3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN presented a petition from the Manufacturers Protectionist Association of Adelaide, praying for an increase in the duties on harvesters, strippers, and. metal parts.
Appointment of the Earl of Dudley.
– I have the honour to inform the House that during a. meeting of the Executive Council this morning, the following cablegram, addressed to the GovernorGeneral by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, was received -
Please inform your Ministers that His Majesty has. been graciously pleased to approve of the appointment of the Karl of Dudley, G.C.V.O., as Governor-General of the Commonwealth in succession to Your Excellency.
Those who are acquainted with the career of the nobleman alluded to will be satisfied that the appointment must be highly acceptable to the people of Australia. At the same time, the suggestion, that there is to be a succession at this stage will, I am’ sure, evoke other feelings. This is not the occasion on which we can express them, save to utter the universal opinion that in no part of the Empire has any man proved himself a better representative .of his King than Lord Northcote.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I should like to know whether the Ministry were consulted by the Colonial Office prior to the new appointment ?
– They were.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral read the statement in this morning’s issue of the Age, that a conflict has arisen between the High Court of Australia and the Supreme Court of Victoria, and that the Chief Justice of this State asserted that he was not the servant of the. High Court? Will the honorable gentleman also say whether we have , power under the Constitution to prevent a delay of justice, such as has occurred in Boyne v. Blake and Riggall, and to compel the subordinate Courts to obey the mandates of the paramount Court of Australia?
– I saw the paragraph, but have not yet had time to place myself in sufficient possession of all the facts of the case to enable me to speak with any degree of authority. So far as I know, the Constitution and the provisions of the Judiciary Act are amply sufficient to enable the High Court to maintain its authority.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs whether he has yet received from the States concerned any intimation of their intention to send a geological party with the Commonwealth survey party in connexion with the survey of the route of the proposed railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta?
– Since the honorable member put a similar question to me a few days ago, the Minister of Home Af- fairs has had prepared a statement showing exactly what took place when the> Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill was under consideration. That statement, however, does not disclose the fact that negotiations are now taking place between the Government of Western Australia and the Minister of Home Affairs with a view to the fulfilment of the promise then made.
– Are the . Government at present doing anything to induce the States concerned .to give effect to the promise made when the Bill was under consideration, that they would send a geological party with the Commonwealth survey party?
– As a matter of fact, every facility will be afforded to the States to keep their promise, and they are now being asked whether they are prepared to do so.
– It has, doubtless, been brought under the notice of the Prime Minister that subscriptions are being raised to enable representative Australians, to compete in the Marathon race in connexion, with the revival of the Olympian games. Since the representation of Australia at that carnival would do as much to advertise the Commonwealth as do the visits of Australian cricket teams to the Old Country, does the Prime Minister think it would be possible for the Commonwealth Government to subscribe, say, half the ‘ amount raised by the public for this purpose?
– Commencing with art avowal cif innocence as to what a “ Marathon “ race may be, but of full confidence in. the capacity of Australians tei hold their own in that or any other form of competition, I doubt whether it comes within the power of the Commonwealth, strictly interpreting the Constitution, to interfere with the rights of the States ip ‘that matter. We shall consider that question.
Cancelled Mail Contract - Telegraphic Messages for Transmission Abroad
– In view of the recent cablegrams touching the financial position of Sir -James Laing and Sons, I’ should like to ask the Postmaster-General whether the Government still hope to recover the sum of . £25,000 forfeited under the bond given by that firm under the cancelled mail contract ?
– We have a full and certain hope.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether messages for abroad may be telegraphed to Fremantle, and posted there by the Department for transmission by mail steamers?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Yes. On payment of the amount of postage for onward transmission, in addition to the usual charge for telegraphic transmission, telegramsmay be sent to any telegraph office in the Commonwealth, to be forwarded thence by post to any foreign destination.
Tenders for Military Bridles: Use of Australian Bits - Defence Policy - Cordite and Small Arms Factories
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence whether the conditions of contract for the supply of military bridles - tenders for which are now being invited - provide that they shall be of Australian manufacture? I allude more particularly to bits, which we know’ are made in the Commonwealth.
– There seems to be a legend, which has spread to this House, that bits cannot be made in Australia. The best indication of public opinion with regard to the manufacture of such articles is to be obtained by ascertaining whether or not a duty has been imposed. No duty was imposed on bits, and I therefore come to the conclusion that Parliament considered that they could not be made here. If it did, then with all respect I think that it was in error. I believe that bits can be made here, and am having the matter investigated. I shall be able a little later on to make a further statement with regard to it.
– The Prime Minister, I think, is reported as having said in Sydney that the Defence Bill to give effect to the Government’s new proposals is now ready. I desire to know whether, in view of the vast importance of this subject, and the necessity for honorable members making themselves thoroughly conversant with its details before we are called upon to deal with the Bill, the Prime Minister can see his way to circulate that Bill as soon as possible.
– The exact statement made in Sydney was that the Bill is now in draft. It has not been before the Cabinet. I also pointed out that the part of the Bill dealing with our naval proposals requires to be withheld until some understanding has been arrived at with the Admiralty.
– Could we not have the military part of theBill?
– Both parts will go together.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether he can see his way to let the House have full information as to the estimated cost of the proposed cordite and small arms factories, in order that we may be put in possession of all details ?
– Some reference was made to this matter by the Prime Minister in the statement which he submitted to the House. I suppose that in the course of a week or two I shall be able to give honorable members full information.
– On the Defence Estimates ?
– Yes; I shall certainly do so then.
-Last session the Prime . Minister was asked what reply he was sending to the intimation of the Secretary of State for the Colonies relative to the creation of a Dominions Department in connexion with the Colonial Office. The honorable gentleman answered that as soon as his reply had reached the Colonial Office he would be at liberty to circulate copies of it amongst honorable members. Does the Prime Minister think his despatch has yet reached England, and, if so, can he see his way to publish it, together with any subsequent correspondence on the subject?
– It must have reached England long ago. I had hoped to be able to lay an answer to my own despatch together with it, on the table. If desired, I can now lay the latter on the table.
-It is desired.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he wished it to be understood last evening that he is in favour of Federal land taxation, and is only prevented from at once adopting it by reason of his pledge to the people of Australia at the last general election as to the policy of his Government? Furthermore, I desire to know whether he did not then say that a Federal land tax was not a part of the policy of the present Government, and -whether he considers it consistent with that declaration for three members of his Ministry to vote as they did last evening, against the declared policy of the Government? I forwarded to the Prime Minister a copy of this question, as I thought that it .would, be unfair to put it without giving him some notice of my intention.
– I am obliged to my right honorable friend for .having favoured me with a copy of his question. The statement made last night was that provided the resources of the Customs and Excise Department proved insufficient, in the event of a resort to direct taxation, I favoured the imposition of a tax on unimproved land values/ That announcement was made to my constituents in connexion with the Ministerial statement to which the right honorable member refers in the second part of his question. That is to say, direct taxation is not a part of the policy of the Government for this Parliament, nor, so far as one can see. at present, will, direct taxation be necessarily called for bv the adoption of an old-am pensions system. I merely mentioned the matter last night in order to draw a distinction between the position T personally occupy - apart from that Ministerial statement - and my Ministerial obligations. I then went on to point out, as the right honorable member will recollect, that it was extremely difficult to say exactly what meaning was to be given to the concluding words of the motion with reference ‘to the imposition of a tax on unimproved land values. It was, I believe, generally taken to mean that we were’ to test the Customs and Excise resources of the Commonwealth before being called upon to consider the question of direct taxation. That may take us some indefinite period forward, so that the resolution did not in any way imply the imposition of such taxation during the present Parliament. For reasons personal to myself, I thought it incumbent on me to vote with the Noes, but the composite character of the motion, and its several interpretations, mr.de if a matter for the exercise of individual judgment, and not for the Cabinet.
– That was a separate and additional part altogether to the original motion, of the member for WideBay, and moved by another honorable member.
– But it made the matter one for individual- judgment.
– I see no groundswhatever for that statement. The PrimeMinister absolutely pledged his Government at Ballarat that Federal land taxation was not a part of its policy.
– To a policy which the honorable gentleman’s three colleaguesvoted against last night.
– I think not. First of all, the motion itself is not clear as to date, and hence its interpretation was left to mv colleagues individually.
– I desire to ask theMinister of Trade and Customs whether, for the convenience of honorable members, if - when the Tariff requests are received from another place - he will adopt the plan that was adopted in the case of the last Tariff, of having the duties as agreed toby this House and the requests made by the Senate] printed in parallel columns, sothat the effect of the suggested alterations mav be seen at once?
– I can say definitely that the matter will be so arranged’ that honorable members will he able to seethe difference at a glance.
asked the PrimeMinister, upon notice -
– If the proposals of the Government include, as they do, the taking over of the whole of the “States debts incurred after Federation, as well as those.- incurred before Federation, that necessarily implies an amendment of the Constitution. It will not be possible to legislate in that regard until the amendment has been approved by a referendum. Some of the proposals of the Government will, if possible, be framed to take effect before December, 19 10.
In Committee : (Consideration resumed from : 18th March, vide page 9236).
Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -
That the Bill be now recommitted to a Committee of the whole House for the reconsideration of clause 4.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Clause 4, Part II. of the principal Act is amendedby inserting therein after section 15, the following sections : - 1 5b. (1) If the Comptroller-General believes that an offence has been committed against this Part of this Act, he may by writing under his hand require any person whom he believes to be capable of giving any information in relation to the alleged offence to answer questions and to produce documents to him or to some person named by him.
No person shall be excused from answering any questions or producing any documents when required to do so under this section on the ground that tine answer to the question or the production of the document might tend to criminate him; but his answer shall not be admissible in evidence against him in any civil or criminal proceeding other than a proceeding for an offence against this Part of this Act. . . .
– I move -
That all the words before the word “ may,” line 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words - If the Comptroller-General believes that an offence has been committed against this part of this Act, or if a complaint has been made in writing to the ComptrollerGeneral that an offence has been committed against this part of this Act and the ComptrollerGeneral believes that the offence has been committed, he “
When we were dealing with this clause the honorable member for Bendigo moved an amendment to the effect that a complaint in writing should precede inquiry. At that time I preferred the clause as it stood, but, in deference to the wishes of the Committee, seeing that it was a matter of procedure rather than principle, I agreed to accept the amendment. In a subsequent discussion the Committee favoured the view that there should be an alternative- that while the amendment of the honorable member for Bendigo was retained, the Comptroller- General should have the right to initiate proceedings under this section.
– The proposed amendment seems to be worse than the clause as it stood, because it makes the Comptroller-General independent of a complaint in writing.
– The intention was that if an individual made complaint he must put it in writing.
– The amendment of the Attorney-General may be all right, but it is not that which the honorable member for Bendigo desired. According to the amendment, the ComptrollerGeneral may take proceedings of his own motion, or if anybody suggests proceedings.
– That is so. If anybody makes a complaint, he may refuse totake action under this section until that complaint is put in writing.
– The amendment practically puts the Comptroller-General in the position that he may take proceedings without a complaint, but that if anybody chooses to write a letter he must do so.
– The ComptrollerGeneral dare not take the responsibility of refusing.
– The honorable member is wrong; the Comptroller-General need not take proceedings under the section unless he believes the complaint to be wellfounded.
– Why not keep to the amendment of the honorable member for Bendigo?
– Because there was a general expression of opinion that there should be an alternative - that the ComptrollerGeneral, if in the course of his investigation he saw good grounds, should have the. power to take the initiative.
– Can we expect a responsible officer to refuse to act when he receives a complaint in writing?
– Instances could be given where complaints have been made in writing, and yet the Comptroller-General, after investigation, has declined to act.
– But the Attorney-
General told us the reason for that was that there was no power to act.
– That was in certain, particular cases, but there are other instances in which complaints submitted have, after short investigation, been shown to be without foundation. In such cases the Comptroller-General will not act, and certainly the Attorney-General, who is responsible for all prosecutions, would not consent to proceedings unless he was satisfied there was a good case to submit to the Court.
– The AttorneyGeneral’s desire is that the ComptrollerGeneral may act in the absence of any complaint.
– It is desired to give the Comptroller-General this reserve power, which a public officer should have, to take the necessary steps if he thinks there are good grounds.
– But the ComptrollerGeneral will not investigate personally ; his officers will make complaints in writing. .
– The ComptrollerGeneral will certainly act to some extent through his officers.
– Then he will have a complaint in writing.
– Every submission made by an officer is in the form of a report in writing.
– Then this amendment is not necessary.
– Why not have all complaints in writing?
– For instance, a Royal Commission might find out that certain acts were being done, and the report of that Royal Commission might be sent on to the Crown Solicitor’s Department for investigation. In such a case, it would-be hardly necessary to have a complaint in writing, because the Comptroller-General could act upon the report of the Commission.
– That would oe a report in writing. <
– Probably, not technically a complaint.
– I am in agreement with the amendment proposed, because I do not think the Comptroller-General should surrender the power of independent action the moment he becomes aware that a trust is engaged in nefarious practices. My impression is that no one so much as the Minister of Trade and Customs will be so well able to find out exactly what trusts are doing; with all the resources at his command, he should know very soon if combines are exercising a malign and harmful influence on industrial conditions. Therefore, it would be a mistake if the Government were to act only on a complaint sworn to by’ an outside or interested person. We should preserve to the Government the right either to- initiate proceedings on their own account, or to listen to and sift complaintswhich may be from time to time sent in.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move -
That paragraph 4 of proposed section 15B be left out.
