3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Have the Government yet completed their arrangements for chartering a steamer to search for the Waratah, or are the preparations being expedited?
– Everything depends on information from South Africa, which has not yet reached us, possibly because yesterday was a holiday.
– As the Works Estimates have been passed, will the Minister of Home Affairs see that the expenditure for which they provide is entered upon immediately, because many men are out of employment? I should like him to consider the practicability of engaging directly as much labour as possible. If the State officials are not able to do the necessary, supervising, will he take steps to expedite matters in some other way, so as to prevent a block?
– Plans and specifications for. a numberof works have been ready for some time, awaiting the passing of the Estimates. I shall use every endeavour to expedite necessary undertakings.
– It is an insult to our Democracy that a picture of the House of Lords is hung in our Library, so that visitors can see it, while a companion picture of the House of Commons is put out of the way. The picture of the House of
Commons should be given at least as much prominence as that of the House of Lords.
– The oleograph of the House ofCommons towhich the honorable member refers is the property of the Parliament of Victoria, but, as the position which it formerly occupied in the Library was required for another picture which is the property of this Parliament, it was removed. Should the space occupied by the picture of the House ofLords be similarly needed, it will be dealt with in the same fashion.
-If the picture of the House of Lords and everything else belonging to the State Parliament were removed from the Library the place would look very bare.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Sydney, 218; Melbourne, 180. 3.a. Sydney, 52 ; Melbourne, 85.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether it is the intention of the Government to clothe the proposed Inter-State Commission with full powers to operate in matters dealing with the prohibition of produce in Inter-State trade ?
– It is proposed to empower the Inter-State Commission to deal with all contraventions of the provisions of the Constitution with respect to Inter-State trade, which include unconstitutional prohibitions of the Inter-State transfer of produce.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he will ascertain if it will be possible to manufacture telephones (complete, or metallic parts) at the Small Arms Factory, and what will be the cost?
– Yes, inquiries will be made into the matter.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries will be made and answers furnished as soon as the information is available.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Coolgardie asked whether the£1,000voted by the Commonwealth in aid of the Women’s Work Exhibition had been refunded by the managers. The money was voted to defray expenses in connexion with foreign exhibits. About £940 so incurred has been returned in accordance with the original intention. The expenditure of the Commonwealth was, altogether, about £60. Although if is not generally known, it cannot be improper to mention now that, at the outset, the Exhibition, which proved of the greatest value to Australian women and Australia generally, was opened at the sole expense of Lord and Lady Northcote, and any loss would have fallen primarily on their shoulders. Fortunately, their direct contributions were covered, though for this splendidly successful undertaking their indirect expenditure was a very large sum.
In Committee of Supply: (Consideration resumed from 2nd September, vide page 2994).
Department of External Affairs
Division 13 (Offices of Commonwealth in London). ^3,095.
.- It is :i pity that we should be asked to deal with this item before we know what is to be’ clone regarding the appointment of a High Commissioner. There is a High Commissioner Bill on the notice-paper, but it stands fifth on the list of Government measures, and apparently is not to be proceeded with. Next week we are to discuss a Bill determining the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States, and. apparently, a year will have passed before the High Commissionership question will be settled. We voted .£5,000 on the Works Estimates towards obtaining a site in London for Commonwealth Offices, and we should have some statement of the intentions of the Government in the matter. I should like also to know why last year the expenditure in London was almost twice as large as the amount voted.
– 1 wish to know from the Prime Minister when he proposes to provide for the proper representation of the Commonwealth in London ? We have now been discussing this matter for eight years, and -every Government has admitted its urgency and importance: The only difficulty in the way of a settlement is a political one. Captain Collins, who, with his staff, is now carrying out the work to the best of his ability, does not occupy the standing which the direct representative of the Commonwealth should have at the centre of the Empire. As the Government has a large majority it ought to be ready to make a proposal. 1 can promise that the High Commissioner Bill will go through as soon as it is brought forward.
– That is a pleasant, but very rash promise.
– The High Commissioner Bill is the one measure which was excepted by the deputy leader of the Opposition the other day.
– I am willing to assist the Government in every way to pass the Bill. I shall not go back on the opinions expressed by three Parliaments. Had the necessary authority been given by the last Parliament, there would now be a High Commissioner. The Minister of Defence suggests that opposition to the Bill has been threatened from this side. Would that deter the Government from proceeding with it?
– T said that exception was taken to it by the deputy leader of the Opposition when he gave a list of the measures which he said could be put through in a day, if we liked.
– If the Government wishes to make a bargain for the putting through of a number of Bills in one day, some reservation is necessary.
– A formal offer of- some was made to us.
– I said last night that the benevolence of the honorable member for West Sydney is notorious, and my statement was regarded as ironical. As a matter of fact, the honorable member wishes the Government to get on with business.
– Does the honorable member think that the High Commissioner Bill could be passed by 4 o’clock this afternoon?
– No; because its provisions must be discussed. Does the Government desire that its measures shall not be discussed?
– We want them to be passed.
– I do not think that the Prime Minister is in any doubt as to my views with regard .to the High Commissioner Bill. Some time ago the whole Commonwealth was scandalised by statements made in London by a representative of my own State, and it would have been well if we had then had in London a High Commissioner to voice the opinions and sentiments of the people of Australia. To-day, happily, owing to a number of fortuitous circumstances, Aus- -* tralian opinions are better understood in the Old Country, and wilful slan’:derers of Australia have fewer opportunities, in proportion to their desire, to do injury to the Commonwealth. I admit that Captain Collins is doing his best, but obviously he occupies an anomalous position, and could not be expected to represent the Commonwealth as effectively as could a High Commissioner. Having regard to the position he occupies, he has discharged his duties well. He is doing his best, and we are incurring a considerable expenditure in connexion with his office to enable him to do so. There may be some exception to the items, but on the whole the money is well spent. 1 am glad that the Government intend to proceed with the High Commissioner Bill, and should have no objection to its consideration being resumed to-day.
– Would the honorable member agree to its being passed through all its stages to-day?
– I do not suggest that.
– Then, if we resumed its consideration to-day, we should have to set it aside again next week.
– Unfortunately we have no indication from day to day of what the business on the notice-paper will be. -The order of business is changed from time to time, and additions are also made. We have now sixteen Bills on the noticepaper, and I protest against proceeding with the Estimates until the financial scheme of the Government has been put before the House. I repeat that I have never held two opinions as to the appointment of a High Commissioner, and I hope that the Bill relating to it will be dealt with at the earliest possible date. If there are political difficulties in the way of our proceeding with it to-day, it is quite likely that they will exist later on. I should be glad to have from the Prime Minister a statement as to the intentions of the Government.
– I am pleased to have the opinions of the Leader of the Opposition upon the appointment of a High Commissioner - opinions which, as he says, he has always held and advocated, both in public and private. Honorable members on this side of the House will indorse every word he has uttered as to the importance of passing a Bill to permit of an earlyselection of a leading public man. 1 believe with the honorable member that our representation at present is as good as could be expected from Government officers. We cannot hope for anything better until we have a representative of a higher status, who will be able to enter into relation with the leading public men of the Mother Country. He will be clothed with full power and authority to speak, subject to the direction of this Parliament and the Government, on any questions of interest to Australia. It would have been of the greatest advantage to have had the advantage of his services during the last year or two, and I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that there will be no delay in pressing forward the High Commissioner- Bill, lt is true that Ave have now on the notice-paper a large number of measures. Some introduced in this House have reached various stages, and there are a number of others that have been received from another place. Circumstances to which I do not desire to refer have made it desirable that we should lay before the House at as early a date as possible practically all the business proposed to be attempted this session. That has been nearly accomplished. We shall lay on the table two or three measures to which frequent reference has been made - those covering proposed amendments of the Constitution, the appointment of an Inter-State Commission, and defence.
– Will they be proceeded with on Tuesday ?
– The first will at least be read a first time. “ Those are the principal structural measures yet to be submitted. When they have been introduced, we hope that honorable members opposite will be satisfied. The Leader of the Opposition has certainly adopted a very reasonable attitude, but a number of those who sit with him, who, of course, are entitled to express their own views, have shewn a strong desire not to go on with any business proposed, but rather to plead for one or other of those propositions that they knew we were about to submit. I do not think they will have any cause of complaint after a few days, and shall be glad to have the assistance of honorable members in dealing with the High Commissioner Bill. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, it is one apart from party and in the interests of the Commonwealth, so that while it should be discussed, there ought not to be a lengthy debate upon it. It has one or. two important features that may possibly be made the subject of argument, but it would be of great advantage if we could deal with the measure promptly, so that an appointment might be made before the end of the year. ‘
– Do I understand that the business for Tuesday next will be the Bill to provide for an amendment of the Constitution in regard to the financial proposals ?
– I hope so; that is the measure I am particularly anxious to submit to the House at once.
– I would remind the Prime Minister that if any business be taken, without notice, out of the order in which it stands on the notice-paper, those who are set down to resume the debate may be absent from the Chamber when it is called on. If there is to be an alteration in the order of business, at least one day’s notice ought to be given. I have in mind more particularly the High Commissioner Bill, the debate on which I am to resume, and I should like to have at least a day’s notice of when it is proposed to proceed with that measure.
.- Honorable members have been agreed for some time as to the necessity for the appointment of a High Commissioner. If the Prime Minister is enthusiastically in favour of such representation, he cannot hold himself entirely blameless for the delay that has taken place in making an appointment since, but for one or two short intervals, he has been the Leader of a Government for several years, and has failed until within the last week or two to take definite action to provide for tlie appointment. Just as I believed that with Federation State expenditure would be curtailed and the membership of the State Parliaments reduced, so I think that on the appointment of a High Commissioner an arrangement should be made for the transfer to his office of some of the functions now carried on by the Agents- General of the States and a corresponding reduction in the expenses of the States.
– Would the honorable member suggest another Conference?
– I suggest an arrangement with the States for the transfer I have mentioned. I am surprised that some honorable members opposite are not in sympathy with a proposal to reduce State expenditure.
– The honorable member is mistaken as to that.
– We have had inquiries ficm most of the State Governments as to cnr obtaining offices in London, so that they may consider whether they should not endeavour to get all their representatives under the one roof.
– Victoria has erected a building of its own.
– But every encouragement has been given to the States in that regard.
– We have not yet established an office there.
– When we asked the House to approve of a site for Commonwealth offices in London our proposal was rejected.
– Surely it was within the right of this Parliament to say whether a good or a bad bargain was being made.
– Quite so ; but I was replying to the honorable member’s suggestion that we had not given the House an opportunity to take action. We must have an office for the High Commissioner.
– Surely it would be possible for the High Commissioner to occupy temporary offices. We have not delayed the appointment of a High Commissioner by refusing to accept the Trafalgar-square site.
– But the possibility of getting all the State representatives under the one roof has been interfered with.
– At the very time that we were asked to approve of that site, Victoria was proceeding with the construction of a building in London.
– That should not give rise to much difficulty.
– I am glad to hear that the honorable member thinks so. I am surprised that the Government think that they should be spurred on by the Opposition in regard to this matter. The man who is selected for this position should be the choice of the representatives of the people in both Houses of the Parliament. A Government brought into existence, and continuing in existence under the present conditions - a Government which will be annihilated immediately we go to the country-
– Oh !
– We have only had one election since the present Government came, into power, and all the indications are that the Government will meet their doom.
– It was a great moral victory the other day, was it not?
– It was a great moral victory, seeing that, the candidate on our ticket doubled his votes.
– Order !
– I admit I am a little off the track, but that election furnishes one of the reasons why the Government should not be permitted to make an appointment of this description.
– Does the honorable member submit that proposition seriously ?
– Yes. A motion that the High Commissioner shall be selected by exhaustive ballot at a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives, was carried in the Senate and transmitted to this House in 1905, and would have been carried here had there been an opportunity to consider it.
Dr.Liddel. - Is the honorable member in order in alluding to the Senate in this House?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.An honorable member is not in order in referring specifically to the Senate.
– The point of order is quite in keeping with the intelligence of the honorable member who raises it.
– I submit that it is not competent for an honorable member to question in Committee whether an honorable member is in order if he goes beyond the scope of the item, but that it is the Chairman’s business exclusively to take such objection.
– It is competent at any time for any honorable member to raise a point of order; it only remains with the Chairman to say whether the point raised is a point of order, and to decide it.
