4th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Acting Prime Minister whether he will take for Government business thetape now allowed on Thursdays for the discussion of the business of private members? Thursday is generally a wasted day under the present arrangement, but it should be the best day in the week for getting work done.
– Is the honorable member in order in introducing argument?
– The honorable member is not in order in using argument.
– In view of the stage of the session which has now been reached, I hope that the Acting Prime Minister will give consideration to this matter.
– The best answer I can give to the honorable member is to take this opportunity to give notice that on Tuesday I shall move that, during the remainder of the session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business take precedence of general business.
– Does the honorable gentleman intend to depart from the promise of the Prime Minister that members will be given an opportunity to discuss the private business on the paper?
– So far as may be possible, an opportunity will be given for the discussion of business on the notice-paper in the names of private members. Probably the best arrangement will be to give a day, or two days, at the end of the session.
– With the permission of the House, I should like to make a short statement.
– Is it the pleasure of honorable members that the PostmasterGeneral have permission to make a statement ?
– Instructions, have been issued to-day to all Deputy PostmastersGeneral that, from and including to-day, the postage stamps now issued in the various States are to be valid for the prepayment of postage at all post-offices in the Commonwealth, so that from this date letters can be posted in any State prepaid by the stamps’ of any other State, and State boundaries therefore no longer exist so far as postage stamps are concerned. Members will understand, of course, that this does not affect the rates of postage, which must of necessity be continued pending legislation. As a slight memento of the occasion, I have issued instructions that every member of the Federal Parliament shall have a complete set of Australian stamps presented to him.
– It is stated in the Age of the 6th October, in a paragraph headed, “Experience in Adelaide: Calls reduced, Subscribers increased,” that the introduction of the toll system has resulted there in a reduction in the number of calls, and that in Melbourne it has had a bad effect on the number of new subscribers connected during September. I wish to know if that statement is correct? Is it borne out by the official figures, or has the Age information not in the possession of the PostmasterGeneral ?
– Having seen the statement that the number of subscribers had decreased by reason of the introduction of the toll system, I caused inquiries to be made, and ascertained that in September of last year there were 159 applications for telephones in Victoria, and the new lines actually connected were 182; in September of this year the number of applications was 194, and the new subscribers actually connected 220. It is possible that the Age may have information not at my disposal, but I think that the information furnished by my officers is correct, and that the statements of the Age are wrong.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether the Victorian applications for telephones during the month of September, to which he refers, were wholly new applications, or in part old applications carried forward from the previous year, as in other States?
– These were the new applications in the month of September.
Naval Unit Accommodation - Boy Scouts - Mr. John Orme - Cadets - Commanding Officers
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the Minister of Defence if the Victorian Government has provided accommodation for the Yarra and Parramatta?
– I have had a conversation with the Minister of Defence on the subject. He informs me that only in Victoria and Queensland has the Commonwealth Defence Department the necessary shops and establishment of men to enable it to undertake the refitting of the destroyers. The berthing accommodation at Williamstown, hitherto allowed the Defence Department by the State authorities, has ‘ been encroached upon to such an extent that Captain Cresswell has reported that there is not sufficient room at our disposal to carry out the work. A communication has now been addressed to the Premier of Victoria, asking him to place suitable accommodation, that is available at Williamstown, at the disposal of the Defence Department, for the purpose indicated.
– Have full inquiries been made regarding the accommodation at Sydney? Can the Minister say whether there is or is not sufficient accommodation there?
– The Minister has carefully considered the reply which I have just made known to the House. It is proposed to put together the third destroyer in Sydney ; but at Brisbane and Melbourne the Defence Department has staffs specially skilled in the work of re-fitting, and it is considered that these two places offer superior advantages.
– What is the special work to be done in connexion with the vessels referred to, and what facilities exist at Melbourne and Brisbane that are wanting in Sydney ?
– I ask the honorable gentleman to give notice of the question.
– Has the Department considered the future of the boy scouts? Is it intended to give, them a grant, as has been done in New Zealand, or to merge them into the Defence Forces ?
-As the honorable gentleman was good enough to inform me of his intention to ask this question, I have been able to obtain from the. Minister the following reply -
– An Australian soldier named John Orme, who served in the South African War, complains of unfair treatment at the hands of the Imperial War Office. His grievances have been summarized in a pamphlet, which has been circulated amongst honorable members. Will the Minister representing the Minister of Defence ask that inquiry be made into the matter, and, if Mr. Orme’s statements are substantiated, will the Minister ask the War Office to do him justice?
– I shall have pleasure in bringing the case under the notice of the Minister.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence what is the intention of the Department with regard to cadets who are outside the areas proclaimed ? In my constituency there are many cadets outside the areas proclaimed, and I want to know if it is intended to disband them. Every one in the constituency is in a bit of a quandary at present as to what is going to happen.
– This is a question of which I should like the honorable member to give notice, so that I may ascertain the Minister’s intention. The effect of the proclamation will be that no recruiting will take place within the exempt areas at present.
– I am not asking as to that, but as to the intention with regard to the existing cadets.
– I ask my honorable friend to give notice of a question as to what will happen to existing cadets in such areas.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Model of Site-Molonglo River - Locality Map
– Has the Minister of Home Affairs given attention to the advisability of having a model made on a like scale to that of the map now hanging in the chamber, showing the contour of the Federal Capital site?
– I believe that a model was prepared, and if it is in good condition I shall cause it to be exhibited in the Queen’s Hall. If it is unsuitable, I shall have a new one made.
– I wish to know how the river on the map referred to compares with the Mississippi? Is it drawn to scale, and what is its width and depth? Could destroyers of the river class float on it, and for how far is it navigable?
– The Molonglo is not equal to the Mississippi, there being only one river in the world, the Amazon, which is so large, but in many respects it is superior to the Yarra.
– Will the Minister have the contour map of the Federal Capital site distributed amongst honorable members as soon as possible, and will he have inserted in a convenient corner of it a locality map showing the position of the railway between Queanbeyan and Goulburn and between Queanbeyan and Yass. and showing also the Murrumbidgee and Cotter Rivers, so that honorable member’s may know the relative positions on the contour map with those places ? I can assure the Minister that in the absence of a locality map, it is difficult for those who are not intimately acquainted with the country to know the relative position of places within the territory.
-I shall see that it is done immediately. There is no question that a man ought to be able to stand off and see where he is going.
– Will the Minister also see that the position of the proposed Federal harbor is depicted on the map ?
– I shall have pleasure in suggesting what the honorable member has asked.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In submitting this measure, I shall content myself with stating a few facts which I think will prove that it should be enacted. The White Australia principle is one to which we are all proud to give our adhesion. We are also proud of the fact that this Parliament was called into existence for the particular purpose of crystallizing the opinion of the people with regard to White Australia legislation. We carried out the duty as well as was possible in the circumstances, but it remained for us to discover in the course of time certain defects in our legislation, and one of these I intend to draw the attention of the House to very briefly.
So far as lay in our power we have preserved the purity of the citizenship of Australia within our borders. We have laid down the principle that only people of the white race shall have the full rights and privileges of Australian citizenship. But we have not followed up the principle as we should have done. It is a very remarkable discovery to me that people, especially young persons, can and are being deprived of their rights as citizens in a way for which the law at present affords no remedy. I have a concrete illustration to put before the House. It is the case of a little Australian girl who has been taken out of Australia by a native of India, and, as far as I can see at present, permanently deprived of her rights of Australian citizenship. In addition to that, she has been apostasized. to Mahommedanism, and is going to be brought up in that faith. Whilst I do not wish to accuse those who are responsible for so training the little girl, of any deliberate intention to be cruel to her, or of improper dealing with her, still those who understand anything about the customs, habits, and ideas of the people of India, will realize that the fate in store for her is something which Australians cannot contemplate with equanimity. I do not know whether there are many more cases of that description, but it is within the bounds of possibility that such cases have happened, and that many more will happen. It is for the purpose of preventing the occurrence of such cases that I ask the House to pass this measure with as little delay as possible.
I have, of course, sought to find a precedent in the laws of the Mother Country. While there is a great mass of legislation in connexion with the protection of children from unfair treatment, I am unable to find any particular legislation which would deal with such a case as the one I am putting before the House. English law is very definite in its protection of children from actual cruelty. But I am not able to say in connexion with the case I cited that there has been any positive cruelty according to the ordinary interpretation of the word. As regards minors who are possessed of property in England, the Court of Chancery was expressly constituted in order to take charge of their interests. The laws and regulations by which the Court carries out its duties are very specific in regard to the rights of its wards. One condition which is rigorously observed by the Court is that no ward shall be removed from its jurisdiction unless with its consent. Putting together the existing English laws with regard to the prevention of positive cruelty to children and the precaution taken by the Court of Chancery against the removal of its wards from its jurisdiction, I think I can fairly claim a precedent for my measure, even in English law. I want to preserve for all White Australians their rights as citizens of this country. I think that, even where parents fail in their duty to their children in this respect, we ought not to allow the ordinary accepted rights and powers of parents over children to stand in our way. Parents certainly are the guardians of their children, and have a very considerable power indeed. But the law always puts an end to that power at the point where ill-treatment or injustice is meted out to a child. And with regard to the position I am now indicating, I contend that no greater injustice can be perpetrated on a little white child than that it should be taken into a heathen country and there taught in a religion other than the one which it was born to and would have been brought up in had it been allowed to remain in its native country. And when we contemplate the fate of such a child, especially that of a little girl, in view of the life of women in India, surely we need not hesitate in placing my proposed measure on the statute-book at the earliest possible moment.
I have also introduced into the measure protection for the aboriginal natives of Australia. I desire to forbid the taking of an aboriginal native out of Australia for any reason whatever. I remember in the old days, in Western Australia, having heard it stated more than once that aboriginal natives of the northwest were decoyed on board pearling vessels, and frequently marooned on the shores on the southern parts of Asia, after they had served the purpose of those who had taken them away. I have no proof that such has taken place ; I .have only the talk of those who claimed to have some knowledge of the facts. At the present time, however, there is no protection against aboriginal natives being taken out of the country, and they may be practically kidnapped.
– Would permission to take a native out of Australia not have to be obtained from the Protector of Aborigines?
– I do not think that would be necessary. If any person brought a native on to a ship about to leave Australia, there is no law to prevent that native being taken away. Permission may or may not have been obtained from the Protector of Aborigines, but it is hardly likely that that trouble would be taken ; and, at any rate, whether there is permission or not, it is our duty to prevent these poor people being expatriated, and perhaps left destitute in a country foreign to them in every respect.
– I do not think many natives have been taken away against their will.
– I do not think there have been, but the conditions they were going to may have been misrepresented to them. I remember, as a boy, going into one of the shows or exhibitions popular at fair time in the country towns of the Old Country, and finding there an aboriginal native of Australia who performed certain antics, and thus earned money for his employer, or, as I believe now, his master. What became of him I know not, but it is hardly likely that he, having served the purpose of those who had the poor creature on exhibition, trouble would be taken to return him to his native land. At any rate, I am only proposing to do now for the aboriginal native of Australia what has already been done for the native of Papua. It may surprise honorable members to know that under an Ordinance of Papua it is apenal offence to take a native out of the country ; but we here, representing the people of Australia, and having duties to perform in regard to aborigines, have neglected, up to the present time, to preserve to them those rights of domicile which are given to the natives of Papua.
I have to thank the head of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, Dr. Garran, and his subordinates, for the assistance they have so willingly rendered in drafting this Bill in consonance with the Constitution, and with a view to making it as effective as possible. All through I have endeavoured to meet the circumstances as nearly as possible, with proper regard to justice and fair play. I do not think that I have gone any further than I am fully warranted in going, at any rate, no further than I believe the people of Australia will expect this Parliament to go in the protection of their children.
Returning to the case of the little girl, 1 may explain that it is over a year ago since a Western Australian, travelling in the northern parts of India, sent a communication to the Perth Sunday Times, in which he stated that considerable comment had been provoked by the appearance in the district where he then was, of a native of India, having in his charge a little white girl. No one there had the right to question this man authoritatively, but he gave some of those who asked a question or two, to understand that he was the stepfather, and was taking the child from Australia to his friends in the northern part of India in order that she should be brought up amongst his people. The editor of the Sunday Times communicated with me, and also published a lengthy protest against such a thing being tolerated by Australian law. I made inquiries, and discovered to my astonishment that there is no power to prevent an alien from taking a white child out of the country. I had expected that the Department of External Affairs would take some action in a case of the kind, butI found that, having no law behind it, the Department naturally hesitated about doing anything. In order to make perfectly sure of my ground, I took an early opportunity of visiting the home of the mother and the alleged stepfather in this State of Victoria. I might say that the Indian had by this time returned, and 1 found him with his wife on his farm in the northern part of the State. I do not desire to accuse either of those people of a deliberate intention to act unfairly, improperly, or cruelly towards the little child ; on the contrary, I incline to the belief that they thinkthey are doing the best for her. The Hindoo, at any rate, has that opinion, and he has imbued the mother with the same idea. The alleged stepfather seems to be a fairly superior sort of man; and, from all I can gather, he treated the child very affectionately, and his attitude was responded to with affection on her part. That was observed by the officers of the Department of External Affairs when the Hindoo called at the office in order to obtain the necessary papers to enable him to return to Australia.. As regards the mother, while she is to a very considerable extent dominated by the powerful personalty of her husband, she feels, I am certain, that what is being done, and is proposed to be done, is really for the good of the child. I regret that I am unable to adopt that view, and I contend that where there is such a distorted vision, as this case shows, of what are the duties of parents, it is right for the Legislature to interfere. After my visit to the parents, I caused inquiries to be made in India through the Department of External Affairs, with a view to discovering the circumstances under which the child was living. The request for information was promptly acceded to by the Indian authorities ; and the Depart ment of External Affairs received a report, acopy of which was supplied to me. I shall read the letter accompanying the report, and also the report itself, as follows : -
From I. G. Lloyd, Esq.,
Under Secretary to the Government of India,
To The Secretary to the Commonwealth of Australia,
Department of Home Affairs, Melbourne.
Home Department (Public).
Calcutta, the 19th February, 1910.
In continuation of the letter from the Government of India in the Home Department, No, 4506, dated the 16th December, 1909, I am directed to forward a copy of a letter from the Government of the Punjab, No. 244, dated the roth February, 1910 (and its enclosure), showing the result of the inquiries instituted into the case of the white girl named Leon Tene Adell.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servant, (Sgd.) I. G. Lloyd,
Under-Secretary to the Government of India.
From The Hon. Mr. E. D. Maclagan, C.S.I.,
To the Secretary to the Government of India,
Dated Lahore, the 10th of February, 1910.
With reference to Mr. Stokes’ indorsement, No. 4505, dated the 16th of December, 1909, I am directed to say that it has been reported by the Superintendent of Police, Campbellpore, that the girl Leon Tene Adell has been traced in village Lnkoori, in the Hazro police station jurisdiction of the Campbellpore district. She is living in the house of Galub Khan, caste Malyar, who is an agricultural labourer and brother of Nawab Khan. Nawab Khan imported her about August,1908, and himself returned to Australia three months ago. In the same house is a native wife of Nawab Khan.
The child Leon Adell now talks Hindustani, and no distinction is made between her and the children of Gulab Khan, who states that he has received instructions from his brother to convert the child to Islam, and in support of this statement has ‘ produced a letter, without date, purporting to have been written by the mother of the child, who signs herself Lillie Khan. A copy of the letter is enclosed herewith. The child has been taught Hindustani by a European woman, now living in the neighbouring village of Bahdir Khan. The woman is reported to be the daughter of a bandmaster at Mardan, and to have run away from her home several years ago and married a tum-tum driver and become a Muhammadan. There is no suspicion that the child Leon Adell is ill-treated, but her education is being entirely neglected, and the people with whom she is living belong to a low social order, and are very poor.
I have, &c., (Sgd.) H. P. Tollingion, Secretary, for Chief Secretary, on tour.
The enclosure referred to is the document alleged to have been given by the mother of this little girl to her so-called step-father. It is rather ungrammatical, but I will read it as it has been forwarded to me. As honorable members will see, it is a written authority given by the wife to her alleged husband with regard to the taking of the child out of the country -
My husband, Nawab Khan, is going home to his own country, and I (his wife) wishes my littledaughter, Leontene Adell Hocking to go with him. I have turned to my husband’s religion (Islam), and I also wish my little daughter to follow the same, which she cannot do in this country, and I will soon be going home to his country myself ; but she is just at the right age 10 be taught our religion, and that is the full reason I want him to go and take her with him. We have a farm in the country, and we cannot both go at once. Whoever reads this letter will see it is my greatest wish to send my little girl with him and nobody must stop him. I have given my husband her birth certificate to take with him, and if anybody wishes he will show them.
I am, &c., (Sgd.) Lillie Khan. [True copy.]
There is one portion of the report from
India which demands some further attention. It is the statement “ in the same house is the native wife of Nawab Khan.” I thought it was somewhat singular that this man, having a native wife in India, should come to this country and marry a white woman without let or hindrance. I inquired from the Secretary to the Crown Law Department, State of Victoria, as to whether there was any official record of the marriage between Nawab Khan and the mother of this little girl. I may add that the State authorities have given me very willing assistance in going into this matter, and I wish to mention particularly the names of Mr. Callaway, the permanent head of the Chief Secretary’s Department of this State, and Mr. Anderson, the Secretary of the Crown Law Department. Writing to me on the 24th August, Mr. Anderson says -
In continuation of my note of the i6lh inst., I am desired by the Minister to inform you that he has caused a search to be made in the office of the Government Statist, but no record can be traced of any marriage contracted in this State by Noah or Nawab Khan, who is alleged to be married to the mother of the white girl Leontene Adell, mentioned by you. In the absence of strict proof that a valid marriage has taken place and that his lawful wife was living at the time he (Nawab Khan) went through the form of marriage with the woman referred to in this State (which does not appear to have happened), it will be seen that a prosecution for bigamy could not succeed.
I suggested that the mail had committed bigamy in marrying a white woman whilst having a native wife alive in India. As there was no record of such a mairiage, and as I knew that this woman regarded herself, and passed herself, as the wife of Nawab Khan, I suggested to the UnderSecretary, Mr. Callaway, that perhaps the woman herself could throw some light on the subject. He wrote to me as follows : -
With reference to previous correspondence on the subject of the case of Noab Khan, of Leitchville, who is alleged to have taken a white child to India and returned without her, I have to forward herewith, for your information, a copy of a recent report received from the police officer at Cohuna in connexion with the case.
The report is as follows -
Report of Mounted Constable Docking, 5032, relative to alleged marriage of Mrs. Khan -
I have to report that I interviewed this woman and she stated she was married to Noab Khan according to the rites of the Mahommedan religion, on the 6th January, 1906, by Meyer Abdullah, at 60 Cardiganstreet, Carlton. There were two witnesses present at the ceremony, one of them being Marmdeem Tellie, Exhibition-street, shirt manufacturer. She has no marriage lines or any documentary evidence of the marriage.
Noab Khan has now sold his farm to the Closer Settlement Board, and will be giving up possession in March, after which he and the woman intend leaving for India.
Having received this letter and its enclosure, I asked the Victorian Crown Law Department whether this was a case of bigamy. Evidently there is some doubt about the matter. The Secretary of the Department states -
I think whatever ceremony was performed by M. Abdullah had no validity unless Abdullah represented himself as a minister of religion and cither of the parties to the marriage bonâ fide believed that he was a minister of religion(vide section 17, Act 1166).