I do so because I fail to see the necessity for this provision. Probably the AttorneyGeneral will ‘be able to enlighten me upon the subject, but it seems to me that it prescribes a course of action which is repugnant to most of us. It provides for the manufacture of a prosecution out of the answers given by a suspected person to questions put to him. Under the proposed section 1513, if a person fails to answer any question put to him, or to produce any document when required to do so, he isliable to a penalty of £50. That provision covers the whole ground. The proposed sub-section under consideration does not take us any further, because if a suspected person were foolish enough to say, “ I decline to answer lest I may incriminate myself,” he would merely be liable to the same penalty.
– I ask the right honorable member not to press his amendment, because the general object of this proposed section is to enable the Crown to obtain necessary evidence. For example, the trust against which we may desire to initiate proceedings may be a body which has entered into an agreement with certain objects in view, and in order to achieve those objects it may have to act through a number of. intermediaries. For instance, wholesale manufacturers deal with retail traders, and their operations are frequently carried on through the agency of the retailers under certain agreements. In order to successfully carry on their own businesses, the retailers must submit to the operations of the. trust. If we desire to obtain evidence against a trust, it will be necessary to get it from the persons who are acting under them. But when Ave seek to obtain it, the intermediary may say, “ But I am acting in conjunction with the trust.”
– Would he not probably say, “ I refuse to answer the question.”
– In that case he would be liable to a penalty, and in the event of a second offence would be liable under the principal Act to be prosecuted foran indictable offence. But when we put certain questions to him, he might reply, “ I will not give you the information because it mighttend to incriminate me.”
– Would that notprejudice his position very much?
– He might raise the general plea that no person can be compelled to incriminate himself.
– Would that hold good ?
– We want to be sure that it will not hold good. The proposed section is not intended to be used only against a suspected person, and I do not think that in practice any injustice will be found to arise from its administration. In Queensland, a trustee is entitled to examine an insolvent upon all matters connected with his estate, and the insolvent’s replies are notprivileged. He is bound to answer the questions put to him, even though his answers may incriminate him. The procedure proposed to be adopted in this section is, therefore, not novel.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Bill reported with a further amendment.
In Committee of Stiffly (Consideration sumed from 12th March, vide page 8978).
Division II. (Administration), £10,379.
.When the consideration of this division was adjourned, I was discussing the suggestion of the honorable member for Franklin that the Government had been lax in their administration of Papua, particularly in the matter of failing to exercise proper supervision over the treatment of the natives. Incidentally, the honorable member had reflected upon the white miners of the territory, by suggesting that their harsh treatment of the natives, whom they employed as carriers, was responsible for considerable sickness amongst them, and also for the high rate of mortality. I have already said that if this charge can be sustained, it should have been brought before Parliament in a more serious form. But I have learned, from private conversation with the honorable member, that he did notcharge the Government with any serious breach of duty in this connexion, but that he was of opinion that, in future, they should exercise more care in protecting the health and lives of the natives. I entirely agree with him. But I must defend the miners against the aspersion cast upon them, and maintain that, as a class, they are just as humane as is any other section of the community. They are usually men of high spirit, and no doubt in a new country like Papua they encounter great difficulties, and in their endeavours to reach remote inland gold-fields suffer hardships which are not experienced by ordinary pioneers. Probably the natives succumb to some of these hardships, even when they are not the victims of ill-treatment. . Bur in dealing with a subject race - and the Papuans are a subject race - we ought to take extreme care that we have administrators who are endowed with the most humane instincts, and who will intervene to prevent the destruction of native life.
– I shall be able to show that the white miners of the Territory have next to nothing to do with the high rate of mortality amongst the natives.
-I have been so much amongst miners that I know the class of men of whom they are composed, and I say unhesitatingly that they would be the very first persons to raise a cry if any of their number were guilty of harsh treatment of the natives. The honorable member for Franklin made a very serious insinuation when he stated that no doubt the miners of Papua, when they were upon the mainland, were great advocates of the policy of a White Australia. . That suggestion was a very unjust one, because the miners might very consistently have upheld the White Australia policy on the mainland whilst making use of the natives of Papua as carriers to the gold-fields. There is no analogy whatever between the two positions. As the Prime Minister is present, I should like to express my views regarding the administration of Papua. I think that the time has arrived when the administrator of that Territory should be a person who thoroughly understands Australian affairs, and who is in touch with Australian ideas.
– I do not wish to interrupt the honorable member, but I would remind him that we are now engaged upon a general discussion of this Division, and if we dispose of the question relating to the miners of Papua, we shall be able to get on to the specific items. There is an item relating to Papua, and the honorable member, in discussing it, would be able to command the closer attention of the Committee.
– Any course that will suit the convenience of the Committee will suit me admirably. I recognise that it is always undesirable for an honorable member to “ sprawl “ over a number of items if it can be avoided. I shall be delighted to learn that the charge against the white miners of Papua has not been sustained.
– Yesterday Ministers had the pleasure of allowing to go unopposed a motion moved by the honorable member for Franklin for a return showing the number of native labourers indented in Papua when the Commonwealth took control of the Territory, the persons to whom they were indented, the rates of wages paid to them, andthe amounts deducted therefrom the death rate, the number of labourers indented eachyear since the Commonwealth assumed control, the persons, and their occupations, to whom such labourers were indented, the rates of wages and deductions, the annual death rate, and copies of the labour regulations issued by Sir William McGregor, and of those now in force. We shall have no hesitation in supplying the exhaustive information asked for.
– Will it not be difficult to get it accurately in all cases?
– I think not. The association of the miners in the Territory with the deaths of natives is misleading, because it suggests that the deaths which have occurred have been occasioned by the employment of natives in mining, whereas they have been attributable chiefly to the insanitary condition of the rest houses at which the carriers have stayed at night on their journeys between the coast and the mines. Like other peoples at their stage of development, the Papuans are unacquainted with the necessity for sanitary precautions, and the state of these rest houses beggared description. Directly it was discovered that the seeds of disease were being sown there, the Government had them cleansed, and arrangements made for removing excreta and refuse from the camps. The result has been that in 1904 out of 625 natives employed - carriers, miners, and others - 134 died, or, in the case of 27, were returned as missing. In 1905. the deaths numbered only 22, with 20 missing; although 650 were employed.
Deserters, that is, natives who returned to their homes before the completion of their engagement, being missing, are recorded as if they had died, so that the actual deaths were fewer than would otherwise appear. In 1906, 500 natives were employed, and the deaths increased to 74, including 20 who were missing, while in a period of fifteen months covering 1907, out of 941natives employed there were only 45 deaths, and none were missing. Those figures show that an enormous improvement has resulted from the observance of cleanliness and simple sanitary precautions. Neither miners nor storekeepers have had anything to do directly with the condition of the rest houses.
– If the sanitary conditions have been improved, why are there still so many deaths?
– The death rate is not now high. Natives will die under circumstances which would not affect Europeans. Their deaths are sometimes attributable to mental causes, such as Home sickness, while they suffer greatly from dysentery and stomachic troubles, and are very susceptible to infectious diseases. It is notorious that in savage countries measles have slain tens of thousands, although that complaint is rarely fatal to Europeans.
– Are these labourers well fed ?
– Yes. They can obtain pure water if they will take the trouble to get it; but they will not always do that. I have seen people of another race bathe in a pool of unclean water, still further pollute it, and then drink of it. Such conduct is inconceivable to us ; but when one has seen it, one knows what is possible among races backward in development. The Government is sending another medical man to Papua, and is keeping all the trade routes under close supervision. Further sanitary precautions are gradually being introduced ; but as the natives look upon them as unnecessary, and utterly unreasonable, changes can only be made gradually. As to the complaint that the miners have deprived their labourers, by means of fines for breaches of agreement, of an undue proportion of their wages, I am informed that between the 1st October, 1906, and the 31st December, 1907, 1,855 natives of the eastern division were employed in that, in the central, and in the south-eastern division.
– Not all in mining?
– The figures include all the miners, and may include carriers.
– Surely there are not more than 300 white miners in .the Territory ?
– Each white miner is somewhat in the position of a company here, and employs a staff of native labourers, the chief business of the white men being to supervise.
– I can understand that white men do not do much work in ‘ that climate.
– Almost the whole of the manual work is done by. natives ; but it is not underground work.. It is performed in the open air, and a great deal of it while standing in water.
– White men do the .prospecting.
– They cannot work there.
– They can; but they find it pleasanter to engage black men to work for them. The wages of the 1,855 labourers, to whom I have referred, amounted to about £14,000, from which were deducted £83 15s. 6d. Costs of Court, and warrants for the apprehension of deserters, came to £.16 17s., lines to 18s. 6d., compensation for property to £1, and the value of the time lost through desertion to £65. Properly speaking, therefore, of the £83 spoken of as deductions, £65 was not deducted at all, but was merely not paid because it had not been earned. The wages due to 941 labourers, employed in the northern division, was £7,338, from which the deductions were £303, made up of costs of Court, &c, £52 19s., property lost and destroyed £70, and the value of the time lost through desertion was £190, so that of the £303 spoken of as deducted, nearly £200 was merely not paid because the work, whose value it represented, was not done. Money was not taken from men who had worked ;’ it was simply not paid to men who had not worked. The total deductions from wages amounted to less than £400, and more than half of that sum represents wages not earned because not worked for.
– How much a day is paid ?
– As a rule, ros. a month. From £21.000, about £4°° in all was deducted, including £200 not paid because the work which it should have represented was riot performed. Therefore, the system of fines in vogue in Papua has not deserved the epithets applied to it.
.- Every honorable member must be glad to know that the extravagant language used in regard to the miners of New Guinea has not been justified. Personally, I am pleased that the improvement in the sanitary conditions there has resulted in an enormous saving of life, and I am glad to know that the miners have not conducted themselves in a fashion deserving condemnation. The matter to which I wish to refer more particularly, however, is the influx of Chinese into Australia, in contravention of the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act. The Prime Minister told us the. other day that a report had been prepared by a special ‘officer, appointed to investigate the matter, but “that it was not to be made available to honorable member’s immediately.
– Not until we have exhausted its possibilities.
– I do not find fault with the honorable .member for keeping the document back, if he believes that by doing so he can secure more effective administration. It would be in the highest degree undesirable to give those interested means for more easily evading the Act. I cannot, however, fail to be impressed by the statements which are continually being made throughout Australia as to the number of young Chinese to be found in different localities who do not know a word of English. It may not be correct to say, as an honorable member suggested, ‘ that aliens are entering Australia in large numbers, but the Prime Minister admits that they are gaining admission in units, and in this way the alien population of Australia may be rapidly increased. Three aliens were supposed to have been shipped at Singapore by a vessel which called at Fremantle, where two of them escaped and only one was detected. If such incidents occur with frequency in our various ports, we shall soon have a very serious state of affairs. I recognise the wily practices of the Chinese and those who assist them to surreptitiously enter Australia, and if we are going to keen out coloured aliens we must certainly offer a little more inducement than is now given to those who are responsible for the work of checking such immigration.
– Has the honorable member noticed that within the last few weeks we have made the rewards much larger than were offered before?
Mr.FRAZER. - I have, and think that the Government might be even more liberal. It is absolutely necessary that Australia should be kept white, and no efforts should be spared to keep down any increase of our alien population from abroad. There has recently been revived a suggestion that Parliament’ should consider the desirableness of legislating with a view to the registrationof the alien population of Australia. The matter ought certainly to be considered by the Government. Under such a system the inability of an alien to produce his registration papers would be prima facie evidence that he was illegally in Australia, and, if it were proved that he was, arrangements could be made for his deportation.
– We shall soon have another census taken.
– If it is possible for these men to evade our immigration restriction officers, it should be an easy matter for them to dodge the census collectors. They would certainly endeavour to avoid registration.
– Thepolice will be on the alert.
– If the next census shows that since the last return there has been a great increase in the number of aliens in Australia, we shall know that something more is necessary.
– I shall be surprised if they do not show a decrease.
– We shall be able to compare the next census returns with the last, and to check them with the statistics relating to the number of aliens who have successfully passed the languagetest under the Commonwealth Act. From all parts of Australia complaints are reaching usas to the presence of an increased number of Chinese, and I think that the matter mightwell engage the attention of the Government.
– I propose to avail myself of this opportunity to enunciate some pronounced views that I hold with regard to the administration of Papua.
– I should like to know, Mr. Chairman, whether the honorable member will be in order at this stage in dealing with the general question.
– The practice is to allow a general discussion on the : first division of a Department. Thereafter, hon orable members must confine their remarks to the particular item before the Chair.
– In a nut-shell, my attitude with respect to this matter is that all traders should be excluded from Papua - that it should be regarded as the particular preserve of the Commonwealth.
– In speaking of all traders, does the honorable member include miners?
-I do. I hold that Papua should be administered as a Government proprietary, and that everything should be under Government supervision. The nativesshould owe allegiance to the Government, and the Government alone. There should be no private trading between the natives and individuals.
– In other words, Papua should be conducted as a socialistic community ?
