3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister of Defence received definite information regarding the date of the arrival of Lord Kitchener ?
– Not yet.
– Is this Parliament empowered by the Constitution to compel newspapers which publish garbled or misleading reports of its proceedings to attach to them the names of those who compiled them, and to make the writers of leading articles sign them?
– We have no such power.
– Can the Prime Minister procure and circulate among honorable members copies of the official report of the speech of the Leader of the Labour party in New South Wales on the agreement between him and the State Premiers? A precis of his remarks is published in this morning’s Argus.
– The official report of the speeches delivered in the New South Wales Parliament is furnished regularly to the Library. If the supply is insufficient, we can ask for extra copies.
– Will the Prime Minister also order extra copies of the report of the debate relating to the remission’ by the Premier of New South Wales of a fine of£75 imposed upon a baker for a breach of the. Industrial Disputes Act?
– I shall be happy to get any information which the honorable member desires.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, inhis opinion, the members of this Parliament, or the members of the State Parliaments, are the proper persons to interpret the Constitution ?
– There are in this House enough representatives of the legal profession to almost justify our title.
– Is the Prime Minister prepared to supply a full report of the debates which took place at the secret caucus of the Premiers and himself, including blotting pads?
– I am prepared to supply the whole report.
– I wish to know from the Attorney-General if he has read that the Victorian Minister of Agriculture has stated that he does not see how he can allow Tasmanian potatoes to enter Victoria until the New South Wales authorities have removed their prohibition against Victorian and Tasmanian potatoes. Is it not possible for the Commonwealth to do something in this matter?
– There is on the notice-paper a question similar in purport to that which the honorable member is now asking.
– The reply of the Minister of External Affairs to the question of which the honorable member for Wannon has given notice will probably give the honorable member the information for which he seeks.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
– Has a decision been arrived at regarding the complaints of ex-Staff Sergeant Daly, of Molong, about the military administration of New South Wales? If so, will the Minister say whether he has any objection to furnishing the complainant with a statement as to the report of the officers who investigated the matter?
– If the honorable member wishes for the papers in this case, I shall be glad to furnish him with a copy of them.
English Mail Service Time-table - Telephone Connexion : Ora Banda - Contract Post Offices.
– I have been informed by the Perth Chamber of Commerce that no communication has yet been received by the Premier of Western Australia from the Postmaster - General regarding therearrangement of the time-table of the English mail steamers. As I understood that it is the intention of the honorable gentleman to communicate with the Premier on that subject, I ask him whether he has done so, or, it not, whether he will dospat an early date?
– I do not remember to have announced my intentionto communicate with the Premier of Western Australia in regard to this Federal question. The matter is under consideration, and the time-table will probably be published in a few days. On Wednesday last the honorable member for Coolgardie asked the following questions : -
I promised to make inquiries, and the following are the replies : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
Debate resumed from 14th October(vide page 4589), on motion by Mr. Groom -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- I do not intend to detain the House very long, but shall shortly state how this matter presents itself to me. The transfer of the Northern Territory is one of the many problems which have been demanding treatment at the hands of this Parliament since the beginning of Federation, and apparently it is not likely to be dealt with yet. Every one is agreed that the Territory, if allowed to remain unoccupied, must be a standing menace to the safety of Australia. But, to settle it, the Commonwealth must take it over. We cannot expect South Australia to do all that is necessary for its development. Objection has been taken to the terms of the agreement, which has been criticised as too favorable to the State. I shall not carp at them, as I am prepared to consider what South Australia has done for the Commonwealth in bearing the burden of the Northern Territory all this time. Had not the State accepted that responsibility the Northern Territory would have become a Crown Colony, and might now be occupied by chartered companies, who would have developed and filled it with black labour, making a White Australia practically impossible of accomplishment. The people of South Australia may have been actuated in what they did by vanity, or by the desire to benefit themselves, but whatever their motives, I am prepared to consider now only the beneficial result which has come from their action. With regard to the railway proposals, it seems to me that the central parts of Australia can be developed only by railway construction. Unless we abandon the idea of occupying them, we must be prepared to make railways to the north and to the west. The cost of such lines could not be borne wholly by individual States. To develop the Northern Territory, a line should be taken through the middle of it. I cannot understand those who say that the line running into Queensland and New South Wales will develop it, nor do I know how the western part of it could be developed by a railway in the eastern part. Hitherto, we have never interfered with the rights of the States to construct railways within their own territories where and when they liked, and I know of no reason why we should begin to do so now. I cannot see how a line following the dotted red lines on the map and running through New South Wales could be of any benefit in developing the Territory. Not only did South Australia take the Territory over at a critical time, but she has held it against strong movements of recent years to take it away from her. No doubt, many honorable members remember the extraordinary journey performed by Governor Kintore, in 1891, undoubtedly under instructions from the Colonial Office, and the sensation made by his action in publishing a report of it without consulting or obtaining the permission of his Ministers. There is no doubt that that report was made with a view of furnishing reasons for the separation of the Northern Territory from South Australia, the creation of it as a Crown Colony, and its occupation and development by coloured labour. I have a copy of Lord Kintore’s report with me. It is a very striking piece of evidence of the designs that certain persons had on the Territory, and only the strenuous resistance of the Government of South Australia prevented that project from being carried out. The South Australian Government laid the people of the whole of Australia under a great obligation by taking the steps they did. If the Territory had been occupied by a chartered company, and developed by hordes of coloured labourers, we should never have been able to get them out, unless we bought them out, and that would have cost infinitely more than a railway from north to south. The honorable member for Corio spoke last night of developing the Territory by tending out prospectors, and opening up the goldfields. I do not know how they could be opened up without a railway. Mr. Allan A. Davidson, leader of the Central Australian Exploration Syndicate, published in 1905 an account of his journey through the Territory. In it, referring to the mineral wealth of the country, he said - . . The country is there and the gold is there, and it remains for others to improve on the prospects obtained. . . . The one essential feature necessary for the development’ of the interior, and the opening of payable goldfields is cheaper communication. This can only be accomplished by continuing the transcontinental railway across the continent. An extension from Oodnadatta to the MacDonnell -Ranges and the Arltunga gold-field would very materially assist in opening the interior and making other portions more accessible. The possibilities this country contains certainly warrant a great endeavour (even at a sacrifice for a time) being made to create a central mining population. . . . No effort or expenditure should deter those in authority from constructing a line.
Many opinions have been quoted for and against the value and character of the Territory, but I do not think that the views expressed by Professor Baldwin Spencer have been read to the House. He is not personally interested in the Territory, and is not a South Australian. He gave his- opinions in two or three articles published in the Age newspaper in 1905. In one which appeared in October nf that year, he said -
Central Australia and the Northern Territory, except that part of it which borders the Indian
Ocean and the Gulf of Carpentaria, is commonly regarded as desert country, more or less useless, and not only uninhabited, but uninhabitable. This is very far indeed from being the case. A small part of it, such as the region which centres in Lake Amadeus, and extends to the eastern borders of Western Australia, is certainly true desert, but there are, on the other hand, vast areas, including the Finke Basin, the MacDonnell Ranges, and practically all of the central country north of these to Port Darwin and the Gulf of Carpentaria, which are anything but desert.
Referring -to the railway, he observed -
However, nothing serious can be attempted until the railway which now ends on the southern fringe of the steppe lands is-continued across to the north. and, with regard to the route -
As far as Alice Springs, that is, right across the southern steppes and through the central ranges, the route is already surveyed. Shifting sand, in certain parts, and broad river courses, liable at rare intervals to carry immense bodies of water and flood-wrack, including trunks of the large gum trees which border the streams, would have to be provided against, but there are no serious engineering difficulties except possibly that of carrying the line over the Central Ranges. Beyond this again, all is easy. I think, however, that it would be a mistake, unless there are serious engineering or other difficulties in the way, to follow the present telegraph line along its course north of the MacDonnell Ranges. If the railway line, once safely across the MacDonnell Ranges, were deflected to the east, it might cut through the eastern side of the Murchison Range, with its future gold-field, and then, trending again to the east, it could tap the Down’s country, from which it could run in a north-westerly direction to Pine Creek, the present southern terminus of the line’ from Port Darwin.
At the present time the cost of carriage of any kind of material over the interior of Australia is prohibitive.
His views on the subject of the route are notable, because they are directly at variance with the deviation that has been suggested in this Chamber. He strongly favours going first right on to the MacDonnell Ranges”, and points out that the only part of the country which can be called a desert lies in the south-west corner of the Territory.
– That is the part which it is suggested that South Australia should extend her borders to include.
– The Commonwealth ought to take over the whole of the Territory, or none at all. South Australia has made a great mistake in waiting, so long for the Commonwealth to deal with the subject. Nothing has been done in the Territory for the last eight or nine years, and it has been going from bad to worse. If the people of South Australia had borrowed money, and proceeded with the construction of the railway, we should have had to take over the loan for that purpose, together with the other railway loans, when we took over the States debts. No doubt, they thought that the Commonwealth, with its great resources, would have a better opportunity, and be able more quickly, to develop the country than any State. We have heard a great deal about immigration to Australia, and the delay on the part’ of the Commonwealth in dealing with the subject. But it must be remembered that the Commonwealth has no land to offer to immigrants. The land question remains with the States. The steady and continuous immigration to the “United States, and later,, to Canada, was induced by the adoption of the system of land grant railways. The railway companies advertised extensively, in order to get people to settle on the lands given to them, so as to make their railways pay. The settlement .of people on the land was, of course, followed by an influx of the artisans and mechanics required to build up the various towns ; but, if the railway companies had not had those lands granted to them, or if the Governments of those countries had not had the power to deal with the land, there would have been practically no immigration there at all. I am satisfied that if the Commonwealth possessed land suit-‘ able for occupation, whatever Government was in power would quickly develop a targe immigration scheme, but without land we can do nothing. With the Territory in our possession, we shall have an opportunity of showing whether we can induce the immigration of a class of people who’’ will settle on the land. We shall be able to dp that ourselves, and that is another strong reason why we should take over the Territory. Professor Baldwin “Spencer speaks highly of the excellent climate throughout the Territory, and says that white men can keep in good health in any part of it all the year round. From every point of view, I am strongly in favour of the Commonwealth taking over and developing it. Of course, I know that that means money. One of - the things that we have ,to reckon with in this Parliament is the fact that practically every power that has been transferred to the Commonwealth means the expenditure of large sums of money. The States having been relieved of all these expensive undertakings, it is singular that they should now be endeavouring to do all they can to cripple our finances, and prevent us from having the money necessary to carry them out. I am rather surprised, in view of the relationship between the present Government and the State Premiers,, to find this Bill being pushed along, even in this quiet way. I know that it embodies an agreement made with the late Premier of South Australia by the present Prime Minister. From that point of view, it ought to be as sacred as the Prime Minister appears to consider another agreement which he recently made with the Premiers of all the States. At the same time, I do not forget that this agreement, which he allowed the South Australian Parliament to indorse by means of an Act, was made by him when he was the head of a Liberal Administration. On that account, it is probably not thought as much of as is the agreement recently made by him as the head of a Fusion Government. Nor do I -forget that the State Premiers, at the 1907 Conference, took it upon themselves, in their management of the affairs of Australia generally, to in a dictatorial way pass a resolution opposing the Commonwealth taking over the Northern Territory. That was rather surprising at the time, but one cannot be surprised at it now, in view of what has since happened, because the Premiers appear to think that they alone should dictate the policy of the Commonwealth. I do not know whether the Government are really eager to pass this measure, or whether the Prime Minister will take half the trouble to induce his followers to support it, as he is taking to prevail upon them to support the disastrous- agreement which we were discussing the other night. Having regard to the great importance to the rest of Australia of the Territory and its occupation, it would be only fitting for the Government to use some of their influence with their supporters to bring about the passage of this measure. I do not mean that they should crack the whip, because I am strongly opposed to that system of government at any time. It is one of the disastrous phases of the present method of party Government that members should be whipped into supporting measures of which they do not approve, or into opposing others of which they do approve, simply for the purpose of keeping a Government in office or putting a Government out. There would not be so much dis- satisfaction with the party system of government if honorable members on all sides were given a reasonable measure of freedom to deal with measures on their merits. At the same time, the Government can use a great deal of genuine influence with their followers to induce them to see eye to eye with them, and this is certainly one of the subjects regarding which they might legitimately do so. But whether the Government do that or not, they ought very; quickly to bring the matter to a head. We might fairly be asked to go on with the Bill until we dispose of it in one way or the other. If we are not going to accept the agreement, it is only fair to the people of South Australia that we should tell them so at an early date, so that they may take whatever steps they think fit to open up and develop the Territory themselves. The completion of the railway may be a costly undertaking, but I am satisfied that sooner or later a through line will have to be made, and the nearer the centre of the Northern Territory we get it, the better it will be as a main line from which branches can be built. If it is constructed, the railway systems of New South Wales and Queensland will undoubtedly be pushed on to their respective borders, and ultimately they will be connected by the Commonwealth with the main trunk line of the Northern Territory. However favorable this agreement may be to South Australia ; however costly the transfer may be, it appears to me to be as necessary for this Parliament to take over and develop- the Territory as it is for it to deal with the question of defence. I am, therefore, prepared to give the Bill a thorough support.