I made these inquiries regarding the validity of the alleged marriage, in order to ascertain the position in which Nawab Khan stood towards this little white child. If the alleged marriage is not lawful, he is not the stepfather of the child ; and, I think, it is a monstrous state of affairs that an alien can come into Australia, leaving a native wife behind him in his own land, and contract an alleged marriage with a white woman, and that there should be difficulty as to whether he is punishable or not. At any rate’,- in the present uncertain state of the law, I cannot ascertain definitely whether Nawab Khan is the legal custodian of the little girl. I intend to follow up the matter somewhat further. ‘I think everybody will admit that the position is very unsatisfactory. I have had the utmost difficulty, and experienced much surprise and disgust in arriving at anything like an understanding of the law as it applies to such a case as this. As far as any offence against the child is concerned, the Secretary to the Crown Law Department intimates to me that the law, as nearly as it applies to such a case, is as follows -
Whoever shall unlawfully take or cause to be taken any unmarried girl being under the age of sixteen years out of the possession and against the- will of her father or mother or of any other person having the lawful care or charge of her shall be guilty of a misdemeanor ; and being convicted thereof shall be liable at the discretion of the Court to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two yeaTs. (Act 1079, section 52.)
The comment of the Secretary is as follows -
The position, therefore, is that if the mother chose to appoint Naob Khan as the guardian of her child she had full power to do so. But1 even if she did not formally appoint him her guardian, it is clear from paragraphs 1 and 2 that Naob Khan committed no crime so far as the State of Victoria is concerned in taking the child to another country if the mother was a consenting party.
That is the case. I have brought it to a point at which I must leave it for the present; but I think I have given enough evidence to justify the proposals I put forward in this Bill. Here we have an astounding state of affairs. In spite of our regard for the White Australia principle, in spite of the steps we have taken, as we imagined, to safeguard that principle, a native of India, leaving a native wife behind him, comes to this country and takes up with a white woman who has already had a child by a white man. He goes through a form of marriage with this woman: - a form of marriage celebrated by a co-religionist, a Mahommedan - and then, having assumed the position of husband to the woman and stepfather to the child, takes the child out of Australia to his own country, expatriates her permanently, apostasizes her, and assumes control of her future. All this is done apparently without the man incurring any great danger from the law. I think these facts prove, in the first place, that a measure of this kind is urgently required to protect white children born in this country from such a fate ; and, in the second place, the relationship set up between this man and the mother of the child emphasizes the necessity for the Federal Parliament taking up, at the earliest possible moment, the whole question of the marriage laws and putting them upon a uniform and more satisfactory basis than they are at present. I do not wish to detain the House any longer. There is very little to explain with regard to the broad provisions of themeasure. Having stated what I think is a fair case to justify it, I now leave it,, with full confidence, in the hands of the House.
– The honorable member for Perth is to be commended for the action he has taken in this matter, and for following up so assiduously (he case of the removal of a white child from Australia. The honorable member has been at pains to ascertain the conditionsunder which the little girl was taken away by a coloured alien, and the circumstancesof her life in India. He was extremely anxious to cause her return to die Commonwealth, and I think the House will agree that it would be much better for the child to be brought back and reared amongst people of her own race. There are many difficulties associated with the case, the initial difficulty being that of removing a child from the guardianship of its mother. It is a matter over which this Parliament has no control. The mother in this case is properly the legal guardian, and unless it could be shown that she was a woman of dissolute or drunken habits, unfit to take care of the child, we could not take her from her.
– There is no such imputation in this case.
– No. We have every reason to believe that the mother is kind to the girl, and is fit to control her. Inquiry shows that she deliberately chose, without any pressure, so far as can be ascertained, to have her child brought up as a Mahommedan. She has accepted the faith of her husband, and desires that her child shall also adopt it. She declares that she is bringing up the child under her husband’s charge, and she objects to any outside interference. At the request of the honorable member for Perth, the Department of External Affairs communicated with the authorities in India to ascertain whether the child was being properly treated, and received in reply the letter which the honorable member has read to the House. I desire to make from that letter the following short quotation : -
The child has been taught Hindustani by a European woman, now living in the neighbouring village of Bahdir Khan. The woman is reported to be the daughter of a bandmaster at Mardan, and to have run away from her home several years ago, and married a’ tum-tum driver, and become a Mohammedan. There is no suspicion that the child Leon Adell is ill-treated, but her education is being entirely neglected, and the people with whom she is living belong to a low social order, and are very poor.
The statement that the girl is living with people of low social order, who are very poor, does not in itself disclose a sufficient ground for a request for her expatriation, more especially as we have the written declaration of the mother that she desires that she shall be brought up in India. The Department of External Affairs endeavoured to induce the mother to have the child returned to Australia, and the Secretary in the following letter intimated to her its willingness to pay the cost- -
Madam. - In consequence of the interest taken in the circumstances of your child, Leon Adell the Government recently caused inquiries to be made in India, and have now ascertained that she is living in the house of Gulab Khan, a brother of your husband. The report states that while there is no suspicion that the child is ill-treated, her education is being entirely neglected, and the people with whom she is living belong to a low social order, and are very poor.
The reference is to inquiries made from the mother -
It was understood, when inquiries were made in September last that you intended shortly going to India yourself with a view to living there permanently. In the event of your having altered that intention I am instructed to inform you of the above facts in case you might like to have the child brought back to this country. Should you desire to do so and require any assistance from the Government, I shall be pleased if you will communicate with me.
To this communication no reply was received. In response to inquiries made by the Department, the woman had stated that she intended shortly to leave for India, and that with that object in view she proposed to dispose of the farm. The farm has since been sold to the Closer Settlement Board for £10 10s. per acre, and since it comprised 320 acres it is reasonable to assume that the circumstances of the mother are not such that the child should be kept in poor social surroundings.
– Was there not a considerable mortgage on the property?
– I do not know to what extent that may be true, but allowing for tlie ordinary margin of security on which loans are granted on mortgage, it is reasonable to assume that the mother would have at least ,£500 or j£6oo, and a woman possessing that amount of money .in India would not be considered to be in poor circumstances.
– I do not say that the child is being ill-treated.
– Quite so. I simply desire that honorable members shall understand the exact position. The honorable member will admit that, not only my own Department, but the Government generally, have been “ready to help him in this matter.
– Hear, hear !
– This Bill will give the Government power to deal with future cases.
– I was about to refer to that point. The woman has stated that she intends to join her husband in India, and the point that I wish to emphasize is that this Bill would not apply to a case where a mother, being the lawful guardian of her child, had removed it to a foreign country.
– I think it would.
– I disagree with the honorable member. Clause 3 deals with -
Whoever, not being of any European race, takes any child under the age of sixteen years….. out of Australia.
The mother in this case is a European.
– But the husband is the guardian of the child, and I would draw the attention of the Minister to clause 5, which deals with those who aid, abet, counsel, or procure- the commission of any offence “ against this Act.”
– I think it would be difficult for a Minister to prevent a girl being taken from Australia by her mother. There would have to be a reasonable presumption that the child was going to be ill-treated, or to be brought up under conditions detrimental to its interests. It would be a difficult matter for the Minister to determine whether a mother had properly taken her child from Australia to live in a foreign country. In almost all cases, if the mother were of good reputation the Minister would have to consent as a matter of course to the removal of the child.
– Is the lot of a European woman in India a good one?
– I do not think it is. But we must not forget that thousands of European women are living with their children in India, and that it would be absurd to say that they should not have their children with them.
– But they are not married to Hindoos, or Afghans, or persons of that kind.
– Quite so.
– The position of those children is very different from that of a child who is taken from her native country by an alien before she is of an age to decide for herself whether it is desirable that she should go. The child in this case has been permanently taken out of the country and apostasized.
– I recognise that that is so. I was merely replying to the statement of the honorable member for Hindmarsh that the lot of a European woman in India is not a good one. Everything must depend upon the circumstances, in which she is living there. I may say at once that I intend to help the honorable member for Perth to have placed on the statute-book at the earliest possible moment a measure somewhat on the lines of that now before us. Cases have been brought under the notice of the Department which are infinitely worse than that now under discussion. They relate to the. removal of Australian children, and their employment in foreign countries under the most undesirable conditions. I have in my mind two very bad cases that have come before the Department relating to the members of a juvenile opera company. A considerable number of Australian children were taken to India, and toured the country, but so bad was their treatment alleged to be that people who went to witness their performances interfered. Some of those amongst the audiences of this opera company considered the treatment of the children so wrongful and cruel that they went so far as to take them from the control of the manager.
– Is it not possible to deal with such cases under the existing law?
– Were these children taken away under European management?
– Yes, they were members of one of two companies known as Pollard’s Liliputian Opera Company. I do not wish the position to be misunderstood. The children in one combination, known as Pollard’s Liliputian Opera Company, are being properly looked after. But in connexion with the other, legal proceedings were taken, and, according to statements made in Court, and published in Indian newspapers, of which I have a number, as well as the assertions contained in half-a-dozen letters written by some of the children, the conditions to which they were subjected were a disgrace to Europeans.
– Does the Minister promise legislation in regard to such matters ?
– I certainly do. This was not a case where a child had been removed from Australia and was treated kindly, although being brought up in an alien faith under alien conditions. Here we had a considerable number of white children, taken from Australia under contract to appear with an opera company in a foreign land, and left wholly at the mercy of a man who, apparently, ought never to have had charge of juveniles. It was alleged that he had treated some of the children disgracefully. But, so far, we have no power to prevent such a person from taking children away from Australia.
– Surely there is some punishment provided for such offences under the Indian law.
– There is punishment provided for actual cases of cruelty. As I have said, some gentlemen interfered on behalf of these children and took them away from the manager of the company. A Mr. Rouse took action in the matter, and Mr. Pollard brought an action against him, and charged him with kidnapping the children.
– The parents of these children ought to be ashamed of themselves for letting them go away with Pollard in the first instance. There ought to be a law to prevent children going on the stage at such tender ages.
– I may inform the honorable member that the parents here saw Dr. Maloney in connexion with the matter, and with him waited on the Department to see what steps could be taken to have the children brought back to Australia at the earliest possible moment. The honorable member, if he went through the papers on the subject, would see that as soon as the parents discovered the way in which their children were being treated, they did nl they possibly could to have them brought back.
– Were not some of the children only ten or eleven years of age? Imagine a parent allowing a child of that age to go out of his care and on to the stage.
– Child life is exploited right and left.
– It is bad enough that grown-up persons should be exploited, but to learn that children are exploited in this manner makes one’s blood boil with indignation.
– It makes one blush for the race.
– I agree with the honorable member. The result of the action taken by Pollard is reported in this way -
Kidnapping Case. - Pollard’s action in Supreme Court for injunction against the removal of children dismissed with costs. Court held plaintiff by his action has disentitled himself to their custody. Rouse undertook to send children to Australia if possible on steamer Orient, leaving 23rd inst. Boys in charge of Mr. Counsel, girls in charge of Mrs. Thom.
– How many children were concerned in this case?
– Twenty-four. I quote the following statement from a newspaper published in Madras: -
It is alleged that the twenty-four children of the company, including seventeen girls, ranging in age from seven to eighteen years, have given instances where Mr. Pollard had recourse to ill-treatment. At a performance on Tuesday night last, a correspondent alleges, cries were heard from behind the scenes, and some of the members of the audience went round to find out the cause, when it was ascertained that the boy comedian, Freddy Heintz, had been struck by Mr. Pollard with his clenched fist for not ceasing to whistle when called upon to do so by Mr. Pollard. Feeling among the audience ran very high, and some of them went to the hotel where the company was putting up, at Madras, and obtained sworn depositions from some of the children.
Millie McGorlick, of the company, alleges that, in Java, she was beaten by Mr. Pollard, and, when on the ground, kicked. Rose McGorlick states that her hair was cut off because she could not reach a high note.
A number of similar statements appeared in the press which I need not read. It is perhaps unfair to Mr. Pollard to read these statements, which, of course, are ex parte.
– They are public property.
– That is so. The statements have appeared in the press, but there may have been evidence in rebuttal which is not before me, and I should like to be perfectly fair. I need not harrow the feelings of honorable members by reading further extracts dealing with this case. From the letters of some of the children to their parents here, it is clear that they were cruelly and wrongfully treated. Another case of I he kind was brought under the notice of the Department only quite recently, and this has reference to the treatment of the children in another Liliputian Opera Company. A letter was received from the Consul-General at Manilla, referring to the treatment of a boy, named Neill Connelly. This boy is eleven years of age, and his parents reside in Melbourne. He applied to the Consul for assistance, stating that he had been a member of Liddiard’s Liliputian Opera Company, now touring the Philippine Islands, and that, although his contract was only for eighteen months, he had been detained for two years, and, in consequence of this and of bad treatment, he had run away from, the company. The Consul writes -
Mr. Liddiard and his company are in Mindanao, and will be there for another month or so. Connelly’s story has been confirmed by a Mr. Posner, who was a passenger on the same boat on which the I.,il i put inn Opera Company travelled from Manilla to Mindanao. This gentleman gives me a very unsatisfactory account of the manner in which the children are treated by Mr. Liddiard. They apparently get only two meals a day, the first at 11 and the second at 5, and have to rehearse every morning for some three hours before they get anything to eat. They get practically no schooling, and some of them can barely read or write the simplest English words.
These are Australian children.
– Can the honorable gentleman say how many are involved in this case?
– The number is not given. The Consul writes further -
Moreover it appears to me extremely reprehensible on Mr. Liddiard’s part to take these children to military camps and out of the way places in such a rough country as Mindanao, where they must necessarily be subjected to hardships such as children should not undergo, without very good reason.
I deem it my duty to bring the above to Your Excellency’s notice, and trust that your Lordship will approve of my action.
Of course the money for the return passage was refunded at once. In cases of alleged ill-treatment of Australians in any foreign country, the British Consul, if he considers the case one in which he can help by paying the necessary fares for the return of the injured people to Australia, adopts that course, and sends on the account to the Commonwealth. Of course, we are always very pleased to meet it. We are really very greatly indebted to the kindness of British and other Consuls in out of the way places, who look after white children of Australians, who may have been badly treated, as were the children in the cases to which I have specially referred. Honorable members will admit that the cases I have quoted show the urgent necessity for legislation. We need some power to control the emigration of children under contract. Only last week, I forwarded a request to the Attorney-General’s Department, for the preparation of a Bill for submission to this House to deal with these matters. In that measure we shall take power to deal with such cases as the honorable member for Perth has brought under notice, incorporating, if not the words of the Bill, the same idea. In the circumstances I ask the honorable member to agree to withdraw his Bill, because his object will be achieved.
– Do the Government propose to bring the measure forward this session?
– It will be introduced this session, but I cannot promise that it will be passed this session. That will depend on the time at our disposal, and I am aware that honorable members, generally, are not anxious to see any more measures brought forward.
– It would not take more than half-a-day to deal with such a Bill.
– I agree that it would be passed with very little delay.
– Its provisions would require to be very carefully considered.
– There is no doubt that it would require very careful drafting. We should have to very carefully consider our constitutional power to deal with the question of emigration.
– The honorable gentleman will have great difficulty in dealing with the matters to which he has referred. I know the trouble I had over this little Bill.
– I am sure the honorable member appreciates the difficulty.
– I hope the honorable gentleman will not throw over my proposal in order to deal with the matters to which he has referred.
– The honorable member must agree that the cases to which I have referred are of greater importance than the case he has mentioned. Such a case as the honorable member has referred to may never occur again. To deal with the other cases legislation is urgent and imperative.
– I should not put them before the case I have referred to.
– I think the honorable member would be well advised in withdrawing his Bill, and accepting my assurance that, at the earliest possible moment, I shall introduce a Bill dealing with the subject, and will endeavour to have it put through. Before I resume my seat, I should deal with the honorable member’s reference to aboriginals. I have never heard of cases of aboriginal natives being taken away.
– It is of no use to lock the stable door after the horse is stolen. I am only asking that we should do for aboriginal natives of Australia what we have already done for the natives of Papua.
– The natives of Papua were being taken away as servants and labourers, and it was very necessary that we should have some control over them to prevent them being taken away. The proposal I have referred to will cover the case of aboriginal natives.
– The honorable member for Perth is entitled to our thanks for having brought the case to which he has referred under the notice of the House. He has very properly suggested that Commonwealth legislation should be passed to deal with such matters. Certainly the facts which he has narrated regarding the expatriation of a white girl from Australia, and her introduction to India in charge of an Indian, are sufficient to shock one’s conscience, and show the necessity of doing something to prevent the repetition of such an outrage. It can hardly be said that the Indian in question had any legal rights -per se, or through the alleged marriage. According to- the facts which the honorable member has stated, the marriage was a mere mock marriage, and not a true one. It gave the Indian no parental rights over the child, and the only suggestion is that he may have acquired parental rights by delegation from the woman alleged to have been his wife. No doubt, at common law a mother or father has the right of control over the children, and can consent to their exportation or transportation. At the same time, :it is the right of the Government of a country even to interfere with parental rights, if necessary, for the protection of a- child, “if it is found that those rights are abused or exercised in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the child. I entertain no doubt that, whatever may be the parental Tights according to the law of the various States, it would be within the competence and province of the Commonwealth to interfere with the exercise of such rights for the deportation or expatriation of children from the Commonwealth, if in the opinion of the Government such was being -done contrary to good conscience, equity, and the true interests of the children. Tn this case it is quite possible that the mother of the girl may have been coerced by her alleged husband into consenting to the taking away of the child.
– I believe she is largely dominated by her husband.
– No doubt she signed the alleged consent under the dominating influence of her alleged husband. In such a case it would be the duty and right of the Government to interfere, and, if necessary, to cancel such alleged consent to the deportation of the child beyond the limits of the Commonwealth and its natural home. Under the power given by the Constitution to the Federal Parliament to regulate emigration as well as immigration, we have a perfect right to interfere to prevent the deportation of any resident of the Commonwealth, whether of age or under age, in circumstances where interference may be deemed fit and justifiable. Such power can be exercised even to the extent of taking away or curtailing the rights of parents. A law can be passed on the lines indicated by the Minister, or by this Bill, vesting in the Minister or some public official the right either to apply to the High Court for an order prohibiting, or to interfere directly to prohibit, the taking away of a child, or of any person of immature age, or suffering from some mental infirmity or deficiency, beyond the limits of the Commonwealth.
– Have we the power to prevent even the temporary taking away of a child from Australia?
– I think the power to control emigration would be sufficient to permit of the passing of laws interfering even with parents taking away their children in circumstances in which that may be deemed advisable or according to the exercise of some Ministerial or judicial authority. No doubt, as has already been suggested, such a power would have tq be exercised with great caution. It would not be wise to pass any drastic law interfering generally with parental rights, but it certainly would be wise to pass a law vesting in some officer, judicial or Ministerial, the power to investigate and examine cases of the contemplated deportation of children.
– Especially to India.
– Particularly to Asiatic countries. No doubt the power should be exercised judiciously and cautiously j but the case mentioned by the honorable member for Perth shows that parents may be coerced or be induced to improvidently consent to the deportation of their children to countries where the conditions of life are alien to those of the place of origin of the children. It is the duty and right of the Commonwealth to interfere” m such cases if necessary. As pointed out by the Minister, however, the honorable member for Perth’s Bill is limited to preventing non-Europeans from taking away children, and to the specific case to which the honorable member has properly called attention. It may be a special case which may not very frequently occur, and it is to be hoped that it will not. But the Minister has drawn attention to a number of other cases that should properly be dealt with in any proposed legislation relating to the deportation or emigration of children under what are known as contractural conditions. I presume that the children composing those Liliputian operatic companies were originally taken out of the Commonwealth by and with the consent of the parents.
– Those may have been contracts made under fair, reasonable, and proper conditions. I do not say that the discretion of the parents ought to be interfered with in every case. Certainly it should be interfered with only Tn cases where the taking away of the children threatens to be detrimental to their moral and material and life-long interests.
– To send a lot of children to places like India or the Philippines can scarcely fail to be very bad for them.
– The contemplated removal of those children to distant, wild, non-Christian countries may of itself be a suggestion that such contracts are not in their interests. Power ought to be reserved in such cases for the legal authorities of the Commonwealth to interfere for the protection of the children, where strong representations are made and strong evidence is available that such contracts are contrary to the interests of the children and contrary also to the interests of the Commonwealth.