– At any rate, the motion to whichI refer was carriedin another place when the Deakin Government were in office, and the course then suggested should be adopted now, especially if this important office is to be filled for a number of years.
– Why did the Fisher Government not act on the suggestion?
– The Fisher Government were in office for only three weeks or so before the recess, and had no opportunity to do anything. The late Prime Minister indicated his strong desire to see some work done, though he made no announcement as to this particular appointment. I have already expressed the opinion that the Government ought to go to the country at the earliest possible moment. They have ceased to act as a Government; they have broken the pledges they gave to their constituents, and they ought to seek a ratification of their policy at the hands of the electors, or be relegated to obscurity. The officer we have in London appears to have been doing very satisfactory work, and no fault can be found with this vote, beyond its association with the larger question of the appointment of a High Commissioner. There is no item in this subdivision to which I can take exception, and I am prepared to allow it to pass with these few remarks.
Proposed vote agreed to.
.- The Minister ought to tell us something about the progress of affairs in Papua. I notice that£6,000 is set down in addition to the appropriation of 1908-9, showing £4,900 in excess of the amount actually spent in that year. A number of complaints have been made in reference to the labour conditions in Papua. I am not sure whether those complaints are justified by the facts, but, in a certain Sydney newspaper, TheNews Letter, some very strong remarks have been made about the relations of planters and natives. I have no means of knowing whether the charges are well or insufficiently based, but they amount to this : that something approaching villeinage or serfdom exists, and that the natives, if not illtreated, have their interests neglected. Personally, I am not inclined to believe that, under the administration of Judge Murray or the control of Mr. Stanniforth Smith, these conditions are permitted ; all I say is that we should not accept official reports as being perfectly satisfactory, but that the Department should take whatever steps are deemed necessary to inquire into such charges from time to time. It is notorious that the tendency in governments of this kind is to explain, excuse, and condone everything done by every official, and to view things through the spectacles of the planter rather than those of the natives. On the other hand, I read a letter from a man who seems to be well informed, and who signed himself “ Planter,” to the effect that some of the regulations made by the authorities are ridiculous, that they retard development, and, in short, are grandmotherly without regard to that broad, comprehensive policy which is absolutely essential. Between the two, I confess that I am in that happy frame of mind that I do not know which view to accept, and. perhaps the Minister has some information to give the Committee.
. -I have not seen The News Letter, but will endeavour to obtain a copy and have inquiries made. I have seen the other letter referred to, and have handed it over to the officers for investigation. Recently an officer, Mr. Turner, was appointed for the special purpose of looking after the interests of the natives. Mr. Turner will have inspectors under him, and the resident magistrates throughout the districts will be required to assist in this work. The regulations which have only just been submitted to me, show that most careful provision has been made to safeguard the interests of the natives in regard to remuneration, housing, sanitary conditions, medical attendance, and so forth. So far as I can see from the regulations, the officers are very much alive to the interests of the natives, and are acting accordingly.
.- It is curious to observe how, -when Judge Robinson was resident in Papua, the chief complaint that the honorable member for West Sydney and others made against his administration was that he was the friend of the natives. Apparently, honorable members opposite then held a brief for the employer, miner, or trader, as against the natives, whereas now they advocate the claims of the natives, as against those of the other classes. I merely desire to draw attention to the manner in which our friends opposite can blow hot and cold accordingly as their attitude may embarrass the Government.
– I promised the honorable member for Coolgardie last night to give him certain information in regard to the administration of Papua. He asked whether provision had been made to declare unalienated Papuan land Crown land. Provision has been made in that respect, and at the present time an area of 1,070,000 acres is Crown land in the Territory. ‘ The idea underlying the land system is that the land belongs to the natives ; that it is only purchased from them if it is waste land and not used or required by them, and they signify their willingness to sell ; such land can only be leased to private individuals from the Crown, no direct sales being allowed. With respect to the question of encouragement by the Commonwealth, a previous grant of £5,000 was made for roads, and in addition there is on these Estimates a further increase which is intended to assist in the necessary development of the Territory in connexion with roads, the establishment of a stud farm, and other matters urgently .needed. The honorable member asked for the rate of progress in settlement during the past year. The total area of land held under lease at present is 316,000 acres, of which 95,315 acres were granted for the twelve months ended in June last. The matter of postal facilities is now under consideration in connexion with the mail contract when it expires. Nothing has been done with regard to the taxation of the natives. Tariff preference has been asked for, and is now under the consideration of the Government. The honorable member further asked .what was being done with regard to prospecting. At present a party is out prospecting for gold in the Territory at the Government expense, the cost being set down at £800. The question of wireless telegraphy is under consideration. A new Chief Government Surveyor in the person of Mr. Sabine has been appointed. On the question of salaries, it has been decided that there shall be a minimum of .£200 in connexion with all clerical appointments, and provision is being made to pay adequate salaries to men in the Territory.
– What is the retiring age fixed at in Papua ?
– I am not sure, but I shall ascertain and let the honorable member know.
. It is highly important that we should get very competent men for the Papuan service. I do not deny that it offers certain attractions for young men, but the general tendency appears to be for young men to go into it in order to use it as a steppingstone to get into the Commonwealth service afterwards. The reason for that is not very difficult to find. The climatic conditions under which the public servants of Papua work at present are not over healthy, or at any rate are not to be compared with those existing over the greater part of the Commonwealth. We should, therefore, offer every attraction to the men who enter the Papuan service to remain in it. The Papuan public servant ought to be able to retire at fifty-five, with an allowance that would enable him to live in some sort of comfort and decency. I most emphatically suggest for the consideration of the Minister such a revision of the salaries in general, and the prospects in particular, for each class of the Papuan service as will offer sufficient inducements to a desirable class of men to go into and remain in it.
.- I have often thought that this vote afforded to a Minister an opportunity to do something more than pass the mere Estimates for the Territory. It offers him an opportunity of occupying perhaps a quarter of an hour in giving Parliament a concise review of the progress of development in Papua generally - a review which would be a historical record from year to year, and be useful, not only within the Commonwealth, but outside it. The Minister may reply that reports from the Territory are available, but they are necessarily couched in official language and overloaded with details” which busy men and pressmen will not take the trouble to go into. It would be a great advantage if the Minister in charge of the Department annually as the vote came up could make a statement showing not only the progress of settlement, but the advances that have been made towards civilizing the natives, the area of land opened up, and the uses to which it is being put.
– Surely the honorable member does not expect the External Affairs Department to do that? It is the Department that knows the least about Papua.
– That is one of the reasons why we ought to have a Minister who can summarize the information conveyed to him from Papua. It cannot be expected that every Minister will be able to visit the Territory. The Minister of External Affairs in the previous Government embraced the earliest opportunity to pay it a visit, arid to come personally in contact with the people, and discover for himself the actual conditions of life there. I think that honorable members, however their political views may differ from those of the honorable member. for Boothby, will at “least commend him for that action. 1 was glad to hear from him that he and those with him enjoyed perfect health during their sojourn there, although they found the weather sometimes inconveniently warm, and did not stay in the shade of a palm tree or on the verandah of the Government residence all the time. On the contrary, the Minister took part in every movement which had to be undertaken by the officials.
– Unfortunately, under our system of party Government as soon as he acquired practical knowledge he was shunted out of office.
– That is the unfortunate state of affairs that has arisen, but fortunately the honorable member for Boothby is a young man and his information will therefore be less likely to be lost to the Commonwealth. At any rate even a private member in a representative Chamber of this kind is entitled to be heard, and 1 am only sorry that circumstances have prevented the honorable member from being present to discuss the matter now. The honorable member for Gippsland will agree that a statement by the Minister in charge summarizing the information which he gets directly from responsible officers in Papua would be a great advantage to people who desire to acquire exact knowledge of the development of the Territory.
– Without having to wade through long reports.
– As a matter of fact very few people can understand an official report when they read it. It is couched in official language which is embarrassing to the ordinary reader. That is where the pressmen come in with their expert knowledge of summarizing facts in such an attractive way that their readers will follow them and remember what is conveyed to them apart from the, official jargon which is necessary in official reports. It is only yesterday, comparatively speaking, that some of us in this Parliament were greatly alarmed by accusations made against the administration of Papua. The representatives of the Commonwealth Government there were charged with maladministration regarding the natives. Fortunately that charge .has passed away, but we have had no statement congratulating the Commonwealth on the successful and effective administration which has taken place during the last year or two. Only last year there was in this House strong party feeling and something worse regarding the responsible officers in Papua, but fortunately we hear nothing of that to-day. I was able at the close of last season when the appointments of the chief administrative officers in Papua were made to state that so far as lay in my power I should prevent any possibility of a discussion of the merits or demerits of gentlemen who were appointed to such responsible positions. I venture to say that that attitude has in some small way helped towards a better administrative atmosphere in the Territory. I should like to know from the Minister what the present state of the currency is in Papua. Complaints have come to me from people there that in many instances private firms issue notes of hand payable on demand that are passing practically as the acknowledged currency of the country. That is not a good thing. It would be much better for the white settlers if they had a currency of their own. In that respect a paper currency would meet their convenience very well. The notes of hand to which I have referred are given by firms in payment of wages or in acknowledgment of purchases, but they are often on such flimsy pieces of paper that they are lost or destroyed. Papua should have a currency of its own. It would be a matter of small moment whether it had a gold backing or not, but, of course, it should have a gold backing, and it ought to be a Papuan currency under the authority of the Commonwealth. By that means they would gain a small income, which would go towards the building up of the Territory. There would be absolute security to those who use it, and any loss would fall on the Government, instead of on private individuals. I hope that the Minister will say what has been done regarding the delimitation of the boundaries of the British, Dutch, and German territories.
– The work is still proceeding, though delay has been caused by the illness of one of the German surveyors. Our officers are doing as much as they can in the meantime.
– The expenses of the survey have been larger than were anticipated, but as this is an International Commission, it is important that sufficient money should be available for its purposes. I am glad that the work is proceeding. When we left office it was being conducted most amicably. Complaints from miners in Papua have reached me from time to time, but last year the statements which I received were, on the whole, exceedingly satisfactory. I trust that this first attempt of the Commonwealth to colonize territory in the tropics will be eminently successful, from both the humanitarian and the economic points of view. It is difficult to know what to do with the native population politically. In my view, they must for a considerable time to come be treated as children. But we have done well in recognising their right to land, and in securing them against the aggression of those who would put the acquisition of wealth before the good of the human race. We ought to safeguard our interests by the appointment of the best officers who can be induced to go to Papua, and by spending sufficient money to properly develop the Territory. I believe that the scientific investigation of tropical diseases will result in discoveries which will enable persons who are not of the white races to do well in the Territory. I do not agree with the honorable member for West Sydney, that we should offer inducements to our officers to remain in Papua for the whole term of their service. It would be an admirable thing if they could take their wives and settle there, but generally they are single men. This is a new country, where there is very little white society, and in such places there should be a change of officials from time to time. Indeed, I am of opinion that our public servants should be frequently transferred from place to place in the Commonwealth, being moved repeatedly in their youth, so that they may acquire a knowledge of the whole of Australia. In this way we can build up a Public Service whose members will be thoroughly acquainted with the resources and needs of the Commonwealth. The Territory being our first experiment in colonization, we should endeavour to so conduct its affairs as to make it a credit to the Commonwealth, and to the Empire of which we have the honour to form part.
– I wish to support what the honorable member for Wide Bay said about the need for a currency in Papua, and the unfairness of paying our officials there with cheques on the Queensland National Bank, which involves them in a monthly loss for exchange, la Victoria there is an arrangement whereby a Government cheque is accepted all over the State without exchange, and the Treasurer should have sufficient influence with the banks to make a similar arrangement for the whole of Australia, including Papua. In the Territory there is not even a savings bank, though I am informed that a private bank is shortly to be opened at Port Moresby. I had an opportunity of speaking recently to Mr. A. P. Lyons, Resident Magistrate of the lorna district, and one of the ablest of the younger men in the Territory. He came originally from Bundaberg, and seems to consider Papua specially adapted for sugar growing.
– Some of the best canes are indigenous there.