– I feel that- this debate ought not to close without comment, and yet find myself at a loss owing to the extent of the area traversed, since our proposal, from the point of view of the Government, was ably and fully submitted by my honorable colleague the Minister for External Affairs. Whatever else may have been lacking in the debate, it has not excluded the widest possible consideration of any issue, major or minor, that could be associated with the projected transfer. At one time or another, every item of authentic information, and a certain amount of less satisfactory assertion, have been supplied. To gather up the evidence distributed over the pages of Hansard would involve the task of addressing the House at great length. I regret that the current of feeling and the general pur- port of the conclusions arrived at seem so manifestly antagonistic to the Government proposal that to reiterate at this stage the arguments that commend themselves to me would be to thresh twice threshed straw. The Government still hold strongly that the agreement as submitted, whilst no doubt capable of improvement in details, is, as a whole, not only the most comprehensive, but far the most satisfactory. I shall regret if the project be curtailed. When this question was considered in- previous sessions, there appeared to be only one choice, and that was between the acceptance and rejection of the Bill. At that time the numbers were reported to Be Heavily for its rejection. During this debate, however, there has been developed another alternative which would imply the cession of the tropical portion of the Territory to the Commonwealth, and a number of consequent alterations in the scheme. On this, though favorably referred to by two or three honorable members, the opinion of the House has yet to be ascertained. Notwithstanding the unfortunate delay that has occurred, we are now in a better position than we were last session.
– The project to which the honorable gentleman refers will not stand the test of consideration.
– 1 should have doubted that it would, had it not been supported by some representatives of South Australia and some leading representatives of other States.
– Will it affect the question of the railway?
– Most vitally; it has evidently a strong backing.
– It was discussed and rejected by the South Australian Parliament.
– I was not aware of that. Until the case is submitted, we do not know its strength. So strongly do I feel in regard to the Territory that I should welcome any alternative for further consideration rather than see the proposed transfer laid aside. If it be shown that whatever may be the advantages of this alternative, or any other, their disadvantages are sufficient to cause their rejection, by that time, possibly, the bulk of the members of the House may swing round again to the consideration whether the choice is not between taking the agreement as it is, or rejecting it. They may then prefer, as I trust they will, to accept it. At present, the numbers seem against the Government. In these circumstances, the next best step is to prevent that defeat, and yet avoid delay, by testing the opinion of the House.
– How does the honorable gentleman know that the Government will be in a minority in their proposal?
– It was a matter of common knowledge. The numbers have been counted by those having a deep interest in the question.
– There has been a good deal of assumption as to the probable result.
– I hope so. Although I do not intend to re-thresh beaten straw, the transfer is of so much moment that I cannot suffer it to pass without emphasizing at least one or two of its chief features. We have had during this debate a very interesting study, into which I do not propose to enter, of the proximate prospects of the development of the Territory, the expenditure that it would involve, and the results to be achieved. These commercial or business considerations are not to be put by. I should not have grudged the time devoted to them had they formed the subject of specific proposals. Unfortunately, they have been so scattered over the general debate that it is difficult to follow them, and they may have to be repeated. All such considerations are germane to the subject. The people of Australia are entitled to know what are the financial prospects ; what the acceptance of the Territory will cost; what rapidity of development can be promised; and what returns would accrue to the Commonwealth Government. All this, and much more, they are entitled to know, and will know. If one searches through the debates, one finds, although much conflicting evidence has been given, a very important body of information concerning the area. I’ do not propose at the present moment to sum it up. The searching scrutiny of this great section of Australia has quite naturally led to assertions absolutely contradictory, although equally true of different parts of the Territory. It is true that there is a relatively barren section which, unless it possesses the mineral resources that have been discovered at Coolgardie, Tanami, and Cloncurry, will remain useless. But there is, in addition, a large area of superb, and a considerable area of good, pastoral country. No one can contest that. A great deal of it is being used; more will be. Then there is a large area of splendid, and behind it a considerable area of good, agricultural country, capable of sustaining a large population. The Territory, so lightly spoken of by some, is so enormous that there are within it all these opportunities for present settlement and development, as well as large areas in which settlement and development will probably not take place until we are a great deal better fitted for coping with it than we are at present. The mistake made has surely been in looking at the portions which are unattractive, instead of measuring those portions that offer us the opportunity we seek for peopling and developing the Territory. Only a day or two ago, reference was made to the possibilities which our north offers for the cultivation of sugarcane, and for tropical agriculture generally. These, after all, must be the mainstay of its population. I do not wish to repeat the few sentences then said in this connexion, but it seems desirable to make some reference to the question of health. I speak, not of the health of men working in the Territory, as to which there is no doubt, but of the health of the women and children, despite the complaints that attach to dwellers in the tropics. So far from the last word having been said by medical science, or science generally, on that subject, the first word is only just beginning to be uttered. Within the last few years, since the study of tropical diseases was systematically undertaken, especially by the British Colonial Office, the advances made in the preservation of life and health in the tropics have been enormous.
– Panama is a case in point.
– There we have a model instance of what American engineering and skill have accomplished in effecting the sanitation of swampy lands, most undesirably situated, and associated with deadly malaria. The work done now would have been denounced a few years ago as utterly impracticable. It is satisfactory to know that so much has been accomplished by studying the conditions, and then coping with them. No extravagant transformation of the place or people has taken place. It has been simply a matter of the application of knowledge by administration. Certain conditions injurious to life and health were found to exist; steps were taken to cope with them, so that many are being, and most have been, removed. We now find ourselves in possession of one of the first elements necessary to the founding of apowerful nation - healthy conditions of living. There is much to showthat by giving more care to diet, further improvement in the health of the residents of such territories can be secured. Our own race seems wasteful and reckless in diet and habits, and unwilling to adapt itself to new conditions. The individualism of our race, its prevailing habits and traditionalism, conspire to make us pay a blood toll greater than that of other peoples before we learn to obey simple, natural conditions.
– It is only within the last generation that the British have discovered how to live in health in India.
– Exactly. No doubt a great deal has yet to be learned regarding the protection of the health of women and children in the tropics and sub-tropics; but the most eminent medical men of the day are confident that apparently insurmountable obstacles and risks innumerable are being rapidly reduced. This is borne out by the experience of British residents in the worst parts of Africa. Time is on our side, because knowledge is with us. Whatever else may remain unchanged, science is likely to progress continuously, and certainly the science of health has made great advances in this very direction during the last few years. I am so interested in the questions associated with the development of the Northern Territory that I am straying further than was my intention when rising to speak. But I must add that, apart from the splendid mineral, pastoral, and agricultural possibilities in the Territory, which will enable it to become populous, progressive, and productive, we must remember that in its proper development lies the key, not only to the defence of Australia, but to the development of its north. About one-half of Australia lies north of a line running from the Gascoyne River to Gladstone. Is this half to be neglected ?
– Queensland is developing a large portion of the country to which the honorable member refers. I myself live a long way north of Gladstone.
– On the eastern seaboard the disadvantages are mitigated by the opportunities for cheap and rapid transit. Furthermore, there is a high range at no distance from the coast, where a large variety of products can be grown to advantage, and whither the inhabitants of the coast can resort at will: In the north western portions of Australia these conditions are not present. There is little contrast between the circumstances of the northern part of Western Australia and those of the Northern Territory, the problems of both being much the same. But are we going to confess our incapacity to cope with the development of one-half of Australia, or of any part of it ? To do so would be an absolute confession of failure. If we made it, how could we, on broad grounds of humanity, resist the claim of other nations to settle and use it? Surely they should not be excluded if we confess ourselves incapable. Leaving out of account the eastern seaboard of Queensland and the district behind it, would not the vast area that remains be purchased at a high price by any progressive European nation to which it was offered ? That is the best evidence of its value. We are a busy people, having much to do to develop the southern parts of Australia. It is not easy to find leisure, capital, and labour there to do all the work immediately at hand. But would any progressive nation dream of declaring that the Northern Territory and the country to the west of it could not be populated and utilized remuneratively by a white race? A suggestion to the contrary would be scoffed at. Any European rival would attempt, and do there, what it is our duty to attempt and do. I mention these considerations in passing, because they ought not to be neglected. To me the question has been, not so much commercial as national, first, second, third, and last. Either we must accomplish the peopling of the Northern Territory or submit to its transfer to some other nation. The latter alternative is not to be tolerated. The Territory must be peopled by a white race. We could put a garrison there in barracks as a watch dog. That would be extravagant, foreign to our instincts, and, having regard to the extent of the country, insufficient. The garrison we need is not idlers, but workers. We must people the Northern Territory with settlers who may be organized and equipped, so as to render them capable of serving in the defence of Australia. We can evade our risk only by shutting our eyes. In no other way can it be ignored. I do not desire to look beyond Australia for arguments. One cannot even glance at a map of this continent without thought of the danger that the upper half may remain practically unoccupied for years unless definite steps are taken to settle it. What is needed is the commencement of what must hereafter become effective occupation. It is all Northern Australia with which we are concerned. I regret that in the course of this discussion it has been impossible for most speakers to regard it without using their State spectacles. These are well enough in their way when questions wholly affecting individual States are under consideration, but -we should not become so habituated to their use as to forget to take them off when regarding larger issues. We have been asked, “Why should the other States pay for the development of the Northern Territory, when they have not sufficient to develop their own territories? Why should they have to pay for the development of country outside their borders?” They are noi asked to do so. They are merely asked to be wise in time, paying moderately for the development of a Territory which can never be severed from their own, and the fortunes of whose residents can never be dissociated from theirs. If they do not pay to test its resources now, they will have to pay hereafter in a far less remunerative and satisfactory fashion to protect their own.
– We want more of that talk all over Australia.
– Especially in Victoria.
– There is more nationalism in Victoria than in any other State.
– I have not experienced that.
– When we are told that we need a garrison of a certain strength at Port Darwin, we reply that a mere barrack garrison is the weakest. Have those critics who object to expense ever asked themselves, should the Northern Territory be transferred to an alien power, what it would cost to protect the rest of Australia from such neighbours? To argue the question fully, one must examine the resources of the Empire, the strength of its people, our present and future preparations for defence, and many other matters. That I cannot spare time to essay. Permanent protection means permanent settlement of the north of Australia.
– And only the Commonwealth can do that.
– Every State is busy with its own development, and has its hands so full that it is not likely at the present time to undertake the task. If, as we must, we draw upon the populous parts of Australia to a considerable extent, to finance the Northern Territory, the money is not to be regarded asthrown into the sea. Rather is it to be thought of as having been invested for a national purpose, which will richly repay the investors. It was not for nothing that we agreed to take over the railway from Oodnadatta to Port Augusta. Its great value is that it will eventually be part of the national line from ocean to ocean, serving as’ a backbone for future extensions, and affording one of the best possible guarantees for the effective support of the .Territory before it is sufficiently peopled to be able to takecare of itself. Furthermore, the transcontinental line to Western Australia starts from Port Augusta, so that this post would make a central depot for a Commonwealth system-, with possibilities of wide extension. Having been so often accused of looking chiefly at the future, I shall say no more than that I cannot conceive Australia pursuing its national growth apart from its north, or without the trunk; lines, which, if not under one control, will be of one gauge, and capable of becoming parts of one service. The map shows a number of small railways running inland from the coast. Undoubtedly better communication than we possess is needed from sea to sea. Trunk lines must become a feature of the Australian railway system, as they are a feature in Canada. That country will shortly have no fewer than three main lines running from ocean to ocean. I very much regret that the feeling of honorable members seems to be against the proposal of the Government as it stands, though a little solaced by remembering that there is an alternative which may be favorably considered. I trust that we shall make up our minds in the speediest fashion to do what must be done. If we are not prepared to do now all that we should do, let us not fear to make a commencement with that settling of the north and north-west, without which neither the southern nor any other part of Australia can suppose itself secure, even for a few years longer.