– It is bad enough to have children on the stage, but it is much worse when they are sent away by their parents to such places.
– The Minister is also to be complimented on the sympathetic manner in which he has dealt with the problem, properly introduced by the honorable member for Perth. I think if he takes the whole of the facts and circumstances into consideration and deals with them in a comprehensive manner, to prevent the deportation or emigration of children, not only in the circumstances mentioned by the honorable member for Perth, but also under contract in the instances which he himself has specified, a good service will be done. In the circumstances the honorable member for Perth might well accept the advice and assurance of the Minister and withdraw the Bill.
.- I feel satisfied that there will be a general feeling of pained surprise in the minds of the people when the facts as they have been disclosed here this morning are made known to the country. I am very pleased at the action of the honorable member for Perth in citing a specific case and going so fully into the matter, and am also glad to be able to congratulate the Ministry upon their determination to legislate to meet that case and others that have been mentioned. That twenty-four children should be taken away in one company and badly, even harshly, treated in various places, and in another company an indefinite number of children should also be taken away from Australia, certainly shocks my imagination. The Ministry may feel assured that they will have the whole of the people of the Commonwealth behind them in their desire and determination to so legislate that these things cannot be in the future. I have risen principally to tell the Ministry that they need have no fear of opposition to such a measure. I am satisfied that there will be no delay or objection on the part of any member of the Opposition to putting a Bill of that sort through all its stages. Of course, as has been well said, such a measure will have to be very carefully drafted, but as soon as it is drafted it has only to be introduced to be carried and become law without delay. The people of Australia are loyal to their own. We do not want to see our children demoralized in any way, and one of the worst possible things that could be allowed to exist under the laws of our land is that children should be taken away from our shores under conditions so detrimental to their physical, moral, and religious welfare. I, as a representative of the people, say that this evil must not be allowed to continue for a moment longer than is necessary to carry into effect a law toput a stop to it.
.- I am quite willing to withdraw the measure on the assurance of the Minister that no time will be lost in carrying into effect my proposals, together with those which the Minister has added. The Government are, of course, masters of the situation, and I am quite willing to fall in with their wishes.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
That the Bill be withdrawn.
.- I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I understand that the Government are perfectly willing to assist me to put this measure through. The existing law with regard to the deportation of criminals isvery imperfect. The section applying to the matter in the Immigration Restriction Act 1901-8 runs as follows : -
Any person who is not a British subject either natural born or naturalized under a law of the United Kingdom or of the Commonwealth or of a State and who is convicted of any crime of violence against the person shall be liable upon the expiration of any term of imprisonment imposed on him therefor’ to be required to pass the dictation test, and if he fails to do so shall be deemed to be a prohibited immigrant and shall be deported from the Commonwealth pursuant to any order of the Minister.
It will be observed that the only crimes for which deportation is provided under the Act are crimes of violence against the person. We all know that there are many other crimes just as objectionable. Indeed, there are many which are even worse in the interests of the community than those regarding which deportation is specified by the existing law. I desired to meet those cases by framing a small measure, which would extend the powers of the Commonwealth in the matter of the deportation of criminals. The result of my efforts in that direction is now before the House in the form of this Bill. But after the measure had been framed, I discovered, somewhat to my surprise, that we are even behind the laws of Great Britain in this respect. In 1905 an Aliens Act was passed by the British Parliament which empowers the Secretary of State to expel any alien from the United Kingdom on conviction practically of any crime. The portion of the Act which deals with this matter is sub-section 1 of section 3, which reads -
The Secretary of State may, if he thinks fit, make an order (in this Act referred to as an expulsion order) requiring an alien to leave the United Kingdom within a time fixed by the order, and thereafter to remain out of the United Kingdom -
if it is certified to him by any Court (including a Court of summary jurisdiction) that the alien has been convicted by that Court of any felony or misdemeanour or other offence for which the Court has power to impose imprisonment without the option of a fine.
Seeing that this legislation was enacted in the United Kingdom so recently as 1905,I think I am perfectly justified in asking this Parliament to place our law in regard to the deportation of criminals upon an equality with that of the Old Land. In order to achieve that object, I propose at a later stage to move to amend clause 2 of the Bill by inserting after the word ‘ offence ‘ ‘ the words “or on summary conviction of any offence for which the Court has power to impose imprisonment without the option of a fine.” That amendment would have the effect of bringing the provisions of the Bill into uniformity with the legislation which has been enacted in England in regard to aliens and their deportation. Nobody can accuse us of being extreme if we go no further than that. In order to bring the measure into con formity with the Commonwealth law as regards those matters, I propose, in clause 2, to make an elector’s right the proof of citizenship. That, I contend, is undoubtedly the criterion of citizenship in Australia. The Bill is aimed at persons who are not competent to become electors under the Commonwealth law - hi other words, at aliens generally. Any European who can obtain naturalization papers, but who has not resided in Australia sufficiently long to secure them, if convicted of any offence under this Bill, being an alien, will be liable to be deported.
– Does not the honorable member mean any ‘ ‘ alien “ ?
– The clause reads-
Section 8 of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901-1908 is repealed and the following section substituted in its place : - “8. (1) Any person (not being an elector or a person qualified to be an elector or a person who has obtained a certificate of naturalization under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State) who came to Australia as an immigrant, and who is afterwards convicted in Australia on indictment of any offence and sentenced to any term of imprisonment, may at any time within six months after the expiration of his term of imprisonment be deported from the Commonwealth pursuant to any order of the Minister.”
– Only aliens and children are not qualified to become electors.
– The Minister is not quite seized of the meaning of the clause. It is not intended to apply to any persons save those who are precluded from becoming electors under our Commonwealth law, or who have not obtained naturalization papers.
– That means aliens and children.
– Children are eligible to become electors. I have already discussed this matter with the departmental officers who drafted the Bill, and I am quite certain that the language of the clause gives effect to my intentions, as I think the Minister will discover upon a more careful consideration of it.
– It provides for deportation upon conviction of an indictable offence.
– The clause, when amended, will provide for the deportation from the Commonwealth of any person who is not an elector, or is not qualified to become an elector, who came to Australia as an immigrant, and who is afterwards convicted of an offence for which the Court has power to impose imprisonment without the option of a fine. It will then be in harmony with existing British legislation on the subject. I feel sure that we need have no hesitation in going thus far in the matter of deporting from Australia criminals who have no right to be here, who in the best of circumstances are here only under toleration, and whose presence must certainly be undesirable when crimes are committed by them. The country ought not to tolerate their presence any longer than is necessary to make arrangements for their deportation.
– Ihave only just glanced at this Bill, and while I sympathize with the motives of the honorable member for Perth, and agree with him that, as far as possible, we ought to prevent the immigration of the criminal class and provide for their deportation, if they do come here, I question whether we ought to go to the length of British legislation in regard to the matter. In 1905 the Imperial Parliament, acting upon a fear that alien immigration - especially the immigration of anarchists - might lead to unfortunate results if it were not checked, enactedthe legislation to which our attention has been directed. Some of the weekly newspapers described it as “ panic” legislation.
– It was introduced by the Conservatives.
– That circumstance does not make it right. Very often the Conservatives pick up the unconsidered trifles’ of the Liberals. I recollect that in 1905 there was a general desire in the Old Country to limit the so-called invasion of aliens who, having left the Continent perhaps for reasons which affected their relations to the State, would be out of sympathy with the principles which guide domestic government at Home. The Imperial Parliament thought that the best way to get at these persons was to provide for their deportation when they committed crimes of violence. But if we are to apply such legislation to all cases in which men are summarily convicted, it will mean that a man who is proved guilty of insulting behaviour in the streets, or who has been convicted of conduct calculated to provoke a breach of the peace - I am citing the words of the South Australian Act - may be deported if he be an immigrant who has not a certificate of naturalization. Ought he to be deported in such circumstances ? Isthe fact that he is possessed of criminal instincts more injurious to the State because he is an immigrant than it would be if he were not? However commendable may be the motives of the honorable member for Perth, I am afraid that he wishes us to go too far when we come to consider that the evil which he wishes to remedy is not one of very great magnitude.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Batchelor) adjourned.
The consideration of the following Orders of the Day was postponed until Thursday next -
South Sea Islands Trade : Rebate of Duties.
Sittingsof Parliament : Eight Hours’ Principle.
Commonwealth Banking Companies Reserve Liabilities Bill.
Pensions System : Defence and Civil Services.
Sugar Industry : Royal Commission.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 12th October (vide page 4447), on motion by Mr. Batchelor -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
, - I think that honorable members are unanimous that the Northern Territory should be taken over by the Commonwealth, there being a division of opinion only as to the route which should be followed by the railway to connect the Territory with South Australia. For my own part, I intend to vote for the agreement- arrived at between the late Government and the Government of
South Australia, which has been embodied in the schedule of the Bill. I find from a perusal of the documents which have been placed before us, and the informative articles which have been published- from time to time, that the Territory is a very important part of Australia, and I believe that with railway communication and proper administration it will become a very valuable asset, though it may be some years before it will return a profit on the expenditure. Its transference to the Commonwealth, and development under the control of this Parliament, will lend importance to it, and will enable it to progress by leaps and bounds. Even intelligent members of the community think that the Territory is a huge waste, whereas it possesses a very “fine river system, ships of the largest class being able to navigate the Victoria River for a distance of 50 miles from the mouth, and on the banks of that river there are at least 100,000 square miles of splendid agricultural and pastoral country.
– Is there no bar?
– I do not know. I understand that the .approaches to all these Ti vers are exceptional. Probably some dredging may be required to remove sand bars.
– Experts are often biased.
– A man risking his reputation on matters of this sort by publishing statements for circulation broadcast throughout the Commonwealth would place himself in a foolish position if his opinions were erroneous. I know that sometimes experts are asked to support proposals which will not stand fair investigation, but I do not think that such opinions as are then called for would be given in regard to a big matter like this. Another river, the Goyder, runs 100 miles inland, and through a large extent of rich plains and valleys and forest land. Mr. David Lindsay, who has done a great deal of exploration, particularly in Central Australia, is one on whose opinion we can rely, and he says that land on each side of this river is destined to carry a large agricultural population. Vessels having a draught of 14 feet could navigate the Roper River for a distance of 90 miles, the Adelaide for 80 miles, and the Daly for 60 miles. Not only are these rivers and others navigable, but they lend themselves to irrigation projects. Evidently the Northern Territory is a fertile region which can ‘be populated by a sturdy yeomanry.
– There is much better country inland.
– I believe so. I do not intend to go much into detail, because discussion is unnecessary when the general Opinion is that a certain course of action should be taken. As to the route to ‘be followed by the railway, I think that it would be a pity to deviate the line to the east, and thus to neglect a large part of the central area, where there are mineral resources. I understand that gold, silver, and copper lodes have been found, but that, . owing to the difficulties of access and the impossibility of getting supplies, nothing has been done to work them. The mineral wealth and good water supply of the Macdonnell Range country make it advisable for the Commonwealth to give it close consideration. It has been pointed out that the Territory lies within the tropics, and therefore will not be easy to settle with white people. I have long held the opinion that the Britisher can live in any climate if he will only diet himself correctly. Were I going into an exceptionally hot climate, T should not, like many Englishmen, indulge in bull-beef and beer, my experience being that you must be careful about your food in the tropics. That Englishmen can live well in tropical climates is shown by the. experience of the President of the Board of Trade, who, for a number of years, followed the profession of engineer in Egypt. Those who do not pay regard to diet in hot climates die, or have to return to their owncountry. India was once regarded as a dangerous place for white men, but now Europeans live there in comfort, and enjoy good health, because they pay attention to their food. In a pamphlet which has come into my possession, I find it stated that the line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek would meet all requirements, as it would traverse the shortest route, and for its whole distance pass through country that can be economically and profitably occupied, while there are no engineering difficulties. I understand that there are three belts of auriferous country which it would traverse, splendid water, and a considerable quantity of timber suitable for sleepers. The writer says -
It is only 1,638 miles from sea to sea, of which 575 miles are already constructed. It can be built without adding one penny to the debt of the Commonwealth.
I do not know whether the writer has evolved some scheme whereby the line can be constructed without costing one penny - to the Commonwealth. The Government Geologist says -
Thousands of miles of this country are highly mineralized and gold bearing.
Only recently good gold-bearing reefs have been discovered to the north-west of the MacDonnell Ranges, whilst in Western Australia they are travelling farther and farther in an easterly direction, and discovering fresh belts of good gold-bearing country. Both these indications’ suggest that the central part of Australia, which, one might say, has not been prospected at all, will afford to the miner of the future a splendid field for profitable operations. All these arguments go to show that the acquisition of the Northern Territory is a fine national project. I think that in constructing the railway through the centre the best route will be taken. The compiler of Territoria goes on to say -
From Oodnadatta to the northern boundary of South Australia is 120 miles. This is the driest region, with an annual rainfall of 5 inches, and yet it is fair stock country right_ away to the West Australian boundary, and ibo miles east to the sandhills. A few miles off the route to the eastward are found the wonderful nest of springs, called Dalhousie - a group of springs nestling in a Hollow surrounded by low hills. Here we find hot springs, cold springs, and intermittent springs, all fresh drinkable waters - some with fish, some without - an inexhaustible supply for all purposes, including irrigation. Some are on top of mounds, some are on level ground.
I do not propose to make extensive quotations, but simply, in a very few words, to support the measure. I find that the map which is exhibited in the chamber was merely drawn for the purpose of indicating the route of the railways, the railway systems of the States, and a river here and there. If it were taken as a criterion of what Australia is like it would deceive persons very much indeed. It certainly gives a fair idea as to what the continent is like, but as regards the river system, the lake system, the mountain system, and other things, it is sadly deficient.
– It is not drawn to scale.
– That may be so, and I am not quarrelling with the draughtsman. I understand that it is practically a copy of a map, which was brought in hurriedly during a discussion last session. The map I hold in my hand presents a very different picture, lt is studded with lakes, creeks, and rivers, in parts which, according to the large map, appear to be almost desert country. While one need not traverse the whole length of the Territory to point out its many advantages, this map discloses that it is well watered. In my opinion water which is found on the surface is not the only water supply there. I could quote cases to show where, by boring operations, splendid water has been discovered. It is quite likely that the water in many of the rivers and streams which flow from the MacDonnell Ranges, and other parts in the centre of the Territory, falls in some part of Queensland, but finds its way there by subterranean passages. It is kept under the surface of the earth, perhaps, by underlying clay deposits, and only has a chance to find an exit in some part of the Northern Territory, and to be the source of some of the rivers. The Territory is 565 miles wide, by 900 miles long; it has a frontage of 1,200 miles to the ocean, and contains an area of 335,000,000 acres. Its population numbers 1,110 Europeans, and 2,056 coloured persons.
– The white population has increased and the coloured population has decreased. The total population is now 3,004.
– It is time that there was a decrease in the coloured population. On the grounds of morality alone, it will be wise for the Commonwealth to acquire the Territory. I believe that, owing to the customs of the people, a mongrel race is growing up, which is not a credit to Australia. From that point of view it will be very wise to have control of the country.
– It contains half-caste Chinese and aborigines.
– The population contains even a greater mixture than that. Indeed, it is hard to tell the colour and the breeds of some of the people. That is very undesirable. Seeing that we have a White Australia policy, we ought to keep the country free from a mongrel race of that type. I find from this pamphlet that the Territory contains splendid deposits of gold, silver, copper, wolfram, and many other minerals which might be mentioned.It has been proved beyond the shadow of a doubt by pastoralists and others that vast areas are admirably adapted to agriculture and pastoral pursuits. In view of that fact, and of the mineral wealth which’ it contains, it is very desirable that the Territory should be taken over by the Commonwealth. I trust that there will be no hitch to prevent the transfer of this splendid piece of country as speedily as possible. I anticipate that, under Federal authority and management in the matter of railway and other developments, it will become one of the best parts of Australia. I have very much pleasure in supporting the second reading of the Bill, which 1 hope will pass without amendment.
.- On the last occasion, I voted for the second reading of this Bill, and from what I know of the disposition of honorable members, I think it is likely to be carried without a division on this occasion. I intend to refer to some of the important matters which appear to be involved in the consideration of the agreement. I listened very attentively to the introductory speech of the Minister of External Affairs, and to the views expressed by the Leader of the Opposition yesterday. The latter discussed the question from the broad national aspect, and seemed to be inclined to waive every minor consideration. Up to a certain point, I am quite in agreement with him. that it was a wise and proper attitude to take. At the same time, I. believe that what is wise in regard to every private transaction is certainly necessary as to very important public transactions. No person ever dreams of going into a big venture half informed. But this Parliament is asked to go into a venture which is simply colossal from the point of view of expenditures which are certain, and expenditures which must of necessity be incurred, but with which we are not confronted at present.
– Still, it cannot be any greater than that which confronts the people of South Australia now.
– That is admitted. The only thing which appears to be positive is that the State is seeking to drive a bargain with the Commonwealth which is somewhat hard and severe.
– The South ‘Australians say that they do not want to part with the Territory.
– The peculiar part of the situation is that the South Australians do not want to part with the Territory, but if they do so they are insisting upon conditions which are hardly fair to the Commonwealth. In the Ministerial statement not a word was said as to how it is proposed to settle the Territory. We cannot hope to get a very large number of persons to come to the Territory and settle unless we are prepared to offer very special inducements. Before we sanction such a vast expenditure as is involved in the measure, it is incumbent upon us, as the custodians of the public purse to obtain more . information as to what the Government propose to do. As regards land tenure, we have some inkling that the intention of the Government party at present is wholly in favour of the leasehold system. Surely we. are entitled to know if the whole of the Northern Territory is to be settled under leasehold conditions.
– Did the honorable member get that information from the Deakin Ministry last year?
– We are en ti tied to know whether Socialistic principles are to prevail entirely in the Territory. It has been frequently stated here that one of the ‘advantages in passing this measure is that the Federal Government will have a Territory of its own. That will be very anomalous. If the phrase, “ A Territory of its own,” means anything at all it means that as regards the Northern Territory we shall be a sort of glorified State Government as well as a Federal Government, with power to tax the other portions of Australia in order to bolster up and develop a particular area. If .settlement does take place, and the Territory is developed, as I am sure we all hope it may be, the time will come when a demand will be made for the grant of some sort of constitution. I contend that the Government ought to outline to some extent their intentions in regard to land tenure, the conditions which are to be evolved as the inducements to persons to settle, and other matters. I am’ inclined to think that it will be a difficult matter indeed to get persons to permanently settle in this area while there are available in other States very much richer lands with more congenial climatic conditions.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– When we adjourned, I was about to express the opinion that if we are to have permanent settlement in the Northern Territory we must offer some special inducements; and the only inducement likely to be effective is something in the shape of a bonus on the various products of the soil. We are entitled to know what is in the mind of the Government in regard to the permanent development o’f this immense possession. The matter has been before Parliament in the shape of the agreement for over three years; and in that time the Government must surely have considered, to some extent, the questions of land tenure, the inducements to be offered to settlers, and other matters to which I have already referred. Then, when we. take over the Territory, what position will the people be in who are already settled there, and who, we hope, will settle there in the future? Will they become Federal voters, with power to send representatives to this Parliament to vote moneys which are paid in the form of taxation by the people of the other States in order to benefit the Northern Territory, or, seeing that the Territory forms part of the Commonwealth property, will they be debarred from any share in elections ? This strikes me . as a very important question, which, of course, also applies to the residents in the Federal Capital area. At any rate, it is a matter for serious consideration ; and before we finally accept this agreement we ought to know the intentions of the Government.. We have good reason to complain, as a Parliament, of the nature of the information placed before us, as well as of the scanty amount.
– Does the honorable member not think that one of our necessi-ties is a great deal more information?
– Yes, but in a big proposition like this, the information should be available before we are asked to ratify the agreement.