– When I was in Mackay in 1905, I was assured by Dr. Maxwell that the best and strongest canes had come from Papua. In an interview published in a Bundaberg newspaper, this passage occurs -
Between the Giriwa and Kamusa rivers there is ‘an area of fully 500,000 acres of what Mr. Lyons is firmly convinced is most suitable sugargrowing land. It is alluvial soil, chocolate, and covered with dense scrub. This locality, he has no doubt, will eventually become a great sugargrowing centre. ‘ Some sugar companies are gradually interesting themselves in” New Guinea as a possible scene of future operations. They have sent over some men to report on the subject.
The local planters think that the Government should give them a bounty, and make some concession to assist the sugar industry, and I have been informed that the Queensland growers, now that they see that they are unable to meet the sugar requirements of the Commonwealth - which have in part to be supplied by imports from Java and Fiji - would not urge the objections “to this course which would have been heard a few years ago. The probability is that most of the southern sugargrowing districts of Queensland will eventually be used for dairying, because that will be found more profitable. Papua may then become the chief source of our sugar supplies. Mr. Lyons gives this description of the manner in which prospecting is done in the Territory-
In New Guinea, at the present time, the Government has in progress a prospecting party of four of the most experienced miners available. They have been fully equipped with supplies and material to make a thorough search for gold of all likely localities on the Brown River, west of Port Moresby, and St. Joseph and the Vanapa rivers. Their tour will extend for about six to eight months. In their selection si referendum was taken among the men on the three gold-fields and one mineral field in the country. The result will, naturally be awaited with some interest, not only in the Possession itself, but in Australia as well.
The Northern Territory has hitherto had to depend for its prospecting largely on a casual exploration of geologists and theorists, rather than on the efforts of practical men. The method outlined in the extract I have just read is one which might well be applied in the States and the Northern Territory.
– It has been followed in Queensland.
– I have not heard of it before ; but it might advantageously be adopted in the other States. Regarding the development of Papua, Mr. Lyons says -
There is no doubt . . . that the country is progressing by leaps and bounds. The Federal Government are unquestionably developing it, and protecting the natives. Capital is being invested, principally from the south, in the cultivation of Para rubber, sisal hemp, coffee, and cocoanut palms for copra. Fully T4 or 15 companies have been registered at Port Moresby within the past eighteen months or two years. In its present state, New Guinea seem ingly offers not much field for the small man. From their slow-growing nature, india rubber and copra can only be engaged in by people or companies with capital. -No land can now be acquired in fee simple, but liberal leasing terms are granted. The pastoral and agricultural land is carefully graded into A and B classes, and a good deal of settlement is in progress. Most of the plantations are located east and west of Port Moresby, and near Milne Bay. The cultivation of sisal hemp is being carried on about Fairfax Harbor.
The tone of this interview is encouraging, and I regret that the whole of it cannot be embodied in Hansard, for it seems to me that a strictly official style is too closely followed in the annual reports presented to us. Mr. Lyons is evidently familiar with the Territory, and his statements and optimistic views are likely to induce people to go there. It would be well for the Commonwealth to distribute circulars embodying information such as he gives.
– In April last I met three successful men who were returning from Papua to Australia to enjoy a holiday.
– One of the keenest business men in Melbourne, Sir Rupert Clarke, has the greatest faith in the future of Papua. He has two or three rubber and coffee plantations there, and, every year, is investing more money in the Territory. Having conversed with him regarding its possibilities, one cannot help feeling that its outlook is very bright. I agree that, as we have an opportunity only when the Estimates are before us to deal with the whole question of the administration of Papua, we ought to have, from the Minister of External Affairs, a preliminary statement as to the progress made during the year.
– How can such a statement be made, when the Government know nothing about the matter?
– A statement, based on the reports of the district administrators, would be satisfactory. We are responsible for the future of Papua, where we are making our first great experiment in the formation of an Australian Empire. It is the first step in the performance of that duty which we shall have to face, sooner or later, in regard to the islands of the Pacific, and I would ^remind honorable members of the powers that we have to extend our jurisdiction in that direction under section 51 of the Constitution. If we succeed, we shall have proved ourselves worthy of our heritage, and will be able to face, with confidence,
Ihe administration of what are the natural dependencies of Australia. I do not think that the Government should view with impatience the debate on this division of the Estimates, because, having regard to the loss of life and money that the United States has suffered in securing the islands near its coast, this question is of the utmost importance to Australia, and should receive our closest attention. The Estimates for Papua should appear under a special heading, and a day should be specially set apart for their consideration. The time will come when we shall be glad of the forward step we have taken in this direction, and I earnestly hope, and believe, that Papua has a very bright future before it.
.- A rumour having been current that Sir Rupert Clarke desired to employ coloured labour on his . plantations in Papua, I questioned him on the subject, and he assured me that the introduction of Chinese into the Territory would mean death to the Papuans. History teaches us that opium always follows the introduction of Chinese into any country. Notwithstanding our stringent Customs regulations, it is almost impossible to keep that deadly drug out of the Commonwealth, and the difficulty of preventing its introduction into Papua, a country which is divided amongst three nations, must be infinitely greater. In Papua we have to watch, not only the sea coast, but the borders separating our Territory from German and Dutch New Guinea. Pressure may be necessary to induce the Papuans to work, but I contend that it is wrong to compel any one to work under conditions that white men would not comply with. The Papuans originally comprised many tribes, some of which have absolutely disappeared. At one time, the Papuan, while cultivating his little plot of land, had always to carry with him spears and arrows so as to be ready to defend himself from the attacks of the headhunters who came chiefly from the Malay Peninsula, and harried the coast. Under European control, however, their lives are safeguarded, and they can work when they please. The soil is so rich that it has only to be tickled to cause it to produce all that is necessary for the sustenance of the natives, and, consequently, they do not find it necessary to work as they did when they had to guard themselves both night and day from the attacks of the enemy.
Although the Papuan is not too anxious to take on work, the settlers have no difficulty in securing the” labour they require. Miners find it impossible to convey to the field the stores that they require, unless they have the assistance of the natives. The white population need a wider franchise, and ought not to be controlled to too great an extent by a central bureau of Government officials. I am not casting any reflection upon the Government officers at Papua. Whatever may have been the regrettable difficulties that arose amongst them some time ago, I am convinced that they are all doing their best, according to their lights, to make the Australian occupation of Papua a success. At the same time, history teaches us that it is unwise to allow a community to be dominated by permanent Government officials. It is that domination which has given rise to the present struggle in India. Malaria is prevalent in Papua, but the concensus of scientific opinion is that a few yards of netting are worth all the alcohol and drugs in the world in preventing the spread of disease by mosquitos. I do not know of any country that has such splendid and liberal land law’s as those which prevail in Papua. My desire is that those laws should be so extended as to give even greater encouragement to settlers. .
– We had a stiff fight to pass those land laws.
– That fight is a record of good work done, in creating a liberal system. The more perfect the system the greater will be the inducement to settlement, and when the Commonwealth assumes control of the Northern Territory, it may be tempted to go even further, so as to bring about the settlement of the empty north by white people. I am glad that an ex-member of this Parliament, who is ‘ well-known to every member of this House, at present occupies a high position in Papua. Friends of my own who think of settling there have received from him and his Department the most courteous replies to inquiries they have made, and I think that he is the right man in the right place. If we can fit Papua for the acclimatization of the white man, we shall disprove, for all time, the contention of those who say that there are parts of Australia that are quite unsuitable tor the white man. I believe that there is no part of the earth’s surface where the white man cannot be acclimatized. Dr. McDonald, once employed by the Colonial
Sugar Refining Company, but dismissed, I believe, because’ of the liberal opinions that he entertained, has clearlyshown that the colour of the white race is not due to climatic influences.
His argument cannot be controverted, and he shows that the Laplanders _ and the Eskimos in the northern regions are coloured races. He proved his position conclusively by referring to the far southern regions of Patagonia and Terra del Fuego, where the people are still coloured. He holds that the white race have obtained the colour of which we are so proud by elimination during countless centuries - that it is not the climate that makes the colour, or, otherwise, all the natives of the colder climates would be white. The present 3isposition of the races is owing to the fact that, at some time or other, by emigration, the darker skinned people have settled in the warmer climates ; and, in the words of Stanley, given healthy conditions’ and care, white people can live anywhere. On the Gold Coast, with its diseaseladen atmosphere, one year’s service in the Navy used to count as three ; but today by the destruction of the germs which convey diseases, it is a comparatively healthy country. If the Government require increased subsidies in order to keep down disease or inquire into the spread of diseases by obscure or unknown germs, my vote shall readily be given. I look forward to the time when the operation of the Braddon section will expire and when Parliament having rejected the” proposal to return to the States 25s. per head, an increased revenue will enable the Commonwealth Government to devote attention to the abolition of disease and the consequent saving of human life.
.- Has any local option poll been taken under the Papua Act ; and, further, is any provision made for giving regular and periodical holidays to the Commonwealth officers employed in the Possession ? I regard the latter as of even more importance than a shortened period of service.
.- It is amusing to me, as a member of the Opposition, to observe the alacrity of Ministers directly one of their own supporters rises.
– The honorable member knows that he gets as much courtesy as any other honorable member !
– It does not look like it. When the honorable member for Maribyrnong pulls the strings, Ministers are up like jacks in a box; but an appeal from a member of the Opposition has no more effect than pouring water on a duck’s back. I am still waiting for the reply to my inquiries that was promised by the Treasurer last night. When the honorable member for Wide Bay was speaking I interjected that the Department of External Affairs is the Department that knows least about Papua, and yet we are asked to vote £5,000 more than was voted last year towards the expenses of the administration. The other items in the division are £1,000 as expenses in connexion with delimitation of British Papua - that is, the Boundary Commission - an honorarium of £50 to the chief clerk of the Audit Office for visiting Papua officially, and £50 as salary of surveyor, the last-mentioned to be recovered. Of these the honorarium to the chief clerk and the salary of the surveyor were voted last year, leaving only the other two items, “ Towards the expenses of Administration “ and “ Expenses in connexion with delimitation of British Papua.” No information is given to us as to why the increase of £5,000 in the first item is necessary ; and the honorable member for Corio was quite right in suggesting that, if the Minister cannot tell us any more than appears in the Estimates, the Department ought to issue a circular so that honorable members may know what has been done in Papua during the last twelve months. That is a fair request, even if it does now come from the Opposition, who represent constituencies equally as much as do the supporters of the Government.
– - The honorable member knows that every consideration is given to any suggestion made by him or any other honorable member.
– Where are we to get the information? With the exception of Mr. Atlee Hunt, is there any officer in the Department who knows anything about Papua? Times out of number honorable members talk about our wonderful possession - this “brightest gem” in the Commonwealth “coronet” - and yet we are entirely without information as to its affairs. The honorable member for Wide Bay suggested that married officers should take their wives to the Possession and that it was a mistake to employ single men. But the honorable member knows that in the northern portions of Queensland women become anaemic after two or three years’ residence, and have to recuperate in the south; at any rate, I know that, simply because of the climatic conditions, I had to send my wife away from Central Queensland every year. Men, however, appear to be able to stand the climate, for I have been in Northern Queensland for twenty-five or twenty-seven years, and I can assure honorable members that the stock is as good as the sample. Papua is further north, almost under the equator; and it would be criminal to ask white women to spend their lives there. Two or three young women, some time ago, left Central Queensland for mission work in New Guinea ; and in less than three years, one of them returned a physical wreck, al - though, -when she departed, she was a young, plump, rosy Queenslander, such as any man might be proud to marry. This explains one of the reasons why successive Governments have favoured unmarried officials.
– I have known women become anaemic in Melbourne.
– Those women are the exception, whereas the honorable member knows that in Northern Queensland, or, indeed, anywhere in the Tropics, anaemic women are the rule.
– The hill country has quite’ a good climate.
– There are choice spots even in Northern Queensland ; for instance, I would prefer to live in Herberton rather than in Melbourne, but Herberton is only one place.
– Taking Queensland as a whole, it is a suitable country for white men and women.
– The Minister knows that that statement is not altogether correct. Women live in Northern Queensland, simply because they are compelled to live there. When men go there and obtain work of a permanent character, the first thing they do is to send for their wives and families; and it becomes a matter of impossibility for the women to leave the place, except under stress of poverty, doctor’s orders, or some circumstances over which they have no control.
– Is it not a fact that families are rather small in tropical climates?.