.- I am pleased to indorse the remarks of the Prime Minister, and shall vote for the Bill. Regarding what has been said about the possibility of white races inhabiting tropical climates, because of the improved conditions made possible by the increase of scientific knowledge, let me refer to some facts relating to the occupation of Hong Kong. Probably the oldest race in the world, the Chinese, which has shown an unequalled ability to hold its own amidst insanitary conditions, is not doing as well in Hong Kong as are the Europeans. In 1905 the Chinese births registered there numbered 942, whilst the Chinese deaths were nearly six times as many, namely, 5,882. Were it not that fresh Chinamen are constantly coming, the Chinese, at this rate, would soon disappear from the island. On the other hand, during the same year the death 10II of Europeans numbered, only 263, while the number of births was also 263. The late great African traveller, Stanley, ha* told us that science has done so much in relation to the treatment of fevers and other diseases that there is no part of that continent which he visited, whether mountain or plain, where people of the white races could not live. I desire to pay the homage of my regard to South Australia for her action with respect to the Northern Territory. Three things done by that wonderful ‘State stand! out as the stars in the southern night. The splendid energy of her people, unaided by the other States, gave us the thin, long line of communication by which we daily get telegraphic news of the older world. Of all the peoples of this vast continent, they were the first who were enlightened enough to give women an equal vote with men. Again, at huge cost, and without a hope of return, they held an armed camp in Port Darwin, although armed camps. as a means of inducing settlement are valueless, for the Prime Minister will agree with me that the rich Port Phillip district would not have been settled if the judgment of the armed camp near the Heads had been adopted. That camp was given up, and the place was actually described as being uninhabitable. South Australia has spent something like ,£3,000,000 upon the Northern Territory, but any member who will quibble about recouping her the full amount of that expenditure must be lacking in a sense of the national importance of Commonwealth control of the Territory. I stated, in an interjection, that the Commonwealth could best control and settle the Territory, and I now reiterate that view. No State alone can do it. If any honorable member claims that the rich State of New South Wales could undertake the task, let me remind him of the scandals that arose under the land laws of that State, and ask him to contrast them with the splendid land laws applied by the Federal Parliament to Papua. I know of no country in the world which has a land system so beneficial to the settler as that of Papua, and I have every right to believe that the same system of land tenure would be introduced into the Northern Territory by this Parliament if the Commonwealth took it over. It will be a criminal act on the part Qf this Parliament to refuse the transfer. Have honorable members realized the immense potentialities of the Territory? I do not suppose that there is any other unoccupied portion of the world of anything like the same extent, except, perhaps, the North and South Poles. Its area is. 523,620 square miles - equal to the area held by France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Holland, and Switzerland - all the advanced nations of Europe. Taking Germany as the home of the Teutonic race, France as representative of the Latin race, and Great Britain as typical of the Anglo-Saxon race, we can say that those three great nations together do not occupy as many square miles as the Territory consists of. I have been in Port Darwin, and I saw there a wealth of bird life that astonished me, and a rough-hearted old captain said to me : “ They say they cannot get good food here. Why’ don’t they shoot those water-fowl ?” To repeat the words used by the Prime Minister on previous occasions, and echoed from both sides of the House, let us settle the lands of Australia, so that our own people, by birth or adoption, may obtain- the land that they want. Then, if we have plenty to offer to others, let us throw it open in wide welcome to the white race, bring them here, help them to stay here, and support them it necessary. If we can settle the Territory with a large white population, ve can face the terror which, to many people in our community, is a very real and serious one. One honorable member, earlier in the debate, expressed the belief that a portion of this community wished Australia to become independent of the Home Land. Let me tell the House, as one who fought an election twenty, years ago as an avowed Republican, that I would not now, by any act of mine, sever Australia from the. Home Land. We have a King, but our laws make him the least powerful of all the reigning monarchs of the world, so far as concerns any interference with the liberties of the race. Great Britain may have a degraded franchise at present, but I hope she will rise in her might above that condition of things. We owe her a great debt of gratitude for being generous enough not to interfere with our management of the Northern Territory, which has been a scandal, not to South Australia, but to us as a Federal Parliament, seeing that for. nearly ten years we have done little or nothing to bring about an improvement. I hope there will be no quibbling about relieving South Australia of the financial burden. Although I hate borrowing, I should be prepared, if necessary, to vote for raising a loan in order that that little State - great in area and undertakings, although small in population - might be repaid. It would ill become the Commonwealth Parliament to show a want of courtesy to the South Australian Government, who are offering to give up to the Commonwealth such a splendid heritage for the untold millions of our Australian posterity.
.- I agree with the Prime Minister that almost every phase of this agreement has been traversed, and I rise merely to explain my own attitude towards it. As the Prime Minister remarked, it is a great pity that this question in particular should be looked at through State spectacles. I may add that it is also a great pity that other questions of equal importance should be so regarded. A little while ago, I met at Thursday Island a Victorian native who had just come from the Barclay tableland, where he had settled permanently. He said it was the finest part of Australia that he had ever visited, and he was going back when I saw him. I was much impressed by what he told me. I believe that the area of that tableland is only between 80,000 and 90,000 square miles.
– 29,000 square miles.
– At any rate, it is small compared with the Territory itself, but it is a fertile piece of country, and well worth exploiting. I am prepared to support the Bill in its entirety. I know that I am doing something that is not popular in my own State. The whole of the press of my own State, as well as that of New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, is against the Government proposal. We have, however, in the past, paid very little heed to what the press has said on questions of moment to Australia, and so I, at any rate, intend to heed very little what it says in reference to this matter. In my own part of the State of Queensland, I know that the leading press is strongly opposed to the agreement. Seeing that the Government have practi cally thrown up the sponge, and that the Prime Minister has just intimated that noses have been counted, and that there is no possibility of carrying the Bill-
– I think the House will carry it if the Government stick to it.
– I am afraid the Government will not stick to it, but are looking for a loophole to get out of forcing it to a division. The Government have often shown that they will not stand to their gunswhen they find a little opposition coming from some of their own supporters. In view of the Prime Minister’s statement that those responsible for knowing had counted heads, and that the Government would be in a minority on a division, I might, if I had so chosen, have kept silent upon the question, and left my attitude towards it to be inferred in, whatever direction suited me later on. But, instead of that, I am deliberately placing upon record my plea that the agreement should be carried out, in order that 1 shall not, hereafter, be able to evade the responsibility. My principal reason for standing to the agreement, as proposed, is that no railway by any alternative route which has been suggested will do what South Australia has a right to demand should be done - that is, develop its own territory. Why should South Australia make a concession at all, except for that purpose? That, to me, is the most important consideration. There is also the question of the objective. At one time, the central portion of the United States of America was supposed to be a huge desert. The Union Pacific railway was begun, not with the idea of developing any of the territory between the two sea-boards, at that time considered an arid desert, but in order to reach the western sea-board, and bring the two sides of the continent into communication. It was not thought that it would lead to the development of the centre of the States, but that is now a most fertile region. I wish to place on record the fact that I intend to support the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears : - “ The Northern Territory “ means that part of Australia which lies to the northward of the twenty-sixth parallel of South Latitude and between the one hundred and twenty-ninth and one hundred and thirty-eighth degrees of East Longitude, together with the bays and gulfs therein, and all and every the islands adjacent to any part of the mainland within such limits as aforesaid, with their rights, members, and appurtenances ;
.- I have no objection to raise to the definitions, but at this stage the Ministry might make a statement as to how far they intend to proceed with the Bill.
– The Prime Minister announced that it was to be gone on with to-day.
– Honorablemembers seemed to expect notice as to what the Government intended to do with regard to this very important proposal. In fairness to the House and to the Commonwealth, each clause should receive reasonable consideration. I hope that my remarks, short as they have been, will have the effect of giving any honorable members who desire to raise objections to the Bill an opportunity to discuss it.
.- I am always glad to hear honorable members of the Opposition asking for time to seriously consider and discuss Government business, but I am still more pleased that South Australian members of the Labour party guarantee their earnest support if the Government proceed forthwith to closure the Bill through its remaining stages. I agree that we have given considerable time to the measure, but the honorable member for North Sydney has given notice of an important amendment which deserves consideration. I presume that no one will endeavour to obstruct the measure, even though those who are opposed to it do not happen to be all members of the Labour party.
– I have an amendment tomove, suggested in the first place by an opinion expressed by the Honorable J. L. Parsons, of South Australia, and, subsequently, by the honorable member for Wakefield. I fully recognise the importance of taking over from South Australia the tropical portion, at any rate, of the Northern Territory. My principal objection to the agreement is that it is not on sufficiently national lines, and that a State interest is considered in it. As the Prime Minister said, we should divest ourselves, as far as possible, of any State spectacles in dealing with this matter. I am not prepared to say what are the best lines of railway to develop the Territory, and I am not speaking against the proposed extension of the Oodnadatta line. I have not sufficient unbiased expert evidence to enable me to come to a conclusion. But, apart from the interest of any State, the Commonwealth Parliament should be absolutely free, in the interests of Australia as a whole, and of the Territory itself, if it takes it over, to construct whatever line or lines experience and inquiry may show to be the best. When we are asked to commit ourselves to such a large expenditure as is proposed - much of which may be absolutely wasted, without bringing about any real development of the Territory - we ought to pause. We should leave to the Parliament, which is supposed to act nationally,the choice of railway routes. I quite agree that, if we do that, and also leave the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway to South Australia, South Australia will deserve consideration. As it has been authoritatively asserted that the MacDonnell Range country in the southern portion of the Northern Territory is very valuable, and will repay development, I propose to leave it in the hands of South Australia. She can then extend the Oodnadatta line to the MacDonnell Ranges, and if that country is as valuable for mineral, pastoral, and other purposes as we are told it is, there is every reason to believe - and we have South Australian assurances that it will be so - that such a line would soon pay working expenses and interest. The natural outlet and inlet of the MacDonnell Range country is the south coast, and as South Australia can readily develop it, I propose that we should fix the southern boundary of the area to be surrendered to the Commonwealth, not at the twenty-sixth parallel of south latitude, but at the twenty-third. That will bring South Australia’s northern border just above the MacDonnell Range country, and above the settled or leased areas. Such a change would do no injustice to South Australia, and would not necessitate the Commonwealth expenditure of a large sum of money on the construction of a railway that might not prove to be the best for the development of the Territory. If the idea which formerly prevailed existed to-day the proposal to construct a line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek might be desirable. I am not for or against that proposal. I do not suggest that that route ought not to be taken. It is the committal of the Commonwealth to the selection of that route to which I object. When it was originally proposed to build that line there was a belief that it would be used for the carriage of mails and passengers to places beyond Australia. It is candidly admitted, however, by Mr. Lindsay, who has supplied much valuable information on this subject, that it could not compete in that respect with the proposed trans-continental railway from Port Augusta,to Fremantle. As has been stated, the character of the line so far constructed is not such as would enable it to provide a quick mail and passenger service; but since it is claimed to be only for developmental purposes - and it is suitable for that - the criticism that has been directed at it is not justifiable.
– The honorable member would stipulate that the line to be constructed should be within the Territory.
– No; I should give the Federal authority an absolutely free hand after taking over the Territory, to inquire into its prospects and the directions in which it could be most speedily developed. I should leave the Commonwealth free to ascertain what means of communication would be best for that part of the Territory it wished to develop; to determine whether one or two short lines to the coast should be constructed, or whether a through line from Oodnadatta, or some other line, was most desirable for the immediate development of the country. We are not going to act in the interests of any one State.
– But are we not going to do so?
– If the Commonwealth is left absolutely free it will not act in the interests of any State; it will have regard solely to the interests of the Territory.
– That is not what is suggested by the Sydney newspapers.
– The honorable member may be more familiar with those newspapers than I am. Although one or more of them may have advocated a particular route, that is no reason why the Commonwealth Parliament should adopt it, when its intention and interest is to develop and settle the Territory as quickly as possible. Surely when the burden of the Territory is transferred from the shoulders of South Australia to the Com monwealth, we should take care to select routes for railway lines that would be best calculated to develop the country. The Commonwealth would not be interested in State railways. It would be interested only in the Territory and its railways, and would be guided by a desire to settle and improve it.
– I do not think it would do otherwise.