– Hardly that. As admitted by the Prime Minister, we have in Papua a class of people who are incapable of any socialized state. They are as children in their development, and anything in the nature of Socialism is, therefore, out of the question. Socialism, as I understand it, means individual , responsibility and participation, and, owing to the backwardness of the native population of Papua, there is no room for anything of the kind there. The natives need, in the fullest sense of the term, a paternal Government. Therefore, although there may be a suggestion of Socialism in my scheme, in so far as it provides that all industry in Papua should be entirely conducted by the Government, the analogy cannot be carried further. I recognise that, for some time, there is not likely to be anything more than a slight development of secondary industries in Papua. Our attention would, therefore, be confined to its primary industries, and the Government, after making ample provision for the natives, should dispose of its products on behalf of the Commonwealth. I have before me the report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the administration of Papua, which justifies the attitude I am taking up. My deductions, indeed, are drawn from that report, and I think that when honorable members have heard the quotations I shall make from it, they will admit that there are at least very sound grounds for my proposition. This question has something more than a. commercial aspect. We have to consider the strategicalimportanceofthe which renders imperative its military occupation by the Commonwealth. That requirement supports my contention that the administrative control should be more direct than it is, since that is necessary for the protection of the natives as well as of the highway to Australia. At a cost of £20,000 per annum we are doing what is euphemistically called “opening up the country to trade,” and, presumably, to progress.. The only result of that expenditure so far is that the traders and planters, who are few, and the miners who are more numerous, arc taking advantage of the native labour. Papua, as the result of public expenditure on the part of the Commonwealth, is becoming the happy hunting-ground of the trader and the miner. Is it not unwise to tax the people of Australia to provide for the administration of Papua on lines that give ample scope for the speculator and investor who are spoiling, not only the country, but the people? It certainly would be foolish to expend public moneys there in order that individuals might benefit by exploiting the country, and by the spoliation of the’ natives. At page 13 of their report the Commissioners lay it down that -
European settlement is vitally interwoven with the native problem in all its aspects. Indeed, it cannot be too emphatically laid down that its successful future operation depends on the preservation of the native race.
Throughout this report we have indications that the presence in Papua of Europeans under little, or, at all events, insufficient, restraint, is tending to the decimation of the native races. Once we license the trader there, no possible measure of control is sufficient to prevent this decimation ; owing to their uncivilized state and their lower mental plane, the natives must fall an easy prey to designing and enterprising traders. I have nothing to say against the trader as an individual. He has simplytaken advantage of the privileges and possibilities opened up to him by the Commonwealth Government. I merely point out that, while the preservation of the native races is essential to successful occupation, if we permit individualism in the nature of private trading to obtain there we cannot hope for that regulation which is absolutely needful to the preservation of the Papuans. The Administrator, the Resident Magistrate, and the Commissioners admit all through that the moral relationship between traders and the natives is having a most disastrous ef fect. We are told that venereal disorders are general; and Mr. Martin, the Resident Magistrate in the South-east District^ says that, in his. quarter, the births were only five in excess of the deaths in the period, embraced by his report, and he asks, “Why not close the islands altogether to traders?” This clearly shows that those officials there, who are unbiased and unprejudiced, come to the very rational conclusion that if we are to preserve the native races, and do the best for Papua, we must exclude the trader.
– That question does not refer to white traders, but to Malay traders, and others of mixed races, who spread disease in the villages.
– With all respect to the Prime Minister, it is stated in the report, or clearly hinted, that seamen generally are concerned in this. I am sorry to have to speak of the white sailor, but I shall not make any special reservation on his behalf - they are all equally bad when allowed license where they have innocent people, such as the Papuans, to prey upon.
– The honorable member might be shocked if he knew some practices of the Papuans.
– That is no justification for the introduction of diseases.
– Not the least.
– These diseases were not known until the islands were open to white traders.
– Nonsense ! Some of the diseases were known before the whites were ever there, having been brought to the coast by Malays.
– Why does this resident magistrate deal with that question in his report ?
– Because he supposes ‘that we understand these matters.
– I do not care whether the traders are black or white, they ought” to be shut out.
– To shut them out would require a squadron shepherding a coast line of 2,000 or 3,000 miles.
– If this Possession has to be administered properly, we must honestly discharge our duty as the custodians of the people, instead of admitting traders without discrimination. If the traders cannot be shut out, then they ought to be controlled. However, that is not the main point.
– It is the main cause of those diseases.
– Possibly ; but I base my objections on economic grounds. We ought not to spend £20,000 a year simply to provide a happy hunting ground for speculators and investors, when we have to take the whole burden of control and supervision. The proposals made for the regulation of the relationships between the whites and the blacks, or traders and the inhabitants, are such as to cause endless expenditure and trouble to the Government. Apart altogether from moral considerations, we should run the possession, as a Government concern absolutely, in order to get the best economic results.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the whites should be excluded entirely ?
– Traders ought to be excluded.
– And also all the coloured traders, Malay and foreign?
– I desire this to be a native settlement under the control of the Government, without interference from private enterprise of any sort. I pointed out to the honorable member for Lang that what I propose is not Socialism, because it is impossible for any social equality to exist ; these half-developed people cannot take part in the administration, and there must be purely paternal government. Therefore, as a matter of actual business, from my point of view as a representative here, I think that private enterprise ought to be excluded. The Administrator, on page 17 of his report, says that it is significant that the bast kind of natives decline the work of carrying to the gold mines. This shows that, where the natives have been brought into contact, not necessarily with gold miners, but with those who furnish supplies for the gold-fields, and who naturally take advantage of the natives, they are averse to giving their labour for the pittance that is offered them. I suppose that whenever the natives are able to live in a natural state, they will decline to work.
– They all live in a natural state.
– I mean that while they are permitted to vegetate they will avoid the trader. But if we continue to make it possible for the trader to go there, and continue to al’ienate the lands of the natives, we shall force the latter into a position where they have no alternative but slavery. We all know that unrestricted private enterprise will naturally take advantage of those men, and exploit their labour in return for the smallest possible wages. There can be no contention as tothat.
– - Oh, yes; there can.
– Will ‘the Prime Minister say that it is not a fact that where it ispossible to get labour for 2d. or 3d., instead of 6d. or 9cl., advantage will not betaken of the natives?
– That is not the point.
– It is my point.
– The honorable membermust remember that no natives, either now or at any conceivable time, need feel compelled to work in order to obtain the necessaries of life. These can be obtained without labour, or almost without labour, upontheir own lands, and the natives work inorder to obtain superfluities or luxuries.
– I admit that that, is sonow.
– The price for labour will rise.
– What does thePrime Minister mean by “ luxuries “?
– Tobacco, principally.
– Under absolute Government control the natives would be preserved’ from tobacco and drink.
– Thev grow their own tobacco.
– I am not objecting to> either, except in the case of a people likethis, whom it is not safe to trust with’ either tobacco or drink in unlimited quantities. It is only under Government control that these matters can be regulated,, and the people saved from themselves. Again I say that if we go on permitting: this promiscuous trading, we are simply leading them to destruction, offering themas a prey to those who are ever ready todespoil a country or enslave a people. That, again, is human nature, about which the honorable member for Parramatta is sofond of talking, but which I contend, though we cannot alter it, can.be regulated” by adjusting the conditions. It is’ withthat view that I make these suggestions today. The Administrator goes on to say,, at page 31 of his report, that the difficullty in getting labour for the northern goldfields is due to the fact that wages havebeen reduced from £1 to 10s. a month - That does not fit in with the Prime Minister’s interjection just now.
– When I quoted io». a* month. I was speaking of mining labour, whereas the honorable member is speaking: of carrying labour.
– And the Administrator goes on to say that the native community, which share the result of such labour, are objecting to supply men. No doubt they will object to supply men as long as they can, but the time is coming when they will have no alternative but to work.
– There are lands preserved for the natives.
– But, seeing that the lands held by the planters or traders cannot be worked without native labour, that presupposes that natives are to be used in the cultivation and development of the country. That being so, it does not matter whether or not there are native lands reserved. . There is no doubt that certain powers will be either borrowed, stolen or obtained in some other way, so as to leave the natives only the alternative of working or starving.
– No powers can be given without the consent of this Parliament.
– But we have it that, consent or no consent, wages have been reduced from £1 to ros. a month.
– That is the wages for carrying, and the reduction will only be temporary.
-; - What are the present conditions, even while the natives have recourse to natural resources?
– Every village and all the native lands are reserved.
– Is there enough land reserved to insure good feeding for all the inhabitants ?
– And the’ natives will always have the opportunity of accepting or rejecting labour?
– Thev have that now.
– I am pleased to hear that there is such a very desirable state of affairs.
– I should not have interjected, only the conditions are so different.
– What the honorable member for Macquarie fears has not happened in Fiji.
– Nor in Java, where immense labour is required.
– That does ‘not controvert my main argument. We are asked to expensively administer Papua under most inquisitorial regulations, in order that certain traders may utilize labour -which we are apparently taking every precaution to preserve for them. As a business proposi tion that does not appeal to me as a parliamentary representative. If we have to go to the trouble and expense of preserving native labour, and of seeing that conditions conducive to good management are observed, we might as well reap the profit that would otherwise go to private people. We have here a young country with no vested interests - which I admit are a great bar to anything in the nature of the better distribution .of wealth in settled countries - and it is on that ground I base my main contention. The other points I have raised are merely subsidiary to the main issue. I desire to emphasize the fact that the Administrator states that the natives are already objecting to supply men ; and if this has the effect of better wages, it will be a good thing, and I shall be satisfied to that extent, though I am doubtful whether that will be the result. There is plainly a tendency to drag these natives to a lower level, and if the conditions are such as to cause reaction so much the better. Again, Mr. Turner, the Acting Warden at Milne Bay, says that the average pay for a’ miner’s labourer is £6 a year; and the Government Medical Officer in his report complains of the great number of convicts, as he calls them, who are suffering from strained limbs. I understand that the Government let out prisoners in that way.
– Prisoners are chiefly employed under Government supervision, and I am not aware that any are let out in the way indicated. But I may point out that the prison there is very unlike any prison we know ; there is very little confinement.
– Possibly. I am merely stating my case.
– I am only interpreting terms, which otherwise might mislead the honorable member. Terms that we use are employed- there in another sense.
– I am quoting a Government Medical Officer, who says that the convicts suffer from strained’ limbs and muscles in great number. The complaint has nothing to do with the prison, but is a matter of humane treatment. If these men are made to work in such a way that a medical officer is driven to complain about the number who suffer from strained limbs and muscles, it is time that a little better care was exercised. That is another reason why I desire to see the sole control in the hands of the Government, so that when there are such occurrences, a. voice may be raised here, and inquiries instituted to insure the proper relations between the whites who dominate and the blacks who serve. We do not desire to see a repetition of the occurrences in the domain of the King of Belgium on the Congo ; and it is evident that the only safe course is absolute Government control, to the exclusion of private trading. As indicating the low conception there is of the natives’ usefulness in the minds of those who are disposed to still further reduce the present low wages, Mr. Gill in his report says that, thanks to native labour, the poorest ground can be made to pay for the working. That is a very encouraging statement, and it enhances the attraction of the suggestion which I have made. I contend that there is no need for the Government to spend money to induce private investors to take advantage of the natural opportunities presented by Papua. There is no need for us to hesitate about assuming the entire’ control of native labour ourselves. The Commissioners, I note, denounce private recruiting. Upon page 30 of their report they say that while traders sometimes pay a recruit a year’s salary, which amounts to about j£6, in advance
– We propose to undertake all the recruiting ourselves.
– I am glad to have that assurance. The fact that unregulated intercourse between traders and the natives is of such a pernicious character as to necessitate the employment of a lot of machinery confirms my contention that we should take over the control of the native labour.’ I contend that the lands of Papua cannot be satisfactorily utilized -without the employment of native labour. The number of white owners, therefore, must be very limited. If it reaches 500-
– Oh, it will be thousands.
– Whatever the number may be, these persons will only reside in Papua because they possess capital or are employed by capitalists, and are in a position to take advantage of the facilities provided by the Government to make more money at the expense of the Commonwealth. That is what I object to.. These men might just as well be in the Territory as managers for the Commonwealth as be there upon their own account for the purpose of reaping the rich reward from the employment of native labour., which is placed at their disposal by the Government.
– Would they be in any better position as managers for the Government than as managers for themselves ?
– We cannot allow the existing state of affairs to continue. The Government themselves recognise the need for intervening and for undertaking the recruiting of native labour themselves. It has been conclusively shown that the unregulated intercou’rse which now obtains between the white residents and the natives is bad. So many evils have become associated with it that the Royal Commissioners were compelled to denounce, it, and the Government now propose to intervene. That in itself is evidence that we cannot allow the individual to have uncontrolled freedom there. We must see that he deals righteously with the natives. If we are competent to correct abuses by individuals, surely we are competent to undertake the management of the whole of the relationship of the white traders to the natives of Papua ! In the event of any evils arising, there are sufficient policemen in this House to see that they are speedily corrected. We have little to fear from Government administration. So far, huge vested interests have not attained a footing in Papua, and I wish to prevent them from doing so. The Commissioners declare, on page 13 of their report, that, as regards manliness, the comparison between the natives is wholly in favour of tribes yet uncivilized, thus showing that contact with the traders is bad, and that the employment of native labour should be controlled by the Government. The Commissioners further state that there are two alternatives open to the Government. They must either compel the natives to some system of work in return for the protection provided them, or they must levy on them for contributions in coin of the realm. Upon page 43 of their report, the Administrator is credited with the following statement -
I am strongly in favour of the introduction of a system of taxation which is in the nature of forced labour.