– Amongst the workers the average family in Northern Queensland is larger than the average family in Melbourne. Let the truth ‘be known. It is the ambition of everybody who goes to New Papua to make a “ pot “ and get away as soon as possible. I know that that was the object with which I went to Papua.
– That is the ambition of all people who go to new countries.
– Is that the reason people are clearing out of Victoria for Queensland? I left London for Australia with a view to bettering myself, and making provision for the wife and family that were to come ; and I can assure honorable members that I had not the slightest idea of returning to the Old Country. It was certainly not my ambition to simply make a “ pot “ of money in Australia, and then clear back to London. I left my wife and family in Central Queensland when I went to Papua, and, as soon as I thought I had “ got enough,” I went back to them; and it is every man’s idea to do the same.
– Does the honorable member say that -Northern Queensland cannot be” settled by a white population ?
– The honorable member must not put words into my mouth. People are going to ‘ Northern Queensland, and staying there. I know that I worked at Mourilyan Harbor, between Cairns and Townsville, because wages were high; but all the time I had the intention of returning to my home. Is there anything wrong in that? I had no ambition to stay there, nor have I any to go there now ; but if I were in want of employment, or in need of money, I should as lief go to Mourilyan Harbor to make a cheque as anywhere else. I am only showing that the idea of everybody who went to Papua was to make as, much money there as possible, and to get back to the mainland as quickly as they could. It is the ambition of every officer in northern and western Queensland to get shifted fo Brisbane, because the conditions of life in Brisbane are more pleasant ; the climate is better, and living is cheaper. The Government servants in Papua have no such opportunity. They must stay there, whether they like it or not. The Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner, Mr. McLachlan, and the Deputy PostmasterGeneral in Brisbane, Mr. Templeton, have affirmed the principle that after an officer has been on one of the outback stations for a number of years, he should come into a more congenial situation, and more genial climate. I am pleased to say that they are putting that principle into practice. In the pre-Federation days,, however, many officers who were put out at stations on the South Australian border, and other outlying parts of Queensland, were left there practically to die unless they had sufficient influence to secure transfers. When an officer died, the Department had to bring his widow and family in. That condition of things ‘has passed away ; but if, as the honorable member for Wide Bay says, the climate and conditions are so good, surely the Public Service Commissioner and the Deputy PostmasterGeneral for Queensland would not have found it necessary to shift officers into more congenial surroundings. The officers in Papua have no opportunity of being shifted elsewhere. I believe with the honorable member for West Sydney, that the Papuan service should be a stepping-stone to the Commonwealth service.
– He said just the opposite - that officers should be induced to stay there all their lives.
– I should- not induce any man to stay there all his life. Two Queensland magistrates who went to Papua in the early days, in Sir William McGregor’s time, had to resign their positions ; and the Papuan service lost the services of those capable and worthy men, not on account of their own ill-health, but because of the ravages which the climate was making in the health of their wives and families. If a man has given good service in the northern parts of the Commonwealth, he should be given a chance to recuperate, if not to live permanently, in some more genial part.
– Does not the honorable member think that a certain number of years of service in Papua should entitle a man to enter the Commonwealth Public Service ?
– I know that in the preFederation days, every man in the Defence Force who went to Thursday Island, which is not nearly so bad as Papua - it is not a bad place to live in except that residence there means practically banishment - was credited with twelve months’ service for every nine months that he put in there. There was, therefore, an inducement for good men to go to Thursday Island, and some of them put in the whole of their service there. Although I am totally opposed to pensions, something should be done for civil servants who give us long and faithful service in Papua, so that they may not be cast aside like broken tools when their health is shattered by malarial fever or other sickness.
– Should not they have a right to enter the Commonwealth sendee if they are fit to do the work ?
– The Papuan Royal Commission recommended that all the appointments in Papua should be by the Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner, and the appointees be included in the Commonwealth Public Service. That, would get over that difficulty; and if a man showed aptitude in a certain branch of the service he could be transferred to the External Affairs Department in Melbourne, where his knowledge of Papua would be invaluable, not only to the Minister, but to the whole Commonwealth. With such an officer available, we should be in possession of facts that it is the hardest thing in the world new to get. That suggestion is worthy of the consideration of the Government. With regard to the introduction of white people to Papua, I saw in the Age last year, or the year before, a long article from an Imperial officer in the Indian service, in which he asked what the Australian Government would do to settle Imperial pensioners in Australia. I shall give the Government a cue as to what to do in that matter. Every year a number of pensioners leave the British service in India. They include some of the flower of the British Army. They are good conduct men in receipt of pensions. They have been for many years in India, and are used to all the variations of the Indian climate, from the temperate to the torrid. Instead of their being sent back to England - and I know that many of their; are anxious to come to Australia, because Aus- tralian conditions and climate are nearer those of India than are those of Great
Britain - why could not the Government induce them to go with their families to Papua, and give them the sugar lands that . we have heard about from the honorable member for Corio this morning? By that means we should have an effective immigration policy, for once it became known that they and their wives and families were being cared for and liberally treated with regard to land in Papua, others would quickly follow. They would have a certainty of a competency for life, with their pensions and the inducements that the Government could hold out to them, and they would be most desirable colonists. As the honorable member for Wide Bay pointed out, there are spots in Papua that are as favorable to live in as is Melbourne, and sanatoria could be established up on the hills there, to which they could go if anything happened to them. The honorable member for Melbourne said the best cure for malaria was the mosquito net. What would the honorable member think of a man walking along looking for gold in the daytime under a mosquito net? The idea is as preposterous as that of a swagman with an umbrella. In prospecting, a man has quite enough to do to “ waltz his matilda “ and pick and shovel and dish, without being impeded with a mosquito net over him all day. In many of the tropical parts of Australia the mosquito is much more active in the daytime than he is at night, and the honorable member would know all about it if he travelled through some of the bush up there. When working in or after a rainy season we have had to clear out of the holes that we were putting down for alluvial on account, not only of the mosquitoes, but of the sand flies, which are really worse than the mosquitoes. That a man should get down in a hole when sinking on alluvial in a mosquito net is the most ridiculous idea possible. Any one who saw him would say that he was a hatter, and that the only place he was fit for was Woogaroo. It only shows what some gentlemen think who sit down in a drawingroom or a study without knowing anything about the actual conditions. The honorable member for Corio has read portions of an article written by Mr. Lyons, one of the officials in Papua. 1 know that gentleman by repute, and believe he is one of the most capable officers in the service of the Territory. He tells us, through the honorable member for Corio, that the Territory is going ahead by leapsand bounds, trade expanding, the area under agriculture increasing, and, in fact, that the land is practically flowing with milk and honey. That sort of thing emphasizes my contention that the Department cannot know what is being done in Papua, or they would let honorable members havethe facts. In what way is the Territory going ahead by leaps and bounds?
– Seven or eight weeks ago I laid on the table a special report showing how much land has been leased recently, the area under cultivation, and every detail that the honorable member has been asking for. Copies were sent to the press, and every publicity was given to it.
– I am very pleased to hear of it. If the country is progressing as satisfactorily as the Honorable member for Corio would have us believe, why is an extra£5,000 asked for this year? I hope that the Government will do something for the education of the white children in Papua. If it offers inducements to married people to settle there, it should send teachers to, and open schools in, the Territory. I hope, too, that action will be taken regarding thematters to which I referred last night.
.- The honorable member for Maranoa seriously misunderstood what I said regarding the residence of officials in Papua. The honorable member for West Sydney has stated that the Government should offer them inducements to remain there as long as possible. I do not agree with that. In my opinion they should not be expected to pass the whole of their days in the Territory. When in office in 1904, under the honorable member for South Sydney, I sent a memorandum to the Public Service Commissioner, stating that, in my view, transfers of public officers should not be kept within the areas of the States, but that young men should be sent from State to State, with a view to acquiring a knowledge of the conditions of the whole Commonwealth. I have since seen no reason to alter that opinion. The sooner the service is made a Commonwealth one the better will it be for the officers in it, and for Australia. This interchange would create a Commonwealth spirit. Young men, trained in the head office, should be sent to distant parts. They would go out fully instructed, and able to convey the wishes of Ministers and of departmental heads to others, and thus unity of action would be furthered. The remark of the honorable member for Maranoa that, in the northern part of Queensland, it is exceedingly difficult for women to live in health and comfort was very unfortunate. I differ from him. Women sometimes find it difficult to retain their health in the humid coastal districts, but the inland country behind Cairns is no less healthy than any other part of the Commonwealth. Indeed, the health of the people of North Queensland is better than that of those in any other part of Australia. A child born in northern latitudes has a better chance of reaching manhood than one born in the southern latitudes.
– Can white women and children remain there for a lifetime without degenerating ?
Mr.FISHER.- Yes; though, asI say, on the coast, in the humid belt, which is from 5 to 20 miles wide, the conditions are not so good.
– Bowen has the lowest death-rate in the Commonwealth.
– I believe so; and it is on the sea-coast.
– Is the honorable member sure that the observations which have been made relate to persons who have lived continuously in the northern districts?
– I would not support a case if I knew the facts to be against me. A team of native-born footballers could be got together in Charters Towers which could defeat any team from the south, and Postle, the greatest athlete in the world, is a Queensland native. Another Queensland native has distinguished himself here. Women living in the coastal belt are sometimes anaemic.
– There is a good deal of anaemia among females in the south.
– Quite so. It must not be forgotten, too, that women going to the sparsely-settled districts in Queensland and Western Australia are away from medical attendance. When trouble arises, it is generally due to improper housing. This is not a reflection on husbands and parents, because it is impossible at first to erect the sort of buildings necessary for hot climates. On the other hand, the freer life which can be followed there tends to healthiness. With the advancement of science, and the increase of population, proper provision will be made for housing and water supply, and, no doubt, gardens well planted with shade trees will give the proper conditions.
– Engineers have done a great deal for humanity in Panama.
– The Panama difficulty was not so great as that which we have to solve. It was got rid of by proper sanitation. The discovery having been made that the malarial mosquito was destroying the population, all water within 4 or 5 miles of each side of the route of the canal was disinfected. Thus an immune area was created, in which people could live as healthily as in Melbourne.
– And good sanitary arrangements were made.
– Yes. They are always necessary for the preservation of health. I should have been sorry had the statement of the honorable member for Maranoa gone unanswered, but I should noi have said what I have said were I not able to prove mv contentions. White men and women will be able to live in the northern parts of
Australia- and in Papua. Even if “that were not so, and we could not settle that country, it would still be our duty to protect it.
– With regard to the complaint of the honorable member for Maranoa, that no information has been given as to the manner in which it is proposed to spend the vote for Papua, I would remind the Committee that the reports of the Administrator, which give ample details as to expenditure, are printed annually.
– Is it not customary for the Minister to make a statement before the Committee proceeds to consider the vote ?
– That has never been done, but Ministers have always been ready to give information. The reports’ to which I have referred contain statistical information, and much that is interesting and useful regarding social conditions.
– I have a distinct recollection that the Prime Minister, on two occasions, made statements regarding the position of affairs in Papua.
– That was ‘in reply to a question. I find that the’ last report by the Director of Agriculture on the Territory has not been printed. It contains full information “ regarding, the progress of settlement in Papua. It shows that at present 316,869 acres are held under lease as against 221,554 acres so held in June, 1908, or an increase of 95,315 acres. Then, again, on 30th June, 1908, there were 76 plantations, and an area of 4,955 acres had been planted, whereas on 31st March last the number of plantations had increased to 130, and an area of 7,740 acres had been planted. Parliament is regularly supplied with detailed information as to the progress of the Territory, but if it is the ‘desire of honorable members that hereafter a preliminary statement shall be made on the first item of the Estimates relating to Papua, it will be necessary to make a new arrangement. At present the Administrator’s report does not reach the Government until some four or five months after the close of the financial year, and. believing that it would be advantageous to have, as has been suggested, a general statement regarding the progress of the Territory, I shall see that detailed information is supplied from time to time, so that the Minister in charge of the Depart- ment may be in possession of the latest particulars, to be used by him if he so desires.
