has been appointed. I do not think that it will produce as satisfactory results as might have been obtained by other means. I believe that its appointment will delay the selection of a thoroughly suitable LieutenantGovernor - a selection which, to my mind, is the key of the whole position in New Guinea. The sooner such a selection is made the better. The appointment of this Commission will delay the choice of a suitable Lieutenant-Governor, and instead of the Ministry being in a better position to make such a selection after the receipt of the Commission’s report, I believe that it will be in a worse one, because we shall have to decide many matters which should have been dealt with by him, but which will have been reported on by the Commission.
– I join with the honorable member for North Sydney in expressing appreciation of the speech of the Prime Minister and of the information which he has placed before the ‘Committee in regard to the resources, climate, and. other conditions pertaining to New Guinea. But I cannot refrain from remarking upon the singular unanimity which exists among the members of the Labour Party in their wholesale condemnation of the action of the Government in appointing a Royal Commission to investigate the charges of maladministration levelled against the Acting Lieutenant-Governor of the Possession.
– We have a right to oppose its appointment.
– I do not question that. But it seems to me a most singular circumstance that a Government, whose veryexistence depends entirely upon the support of the Labour Party, should be the object of such severe denunciation at the hands of that- party, which holds the Government in the hollow of its hand.
– Has the honorable member any objection to that ?
– Not if the Government have no objection to it.
– We have none whatever.
– Then the Government must be the most spiritless and complaisant one that ever existed. I cannot help feeling that there is something in the contention of the honorable member for Wentworth that there is a motive underlying the desire of the Labour Party to get rid of Captain Barton - a motive which, so far, has not been disclosed by them in this debate. It is true that it has been hinted at bv the honorable member for Wentworth, and honorable members are at perfect liberty to draw their own conclusions in this connexion. I have no desire to impute any dishonorable motives. ,
– What is the honorable member doing ?
– I am merely referring to the suggestions of the honorable member for Wentworth. It cannot be denied that the removal of a certain gentleman from another place would afford the Labour Party an opportunity for a possible accession to its numbers, which no party can afford to despise. I do not say that there is anything improper in that, but I do say that it is possible for an unconscious bias to exist in the minds of honorable members - a bias which may act prejudicially to the most capable Administrator.
– I thought that the honorable member was not going to impute motives. Why does he not say straight out what he means?
– Because I am precluded by the Standing Orders from expressing by direct reference what is in my mind. I repeat that we have to guard against any possible prejudice that may arise, because some honorable members may perhaps see an opportunity which would be opened up for obtaining a little more power in the legislative arena if certain contingencies, which now loom on the horizon, took definite shape. But we cannot close our eyes to the fact that specific charges have been levelled against the Acting Administrator of New Guinea. We have no means of ascertaining the truth or otherwise of those charges, except through an independent tribunal, which can investigate them upon the spot. Personally, I share the opinion of the honorable member for North Sydney, that they might perhaps have been better investigated in some other way than by the appointment of a Royal Commission. But the Acting Administrator having been made the subject of those charges, he is certainly entitled to an opportunity to clear himself of them.
– The charge against him is not one of mal-administration, but of want of progressive administration.
– When we come to consider all the circumstances attachingto a position of that kind we have to make very great allowances. At this distance, and in the absence of a full knowledge of all the surrounding circumstances, we cannot judge whether or not the Acting Administrator is capable or progressive.
– Queensland is a little nearer to New Guinea than the other States.
– Queensland may be a little nearer geographically, but it is not one whit nearer from the stand-point of communication.
– I think so.
-Seeing that the other States have telegraphic communication with Queensland, it will be seen that they are in just as close touch with Papua as is Queensland’ itself from the point of view of obtaining news.
– Nearly all the miners in thePossession hail from Queensland.
They know all the members of the Parliament of that State, and they take them into their confidence.
– Are we to form our judgment merely upon the gossip of men whose view of a case may be affected by their own personal interest?
– Does not the honorable member think that the judgment of the Commission which has been appointed is already formed?
– No. I will not so unjust to its members - although they are utter strangers to me - as to say that. We are not entitled to cast such a slur upon any body of honorable men. This afternoon the honorable member for Bland declared that the Acting Administrator had not a proper conception of his duties.
Mr.King O’Malley. - Did not the Prime Minister admit that by endeavouring to secure the services of Sir William McGregor ?
– No; that does not by any means necessarily follow. The present Administrator is only acting, and the Prime Minister has explained the object which he had in view. The fact of an offer having been made to Sir William McGregor was not tantamount to an expression of want of confidence in . the present Acting Administrator. I think that the Government are to be commended for having endeavoured to secure the services of the best possible Administrator, and I hope that that policy will be pursued. I have no sympathy with the cry that we should insist upon the appointment of an Australian as Administrator of Papua. If the best man obtainable is an Australian, let us by all means appoint him ; but if a better mail can be obtained from outside, let us have him. We had first of all the cry of “ Australia for the Australians “ ; we have now the cry of “Papua for the Australians.” Presently we shall probably have the cry of “ the wide wide world for Australians.” I am glad that some honorable members are beginning to have broader views. If it be necessary to make a change in the Administrator of Papua, the Parliament will insist on the services of the best man available being secured for the position. It is of the highest importance that the qualifications of the gentleman to be appointed shall be thoroughly considered.