In other words, he is in favour of a system which will throw upon us the necessity for doing all that we should have to do if we took over the entire control of the native labour of Papua.
– It sounds like slavery.
– I recognise that. But, seeing that these men are themselves incapable of well-regulated effort, are we to leave them at the mercy of speculators, who merely desire to make money out of them? Ought we not rather to take them in hand so that their labour may be discreetly and charitably directed? We have to. choose between two evils. ‘ I ask- the honorable member for North Sydney whether he does not think that the control of the natives would be in better hands than it is now if this Parliament had a direct say as to the manner in which they should be dealt with ?
– We have that say.
– We have not a sufficient say, and the facts I have adduced prove my contention. I wish to point out the amount of Government control that is now exercised, with a view to showing how short is the step which I suggest that the Commonwealth should take. Upon page 23 of their report, the Commissioners say -
Your Commissioners hasten to state that they are perfectly in accord with the wishes of the people in this direction, and that, both from the stand-point of their educational advantages, and also of their revenue-producing possibilities, they strongly recommend the formation of at least four Government plantations, and the appointment of a first-class expert in tropical agriculture.
In other - words, we “are asked to incur an enormous expenditure, not merely in regulating the relationship which exists between the traders and the natives, but also to spend large sums in demonstrating how private speculators may satisfactorily invest their capital. Where does the Commonwealth come in? Apparently all our expenditure is to go to open the door to private speculation and investment. Those who invest their money in Papua will go there, perhaps, during one month in a year, or once every two or three years ; their concerns will, in nine cases out of ten, be in the hands of managers. . Will the honorable member for North Sydney tell me that managers appointed by the Commonwealth would not be as much beholden to this Parliament, knowing that the duration ot their services will depend on our goodwill, as managers appointed by private individuals would be beholden to them?
– That is an argument for the nationalization of all industries.
– I am not now speaking on the general question. We have in Papua territory where, as yet, there are practically no vested interests, the people being uncivilized, . and the soil virgin. There must be a paternal Government, and the wisdom of making preparations for others to come in and profit by them is open to serious question. I am opposed to such a course, and, on behalf of those whom I represent, say that we should manage this young country for our own people. We should send our own managers there to superintend our investments, and should reap the rewards of our own enterprise. The Commissioners continue -
Recognising that purely experimental nurseries are often little better than expensive toys, and that the revenue of the Territory is not in a condition to stand any but absolutely necessary expenditure, Your Commissioners propose that, whilst experiments will naturally be carried on in the Government nurseries, the principal’ object of (their establishment will be to act as object lessons, and to show how plantations should be worked on commercial lines.
It is suggested there that commercial lines should be followed, but we are only iri make a little tor ourselves, and a lot for the other fellow -
The plants grown in them must be the best of their kind procurable in any part of the world, and as soon as possible it will be the duty of the Director of Agriculture to see that adequate quantities are available for sale to intending planters. At the same time, the developing of these plantations as commercial assets ‘ must still be his first care.
That is a very sane proposal, but we shouldmake the venture a sound commercial one in our own interests, instead of agreeing to a lop-sided arrangement whereby the Commonwealth stands the racket and the private investor makes all the profit.
Should our proposal for taxing the natives under Government control in one form or another be adopted, men not able to pay in money could meet their liability by giving the Government .a certain amount of labour in lieu thereof on the Government plantation, and should both these sources prove inadequate, there is no reason why the Government should not employ paid labour, as it would all mean converting unskilled into skilled labourers for future planters.
I say that it should be done, not for future planters, but for more extensive use in Commonwealth plantations -
The Commissioners further desire to point out that in the event of their recommendations with regard to the Government recruiting being given effect to, these plantations will be used either as receiving or distributing centres, according to their situation, and that as the recruited natives may have to be kept for some time- either during ‘ process of collection, or pending their absorption by settlers, and in some instances by reason of the fact that an over-supply may be on hand - their labour can be utilized, and the cost of their upkeep met by employing them on the Government plantation. “Apparently, according to the Commissioners, we can do all these things for private individuals, but not for ourselves. Was anything so unreasonable and unfair to our people ever before suggested? All we ask the big man to do is to find money, and send managers there to represent him. We agree to give him land at a nominal cost, and to train natives and hand them over to him, in addition keeping up experimental gardens to show him in what directions he may best direct the exertions of his employes. “ This is worse than Socialism. We are making a gift of the country to the rich men of the world. Whoever has money may go there and take advantage of it.
– Are there many plutocrats in Papua now ?
– I am showing that our proposals are all to the advantage of the private capitalist, and that we should alter our tactics.
– Then the honorable member should do something for the appointment of a permanent Administrator.
– My duty as a member of the House is to say what I think should be done. The Government, no doubt, will not accept my suggestions with open arms, but I am nevertheless bound to make them. In further justification of ray position, let me quote this statement from page 29 of the Commissioners’ report : -
Existing circumstances plainly- require that =the necessary search and examination of the country should be made by the Government by means of a well-equipped party, comprising a geologist and practical miners. This method (of Government prospecting) would recommend itself to your Commissioners above all others under any circumstances, but more particularly so in the present instance, for the reason that there is great danger attending prospecting by small private parties in districts not under - or only partially under - Government control, by reason of the hostility of the natives; whilst prospecting by large private parties, on the other hand, is a menace to the natives themselves if collisions should, as they almost certainly would, take place.
The Government is to finance the show, to take all risks in connexion with the finding of gold, and then to let others profit. This would be well enough, perhaps, in a civilized community, but in Papua, where we are merely opening up country for outsiders, it is ridiculous. The people of the Commonwealth should say, “ We will recoup ourselves. We will not hand over our Territory to any one who chooses to invest money there.”
– Has the honorable member ever tried that sort of investment ?
– It is generally conceded that Papuan lands are a good investment. 1 am not a stranger to the commercial world, as the honorable member seems to think, but have made both good and bad investments. If Papua is good enough for capitalists to invest their money in, it is good enough for us to do so. But apparently it is thought we should spend our money on paving the way for outsiders. The report continues -
An existing regulation of the Native Regulation Board requires villagers to keep clear the native roads, and to make roads when required by the Magistrate. This useful regulation has been permitted, in some parts of the Territory, to become a dead letter. In some of them it is insisted upon with most beneficial results. It is a wise regulation, and should be put into full force throughout the entire portion of the country under Government control.
When anything .is required to be done, it must be done under Government control. This making and clearing of roads by the natives has been carried out very satisfactorily under Government management, which still further assists my argument. Then, on page 47, the Commissioners say -
Should our recommendations be given effect to, it will be necessary, in the interests of development, and in order to later receive a corresponding return, to spend further large sums of Australian money.
How they are later to receive a corresponding return is not stated ; I presume by levying on the. trade between the natives and others. But I contend that there is -no occasion to open up trade between private individuals and natives. The Government, it is proposed, shall spend public funds in demonstrating . how- rich individuals may grow richer. It is- a condition precedent that a man must be rich before he goes to Papua, and the Government is proposing to spend money to make such men still richer.
– What about the losses of investors ?
– Having spent so much money to give others a chance of making more, I think that we might go further and take that chance ourselves. Then Papua will have to be garrisoned.
– With a citizen soldiery?
– By Australians, presumably. We cannot expect the Papuans to do much for their own protection. The report says -
Put plainly, Papua to-day could only be attacked by a Power which intended to occupy it permanently, for it offers no looting attractions for mere raiders. If seriously menaced with (he object above stated, it has at present no white population sufficiently numerous to be capable either of offering a serious resistance or of acting as a nucleus found which its undoubtedly useful, but absolutely raw, native levies could be rallied. For the reason above stated, Your Commissioners have come to the conclusion that, for some time to come, Papua must depend for its defence on the British Fleet, helped (when constructed) by the Commonwealth destroyers.
– I do not know that there is anything humorous in that statement. Under the existing system, we can never hope to have in Papua a sufficient number of white managers of plantations to form even the nucleus of an adequate defence force there. Seeing that Germany is in possession of a strategical position on the island - that only an imaginary line separates the one territory from the other - it behoves us to fortify the place, and to garrison it with men from Australia who will be under the control of the Commonwealth, and are likely to render, more effective service than could result from such a limited settlement by white people as is possible under the proposals we now have to consider. The percentage of white people in the Territory must be ridiculously low. It is admitted that all labour there must be done by the natives, the work of overseeing being delegated to whites. Perhaps a total of 500 whites is all that will find occupation there as-
– There are now over 600 there.
– I was about to say that we cannot hope for some time to find employment for more than 500 white men as managers of plantations. I propose to do away with the traders who are an evil and a menace to the country.
– Does not the . honorable member see that his proposal would involve the maintenance in Australia of a permanent defence ‘force from which drafts could be sent to garrison Papua?
– I have as much common sense as has the honorable member. When I speak of maintaining a garrison, I do not mean that we should from time to time send additional drafts of men from Australia. The garrison there could be changed from time to time, just as changes are made at Thursday Island.
– If ‘ we have only a few white men on the Territory, drafts must be sent to garrison the country. The honorable member is pledged, I understand, to a citizen soldiery?
– The honorable member’s understanding of our pledges is remarkable. I propose now to quote the Commissioners’ summing up with regard to the relationship which should exist between the whites and the natives, and the scheme of control that should be adopted -
Your Commissioners agree with His Honour that the Administrator holds very strong sympathetic views in regard to the natives.
He was censured for some other offences, but this, at least, was a sensible attitude for him to adopt -
Your Commissioners highly commend these views, and are of opinion that they must be held, or, if’ not held, acted upon by any Administrator.
In other words, the Commissioners recommend that there should be a continuance of that sympathetic policy with regard 10 the natives which was adopted by the late Administrator, and that the suggestions, which I have drawn from their report, should be followed by the Government. I dare say that it will be in respect of the deductions I make from their recommendations, that I shall find some honorable members differing from me, but, in order to satisfactorily carry out these suggestions, absolute control of the Territory on behalf of Australia is necessary.
– Yet the Commissioners recommended forced Government labour.
– -The honorable member- is simply selecting that statement as a dog might pick at a bone. There must necessarily be some sort of compulsion. As a matter of - fact, we have forced ourselves on the natives of Papua; we have forcibly taken possession of their land. But there is no suggestion of slavery in my argument. We have to choose between placing these uncivilized people in the hands of unscrupulous speculators, or putting them under direct Government control. Conditional Government supervision, which is the only alternative, is, to my mind, inadequate.
– I was alluding to a statement made not by the honorable member, but by the Commissioners.
– Then I beg the honorable member’s pardon.’
– Would it not be better to preserve Papua for the native population, instead of trying to develop it ?
– We have taken control of the country, and it should be our desire to conserve theinterests of the natives. We can do that only by making the Administrator responsible to the Commonwealth. According to the Commissioners,there are, at present, only ten plantations in Papua. That being so, we could not have a hotter opportunity than now presents itself to initiate what I consider is the only safe and reasonable form of Government in such a territory. We have no difficulty before us in the shape of vested interests. We have at this stage to choose between providing facilities for building up huge vested interests, that will make our control most difficult, and involve endless expense inthe regulation of the relationships of the white people, who are out to make money, and the natives themselves, or of assuming absolute control. We have to choose between the two systems, and I maintain that at this early stage in the history of the Territory - having regard to the money we have to put up and the onus resting upon us to regulate trade, and to protect the people there - we cannot do better than take it over absolutely as a Government preserve, control all the cultivations, do all the business ourselves, and benefit by the profit.
.- I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he has any proposal, or will take any action, to assist the undoubtedly great colonial work now being done in London by the reorganized Imperial Institute? That Institute, which used to have a sort of social aspect, has been completely remodelled. It is now a scientific laboratory, as well as an exhibition of colonial products. Has the Prime Minister taken any action to show that we appreciate the great work done by the scientific laboratory, as well as by the other side of the exhibition?
– I was fortunate enough to be able to find time during last year’s visit to London to inspect the Imperial Institute, and to make myself acquainted with the development of its policy that has recently taken place. I found elaborate appliances, and skilled experts engaged in the task of analyzing, practically free of cost, specimens of every kind of mineral, vegetable, and animal product sent from any part of the Empire. Something more than a chemical analysis is made. Whilst the experts are themselves well acquainted with most commercial values, they take the opportunity to con sult the chief traders in regard to specimens submitted to them. That is to say, that, having London at their door, they place themselves in communication with those who are most concerned, either as consumers of, or traders in’, the particular articles submitted to them. The consequence is that they are able to send to those who submit specimens to them not merely a chemical analysis, but valuable commercial reports of the greatest service. The Institute also comprises an exhibit of colonial products, to which I do not know that very much value can be attached. The Canadian display is certainly magnificent.
– We certainly suffer by the want of an Australian exhibit.