– The honorable member for Maranoa drew a rather ridiculous picture of the bushman who had to travel through the country carrying an umbrella, and enveloped in mosquito net. His remarks were such as might excite the risible faculties of an audience in some parts of the Commonwealth, but I think it unfair to scientists and the medical -faculty generally that ridicule should be cast on opinions which they have formed either as the result of reading, or of practical .experience. It is an undoubted fact that a man may protect himself from the effects of mosquito bites by keeping beneath a mosquito net from sunset to sunrise. A variety of mosquito known as the Anopheles is productive of malaria, and spreads the parasite. It is much to be regretted that although we subscribe .£550 per annum to the Society for the Investigation of Tropical Diseases, it has not thought fit to supply the parliamentary Library with any of its literature. I propose, however, to quote from the Encyclopaedia Britannica with regard to experiments that have been made in connexion with the spread of malaria by mosquitos -
In 1898 it was conclusively shown in Italy that if a mosquito of the Anopheles variety bites a person suffering from malaria, and is kept long enough for the parasite tq develop in the salivary glands, and is then allowed to bite a healthy person the latter will in due time develop malaria. The converse proposition that persons efficiently protected from mosquito bites escape malaria has been made the subject of several remarkable experiments. One of the most interesting was carried out in 1 goo for the London School of Tropical Medicine by Dr. Sambon and Dr. Low, who went to reside in one of the most malarious districts in the Roman Campagna during the most dangerous season. Together, with Signor Terzi and two Italian servants, they lived from the beginning of July until the 19th October in a specially protected hut erected near Ostia. The sole precaution taken was to confine themselves between sunset and sunrise to their mosquitoproof dwelling. All escaped malaria which was rife in the immediate neighbourhood. Mosquitos caught by the experimenters, and sent to London, produced malaria in persons who submitted themselves to the bites of these insects at. the London School of Tropical Medicine.
In 1899, experiments were also made with a number of employes of a railway running through a highly malarious district, in Italy, and it was found that when protected iri the way described, they did nol suffer from malaria. I have the greatest respect for the honorable member for
Maranoa, but regret that he should have seen fit to ridicule the statements made as to the value of the use of mosquito netting in malarial districts, and that other honorable members opposite - some of them members of the learned professions - should have seen fit to laugh at the picture which he drew. It is to be deplored that in the most important Legislature in the Commonwealth such criticism should be resorted to for the amusement of honorable members.
.- The Committee is certainly indebted to the honorable member who has just given a medical prescription without charge. I had not the advantage of hearing the first part of the discourse which led to his lecture, but I should like to be able to attach more value than I do to the means he has suggested by which working miners may avoid malaria in malarial districts. The suggestion that a miner shoul’d confine himself in a mosquito net from sunset to sunrise is somewhat original. The honorable member did not tell us, however, what would happen to the miner who, while so enveloped, developed a thirst ; nor did he provide for other obvious necessities that might compel a person in a malarial ‘ district to leave his mosquito proof dwelling after sunset. He has laid down a course of living which is absolutely impossible to the average bushworker. What we need is to discover a method of exterminating the mosquito.
– It can be got rid of by draining the country, and using petroleum.
– That is a more practical suggestion. However valuable the use of mosquito netting may be in the Roman Campagna, I doubt whether & would be practicable in the Australian bush or in Papua. I rose chiefly, however, to suggest that the arrangements made by the Government for the control of the Territory are somewhat anomalous. We have there a Lieutenant-Governor, whose prerogatives are shared by another officer, so that it is not easy to define the functions of each. That is contrary to precedent and sound practice. Just as there is only one man in command in Australia, so there should be only one commanding officer in Papua. Responsibility must rest on the shoulders of one individual, and the attempt of the Government to distribute it amongst two must eventually bring about trouble. That it has not already led to friction is a testimony to the singularly high character and exceptional qualifications of the two gentlemen to whom I have referred. It took the Government nearly twelve months to make up their minds to permanently appoint Colonel Murray, although they permitted the position to be filled previously by one who had no grasp of its duties. I do not wish to cast obloquy on the departed, but the Government must have recognised that the former occupant of the position of Lieutenant-Governor was not qualified to hold it for one hour. In Colonel Murray we have unquestionably an ideal officer for the position. Yet, as I have said, twelve months or more elapsed before the Government were able to make up their minds to confer upon him the position. This division of the Administrator’s duties displayed pitiable weakness and vacillation. If it besaid that it was another, and not this Government which so long shirked dealing with a difficult situation, I reply that this Government inherits that Government’s leader, traditions, and policy. They are the lineal descendants of the last Deakin Government. Now, as to the gentleman who is almost co-equal with the Administrator, he is eminently capable of dealing with the higher duties. Our six years’ experience of him in this Parliament - and I knew him long before he came here - satisfied every member of his industry and aptitude to face the pioneering work which he undertook. Indeed, the smoothness of Papuan administration recently is probably due largely to his tact and self-sacrifice. But that does not absolve the Government from having deliberately invited trouble by instituting this system of divided responsibility. I did not hear the Minister of External Affairs explain what he intended to do to place civil servants in Papua in a more satisfactory position. Their salaries are very low, and will not admit of their taking a holiday in Australia., much less of making provision for old age.
Sitting suspended from1 to 2.15 p.m.
– Some statement ought to be made by the Government regarding what has been done, if anything, for the education and care of the aborigines in Papua. The Minister will remember that there is a section in the Papuan Constitution which provides that a certain proportion of the territorial or land revenue shall be set aside, under trustees, for the upkeep and care of indigent aborigines. A certain percentage of the total is to be set aside for the purpose. This, of course, is a very proper provision; and I regret that a similar condition was not imposed when the Imperial Government granted the Constitutions to the Australian Colonies. If we have anything to reproach our predecessors with, it is their indifference to the fate of the native races, from whom the lands have been wrested without compensation. The least we can do for the aboriginal race, some of whom are very fine specimens of manhood, and who, as a people, are not to be despised, is to make such provision that they shall not starve or be unable to obtain the necessaries of life in their old age.
– There is very little revenue at present from the land. The revenue in 1908 was only £127.
– I am afraid that 10 per cent of that amount would not go very far.
– At the same time, the Government are not acting on that provision alone, where assistance is necessary.
– Quite so; but, as I have already said, it is a very suitable provision to be made.
– When the lands are leased there ought to be more revenue; but, as the honorable member knows, many of the leases are for the first ten years without rent.
– But in the next twentyfive years we may expect a very considerable revenue from the leasing of lands in Papua. As the Minister is aware, the Papuan Constitution prohibits the sale of land. Hence, the revenue is confined entirely to . rentals, which should, in the next few years, yield a considerable sum. I hope that the Government, as far as they can, will do something towards the education of the aborigines, and the stamping out of witchcraft, which is one of the blots on the present condition of affairs in the Dependency. No one who reads the annual report of the Lieutenant-Governor can fail to be struck with the extraordinary proceedings in the native Courts, where persons are continually being punished for sorcery, adultery, and other offences, no longer cognisable by our law. The Royal Commission, I think, recommended one or two schools for the aborigines; and I trust that when the Government have the money some move will be made in this direction.
– There is a suggestion to that effect in the last annual report by one of the officers.
– I hope the Government will remind the Administrator of the fact, so that some effort may be made to establish schools. Then there is the question of making roads for mining settlements, so as to assist prospectors.
– Part of the £5,000 mentioned by the honorable member is intended for roads and other public works.
– That is satisfactory, so far as it goes, but a much larger sum could be spent to great advantage.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 15 (Mail Service to Pacific Islands), £13, 417.
.- In this division there is an item of £3,600 as a subsidy towards the mail service to the New Hebrides, Banks, Santa Cruz, and Solomon Groups.
– What is the use of subsidizing the mail service if we shut out the produce of the islands?
– The honorable member will have an opportunity to speak on the subject, and I have no doubt that he is perfectly capable of expressing hisideas in a satisfactory manner.
– The honorable member for Hunter must be an independent member.
– I am thankful to say that I am an independent member. If I had not had the reputation of expressing my views in the way I think best, not only for my constituents, but for the public of the great Commonwealth of Australia, I should not have had the honour of sitting in Parliament. I have risen now, not to voice the wrongs of individual electors in my constituency, but to bring under the notice of the Minister of External Affairs, and, through him, under the notice of the Government, certain abuses which I believe to prevail in connexion with the Islands trade, now becoming most important. I took the opportunity yesterday, in conjunction with the honorable member for Lang, to point out the great importance of these Islands as an outpost of the Empire, a protection to the Commonwealth in time of war, and an outlet for our trade. The system of the race to which we belong is, first, to plant our flag, and then to follow that up with our trade.
– And the missionaries !
– And the missionaries. It is not to the planting of the flag, but to the following of that up by the missionaries and traders that I now desire to draw attention. The Minister, when I was speaking yesterday in connexion with the dominance of one particular firm of traders and carriers in the Islands trade, asked me if I could state a specific instance. At that time I was not prepared to do so; I could only generalize. Since then I have thought the matter over very carefully, and I have come to the conclusion that it is my duty, as a member of the House, to draw attention to certain facts. To that end, I cannot do better than quote a. letter written by a member of a trading firm in the Islands. It is a perfectly temperate letter, but one which is calculated -to give food for thought, and to encourage the Government, before taking any further steps, to consider the question very seriously. The letter states -
One very serious cause of friction is the Australian mail subsidy at present paid to Messrs. Burns,Philp, and Co. As you know Burns, Philp, and Co. are essentially traders, and it is considered decidedly unfair by other British trading firms that Burns-Philp’s vessels should be given that advantage, particularly as there are so few obligations imposed under the contract with the Federal Government for the delivery of mails or the carriage of cargo. It will be obvious to you that it is unfair, because, apart from the financial advantage they gain, they can also in effect say to residents, “ Do your business with us, and we will deliver your mails.”
That appears to me rather serious; it certainly gives this firm a great pull over the planters and traders. If this firm is subsidized by the Government to carry mails, and they decline to call on traders who do not do business with them, the matter is one for immediate attention. We must remember that this is only a monthly mail service, although the Islands are within four days’ sail of the coast of Australia ; and as the vessels have to go from island to island - practically from house to house, or plantation to plantation - picking up trade, there is considerable time consumed. For that reason, and because of the particular interest of this firm in their own business, the mails, to a certain extent, are delayed. This, as I say, is very serious for any unfortunate settler, should he decline to do any trade through Messrs. Burns, Philp and Company, because he is deprived of the usual postal facilities, which the subsidy is designed to afford.
I have myself actually heard the supercargo -
This is practically the purser, or the officer who accompanies the trading vessels in order to look after the business- give that as a reason for not calling on a certain planter in Santo, a man by the name of
Wells. In this instance, they refused on two successive trips to go to Wells’ place ‘ to ship his maize to Sydney,
Maize is a perishable article, subject, I suppose, to weevils and other causes of deterioration - with the result that the poor man had to throw it away. AH this, notwithstanding the fact that the steamer passed within a mile of the anchorage. On this occasion I made it my business to remonstrate with the supercargo, who gave as an excuse that “they hadn’t time,” and, further, that they had on a previous occasion called on Wells, but as he did no business with them, they did not intend to call again.
Because this man, for reasons best known to himself, and consulting his own interests, did not employ the firm before to do his trade, they now decline to carry his maize.
– That is a very hot statement.
– It is, and I want it inquired into by the Minister -
Wells himself has complained to the External Affairs Department.
I presume, therefore, that the Minister has some knowledge of the case. Perhaps, when he speaks, he will be able to give the Committee some information regarding it.
– What is the date of that communication ?
– 20th April, 1909. The writer goes on-
You will understand how difficult it is for , our association to do anything definite in this matter, Burns, Philp being such a dominating influence in the group,
I do not object to the dominating influence held by that company, as they were the pioneers of the Islands trade, and deserve the greatest credit for the enterprise and energy they have shown in opening up these valuable possessions of ours, but, at the same time, if any wrong is being done, I want to set it right - and holding a considerable sway over the actions of a number of our members, who, of course, are loth to do anything to displace the firm.
We can all sympathize with those unfortunate gentlemen, as very often we ourselves are not what you might call independent members. With reference to the missionaries, I presume that the majority of us sympathize with those noble men who go out into the wilds with the object of making converts of the heathen, and I am sure that the Minister of External Affairs will sympathize with any missionary body which spends something like £300,000 of its money in Christianizing the natives, especially when he knows that it is a Presbyterian body. The writer states that -
The Presbyterian missionary body, by the terms of a separate contract with Burns, Philp, and Co., can demand from one of the steamers two calls for each of the missionaries, and all this without payment of any subsidy. Their contract also provides foi freights at very much reduced rates. You will ask where the “ business “ part of this arrangement appears, but I have no doubt it pays all right, though there is possibly a certain amount of sentiment at the bottom of the concessions the missionaries receive. We are objecting to these concessions to the mission, because some of them (the missionaries) go so far as to enter into competition in a quiet way with the professional traders, and, of course, not being dependent on their profits for a living, generally succeed in underselling the sordid money-making person.