– How can we spend money in obtaining information until we have the Territory?
– There ought to be welldefined proposals before us in regard to Mie settlement and development of the Territory before we commit ourselves to an expenditure of ^10,000.000.
– We ought to know how the money is to be found.
– We are to get the money by taxing the land-holders - we have found that out. According to the Minister, we have little information on which we can rely. When the honorable gentleman was introducing the Bill, the honorable member for Hindmarsh interjected that it would be better if honorable members learned the contents of the various reports placed before us, and to that the Minister replied -
It is hardly worth while learning the contents, if only for the reason that they vary so much ; but variation of the kind must always be expected in the initial reports regarding a comparatively unknown country.
That is not a very satisfactory statement from a Minister.
– The honorable member surely does not expect every Minister to> be an explorer?
– I expect that every Minister will so far realize his responsibility as to feel it incumbent oh him to place before us information on which we can give an intelligent vote.
– There are tons of information on the table.
– But that information* is contradictory; and an officer or officersin whom we have confidence should havebeen sent to make reports on which wecan rely. It is true that the Minister did’ make some reference to the information’ contained in the publication known as Territoria, but he disclaimed any Government responsibility for that publication. Hesaid that if honorable members found in Territoria anything in the nature of” “ puffing or extravagant language,” they must remember that it was not issued byrne Government, and that for its contents1 the editors, Mr. David Lindsay and Mr.. A. L. Holtze, were accountable. There is= certainly a good deal of “ puffing or extravagant language,” in Territoria: the picture is painted in such rosy colours as to represent the Northern Territory as a veritable Paradise on earth. The Ministerwent on to inform us that Territoria is issued by the Australasian Railway and’ Territories League, and expressed theopinion that it was “exceedingly well gotup, and contained a great deal of information.’
– Is that not what th’ehonorable member desires?
– What we require isi correct information.
– How does the honorable member know that that information* is not correct?
– If the information inTerritoria is correct, then certainly theNorthern Territory is the best part of Australia. That publication informs us that the distance is 1,638- miles from sea to sea,, and that there are already 575 miles of railway constructed; but the Minister’s information differs materially from that inasmuch as he tells us that there are 833 miles; constructed.
– The Minister has later: particulars.
– I am not aware that since Territoria was printed there has been any extension of the railways; and there is a discrepancy of 258 miles between the two sets of figures.
– It is not a discrepancy, because one is the distance from Port Augusta, and the other is the distance from Adelaide.
– Which line are we considering ?
– The line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta.
– Then why should Territoria place before us figures with which we have practically nothing to do? The estimated cost of the construction of 1,063 miles of railway is £4,500,000, or ,£4,234 per mile, and an examination of the figures supplied is exceedingly interesting. The Port Darwin line to Pine Creek of 150 miles cost, according to the statement put before us by the honorable member for Darling Downs, £1,266,000, or £8,274 per mile.
– Steel sleepers had to be used, and that is the difficulty.
– Moreover, this Port Darwin line, on the authority of the official documents before us, was largely constructed by Chinese labour. The point I desire to make is that, while we are told a line, 1,063 miles in length, in the interior and over mountainous and dry areas, can be constructed for £4,234 per mile under the stringent labour conditions which are bound to be observed, 153 miles of railway from the sea-board to Pine Creek cost the exorbitant sum of £8,274 per mile.
– The latter line is over the mountains.
– I understood that the mountainous district does not begin until past Pine Creek.
– That is where it ends.
– What about the MacDonnell Ranges?
– There is a little mountainous country there.
– The cost of the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta is stated by the Minister to have been £2,242,000; and I should like to know whether that represents the actual cost of construction.
– Yes, that is the original cost. The line is over the mountains at the other end.
– The mountains at the other end are not anything like the mountains yet to be traversed.
– The mountainous country to be traversed is much longer.
– I understand that under the agreement the Commonwealth is to pay the whole cost of the construction of that railway. The Minister has told us that a great deal of the line was originally laid down in 40-lb. rails, but that these are being replaced by heavier rails, and there must be a very heavy expense attached to that work. If £2,242,000 constitutes the original cost - = -
– Not the original cost - the whole cost.
– That was what I asked the Minister about a moment ago. I strongly object to the agreement binding us in regard to the route of the proposed railway. In this particular, South Australia seems to be taking up a position to which we are not justified in assenting. It may be the best route, but since we.- are to pay South Australia all that she has expended in developing the Territory we ought to have the right of determining for ourselves what action we should take for its further development. Another big consideration relates to the taking over of the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta and its continuance through South Australian country to the southern border of the Northern Territory. That line will be wholly within the boundaries of a State. We are to take possession of an existing railway and run it upon conditions prescribed by South Australia.
– The honorable member will not find that in the agreement.
– The agreement provides for certain freights, and declares .that we are not to diminish the existing facilities.
– A fortnightly service. Surely that is a fair thing.
– The fact that there is only a fortnightly service does not speak well for the land through which the line runs, and explains the anxiety of South Australia to get rid of the railway. The question of defence has an important bearing upon this aspect of the case. Undoubtedly there can be no effective defence of Australia until our population has been multiplied at least tenfold, and the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth has been strongly urged from the defence point of view. At page 9 of the report presented to the House by the honorable member for Darling Downs, when Minister of External Affairs, the following extract is given from a report by MajorGeneral J. Bevan Edwards -
No general defence of Australia can be undertaken unless its distant parts are connected with the more populous Colonies in the south and east of the continent. If an enemy was established in either Western Australia or at Port Darwin, yon would be powerless to act against him. Their isolation is therefore a menace to the rest of Australia….. The interests of the whole continent therefore demand that the railways to connect Port Darwin and Western Australia with the other Colonies should be made as soon as possible.
I am not a military expert, but this is the deliberate conclusion of one who is: I venture to think, however, that in writing this report Major-General Edwards had not fully considered what Australian conditions really are. If we constructed this line through Central Australia, and failed for a considerable period to largely settle the Northern Territory, the railway, instead of strengthening our defence, would weaken it. We should have provided for our possible enemies a back road into our populated territory. In support of this contention let me point to an illustration afforded by the Russo-Japanese war. Russia had constructed a railway across Siberia to Port Arthur, and as long as she could retain Port Arthur that railway was a valuable asset to her. But as the war developed the Russians were driven back, and the line became a most valuable asset to Japan, enabling her to convey her troops into the interior of Manchuria.
– The position is the same in regard to every invasion.
– But the conditions of all countries are not alike. As long as we have so much good land available in other parts of Australia, where the climatic conditions are most, favorable, we shall not succeed in largely settling the Northern Territory.
– The honorable member’s contention is an argument against the railway to Portland. It might be said that that is a good port, which an enemy would choose as a landing place.
– It is my deliberate conviction that a line constructed . through the Northern Territory, while we have there only a sparse population, would, in the event of war with an Eastern nation, be a source of weakness rather than of strength.
– The experience of Queensland is that settlement has followed railway construction.
– Whilst I hold this opinion in regard to the construction of a line through the centre. of the Territory, I recognise that undoubtedly such a railway will ultimately be constructed, and that the Northern Territory must have railway connexion with other parts of Australia if it is to be developed. I strongly favour for the time being the cheapest and most expeditious connexion - a line coupling up the Northern Territory with the Queensland railway system. There is one very cogent reason in support of such a line. The climatic conditions of the Northern Territory are analogous to those of northern Queensland, which is already being settled, and such a railway as I have suggested would be an inducement to those who have become accustomed to tropical conditions in Queensland to go further west and occupy the Northern Territory.
– It would take away the population of Queensland.
– No; Queensland is becoming very attractive, and there is going to be a very large influx of population there.
– Many people from Victoria are settling in Queensland.
– I do not grudge Queensland any good men whom she obtains from our State. The development of the Northern Territory is more likely to be brought about by people from Queensland, who have become accustomed to semitropical conditions, than by people from other parts of the world. Railway connexion with Queensland could be made many years earlier than could a line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. It would tend to settle the Territory more quickly than would any other line, and from a defence point of view would have the advantage of bringing the Northern Territory into as close contact with several of the State capitals as would a railway from Port Augusta to Port Darwin. There are 90,000,000 acres held under pastoral lease in the Northern Territory, and the Minister has told us that the rentals amount to the enormous sum of 2s. 6d. per square mile. In other words, a lease of 21 acres is secured for id. The honorable gentleman urged that there were very stringent stocking conditions in connexion with these leases, and that by enforcing them we could compel die leases to be relinquished so that the land would be speedily brought under Federal control. It is just as well that the House should know what those stringent conditions are. Fortunately information on the subject is to be found in the report presented to the House by the honorable member for Darling Downs. At page 17 of that report we have the statement that leaseholders are required -
To slock within three years, and keep stocked with sheep, at least five head, or with cattle, at least one head, per mile.
These are the stringent stocking conditions, and it is idle for the Minister to suggest that if we insisted upon their observance the land under lease would soon fall into our possession. Such conditions are simply ridiculous. We should not be prepared to take over portion of the railway system of South Australia until we are ready to consider the advisableness of federalizing the railways of the States. Why should a railway in one State be run at the expense, and under the management, of the Federation, while the railways of the remaining States are constructed at the expense of those States? It seems to me to be a step in the wrong direction, and, in view of the fact that we are required to treat all States alike, I question whether it is within our Constitutional powers. I hold it to be a cardinal principle that that which we are prepared to do for one State we should be prepared to do for all. It is well known that all the other States have their own railway systems, which, in some cases, are very complete. They have been built at the expense of the States, but this* agreement binds us to take over from South Australia a big responsibility relating to a railway within her own borders.
– Are we not going to do the same thing for Western Australia in connexion with the transcontinental line?
– The difference is that, in this case, we are dealing with a line actually in existence, whereas, in the case of the Western Australian transcontinental railway, the line has yet to be constructed, and is said to be necessary for developmental and defence purposes. We are entitled to learn from the Minister in charge of this Bill, before we accept the agreement, the conditions under which the Government hope to settle the Northern Territory. He should tell us whether they propose to create freeholds, and how they hope to induce people to occupy the Territory; also whether they propose to give settlers voting powers under the Constitution. These, and other important matters, which will readily suggest themselves to the minds of honorable members, should be dealt with by the Minister. We ought to know exactly what it is hoped to accomplish, and to have some idea of the time which the Government think it will take to carry out their scheme. No time is specified for the construction of the line, which is to bridge the gap between the two existing railways. From what has taken place with regard to the Federal Capital and other matters, I feel satisfied that no sooner is an agreement containing an implied condition that something shall be done adopted, than a demand is made for its almost immediate completion. I am sure such a demand will emanate from South Australia very scon after this agreement is ratified. As a member representing an important constituency, I claim that my constituents, through me, are entitled to be informed by the Government as to the conditions obtaining in, and the prospects of,- the Territory before we finally commit ourselves to an expenditure which the Minister has stated at ^10,000,000 ; but which, I venture to say, will ultimately be nearer ^15,000,000, taking into account the expenses incidental to the future settlement of the Territory.
.- It is with pleasure that I rise to speak to this measure. The fact which impresses me most is the enormous territory that is being offered to us, a territory greater than that of many of the nations of Europe. It comprises an extensive country, 560 miles wide by 900 miles long, with an area of 523,620 square miles, of which 426,320 square miles lie within the tropical zone. Its sea frontage is 1,240 miles, and this is indented with spacious harbors, and the mouths of a number of very large rivers. The most important river in the Territory is the Victoria, which empties itself into .the Indian Ocean, near the Western Australian coast. The economic value of rivers to a country as commercial highways is very great, and in the Northern Territory we have a number. It has not been my good fortune to visit that part 0? Australia, but I have a friend there who has taken up some 300 square miles. He is a Victorian, and tells me that this new country is absolutely the finest in Australia. He travelled from Bourke, in New South Wales, with two companions, right through Southern Queensland and the Territory, and has now decided to take up on lease the great tract of country of which I spoke. The Victoria River, at its mouth, is 26 miles wide. It is navigable by our largest steamers for a distance of 50 miles, and for vessels drawing 3 feet for a further 60 miles. This river will be the means of transport for some of the most valuable land in the Territory.
– Does the honorable member know that there is a fall of about 1,000 feet in the river in 80 or 90 miles ?
– I know that it is navigable. The Goyder, another fine river, is also navigable for some 60 miles, and is capable of opening up an extent of fully 100 miles of country. David Lindsay, speaking of the Goyder, says -
This river is destined at some future date to carry a large agricultural population, and will be the most important outlet for eastern Arnheim Land.
Then we have the Roper, the McArthur, the Adelaide, the Daly, and many other rivers, all of which are navigable. Of course, in some of them the draught of vessels must be very light, but our largest steamers could navigate, for a certain disstance, several of the bigger rivers.
– Can the honorable member say whether the land is taken up along those rivers?
– It is not. Two very large leases along the Roper fell in lately. They comprise good pastoral land which has been reserved for pastoral purposes. Port Darwin, as a harbor, is second to none in Australia. It is considered to be one of the finest in the world.
– Is it equal to Sydney Harbor ?
– Undoubtedly it is.
– It has twice the depth of Sydney Harbor.
– It has a depth of from 4 ,to 15 fathoms. Of course, the rise and fall of the tide-
– The honorable member ought to be a painter.
– I hear these “Little Australians “ interjecting, but I stand here as a Nationalist holding that it is absolutely necessary to take over the Territory. Before supporting the measure, one wants to know something about the conditions of the country. I happen to follow the occupation of a farmer. We were told from the Opposition benches recently that no man on this side of the House is interested in the land. I happen to be interested in the land, and before taking over this tract of country one wants to know that it is worth taking over. In the Territory the following areas have been taken up : - Area held under lease in 1908, r.29,6281; square miles; in 1909, 108,2441 square miles, showing a decrease of 21,384 square miles. That is accounted for by the fact that two leaseholds on the Roper River have been forfeited, and have been reserved for pastoralists. The area held under permit in 1908 was 33,848 square miles. In 1909 this had increased to 45,379 square miles, or an increase of 11,531 square miles. The leases surrendered or forfeited in 1908 comprised 6,194 square miles, and in 1909 21,384 square miles, or an increase of 15,190 square miles. Permits expired comprised 6,064 square miles in 1908, and 2,060 square miles in 1909, or a decrease of 4,004 square miles. Permits applied for in 1908 were 8,423 square miles, and in 1909 14,936^ square miles, or an increase of 6,513! square miles. The rents received from all this great extent of councountry did not reach a very large sum. They totalled, in 1908, £8,329 12s. 9d., and in 1909, £8,895 10s., or an increase of £565 17s. 3d. The reason why more of this land has not been taken up is the suspension of the granting of land tenures. Although that, to a great extent, has been justifiable, it has at the same time checked the pastoralists from taking up a great extent of country. I hope that when the Federal Government takes control of the Territory and opens up the country with a proper railway system, the population will go ahead by leaps and bounds. To men who are asked to go on the land and work it to the best advantage, the matter of transport means a great deal. In my district, great numbers of farmers are found congregated in different localities, simply because in those parts good roads are provided, and better facilities are obtained for the transport of produce. In the Northern Territory, we have the Pine Creek railway running several hundred miles south, and then there is the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway coming north for some 688 miles, but in between there is a great stretch of country, mostly in the temperate zone, the southern .part of which has no means of transport whatever. The Northern Territory is a kingdom in itself, yet the population is only a little over 3.000 souls. The only redeeming feature about the population is that the Asiatics have decreased by 152, whilst the
Europeans have increased by 193. It has been said, and to a certain extent rightly, that the country is unsuitable for Europeans. Corporal C. Power, a police officer of nine years’ experience in different parts of the Territory, has made the following statements - .
Any steady robust European can work all the year. Does not know whether he could compete with Asiatics. Has seen Europeans wellsinking, mining, fencing, &c, on both high and low-lying lands. They are more subject to fever on the low than the high country.
Mr. C. J. Dash wood, formerly Government Resident in the Northern Territory, states -
The climate around Port Darwin is not particularly unhealthy for the male sex, but it is not very healthy for women and children.
These are points on which people differ, but if we can improve the surroundings and give settlers better means of transport, while introducing proper sanitary conditions, I have no doubt that Europeans could live there happily and comfortably. Another important consideration is the rainfall of the country. In parts of Victoria, especially the Werribee district, we have had a rainfall as low as 16 inches, but that has been sufficient to insure us fair crops. In the Territory, over 6,300 square miles of country have a rainfall of less than 10 inches, while 2113,430 square miles have a rainfall of from 16 to 20 inches, 96,790 square miles a rainfall of from” 20 to 30 inches, 120,600 square miles a rainfall of from 30 to 40 inches, and 86,500 square miles a rainfall exceeding 40 inches. Therefore, all that is needed is proper conservation to make droughts of little consequence. The country between Port Augusta and Oodnadatta has been described as a desert, but I found that, although in places the land is thickly covered with stones, and there is much diorite rock, over two-thirds of it, if there were water, would be as fine as any in Australia. At Beresford, the Government have made a reservoir, which at the time of my visit was filled to overflowing. Four miles from Oodnadatta I saw a Chinaman’s garden, the proprietor of which has conserved in the bed of the creek enough water to last him until next April should no rain fall until then. He was growing lucerne, lettuce, peas, and all the vegetables required in the district.
– Is he rearing a family ?
– He is married to an aboriginal woman, and is helping to increase the mongrel races referred to by the honorable member for Maribyrnong. Although my lucerne in Victoria had not commenced to grow, that at Oodnadatta was 3 feet high at the time of my visit, showing what could be done by irrigation. In general conversation, I picked up all the information that I could, and learnt that round about the MacDonnell Ranges is some of the finest country in Australia. The rainfall in the coastal districts of the Northern Territory is very great. During thirty-two years it has averaged 62 inches ; the largest fall for any year being 81.72 inches, and the lowest 42.44 inches. Unlike Victoria, where every climate may be experienced in a week, the Northern Territory has only its wet season, from October to April, and its dry season, from May to September. The heat is not excessive, the maximum day temperature in the dry season being 89 degrees, and the minimum night temperature 56, while in the wet season the maximum day temperature is 96, and the minimum night temperature 65. It would be necessary to instruct agriculturists going there in the proper treatment of tropical crops. Experts have reported that there are great facilities for the grow- . ing of both lowland and upland rice. To show what can be done by the aid of artesian water, I would instance the date plantations at Hergott Springs and Lake Harry. At the latter place there are about 2,000 palms, planted 50 to the acre, and irrigated from a bore. From thirty-five trees 2,000 lbs. of dates were obtained, and the manager told me that the fruit sold in Adelaide at 6d. a lb. I ate some of the dates, and found them remarkably good. Geologists declare that there is very richmineral country in the Northern Territory, but, because of the dearness of transit, not much mining has been done there. In 1909, the value of the gold won was £34,9°2> and of the tin ^37, 496. Very little copper has been obtained during 1909, owing to the low price of the metal, and the same remark applies to wolfram. When it costs from £3 to £S a ton to transport ore to the battery, a very rich yield is necessary to give a profit. With railway communication, the difficulties of transport will be reduced. There are great possibilities for pastoralists in the Northern Territory. A few years back an attempt was made to establish a trade with the East, but, unfortunately, a consignment of cattle sent to the Philippines were infected with pleura. Proper inspection, and the guarantee that the cattle sent away are free from disease, is essential to the success of the meat export industry. In 1907 there were 360,000 head of cattle in the Territory, while on the 30th December, 1908, Victoria Downs station had 76,540 head, and those branded during the year numbered 17,298 head. The cattle sold, however, numbered only 6,000 head. This was due to the cost and difficulty of transit. Dr. Holtze, the Director of the Adelaide Botanical Gardens, and formerly Curator of the Palmerston Gardens, says that there is quite enough suitable land in the northern part of the Territory to make it prosperous. He says that there is land suited for tropical products all along the sea coast, and on the banks of the rivers, and that within 80 miles of the coast there is an area of 80,000 square miles, or upwards of 51,000,000 acres, capable of supporting hundreds of thousands of persons with its produce. Victoria, it may be remembered, supports over 1,000,000 persons on an area of 56,000,000 acres. Farmers there could engage in the cultivation of rice, tobacco, maize, Indian corn, cassava, cotton, and many other tilings. Some of the bore water is mineralized, but some of it is quite fresh, and fish have been found in a number of springs. South Australia took over the Northern Territory in 1863, since when she has built the Adelaide to Oodnadatta railway, which has a length of 688 miles, at a cost of £2,242,000, and the Port Darwin to Pine Creek railway, at a cost of £1,266,000. On the Oodnadatta line is a splendid piece of engineering work, the Angebuckina bridge, which is 1.900 feet long, and cost something like £60,000. As doubts have been expressed as to the condition of the permanent-way, let me say that, although I travelled over it at express speed, the easy running of the train was in marked contrast to the violent oscillation of the Adelaide-Melbourne express. The sleepers appeared to be in perfect order, and the railway is one of the finest and smoothest that I have had the pleasure of travelling on.