– Let us send to German New Guinea for an Administrator !
– I do not propose that we should look for one in a foreign country. We are able to secure capable administrators from among our own people. The insinuation made by the honorable member is a most unworthy one. 1 propose to quote the opinion of one of the most eminent and patriotic of Australians, the late W. B. Dalley, on the cry of “ Australia for the Australians.” In a pamphlet entitled Federation, National and Imperial, which is in the Library, he made the following statement: -
I not only do not sympathize with the policy of “ Australia for the Australians “ as a just and patriotic national aspiration, but I regard it as injurious (if, indeed, it ever could be possible) to the best interests of these Colonies, to the occupation and development of large portions of valuable territories in these seas, and as hostile to the legitimate claims and rights of other portions of the world. It is, it seems to me, to shut ourselves out from the other civilization of Europe, and not only to deprive ourselves of its inestimable advantage, but to provoke its hostility ; and to do this when we are entirely without the means of occupying with advantage the territories which we should only hold for the purpose of excluding ethers.
– That sentiment is dead.
– It is a sound and a true one, and the truth never dies.
– Dalley was referring to the exclusion policy. “ Australia for the Australians “ does not exclude white men.
– The cry of “Australia for the Australians “ means the exclusion of British people as well as of other white races.
– As Dalley defined it.
– I wish now to inquire what has become of the Minister of Trade and Customs, who is so frequently absent, and who has recently framed, under the Customs Act, a regulation which I consider most reprehensible, and entirely without justification. The regulation, which was approved by the GovernorGeneral on 13th July last, reads as follows : -
Regulation under the Customs Act topi.
Section 151. - Re-inportation free of duty of goods, the produce of Australia.
In addition to the conditions prescribed by Regulation 103 of the Regulations under the Customs Act /90I (Statutory Rules; 1906, No. 1), the following condition shall be a condition under which goods, the produce of Australia sent out of .Australia, may be re-imported or brought back to Australia free of duty, namely :–
The Minister must be satisfied that the re-importation or bringing back of the goods will not unfairly disturb the market for the goods in Australia generally, or in the place or town where the goods are proposed to be landed.
Goods which have actually been manufactured in’ Australia are, under that regulation, to be prohibited from re-entering Australia, unless the Minister is satisfied that they will not disturb the market. This is, in my opinion, a gross abuse of the powers conferred on the Minister by our legislation. I think that we are entitled to an explanation. This regulation shows the danger of placing such unlimited power in the hands of any Minister, no matter what his fiscal faith may be. Under our legislation, we have afforded Ministers power to frame regulations, and to do acts which were never contemplated. The Minister of Trade and Customs should be here to explain the administration of this Department, when we are asked to grant supplies in respect of it. I wish to repeat the statement that, in my opinion, we should not grant supply until the Ministry tell us whether they intend to deal with the Tariff question before the session closes. I shall reiterate this request for information until I receive something like a satisfactory reply.
.- Some honorable members of the Opposition so dearly love an atmosphere of suspicion that even a Supply Bill cannot be discussed without honorable members being made the subject of innuendoes, which are unworthy of any responsible assembly. The innuendo which they have hurled at members of the party to which I belong is hurled also at a member of their own party. I am acquainted with the honorable gentleman who has aroused the suspicion of some of the Opposition. I have read his reports with considerable interest, and on several occasions have discussed them with him. In justice to him and in fairness to myself, I wish to say that he has never mentioned to me anything that would justify the suspicion which some members of the Opposition entertain, nor have I been approached, bv any one on his behalf. Coming to the question of the control of Papua, I may say at once that it has been a vexed one almost from the inception of the Parliament. At different times and from different sources representations have been made, which appear to indicate that the Administration is not as satisfactory as could be wished. I agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that there are many difficult problems associated with the control of the Territory. Owing to its remoteness, much has to be left to the Administration, and there is often a disposition on the part of those clothed with a little brief authority to harshly exercise that authority when they are not under the immediate supervision of their superiors. It is true that private interests have often to be dealt with and curbed, and the probabilities are that even the reasonable exercise of control would lead to friction, and to many of the charges levelled at these officers. But whilst every allowance must be made for that fact, it seems to me that statements have been made which demand investigation. Those who have made these charges ask for an impartial investigation of all the circumstances by unbiased persons, which makes me think that their complaints are not altogether, groundless. Last session a Mr. J. W. Craig, a former resident of Papua, laid before a number of honorable members an account of his treatment by the officials of the Territory. His complaints were investigated and reported upon by the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs ; but those who heard his statements, and have read the report, will hardly be satisfied with the conclusions arrived at, many of which were foreshadowed by Mr. Craig himself. He said that, having rendered himself obnoxious to certain officials, he was subjected to petty persecution, making it difficult, and practically impossible, for him to carry on his business, or to remain in New Guinea. According to his account, he was charged