That is a matter that should be inquired into. We all respect the noble work that the missionaries do, but it is sometimes a question if missionaries who have schools of natives under them do not use the natives for producing trade products, and are thus able to undersell the ordinarytrader -
I mentioned this mission contract with Burns, Philp, because it is so often claimed by that firm that they are losing money over the New Hebrides. If that is so, why do they voluntarily commit themselves to this extra service at such reduced rates - little more than half the rate they charge other sections of the residents, as per contract with the Australian Government? If it is a fact that the New Hebrides service does not pay, then I contend that the extra service and reduced rates which they give the mission is largely a contributing factor, and it should not be allowed, particularly as it interferes with the running of the vessels which, I suppose, are subsidized for the purpose primarily of helping on the industrial development of the group.
I understand that the terms of the new contract are probably now under consideration. I do not know whether that it so, but I do know that the Minister has been recently in communication with an agent of Burns, Philp and Company. I presume, therefore, that he is about to make a contract. If so, I should like him to take into consideration the remonstrance which I have read from the people living in these distant settlements -
Burns, Philp’s influence is too strong. Heaven help us if they ever get a monopoly of the trade of the group. That is their object, and the Commonwealth Government, by subsidizing them as a private trading concern, is helping them in an unfair way. There would, of course, be no objection to the firm running a trading vessel, providing that vessel was not in receipt of a subsidy. I think the general practice in paying subsidies is for providing public carriage only, and there could be no objection to Bums, Philp receiving a subsidy for carrying cargo and mails only, even though they engaged in trading with other vessels. . . . Another point which would proBably appeal to Australian sentiment is the fact that whilst Burns, Philp receive this subsidy, presumably for helping on British development of the group, they are in no way bound to give any preference to Britishers. “ In fact, they have been known to pass by a Britisher in order to devote their attention to the French.
If that is so, it is a very serious matter, and ought to be inquired into by the Minister. If it is true, some other arrangement ought to be come to -
Of course, being essentially a trading firm, they will go where it pays them best, but it is rather a short-sighted policy for the Commonwealth, whose interests are in making the New Hebrides British, to pay thousands away for a service which in some instances gives the preference to French trade, and carries British and French cargo at equal rates, while, at the same time, collecting in Customs duties a considerable amount from the British.
The writer is evidently, from the tenor of his remarks, a representative trader. I believe he is connected with the New Hebrides British Association, and he has sought this opportunity to appeal to the fountain of justice, and to endeavour to get this Parliament and “this Government to right the wrongs that exist. I ask the Minister to cause an inquiry to be made into the matter, so that if any wrong is being done to the British traders, ‘it may be put right.
– The matter to which the honorable member for Hunter refers arises out of the New Hebrides mail contract, which provides for seventy-one monthly calls to be made to the islands. As a matter of fact, the ships’ logs are supplied to us for verification in that regard. The particular case which the honorable member quoted, was brought under the notice of the Department. The firm, on one occasion, did call at Mr. Wells’s place, and at that time there was no maize available for shipment, but he has been notified that .if he will give the firm reasonable notice that he has maize for shipment, arrangements will be made for a boat to call for it. His case in that respect, therefore, is being met. The statement that the firm are giving preference is a general allegation without specific instances, but I shall make inquiries to ascertain if there is any foundation for it.
.- Is there any reason why Brisbane and Sydney in some cases, and Sydney in nearly all other cases, should be made the only ports of call for these Islands boats, which get a large part of their consignments from other States ? It seems a great mistake that they should not call at Melbourne, which is the manufacturing centre of Australia. Is this contract to continue, or, if new arrangements are to be made, will it be possible to include other ports? I understand that the first agreement with regard to the New Hebrides was made by the New South Wales Government with Burns, Philp and Company, before Federation, and that this made Sydney the terminus for the Islands trade. Unfortunately, after a year or two, during which the whole of the expense was very properly debited to New South Wales, it was arranged that it should be borne proportionately by the whole Commonwealth. In those circumstances, every big centre, and particularly the great manufacturing centre of Australia, should be treated on equal terms. Before the contract was made by New South Wales, in 1900, a large part of the New Hebrides business was done by Victoria, so much so, that at first Victoria had a subsidized service to the Islands. In 1884, just after the action of Queensland in annexing Papua to Australia, Victoria, under the Government of the late Mr. James Service, in order to protect its trade, annexed the New Hebrides to the British Empire on its own account. Unfortunately, Lord Derby was at that time Minister of State for the Colonies, and he did not care very much for either Papua or the New Hebrides. He .repudiated the action of both Governments, with the unfortunate result that the New Hebrides were seized by the French, and a joint control was established, and the northern . part of Papua was seized by Germany. I should like the Minister to give consideration to my suggestion in framing any new contract.
– Notice of termination of the contracts has been given. They terminate next year, and the point which the honorable member has raised will receive consideration from me.
– The steamers should call at every port of any size in Australia where there is a likelihood of large consignments for the Islands. If that is arranged for, it will be all right.
– I wish to back up the claim put forward by the honorable member for Corio. When the European mail contract with the Orient Company was being discussed, a claim was put forward by the Minister, and other members, on behalf of Queensland, to make Brisbane a port of call, on the ground that the contract was contributed to by all the States. The claim now made by the honorable member for Corio, with regard to the Pacific Islands boats, is on all fours with that, and, as a matter of justice, should be conceded. I trust that, in future contracts, other ports will be considered besides those at which the steamers now call. I admit that originally I was opposed to the extension of the service to Queensland, thinking that it should be merely a mail service between a European port and the nearest Australian port. But as the conditions have been altered, all the States should receive the same consideration.
– Whilst agreeing with much that has been said by the honorable member for Yarra, I would point out that the service rendered by the Orient Company is not wholly a mail service, inasmuch as the contract contains stipulations regarding the storage and carriage of cargo.
– Then why should the cost be charged to the Department of the Postmaster- General ?
– It should not be so charged. With regard to the subsidies for the Islands mail services, I would emphasize the fact that the Commonwealth should realize the propinquity of the Islands, and the extent to which it affects Australian interests. Instead of doing all we can to prevent them from trading with us, and to alienate the sympathies of even those of our own people who have settled there, we should encourage them to trade with us. What could be more absurd than to subsidize steamer services between Australia and the Islands and to impose duties shutting out the products which the vessels could and should bring to our shores? One has only to meet residents of the New Hebrides to know that they feel that Aus tralia is doing nothing to secure their sympathies, while France and Germany are offering them great inducements to trade elsewhere. It is idle to pretend to desire to secure a controlling influence over the Islands while werefuse to trade with them. Their products should be welcome in the temperate parts of Australia, and they should provide a market in return for our products. The present system is radically wrong. What is needed is that the Minister of External Affairs should propose a bold, well-defined policy for reciprocal trade arrangements between Australia, Papua, the New Hebrides, and other
Island groups. If we do not secure a controlling influence in the Islands, foreign, and perhaps antagonistic, powers will do so. The Minister’s capacity for work is well known, and I suggest to him the advisability of a thorough inquiry into this matter. So far, his Department has confined its attention mainly to Papua, not always with success, though there seems now to be a desire to secure a proper knowledge of the Dependency. I hope that, in the near future, a comprehensive scheme of trade relations between Australia and the Islands will be proposed, which will secure the controlling influence of the Commonwealth in the south Pacific.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 16 (Miscellaneous), £24,710.
.- A number of the items in this division call for notice, and one, at least, merits criticism. I refer to the proposal to spend £20,000 in advertising the resources of the Commonwealth. Last year the same amount was voted, but only £8,644was spent. No doubt it is intended to spend this year as much as can be advantageously spent in the time. The advertising of our resources is to be justified on two grounds : The desire to increase our trade, and the need for increasing our population. It is unfortunate that a division of control prevents the Commonwealth from doing what should be done in the matter of advertising. When the Fisher Government was in power, the State of New South Wales seemed ready to allow the Commonwealth to take control of advertising.
– That was in reply to a letter sent to all the States by the present Prime Minister.
– New South Wales seemed the only State willing to accept the suggestion that the work should be handed over to the Commonwealth. Before we can fairly invite emigrants to come here from the Old World, there must be an arrangement with the States for placing them on the land. It is humiliatingthat the least densely populated country in the world which can claim to be civilized has been more the prey of the land monopolist than any other. We have a good climate and good soil, but less land is available here for settlement than in any other part of the world. I do not know that honorable members realize the extent to which the monopolization of land and the consequent crowding into the cities prevails here. No other country exhibits a similar state of affairs. According to the Commonwealth Year-Book the population of the six capitals of the States is 36.21 per cent, of the population of the Commonwealth, the population of Sydney being “ 36.79 per cent, of the population of New South Wales; that of Melbourne, 43.11 of the population of Victoria; and that of Adelaide, 45.41 per cent, of the population of South Australia. On the other hand, the population of London is only 13.62 per cent, of the population of England, and that of Edinburgh is only 7.22 per cent, of the population of Scotland, which is mainly an agricultural country, comparatively few persons being employed there in manufacturing. The population of Berlin is 5.47 per cent, of the population of Germany ; that of Vienna, 6.41 per cent, of the population of Austria; that of Madrid, 2.90 per cent, of the population of Spain ; that of Paris, 7.04 per cent, of the population of France ; that of Rome, 1.42 per cent, of the population of Italy ; and that of St. Petersburg, 1.33 per cent, of the population of Russia. Those figures contrast strongly with the figures which I have given regarding the distribution of our population. Denmark is a contemptibly small country in comparison with Victoria, and yet the population of Copenhagen is only 19.86 of the total population. The population of Wellington is 7.63 of that of New Zealand, where, of course, there are other large cities, the distribution of population being more like that of Great Britain. Australia, as we know, is- an area as large as Europe, excluding Russia. Considering the fact that Germany is -rapidly becoming a manufacturing, rather than an agricultural, community, it is surprising to find that the population of Berlin is only 5.47, and that of Munich 8.26, of the total population of the country. The urban population of Germany is slightly over 21 per cent., whereas the urban population of the Commonwealth is over 38 per cent. This is a condition of affairs that we ought to consider. It is useless advertising our resources and attracting people to the Commonwealth merely to increase our already frightfully congested centres. We have reached a time when the great landed proprietors of Australia constitute such a menace to its welfare that we ought not to modify the severity of our attack upon them by padding our hands. We must either attack them with bare knuckles, so to speak, or abandon all ho’pe of ever rearing in this hemisphere a great nation. When we look at the rate at which the population of Australia is increasing we find again great cause for disquiet. The birth rate of the Commonwealth is falling. It is true that last year it remained practicallystationary, but during a period of years it has been steadily decreasing. I * do not know that we need’ take that much to heart, because it is a mark of civilization. The higher the order of civilization the lower the birth rate, and, of course, the lower the death rate. Russia, for instance, has a birth rate of 47-9, and a death rate of 32.1, or an increase of births over deaths of ‘15.8; whereas the Commonwealth has a birth rate of 26.6, and a death rate of 10.9. The increase of births over deaths in the two countries is, therefore, practically the same. Coming to infantile mortality we find that the death rate here is 81.06, as against a death rate in Russia of 272 per thousand, showing an enormous prodigality of effort proportionate to the result. We talk about advertising our resources in order to attract more people to our shores ; yet every year thousands of potential citizens are unnecessarily lost to the Commonwealth. The natural increase in New Zealand is 17.14, as against 15.00 in the case of the Commonwealth, 14.44 in the case of Germany, and 12.13 in the case of England and Wales. Considering that we have here all the factors that make for rapid increase, and that our natural increase is only 15.00, whereas Germany, becoming daily 1 more and more densely peopled, where there must be an ever increasing pressure against the margin of subsistence, has an increase of 14.44, I think that that is an additional reason why we should seriously view our position. I come now to increase through immigration. During 1908 there was a net gain of 13,150 by the excess of arrivals over departures, and 65,119 by the excess of births over ‘deaths, or a total of 78,269. It will thus be seen that it is to our natural increase that we owe any considerable growth of population. To show what these figures really mean let me quote from page 171 of the Official Y earBook of the Commonwealth for 1901-8. Mr. Knibbs there compares the rate of the growth of population in the Commonwealth for the period 1898- 1907 with that of the growth of population in the United States during the seventy years 1 790-1860, and shows very clearly that at the rate of increase for the Commonwealth between 1898-1907 we should have a population of 7,949,000 in 1950, as against a population of 15,058,000 on the basis of the rates of increase of the United States of America. I am glad to say that in 1908 the rate of increase in the case of the Commonwealth had risen from 1.47 to 1.88, or an advance upon that of the United States of America. To show the absolute dependency of population upon opportunities for settlement on the land, I propose to quote a few figures given by Mr. Watt, the Treasurer of Victoria, in the Legislative Assembly this week, which I venture to say, coming from the source they do, cannot be brushed aside, but must be faced by this and every other Parliament in Australia. There has been for some years a land tax of a kind in Victoria. Its effect has been negligible, and large estates have gone on increasing in numbers. Mr. Watt showed the extent of that increase. He pointed out that there were 405 estates on the land tax register, each having a capital value of over £20,000, with a total value of £24,727,000. Their taxable value under the present land tax, however, was only £5,748,000. Included in the list there were 170 estates, the capital value of each being over £50,000, with an average value of £105,000. Included in both of these were forty-five, with a capital value of over £1 00,000, an average value of £158,000, and a total value of . £7,153,000, owned by forty-five men. Of these one man held 81,348 acres, a second 55,488 acres, a third 52,655 acres, and a fourth 50,784 acres. In 1878 the number of agricultural holdings in the State was 47,050, and in 1907-8 the number had only increased to 56,065, an increase in thirty years of only 9,015. Of this increase half was in holdings of less than 1,000 acres. Such a condition of things is not, I venture to say, paralleled in any civilized country in the world. We are looking on at a State which is positively bleeding to death. Mr. Watt shows very conclusively that the adult population - adventurous, enterprising, energetic, thrifty people -are leaving this State as rats leave a sinking ship.