– We suffer by comparison with Canada, which is well represented. The people who visit the Institute are attracted by the splendid Canadian exhibit, and it is therefore unfortunate that Australia ispoorly represented there. I have a vote before my colleagues in connexion with the preparation of the Estimates for next vear, and shall ask the House to consider the possibilities thrown open, in many cases absolutely without charge, to settlers in allparts of the Empire to obtain very valuable information in regard to any products they choose to send to the Institute.
– I wish to make some reference to the question of hired labour in Papua, and the remarks thereon made recently by the honorable member for Franklin, whose statements were of a striking and even alarming character. The Prime Minister to-day replies by quoting, in controversion of those statements, general statistics relating to the various industrial divisions of Papua.
– Giving the totals. There may be particular instances such as the honorable member has mentioned.
– That is preciselywhat I was going to point out. If the Prime Minister will take the case cited by the honorable member for Franklin - the statement that at a place the name of which resembles KurriKurri there is an alarming mortality, supposed to exceed 20 per cent. per annum.
– I believe, speaking from memory, that there was a case two or three years ago, and that it has been dealt with, but do not recall that name.
– We must all be delighted to hear that the conditions are more humane and reasonable than we had reason to believe judging by the report that came to hand some time ago. The problem of the Government of the Territory is a very serious one, and it seems to me that the trouble which immediately confronts the Government is in regard to the appointment of an Administrator of the requisite calibre and qualifications. The future development of that country will depend upon the man at the head. It seems that the late Administrator has to go, and I am bound to say that the more I read of that gentleman and his works, the more it appears to me that he erred, if at all, on’ the side of the natives - on the side of undoubted care for and the humane treatment of the natives of the Territory.
– There has never been any charge against him on that score.
– I do not think so. It seems to me that he got into trouble very largely for standing up for the natives against those who went there for other purposes. Those purposes may have been legitimate in themselves. I make no allegation on that score, but it is a pity that the late Administrator should ha*e had to surrender a post where he has done good work in the interests of the native. I have always held the strong opinion that we must go slowly in developmental work, which may mean’ the dispossession of the native and interfering with his interests.
– Fortunately, we have not reached that stage vet.
– I trust not, and, therefore, everything depends on the quality of the Administrator appointed. We should take care that the man appointed is one who will look to the natives on the one hand and to the whites on the other, and see that both get justice. It ought not to be impossible to do justice to both ; but lately there have been various ugly rumours abroad to the effect that steps were being taken to compulsorily dispossess the natives of their lands. I sincerely hope there is no truth in that rumour.
– There is no truth whatever.
– The natives should be left in undisturbed possession of their homes and lands, until, may’ be, future requirements of civilization mean an entire rearrangement. At present we ought not to disturb them more than is necessary, but should govern the islands in their interests, at the same time taking care of the white residents, and seeing that they get justice in whatever disputes mav arise.
– That depends on the character of the Administrator.
– That is precisely what I say.
– Will the Governor-General appoint a permanent Administrator?
– I presume the Government will make a permanent appointment, and I hope it will be ohe in which the House and the people interested will have the fullest confidence. It is a great thing to get the missionaries to act with us in .the civilization of the natives and .the development of the land, because they are doing the basic work of all that is ultimately to be accomplished. Therefore, it seems to me thatgreat heed should be paid to their wishes in the appointment of an Administrator, though I do not pretend to say that they should be allowed to nominate or dictate whom” he should be.
– Is the honorable member referring to the Administrator as an administrator or as a Judge?
– I do not know just at the moment, but I should say that if these functions could be separated it would be so much the better. At any rate, the only man that I know in the whole of New Guinea at the present moment is Mr. Staniforth Smith, who was at one time a member of the Senate. We all know of that gentleman’s indefatigability in all that pertains to the welfare of the islands, and also of the quality which he, from time to time, showed when he was here. I hope that Mr. Staniforth Smith is doing the work of which he gave so much promise; and I shall read with interest the report he has presented concerning the special functions he has been sent! there to perform. Whoever is appointed Administrator for New Guinea, I hope he will be a man saturated with the idea of justice for both whites and natives, and one in whom all parties may. repose the fullest confidence. I hope we shall clear up the matter concerning the alleged’ alarming mortality at the place to which I have referred.
.- - 1 do not know whether the Prime Minister has already explained the increase of expenditure in connexion with the administrative branch of the
Department of External Affairs. I notice that three extra clerks have been appointed, which represents an increase of some 1 6 or 17 per cent., and that there is an increase of about £400 in salaries compared with the appropriation, and some £500 as compared with the expenditure, of the previous year. . In contingencies there is an increase in the appropriation of about £2,300, and an increase in the actual expenditure of about £700, which is considerable in proportion to thetotal amount. I should like an explanation from the Prime Minister, because I see on glancing through the Estimates that the appropriations generally continue to grow. I do not know whether the external affairs of the Commonwealth are increasing to such an extent that this increase is necessary ; but there is a growth of expenditure totalling a very considerable amount in the other Departments also. I cannot accuse the Prime Minister of sanctioning an expenditure which he does not consider desirable, but I should like to know the reasons for the increase.
– The honorable member for North Sydney is quite entitled to the information for which he asks. Taking the contingencies first, which represent the largest increase, it will be observed that £500 extra is in connexion with the printing and distribution of the Government Gazette, the demand for which publication all over Australia is so large that the expenditure had to be incurred.
– Is there no payment made for the Gazette?
– There is some return, but the bulk of the copies are official, for post-offices in connexion with tenders and other information of the kind. Whatever return there is from the sale of Government Gazettes does not appear here, because this Department does not receive the revenue.
– There might be a foot-note with the information.
– Yes. Then, in regard to the Commonwealth Statutes, there have been constant complaints, from the larger States in particular, that cases are tried in remote places where no copies of the Statutes are available. This is unremunerative expenditure, because, of course, these copies are not sold to the States Governments; but Judges and magistrates have both insisted that the want of copies has very often led to postponements and ex pense. As regards administration of the Immigration Restriction Act there has been what I might term “a boom” in the shape of small influxes; and the result has been that we have had to tackle a number of outlying ports much more thoroughly and seriously than ever before. There is, of course, no desire to increase this expenditure, but these attempts have become so frequent that it has to be undertaken. Generally, I am aware from figures which have been before me, but regarding which I cannot trust my memory at the moment, that the increase of correspondence in the Department has been simply enormous. I take it that the correspondence is now three times what it was only two or three years ago, and the greater part of this is, so to speak, beyond our control, coming either from persons within the Commonwealth who desire information about matters outside, or from persons outside the Commonwealth, such as proposed settlers or traders of one class and another. Then there is a steady increase in the correspondence with the Colonial Office and the Governments of other countries. As illustrating the position, I may say that since the establishment of the Transvaal, with its consequent new developments, we have received sundry requests from the Government of that Colony for information, relating very often to matters more directly under the control of the States Governments. But very properly the communications are, according to the Colonial Office directions, sent to the Commonwealth, and we obtain the information from the States, and supply it, together with answers to any questions which may have been asked as to Federal affairs. I think I am safe in saying that, as compared with 1903-4, the number of documents which now come before me is as eight or ten to one.
– There is a sudden rise in the expenditure for one year.
– That is because we found we had fallen so far short. It is to be remembered that gatherings like the Imperial Conference, the Postal Conference, and other conferences which are to be held shortly, invariably lead to fresh showers of correspondence dealing with proposals, inquiries, comments, or suggestions of one kind or another. It really would seem as if Australia were just being discovered in a number of countries, considering the number of inquiries, more or less of an official character, which we receive from other Governments.
In regard to Papua, which has been most under consideration this morning, it must be remembered that there have been great developments since the passage of our Act founding the Territory. The honorable member for Macquarie, in discussing the situation to-day, unfortunately confined himself to the figures supplied to the Royal Commission some time ago. But, at the very time the Commission was in Papua, there was what may be called a land boom there, during which thousands of acres were applied for on lease. The publication of the Commission’s report was followed by another boom, and, in a single month, the applications received represented 15,000 to 20,000 acres. It will be seen, therefore, that the honorable member for Macquarie was discussing a state of affairs that has passed away when he spoke of no vested interests having been created. Since the period to which the honorable member’s figures relate, I should say, speaking from memory, that some 60,000 or 80,000 acres havebeen applied for on long lease.
– I know of one firm which applied for 40,000 acres.
– I am not sure that application has been granted. I make these observations only to show that the remarks of the honorable member for Macquarie were based on out-of-date figures. Progress in Papua has been most rapid, and that in itself has meant a large increase in the correspondence of the Department. In fact, the legislative activity of the new Executive Council and Legislative Council has, I think, rivalled even that of the Commonwealth Parliament in proportion to its size. There is a list of eighteen or twenty ordinances, all of them affecting the circumstances of the Territory and leading to a great deal more expenditure.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
.- When the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was addressing himself to the question of alien immigration, he referred to the allegations which have recently been made that a number of Asiatics were being smuggled into the Commonwealth. He also declared that there are quite a number of young Chinese in Australia whoareutterlyunable to speak a word of English. If that be so, it is strong prima facie evidence that Asiatic immigration outside the pale of our Commonwealth law is taking place. Whilst I was in the Northern Territory last year some residents there pointed out that. the pearling fleet which is engaged in theTorres Straits fisheries was probably largely responsible for illicit introduction of aliens to our shores. Owing to thenecessarily lax supervision exercised over-, many hundreds of miles of our coast line, there are abundant opportunities for landing Asiatics without the fact being known either to the police officials or the Customsauthorities. I do not know how we can guard against this evil, whilst we are unable to exercise strict supervision over thelong stretches of unsettled coast line to befound on our northern seaboard. Uponthe question of immigration generally, I should like to know what is the Government policy. When we are asked to sanction the expenditure of a considerable sum of money for the purpose of advertising the resources of the Commonwealth, I takeit that one of our principal objects is to attract population. Now, the only way in which we can rapidly bring population toour shores is by means of immigration. Our object, therefore, must be to present the Commonwealth to the public abroad as a profitable field for industrial and commercial development as well as for settlement generally. That being so, we are entitled to know what the Government propose to do in the direction of facilitating; immigration to this country. Do they intend to submit to the House a general scheme embodying a vigorous immigration policy ?
– In connexion with next year’s Estimates, we do. Of course, the current financialyear has nearly expired. Very little of the vote which appears uponthis year’s Estimates in connexion with immigration has been expended, and it cannot now be expended. However, I am drawing up a scheme in connexion with theEstimates for nextyear which I hope will prove effective.
– I am pleased to have that assurance. I recognise the need that exists for attracting the right class of immigrants to the Commonwealth. We havea coast line of between 7,000 and 8,000 miles, which, for want of settlement, is absolutely undefended and incapable of being defended. What we particularly require to do is to get the districtsadjacent to our coast line settled with a. white, virile population. Whether we can attract a sufficient number of British immigrants for this purpose is a matter upon which very few of us are able to express an authoritative opinion. But if we cannot attract sufficient British immigrants, rather than turn to the southern countries of Europe to supply us with the necessary population, we should turn our eyes to the north, and endeavour to induce people of the Scandinavian races to settle here. I believe that in Queensland there is practically a Scandinavian settlement, and from inquiries which I instituted I gather that its residents are men of a most desirable type. They have the reputation of being sober, law-abiding, industrious, thrifty citizens, but what is of great importance in a country like this is that they are a very virile race. By the introduction of persons of this class we shall have an opportunity of securing a race descended from a virile stock, which will maintain for many years to come the standard that we desire to see maintained.
– How can we expect to attract immigrants while the Labour Party controls’ the Government?
– The honorable member has raised a very important question, but it is one that I. am not at liberty to discuss on these Estimates. We have an immense continent, in which there are only 4,000,000 people settled, and the nations from which we have to fear invasion are not our European rivals in trade, but our ‘ Asiatic neighbours. Upon the score of invasion we have little to fear from Germany, America, or France, who are our closest neighbours in the Pacific. But within a fortnight’s steaming distance of our shores there are the Javanese, the Japanese, and the Chinese. Java, which possesses a population of 30,000,000, is within a week’s steaming distance of our northern coast.
– Within three and a half days.
– The Javanese are pretty well controlled by the Dutch Government.
– And the Dutch possessions will probably soon be controlled by the German Government. In my opinion, it is merely a question of time when all the Dutch settlements will be absorbed by Germany.
– I must ask thehonorable member not to discuss the. details of that matter, though he may make incidental allusion to it.
– I do not intend to do so. We have to keep a watchful eye upon Japan, which, though it is only oneeighteenth the size of Australia, possesses a population of 46,000,000 - equal to that of the United Kingdom. We have also to recollect that China, which is twice the size of Australia, has a population of 400,000,000. What hope of successful resistance could 4,000,000 people have against such hordes of Asiatics? In advertising our resources we need to advertise them in such a way that we shall attract to our shores men whom we can distribute along our coastal areas.
– Is the honorable member willing to provide them, with something to do before they actually arrive here?
– In order to secure the settlement which is so necessary for our national preservation, provision must be made for immigrants prior to their reaching our shores. It is idle to spend large sums of money in advertising our. resources for the purpose of attracting immigrants unless we afford them facilities to take up land and engage in rural and other industrial occupations. One of the most urgent matters awaiting our attention is the formulation of a comprehensive scheme of irrigation and water conservation in the arid portions of our continent.-
– Another invasion of State rights.