– Trains run over the line at a rate exceeding 40 miles an hour.
– It shows that the line is properly laid, and in good condition.
– South Australia tackled a very big problem when it took over the
Territory in 1863, and has endeavoured !o the utmost to cope with the responsibilities of the position. Large sums of money were spent in prospecting votes, and on surveying and exploring parties ; and South Australia has to be congratulated most heartily on the fact that she tried to keep, and has succeeded in keeping, this great Territory white. Had the example of another State been followed and black labour introduced, there might have been some financial gain, and probably it would not have been necessary to ask the Commonwealth to take over the administration now. To her everlasting glory, however, South Australia, as I say, has kept this vast part of Australia white. Furthermore, while other States pursued the policy of alienating as much land as possible, South Australia, out of a total acreage of 353,000,000 acres, has parted with only 473,809 acres. There are at present under pastoral lease 99,000,000 acres, with a currency of from twenty-five to forty years, and provision is made for resumption on giving two years’ notice and paying compensation. It is proposed by South Australia that the Commonwealth shall assume all the liabilities in respect of the Territory, taking into account the cost of the line projected in order to connect with the Pine Creek line, and ultimately to form a transcontinental line from Adelaide to Port Darwin. The yearly deficit on the Northern Territory is at present £164,398 ; the sinking fund on the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta is £77,694; and the interest, at 3 J per cent., on £4,500,000. the estimated cost. of the railway from Port Darwin to Pine Creek, represents £157,500. The Commonwealth will thus, under the agreement, have to meet a total loss of £399,592. The public debt on 30th June, 1909, amounted to £2,718,939 ; the deficit on advance account to £779,734; the cost of the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway was £2,242,342; and the estimated cost of the railway from Pine Creek to Port Augusta is £4,500,000 - a total of £10,241,015. On the total acreage of the Territory, this works out at an average of 7d. per acre; and, in view of the facts we have before us, we may conclude that the Commonwealth is getting a great bargain. Of course, against the £10,241,015, there are assets. So far as the loans are concerned, they will only be taken up as they mature; £8,000,000 is represented by railways, and the balance by lighthouses, wharfs, and developmental works. One or two honorable members have objected to the Commonwealth paying for the construction of the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway. From personal observation, I can say that that railway was not built for any advantage that it might give to South Australia, because, at the various railway stations, there are not townships, but, as a rule, only two or three houses. The idea of building this railway was to open up the Northern Territory, particularly the country around the MacDonnell Ranges; and, under the circumstances, it is the duty of the Commonwealth to assume the responsibility for the expenditure. I differ from the Minister, inasmuch as I believe we ought to take expert advice, with a view of running the proposed line through the best possible country that can be found. Such a policy would be’ in the interests of the State of South Australia, because, apart from its importance from a defence point of view, the line would be used as a means of tapping the wealth of the country; and the more good country the line runs through the more wealth there will be directed to Port Augusta and to Adelaide. I have no desire to see the railway carried outside the Northern Territory ; but it would be wrong, in my opinion, to draw a hard-and-fast line as to the route. If land to the east or west is found to bc of greater value, then the line should be slightly deviated in that direction. In time to come it will be necessary, as elsewhere, to build railways to other centres ; but that is not a matter for consideration now. The honorable member for Echuca said that any man engaged in a private transaction would look ahead in order to see whether it would result in benefit to himself. Well, I have looked r. head, and I see great possibilities in the Northern Territory. Port Darwin is as near to the eastern States as is Adelaide. The East .we know is awakening, and this great unpopulated territory is practically the gate of Australia. It is absolutely essential that the Government should take the control of this part of the continent in the interests of the protection of the whole. The dark races, which increase at a great rate, and now number hundreds of millions, must at times cast a hungry eye on this great tract of country, which offers so much attraction to them by reason of its climatic conditions. It is essential that there should be extensive settlement by white people in the interests of the whole of the Commonwealth.
If the Commonwealth take the Territory over, it will be our own country, which we can govern by our own laws, untrammelled by any interference from State legislation. If our laws are of such a character as to involve ruin to the country, all the blame will lie with the Commonwealth ; but, of course, if the States had power to interfere, as they have in many matters now, we might, to save ourselves, put the blame on them. I should like to see the transcontinental railway constructed as scon as possible, because, in the event of foreign invasion, it will be necessary to have quick transport. As to the intervening space, I suggest to the Government that, instead of sticking to the old system of railways, they should consider the advisableness of adopting the mono-rail invention, which is now within the realm of practicability.
– Experiments are now being tried with the mono-rail in South Australia.
– That is very interesting information ; and I should like to see the Commonwealth take the matter into consideration. I had not intended occupying the attention of the House so long, but my desire is to emphasize the fact that, in taking over the Northern Territory, we shall be acting, not only in the interests of South Australia, but in the interests of every other State of the Commonwealth.
.- The honorable member for Corio has drawn a very glowing picture of the Territory, so glowing that one is tempted to come to the conclusion that his remarks are more indicative of a biased than of a judicial summing up of the facts. On his own admission, his information is second hand ; but, in view of the fact that the Territory may be taken under the control of the Common wealth, one hesitates to find fault with declarations as to the possibilities of the country it contains. The honorable member for Corio gave a particularly attractive account of the climatic conditions. I do not propose to back my opinion against his, but it is just as well, perhaps, that the report of the Commonwealth Meteorologist is available. That gentleman says -
During the six months (summer) the conditions are moist and humid, and for the most part trying, owing to the persistent indraft of monsoonal winds from the equatorial seas. During the remainder of the year conditions are more endurable, for, although temperatures are warm, the dry prevailing S.E. trade winds from the interior and Western Queensland render life enjoyable, and at times possibly exhilarating.
I do not think that is very encouraging.
– The Government Meteorologist is speaking of the very worst part of the Territory.
– It would appear that the only exhilarating breeze comes from Queensland.
– The honorable member would not condemn Queensland because of the climate of Cairns?
– The climate of Cairns is good. I do not intend to oppose the second reading of the Billj but, in Committee, I shall have something to say in regard to certain clauses. It is advisable that we should know what is the responsibility we are taking over. For fortyseven years the South Australian Government have been trying to develop this Territory; and in 1895a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the reason of the failure. Its report is included in the memorandum drawnup by the exMinister of External Affairs, who was very friendly towards the movement. In regard to the reasons for failure, we have this statement in the memorandum -
What causes have led to these results? Have the measures been inadequate, or their execution faulty? Does the country not justify the glowing accounts which its enthusiastic admirers have so freely circulated?
After nearly forty years had been spent in attempting to develop the Territory, the State Government were furnished by a Royal Commission appointed in 1895 with a report giving the following general reasons for the failure of their efforts -
In other words, the Territory has been landlocked. We havehere the same old cry in regard to the necessity of bursting up large estates -
I find it difficult to understand how this could have contributed to the failure to develop the Territory. I think that sales before survey did much to develop New South Wales -
Seven shillings and sixpence per acre doesnot strike one as being a very high price- for good land. If one of the reasons for the failure to develop the Territory was the delay caused by having to send applications for land to Adelaide, will there not be still greater delay if applications have tobe dealt with at the Seat of Government? I do not know whether the Government intend to administer the Territory from theSeat of Government or- elsewhere, but this is a matter on which we should have someinformation. The report continues -
It appears that the South Australian Government granted land orders and were not in a position within five years to survey the lots which had been purchased -
That, no doubt, is a legitimate excuse, for we must recognise that railways, or some other means of communication, are essential to the development of every country -
I emphasize the word “ tropical “ -
The reasons for failures in connexion with mining are given as follows -
With regard to the pastoral failures, the reasons are thus summarized -
I do not know what remedy the Minister of External Affairs proposes for future depredations.
– White settlement.
– I trust that the aborigines in the Territory, who were the original owners of the soil, will be treated in the most humane way -
We were told that that disease did not originate in the Northern Territory. I think it was the Minister of External Affairs who corrected me when 1 said that tick fever broke out in the Northern Territory some years ago ; but we have the fact officially recorded some fifteen years since that red-water did exist in the Territory at that time.
– The disease spread there from Queensland.
– No; it came in the first instance from Texas, in the United States of America, and afterwards spread from the Northern Territory to Queensland. The remaining reasons are -
The honorable member who immediately preceded me spoke in glowing terms of the well- watered condition of the Territory, yet we have here an official statement that there is a want of permanent water supply in many districts. As to the decline in the price of stock and wool, that is a disadvantage under which the whole of Australia has had to labour. Dealing with the question of agriculture, the reasons for failure are summarized as follow : -
The report goes on to state that -
The Commissioners refrained from endorsing these reasons, but made a number of recommendations, some of which have been acted upon without producing any notable degree of amelioration.
– What is the date of the South Australian report?
– The Commission was appointed in 1895, but I cannot say when its report was presented. It is not my desire to disparage the Government or to discourage settlement in this great Territory. I think it necessary for the Commonwealth to take over the Northern Territory, and I certainly admire the innocent expression on the face of the Minister of External Affairs while he is piloting this Bill through the House, and asking us, without any compunction, to commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure of about £14,000,000.
– The innocent way in which the honorable member magnifies £10,000,000 into £14,000,000 is also worthy of admiration.
– The Minister in. the most innocent manner is trying to hoodwink the House. I felt some hesitation in dealing with this question during the last Parliament, since it had been sprung upon us without a reference to the people. Since then we have faced our constituents, and I have made my course quite clear to the people of my electorate.
– That is where the honorable member made a mistake.
– No; I think it right for us to take the electors into our confidence, and I have received an unmistakable mandate from my electors. I made it clear to them that if a Bill providing for the taking over of the Northern Territory were again submitted to us in the same form as before, I should vote for the acceptance of the Territory, but would strongly oppose the Commonwealth being leg-roped by the imposition of railway conditions such as we find once more in this measure.
– We shall probably upset the whole arrangement if we do that.
– I do not think we need worry as to that. If the South Australian Government are anxious to get rid of the Territory
– They are not anxious.
– Then why do they press this proposal ?
– They do not.
– Does not the honorable member think we should have a railway through the Northern Territory as soon as possible?
– I do, but I hold thar this Parliament, and not the Parliament of South Australia, should determine the route to be followed. That proposed may or may not be the most suitable, but no doubt if the. Commonwealth were free to make its own choice a route most suitable for the development of the Territory would be adopted. I am entirely opposed to placing a dead hand upon posterity by binding ourselves to take over the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, although I should be quite prepared to compensate the State Government for its expenditure on that line, since it was constructed chiefly to develop the Territory. If we take over the Territory I shall be prepared to allow the Commonwealth to accept the responsibility of that line, but not the responsibility of Tunning trains and working the line as a non-paying concern, it might be, for all time. If we go to a division on the second reading, I shall vote for the motion, but shall offer strong opposition to any proposal to bind the Commonwealth to a particular route for the projected railway line.
– The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has spoken, not from a national, but from a State point of view.
– It was with him a case of Queensland against the rest of Australia.
– Absolutely. The honorable member said, in effect, “ Unless the railway is taken through Queensland territory, I shall have nothing to do with the proposal.”
– I said nothing of the sort.
– That was the inference to be drawn from the honorable member’s remarks.
– It is the inference that occurred to a biased mind.
– I am approaching this matter without bias, and, I hope, from a national view-point only, irrespective of State interests.
– Did I mention the question of route?
– I understood the honorable member to say that he would vote for the second reading of the Bill, but that if in Committee it was insisted that the line should go through the Territory, and nowhere else, he would reserve to himself the right to vote against the final passage of the measure. If I have misunderstood the honorable member, I beg his pardon. This matter ought to be approached with an absolute forgetfulness, if possible, of what State one belongs to. It should be regarded from two points of view only ; first, that it is absolutely essential to get railway communication with Port Darwin in the most direct manner, and as rapidly as possible, for the purpose of defending the whole Continent ; and, secondly, that it is necessary to develop the Territory. No one will have the temerity to deny the necessity of rapidly making provision for the defence of Australia. One has only to look at the map to see how ridiculous some of the suggested schemes are. I take it that the object of South Australia, in building the railway, was to develop the Territory. She incurred a large debt by constructing a line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, and another from Port Darwin to Pine Creek. On the last occasion that this matter was discussed in the last Parliament, parochialism was just as rampant as it is to-day. The honorable member for Parkes, on that occasion, made some extraordinary statements about the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. Some of them have been refuted to-day, and I shall not refer further to them, except to say that the honorable member’s assertion that it was absolutely unsafe to travel over the line at a greater speed than 15 miles an hour is absurd. I have demonstrated that to my own satisfaction by travelling over the line at 40 miles an hour, and can say, without hesitation, that I never travelled on a smoother line. A great many statements have also been made about the Territory itself, and the country between Port Augusta and Oodnadatta. It is useless for any honorable member to take up the time of the House by making statements which cannot be verified, regarding matters of this kind. I have been connected with land all my life, in pastoral and agricultural pursuits. I know what land is, and what it is capable of bearing. It is quite true that, on a great part of the land traversed by the line which: it is proposed to take over, no grass is growing, but some of the best grazing and fattening country in Australia is not grass, but bush country, and on the land in question any amount of bluebush, saltbush, and other edible plants are growing. Part of that country is also one of the finest grounds that I know of in Australia for the breeding of horses. I have not had the opportunity of traversing the country between Oodnadatta and Pine Creek, but I have conversed with a number of men who have been in that territory, and particularly with men who have been to the MacDonnell Ranges for mining purposes. They have no interests to serve, and are not even resident in South Australia, but they have told me, and I know them to be veracious, that the Northern Territory contains some of the finest pastoral and agricultural country to be found in the whole Continent. That statement has great weight with me, coming as it does from men upon whose word I place much reliance. We are asked why the mining industry does not go ahead there. A number of honorable members who went to Oodnadatta saw the means of transport afforded”. The South Australian Government, for financial reasons, had to stop the line at that point, and there is a considerable distance intervening between it and the MacDonnell Ranges. The mines require special classes of machinery, but the only means of transport is by camel. If a line of railway were put through from Oodnadatta to the MacDonnell Ranges the most up-to-date machinery could be carried to the mines, and I am credibly informed that the ranges would be peopled by hundreds of miners who would get a really good living there. I have also conversed with members who visited the Northern Territory at the other end. I did not accompany the party, and, therefore, could not form any conclusions for myself. I admit that opinions are very divided as to the value of the country there, but the House has to consider whether it is wise, in the interests of Australia, to allow the Territory to be occupied and controlled by any other power than the Commonwealth. I think not. South Australia is to be congratulated on at least keeping it free from an influx of coloured races. The agreement simply asks that the money that has been expended on the two lines of railway should be repaid to the South Australian Government, and that the Commonwealth should take over the burden of the interest and annual loss, the development of the Territory probably converting that loss into a gain.
– And also build a long railway. If that were left out, I think we should be unanimous in taking over the Territory.
– In view of all the threats of invasion that we hear, if the railway is left out of the agreement we might as well drop the whole matter. The line should be built to connect north and south, in order to convey our defenders to the vulnerable point of the Commonwealth as quickly as possible. At the time the proposal was initiated, the Sydney and Brisbane interests began to move. They produced from the pen of Mr. Alexander Wil son, whom I know personally, a railway scheme, and indicated that, unless that scheme were accepted, all the forces of those interests centred in Brisbane and Sydney proper would oppose the taking over of the Territory. If, however, Mr. Wilson’s suggestion were carried out, every one of the members who support it, as is evidenced by the speech of one Queensland member to-day, would be prepared to take over the Territory, even with twice its present financial hurden.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Moreton. I do not wish to attribute motives, but let me compare the line proposed in the agreement with die alternative suggestion. The first would travel from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, via Alice Springs, Barrow Creek, Tennant’s Creek, and Daly Waters in as direct a line as possible, with only the necessary deviation to get through the MacDonnell Ranges. I am told by a gentleman representing South Australia, and I believe him, that the grade to get through the ranges would be one in eighty. That ought to present no engineering difficulty. The proposal of those opposed to the agreement is to run the line from Pine Creek to Camooweal, in Queensland, and thence to Cork, Thargomindah, Torowangie, Broken Hill, and Mildura. Let me test the patriotism of a number of those who have spoken by asking whether it would not be wiser to build the direct line between Pine Creek and Oodnadatta, and let the States assist the development of Australia, and also of their own country, by making a few connexions? In that way ‘ we should have two strings to our bow, if die necessity arose for defending Australia. The Queensland and New South Wales Governments could, by arrangement, build a line of railway connecting Bourke and Cunnamulla, a distance of about 100 miles. Cunnamulla is already connected with Charleville. The next connexion necessary would be between Charleville and Longreach, a distance, I should suppose, of about 150 miles.
– No; about 400 miles.
– I am going only by the scale on the map that I hold in my hand. From Longreach to Cloncurry would be about a similar distance. Cloncurry is only a comparatively short distance from the boundary of the Territory. I should judge the distance from Cloncurry to Tennant’s Creek to be about 250 miles.
The Commonwealth could assist the development of the Territory and the defence cf Australia by building a connexion from Tennant’s Creek to the border, and the. State of Queensland could connect from that point to Cloncurry.
– What is the gauge of the Pine Creek line?
– It is a narrow gauge line. I hope to see the gauge difficulty settled by the Commonwealth getting control of the railways of Australia, and introducing uniformity. Western Australia seems to be forgotten in the proposal under consideration. It is intended to connect Kalgoorlie with Port Augusta, and we need the aid of Western Australia for the defence of the continent; but if the central line were diverted to the east, troops travelling from Perth to Port Darwin would have to take a very roundabout route.
– - Does the honorable member think that the enemy will let us pick our battle-ground ?
– Naturally the enemy will attack us where we are weakest, and at present Port Darwin seems to be the likeliest spot for an attack. We must, therefore, strengthen it with fortifications, and provide railway communication from the various centres of population. The sooner the Commonwealth takes control of the Territory, the better it will be in the interests of the whole people. South Australia could not be expected to burden herself by the construction of a transcontinental line for the defence of the Commonwealth. In my opinion, the agreement entered into by a former Government is a fair one. It has now been before Parliament on several occasions, and I trust that this Bill to ratify it will become law as soon as possible. The present and future interests of Australia make it necessary that we should obtain control of the Northern Territory at the earliest moment.