– Thus increasing the burden on those who remain.
– Undoubtedly. Mr. Watt said -
In 1878-1879, estates above 10,000 acres numbered 205; in 1907-1908 they had been reduced to 183. In a space of thirty years, during which it wouldhave been thought that agricul tural holdings would have become smaller, the average holding had been increased from 338 acres to 436 acres, and the percentage of holders to the general population fell from 5:68 per cent. to 4.59 per cent. … In 1881 the population was 862,346; last year it was1,287,000, an increase of 424,521, or approximately 50 per cent. But the increase of births over deaths for the period was 436,606, showing that the States had really lost by excess of emigration over immigration, 12,085 souls.
It will be seen that the State not only lost 12,085 of the natural increase, but also a number equivalent to every person who had entered the State from outside. That is a record that cannot be paralleled by the record of any other country in the world.
During the twenty-seven years, the increase was, roughly, 425,000. Of this number 261,000 centred in the metropolitan district, and 164,000 in all the other counties combined.
What follows is the most important point of all- in 1881, the number employed on the land was10.40 per cent., while in1908 it was only 11.68 per cent.
This shows that in the thirty years, there has been an increase of only 1.18 per cent. In that time, there have been I do not know how many legislative efforts made to induce people to go on the soil. Much money has been spent on closer settlement schemes, and yet the result is what I have shown. I venture to say that £5,000 per head has been spent for every person represented by the increase. It is now proposed to spend £20,000 to attract people from England, where, however, we also find a deserted countryside. In some of the counties of England we may, for mile after mile, see a state of things equal to that in our back-blocks, and yet it is proposed to attract from the congested centres in England a population of the kind that, when it gets here, will naturally settle down in our already overgrown centres. The majority will, in any case, be compelled to do so, owing to suitable land not being available. Let us compare this with the condition of things in New Zealand. Mr. Watt said -
The student of political economy would find many remarkable facts with regard to New Zealand during the last seventeen years. In 1891, New Zealand passed her Land Tax Act, and from 1890 to 1907, she increased in population by 303,976. In the same time Victoria added only 2,487.
– New Zealand has spent £1,500,000 of borrowed money every year in attracting population.
– In the same period, Australia has added to her indebtedness by an amount that is absolutely colossal.
– By over £51,000,000 !
– We touch bottom when we listen to the honorable member for Franklin’s explanation of the increased population in New Zealand.
– Every steamer that leaves New Zealand for Sydney is filled with steerage passengers.
– I have not the figures by me, but I venture to say that Australia in that time has, pound for pound, borrowed as much as New Zealand has. Mr. Watt said -
For the thirty years ended 1907-1908, the period covered by the Land Taxation Act, the increase of Victorian agricultural holdings was only 19 per cent. For the past fifteen years, New Zealand’s increase had been 78 per cent. Allowing for the difference in time, the increase in New Zealand was more than ten times greater.
There are a number of gentlemen in this Chamber who say that a land tax is a good thing, but that it is the business of the States to impose it ; and others who say that a land tax is a bad thing, and has done New Zealand no good - that, as a matter of fact, we are doing very well as we are. But both are agreed in opposing every effort to impose any effective scheme of land value taxation. But the figures I have quoted are absolutely unanswerable. They cannot be accounted for by the Tariff, because the tendency in both countries has been towards a protective Tariff. If the Tariff accounted for the facts in New Zealand, it would account for the facts in Victoria; but it does not do so. Mr. Watt went on -
For a period, 1891 to 1907, Victorian exports and imports showed an increase of 47 per cent. ; New Zealand during the same time, showed an increase of 132 per cent.in oversea trade.
The honorable member for Darwin has given me a list showing the public debt liabilities of the several States of the Commonwealth on the 30th June, 1908, and the figure is £243,335,000. There has been £10,000,000 borrowed since, but that, I have no doubt, is for the purposes of redemption. Knibbs, on page 845, shows that in 1901 the loan expenditure of the various States was , £9,465,000; and in the following years, in order, £8,862,000, £4,633,000, £3,424,000, and so on, until 1907-8, when it was £5,237,000, or a total of £38,000,000 of extra loan expenditure from 1901 to the end of 1908. Mr. Watt said -
The six States of Australia have sold 123,000,000 acres of land. They have received as payment £123,000,000, or an average of £1 per acre. Of the total area so alienated Victoria had contributed approximately one-fifth. Yet, according to the latest calculation, the unimproved value of that one-fifth was worth to-day£127,500,000, or £4,500,000 more than the amount received by the whole of the Australian Governments for the land they had sold since the Continent was settled.
I venture to say, therefore, that when it is proposed to spend £20,000 in advertising the Commonwealth, we ought to be perfectly honest, and tell the people in Great Britain and elsewhere the exact position. We have absolutely the richest country in the world at our disposal - a country eminently suitable and literally crying out for a white population. At the same time, we find land monopoly in our midst to such an extent as to be incomparable with that of any other country. Land monopoly has disappeared in Ireland ; and even in Scotland and England, relatively to the amount of land available and the density of population, it cannot be compared with the monopoly in Australia. We ought to say that the real reason why we are unable to do our duty to the Empire and to mankind, by inviting, without reservation, a suitable population, is simply that we have no land to give them. Victoria has had a closer settlement scheme in operation for the last two years. In New South Wales, land monopoly has increased more rapidly than has closer settlement. The same thing, no doubt, applies to Victoria. The proof that it does lies in the damning statement made by a responsible Minister the other night in the State House, that the position, of Victoria was deplorable. Victoria is a country bleeding at the arteries, vitally and almost irremediably injured. Nothing can save her unless she is prepared to pursue a bold and unrelenting policy by insisting upon throwing open for settlement land which is among the richest in the whole Commonwealth. Why do the best Victorians leave Victoria? Victoria is becoming very like Tasmania- a country whose natives are found everywhere but inside her borders. In New South Wales and Queensland you will find Victorians and Tasmanians. It is not, as we are told by the Employers’ Federation, and other persons of that type, Labour legislation that is damning Victoria, because there is more Labour legislation in New Zealand than inany State in Australia, yet New Zealand has gone ahead, while Victoria has literally gone back. She has gone back, not because she has had too much Labour legislation, but because she has not had enough.
– By Labour legislation, does the honorable member mean Labour party legislation ?
– No; because the Labour party have not had an opportunity yet to put any Labour party legislation into force. What the party have done has been to insist upon, certain legislation being placed upon the statute-book, and until quite recently the honorable member’s only desire was to assist them in doing so.
– Then the honorable member makes a distinction between Labour legislation and Labour party legislation?
– I make no distinction, except that the Labour party, at whose suggestion the legislation was passed, have never had an opportunity to administer it. What the Commonwealth demands is a policy of land taxation that will break down these big estates. We should be more honest if we withdrew this vote of £20,000 until such time as the States were prepared, or we were prepared, to do our duty in this matter. There is but one way by which a suitable population can be encouraged to come out here, and that is by providing suitable land for them. Even Dr. Arthur, who was obsessed, if any man was, with the necessity and value of immigration, has now admitted that the right kind of emigrant is not to be got in Great Britain. And why ? Because the iniquitous system in vogue here obtains also in England, and men are being driven off the land into the cities. Once they are there, they are lost men so far as the land is concerned, and’ lost so far as our purposes go. What we want, therefore, is to start a holy war against this business. There is no question of party in the matter. It is so vital to the welfare of the nation that we should regard only the fact that if we are going to save this country, we must get the people on to the land In the Sydney Star for 28th August, 1909, appears an article dealing with that marvellous demonstration of England’s naval greatness - the British fleet arrayed for the editors of the Empire to see. In it, quotations are given from the description of the correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald, one of the most Conservative, but one of the most honorable, papers in Australia. The Herald correspondent drew the contrast as it struck him between that matchless display of the greatness of England and the cancer that is underneath it. There, in the heart of the Empire, where a population has been gathered together greater than in any city in any time, and where wealth is piled up to a greater extent than has existed at any time, an absolutely deplorable condition of things exists. He says -
An old woman was found, broken in health and dying, yet supporting herself and four children, paying 3s. a week rent, by making match boxes at 2¼d. per gross. In a week of 98 hours she earned 4s.10¼d.
That is the history of an old English woman in the greatest and richest city in the world, under the shadow and aegis of the greatest fleet the world has ever seen. Perhaps it is for that reason that the fleet exists - to enable this poor old woman to get her 4s.10¼d. for working ninety-eight hours a week -
One million eight hundred thousand people in London live on the poverty line and below it. One million people live with one week’s wages between them and pauperism. Fully 8,000,000 in the United Kingdom struggle on the ragged edge of starvation, and about 20,000,000 more are not comfortable in the simple and clean sense of the word as we know it in Australia. . . . Year by year rural England pours into London a flood of vigorous, strong life that not only does not renew itself, but perishes by the third generation.
That result repeats itself here, except that whereas only 13 per cent. and a fraction of the people of England live in London. 36 per cent. of the total population of Australia is crowded into its six great cities, without counting Newcastle, Ballarat, Bendigo, Goulburn, Orange, or any other large centres.
Of these “ submerged tenth “ it is written : -
They are often so degraded in intellect as to be incapable of telling their right from their left hand, or of recognising the number of their houses. Their bodies are feeble and without stamina. Their affections are so warped that they scarcely know what family life means. Either through lack of bodily strength, or of intelligence, or of fibre, or of all three, they are inefficient or unwilling workers, and consequently are unable to support themselves.
It is this type of humanity that we are breeding! It is this pernicious, this horrible. deadly example that our country persists in following. Yet the only thing that stands between us and such an abyss is an ever-narrowing margin of time. Before we can place Australia on a sound, healthy national footing a small band of men, in number contemptible, who own this country, have to be dealt with. A few thousand men own the best and most valuable part of Australia. Compare them with the sacred band of the Thebans ! The correspondent of the Herald goes on to say that a charity organization in London appealed for funds to enable some of the 14,000 people in a parish known as the Black Country of the East End to enjoy one day’s sunshine and fresh air in the year. The appeal concludes pathetically : “ It willbe their only chance.” The writer of the article in the Star comments -
No wonder a London writer commented the other day upon the fact that these imperial souls, whose fathers had built up an empire greater than ever existed on earth before, were begging piteously for a chance of one day’s sunshine and fresh air - that 14,000 members of an imperial race, owners of millions of miles of the earth’s surface, heirs to the knowledge and wealth and organization of the cleverest people ever known, should be so poor that they ask the charitable to give them a chance to spend one day in 365 in sunshine and fresh air.