– As the honorable member for Herbert very properly points out, the question of State rights crops up in this connexion, and of course any such work would have to be undertaken with the hearty co-operation of the States themselves. I hope that before bringing forward his scheme the Prime Minister will take the precaution to ascertain the views of the States Governments in regard to it.
– I am in correspondence with them all now.
– I am glad to hear it.. If that course be adopted I feel satisfied that no difficulty will be experienced.
– Does the honorable member think that there is any hope of getting the States to do anything?
– I do. There is no real antipathy between the States and the Commonwealth. The hostility which has been evidenced in the past has been due to the apparent lack of consideration which the Commonwealth has exhibited for the rights of the States. But I am hopeful that the friction which is inseparable from the establishment of a Federation will gradually disappear and that a better feeling will prevail. In regard to Papua, which has been the main subject of discussion this morning, although I listened carefully to the speech of the honorable member for Macquarie, I was unable to comprehend exactly the policy which he strove to unfold ; but I did not like to ask questions, because of his sensitiveness in regard to interruptions. Apparently he desires to discourage the development of Papua by ordinary private enterprise, and wishes the Government to administer the dependency as a Commonwealth industrial and commercial concern, or, as I suggested, on socialistic lines, though he repudiates the idea of Socialism.
– Because of the primitive state of the Papuans. They require paternal government.
– The administration outlined by the honorable member was such as has been advocated by most socialistic writers. He would have the Government manage Papua in the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole.
– It would be a commercial venture on the part of the Commonwealth.
– There may be a subtle distinction between what the honorable member proposes and Socialism, but it is too fine to be understood by most honorable members. The practical result of its adoption would be to leave the country pretty well as it is - a black man’s country, with a few Government officials scattered about it. The honorable member, however, pointed out that Britain’s most powerful trade rival is in occupation of a large part of New Guinea. Germany is developing her territory by all the means known to commercial enterprise, and probably, when the opening of the Panama Canal makes the Pacific one of the most frequented ocean highways of the world, trade rivalry will become so keen that the present friendly relations between the two countries may not continue. Without a white population, Papua would be at the mercy of its neighbours. The Australian destroyers that were alluded to would be incapable of proceeding so far as Papua, and even if they went there, they would probably be ineffective against the vessels of a hostile power. The honorable memberseems to have forgotten, or perhaps does not know, that the Germans have established at Simpson’s Haven, in New Britain, a large naval base from which their vessels could easily make descents, notonly on Papua, but also on Queensland. If we hope to doanything with Papua, we must encourage private enterprise there. Australians are interested in the development of that country for the sake of the trade which it will bring. I admit that great care must be taken to prevent abuses. I see no objection to employing the natives under fair conditions, and proper supervision and wise administration will prevent many of the abuses which the honorable member rightly fears.
– We shall want a policeman for every planter.
– I do not think that every planter will be a monster.
– According to the Opposition, human nature is a monstrosity.
– I have not heard that contention from any member of the Opposition. Suppose, for example, the honorable member were to decide to become a planter, no one would associate the honorable member withanything inhuman, and I think thatinhumanity is rare in connexion with the average Australian or Britisher.
– We are all very comfortable in the face of starving millions. Each lives in a world of his own.
– I do not recognise the relevancy of the interjection. I sympathize with the honorable member’s desire to shield the natives of Papua from ill treatment. Their constitution preserves their lands to them.
– It was published recently that measures were to be taken to acquire landby compulsion.
– We must guard against abuses of that nature.
– It will cost more to guard against abuses than to run the whole show ourselves.
– I do not think so. We must regard very jealously proposals for the alienation of land, but we have already taken precautions for preserving it for the native owners. I do not think that land will be taken from the natives while this Parliament has control of the Territory.
– I am prepared to trust Parliament entirely ; but the honorable member is not.
– The honorable member is not prepared to trust the Parliament, because he doubts its willingness to prevent abuses, notwithstanding its right to veto Papuan legislation. My opinion is that, when abuses are made known, they will be dealt with very promptly. Attention has been directed to the possibilities of Papua as a field of exploitation by European capitalists. A gentleman who has been travelling through the Territory has, I understand, applied for some 40,000 acres on behalf of a very powerful English syndicate. We have to guard against the acquisition of large holdings in Papua, as it should have been guarded against here in the early days of Australian settlement. But I understood from the Prime Minister that no individual isto have the right to occupy more than 5,000 acres.
– A company would be able to take up land in the name of each shareholder.
– Has not a Melbourne firm obtained about 20,000 acres?
– I do not know; but we can guard against abuse by providing that the expenses of administration must be defrayed by the taxation of land values. By that means the speculative element will be destroyed, and we can insure that no land will be taken up by these companies except for legitimate purposes of production that will benefit trade and labour. We can also see that certain stipulations are made in regard to the wages and working conditions of the natives or of any one who may be employed there.
– We have to strike the happy medium between giving too much and giving too little.
– There need necessarily be ; no limit so long as the increment from the development of the country and the settlement of population is secured by the Crown instead of being allowed to go into the pockets of private speculators. With regard to the New Hebrides, I should like to know if anything further has been done to secure the appointment of a British Judge in the group. Some time ago the Prime Minister stated in answer to a question that he had made representations to the British Government as to the necessity of such an appointment, and that he had also drawn their attention to the fact that a French Judge was already there.
– Yes.I have an acknowledgment, and they are giving the matter consideration.
– The matter is important from an Australian point of view. I regard with increasing anxiety the position of British settlers in the New Hebrides. I can seeclearly that conditionsare making for the ultimate annexation of that group of islands by the French, in the absence of constant watchfulness on the part of Australia, and unless repeated representations are made to the British Government as to their strategical importance from the point of view of defence.
– The position is very much better than it was.
– It is; but it is not nearly so good from an Australian standpoint as it ought to be.
– The fault is mainly ours, because we will not admit free of duty the produce of British settlers in the group.
– I was coming to that point. This Parliament is largely responsible for the present state of affairs. An attempt was made some time ago to secure what would be tantamount to effective occupation by inducing a number of Australians to settle in the group. A colony was started, I think, in Espiritu Santo.
– Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company did splendid work there.
– They did. Several Australian families were induced to invest their all in taking up land for cultivation in the islands. Everything went well until in an evil moment the Commonwealth Parliament excluded the produce of Australian settlers in the group from its only available market - Australia.
– Should not the farmers of Australia have some protection against produce grown by coloured labour?
– If the honorable member would regard this matter from anational, rather than from a. provincial, point of view, he would recognise that the farmers of Australia have nothing to fear from the competition of Australian settlers in the New Hebrides. In order to maintain themselves during the six or seven years which cocoanut plantations require to reach a stage when they can be turned toprofitable account, the settlers set to work to raise annual crops. Their total production was. so small that its introduction into the Australian market could not seriously affect it.
– The honorable member will certainly own that the Commonwealth Government has assisted settlers there.
– That is a point whichI propose to touch upon. My complaint is that their produce has been shut out from Australia. They grew a little maize and’ a few other crops, and had their produce been admitted into the Australian market they would have been able to tide over the six or seven years during which their cocoanut trees were arriving at maturity. The Commonwealth Parliament, however, put up a Tariff against their produce. The consequence was thatthese people, who left Australia with the laudable intention of providing another safeguard for the interests of Australia in time of need - of securing an effective occupation which would, perhaps, have enabled the British to set up a good claim for the annexation of the islands and their magnificent harbors - which are the most suitable for naval -operations in the islands of the Pacific - found themselves stranded.
– The harbors there’ are too deep.
– The honorable member is referring to Havana harbor, which is deep in the middle.
– Most of the harbors there are too deep.
– That is not so. The honorable member will probably recollect that I drew charts of the islands showing the Admiralty’s soundings and had them placed in the various rooms of the House for the information of honorable members.
– Does the honorable member suggest that there is in the Pacific a. better harbor than Port Jackson?
– No. What I said was that the harbors of the New Hebrides were the best in the Pacific Islands - and In speaking of the Pacific Islands we do not usually include Australia or New Zealand -for naval purposes, from the point of view of their accommodation, and proximity to what will be the great ocean route between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the east and west coasts of America.
– I did not see a really good harbor during my trip to the islands, and I landed eighty times.
– Then the honorable member saw, at all events, the best that can he found outside Australia in the Pacific. There are, for instance, the harbor of Havana, in (.he island of Vate, and the harbor pf Port Sandwich in the island of Malikolo, which is well protected. The “harbor of Havana has the advantage, from a naval point of view, of being approachable in all kinds of weather. It is capable of sheltering the united fleets of the two largest powers and of accommodating the largest battleship ever built or likely to be built. Speaking from memory only, 1 believe that there is a depth of something like 90 fathoms at the entrance to the channel, but that, about 7 or 8 miles up the harbor, the water shallows to 7 or 8 fathoms and less close in shore.
– There are some pretty good harbors in New Caledonia and Fiji.
– New Caledonia belongs to France, and it is surrounded by reefs ; but I do not wish a.t this stage to go into details. I was pointing out, when interrupted, that we had practically lost our position of numerical superiority in the islands through our failure to afford facilities to the Australian settlers there to maintain their holdings.
– Does the honorable member know of any settlers who were offered the same conditions in Australia?
– The honorable member does not understand the point of my argument or what I am leading up to. As the result of our action a number of these families became destitute. Many of them returned to Australia, leaving behind them a mere handful. In order to meet the pressing necessities of those who remained behind, the Commonwealth made an arrangement which, to my mind, was wholly inadequate. A sum of ^500 was voted to be expended for their relief ; but I find, on reference to the Estimates, that of that sum- only ^73 has been distributed. The manner in which some of it was expended has given the greatest dissatisfaction. I have received numerous complaints from the settlers, who maintain that they, derived really no bene’fit from it. Nothing short of absolute removal of the restrictions against the entrance of their produce into Australia, even if only for six or seven years, will meet the case. I hope that the Government will consider the arvisableness of rebating the duty upon produce grown by Australian settlers in the Group, so that they may be placed on the same footing as the French settlers occupy in regard to the markets for their produce in New Caledonia and other French Possessions. The French receive what is practically equal to a rebate of the whole of the duty paid by them. There is a direct rebate of about 50 per cent., and the balance of the revenue obtained in this way is expended on improving the means of communication between the plantations in the interior and the French port of Vila. That being so, they practically secure a rebate of the whole of the duty. Perhaps, sooner than we expect, we shall realize the absolute folly of the policy we are pursuing in regard to these islands. We are doing our best to promote such conditions as will absolutely justify the French in putting forward a claim for straight-out annexation, and shall probably have established, contiguous to our great ocean route across the Pacific, another foreign naval base, which, as time goes on, may prove a most serious menace to our shipping in those waters-. While on this subject, I should like to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to some negotiations on the part of two foreign powers to secure two islands in the Pacific having good ports, and at present under British jurisdiction. I refer to the island of Suwarrow, and one of the islands of the Tonga Group, inwhich is situated the fine harbor of Vavau. It is currently rumoured that the Americansare conducting negotiations with the view of securing the one, and the Germans are endeavouring to secure the other. Will the Prime Minister take steps to warn the British Government of the danger of parting with those islands? Once they pass from British control, there will be absolutely no point, apart from Fiji, where the British will be able to establish an adequate naval station along the* whole of the thousands of miles of ocean route between Panama and Australia, and our commerce will thusbewholly exposed to an enemy’s ships of war, if that enemy has naval bases in the Pacific and we have none. I am confident that the matter has only to be brought under the notice of the Prime Minister to insure action being taken by him. There were other matters to which I had intended to refer, but I shall postpone my remarks until we come to deal with the items in detail.
.- I desire to congratulate the Government on the admirable official appointments which have been made recently in Papua. At the same time, the white population are very dissatisfied with the present conditions. In the first place, they desire an elective Legislature, and, in the second place, they ask that trial by jury shall be instituted. I think two petitions, if not more, have been presented in favour of trial byjury, and, although there is every confidence in Judge Murray, there is that feeling which animates every British community in favour of the ancient form of trial.
– According to the last report, trial by jury has just been established.
– I am glad to hear it, because I know it will be a great source of satisfaction to the residents. Is it the intention of the Government to create an elective Legislature?
– Yes ; as soon as the population justifies such a step.
– That is rather vague.
– It is ; but, as I mentioned before, the land is being taken up with great rapidity, and I am not merely putting off the establishment of an elective Legislature to a remote future. It is necessary, however, that the people should be there before they can exercise a vote.
– At present there is a white population of between 700 and 800, the great majority of whom would be eligible for a vote.
– But the population is very scattered.
– It is; but I suggest that if the desire is to wait until the population is larger, then the Government ought to fix a minimum of, say, 1,000, so that the people may know when to expect an elective Legislature.
– We have no desire for delay, but if we were to divide Papua into constituencies now, a serious burden would be imposed on any one who desired to be elected.
– Does the honorable member desire a Legislature entirelyelective ?
– And would the honorable member give that Legislature unrestricted Dower over the natives?
– Practically. I may say that the present. Administrator has given more satisfaction than any one who has previously held the office; and, so far as I can gather from correspondence, the condition of affairs is much better than that of the past. As to the land leases, I pointed out to the Prime Minister, when thisquestion was last before Parliament, that the Government seemed to be putting the cart before the horse inasmuch as the holder of a lease on long tenure got more favorable terms than the holder of a lease on a short tenure.