.- I cannot allow this important measure to pass without having something to say about the proposals before us, though I should have preferred to hear the views of others before continuing the discussion. I must preface my remarks with an appreciation of the indebtedness of Australia to the State of South Australia for its courageous action in taking over the Northern Territory in 1863.. and preventing its occupation by coloured races. No praise can be too extravagant to apply to the action of the State in that regard. Unfortunately her forty-seven years of administration have been an admitted failure. Although over £5,000,000 has been spent in the Territory during that period, development has been very slow, and there is an annual loss of nearly £250,000. One of the worst features of the matter is that the population is decreasing. South Australia, in 1880, had a population of 276,393, and in 1907, a population of 392,664, while the population of the Northern Territory in 1881 was 3,435, consisting of 670 Europeans and 2,765 coloured persons, and in 1909, twenty years later, the population was 3,014. This is a saddening state of affairs, though, fortunately, the figures show that the European population has increased by 1,274, while the coloured population has decreased by 1,740. According to the memorandum on the Northern Territory, issued in July, 1909, by the honorable member for Darling Downs, who was then Minister of External Affairs -
The net result of the land legislation is seen in the table showing the areas over which the Crown, either temporarily or permanently, has parted with control, but although the pastoral industry has in parts been well established, the population returns show that the country is still practically uninhabited.
The Government Resident, in his report for 1909, says that we are faced with a grave responsibility by reason of the everincreasing number of half-castes. In 1895 a Royal Commission, appointed from South Australia, summarized the opinions of witnesses regarding the causes of the unsatisfactory condition of the Territory in the following words -
The failure of the Government to recognise in its management of the Northern Territory the distinctly tropical character of the greater portion of the country.
The absence of a bold and vigorous Government policy in the administration of the Colony.
The non-success of mining was said to be due to -
Mismanagement, inexperience, extravagance, and the erection of obsolete and other unsuitable machinery.
Lax administration of the law in regard to working conditions.
The pastoral industry did not prosper because of -
Speculative gambling in leases.
Too large leases for lessees to comply with the stocking conditions.
The absence of ‘ near or suitable markets for the stock.
The want of permanent water in many districts.
The failure of agriculture was attributed to-
The survey and subsequent cultivation of land unsuitable for agriculture entailing a loss to those engaged in the industry.
Bad management, extravagance, and incompetency.
I have no desire to find fault with the administration of South Australia. Indeed, when one looks at the map, and sees the immense distance between Adelaide and its settled districts and the Northern Territory, with no other communication than that provided by steamers, one cannot wonder at the result. Although South Australia has borne the burden of administration bravely for many years, it is thought the time has come when the whole Commonwealth should take it over. It has been stated that the expenditure, which it is proposed that we shall take over, amounts to only 7d. per acre, which seems a ridiculous price to pay for the land, but in view of some of the reports upon the country, the price might well be extravagant. I am not so much concerned about the bargain that is being offered to us. It is not only the cost now that has to be considered. We have to face the fact that not only is there a heavy loss on the administration at present, but that the expenditure to which we are asked to commit ourselves means an increasing loss - one which no one has been able, or has attempted, yet to calculate. As to the character of the country, I shall content myself with reference to a map issued under the direction of the Minister for the Territory, Mr. O’Loughlin, and prepared by the Government Geologist, Mr. Brown. ‘This map divides the Territory according to thf character of the lands into pastoral, good pastoral, and first class pastoral country. As to pastoral country, we are told -
Pastoral country well watered, good soil, along rivers and creeks ; tropical vegetation and coarse grass, good feed after burning; subject to tropical rainfall (54 inches Port Darwin, and 19 inches Daly Waters, for T905) ; parts metalbearing and probably coal-bearing. Approximate area - 158,000 square miles.
I do not know very much about the pastoral business, and its technical details ; but I know that if grass is good only after burning, it is coarse, rank, and practically of no use when not burned.
– That is a matter of not having sufficient stock.
– The good pastoral country is thus described: -
Good pastoral country, often rich volcanic soil, well grassed ; basalt’, sandstone, and lime stone hills, wide plains, and river flats ; wellwatered ; subject to intermittent tropical rains. Approximate area - 34,300 square miles.
Of the first-class pastoral country, we are told-
First-class pastoral country, open, wellgrassed, rich soil, possibly agriculture ; subject to intermittent tropical rains. Approximate area - 29,000 square miles.
That is what is known as the Barklay tableland.
– No; it is the Victoria Downs country.
– I am not responsible for the statements made in this document. That land is, I believe, really first class country, and is admitted to be so by all experts. We are further told -
Patches of g’ood country for pastoral purposes, chiefly along creeks and rivers; patches of spinifex scrub and sand hills ; uncertain rainfall ; parts metal-bearing. Approximate area - 148,000 square miles.
Honorable members will see that that is the part which will be traversed by the proposed transcontinental line -
Spinifex scrub and sand-hill country, willi patches of inferior pastoral country ; badly watered and uncertain rainfall ; parts metalbearing. Approximate area - 162,100 square miles. ‘
That is all I propose to say in regard to the character of the country. I should be quite prepared to vote for the second reading but for the unfortunate conditions that are attached to the Bill. Honorable members seem to be practically unanimous that it is our urgent duty to take over this Territory, but ‘there is one point of difference which is so absolutely important that, unless it is removed, 1 shall be prepared to vote against the Bill at every stage.-
– Is it more important than the taking over of the Territory?
– I think so. What I propose is to show the absolute absence of any necessity for this proposed railway - to show, not only its inopportuneness but its uselessness. The difficulty of the situation is much intensified by the attitude of the Minister of External AffairsWhatever obstacles there were when the measure was previously before the House are increased now by his attitude of “ the agreement as it stands, or nothing.” If there were any indication on the part of the honorable gentleman that in Committee he would be prepared to accept suggestions, or permit some departure from the uncompromising conditions laid down, the Bill might very well be allowed to pass. the second reading, when we could join forces,- and endeavour to make it a good, useful measure.
– It is an agreement between two parties, one having accepted it through its Parliament.
– Yesterday, we had the Leader of the Opposition telling us that this same agreement was interpreted in one way when previously before the House, and is now being interpreted in quite a different way. I confess myself unable to understand the position of the Leader of the Opposition, who is prepared to -accept the Bill, although not because he thinks the conditions are right, for he regards them as wrong.
– He helped to make them.
– And apparently he objects to them because he did help to make them ; and, as I say, I cannot understand his attitude. If we are asked to swallow the agreement whole, we may be excused from accepting the Bill. If I have to be tied down to “ Yes “ or “ No,” I must say “ No,” even if the result be the loss of the measure. And if the measure be lost, then all the responsibility for the continuation of the present state of affairs must rest on the South Australian Parliament. Personally, I should refuse to accept any responsibility so long as the South Australian Government presented simply the two alternatives - accept the agreement as a whole, or reject it. The honorable member for Riverina told us that the necessity for this transcontinental railway was primarily for defence, and secondly for development. As to the former, I think I am going to strike rather an unusual note. I may say at once that the argument as to the necessity for this railway for defence purposes seems to me altogether unreasonable, unnecessary, and wide of the mark. I am not at all alarmed at what we are told about the dangers of invasion via the Northern Territory. If there is any danger of invasion by way of the Northern Territory, there is equal danger of invasion in any other part of northern Australia. No part of northern Australia is in any way protected from invasion. Port Darwin, if any place, would “be best able to repel an invasion, if one were attempted, because there we have some settlement. We have been told that the Asiatic hordes to the north of Australia are fearful and menacing; and I have no wish to minimize our risk in that direction, because it is a danger to Australia to be in such close proximity to those overflowing countries. At the same time I am not afraid of invasion. It will be admitted, I think, that the whole of the northern coast is open to invasion equally with the Northern Territory - that there is no more danger in the Territory than anywhere else. Therefore, if this line has to be built for defence purposes, it has to accomplish a certain object in regard to defence. There is no power in the world to-day that has facilities to land a sufficient force in any part of Australia, or, if a force were landed, to keep up the line of communication with their base of operations.
– Could not Japan do so with her present fleet?
– Japan, I should say, would be the least able of all the Asiatic forces to do so at the present time.
– She could land her forces here in three weeks.
– An enemy must be able not only to land a sufficient force, but to maintain that force here - to find food, clothing, and munitions- of war, and keep up an unfailing line of communication. We can well remember, in the case of the Boer war, how it was admitted by the press of the world that no other nation than the British could have carried on operations at such a distance, and that Britain was enabled to do so, only by reason of the enormous shipping tonnage at her disposal.
– Look at the difference in the distances !
– Distance is only a comparatively small matter when we remember the fact that there is no Asiatic nation with anything like the transport facilities necessary. No nation in the world could land from 10,000 to 50,000 men in any part of the Northern Territory, and there make them self-supporting; and, as I have said, all supplies would have to come from their base of operations, thus necessitating a clear line of communication.
– An Asiatic enemy would find all the conditions to which he is accustomed in his own country.
– But an enemy would not be able to stay sufficiently long to grow the necessary food. The proposed transcontinental railway would afford the most roundabout means of reaching an invading force in the Northern Territory. If the advantages of such a railway were believed by an enemy to be. as great as some. honorable members appear to think they would be, then, in the event of its construction, the invaders would simply divert their scheme, and land at some point where we had no such railway communication.
– Port Darwin is the only port in northern Australia at which a considerable force could be landed.
– An invading army could be landed in the Gulf of Carpentaria, or at certain points along the northern and north-west coast of Western Australia. We have nothing at Port Darwin to repel an invading force.
– Does the honorable member pit his opinion against that of Lord Kitchener ?
– I think that I shall be able to fire Lord Kitchener’s opinion very effectively at the honorable member. I have always been impressed with the belief that it is very easy to land an invading force in a foreign country, but most difficult to maintain one there, or to withdraw it. Very soon after an invading force had landed in Northern Australia, the British naval power would cut off ils line of communication, and we should have it entirely at our mercy.
– The British naval power is in the North Sea.
– And also in the Pacific. In any event, why are we proposing to expend. £2,000,000 on an Australian navy unless that navy is to be available to cut off an enemy’s line of communication when it has succeeded in effecting a landing on our shores ? If the Minister of External Affairs were directing the expansion of Japan, and in that capacity seeking a foothold for an army in Australia, he would be the last to suggest that the invasion should be made at an unoccupied point. It is only reasonable to assume that an invading force would strike at Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, or one of the other State capitals. No enemy would think of landing an invading force 1,000 miles distant from a centre of population. It would aim a blow at one of our large centres. Is it reasonable to assume that an invading force would be landed at a point from which it would have to march 1,000 miles with a view of striking at one of our large centres and of capturing the strongest place that we held? No invading force would lae likely to land in the northern part of Australia with that object in view. The only danger is that an enemy might land, and become permanently located there, because of our difficulties in sending up an army to dislodge him. On. this point, let me make a quotation from the report presented by Lord Kitchener -
I would also mention that railway construction has, while developing the country, resulted in lines that would appear to be more favorable to an enemy - invading Australia than to the defence of the country.
– That is a reference to the break of gauge.
– I am coming to that.
Different gauges in. most of the States isolate each system, and the* want of systematic interior connexion makes the present lines running inland of little use for defence, though possibly of considerable value to an enemy who would have temporary command of the sea.
In one of his speeches here, Lord Kitchener advised the people to decide upon a definite railway policy for Australia.
– And transcontinental railways north and south ?
– He did not even suggest such a foolish scheme. He urged that we should proceed immediately to develop an Australian railway policy, and to form a railway council of war. He emphasized the point that we should decide upon a standard gauge; that we should link up our State railway systems, and have our railways so controlled that we should be able to rapidly concentrate our forces and aim an effective blow at any point on the coast. It seems to me that for defence purposes we should have railways constructed, so to speak, in a semicircle, running at an irregular distance from the coast, and linking up the lines stretching inland. In this way we should have at the termini of our present systems railways that would not only provide facilities for the people, but be of material assistance for defence purposes. They would greatly facilitate the work of dislodging an invading force at any point. Our coastal regions will necessarily be for all time the most populous parts of Australia, and if we have an army it must be drawn from the populous centres. Unless we have reasonable railway facilities to convey, that army from those populous centres to any likely point of attack, our scheme of defence must fail. We need to link up our existing railway systems and make them feeders of one grand Federal railway scheme that will enable us to command any and every point. Before we adopt a railway policy of any kind we must determine the question of a standard gauge. Some years ago a conference of State Railway Commissioners unanimously agreed upon a standard gauge of 4 ft. 8J in., yet we are asked to-day to accept a proposal that means, according to the estimates submitted, the building of a line over 1,000 miles in length on a gauge that is declared to be unsuitable and ineffective.
– We have not fixed upon any gauge.
– But all the estimates in regard to the cost of this transcontinental railway are based upon -a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge. I trust that before the Federal Government tie themselves to any particular railway policy we shall determine the gauge to be adopted, and that by means of a conference or a committee of experts we shall enter upon a bold national policy of railway construction that will have as its first and most essential purpose the giving of reasonable and suitable defence facilities. The present proposal to construct a transcontinental railway connecting Adelaide with Port Darwin does not come within that ideal. Before we could entrain troops at Port Augusta we should have to draw them from Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, or Brisbane, and we should then be faced with the difficulty of carrying them across a great stretch of country to Port Darwin. All who have given any attention to the question agree that the future population of Australia will be chiefly concentrated along the eastern coast-line. The trend of population is very largely eastwards from Adelaide and thence towards the north, and that concentration of population will become more marked in the future. Whatever proposals we may have for our defence, we must not forget that the forces we hope to put into the field at Port Darwin to repel this largely imaginary invasion must be drawn from the centres of population, and that the proposed transcontinental railway could not help us much in that respect. If they were drawn from Melbourne we should have first of all the difficulty of the break of gauge at Port Augusta. If they were drawn from Sydney there would be the break of gauge at Albury, and again on the South Australian Side; whilst if they were drawn from Brisbane there would be three breaks of gauge to overcome. If we are in search of the longest possible route to Port Darwin for our forces we shall certainly build the proposed transcontinental railway
– Does not the honorable member think that other State railways would be linked up with the Northern Territory line?
– Who can imagine that “New South Wales would build railways to link up her system with the transcontinental line?
– Sydney will soon be linked up with Broken Hill, and if Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne are connected with the transcontinental line, we shall have three-fourths of our population iri close touch with it.
– If a line were carried from Port Augusta to Broken Hill, thence towards Cunnamulla, and finally to Port Darwin, the present railway systems could be linked up with it. The development of the Northern Territory must be considered in connexion with the proposed transcontinental line, and that development must relate to its mineral, pastoral, and agricultural possibilities. We are told that one reason why we should spend £5,000,000 - and that is a very conservative estimate - on the building of this line, is that it would develop extensive mining fields. Of all the arguments advanced in favour of building this transcontinental line that surely is the most foolish. No valuable mining field in Australia to-day was opened up by a railway.
– What about the Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie fields?
– The principal mining centres in Australia had proved their value before a railway readied them.
– Broken Hill had not.
– Every piece of mineral country has been developed by railway communication, but in their initial stages our mining fields were not associated with railway construction. They had proved their stability long before a railway touched them. Some of the gold-fields that have been opened up, including some of the most precious and valuable mineral country in Australia, have had to stagger along under very serious disadvantages through want of railways, and we are only beginning to find out now how necessary and useful it is to extend railway facilities to those districts. But honorable members must not overlook the fact that mining has never yet permanently settled any country. Any part of the country that depends solely upon mining is always in more or less danger of losing its population. There are plenty of places in Queensland which “Were originally mining centres, but as the “mineral value decreased the agricultural prospects came to The front, and development took place in that way. Mining pure and simple neither develops a country nor permanently, settles a population on it. That is naturally so, because mining “must in time work itself out of existence, although, of course, the richer and wider “the field the longer the process takes. Dotted all over Australia can be found numbers of places which were at one time mining fields, carrying hundreds or thousands of people, but which now carry only a handful, or in some cases none at all. It is obvious that mining interests them.selves would not justify the building of a mile of railway anywhere, unless there “is something behind them, or a guarantee “that the field is wide and rich enough to return a reasonable income for the expense “involved. Mining, therefore, on its own account is by no means a tangible or satisfactory reason for building this transcontinental railway. The next consideration is the pastoral interest, and it must be ad”mitted that the Northern Territory offers very wide and valuable prospects for pastoral occupation. It may be generally accepted that whatever hope we may have of ‘usefully occupying the lands available In the Territory is based on pastoral occupation. The major portion of the country is suitable for that only. According to the statistics furnished by Mr. Brown, the South Australian Government Geologist, there are thousands of square miles of pastoral country of more or less good quality in the Territory. Tt has been already stated in the debate that we have in the centre of Australia possibly an ideal place for horse-breeding - a country where horses might be able to roam for many hundreds of miles. From the very fact of the’ poor character of- the country, and of the horses being compelled to scratch, as it were, for a living, we should be able to raise a very valuable and hardy breed there. You will always get better horses, and, in fact, better animals generally where they have to go to some trouble to get their living. The same thing applies to the human animal. A man who has to work hard for his jiving, to scratch and plot and plan, and think carefully of whatever he does is the man that develops well, physically and mentally, whereas the man brought up in the lap of luxury, who has neither to plan nor to work, is the effeminate sample of human animal that we occasionally see. There are hundreds of miles of country in the centre of Australia where, owing to the poor character of the land, we could produce a breed of horse most suitable for any work requiring endurance.
– He would be a very attenuated animal by the time the honorable member had finished with him.
– So far from that being true, the honorable member would find if he took a trip to Shetland or Norway, or even down to Port Melbourne or Williamstown, to interview the officers on the Terra Nova, that the short, thick-set enduring ponies are got, not from warm, but from cold countries, where they have absolutely to starve for their living. However paradoxical that may sound, it is true. It is the very fact that these ponies are starving all the time that makes them so hardy and enduring, and able to assimilate their food when they ‘do get it. Possibly, if a few more of the members of the House were to keep up the active life we previously led, instead of the rather lazy, life that we are compelled to live now, we might be more vigorous mentally as well as physically. Pastoral occupation is by no means synonymous with population, and no .railway can be built for pastoral purposes only. We are particularly asked to take the Territory over in order to populate it, and no railway yet made for purely pastoral purposes has ever paid for axle grease. In Queensland railways were run out into the pastoral country in years gone by through the influence of the squatters. They never paid until a new method of populating the country was devised. They were a continual loss to the State, and if the proposed transcontinental railway is to be built for pastoral purposes it will mean building a line that we know will be a yearly increasing burden, saddling us continually with a heavy deficit.
– The honorable member is depreciating the property that he intends to take over.
– I am giving my idea of the country, derived not from personal knowledge, but from the information supplied to me by the South Australian Government Geologist. If his statements regarding_ the character of the country are wrong, then I suppose that my arguments based on them are also wrong. The third phase of development that would justify the building of a railway is closer settlement, which is an’ urgent necessity in Australia. In spite of all the statements made by honorable members opposite, either in the House or through the press, I say. emphatically, as a member of the Labour party, that I should welcome any scheme of immigration that would settle the people of the older countries on the lands of Australia, and put those lands to profitable use. We are not opposed to immigration, but are prepared to give a hearty and cordial support to any reasonable scheme that means the opening up of the lands. Closer settlement will, of necessity, extend from the coast inland. The idea suggested by the building of the transcontinental railway is that we are going to settle the Northern Territory from the centre outwards. As a matter of defence, it is necessary to settle the population of Australia along the sea-coast; indeed, the only closer settlement possible in Australia is in those districts. Our worst difficulty lies in the fact that the most valuable agricultural lands, which have easy access to the sea, are locked up ; and men desiring to go in for agricultural pursuits have to go any distance from 100 to 500 miles out into the back country, where they are handicapped by having to draw their supplies long distances and pay extravagant railway freights before their produce can reach the markets. The extent of the agricultural development of Australia will depend on the possibility of finding markets for produce. I am sure that the Federal Parliament will not follow the foolish policy adopted in New South Wales of centralizing all the trade of the State into one port. I believe we are willing, to let the trade of the country find an outlet at its natural ports. It is, therefore, our business to see that easy access to the sea is provided for the men carrying on agriculture in the interior. But does any honorable member know of agriculture in the form of closer settlement that is being carried on at a very great distance from the coast?
– Yes ; 600 miles inland.
– That is the very outside distance. Looking at the map of Australia we see that the agricultural population, generally speaking, occupies simply a thin margin around the coastline.
– That only proves we want more population.