He says that another report regarding the condition of the scholars in the elementary schools of the typically English town of York shows that the health of 51.6 per cent. of the boys and 52.3 per cent. of the girls in the schools of the poorer districts was “ very bad,” which means that “ their bodies were puny and feeble, and they were affected with sore eyes, hip disease, swollen glands, and other horrible afflictions.” Another portion of the picture drawn by the special correspondent of the Herald is occupied by the following observations of a popular writer, who investigated the awful conditions of the London poor -
From the slimy, spittle-drenched sidewalk they were picking up pieces of orange peel, apple skins, and grape stems. The pits of greengage plums they cracked between their teeth for the kernels inside. They picked up stray crumbs of bread the size of peas, and apple cores so black and dirty that one would not take them to be apple cores. And this in the heart of the greatest, wealthiest, and most powerful empire the world has ever seen.
Thank God, we cannot see such a spectacle here. I hope we never shall ; but it is an eternal reflection on us, upon our sense, apart from anything else, that we have permitted in this State - and not one of us, although we may not , be electors of Victoria, can hold himself blameless - a condition of things which has absolutely driven over 200,000 of the best men in the prime of life out of Victoria in the last few years, and built up its great cities to such a point that a relatively Conservative Government is forced to bring down a measure which, compared with what lias been done previously, must be regarded as radical in its nature. I rejoice at the introduction of that measure of land taxation in Victoria, so far as it is sufficient. The only objection I have to it is that it does not go far enough. I hope that the Government will realize that the Commonwealth is intrusted with a sacred duty, which is to insist that land shall be made available, not only to those now in Australia, but also to those who are invited to come here. It is for Ministers to insist on an immediate and effective recognition of the facts to which I have drawn attention. Their first act should be the proposal of a tax on the unimproved value of land, so that, in spite of State apathy and land monopolists, holdings shall be made available.
– I wish toknow, in regard to the vote towards expenses of press representatives to the Congress of the Chambers of Commerce, whether the money is to be spent in connexion with the visit of real pressmen, as distinguished from newspaper proprietors and managers. I have read recently reportsof speeches by men who certainly were not pressmen. It is for genuine pressmen that gatherings of this kind are intended, men of trained powers of observation, able to make . deductions, and to publish abroad their opinions.
– Some of the best pressmen in Australia were sent to England.
– Nearly all Australian pressmen are good men. It seems to me - coming now to another matter - that the contribution to the funds of the Imperial Institute is one for which we get no value.
– The usefulness of the Institute increases every year.
– I do not think any one in London knows where it is.
– All Australians go there when visiting London.
– A wealthy squatter told me, some time ago, that neither the Institute nor the officers of the Agents-General serve any good pur. pose ; and that if you call on the latter, an office boy inquires your business. When you ask for information about Australia, he presents you with a Year Book to read, the head officials being away, having a good time.
– That is not a true statement.
-I intend to move to strike out the item providing£500 for the upkeep of the Imperial Institute. The money could be better spent in Melbourne, on the dissemination of Labour literature. I agree with the honorable member for West Sydney that there should be a crusade against the economic conditions to which he referred, which are sapping the foundations of the Empire. During the Coronation celebrations, His Majesty the King gave a dinner to no fewer than 500,000 poor persons in London. That happened at the heart of the great British Empire, in the metropolis of the first country in the world. These poor persons were members of the race from which have sprung men like Shakespeare, Milton, Byron, Watt, Stevenson, and others; a nation which for a thousand years has bossed the earth, and has never suffered defeat.
– John Burns has stated that he saw more wretchedness in New York than in London.
– Let me read an extract from the Sydney Star of 28th August, republishing an article in which the London correspondent of the Herald there wrote -
In the East End of London 55 per cent. of the children die before they reach the age of five years. In London there are 1,292,737 people who receive 21s. or less per week per family. They do not live; they drag out a subter-beastial existence until mercifully released by death.
Men have been found in the employ of wellknown business houses receiving their board and 6s. per week for six working days of 16 hours each.
Year by year rural England pours into London a flood of vigorous, strong life that not only does not renew itself, but perishes by the third generation.
Competent authorities state that the London workman whose parents and grandparents were born in London is so remarkable a specimen that he is rarely found.
Of these “ submerged tenth “ it is written : -
They are often so degraded in intellect as to be incapable of telling their right from their left hand, or of recognising the number of their houses. Their bodies are feeble and without stamina. Their affections are so warped that they scarcely know what family life means. Either through lack of bodily strength, or of intelligence, or of fibre, or of all three, they are inefficient or unwilling workers, and consequently are unable to support themselves.
Such persons could not with advantage be brought to Australia. The question of immigration is one which we must ponder seriously. When the American railway corporations were bringing immigrants to America, thirty, thirty-five, and forty years ago, the Government assisted them in many ways. Shelter and provisions were found for them on arrival, and they were taken into the interior in immigrant trains, to which cars were attached with conveniences for sleeping and living during the journey. At the terminus, agents met them, and, without paying a penny, they were placed on land which had been surveyed by the Government. Each man got a 60 acres free of charge, all that it was necessary for him to do being to declare his willingness to become a citizen of the United States. Directly the application was filed, he was put in possession, and, after five years, when a house, a barn, and a corral, had been erected, a well sunk, and from ten to twenty acres cleared, he got a deed of grant for $13, or about £2 12s. in English money.
– In Western Australia to-day a man can get 160 acres free of charge.
– In America, under the pre-emption law, a man could settle on 160 acres, sink a well, and make improvements, and after he had been there for six months, he could, on getting two witnesses to certify that he had complied with the conditions, obtain a grant of the land for £40. Another arrangement under which land could be acquired was by planting 10 acres with trees. If, at the end of ten years, a certain number of trees were growing, a grant issued. We talk too much about immigration, and do too little. The immigrants which we need would come, not from the cities, but from the country districts of Great Britain. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition made some refer- ence to our public indebtedness. Let me put before the Committee the exact figures, in a convenient, tabulated form. They are these: -
Do I understand that the Minister is anxious to report progress?
– No. I desire the Committee to conclude its consideration of the Estimates of this Department this afternoon.
– If that is so, I shall say no more.
.- Iwishto ask the Minister for an explanation of some of the items in this division. It is certainly one of the most important in the Estimates of the Department, and it covers a variety of subjects, with regard to which no explanation has been offered by the Minister.
– Many of the items have been voted year after year.
– I think that we are entitled to an explanation in regard to at least some of them. I desire to refer specially to the item relating to payment for services rendered under the Immigration Restriction Act. Last evening the honorable member for Maribyrnong said the reason why the Department had been able to detect more Chinese stowaways on board vessels entering Australian’ ports whilst the Labour Government was in office was that certain regulations introduced by the previous Government had been brought into force. So far as I am aware, that is not a correct statement of fact.
– The Prime Minister is my authority for the statement.
– Was there an arrangement with the Acting Leader of the Opposition as to these Estimates?
– There was no arrangement to go on. The Minister will admit that the items relating to advertising the resources of Australia and the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act are two of the most important that have to be considered by Parliament. Last year, two or three days were devoted to the discussion of the first named item.
– I think that we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– Shortly after I took office as Minister of Trade and Customs, I communicated with the Department of External Affairs, with a view of ascertaining, more particularly the number of Chinese, who had been refused permission to enter the Commonwealth because they were not identical with the papers which they presented. I received, however, the following return, showing the number of Chinese stowaways discovered during the years 1904-8
– I rise to order. The whole of this matter has been gone over before, and I do not see that it is in order to discuss it in connexion with the division now under consideration.
– Item No. 2 relates to payments to the Department of Trade and Customs for the services of officers under the Immigration Restriction Act. As those are the officers who administer the Act in question, I think I am in order in dealing with the matter now.
– The honorable member is quite in order.
– I have a good deal more to say upon the matter, and am quite prepared to go on if members please. I understand, however, that the Government are now willing to report progress.
– I desire, by leave, to give notice that on Tuesday next I shall move for leave to introduce a Bill to alter the provisions of the Constitution relating to finance.
– I object.
– I am giving this notice with the consent of the Leader of the Opposition.
– I object.
– Then the honorable member desires to block the financial proposals being discussed, and after an arrangement - very good.
– That is a nice thing for the Government to shelter themselves behind !
– I saw the Leader of the Opposition this morning and proposed this arrangement to him. He cordially concurred. It is very unfortunate for business that some members of the Opposition refuse to carry put an agreement after it has been made with their leader.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Groom) read a first time.
S.S. Waratah - Old-age Pensions.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn,
It is only right that I shouldput the House in possession of information relating to negotiations which have been proceeding in regard to the missing steamer Waratah. I have before me a letter from Messrs. John Sanderson and Company to Senator Sir Robert Best, Minister of Trade and Customs’, with reference to the communications which have passed between them and my energetic colleague. They refer in their letter to cablegrams between Messrs. W. Lund and Sons, the owner of the Waratah, and themselves, and state that Messrs. Lund and Sons are in negotiation for a suitable steamer to make a search for the Waratah. She will be chartered for a period of about three months.They agree to the suggestion of the Minister that the cost of the steamer should be divided into four parts between the Commonwealth Government, subscriptions from the friends of the passengers, the underwriters, and the owners themselves. It is estimated that the cost will not be more than £6,000. This arrangement, therefore, would require a contribution from each of the four parties of £1,500. It is understood, from the cables, that Messrs. Lund and Sons are quite agreeable to find their quarter, and Messrs. Sanderson and Son take it for granted that arrangements have been made with the underwriters to find their quarter. The Commonwealth undertakes to find pound for pound with the public subscriptions up to£1,500. I understand that the financial arrangements are all but complete, and that arrangements for the steamer to proceed are being pushed forward. The papers which I shall lay upon the table include a copy of a cable to Messrs. W. Lund and Sons dated 31st August, submitting an account of the arrangements in general terms. There is another cable to the same firm dated 2nd September, informing them that the proposal made was for a searching steamer to be chartered and coaled for a period up to three months. The last cable is one from Messrs. W. Lund and
Sons, in which they state that they heartily agree to the proposal, but add that it will be a few days before everything can be arranged. They promise, however, to submit terms for confirmation as soon as possible.
.- I regret to have to bring under the notice of the Treasurer a casewhich I am aware has been mentioned to him by the honorable member for Corio, whom I must thank for his courtesy in looking after the interests of one of my constituents. On the 1 2th August the honorable member asked a question of the Treasurer concerning the case of an old Indian pensioner, who was getting 9d. per day, or a total of 5s. 3d. per week. The Treasurer interjected, “ Will he not get a balance bringing the amount up to 10s. ? “ The honorable member for Corio said -
Under the Act he should have the right to draw 10s. a week as an old-age pension, and 10s. in the shape of other income. He has been recommended for a 10s. pension, but a difficulty seems to be raised because he receives another pension. I do not think that there is anything in the law against his getting the full 15s. 3d. a week. The matter should be looked at very sympathetically if we desire a number of ex-Indian pensioners to settle here. They should not be made to feel that they may lose rights which other citizens have because of their little pensions for war services.
That statement was made by the honorable member on the 12th August last. I hold in my hand a letter from the Treasury, dated 26th August, and addressed to the honorable member, which reads -
Sir, - In continuation of my letter of the 18th inst., I have the honour, by direction, to inform you that Mr. Wimial Daley (Imperial pensioner) has been granted a pension of£20 per annum.
This letter was forwarded by the honorablemember for Corio to Mr. Daley. What are the facts of this case? For the month of four weeks Mr. Daley should have received 10s. per week, or£2. But in the face of its own letter the Department has asked him to accept , £1 14s. 3d. for the month of four weeks. The old man feels the position very keenly, because, although he is an inmate of a benevolent asylum, he pays that institution 5s. 3d.per week for his maintenance, and, therefore, objects to being stigmatized as a pauper.
– I think that we ought to have a quorum present.
A quorum not being present,
Mr. Speaker adjourned the House at 4.26 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 September 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090903_reps_3_51/>.