– Then it ought to be left free. I am willing that the Commonwealth should relieve South Australia of what has been its greatest difficulty, that of dealing with the tropical part of the Northern Territory. That is a severe task, and would be for many years a losing one. The effect of my proposal, financially, would be a reduction of the capital expenditure required by the agreement from £10,070,000 to between £3,000,000 and , £3,500,000. The annual deficiency of £393,000, as shown at pages 31-2 of the memorandum issued by the Minister, would also be reduced to £158,000. The capital expenditure would, of course, be subsequently enlarged by the cost of constructing any railways or public works that might be decided upon as necessary for developmental purposes. The annual deficiency might also be increased subsequently by the initial loss upon new railways and other means adopted for the settlement and improvement of the Territory ; but the difference at the outset would be that which I have mentioned. If South Australia is allowed to retain that portion of the Territory which she admits is very valuable, which would justify the extension of the Oodnadatta line to the MacDonnell Ranges and would make the railway pay, surely she should be prepared to forego her claim that the Commonwealth on taking over the Territory should be bound by conditions that she desires to impose in regard to the railway development of the country, and not be free to act in the national interests. Under my proposal she would also secure the full traffic which that line, even if carried through to Pine Creek, would be likely to yield to South Australia. In the circumstances, therefore, surely if she were relieved of the great responsibility and expense of dealing with the tropical area, she would be ready to give the Commonwealth that freedom which I think is necessary.
– The alternative proposal made in the South Australian Parliament was that the twenty-second and not the twenty-third parallel should be the southern boundary, of the Northern Territory .
– I am not particular to a degree, but at the twenty second parallel we reach another watershed.
– There is a considerable settlement between the twenty-second and twenty-third parallels.
– We can judge only by the maps that are before us, and if they are inaccurate I am willing to alter my proposal by providing that the southern boundary line shall be the twentysecond parallel. I am not seeking to grasp an extra degree of longitude on behalf of the Commonwealth. The object is really to give South Australia what she declares to be desirable country that can be rapidly developed, and which when opened up will make her railway pay, leaving the Commonwealth free to develop the Northern Territory in the interests of the Territory itself. I am quite prepared to accept the honorable member for Boothby’s statement, and propose that the boundary line shall be the twenty-second parallel.
– Does not the honorable member think that the exact point of the southern boundary should be a matter for subsequent inquiry?
– I do; we cannot reframe this measure. We can do no more than indicate what our opinions are, and it will be open to South Australia to bring her proposals, if she is willing,; into line with the amendments made by us. I move -
That the word “ twenty-sixth “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ twenty-second.”
.- We have now reached the crux of this proposal, and, having removed our State spectacles, are going to review the whole question. For the last eight or nine years South Australia has been fooled in this matter. She has been led to believe that the intention and desire of the Commonwealth is to take over the Territory. It is apparent, however, that honorable members have not realized that the representatives of that State are not mere suppliants. South Australia has submitted a proposition, and has fixed the price that she thinks the property to be taken over is worth. Since this proposal was first made, she has not ‘been able to alienate lands in the Territory or to do anything to develop it, and yet we are now asked to hang up the project once more by submitting alternative proposals. I should have preferred to see the Bill rejected on the motion for the second reading rather than that there should be further delay. Already the delay that has taken place has led to stagnation, so far as the development of the Territory is concerned. As I mentioned on a previous occasion, the administration has been interfered with to such an extent that a man cannot even obtain a block of land on which to erect a house in the Northern Territory, save on an annual lease. Whilst pretending to have sympathy with South Australia honorable members desire to continue that state of affairs. It has been indicated that articles written by a couple of paid men on the Sydney press have brought about a complete revulsion of feeling, and that there is now a proposal to bring about a transfer specially beneficial to Queensland and New South Wales.
– I think that the honorable member is wrong in that statement.
Mr.Joseph Cook. - Absolutely wrong.
– The Minister of Defence will never admit that any one makes a correct statement. In one moment he will make an assertion, and in the next deny that he uttered it.
– That is very insulting.
– God forbid that I should ever be as insulting as the honorable member is !
– The honorable member does not know when he is insulting.
– And the position is the same with the honorable member.
– I rise to order, and ask that the honorable member be called upon to withdraw the remark, that in one breath I make a statement, and in the next deny having uttered it.
– I do not know that I should be right in asking the honorable member to withdraw the remark, since under our Standing Orders exception must at once be taken to words that are considered objectionable. The Minister of Defence has not done that, but I am sure that the honorable member for Grey will withdraw the remark if the honorable member considers that it was offensive.
– I have yet to be convinced that I have in any way transgressed the Standing Orders. In the first place, the honorable member was out of order in interjecting from the Treasury bench.
– I do not intend to withdraw the remark.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the words.
– I distinctly refuse to do so! When I make a truthful statement I stand by it.
– 1 do not press my request; let it go.
– I would point out to the honorable member for Grey that if he refuses to withdraw his statement he will place me in an awkward position. Had it not been the established practice for honorable members to withdraw personal statements to which those about whom they were made took exception, I should not have asked him to withdraw this statement, because I admit candidly that I did not think it to be out of order. But as I have taken a certain course I desire finality, though I feel that I have no power to compel the honorable member to withdraw his words.
– Now that I realize your position, Mr. Chairman, I withdraw the words. I hope that in the future the Minister of Defence will realize the disorderliness of interjections from the Treasury bench which contradict what honorable members are saying. Articles published in the Sydney newspapers, and, I presume, paid for, were quoted extensively by the honorable member for Parkes. The writer of them wore State spectacles, his object being to prevent the acceptance of the proposition which we are now considering. Speeches have been made here in which the merits of the agreement were not considered, and which contained libellous statements regarding the possibilities of the Northern Territory. We are asked now to agree to a removal of the northern boundary of South Australia to the twenty-second parallel of south latitude. When is this matter to be decided? Am I to tell the people of my State that nearly nine years have not been enough for .the Commonwealth to properly consider it, and that it is being held over until next Parliament? That would be the effect of carrying the amendment. It would have been better to negative the second reading of the Bill. South Australia does not come to the Commonwealth as a beggar. The Commonwealth will get good value for anything expended on the Northern Territory.
– More than good value.
– I am speaking within the mark. Why should South Australia come cap-in-hand to this Parliament ? Has she ever got anything from Federation? The agreement was made, practically at the request of the Commonwealth. Had South Australia dealt with the Territory as she might have done, she could have developed it with black labour. She might have alienated it, or allowed the eyes to be picked out of it by land grant rail-‘ way syndicates. Had she done either of those things, the .Commonwealth would have had to pay heavily to get it back, just as it has had to pay a large sum to get rid of black labour in Queensland. As it is, South Australia offers 334,000,000 acres of Crown land without any encumbrance. Years ago she was offered £10,000,000 for the Territory, but, to her credit, she refused the money, to prevent the employment of black labour there. Yet we are told that she is driving a hard bargain. That accusation might well be made were she driving as hard a bargain as New South Wales has driven in regard to the Capital Site question, to prevent Victoria getting the least advantage. I am told that the numbers are against us. But South Australia will never agree to the proposal which has been made. She is not offering to the Commonwealth something that is -worthless. Were she doing so it might be an advantage to advance her northern ‘boundary in the manner proposed. But, although she is not a populous State, she will be able to keep the Northern Territory free from alien races for some time longer. During the last three or four years, she could have used her surplus revenue to construct a railway to the MacDonnell Ranges, and, no doubt, if the amendment be agreed to, she will do that. Having done it, she will hold the key to the situation, and the Commonwealth will later have to accept her terms. The Territory will never again be offered at the terms which are now being considered. I have supported the ratification of the agreement only because I know that 4,000,000 people candevelop the Territory more quickly than 300,000. In any case, there should be a speedy settlement of this matter. SouthAustralia should know at the earliestmoment what the promises of the Commonwealth Parliament are worth.
– That is hardly fair.
– The Commonwealth Parliament did not promise anything in this connexion.
– It was believed, when the Prime Minister entered into an agreement with the Premier of the State, that it would be supported by his party. The party attitude regarding this matter is very different from that regarding the financial agreement, under which the hands of the Commonwealth are to be tied for all time. The future of White Australia depends on the proper treatment of the Northern Territory question, and yet the party whip is not cracked to support this agreement. The honorable member for Corio last night admitted that the Territory can be developed with white labour. He admitted its pastoral, agricultural, and mining possibilities, and its healthiness; and yet he said that he would vote against the proposed transfer. However, it is useless to prolong the agony. South Australia should know the result as early as possible, so that, even this session, if there remains time, she may provide for the extension of her railways to the MacDonnell Ranges. Those who desire the transfer of the Territory to the Commonwealth should vote against the amendment.
.- The honorable member for Grey has made one or two statements which I cannot help resenting, although appreciating the difficulty of his position. In the first place, he sought to make it appear that those who support the amendment must be biased or swayed by articles which, he says, appeared in the Sydney press, relating to a railway from Pine Creek to Western Queensland. Speaking for myself, I have not seen those articles. Long before the honorable member for Parkes dealt with this subject, the honorable member for Brisbane spoke of the likelihood of a railway being built through Western Queensland, and some such scheme was mooted immediately after the Prime Minister made this tentative agreement with the Premier of South Australia. 1 shall not bind myself to support the construction of a railway by any particular route from the Northern Territory to the southern parts of Australia, until I have expert information regarding the country to be traversed, and its possibilities of development. I shall look at this matter wholly from the national stand-point.
– We saw how matters were dealt with from a national stand point when the Capital site question was being considered.
– When honorable members consider that the rights or interests of their State are affected, they are apt, at moments, to lose the national point of view, and to criticise with a heat which they afterwards regret, those with whom they are in temporary disagreement. I hope my honorable friend will not commit that fault. The honorable member for Grey also said that it was time that the people of South Australia got to know how to treat the promises of the National Parliament, or words to that effect. In reply to that aspersion on the integrity of this Parliament, I would point out that this Parliament has not made any promise to the people of South Australia in this regard. The Prime Minister entered into an agreement with the Premier of the State, for submission to their respective Parliaments. Are we to be accused of a breach of faith unless we dumbly follow the Prime Minister and ratify everything he cares to submit to us?
– The honorable member dumbly followed him on the financial proposals.
– In that matter, those who followed him did so on judgment. The honorable member knows that he cheered to the echo certain criticisms of those proposals by Government supporters. As for myself, I am just as capable of arriving at a judgment upon public questions, and just as consistent in following my judgment, as is the honorable member, and whatever vote I give in this House is given in accordance with my sense of what is right. The remarks of the honorable member for Grey with reference to the time taken to settle this; matter are worthy of the earnest consideration of the Committee. I have the utmost sympathy with South Australia in the position in which she has been placed while the matter has been pending settlement, and that makes me all the more glad that the honorable member for North Sydney has brought the question to finality. It is abundantly clear that the agreement as it stands will not be ratified by the Federal Parliament.
– It is not. Has the honorable member “ whipped”?
– I have not. The honorable member for Grey gave me the first indication of “ whipping “ when he told me that the numbers were in favour of the amendment, and it is clear from the heated interjections of the honorable member for Boothby that the agreement will not be adopted. In order to meet the position as put by the honorable member for Grey, I am prepared to go so far as to say that, if the amendment is carried, and the Federal Parliament signifies its willingness to take over the Territory broadly on the terms outlined by the honorable member for North. Sydney, I shall welcome the Prime Minister taking all the requisite steps, with the consent of South Australia, to have the transfer made during the life of this Parliament. It is time the matter was definitely settled, and I am desirous to have it settled speedily if South Australia will come to terms. The honorable member reminded us that South Australia did not come here as a beggar, but was submitting a bargain to us. Then, have the representatives of the Australian people no right to say what they are’ prepared to concede? One consideration which had great weight with me when I made a suggestion of this kind some time ago was the difficulty in connexion with taking over the existing railway to Oodnadatta. We are asked to take it over at its cost value, not as a matter of grace to South Australia, but as a fair, honest bargain. Yet we do not know the condition of that railway.
– The honorable member will see next week.
– The honorable member proposes to take a number of members of this Parliament there, to fete them in the train, and let them look out of .the windows at the country. Being, of course, railway engineers by instinct, they will know at once the state of the line.
– Is not the honorable member prepared to take the Railway Commissioner’s opinion of the line?
– A far more rational solution of the difficulty would be foi South Australia to retain the line, and also sufficient territory to make it, when extended, a payable one. That is all that the honorable member for- North Sydney proposes. I am willing to accept the protestations of South Australian members as to the richness of the MacDonnell Range country at their face value. I have no information before me to enable me to contest them. From that point of view, it ought to pay South Australia handsomely to prolong the line from Oodnadatta to the MacDonnell Ranges, and so reap the benefit and just reward of her enterprise in building the line as far as it has gone.