– The honorable member means as to the portion cultivated ?
– Not merely that. The security of tenure on a long lease is worth much more to the holder than the tenure of a short lease, and it is a common-sense proposition that those who hold the longer tenure should pay high rents. But my principal reason for rising is to ask the Prime Minister if it has come to his knowledge, as I have been credibly informed, that the Papuan mail service is being worked principally by coloured labour. There is a condition in the agreement that this service is to be confined to white labour, and, on that account, an extra ‘Subsidy is granted. If it is urged that the Papuans have a right to work on ships in their own waters - a contention to which I am not opposed - then I say that Parliament did a generous, if not a foolish, tiling in granting the extra subsidy.
– Are the Papuans engaged on sea-going boats?
Mr.BAMFORD. - I understand they are employed on the boats which are subsidized to carry the mails between Cooktown and Port Moresby, and the same applies to other island services. I cannot absolutely vouch for the facts, but that is what I am informed.
– On the final point raised by the honorable member, the latest information is that Papuans are employed loading and unloading cargo, and so forth, only on the boats which run between port and port, and not on the vessels which come to Australia; the Papuans are used for internal traffic only.
– My information is different.
– The practice just mentioned by. the Prime Minister in regard to the natives is that which is pursued in the New Hebrides, where, as soon as a vessel arrives, the kanakas take charge as between the islands. I desire, however, to refer to the fact that many Chinese are coming into Australia, as any one may learn on making inquiries, particularly in Sydney. In that city, a body of men are banded together, and, as to land a Chinaman is worth at least £100, they are making very large incomes. I should like honorable members to cast their minds back to fifteen years ago, when Mr. Kingston was Premier of South Australia, and when there was shown to be a leakage of Chinese from the boats which called at Port Darwin, and then came round to other parts of Australia. It was shown that something like 800 obtained admission to the country during one year, the majority of them at Sydney, and Mr. Kingston endeavoured to obtain the co-operation of the New South Wales Government, but I am sorry to say that the latter didnot see their way clear to assist. As I say, there is a body of menbanded together in Sydney, who, with small risk and large returns, are succeeding in introducing a number’ of these aliens into the Commonwealth. I suggest that we shouldtake an example from the administration of the British Government at Hongkong, where any ‘ shipping company captain, or agent, who introduces an undesirable immigrant is liable to a fine of at least£100. If even a first-class passenger is landed, and afterwards becomes a burden on the rates, the Government can compel the shipping company to return him to his place of birth, be that where it may.
– In Canada the Canadian Government are now sending back even British immigrants to whomthey object.
– There has been a similar policy in America for some time. Let me suggest how this question of the Chinese influx could easily be settled. At present the Commonwealth have power to inflict a fine of at least£100 on any shipping company by means of which an alien is illegally introduced, and I suggest that if we gave two-thirds or three-fourths of that fine for the discovery of every Chinaman illegally in the Commonwealth the traffic would be stopped. Then there is another method, copied from that adopted by the German Government, for the destruction of insects and so forth on board ship. The holds; of vessels are usually pretty well air and water tight, and I think it would be veryeffective if it were announced that all vessels arriving would be liable to disinfection by means of carbonic acid gas, which is the means adopted by the German Government. I have no desire to kill any Chinaman who may be on board but if the fact were known that shipping might be so treated, I think we should never find a Chinaman below again.
– Does the honorable member think that many Chinamen are surreptitiously introduced?
– I know it to be a fact, and if the honorable member makes inquiries in the proper quarters in Sydney he will be convinced. A great deal of what the honorable member for Lang said in regard to the New Hebrides is true, but, on the other hand, we have to consider our own people. I maintain that the Australian farmer is asworthy of protection as the farmer in the New Hebrides, and no one can say that maize cannot be produced in Australia. In New Guinea land can be obtained at a minimum cost, and two and a half crops produced in the year, whereas, particularly in the southern part of Australia, we cannot expect more than one crop. Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, to their credit, have done their best to help on this industry in the New Hebrides, and, though they may have shown business acumen in this connexion, seeing that the more settlers there are the more produce there is to carry, we must give them credit for their generosity to the settlers there. This firm will take any genuine settler free and carry his produce back at a minimum of cost, and purchase his maize. We know that maize which is grown in a damp climate is apt to sprout. I have seen maize landed in Sydney from the vessels of Messrs.’ Burns, Philp, and Company, which it was almost impossible to sell, because when once the grain had commenced to sprout most of its value has gone. I desire to give my meed of praise to that company for the reform which they have effected in this connexion. The fact that the British settlers in the New Hebrides have not as good a chance of succeeding as have the French settlers there is due to the more generous treatment of the latter by their own Government.
– France admits the products of the French settlers in the New Hebrides at reduced rates of duty.
– And England admits the produce of those islands free. England is more generous to British settlers in the New Hebrides than France is to her settlers there. Of course New Caledonia is the principal market to which the French settlers send their produce, but we must recollect that New Caledonia possesses a large aboriginal population, and consequently we cannot institute a comparison between that place and Australia. No person who believes in a White Australia can separate the products of coloured labour from the coloured labourer himself. In reference to New Guinea, I merely desire to say that I wish a lot of territory in the Commonwealth were held under as equitable land laws as those which obtain there. If it were, we should not find immigrants turning their eyes to Canada - the tide would run towards our own shores. I cannot close my remarks without paying my tribute of praise to the governing body of New Guinea. From the handbook of the Territory of Papua, compiled by Mr. Staniforth Smith, the Director of Agriculture, I quote the following : -
The land laws of the Territory of Papua, printed in the appendix, are probably the most liberal in the tropics.
I go further, and say that they are the most liberal in the world.
They are based on the broad principles that (a) no land can be alienated in fee simple, and (b) the rental of the land leased is assessed on the unimproved value of the land, and is subject to re-assessment at fixed periods. The terms upon which the land may be leased are exceedingly easy to the settler. He can obtain a leasehold of the best class of agricultural land for any period up to 99 years -
Thus, if the rental of land was 3d. per acre and upon its periodical appraisement it was increased by more than1d. per acre, the lessee would be entitled to receive the full value of his improvements.
The compulsory improvement conditions attached to agricultural leases are -
These plants are nearly all provided by the Agricultural Department, of which Mr.
Staniforth Smith has control.
That provision is intended - so I was informed by a wealthy friend - to prevent land being held merely for speculative purposes.
– That is impossible under the existing law.
– The handbook proceeds -
All agricultural lands that have not been alienated by the Crown have been assessed under section 13 of the Land Act, at an unimproved value of 5s. per acre.
All pastoral lands have been assessed at1s. per acre, unimproved value.
This appraisement definitely fixes all land rentals for twenty years as follows : -
Agricultural land (Class A) - first tenyears, free. Second ten years, 3d. per acre per annum.
Pastoral leases (Class B) - first ten years, free. Second ten years, 25s. per thousand acres.
That works out at a little less than onethird of a penny per acre.
If during the second twenty-year period of the lease the appraisement is increased by more than one-third of the existing rental, the lessee may disclaim the lease, and is entitled to receive compensation for his improvements.
These terms are most generous. I hope that I may be spared to see as generous treatment accorded to the residents of the various States of the Commonwealth.
– What ! Does the honorable member want to see land rented for 3d. per acre ?
– I listened in silence to a long speech made by the honorable member, and I trust that he will extend to me a little consideration while I give expression to my views upon a matter to which I have devoted some thought If we could settle the lands of Australia upon equally easy terms we should not witness the infamy of hundreds of persons applying for a single block. Assuming that the Commonwealth proposal to take over the Northern Territory be ratified by Parliament, I feel perfectly certain that the Government will see that settlement there is rendered just aseasy as it is in Papua.
– I wish to say a word or two in reference to the New Hebrides. I think that the honorable member for Melbourne slightly misunderstood an interjection of mine during the course of his remarks. If he will look into the matter he will see that France extends a superior preference to the products of settlers in the New Hebrides to that extended to them either by the Commonwealth or Great Britain.
– I merely pointed out that New Caledonia is the principal market to which the French settlers ship their produce, and as that island possesses a large aboriginal population a comparison could not be instituted between it and Australia, which is settled by white people.
– New Caledonia accords better treatment to the products of the French settlers in the New Hebrides than the Commonwealth does to the products of British settlers. France itself admits the products of the New Hebrides at reduced rates of duty. It is true that England admits the products of settlers in those islands free, but she also admits the products of other parts of the world upon similar conditions. In other words, she does not extend a preference. Consequently it pays them better to send their coffee to France than it does to Britain, because, in competition with others there, they obtain a preference’ which they would not get in England. I think that if we arrogate to ourselves the control of lands containing black people we must face the question of making Tariff concessions upon their products. I agree with a good deal that the honorable member for Lang has said in reference to the’ New Hebrides. What are the future prospects of those islands? We know that for years past a struggle has been in progress - a struggle which was initiated when the Honorable James Service, who was Premier of Victoria, objected to the landing of French marines there. The consequence was the withdrawal of France from the attitude which she had then taken up. Ever since that time a constant struggle has been in progress between Australia and France for the ultimate possession of those islands.’ While I admit that the joint authority that has now been established over them is preferable to the conditions that previously existed, I do not regard it as more than a temporary expedient. It cannot lead to anything. It will inevitably produce friction in the future, because there will always be a tendency in the two authorities each to assist their own citizens as against other citizens. French policy and funds will render more assistance in such a struggle than British policy or Australian funds. Therefore I am afraid that, during the period of joint control, the tendency will be for the claims of Australia to weaken. In no case has such a control been long considered satisfactory. There is only one solution to the difficulty. We must recognise the sentiment, and even the sensitiveness, of France, and not expect that great power to withdraw from the islands under pressure. We are on friendly terms with it ; and I should be sorry if we were not. We do not wish for the arbitrament of the sword on any question. If war arose, it would give an opportunity - though an unfortunate one - for the settlement of the New Hebrides question. But I hope that all may be achieved by diplomacy. The present state of affairs is unsatisfactory to the people of both nations. But the interests of France in the Pacific are small, and so far as we can see, not likely to grow. It is the interests of other powers, especially those possessing territory adjacent to the Pacific, which are likely to increase. In some other parts of the world, however, where British interests are comparatively small, the interests of France are important. Those facts afford an opportunity tor the diplomatic adjustment of the difficulty - Great Britain giving France territory which is more important to her in some part of the world where her interests are superior to those of Great Britain, and accepting territory in the Pacific where Britain’s interests are overwhelming.
– Britain has refused to do that.
– The policy of to-day is only the policy of a Ministry, just as the policy of yesterday was. Australia must recognise the wideness of Britain’s interests ; but if Australia” sets her face in support of this policy, which is the only satisfactory solution of the difficulty, that constant attitude and continued representation will, I hope, in time bear fruit. No doubt, the Pacific is going to see the great developments of the immediate future.Matters of great moment are more likely to occur there than in any other part of the world. In time, the value and importance of these islands to Australia, not for the sake of their territory, but because of their situation, and by reason of the fact that they can be used as hostile naval bases, will be recognised.
– What about New Caledonia. ?
– I include all the French interests in the South Pacific.
– That is a big order.
– Not a very big order. They include the New Hebrides, New Caledonia, and the Loyalty Islands. The interests of France in the Pacific are not nearly so large as her interests elsewhere, and if by an exchange she can gain more than an equivalent, there may, at some future time, be a settlement effected. Does the honorable member for Coolgardie see anything satisfactory in the present arrangement?
– I do not see any way out of it.
– Does the honorable member think that it will be satisfactory in the future?
– I do not think that we should benefit much from the possession of these islands, even if we had the whole of their trade.
– It is not a matter of trade, or of territory. These islands afford situations for naval bases which may be very dangerous to Australia.
– What about German New Guinea ?
– That is not nearly so important a base as the islands to which I refer. It is unfortunate that Britain did not acquire German New Guinea. It is only by after results that the fatuous neglect of thepast becomes recognised. When the Mother Country is at war, the proximity of naval bases belonging to a hostile power will be so calculated to produce injury that the foolishness of past Ministerial action will become apparent. I wish to anticipate that possibility by endeavouring to bring about a satisfactory arrangement. The present arrangement, though theoretically an improvement on the old, is cumbersome and difficult. No similar arrangement has ever succeeded elsewhere, and we cannot hope that it will succeed in the New Hebrides. If, without wounding the feelings, or injuring the interests, of France, we can in the future effect an exchange which will benefit both countries, it will be absolutely in the interests of Australia.