– It proves that whatever population we may have in the way of closer settlement in the Northern Terri tory will of necessity be located near the coastline of the Territory. The agricultural population of Australia, as I have said, is settled along the coast, which is where we need population for defence purposes.
– Our best land is not near the coast.
– The land near the coast is more suitable for agriculture than that further inland, not merely because of the character of the soil, but because it is easy of access, and has cheap means of transport. At a distance varying from 100 to 400 miles from the coast, are to be found rich river flats and valuable agricultural areas, on which close settlement is possible. If settlement increases in the Northern Territory, it will be situated chiefly in the coastal districts. It is not likely, however, while extensive areas are available in other parts of the continent in reasonable proximity to markets and centres of population, that many persons will isolate themselves in the Northern Territory. People will not bury themselves in the wilderness when they can get land in settled districts close to market. Probably there will not be much settlement in the Northern Territory for many years to come.
– Would the honorable member be surprised to find 500,000 persons settled there fifteen years hence?
– I should be exceedingly gratified. But, during the last forty-seven years, the population of the Northern Territory has decreased, and I do not see that the transfer of the administration from South Australia to the Commonwealth will make much difference in the immediate future.
– If Queensland were governed from Perth, it would be as badly off as is the Northern Territory now.
– The Northern Territory, if governed from Melbourne, would not be much better off than if governed from Adelaide. Before men take up land, they consider, not only the possibilities of obtaining produce from it, but the means for marketing that produce. What means is there for marketing produce grown in the Northern Territory ? Nothing could bemore absurd than to assume that the construction of the proposed transcontinental railway line will tend to produce close settlement.
– Then why are the railways stretching out into the interior of Queensland ?
– The one district in the Northern Territory suitable for close settlement is the Barklay tableland.
– The honorable member says that because the district is near to the Queensland border.
– I have always made it a practice to believe the best of others, even when they differed from me, and the honorable gentleman’s insinuation is unworthy of him. The natural outlet of the produce from the Barklay district would be by the water-courses which run into the Gulf of Carpentaria, on which small steamers or lighters could carry it down to the larger vessels, which now trade from there to the eastern coast of Australia. Furthermore, the Queensland Government contemplate making a railway from Cloncurry to Camooweal, which will tap the Barklay tableland. The proposed transcontinental railway would not serve that district at all. Settlers on the tableland would not send their produce 200 . or 300 miles in preference to sending it 100 or 150 miles. Naturally, they would select the cheapest, easiest, and speediest means of transport. The Queensland Government is to-day more alive to the possibilities of the northern parts of Australia than that of South Australia seems to be. Produce grown on the Barklay tableland would either find an outlet by way of Camooweal, Winton, and Longreach, to Rockhampton, or go north to the Gulf of Carpentaria. The history of our railway construction is the history of attempts to divert trade from its proper channels, and in the case of New South Wales the result has been the aggrandisement of Sydney at the expense of the State. I hope that the policy of the past in this connexion will not be continued in the future. I object to the Commonwealth Government undertaking a spasmodic or partial railway policy. Before we construct railways, we must know what is to be done. I do not understand what right the Constitution gives us to construct railways in State territory without State authority, but, in any case, difficulty is likely to arise where Commonwealth and State railways are in the same district.
– All difficulties of that kind will be settled by the passing of my Bill.
– I am not an enthusiast for the federalization of the railways, because, while it might have great possibilities, it would have serious disadvantages. It would be a good thing to have a uniform gauge, and the freest intercourse between the States ; but it is questionable whether the time is ripe for the federalization of the railways. The passing of the Bill, however, will commit us to a partial railway policy, and no Commonwealth railway policy is commendable which will not be national and comprehensive. While I am opposed to heavy loan expenditure for some purposes, I would welcome the borrowing of money for the development of the country by railway construction. Nothing tends more to progress than the providing of railway communication. Although no time is specified in the Bill for the construction of the proposed transcontinental line, we should be expected, if the agreement were ratified, to make it within a reasonable time. It is estimated that the line would cost about £5,000,000, but we shall have to provide also for rolling-stock, and meet an annual loss of £250,000 on the administration of the Territory, together with the loss on the existing line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta and on the line that has to be made. At a very low estimate, this would mean an annual deficit of £500,000. We must pause before committing ourselves to such an arrangement. The expenditure of the Commonwealth is increasing by leaps and bounds, and one of the arguments used against Federation is that it is increasing the cost of government enormously. Our revenue is’ expanding, but our expenditure is also increasing very rapidly; and yet it is coolly proposed, on the invitation of South Australia, to load ourselves with another £500,000 of expenditure per annum in order to make up a deficit. I think I have established the fact that there is no hope of any return from this railway in the near future in the way of providing revenue towards the deficit, or towards the repayment of the original loan.
– The burden will be no more than South Australia is carrying now.
– And it is because South Australia finds the burden too heavy that she is trying to shift it.
– The honorable member says that it is unreasonable to ask the Commonwealth to carry the burden; but South Australia is now carrying it.
– South Australia is only carrying the burden of the administration of the Territory, and the loss on the railway. I am heartily in favour of immediately relieving South Australia of this burden; indeed, I go further, and say that, if South Australia . will name Its price for the Northern Territory, I am prepared to stretch a good deal to that end, and thus afford the Federal Government an opportunity to develop the Territory. That, however, is a very different proposition to asking the Commonwealth to undertake an expenditure which is estimated at £10,000,000, but which, I am prepared to say, will reach £15,000,000 to £20,000,000. There is no hope that, during the next fifty years, this railway will yield any reasonable amount towards the working expenses.
– We have only to develop the gold-fields in the MacDonnell Ranges, and the line will pay at once.
– Had the honorable member heard my argument, he would have been satisfied that no railway solely for mining or pastoral purposes has ever paid ; the only railways that pay, or are reasonably likely to pay, are those constructed to encourage closer settlement.
– How about Kalgoorlie? There is no agriculture there.
– All the mining fields of Australia had proved their value before they were touched by railways. No doubt the railways assisted the development of gold-fields, but mining of itself is not sufficient reason for railway construction, because it offers no guarantee for permanent settlement.
– One instance to the contrary is Kalgoorlie.
– And what of Broken Hill?
– I have talked much longer than 1 expected ; and I shall close with a word or two in regard to our national policy. I am well aware that honorable members will heavily discount my attitude, because I am a Queerislander ; but I am prepared to be misunderstood and misjudged, and told thatI am prejudiced. At any rate, I have the approval of my own conscience. If I have one regret in regard to the map exhibited on the wall of this chamber, it is that it shows the boundaries of the States. It seems increasingly difficult to divest ourselves of our particular interests in our particular States, but itis increasingly necessary that we should forget that we belong to this State or the other, and that we should approach a question of such tremendous importance as that now before us in a national spirit. Whatever other honorable members may say in regard to my position, I am trying honestly and fairly to look at this question from a national aspect. For that reason, I could have wished that all the boundary marks of the States had been obliterated from the map ; and I commend to Ministers and others who may have to submit maps to this Chamber not to encourage State ideas in this way. It would be a greater advantage if we could obliterate from our mind the fact that there are divisions between the States. The Senate may be justified in taking another view; but in this Chamber we ought to forget for the time that we come from the north, . the south, the east, or the west. It is because I feel that we are not yet ready for a Federal or national railway policy that I hesitate by my vote to commit the Federal Government to the building of a transcontinental line; and the more so because the agreement not only commits us to the building of the railway with all its disadvantages, but also the taking over of an existing railway in South Australia. What the position will be when the FederalGovernment owns and controls a railway in a State I do not quite know ; indeed, I do not think that the question has ever yet been discussed. I do not think, however, that it would be conducive to satisfactory working for the Federal Government to run a railway in a State, because that must of necessity lead to competition. According to the agreement, we are bound to take over the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, and carry goods and passengers at present rates. We are thus absolutely tying our hands for an indefinite time, so that we shall be able to develop this line only in the way that South Australia chooses to permit us. In my opinion, South Australia is trying to drive too hard a bargain. If my South Australian friends would realize that there is a national question behind all this, they would reserve to themselves the right to run their own railways, and would not be willing to hand over their line to the Federal Government. To do so is altogether anticipating the policy of the Federal Government, whatever that policy may be; and it is necessary now to go very carefully. I am just as anxious to conserve the interests of South Australia as I am to conserve the in- terests of any other State ; and I am not favorable to the idea of the control of even this piece of line being handed over to the Commonwealth.
– I can hear the honorable member’s crocodile tears falling !
– As I said before, I am quite prepared to be misunderstood and misjudged. I cannot see that the proposals before us will conduce to that Federal and fraternal spirit which we are all so anxious to develop. We should encourage each State to develop its own territory as far as possible consistent with the rights and privileges of other States. I suggest that our South Australian friends should, if possible, abandon their “ stand and deliver “ attitude, and should allow the route of the railway, which is the only question dividing the House, to be determined by experts. Whether the line goes east or west - straight through the Northern Territory or diverging into Queensland, or even Western Australia - that is a much more reasonable proposition than the one now before us. But we are asked to take “ the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill “ - it is not a double-barrelled gun, but a six-chamber revolver, fully loaded. If the South Australian Government are, indeed, Nationalists - and I am willing to give them every credit in this connexion - they will allow the Federal Government to decide, through their own experts, after a full knowledge of the facts, what is the best route. We have to face the fact that there has been no survey of the route, and that this is an absolutely unknown territory, so far as railway construction is concerned. I have proved, more or less effectively, that the railway line suggested will not be useful for defence, and will not assist mining or pastoral occupation, and least of all will it assist closer settlement.
– It has not been my good fortune to visit the Northern Territory; but I have sought information in the best way open to me on this great and important question. One of the best authorities I know is Professor Baldwin Spencer, whom I had the privilege of hearing lecture on the subject of the Northern Territory. The lecturer, who had a cinematograph which vividly represented the portions of the country he had visited, said that the Territory consisted of excellent pastoral and agricultural land, and was fit for a white population. I am indebted, not only to Professor Baldwin
Spencer for information, but also to the Lone Hand, the Sydney Mail, the Review of Reviews and, lastly, but not least, the Melbourne Age. It will probably be within the memory of honorable members that a Commissioner from the Melbourne Age accompanied the Federal Parliamentary party which visited the Northern Territory in 1907, and he has supplied information that has proved invaluable to all of us. I read his articles at the time of their publication with great interest, and took care to preserve them. Dealing in the first place with the question of climate, he expressed the opinion that the climatic conditions of the Northern Territory were for the most part excellent, and well suited to a white population. He also stated that there had been discovered in the Territory some very rich mining country, one reef having yielded as big a return as 1.0 ounces to the ton. It was owing to bad management, he declared, that mining companies had failed. Expensive machinery was erected, and large sums were devoted to building elaborate houses for the mining managers, instead of being used in deep sinking and general developmental work. The honorable member for Moreton, the honorable member for Brisbane, and several others have suggested that the Northern Territory is dry and arid. The fact is that it has sixteen excellent rivers, some of which are navigable. I am informed that the Victoria River is navigable for a distance oT about 60 miles by a boat drawing about 10 feet of water. I should like now to draw attention to a statement published by the Age Commissioner in 1907, relative to Victoria Downs, a portion of the Territory outside the area described by the honorable member for Brisbane as comprising the only rich lands to be found there. The Commissioner admitted that he went up north prejudiced against the Territory, but returned a convert to the proposal that the Commonwealth should take it over. Writing of the rich country on the Victoria River known as the Victoria Downs station, he stated -
An indication of the value of this property’ is shown in the fact that the stock last year were returned at 60,000 horned cattle. They exported 21,000 during the year, and branded 15,000. The stock now on the property is 75,000; therefore, the total increase is 36,000, representing an enormous fortune.
That one station was feeding 75,000 head of cattle, and in the year 1907 branded no less than 15,000 head. Here we have information showing the potentialities of the
Territory from the point of view of stockraising. The Lakewood basin comprises 200,000 square miles - or nearly two and a half times the area of Victoria - and the whole of it consists of good pastoral, and some of it of good agricultural country. When the present Leader of the Opposition first advocated the taking over of the Territory, I stood almost alone in Tasmania in support of the proposal. I spoke in its favour at many public meetings, and had to encounter much opposition, due to the fact that the people of my State knew no more of the country than the honorable member for Brisbane apparently knows of it. But after we had educated the people to a true knowledge of its possibilities a change came over the scene, and. on the 13th April last I was returned to this House by an enormous majority pledged to support the transfer. I stated throughout the campaign that if returned I should advocate the taking over of the Territory and also the building of the proposed transcontinental railway, believing that it would tend to the advantage not only of the Northern Territory itself, but of the whole Commonwealth. We are told by a recognised authority that there grow in the Northern Territory 600’ plants which could be put tQ economic uses, and also that portion of the Territory is well suited to the production of cotton. An honorable member has informed the House that the Territory is very’ dry, and that in some parts horses would have to scratch for a living. The truth is that there are splendid grasses. There is good grass all the year round in many parts, and the cattle are always in excellent condition. A writer in the Sydney Mail or the Lone Hand - I forget for the moment which - said that he had ridden a horse off the grass in the Northern Territory a distance of 70 miles, and an animal fresh off the grass that could carry a man over that journey at one stretch must have been in -good grazing country. Another illustration of the capacity of the country to carry stock is in the fact that herds of buffaloes exist there, and have proved a source of considerable revenue. A resident of Palmerston pays native boys 6d. a head for killing buffaloes, and has made a large fortune by selling the buffalo hides in London at an average of £2 each. I am told by a reliable authority that the hides are sent thence to Russia, where they are tanned, and that the manufactured article is then returned to Australia and sold for bookbinding purposes as the best Russian leather. Most of the so-called “ best Russian leather “ used for book-binding purposes has come from Australian buffalohides. Leather merchants are crying out for an export duty to encourage the tanning industry, yet the export trade in hides is being encouraged by our failure to take over the Territory.
– Over 50,000 buffalo hides have been exported, yet we cannot exterminate the animals.
– Here is a quotation on the point -
Mr. Lawrie is a butcher monopolist at Palmerston, where he resides. He keeps about joo store cattle on the run for butchering purposes, but does not breed cattle. He uses his enormous holding simply for the buffalo running wild there, which he employs black boys to shoot, supplying them with cartridges and paying 6d. per hide, of the average value of 40s. each on the London market. Last year he killed’ 800 without causing any sensible diminution itv the herds, which breed faster than they can be shot down.
These buffaloes exist in so-called arid country where one would imagine, after listening to the honorable member for Brisbane, there is not enough feed for a. goat.
– When did I make such a statement?
– The whole trend of the honorable member’s speech was in the direction of showing that the Territory is not worth developing. The honorable member made a “ come -in-out-of -the- rain “ sort of speech - a speech which would enable him, while supporting the second reading of the Bill, to propose in Committee an> amendment that would make it not worth the paper it is printed on. A great deal of emphasis has been laid on the cost of developing the Territory. Doubtless the expenditure will be very great, but can we, as Australians, avoid it? If we leave South Australia to develop the Territory,, will not the people of Australia still be responsible for the debt which it incurs in that way? At no distant date the Commonwealth will take over the debts of the States, and create one funded stock, so -that if South Australia retains possession of the Territory, and develops it by means of a loan policy, we shall eventually have to bear the cost. I suggest to honorable members that we should take over the Territory, bear the first cost of developing it, and be able to determine . for ourselves how the money shall be expended. That would be a truly national policy. I speak as a disinterested member, representing the southernmost State of the Commonwealth^,, and I regretted to hear the parochial speeches made by so-called disinterested representatives - speeches which, if this Bill be passed, will do much to retard the progress of the Territory. If the construction of the proposed railway were allowed to remain an open question, we should have in this Parliament a big fight as to the route to be adopted. The honorable member for Brisbane said that no State would allow the Commonwealth to construct a railway within its borders, but if a line were constructed through the Northern Territory to the Queensland border, the Government of that State would very quickly connect it with its own railway system. The Northern Territory line would thus act as a feeder for the Queensland railway system, and would not be a paying concern, since the most profitable portion of the trade would be secured by the adjoining State. We owe much to South Australia for keeping this Territory white. I am informed that the State Government could have sold it for something like £10,000,000.
– It is not nonsense. My informant is a gentleman who occupied an honorable position in the South Australian Parliament, and is now a member of the Senate. He gave me his assurance that the State Government could have sold the Territory for £10,000,000, provided the employment of coloured labour in the development of the country had been permitted.
– Name-one authority for that statement.
– The South Australians stood out for a White Australia, and the Commonwealth should stand by them. The honorable member for Franklin thinks that he will gain a little kudos in Tasmania by voting against this proposal to develop an important part of the Commonwealth. He thinks that, because he represents the little State of Tasmania, he can indulge in this sort of parochialism, which, if carried into effect, would tend to damage the Commonwealth. But I am going to take the risk of advocating the transfer of the Territory. I know the people of Tasmania as well as does the honorable member for Franklin, and I think I can safely tell them that I am here, not as a Tasmanian, but as an Australian, anxious to make Australia one of the brightest jewels in the British Crown. I am confident that the people of Tasmania will stand by me.
– Will the honorable member give one authority for his statement as to the offer of £10,000,000 for the Territory.
– I can give the name of the senator, although, for the moment, it has escaped my memory.
– I do not want the name of a senator. If his statement is. correct, it must appear in some official document.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity to refutemy statement if he can.
– The statement is to be found in the correspondence between the Premier of South Australia and the exPrime Minister.
– Why is it that South Australia, although she has held the Northern Territory for forty-seven years, has been unable to develop it? The real reason is, in my opinion, the fact that the northern line stopped at Oodnadatta instead of being carried on to the MacDonnell Ranges, where, the authorities tell us, 1,000,000. people could be settled on landthat is ready for occupation, and does not even need to be cleared. Had the South Australian Government had sufficient money to carry the railway on to the MacDonnell Ranges they would not have been in the sad plight they are in at present through stopping the railway at Oodnadatta. Next comes the most important question of the occupation of the Territory, for defence purposes, by a white race. No less an authority than Lord Northcote stated that the Territory was not the back door, but the sentinel of Australia. That gentleman will compare favorably as an expert with the. honorable member for Brisbane, who posed as a military authority this afternoon, He stated that it was absolutely essential for us to occupy that great unoccupied Territory if we wished to make Australia safe. I think I have said sufficient to justify me in voting, notonly for the second reading of the Bill, but, in Committee, for every clause that will bring about the taking over of the Territory by the Commonwealth. I shall not vote for the introduction into the measure of a clause that will simply mean killing it. The South Australian people are not going to fool us, nor are they going to let us fool them. They want us to take over the Territory in the terms of the agreement submitted to us. If we do not do so they will retain it and develop it, eventually, at the cost of the Commonwealth, because the day is not far distant when we shall become a great nation, sufficiently strong to fund our debts - an operation which will be profitable not only to a section, but to the whole community.
– We all recognise the importance of this subject; but I make bold to say that there has never been a venture put before any Parliament on such bald and vague statements as this. Those who were here at the close of last session will remember how this chamber rang with condemnations of the secret Conference between the Prime Minister and the Premiers, and the introduction of a proposal to “ leg-rope “ the Federation.
– Did the honorable member vote for that?
– I voted for the proposal oh condition that the people of Australia should decide the issue now, and that the people of Australia for all time should have the right of deciding the same issue. But this is a proposal arrived at in a secret Conference between the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth and the Premier of South Australia, the result being a Bill that “ legropes “ the Commonwealth for all time, without chance of repeal or appeal.
-It “ leg-ropes “ the Commonwealth to a very valuable property.
– I shall have a little to say afterwards about the value of the property. If we pass this Bill we shall be committed to building the railway through South Australian territory from cover to cover. It was stated in this House by the Leader of the Opposition that, in passing the Bill, we had a free hand to carry the railway almost wherever we chose ; but there is in the schedule to the Bill a clause which any lawyer, and, indeed, any layman, would say commits this Parliament irrevocably to building the railway entirelythrough South Australian territory.