.- I am at a loss to understand the attitude of a number of honorable members on this question. They have all spoken in appreciation of the importance of the Northern Territory, and admitted that it is essential to the welfare of Australia that it should be taken over, whether it is a great country for settlement or not; but, as soon as we approach the consideration of the agreement, which gives us a chance of taking it over, they begin to raise obstacles. It would be far better for them to say straight out that they will not ratify it. The amendment, and the arguments advanced in support of it, are extraordinary. The honorable member for North Sydney objects to South Australia making it a condition of the transfer of the Territory that the Commonwealth should take over the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta.
– I object to the condition that we should follow a certain route beyond Oodnadatta.
– The honorable member and others who support him are not prepared to say that what South Australia proposes is not the best thing to be done. The position taken up by the honorable member is interesting and amusing, because he proposes to allow South Australia to retain its railway, and a large area of what he ‘believes to be most valuable country around the MacDonnell Ranges, leaving it to South Australia to extend the railway across the dead heart of Australia to reach it. He thinks the MacDonnell Range country will be sufficiently good to make payable a railway that has to run through a long stretch of useless country to get to it. He does not know enough to say whether it is so, but he is prepared to let South Australia take over that area, and reap the reward. If he believes that, surely it is an ample reason why he should vote for the Commonwealth taking over the whole lot, including the existing railway? If a few hundred miles’ extension of the line will make it payable, why not let the Commonwealth take it over? He said that his amendment would reduce the financial liability which the Commonwealth would assume, but, if the extension of the railway to the MacDonnell Ranges will be payable, surely the Commonwealth should undertake it. I am prepared to recognise that we are paying a bonus to South Australia for the privilege of securing the con- trol of the Northern Territory. It would be cheap to the whole Commonwealth at several millions of pounds, and it would be in the interests of the Commonwealth to do the business straight away. I do not like to join in amending the agreement in any way, because I am convinced that this is the last chance we shall get. If the agreement is rejected, South Australia must inevitably take steps to develop the Territory herself. It cannot be left in its present unsatisfactory position. Honorable members do not appear to rise to the gravity of the situation, and some of them seem to have a theory that two Parliaments can enter into negotiations, and make agreements. How can that be done? We are to say first what features of this agreement we dislike, and put forward our terms, and then the South Australian Parliament are to have their say. I understand that the amendment now proposed was actually rejected by the Legislative Council of South Australia.
– It was never seriously contemplated.
– That being so, the proposal is calculated only to retard the settlement of the Territory. The responsibility for refusing to accept this offer to take over one-fifth of this great continent, and to settle it, will rest with those who support this amendment. It is said that South Australia ought not to have the right to determine what the route of the proposed railway should be. That objection is, after all, largely a matter of sentiment. The opponents of the agreement do not say that the route suggested by South Australia is wrong; they merely claim that the ‘Commonwealth should have perfect freedom to determine which is the most desirable route. To my mind, it is only natural that the condition referred to should have been imposed by the Government of South Australia. They have expended a considerable sum in the construction of a railway intended ultimately to reach from sea to sea, and we have before us an opportunity to complete the construction of that line. No such chance is opento us under any of these alternative schemes. A railway has been built within 114 miles of the Northern Territory, and within 250 miles of that portion of the country the development ofwhich would speedily give us some return. On the Queensland side we have the Barclay tablelands, where there is room for immediate settlement, and Queensland would be the natural outlet for that por tion of the Territory. The honorable member for North Sydney is apparently satisfied that if the existing line were extended a distance of 250 miles, it would prove profitable to South Australia ; yet he refuses to agree to the Commonwealth taking it over because he thinks we ought not to be called upon to pay for its total cost. There is no logic in such an argument. South Australia has already too much poor country to look after, and does not want to be burdened with any more. We are told that more expert information is necessary. Apparently some honorable members are not prepared to attach any importance of the views of the South Australian experts. The Railways Commissioners of South Australia, and other experts, have said that the route suggested by that State for the proposed railway to Pine Creek, is the only feasible one. and that, as a matter of fact, no other could be selected. It is all very well to suggest the construction of lines stretching out from Bourke and other districts, but it must be recognised that to reach the heart of the Territory we must build a line of railway along the route that has been selected. Those who are asking for more expert information must recognise that evidence has already been taken, and a mass of information obtained, such as should satisfy reasonable men that we ought not to refuse to take over the Territory. The first step to be taken would be the extension of the existing railway into the MacDonnell Ranges country. There would then be an extension of the line at the northern end of the Territory. Possibly before that was done, branch lines connecting with the railway system of Queensland would be constructed, but we need not concern ourselves now with such details. The proposition immediately before us is that we should take over a magnificent country. The conditions sought to be imposed by South Australia are the result of a conference held between representatives of that State and the Commonwealth, and even if South Australia has got the best of the deal to the extent of a small sum, surely we ought not to grudge her the victory. The Northern Territory is worth a great deal more than she is asking for it.
– She does not ask for a penny more than she has spent upon it.
– I am not contending that she does. I hope that the agreement will be accepted, and believe that if it is not we shall not have another opportunity to take over the Territory. Political changes take place from time to time, and we do not know what view a future Parliament of South Australia may take of this scheme. We have been booming the Territory, and are not likely to get a better bargain. As a matter of fact, I do not like the. use of the word “bargain” in this connexion, and it is certainly unreasonable to suggest that South Australia is trying to drive a hard bargain with us. We are offered an opportunity to develop and improve a part of the Australian Continent, which sadly needs to be opened up, and which only the Commonwealth can settle. The work is not one that ought to be left to a small State. The Prime Minister referred to the State view of this question, and I would remind honorable members that every State is likely to be benefited by the transfer. We have InterState Free-trade, and all the States would secure more than an equivalent’ return for any little contribution that they might have to make to the cost of the transfer. I am willing to stand by the” agreement - to take the risk of voting for something that may prove to have been a rather costly bargain - for I desire to see the Territory taken over and an attempt made at once to improve and settle it.
Sitting suspended from 12.59to2.15p.m.
.- I am very pleased that the second reading of the Bill was carried on the voices, and am surprised that this amendment has been moved by the honorable member for North Sydney. He is generally regarded as a practical man, but his proposal that South Australia shall be asked to advance hex northern boundary to the twenty-second parallel of south latitude is ridiculous, and really a polite way of killing the main project. It is well known that thecountrybetweenbetween the present boundary and the MacDonnell Ranges would be most difficult to develop, but beyond it is country possessing a good rainfall, which may be developed at comparatively small cost. I have been proud to hear it said from all sides of the Chamber that South Australia and its pioneer politicians deserve praise for having kept the Northern Territory white. Honorable members generally seem disposed to consider the proposed transfer from the monetary point of view, but had not the people of South Australia been actuated by higher considerations the Northern Territory would not have been kept while, and we should not to-day be considering an offer of it for one-fourth of what the State could get, for it.
– Even with the stipulation that black labour must not be employed there?
– Yes. Germany would be delighted to obtain possession of this Territory. This Parliament has a chance now, such as has never before been offered in the history of the world, to accept the Territory, and do what it likes with it. We can make the Territory second to none in the world, because we have the experience of Australia to guide us. As for the railway proposals, it is absurd to think that South Australia does not know what ought to be done. Her only regard is for the interests of the continent. The splendid speech of the Prime Minister should have settled this question. He made it plain that a trans-continental line should be the backbone of our railway system, from which feeders would spread in every direction. Were the South Australian proposal to be carried into effect, we should have a railway from sea to sea. Deviations into other States are out of the question. I believe that it was the honorable member for Wakefield who first conceived the idea of offering South Australia a little extra territory in exchange for the country north of the MacDonnell Ranges. I am surprised that the honorable member for Wentworth hints that we want more information. South Australia has supplied all that is available. It sent one of its best officers here for a month to assist the Minister of External Affairs. Then the Northern Territory League printed and circulated, at its own expense, a beautiful booklet, containing more information about the matter in hand than has previously been placed before any Parliament. Furthermore, Mr. David Lindsay, who has lived for fifteen years in the Northern Territory, lectured, first to the members of this House, when a gathering of all parties listened attentively to a very interesting account of the country, extending over an hour and a half. A little later he delivered a similar lecture to the members of the Senate, and I have never seen a more attentive audience. At its conclusion, four or five senators thanked him for the information which he had given. To say, then, that we have no information is ridiculous. In reply to the criticisms of the Age and the Sydney Daily Telegraph, and the statements of Messrs.
Gwynneth, Wilson, and Burton, let me quote from Mr. David Lindsay’s pamphlet. As he points out, the surveyors and explorers who have gone through this country - J. McDouall Stuart, Gosse, Warburton, Winnicke, Barclay, Lindsay, A. and J. A. Giles, Simpson Newland, Taylor, Breadon, Harding, Wallace, Hon. John Lewis, Chewings; telegraph officers, Sir Charles Todd, J. A. G. Little, Flint, and Gillen - are men whose words would be taken under any circumstances. A man who goes exploring is necessarily a man of good courage,, and would not be likely to try to mislead the public. South Australia cannot be expected to give up the Tanami goldfields and the beautiful Barclay tablelands, in the manner proposed. The railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta is as good and as well equipped as any line in Australia.
– What gauge is it?
– Three feet six inches. It could be widened, if necessary. I understand that the Government will not accept the amendment. Ministers are to be praised for desiring to do what is best in the interests of Australia.. If the statements which Mr. Lindsay has made are not correct, that should be made known. In my opinion, they are quite correct. Let me read .what he has written in reply to those who have adversely criticised his project -
The Age says “ the through line from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta would traverse a country which, to all intents and purposes, is absolutely unknown and unexplored.” Then goes on to say, “ It is a vast area of arid and uninhabited territory.”
The comparative distances from the different cities by the “rival routes” are all wrong. For instance, the Age gives the distance from Port Darwin to Adelaide as 2,150 miles, whereas it is only 1,896 miles.
The Age and other writers also overlook the fact that a line from Cobar to Broken Hill upsets all their calculations as to distances from the eastern cities vid Oodnadatta, and that when Queensland connects her lines with Camooweal a short line would connect the main trunk line, giving Queensland . ports their connexion with Port Darwin. In considering the development of the Territory, it is hardly fair to calculate the distance from Cape York down the East Coast as an argument against the construction of the central route. _
The Daily Telegraph, falling into similar errors, says : “ A railway from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta over more than a thousand miles of largely desert land. The fact is that no more worthless stretch of country could be chosen in Australia than that which this line would traverse.” Then goes on to quote Mr. Alex. Wilson, with whom I will deal later, and winds up by saying : “ The land is not South Australia’s to sell, the State being its holder merely as a bailee for the Imperial Government.” It is lamentable that any newspaper should give utterance to such ridiculous statements.
When the Federal Constitution was assented to, South Australia was named as including the Northern Territory, and then the Crown assented to the “ Act to surrender the Northern Territory of the State of South Australia.” These two Acts alone prove South Australia’s absolute right and title to the Northern Territory as a part of that province.
Mr. Gwynneth, C.E., who poses as an authority, says : “ It is 150 miles from Oodnadatta to the boundary of the Northern Terntory.” It is only 114 miles.
He is also wrong in his comparative distances from the eastern cities vid Oodnadatta, for he says it is 2,000 miles from Adelaide to Port Darwin. I repeat it is only 1,896 miles.
I would ask him why he mentions the distance from Rockhampton to Port Darwin?
He also says, “ Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, 1,100 or 1,200 miles mostly through wretched country from which absolutely no traffic can be expected.” He suggests that the “ Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway has not been kept in a high state of efficiency nor has had much spent upon it in the way of renewing ancient sleepers, &c.”
On the authority of the South Australian Commissioner of Public Works, I am in a position to state that the railway has been kept in first-class order and up to standard working conditions; that goods and mixed trains run 35 miles an hour, heavy stock trains over 25 miles, and passenger trains are occasionally run. 45 miles an hour.
Mr. Gwynneth says the route he purposes, straight south from near’ “ Cloncutty to Broken Hill and Wentworth, would traverse the best of the vast pastoral, agricultural and mineral country of our States.” His ignorance of the country on his proposed route is not excusable, for he has but to look at official documents and maps to find how false is his statement.