– I have already intimated my desire to say a few words on the subject of immigration, but, as the hour is late, I shall condense my remarks as much as possible. Those who are in correspondence with the Old Country must be struck with the frequency ofapplications for information about Australia and the Pacific generally. Nearly every mail brings letters from persons wishing to leave the Old Country for newer fields, and I am sorry that most of those which come to me ask for information about the Pacific Islands rather than about Australia. This is somewhat significant, and points to the need for making more generally known in Great Britain the resources of the country in which we live. So much has been written of late about the Pacific Islands - mainly by novelists- that the people of Great Britain are coming. to think that there are opportunities there for making more than a livelihood for themselves and their families. But from inquiries which I have made, I am convinced that it would be a fatal mistake for English people to go past Australia to the Pacific Islands. The glamour of romance with which novelists have surrounded those islands is responsible for an erroneous impression as to their climate and the possibilities of settlement. The neglect of the Commonwealth to properly advertise its resources is also responsible in no small degree for the fact that people are asking for information in regard to the Pacific Islands rather than in regard to Australia. I hope, therefore, that more win be done in this . direction than has been done in the past. A past Government employed a gentleman to write articles for various newspapers with the object of advertising our resources, though I am not aware that any good result followed. We have a Commonwealth representative in London, but we are not satisfied with the arrangement. We receive from it all that we were entitled to expect, because it must be remembered that Captain Collins was sent to London to act as our agent In the purchasing of material, and as general advisor to the Government, rather than to represent the Commonwealth-. What we want is a representation like that of Canada. This has been said over and over again; but it cannot be repeated too often until a properly accredited representative is sent to Great Britain. As to the class of persons to be brought here, I feel that for many years to come Australia will alford openings for persons following all sorts of occupations. I hope, therefore, that our efforts will not be’”’ directed to attracting immigrants of one particular class. If our population increases, our industries will receive such a stimulus that there will be employment for large numbers of persons in all walks of life. I therefore hope that the efforts of the Commonwealth representatives, whoever they may be, will be directed along that channel, and that we shall have a steady stream of desirable immigrants coming here, not to swell an already overburdened labour market, but to set their hands to avocations that will be ready for them; to follow occupations that will not only give them a ready means of subsistence, but will assist in building up the population of this country in such a way that we shall be able not only to adequately occupy it, but to offer an adequate defence if unhappily we should be called upon to do so. The honorable member for Wimmera, in a very thoughtful address recently delivered by him in this House, referred to one of the means whereby a great deal could be done in this direction. No one who has given more than a moment’s consideration to this important question, could fail to be struck by the opportunities which such a policy as the honorable member advocated, would undoubtedly afford to people coming to Australia. The conservation of water and the irrigation of those portions of our country which offer undoubted facilities for such an undertaking, will do much to insure success in this respect. Mr. Elwood Mead, one of the greatest experts on this subject - and I am glad to say that Victoria at present possesses the right to his services - assures us that in no part of the world that he has visited are there such opportunities for water conservation and remunerative irrigation as are presented in Australia. Mr. Mead was brought from the United States of America, where He was intrusted with the larger part of the work of the Agricultural Bureau, and he has proved, since coming to Victoria, that he is a practical man who knows thoroughly what he is talking about. It must be some satisfaction to the Prime Minister to find that the policy which he initiated in Victoria is receiving the hearty commendaton of the latest expert to come to our shores. We are assured ‘by Mr. Elwood’ Mead, that the lines upon which an irrigation policy for Victoria was laid down by . the then Chief Secretary, Mr. Deakin, are most suited to the future of this State. Victoria, forming _ as it does only a part of Australia, and having access to only one great means of water supply - the Murray - may be regarded as only one example of what is possible in this direction in Australia..It is by encouraging water conservation and irrigation that the Government can take the first step to securing an increased population. It is by approaching the States and ascertaining whether they will be prepared to come to some agreement with regard to the ‘disposal of the waters of the Murray - and Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia, are the three States concerned - that we shall be able to solve the problem of offering to the British people the greatest attraction that could possibly be extended to them.
– We have first to get the land to which the water is to be carried.
– Steps to secure the necessary land should form part of any scheme with the object I have already indicated. The irrigation of the land running for many miles on either side of the Murray should be one of our first endeavours. If the Governments of the States concerned are prepared, either through the Commonwealth or by combining amongst themselves, to secure such an enormous advantage to the whole of Australia, surely the Government of the Commonwealth is entitled to say who shall participate in that advantage. Our own people should be the first, and then should come those whom we hope to attract from abroad.
Colonel Foxton. - There is plenty of land in Queensland without doing that.
– I am very glad to hear it, but I am speaking now of a ready means’ of attracting desirable population. We a.11 know that agriculture in the Old Country has taken a scientific turn, and if we are able to offer intending immigrants from that country land with water, we shall be able to hold out to them all that they desire. I should like now to make a brief reference to Papua. In the government of the Territory we have taken upon our selves a very grave responsibility, and I sincerely hope that we shall continue that lively interest in its welfare which is absolutely necessary to its well-being. We cannot hope to see it progress as it should do if we are not prepared to give it that attention which it undoubtedly deserves. Just previous to the opening of this session I passed through the Malay Peninsula, which is being governed under circumstances very similar to those which obtain in the territory under our control. There I found, to use the words of an English official, that “ the backbone of the country is the Chinaman.”
Colonel Foxton. - So he is at Port Darwin.
– I should not think of describing a strip of landsat one end of the continent as the “ backbone “ of the .country, and I hope that in this respect Port Darwin will simply be the caudal appendage of the Commonwealth, and that we shall be able, so to speak, to lop off that end if we cannot get rid of the undesirable persons who infest it. In the control of Papua we should be largely guided by the experience of other countrieshaving similar climatic conditions and governed in a similar way. I truly hope that the policy which has been initiated in the Territory by the Ministry will be continued. I hope that the present feelings of satisfaction and security will obtain for all time, but that hope can only be realized so long as this Parliament is fully alive to its responsibilities. I express a further hope that the steps already taken by the Government will be ‘followed by further settlement of people of a desirable character, who will be likely to benefit the country, and not degrade it as other countries have been degraded. There is another matter to which I desire to refer, and which, though it may appear to be small, affects a number of officers in the Commonwealth service. There does not happen to be a Prime- Minister’s ‘Department, and for the time being the Prime Minister is the head of the Department qf External Affairs j but it is quite possible that in time some other Department may have the honour of the Prime Minister’spresidency. I now desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs has any authority to pay what are known as courtesy calls on behalf of the Department, or on behalf of the Commonwealth. During some recent occurrences, it became necessary for the representatives of foreign nations to call upon the consul of the nation immediately concerned, and the Prime Minister, being unable to attend, deputed the Minister of Trade and Customs to act on his behalf. But amongst the names of the. distinguished representatives of foreign nations and others who were present, I noticed the name and office of the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs.
– The only time that the Secretary of the Department acts in that way is when he represents his Minister.
– But on this occasion the Minister of Trade and Customs was deputed to, and did, represent the Prime Minister. Of course, there is no real harm in the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs attending such functions ; but if this is to be considered a precedent, it would be as well that officers holding; similar positions in other Departmentsshould know the facts. If, on the” other hand, this officer took it upon himself to attend the function, then I think something; ought to be done in the matter.
.- I rise to speak principally on the question of the administration of the New Hebrides, and other islands adjacent to the Commonwealth. The honorable member for North Sydney has staled very clearly the position, and I think his remarks must appeal to every thinking member of the House. He mentioned one point which I desire to emphasize. Although we apparently all agree that it is of great importance to the Commonwealth that the Nev Hebrides should not pass under any alien control, the action we are taking, as members of the Commonwealth Parliament, is not calculated to further British interests there, but rather to alienate them, and indirectly strengthen French interests. The honorable member for Lang pointed out ,the difference there is between the treatment accorded to. British residents in the New Hebrides by the Commonwealth Government, and the Home Government, and the treatment accorded to French residents by the French Government. There is, of course, something in the contention of the honorable member for Melbourne that if we desire to maintain a white Australia, we cannot bring the products of black labour into active competition with our own products.
– What I said was that I desired our farmers to be protected in the same way as our artisans are.
– I desire to emphasize the fact that maize in the New Hebrides is after all only a catch crop. The whole production of maize in the New Hebrides is not sufficient to enter into active competition with the maize produced in the Commonwealth, or to affect the price here; and if the farmers of the New Hebrides were’ allowed to send their maize here, and get a decent price, it would tide them over the time they are waiting for their main crops, particularly cocoanuts, to mature. We must bear in mind that, at the time the New South Wales Government encouraged the scheme of Burns, Philp, and Company for settling British and Australian farmers in the New Hebrides, there was an open market in New South Wales, and those settlers went there thinking that that market would continue to be available. But, as a matter of fact, the Australian market has been almost closed by Federal legislation; whereas the French settlers have an absolutely free port in New Caledonia. More than that, as the honorable member for North Sydney reminded us, conces sions are granted to the French settlers on any produce that goes to France, and they also receive concessions in the way of reduced freights on the French subsidized mail boats. It will be seen that in every way the French settler has the whip hand of the British settler, and the position has become so acute that, in some instances at any rate, the British settler has been compelled to sell his produce to his French neighbour. All this does not in any way help in the great national policy of securing to the Empire the control of these islands, which are of immense importance now, and which will be of infinitely greater importance when the Panama Canal is opened, and the commerce of the world turned to a great extent from the Atlantic into the Pacific. I desire to say a few words in regard to Papua, and to draw attention to the following expression of opinion, taken from page 108 of the report of the Royal Commission, in reference to the salaries paid to the officers employed in the Territory -
Annuities to Public Officers. - Your Commissioners could not fail to notice among officials a considerable amount of dissatisfaction in regard to present remuneration, and a very real feeling that the longer they remained in the Public Service the more hopeless their future was likely to become. They now propose to deal with, in their opinion, one of the reasons why this is so, and why, unless some alterations are made, the same state of things must inevitably continue. Existing salaries are, in the opinion Of your Commissioners, on such a low scale as to preclude any hope of the men receiving them saving money against the period of their retirement; on the other hand, when that time arrives, no provision is made to permit them going out on a pension. This, your Commissioners would point out, is in direct opposition to the policy adopted towards officers employed in tropical countries in, we believe, any other part of the world; it certainly is so as regards British Possessions.
– Do not those ‘remarks apply to Australia also?
– I am not discussing Australia. I wish to emphasize the fact that our officers in the Territory are very much underpaid considering the work they have to do, the climate in which they have to live, and their surroundings generally. If we desire good administration in Papua, the very first thing we must do is to obtain the services of first-class men, even though we have to pay them first-class salaries.
– Does it follow that when we pay a high salary we necessarily get a good man?
– No, but the converse is generally true.
– Does the honorable member think that a first-class man would go to New Guinea?
– Yes, if we made it worth his while to go. I plead for the appointment of first-class men to administer this Territory, even though we have to pay them considerably larger salaries than the officials there are receiving at the present time. Another important question - and one which this House will require to watch very carefully - has reference to the native lands of Papua. The Papua (British New Guinea) Act vests in the Council of that Territory extensive powers which they can exercise by means of regula-. tion and ordnance subject to the approval of the Commonwealth Parliament. I have previously taken the opportunity of suggesting that a small Committee of this House should be appointed - perhaps one of the Standing Committees would suffice - whose duty it should be to examine and report upon all these regulations before they obtain the force of law. At the present time, so long as they meet with the approval of the Government, they are merely laid upon the table of the House - they are not even printed, although the Prime Minister has promised that in future they shall be printed for the convenience of honorable members.
– I gave instructions to that effect quite a month ago.
– Considering the wide powers exercised by the Council of Papua we ought to have a better control of these regulations. We know perfectly well that the Council is opposed to the policy of the Government. It has again and again reported in favour of the compulsory alienation of the native lands of the Territory, notwithstanding that when the British flag was hoisted there Sir William McGregor most emphatically informed the natives that their lands should be respected. We further find that the Commission appointed to investigate the administration of New Guinea reported in favour of the resumption of all minerals found on native lands, with power to mine for them. The policy of a certain section of the Papuan Council is undoubtedly antagonistic to the natives in this connexion. It behoves us, therefore, to be very careful lest some regulation is passed which will have the effect of permitting - even under the most stringent Government supervision - the compulsory alienation of the native lands for any purpose whatever. The question of recruiting native labour is one which the Government intend to take in hand, and with which, therefore, I need not now deal. But I may say that I think they are acting unwisely in attempting to enforce the regulation which provides that the English language shall be taught in all the mission schools. Many of the teachers in those schools are natives who have been educated, and it seems to me that this regulation, instead of increasing the knowledge of the natives will work disadvantageously to the institutions in question. I understand that every opportunity is taken to teach the English language in the schools, but to compel the native teachers to learn it before they can teach is not warranted by the educational advantages at present offered in New Guinea. I would urge upon the Government the necessity for reviewing their decision in respect to this matter. I wish also to impress upon the Government the need for making regulations prohibiting the importation of birds as well as of animals, without the consent of the authorities. Australia has suffered very severely from insane importations for sentimental reasons of both birds and animals, and we should be careful to prevent similar mischief from being done in Papua.
Proposed vote (Subdivision I., ,£4,179) agreed to.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Is it the intention of the Government to appoint immigration agents in London or elsewhere? I have heard that action of that kind is contemplated.
– Our immigration scheme will shortly be laid before Parliament. We are yet without definite answers from most of the States, and the number of agents required will depend largely upon the land and opportunities which the States are prepared to offer. The use of agents is declining rather than increasing, and the old class of immigration agents- is passing away. In Canada, they seem to think that a new class of agents is needed.
I hope that the honorable member will not form any opinion on the subject until he hears what the proposals of the Government are.
– Is it intended to proceed with the Estimates on Tuesday ?
– Yes ; after the third reading of the Australian Industries Preservation Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4. 21 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 March 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080320_reps_3_44/>.