with most of the crimes in the calendar, from murder downwards; but the supposed records of the proceedings against him have been lost or mislaid, which is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs. Two other cases requiring investigation are those in regard to which the papers have been laid on the table, while there is also the case of Captain Strachan, whose action against the Commonwealth has formed the subject of several questions recently. The papers in his case are not yet available ; but if his disclosures to me in the early part of the week were accurate, I say unhesitatingly that there is need for radical reform in the administration of the Territory. I am not acquainted with Captain Barton, who mav be an admirable man in many respects, and yet may not be suited for the position which, he holds, which requires exceptional ability in the occupant. It would bevery difficult to find another man as able as Sir William McGregor, and the attempt of the Prime Minister to again secure his services was very laudable. But, without disparaging the present Administrator, I say that we must know what ground there is for the complaints which have been made - whether he is suited in all respects for the responsible position which he fills, and whether his officers are able and trustworthy men, who are discharging their duties in a manner creditable to themselves and to the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister has indicated that he does not feel able to decide this matter without the assistance of a Commission of investigation. The only Commissioner with whom I am acquainted is Colonel Mackay, whom I have known for many years as earnest, able, and conscientious. I feel sure that he will do his duty to the best of his ability. I have been assured by those who are familiar with the Territory that, unless exceptional steps are taken, the Commissioners may return no wiser than they went, because a system of terrorism prevails by reason of the ruling officials making things intolerable for residents whose presence is disagreeable to them. I am informed that, unless the Commission is armed with powers which will protect witnesses from pettypersecution , it will not get at the facts. We are, however, giving to the people of the Commonwealth an opportunity to voice their grievances, and I hope that they will take advantage of it, because the sooner these matters are dealt with the sooner will a change for the better take place. The Commonwealth Tariff is unduly restrictive, so far as New Guinea is concerned, and I endeavoured, when it was being passed, to get some concession. As the duties stand, the settlers of New Guinea will always be handicapped in trading with Australia. The honorable member for Wentworth indicated that the members of the Labour Party were not prepared to extend to Papua any consideration in this regard. If he had been in the first Commonwealth Parliament, he would know that those honorable members who showed the strongest disposition to extend consideration to the white settlers in Papua, and even in the New Hebrides, belonged to the Labour Party. Moreover, I would tell the honorable member that unless some members of his. party have changed their views, they would not support him in carrying out the liberal policy he has advocated. I trust that, as the outcome of the investigation that is about to be made, the administration of New Guinea will be placed upon a proper footing, that all causes of grievance will be removed, and that the utmost benefit will be conferred upon the Possession and all concerned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to-
That the Standing Orders be suspended, to enable all steps to be taken to obtain supply and pass a Supply Bill through all its stages without delay.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposed -
That towards making good the supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year ending 30th June, 1907, a sum not exceeding Seven hundred and forty-eight thousand three hundred and sixty-three pounds be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
– I should like to know whether any provision has been made in the proposed appropriation for expenditure in connexion with the High Court for the increase in the number of Justices contemplated in the Judiciary Bill ?
– Could the Treasurer inform us when the new appointments are to be made?
– I am not yet in possession of that information.
– It was understood that the High Court Bench urgently needed to be strengthened, and, as the JudiciaryBill has now been passed, Ministers ought to know when the new Justices are to be appointed.
– The Bill was passed by the Senate only to-day.
– Yes; but Ministers knew very well that it would be passed, and they ought to have been prepared to make the necessary appointments at once.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Sir John Forrest and Mr. Deakin do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and passed through all its stages.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister of Home Affairs a matter which I am sure will meet with consideration at his hands. Owing to the legislation recently enacted in New South Wales, the effect of which is to decentralize administration in the Lands Office, and to allocate to that administration land taxation, the central Taxation Department will necessarily be retrenched considerably, so far as the land tax officers are concerned. I wish to ask the Minister whether, in connexion with any vacancies which may occur in the Commonwealth service which such officers are eligible to fill - other things being equal - he will extend a preference to them?
– It is impossible for me to promise that a preference will be extended to any retrenched officer. As the honorable member is aware, all appointments are made by the Public Service Commissioner, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Service Act. All vacancies have to be advertised, and they are open to all persons who are qualified to fill them, irrespective of whether they are in the direct employ of the Commonwealth or not.
– I carefully said “ all things being equal.”
– The matter is one which rests entirely with the Public Service Commissioner, and not with the Minister of the Department concerned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 August 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060823_reps_2_33/>.