The line he suggests passes for 600 miles through the driest and worst country in Queensland and New South Wales, whose rainfall varies from 9 inches to 5 inches. There is no known mineral country from the Cloncurry district till well into” New South Wales. As for agriculture? Well, that is only possible by irrigation. -
Mr. Gwynneth goes on ‘to say : “ the route I suggest means 1,815 miles of new line through good and easy country as against the direct route of 1, too or 1,200 miles.” “ It would traverse all the good country that the Oodnadatta line would serve.” This is too ridiculous. The fact is that the only part served by his line is the Barclay Tableland, leaving all the vast pastoral and mineral country extending right to the southern boundary, absolutely untouched and out of reach of railway communication.
Let us look at his figures. From Part Darwin to Wentworth he estimates as “ 1,815 miles of new line.” But to give the connexions with the other States he omits to mention would entail the building of an additional 870 miles, making a total of 2,685 miles of new line as against the 1,036 miles South -Australia asks shall be built, with this great advantage, that the whole 1,036 miles would be in Commonwealth. Territory, whilst only 660 miles of the Gwynneth route would be in Federal country, and 2,000 miles in other States.
He speaks of the “ vulnerability to “ attack By forces landed at Port Pirie or Port’ Augusta* If the troops were coming from Port Darwin to protect Sydney, there might be some force in his argument. Is it not more likely that the troops would be sent from the eastern and southern States to protect Port Darwin? In that case, his line would be liable to interception from the M’ Arthur River, which is the port for the Tableland.
He suggests, further, that “the line would have to cross the MacDonnell Ranges at a height of 3,000 or 4,000 feet, and be difficult.” The survey which has been made gives the elevation of the saddle at 2,500 feet, and the steepest gradient 1 in 80, and no engineering difficulties.
Mr. Alex. Wilson’s whose article and map are published in the Age - objections to the direct route are similarly founded on ignorance and prejudice.
His statement that the “ Oodnadatta line has had nothing spent in maintenance, and that_ it is worn out and only able to carry light trains at an average maximum speed of 15 miles an hour “ is absolutely contradicted by the Railway Commissioner, who says the line “ has been kept in splendid order, and heavy trains travel 35 miles an hour.”
In Mr. Wilson’s map, showing tie route which, in his opinion, is “ the only national line,” and his comments thereon, he makes a curious blunder, which absolutely- falsifies the conclusion he draws.
He says, “ Against this there will be required 1,381 miles from Pine Creek to Broken Hill at ?5,000 per mile - ?6,905,000.
The actual distance, according to his own map, is 1,715 miles, which, at ?5,000 per mile, is ?8,575,000 - a trifling difference in favour of the Oodnadatta route of ?1,670,000 instead of ?153,000 as stated by him and quoted by the Age.
Then he takes no account of the cost of the necessary connexions shown on his own map, which amount to .530 miles, another ?2,600,000, making a total outlay of ?11,175,000 against South Australia’s estimate of ?51315,000.
His estimates of ?1,437,000 for strengthening the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line and ?435,000 for the Pine Creek line are not warranted by the facts, and evidently only used to cloud the issue and mislead the people of the eastern States. And, I suppose, in his superficial treatment of this vast question he forgets the cost of building bridges over the Murray, Darling, and all the big flooded creeks and rivers of Queensland.
Mr. Wilson says, “ the direct route is for 1,700 miles through a desert almost without inhabitants.”
Since the distance from Port Darwin to Port Augusta is only 1,637 miles, and the two routes follow the same line for 350 miles before his suggested route can diverge to the eastward, his deliberate attempt to mislead the public is apparent, and his ignorance of the subject is so colossal that any statements he may make are not worth a moment’s consideration.
If Mr. Lindsay’s statements are not correct, it is essential, in the interests of the people of Australia, that they should be authoritatively contradicted; but I believe that they are correct. He proceeds -
Mr. Burton, in his articles published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, is as unfairly extravagant in his commendation of the Barclay Tablelands and adjoining lands in Queensland as he is in his condemnation and descriptions of the country to be served by the direct route. A thoughtful reader will discount the whole of his opinions and statements when he finds “The mail man will ride 100 miles a day and every day throughout the year.” (This to show the wonderful qualities of the grass.) The fact is, there is only a monthly mail from Camooweal to Boroloola, a distance of less than 400- miles. Mr Burton writes of the country north of Oodnadatta as “ a perfect desert, useless country. Central Australia is too dry to ever carry large herds, and the rainfall is too capricious, averaging from 5 inches to 6 inches yearly.” (MacDonnell Ranges average annual rainfall is 10.80 inches, and increasing further north.) “ The country is patchy,” he says, “ you may get 10,000 acres i6 square miles) of good pas’ture land, then huge tracts of deserts, waterless and uninviting, where no living thing exists.”
Let us have the truth concerning this belt of country. According to the official returns for 1907 there are in that, the driest portion’, where the rainfall averages from 5 inches at Oodnadatta to 11 inches at Alice Springs, 25,000 cattle, 5,700 horses, 1,000 sheep. And the stations there have sent to the Adelaide market during the past ‘three years over 11,000 fat cattle and 1,000 horses.
Mr. Burton goes on to describe this country as “ a sandy wilderness, devoid of trees, vegetation, and water.” He says, his “party travelled by camels, averaging 70 miles a day (that is as absurd as saying the mail man rode 100 miles a day ; I venture to say his party did not average more than 30 or 35 miles a day) across huge sand drifts of stunted timber, a veritable desert. (Note. - Just previously he said it was devoid of trees or of vegetation.) Water was found here and there brackish in nature.”
Yet, strange contradiction, he goes on to say, “ The place is highly -to be commended for a Government dep6t for breeding horses for the Indian market.”
The statements which Mr. Lindsay quotes are so contradictory that they are not worthy of consideration. Men who pose as authorities on this country, and make such assertions, cannot know anything about it. Mr. Strawbridge, the SurveyorGeneral of South Australia, is the most capable man in the Commonwealth to give an opinion as to the value of country, and I would draw the particular attention of the honorable member for Wentworth to the fact that Mr. Strawbridge’s valuations are regarded throughout South Australia as correct. If I were lending money to-morrow I would as soon take his valuation as that of any man in South Australia. I have already quoted his views as to the Northern Territory, so that it is unneces- sary for me to do so again. This pamphlet also gives quotations from the South Australian Register and other papers, and furnishes the following information regarding the rainfall -
As to its being an arid region, the official bulletin of Mr. Hunt, the Government Meteorologist, gives the following figures, which are an eloquent condemnation of that idea : - 6,300 square miles have an annual rainfall of under 10 inches. 213,430 square miles have an annual rainfall of from 10 to 20 inches. 96,790 square miles have an annual rainfall of from 20 to 30 inches. 120,600 square miles have an annual rainfall of from 30 to 40 inches. 86,500 square miles have an annual rainfall of over 40 inches.
That is, less than1¼ per cent. is under 10 inches average rainfall.
I cannot refrain from quoting one more paragraph -
Mr. Burton says, “ South Australia has spent millions in the endeavour to develop the mining industry in the MacDonnell Ranges.”
The official figures supplied by the Government are - “ up to1908, the expenditure has been£73,492, the receipts from crushing ore £42,304, leaving a debt balance of£31,168.
South Australia has made out a very good case with regard to the Territory. A great change has come over Australia in the last nine years, for it has been found that no country can be developed without railways. We discovered that in the cases of Pinnaroo and Port Lincoln, and if ever the Northern Territory is to be developed, it must be by a line running through Central Australia. It has also been proved that wheat can be grown where it was never thought that it could be grown before, and in that connexion I point out that there is, in Central Australia, 80,000 acres of land than which there is no finer wheat country in the world. As the honorable member for Darling says, we are always crying out about gettingland for people to settle on, and here is a country which the Commonwealth Parliament can take over and shape into any kind of State that it likes. Nothing could be more pleasant than for members of this Parliament to be able to go up from Adelaide and inspect their own territory. We could establish there the finest military station in the world. Any nation would be proud to have such a place to breed horses for its military requirements. If this Parliament is wise, it will accept the Territory on the terms offered. If it does, I have no hesitation in saying that within twenty years the Territory will be one of the modelColonies of the British Empire.
.- I think the members from South Australia have reasonable ground for complaint as to the delay which has occurred in submitting this agreement for the considerationof the Federal Parliament. It was arrived at about two years ago, and the matter is of such intense importance, both to South Australia and to the Commonwealth, that it is very much to be regretted that the Government were not able to submit the agreement to a definite issue at a much earlier period. At the same time, I am quite aware of the press of public business, which has to some extent interfered with their good intentions. I think that a large number of honorable members voted to take the Bill into Committee simply in order that we might indicate to the South Australian Parliament our views as to the form of agreement which would be acceptable to this Parliament. In my opinion, this agreement is not one which, with the information before us, we can adopt. I do not think any honorable member would invest a five pound note in a railway scheme put before him with the slender information that we have in connexion with this project for spending several millions sterling on a railway which would certainly have the one great charm that it would extend from ocean to ocean. But any railway would extend from ocean to ocean if it were sufficiently long and expensive. That is one of those rhetorical expressions which are pleasing to the ear, but which give no aid to us in our deliberations.
– Did they not say that it would be a railway from ocean to ocean under Commonwealth management?
– In matters affecting the expenditure of millions of pounds sterling, I must confess that I want something more valuable, and more reliable, than rhetorical expressions. What information have we in reference to this railway? I have before me a document issued by the Government. On page 32 appears the following information upon which we, trustees for the people of the Commonwealth, are asked to act -
The length of this railway would be about 1,063 miles, if taken from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, and about 1,350 miles if taken east of Lake Eyre.
We have, therefore, a very ambiguous sort of idea as to the route which the railway should take, the difference indicated in that case being nearly 300 miles -
The cost of the whole line may be approximately estimated at£4,500,000.
Who has estimated it at , £4,500,000? I suppose some person has done so, but we are left absolutely in the dark as to who arrived at the estimate, what its basis was, whether there has been a rough survey of the route, and whether the question of the difficulty of the transport of railway material, or the question of labour, and a thousand and one other matters involving the expenditure of large sums of money, have been considered by any proper authority.
– Information was placed before the Federal Convention which sat in Adelaide. A survey was undertaken before that.
– It is a matter of deep regret that I should have to be indebted to the honorable member for Boothby for a clue to information which must be ten or eleven years old. It would have been infinitely better to have that information put before us in this document. We should not be called upon to search through ancient records-
– It was a flying, and not a detailed survey.
– Is it not a pity that we have no information about it? I have to deal with the information placed before us by. the Government. There is not the slightest reference in this document to a survey having been made at any time. I now learn for the first time that a flying survey has been made. I read further -
If, however, the railway is constructed in sections, the annual interest and sinking fund (if any) will be limited by the cost of the portion of the line completed.
That is a very valuable piece of information. We knew that without having to be told it-
During the time of the construction of the railway interest would be charged to capital account, and for the five years after its completion there would probably be an annual deficit equal at first” to the amount of the interest.
Who says this? Who has made the calculation which leads to that conclusion? What experience has he had ? What knowledge does he possess? What are his qualifications? Those are all questions that one must ask with regard to a bald statement of this kind. Who is responsible for this document? -
Five years after the completion of the railway it ought to pay -
Who says it ought to pay? both working expenses and interest; if the country is as good and valuable as it is believed to be-
Believed to be by whom? - by many in South Australia.
Was ever a deliberative Assembly asked before to commit itself to a project involving the expenditure of vast sums of money, and the destinies of an immense and valuable territory to so vital a degree, upon material of that sort?
– Honorable members are not asked to vote for the railway.
– It is an inseparable part of the agreement.
– Hear, hear. Why does not the right honorable member stick to his agreement ?
– I did not arrive at it, nor was I a member of the Government that did. I was not even a member of the party when the agreement was made.I do not think that there is in Australia a man who has a stronger admiration for South Australia than I have. The spirit which prompted her to take over the Territory was worthy of the best traditions of the Australian people. I am prepared to deal most liberally with South Australia in this matter, not as an act of condescension, but because of a proper feeling of obligation to that State for the services which she has rendered to the rest of the people of the Commonwealth. I do not approach the subject from any narrow or provincial point of view, and was not aware until this morning that this amendment was to be moved. That being so, honorable members will recognise that I know nothing of any effort having been entered upon to secure the passage of the amendment. Indeed, I do not think it would be proper for us to pass it. It has as its basis the desire to do something for and in the interest of South Australia. I should not presume to do anything of the kind. If South Australia thinks it will be to her advantage to have this additional piece of territory, then I am sure every honorable member will be willing to vary the agreement to that extent. But she has expressed no such desire. The basis of this agreement is the transfer of the whole of the Northern Territory. The suggestion embodied in the amendment is valuable as showing the Government of South Australia that if they think it wise to make some such arrangement, there will be a willingness on the part of this House to agree to it ; but we have no right to suggest to South Australia what she should do in the matter.
– The proposal embodied in this amendment has been before her for fifteen years and has been rejected.
– We have no right, then, to depart from the basis of the agreement for the transfer of the Territory as it stands, unless’ South Australia herself desires it.
– Does not the right honorable member think we have a right to intimate to South Australia what we are prepared to accept?
– Certainly. I should have saved time by voting against the motion for the second reading of the Bill but for the fact that I thought we should take advantage of this opportunity to let the Government of South Australia know upon what terms we are prepared to accept the transfer. In that way some good may be done in facilitating an agreement upon lines’ that may be mutually acceptable.
– That is all that the amendment proposes to do ; it does not aim at reframing the Bill.
– It will have the effect of doing something on behalf of South Australia that we are not competent to do.
– But can we express our opinion in any other way ?
– I am taking advantage of the amendment to express my opinion, but I would not go so far as to amend the Bill in the way proposed- The question is one, not for u~s, but for South Australia. She says to the Commonwealth, “ We are prepared to hand over this Territory,” and if we adopt this amendment we shall practically reply, “ In pursuance of your interests we are varying this agreement, so as to leave a portion of the Northern Territory with you.” I am not prepared to put such a statement in the Bill. I am taking advantage of the amendment, however, to say that if South Australia thinks this proposal desirable, it will receive on my part a friendly reception.
– If the amendment is withdrawn, its opponents will say that it could not have been carried.
– Unfortunately, there are difficulties which attend every conceivable course we may take. My feeling is that we are bound, in justice to South Australia, to consider this scheme as one for the transfer of the Northern Territory, and that we should deal with it on that basis. If South Australia desires to retain some portion of the Territory, let her intimate that desire to us. I am not going to make such an intimation on behalf of South Aus tralia. Indeed, I do not feel competent to do so. We ought to facilitate in every possible way the despatch of this business. That is the least we can do. South Australia has been waiting for our decision for two years, and, in the circumstances, I do not propose to touch upon the large number of questions that have been broached. I shall not support the amendment, because, as I have said, the suggestion which it embodies should come, not from us, but from South Australia.
– This amendment would have the effect practically of nullifying the whole agreement, and I cannot accept it. The agreement was made, not with the idea of benefiting South Australia, but rather with the object of solving a national problem. We -were confronted with the fact that in the Northern Territory we had a very large part of Australia lying unoccupied, undeveloped, and, in its present condition, constituting a menace to the rest of the Commonwealth. We had to determine how that Territory could best be settled and developed. South Australia had tried to develop it, but the result had not been as satisfactory as, in the interests of Australia, we should have liked it to be. In the circumstances, representatives of the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments met to see if it were possible to arrive at an agreement for the transfer of the Territory upon such terms and conditions as would be equitable to both parties. We desired to obtain possession of the Territory, in order that the Commonwealth Government, with the resources of the whole of Australia behind it, might make an effort to develop it. In making the agreement we had to look solely to the interests of Australia, although South Australia had certain rights and interests which obviously had to be considered. The agreement is essentially national in its character, just to the people of the Commonwealth, and in no sense unfair to the people of South Australia. Let us consider the two proposals now before us. The honorable member for North Sydney has moved this amendment because he objects to the Commonwealth being committed to any particular railway scheme. Rather than that we should be so committed, he prefers to give South Australia control of the southern part of the Northern. Territory, including the MacDonnell Ranges, leaving the Commonwealth to take over the territory north of the twenty-second parallel free of all conditions. On the other hand, the Government say that the Commonwealth should take over the whole Territory, with power to carry the existing line from Port Augusta as far north as Port Darwin. South Australia also consents to the construction of the proposed railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie.
– Is that a quid fro quo ?
– I am not suggesting that it is. It is not correct to say that we are bound to follow any particular route from north to south. The agreement is explicit on that point.
– But the railway to be constructed must be within the Territory.
– Quite so. Under this agreement, it was not considered desirable to fix upon any definite route.
– But the main line to be constructed must link with the Oodnadatta line.
Mr. GROOM. It must link up Port Augusta with Port Darwin. That is all that is required. We may, if we choose, construct lines running in the Territory east and west, and the Government ‘of South Australia, as their map shows, even contemplate an entry into Queensland if desired between Birdsville and Camooweal.
– But under the agreement we are committed to the purchase of the Oodnadatta line?
– And very properly so. South Australia constructed that line with the object of carrying it through to Pine Creek, and if it were left uncompleted it would be a source of perpetual loss to her.
– What is the annual loss?
– The annual loss is about ,£72,000. The statement that we have no information as to the cost of constructing the proposed railway ought not to influence honorable members in the slightest degree. To have given such information, as suggested by the right honorable member for East Sydney, would have been to presuppose that the Commonwealth is committed to any particular scheme of railway construction. As a matter of fact, all that we are bound to do under the agreement is to complete the line from north to south in the Territory. We are not bound to construct that line immediately ; we mav extend it from year to year in keeping with the development of the Territory. Nor will the construction of that line prevent the extension of State railways into the
Territory. If we take over this Territory we shall have complete power to build a line from Port Darwin to Camooweal, and thus to connect it with the Queensland railway system. Queensland already has a railway within 150 miles of the border, and it is highly probable that the first railway to be built would, be one to connect with it. Before concluding my remarks I should like to mention one or two points in reference to the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway. It has been stated that that line is in a very bad condition, that it has been laid down with iron rails, and altogether an attempt has been made to discredit it. It is only fair, therefore, that I should read the following telegram in reference to the matter which I have received from the Minister controlling the Northern Territory, the Hon. L. O’Loughlin -
Lindsay wires reported Federal House, Oodnadatta line in bad order. Railway Commissioner reports line well maintained and in good order. Goods and mixed trains running 30 to 35 miles an hour. Line is laid with 41 -lb. rails, some with 50-lb. rails. Bogey stock are allowed to run at one-third greater speed than above.
– Yet the honorable member for Parkes stated that trains upon it could run only at the rate of 15 miles an hour.
– That is so. The Secretary to the Minister controlling the Northern Territory has also wired to the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs as follows: -
Port Augusta to Lyndhurst, distance 183 miles, partly 40-lb. iron and 41 and 50 lb. steel. Balance road to Oodnadatta 50-lb. steel rails.
Honorable members will therefore see that this railway is officially stated to be in good order, and is not in the condition that it was alleged to be by the honorable member for Parkes and others. Of course, it is proposed that we shall take over the line at its cost price, which is only fair to South Australia. The honorable member for North Sydney proposes that in order to compensate that State, the Commonwealth should allow her boundary to be advanced to the MacDonnell Ranges, so that the Oodnadatta line may be completed to that point and thus made a payable proposition. I do not know whether such a line would or would not prove remunerative. But I do know that if we wish to develop the Territory upon sound commercial lines it is essential that we should exercise control over the whole of its railway system. We cannot foresee what gold-fields will be opened up there in the future. The Government cannot see their way to accept the amendment. We think that the original scheme is the better one. It is a national scheme, which, if put into execution, will assist in the development of the Northern Territory. I appeal to honorable members to keep the national aspect of this matter distinctly before them. The Government are eager to push the proposed agreement to a successful termination, and as soon as possible to seriously face the problem of settling the Territory. Such a consummation will mean much to us. It will mean an increased market for the southern portions of Australia, and the settlement in the Territory of a much larger population than it now has - a population that will be available to defend it. From an Imperial aspect, too, it is our duty when we ssee British people seeking new avenues of settlement, to do our best to provide those avenues. If we take over the Northern Territory we shall be able to initiate a great immigration movement in that connexion. From all these points of view I hope that the House will agree to the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
– This Bill requires to be regarded from two stand-points - from the stand-point of South Australia, which has been very ably stated by her representatives in this Chamber, and from that of the Commonwealth. I am prepared to -admit that South Australia, by accepting the administration of this huge Territory, has rendered patriotic service to the other States. When the Northern Territory was practically a “ No man’s land,” South Australia took on herself the responsibility of managing and developing it. In doing so everybody will admit that she undertook an extremely heavy, if not impossible, task, because it must’ surely be apparent that the centre from which the development of the Territory must begin is the opposite extremity of South Australia. The Northern Territory is practically as remote from the governing centre of South Australia as it is from any of the other States, and certainly it is more remote from it than it is from New South Wales and Queensland. Under these circumstances, I can quite realize the great disability that has been imposed upon South Australian efforts, and which must continue to be imposed upon them. From that stand-point I am prepared to consider the proposal that the Commonwealth should take over the Northern Territory with a view to managing and developing it in the interests of Australia. It will be seen, therefore, that I do not approach the consideration of this motion with any feeling of hostility. But up till the present moment we have had no opportunity of indicating the terms upon which the Commonwealth is prepared to accept the Territory. I do not know what negotiations preceded the tentative agreement which was arrived at between the late Mr. Price’ and the present Prime- Minister, but apparently the latter was prepared to allow South Australia to submit a proposal outlining her own terms for surrendering the Territory, and to leave it to this Parliament to decide whether those terms were acceptable to it. That is the position which we have now reached. I do not object to South Australia asking the Commonwealth to reimburse her for the expenditure which she has incurred in the development of the Territory, notwithstanding that no business man would be prepared to consider its proposed transfer upon the basis of the proposals which have been submitted to us. We must remember that South Australia undertook developmental works in the Northern Territory very many years ago, when she was called upon to encounter all the initial difficulties connected with the acquisition of a knowledge of local conditions, and when the cost of labour and materials were very much higher than they are to-day. The wear and tear upon her public undertakings there has since continued, and practically nothing has been written off by way of depreciation. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth is now asked to take over the Territory and to reimburse South Australia to the extent of the original cost of those undertakings. We must also recollect that the administration of the Territory by South Australia has never been placed ‘ upon a paying basis. Year after, year it has been a charge upon the public Treasury of that State. South Australia now asks us to take over the original debt which she incurred, namely, £2,768,062, and to honour the deficiency in the ordinary accounts amounting to £602,222, or, in other words, to face an accrued liability of £3,3^7,000. This money has actually been expended by South Australia either out of loans or ‘out of taxation, and I am prepared to consider the equity of reimbursing her that expenditure. But evidently she is not satisfied with those conditions, because she asks the Commonwealth to shoulder other burdens. She asks it to incur the expenditure necessary to connect the railway from Part Darwin to Pine Creek with that from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta.
– She does not ask that. She only says that when the Commonwealth builds a railway, it should follow that route.
– South Australia asks that one of the terms of the agreement shall be the making of this connexion. I do” not know why she has not herself made a railway to join Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. For reasons known to herself, she has not done so; but she asks the Commonwealth to pledge itself to carry out the work. Although no period is specified, I assume that the intention is that the Commonwealth shall take the matter in hand within a reasonable time. Should we ratify this term of the agreement, we should be justly and reasonably held to have committed ourselves to the connexion, and the South Australian representatives, with the eloquence and persistency of which we have had evidence of late, will, no doubt, insist on the redemption of the Commonwealth’s promises. If honorable members do not think that the connexion should be made until some far distant future, why do they attach so much importance to this condition ? My position in the matter is this : The Northern Territory is a large extent of country which is very little known. Some of those who have travelled through it have described it as magnificent and beautiful, with great possibilities ; while others say that its development is beset with many difficulties, because a. great part of” it has a small rainfall, and other natural disadvantages, which have hitherto operated against settlement, and can be overcome only at great cost. Although I have been to Pine Creek, I have not been to Oodnadatta, and have no personal experience of the ‘intervening country. It may be that both those who praise it and those who condemn it have good reason for so doing. I have seen portions of my electorate look like a howling wilderness, drought-stricken, and desert, and a month later, as the result of rain, a transformation, such as one would scarcely think possible, has covered it with herbage, and made it resemble a wheatfield. A visitor, seeing such land in time of drought, would write of it as barren and worthless for settlement, while another man, coming a little later, might speak of it as a veritable Garden of Eden. Both accounts would be, in a manner, correct.
We must take the mean between extremes. I am not prepared to say that the pictures of the Northern Territory have been overdrawn. Those who have described that country have probably seTdown truly what they saw. What we wish to know is whether its conditions are similar to those which obtain in many other parts of Australia, and to what extent it will be necessary to expend money to overcome natural difficulties in the way of development and advancement. If the South Australian Government is prepared to trust the Commonwealth to develop the Northern Territory on the lines best promising success, it should not try to tie us down to conditions which may be harmful. Not only are we asked to make a railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek; we are also asked to resume the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta at its original cost. We are also asked to take over the overland telegraph line. I do not quarrel with this last proposition so much, though, of late, that line has been a losing concern. Its revenue for the years 1901 to 1906 totalled £244,304, while the working expenses came to £122,608, and the interest on loans to £146,368, a total of £268,976. Deducting that sum from the total revenue, you get a deficiency of £24,672. South Australia, despite her efforts, has not placed the Territory on a sound financial basis, and has to make good an annual loss of over £150,000 in connexion with- its government. Should the Commonwealth take over the Territory, it would not only accept a liability of more than £3,000,000, but would have, in addition, this annual loss to make good. Under these circumstances, it would be likely to strike out on new lines, with a view to making the Territory self-supporting. At the present time, as the report of the Government Resident shows, the Territory is drifting to leeward. Evidence of that is contained in the figures proving the decrease in population. Should the Commonwealth take it over, this could not be allowed to continue. But, to solve the natural and artificial problems which have hitherto prevented development, we should have to expend a great deal of money. The financial agreement with the States will seriously limit our resources. In the interests of the taxpayers, therefore, we must carefully consider all the circumstances, and not be too ready to hamper ourselves with conditions in respect to the transfer. We shall have enough problems, requiring the expenditure of considerable sums of money, to solve, without making our position more difficult by agreeing to an unfair bargain dictated by South Australia. If the railway extension proposed is the best means of developing the Territory, I have no doubt that when the time comes to consider it, honorable members will be prepared to sanction it, but it is wrong to tie our hands at the outset. We may afterwards think that the money required for that railway could be better expended in other directions, and we have no right to be told that we must spend it in the interests of South Australia, and in the direction that South Australia dictates. . I am prepared to agree to the transfer of the Territory to the Commonwealth in the interests of Australia as a whole, and to secure the best possible development of our tropical regions ; but I do not want to handicap and restrict this Parliament by agreeing to conditions which are likely to retard the development of the Territory, except at the price of an unnecessarily large expenditure. The right honorable member for East Sydney has put the position in a nutshell. If South Australia desires to extend her northern boundaries as far as the MacDonnell Ranges, I am ready to meet her, but she has expressed no desire in that direction so far. In fact, the honorable member for Hindmarsh now informs me that she does not wish it. If so, that practically settles it; but this proposition opens up the question of internal railways, and if the conditions in the agreement represent South Australia’s irreducible minimum, I greatly regret it. If she thinks she can develop the Territory better than the Commonwealth can, there is no need for the Commonwealth to take it over, and pledge the credit of the other States for its development. If South Australia regards the conditions respecting the railway as so vital that she will not hand the Territory over unless they are agreed to, then, so far as I am concerned, South Australia will have to continue to bear the burden. I am desirous of relieving her of that burden, but I do not wish to pledge the Commonwealth to an unreasonable extent. I want to see the whole of the resources of the Commonwealth utilized to the greatest advantage to develop the Territory according to the best judgment of this Parliament, but that cannot be brought about ifwe are to be tied down by purely South Australian interests in connexion with the railway line. For that reason I regret that I cannot see my way to fall into line with the worthy representatives of South Australia in their eagerness to get the Bill passed with its provisions unmodified. If the point which I have indicated is hot modified in Committee, I shall reserve to myself the right to vote against the third reading.
.- In view of the important statement made by the Minister with reference, in particular, to the connexion between this Bill and the proposed Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie railway, the honorable gentleman might agree to report progress.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Fuller) read a first time.
Mr.FULLER laid on the table the fol lowing papers -
Electoral Acts 1902-5 - Western Australia - Report, with Map by the Commissioner (Mr. M. A. C. Fraser) appointed for the purpose of distributing the State of Western Australia into Electoral Divisions.
Ordered to be printed.
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired under, at -
Ararat, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Beeac, Victoria - For Postal purposes.
Raymond Terrace, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Order of Business - Charges by exStaff Sergeant Daly - Hoffnung’s Buildings, Sydney : Valuation - Quarantine : Potatoes - Statutory Rules and Regulations.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I feel reluctantly obliged to put aside the Defence Bill until an opportunity has been given on Tuesday for taking a division upon the important amendment partly considered to-day in connexion with the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill. I hope honorable members will assist us, now that the matter has been fully debated, to arrive at a decision before the dinner hour on Tuesday. If that is done, we shall be enabled to fulfil our original intention of proceeding in Committee with the Defence Bill.
– Will not the Government go straight through with the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill?
– When this amendment is decided the Bill must wait for the further passage of the Defence Bill, which has already been set down for Tuesday, and some honorable members now absent have been informed.
– I asked the Minister of Defence this afternoon if he would supply ex-Staff - Sergeant Daly with a copy of ‘the decision of the Committee which investigated his charges, and also with copies of the reports of officers regarding them. The Minister said he would not object to supply me with copies, but he did not say: whether he would supply them to Mr. Daly. That officer made the charges himself, and did not communicate with me respecting them, except to ask that the matter might be expedited, but I received a letter from him to-day asking whether he could have the information direct from the Department. Are there any regulations to prevent his being so supplied?
.. - There must be a misunderstanding in the matter. I understood the honorable member for Calare to say that he wanted copies of the reports- for himself, and I replied that there was no objection. There- is no objection to supplying Mr.. Daly with copies, and, in fact, instructions have already been given that that shall be done.
– 1 am rather surprised at the Prime Minister’s statement regarding the order of business for Tuesday. I shall have no objection to the Government proceeding with the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill. The people of South Australia are entitled to know the decision of this Parliament regarding the agreement, which was arrived at about two years ago. We are taxing their patience considerably, and we are certainly straining to the breaking point any trust which the South Australian Government may have in this Parliament in regard to this matter. I understand that the Prime Minister takes the view that the fate of the Bill turns on the amendment which has been moved by the honorable member for North Sydney. That being so, the Government should obtain a division upon it as soon as possible. If it is defeated, as I believe it will be, the Bill should be finally disposed of before we proceed with other business.
– I had already promised that the consideration of the Defence Bill shall be proceeded with on Tuesday.
– But will - the Government invite the House to proceed further with the consideration of the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill after the amendment moved by- the honorable member for North Sydney has been disposed of?
– Certainly, but not on Tuesday, because, as I have said, we have already promised that the Defence Bill shall be taken on that day.
– Whilst the Defence Bill is urgent, I do not think that its consideration would be seriously delayed by precedence being given to the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill. That Bill has been under consideration for about two years, and I think that we should dispose of it on Tuesday before we resume the consideration of the Defence Bill.
.- In June, 1907, the Government of the day instructed a firm of valuators in Sydney to make a valuation of Hoffnung’s buildings, which adjoin the General Post Office, and also .directed that firm to obtain two valuations from other leading valuators in’ the city. A Bill in respect of those obligations was subsequently forwarded to the Department. As to its merits, I offer no comment, since I am no judge of such matters, but it is rather unfortunate that the settlement of a Commonwealth obligation should have been delayed for nearly two and a half years. I sugges’t to the Minister of Home Affairs, to whom I spoke in reference to this matter, yesterday, that he should cause inquiries to be made as to who is responsible for the delay. It savours of Chinese diplomacy, that the Department, finding, perhaps, that it has made a mistake in not obtaining, first of all, a guarantee as to the cost of making the valuations, should try to cover up that mistake by pigeonholing the claim.
– What is the amount of the claim ?
– I have no official knowledge, but I understand that it is under the consideration of the Minister. As to the justice of the claim I know nothing, but it should have been dealt with before this. It may be that it is perfectly fair.
– The honorable member for Wentworth spoke to nae last evening about this matter, and I may say at once that there is no question of Chinese diplomacy connected with it. The account came before me for the first time about a fortnight ago, and seemed to me to be extortionate. I wrote a minute to that effect and sent it on.
.- . I understand that the Prime Minister has intimated that he has definitely promised, to ask the House to proceed on Tuesday with the consideration of the Defence Bill and he is bound’, ‘of course, to carry out that promise. 1 would urge him, however, to consider the view put forward by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, that the people of South Australia are entitled to know, without further delay, the opinion of this House with respect to the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, and that it would be well for us to finally dispose of the measure, instead of adjourning its consideration from time to time. I ask the Prime Minister to say that if its consideration is not completed on Tuesday, he will on the following day, or at all events, at the earliest opportunity, invite the House to deal finally with it.
.- I desire, Mr. Speaker, to bring under your notice and that of the Chairman of Committees the difficulty that honorable members experience sometimes in hearing what is said in this House. The Minister of Home Affairs, a few minutes ago, laid a certain paper on the table and moved that it be printed, but I was unable to hear a word that he said. I am one of those who wish to take an intelligent interest in the work of the House, but the conversations that are constantly taking place in all parts of the chamber often render it impossible for me to do so. I now desire to draw the attention of the Prime Minister to a question relating to the Quarantine Act. The power to legislate in respect to quarantine is vested in the Commonwealth, but certain cognate matters are left within the control of the States. Although a conference of representatives of the States met in Melbourne some time ago, and came to a certain agreement with reference to the pass ing from one State to another of potatoes grown in clean areas, that arrangement is not being observed. Victoria has clean areas, but the Government of New South . Wales has refused a request that potatoes taken from those areas should be admitted into that State, and Victoria has now refused to admit potatoes from clean areas in Tasmania. As the States are evidently not to be trusted with such an important power, does not the Prime Minister think it is time that, the Commonwealth Parliament took full control of Quarantine in Australia.
– I understand that the law provides that unless objection be taken to statutory rules or regulations within fifteen days of their being laid on the table of both Houses of Parliament they shall become operative. Unfortunately, we do not always have an opportunity to take objection to a proposed statutory rule or regulation within the time fixed, because one may not be present at the moment the paper is tabled. There was recently placed in my letter box a statutory rule to which I should certainly have objected had I received it in time to enable me to do so; but, as a matter of fact, I did not receive it until too late to protest. These rules and regulations should be distributed amongst honorable members before, instead of after, they come into operation, so that we may have an opportunity to state our objections to them in the House before they come into force.
– In reply to the honorable member for Herbert, I would remind him that under the law statutory rules and regulations come into force, unless objection be taken to them within fifteen days after they have been laid on the table of the House. Sometimes two or three days intervene between their being laid on the table and distributed amongst honorable members, and occasionally the delay is greater, according to the pressure’ on the Government Printing Office; but as a rule they are distributed in ample time to enable objection to be taken. There are occasions, perhaps, when the time is rather short.
– I received one this morning which . was passed on 25th September last.
– But the rule is that objection shall be taken within fifteen days of their having been laid on the table.
– It may be that the rule ‘ in question was laid on the table on 25th September.
– With reference to the question raised by the honorable member for Bass, I would remind him that, even when the fullest powers are taken by the Commonwealth with respect to quarantine legislation, that, as has been explained several times lately, does not impinge upon the police power of the States. That power remains irrespective of our quarantine law. It has been found very difficult in the United States of America to determine the exact point at which the use of the police power ends and its abuse begins. The difficulty that has arisen is due largely to that uncertainty. In reply to the honorable member for Boothby, we have to deal with two very important measures, which, after they leave this House, are likely to occupy the attention of another place for a considerable time. I refer to the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill and the Defence Bill. The Northern Territory Acceptance Bill is also important, but its fate is likely to be determined by votes upon one or two important amendments in Committee. After the division on the amendment moved by the honorable member for North Sydney, it ‘ought not to take long to deal finally with the Bill. I shall avail myself of an early opportunity, in that event, of asking the House to dispose of-it. .
– In reply to the honorable member for Bass, I should like to say that it is always my ‘endeavour to secure that ever) honorable member shall be thoroughly familiar with all business that is before the Chamber. I realize that very, often purely formal motions are dealt with in such a way that their effect is not thoroughly and completely apparent, but I am always prepared, should an honorable member indicate that he is not acquainted with the business before the Chamber, to take every means of making .him conversant with it. I would thank honorable members if they would draw my attention at any time to their inability to ascertain what is being done. I can promise them on behalf of myself, and also, I think, on behalf of the Chairman of Committees, that when they do so every effort will be made either to secure silence or to induce the honorable member who is addressing the Chair so to speak as to make himself heard in all parts of the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 October 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19091015_reps_3_52/>.