-The AttorneyGeneral says not.
– The Crown Law officers of South Australia have reported to their Government that it does. Was there ever an agreement entered into between two Governments regarding which on so vital an issue, the Crown Law officers of the contending parties held such entirely divergent opinions? Speaking from memory , I think the report of the South Australian
Crown Law officers was reconsidered before being finally issued. It lays down definitely that, under this Bill, the Commonwealth will be obliged by the contract to construct the railway entirely through South Australia and the Northern Territory. Let me read the clause for the benefit of those honorable members who say they are going to support the Bill, and then support an amendment to carry the ranway outside the Territory, through Queensland. It is as follows -
The State in consideration of the covenants and agreements by the Commonwealth herein contained shall -
At the time of such surrender authorize by legislation the Commonwealth to do all that is necessary to enable the Commonwealth . to construct or cause to be constructed a railway in South Australia proper from any point on the Port Augusta railway to a point on the northern boundary line of South Australia proper to connect with that part of the Transcontinental Railway to be built in the Northern Territory from PortDarwin southwards to the northern boundary of South Australia proper.
If there is any meaning in the English language, nothing could be plainer than that the railway must be builtwholly in South Australia and the Northern Territory. It is not fair to ask the Commonwealth to. pledge itself to construct a railway, whether it will pay or not, without a survey having been made, and without the slightest information being placed before us as to the probable extent of the outlay or the necessity for the line. From the earliest days of its settlement the people in the Territory have recognised that the proper outlet for its development is not right through what is called “ the dead heart of Australia,” but rather eastward, into Queensland.
– But is there “a dead heart”?
– I can give the honorable member a little information regarding that matter. There are members in this House who last session voted for the Bill, and announced their intention of amending it in order that the line might be deviated through Queensland.
– South Australia will not accept it. It will kill the Bill.
– South Australia is imposing conditions upon the Commonwealth that she ought not to impose. She should be exceedingly thankful to the Commonwealth’ for taking over what has proved an exceedingly costly venture to her from the start. She has spent three and a half millions of money on it, and she cannot show 1,000 white people in the whole of the Territory as the result of her labour.
– She has practically kept the coloured people out.
– The honorable member’s figures are more than 50 per cent. out.
– There are not to-day nearly so many people, either white or coloured, in the Northern Territory as there were twenty years ago.
– Is that when they were constructing the railway?
– The whites never constructed the railway. When I hear the ‘ fudge ‘ ‘ talked by the honorable member for Denison and others about our owing a debt to South Australia for keeping the Territory white, I reply that South Australia cannot claim credit for that. She spent £5, 000, which we are now asked to pay back to her, on importing Cingalese into the Northern Territory to work the mines.
– That is quite new to me.
– If honorable members will take the trouble to turn up the records of South Australia’s connexion with the Northern Territory, they will find a great deal that will be new to them. South Australia gave the contractorthe optionof constructing the Pine Creek railway with white labour at a certain price, or with coloured labour at another price. Millar Brothers, who had the contract, after attempting for a while to do the work with white labour, sent Mr. Sadlier to China, and he brought down hordes of Chinese. The railway, practically from Palmerston down to Pine Creek, was constructed by Chinese labour, and as many of the Chinese as liked to remain in Australia could do so. Thousands of them did remain. The South Australian Parliament has passed Bill after Bill to secure the introduction of coolie labour into the Northern Territory.
– Does that affect this question, anyhow?
– It does to this extent, that amongst the claims put forward on behalf of South Australia is one that we owe her a debt of gratitude for keeping the Territory white. We owe nothing to her on that account, because she never has kept it white. For every white man in the Territory to-day there are three or four coloured people. When she was building the railway, she deliberately imported coloured labour. There were 3,000 miners employed in the Territory some eighteen years ago between Palmerston and Pine Creek, but I venture to say there are not 500 whites employed in the mines there to-day. According to the records, almost all the agriculture and mining of the Northern Territory is in the hands of Chinese.
– There are only 1,400 Chinese in the Territory now. The honorable member should read the report.
– I have read every report on the Northern Territory on which I could lay my hands, and I commend to honorable members generally the exceedingly valuable collection to be found in the Commonwealth Library and the Petherick collection. They can find there historical documents relating to the Territory dating from the first settlement on Melville Island, and every authority on the South Australian administration up to the time of Federation. Those documents show that every proposal emanating in the South Australian Parliament for the settlement of the Territory was based on the employment of coloured labour.
– The Conservative party, which the honorable member represents, has always advocated the employment of coloured labour.
– South Australian members have not taken the trouble to study the history of the Northern Territory legisla tion.
– I was on the Commission !
– The first Labour man returned to the South Australian Parliament - Mr. Quinn - recommended the employment of black labour in the Territory. Honorable members will find in the pages of the South Australian Hansard the statements which I am about to quote. Mr. H. J. Barrow said in 1872 -
If the Northern Territory is to be populated, it will be, to a great extent, by coolie labour.
Mr. H. A. Parsons, in The Truth about the Northern Territory, said -
It is important to remember that from the time of the annexation of the Northern Territory by South Australia until 1883 the opinion of politicians was unanimous as to the necessity, advantages, and wisdom of developing the Territory by means of coloured labour. It is not too much to say that had objection to coloured labour been hinted at, the proposal for the construction of the Pine Creek railway would not have been moved.
Mr. Parsons was a Government official of considerable experience in the Territory. A pamphlet termed Territoria, laid on the table, of which Messrs. Holtze and Lindsay are joint editors, says that there are millions of acres in the Territory which can be profitably worked by white labour, but Mr. Holtze was for fifteen years Curator of the Botanical Gardens at Palmerston, and when he was leaving to become director of the Botanical Gardens in Adelaide reported to his Government that -
If the country is to become a great planting country we must have the right class of labour. European labour is out of the question.
– Every one’s opinions regarding the ability of the white race to live in tropical countries have changed since then.
– There has not been much change since 1902, when, in a paper read before the Royal Society at Adelaide, Mr. Holtze said -
Only cheap labour is required to make the Northern Territory the great rice-producer for Australia.
He advocated the introduction of the Tamil.
– That is not inconsistent with the statement in Territoria.
– His report to the South Australian Government was entirely at variancewith the statements put before this Parliament, and such inconsistencies should be exposed.
– That is an unfair attack on a public servant, and the statement is not in the least true.
– It is impertinent of the Minister to say so.
– The Minister must not make such interjections.
– In 1879, the Honorable T. King, in introducing into the South Australian Parliament the Northern Territory Immigration Bill, to permit the importation of coolie labour for work in the Territory, said -
It is a well-known fact that, unless we obtain coolie labour, we will never have any plantations.
That statement is to be found in the Hansard report of the debate. Mr. Quinn., the first Labour member who sat in the South Australian Parliament-
– Who says that he was a Labour member?
- Mr. Parsons and Mr Newland. Mr. Quinn said that he - thought it was necessary that they should have black labour in the Northern Territory, but the persons who bought land in that part of the country should pay all the expense of getting the labour there.
That passage is to be found in the South Australian Hansard. In 1880 the Morgan Government, in 1891 the Playford Government, and in 1895 the Kingston Government, passed measures through the South Australian Parliament to permit of the introduction of coolie labour in the Northern Territory. Mr. Playford, who was for many years a senator, and twice a Minister in Commonwealth Governments, visited India and the Northern Territory in 1891, to report regarding the employment there of black labour. In his report, he said -
The Northern Territory must have cheap labour if tropical products are to be grown and sold with profit in the markets of the world. This is admitted by all who have any special knowledge on the subject. Only tropical products can be grown in the Territory. European labour is not cheap. Therefore, if Europeans could stand the climate, tropical products could not be produced at a profit by them. Therefore, firstly, on the ground that European labour is not cheap, and, secondly, on the ground that Europeans cannot stand the climate, it is impossible to employ Europeans at tropical production.
He went on to advocate the introduction of coolies under indenture. They were to be returned to their homes on the expiration of their engagements.
– Was that not provided for in the case of the Queensland plantations ?
– The Northern Territory is 300 miles nearer the equator than the most northern plantation in Queensland. In 1879, the South Australian Parliament passed the Northern Territory Indian Immigration Bill.
– Why were coolies not brought to the Northern Territory?
– Because the Indian Government protested, and the Royal assent was withheld, on the ground that sufficient protection was not provided for the coolies. The South Australian Government then sent Major Fergusson to India, and the necessary assurances having been given, the Bill was reintroduced in 1882, and became law.
– But why were not coolies brought out to the Northern Territory ?
– Coolies were brought there. Honorable members will find all this information in the records of the South Australian Parliament, which are obtainable in the Library.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to8 p.m.
– The Minister, and the honorable member for Hindmarsh, have stated that effect was never given to the Act; but the records are against that view. Mr. G. M. Newland, in his little book on The Northern Territory and its Gold-fields in 1875, reported that fivesixths of the European labourers having left, Cingalese were imported to work in the mines - that the enormous wages demanded by the Europeans, and the high percentage of them on the sick-list, made coolie labour necessary. Then, referring to the Cingalese who were imported, the same writer had no hesitation in denouncing the majority of them as the “ scum of Singapore.” The importation of Cingalese was an absolute failure, notwithstanding the fact that the Government had spent nearly , £5,000 in bringing them into the Territory. Mr. G. Wyndham Earl, Commissioner of Lands at Point Essington, in his handbook for colonists to the Northern Territory, considered coolie labour necessary. Mr. Newland, in a report, said -
White men whose engagements had expired did not wish to renew them. Some were incapacitated by sickness, other were useless and had to be discharged, and the wages, high to commence with, became more and more exorbitant. The enormous wages paid to European miners and labourers, and the large proportion that were on the sick-list through the climate, were great drawbacks, and Chinese had to be imported to take their place.
Men were brought from Melbourne at £4 10s. per week, with free passages, and few, if any, remained. The white miners had been brought from Victoria on free passages, and paid £4 10s. per week, which at that time, when the great aim of the workers was the “ Three Eights,” was an exceedingly good wage. None of these white workers, however, renewed their engagement ; and they all withdrew. The Rev. Julian Tennison Woods, one of the greatest authorities on this question in Australia, lays down abstinence from fat meat and rich food, and, above all, the practice of total abstinence from all stimulants, as absolutely essential to white men working in the tropics. I think I have quoted enough to show what is the opinion of every writer on the settlement of the
Northern Territory. My object is not to advocate the introduction of coloured labour into South Australia.
– Then what is it?
– The honorable member ought to know that I am one who, rather than risk the importation of coloured labour, would see the Northern Territory remain as it is for all time.
– The honorable member has gone to a lot of pains in digging up these coolies - he is a good resurrection man !
– It is a good thing, perhaps, when a subject like this is under discussion, that there are members who take the trouble to find out exactly the true position. My object is to let the House know the responsibility we are incurring in taking over the Territory.
– The honorable member tells us, in effect, that the South Australian people would not have the coolies; and that is the reason the coolies are not there.
– The honorable member re-asserts that which the records show to be quite incorrect. The records tell us that the South Australian Government were so anxious tosecure coolie labour that, after the protest of the Indian Government, which secured the refusal of the Royal assent to the South Australian legislation, they despatched an ambassador to India to remove the objections raised. I repeat that the South Australian Government spent £5,000 in the importation of Cingalese, who were said to be “ the scum of Singapore,” and who proved a great failure.
– That was not as a result of Major Fergusson’s report.
– The South Australian Government have made repeated attempts to settle the Northern Territory ; but every attempt has failed. There are on record instances where efforts were made to establish plantations. In 1882, the Adelaide River Land and Sugar Company started operations on the Adelaide River and failed ; and the rubber plantation enterprise also failed, although Mr. Otto Brandt planted some 250 acres. Every attempt to establish plantations in the Northern Territory, even with coloured labour, has failed.
– The coloured labour was the reason !
– I do wish honorable members to try to grasp the real proposition that we have to face. There never was a Bill introduced into any Parliament carrying with it so much responsibility, on which such little information has been given as in the present instance. Not one word has been said by the Government of what they intend to do with the Northern Territory when we do take it over. They are bound under this agreement to build a railway through South Australian territory, and continue it from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin. Is it intended, as the honorable member for Denison suggested, to do a trade in buffaloes? Before we incur a liability of £10,000,000 to £12,000,000, which will probably expand to £15,000,000 or £20,000,000, we ought to have some assurance from the Government of what their policy is. The history of this railway is very interesting. South Australia has tried every means to get it constructed on the land-grant system. The honorable member for Denison says that he was informed by a senator that the South Australian Government could sell the Territory for £10,000,000.
– Is the honorable member for Franklin against the taking over of the Territory?
– I am, under the terms of the Bill.
– Does the honorable member deny that the offer mentioned by the honorable member for Denison was made ?
– All I can say is that if it was made there were two fools - the man who made the offer, and the man who refused it.
– But the honorable member for Franklin point-blank denied the statement when it was made.
– I say that the facts are against the statement.
– Would the Honorable member believe the late Speaker, Sir Frederick Holder ? The statement is made in that gentleman’s letter to Sir Edmund Barton.
– I will stand, Mr. Speaker, on the contract for the land-grant railway which I have in my hand. The Land Grant Railway Act was passed in 1902 ; and we are told by the Minister of External Affairs that a Labour Government came into power immediately afterwards, and that the measure was not proceeded with. What are the facts of the case?
That Act was passed in 1902, and the Labour Government did not come into power until some time in 1904. For two years this land-grant railway was hawked all over Australia, England, and America. The terms were that alternate blocks of land, aggregating an area nearly twice as large as Victoria, or half the size of New South Wales, were to be granted in return for the construction of a railway estimated to cost £5,000,000. But, so far as I have been able to gather, there was not a single offer.
– The honorable member will see what the facts are in Mr. Price’s letter to the ex-Prime Minister.
– The Minister of External Affairs has also said that a condition of the contract was that the railway must be built by white labour; but I find no such stipulation in the South Australian Act. So far as labour conditions are concerned, I can find no reference to them at all, and I have read carefully through the measure. It was an open contract, granting this enormous Territory to any one who chose to construct the railway ; but not one offer was received.
– That is not correct. The honorable member must recollect that Mr. Price, in his letter to the ex-Prime Minister, intimated that he had had an offer, and that there had been lodged with him £10,000 as a deposit from a company which was going into the business.
- Mr. Price did not take office until two years after the Bill was passed.
– But the honorable member says that not one offer was made.
– There was no offer made between the passing of the Act and Mr. Price taking office. There has been a good deal of political work in connexion with this railway, with the history of which I do not desire to weary the House, though, as I say, it is an exceedingly interesting one. Act after Act has been introduced and passed in the South Australian Parliament, but during the whole of the time before Mr. Price took office not an offer for the construction of the linewas received. The experience of the South Australian Government in connexion with the construction of the overland telegraph line should be a warning to this Parliament. It was estimated that the line would cost £120,000 to construct, but it cost on completion no less than £420,000.
– The man who made that estimate could not have known much about his business.
– It was made by one of the ablest experts that Australia has ever known. I refer to Mr. - afterwards Sir Charles - Todd. The South Australian Government let the southern and northern ends of the line by contract, the central section being carried out as a Government work. No less than three parties failed, however, to construct the northern section, and the Government had ultimately to carry out the work itself. It abandoned Port Darwin, the terminus of this line, and went up theRoper River, 100 miles inland from Port Darwin, where it commenced operations. I have here a report which throws an interesting light on this magnificent country, which it is said South Australia is foolish to part with. We were told to-night that there is no dead heart of Australia - that all this Territory is magnificent country.
– I asked the honorable member if there were a dead heart, and he did not reply, because he did not know.
– I am going to reply by quoting from an official report on the construction of the overland telegraph line, which appears in Mr. J. S. Knight’s interesting little book on The Northern Territory of South Australia.
– That report was presented over twenty years ago.
– At all events, the character of the country has not materially changed since then. Referring to the central section covering a distance of 600 miles, the writer made this statement -
This region was so utterly unproductive with regard to game and other articles of sustenance that every ounce of food required had to be taken with them, and poles had to be carted in some cases over 100 miles.
That gives us a fairly good insight into the character of the country. What sort of country is it in which no game can be found over an area 600 miles in length ?
– I doubt that.
– I have taken the statement from an official report. I wish to assure the House that I have obtained all my quotations from South Australian records, or from books written for, or at the instigation of, the South Australian Government. Mr. Knight states that the total cost of the line was £420,721, whereas the estimated cost when the proposal to construct the line was before Parliament was £120,000. A word now as to South Australia’s position. The Government of the State submitted a proposal to construct the overland line with the cooperation and assistance of the other States. Like some of our cables, it was to be upon an Australian basis. But the South Australian House of Assembly by seventeen votes to twelve rejected the proposal, and insisted that South Australia should construct the whole of the line, accept the responsibility, and retain control over it.
– Gross selfishness !
– It was either pluck or greed. The contract worked out so badly that South Australia now asks us to shoulder the responsibility, and seeks to impose conditions with which it is not fair to ask us to comply. One of the first petitions presented to the State Government on the Territory being taken over by South Australia, urged that it should also annex the Albert River District, comprising portion of the Gulf country within the State of Queensland, and bordering on the Territory. It was pointed out in this petition that there were ports within the three degrees which the State was requested to annex, which were essential as an outlet for the Territory. An outlet in that direction, it was asserted, was necessary. In view of the divergence of opinion existing in the House and the country, this statement on the part of the men who had taken up land in the Northern Territory is certainly very interesting. We are told we must take over the railway for defence purposes. I am one of those who think that too much is made of the bogy of invasion. For centuries the Malays have been landing, and have been establishing stations on the roasts of Australia. Flinders found them in 1802, and Searcy in his very interesting little book, In Tropical Australia, describes how on different parts of the coast Malay stations were found. It was discovered that the Malays came over at different seasons to obtain trepang, and departed almost immediately. For centuries there has been nothing to stop these people from remaining in the Northern Territory and making homes for themselves there, but they have not done so. There would not be a chance of this Bill passing if it were not for the bogy of invasion. On that point it is well to point out that two-thirds of Western Australia, comprising much better country than does the Northern Territory, is more defenceless to-day from the stand-point of want of population, than is the Territory itself. Two-thirds of Western Australia stretching towards Wyndham is practically unpeopled. A railway to Port . Darwin would no more help us to prevent the landing of an invading party at Wyndham than would the presence of troops in Melbourne enable us to prevent a landing of a foreign force in northern Queensland. Some people imagine that there is a burning desire on the part of the Japanese to settle in the Northern Territory. The Chinese who went there to build the Pine Creek railway did not remain, and the Chinese population is small compared with what it was.
– Chinese in the Northern Territory are not allowed to hold land or a mineral lease.
– Practically all the mining in the Northern Territory is carried on by Chinese.
– But Chinese cannot hold a mineral lease.
– The latest record that I have been able to obtain - and I con fess that it is two or three years old - gives the numbers of Chinese and white people holding miners’ rights in the Northern Territory. That shows that up to that period, at all events, miners’ rights were issued to the Chinese, and writers who have recently visited the Territory tell us that the bulk of the mining there is carried on by the Chinese.
– They can hold miners’ rights, but cannot take up a mineral lease.
– The cry that this transcontinental railway is necesary to enable us to prevent the Japanese from effecting a landing on the Northern Territory is one of those silly scares that are occasionally worked up in connexion with military matters, and which will land Australia eventually in very serious trouble.
– The honorable member has not always held this opinion of the Japanese.
– I have always held the opinion I have just expressed with regard to Japanese effecting a landing : in the Northern Territory. I opposed this Bill when it was brought in by the late Government, of which I was a supporter, just as strongly as I do to-day. My contention is that it does not give the Commonwealth a fair deal. It does not enable us to decide the route of the proposed railway, and it ties down the Commonwealth to a large expenditure in constructing a railway through what is known to be the most barren portion of Australia. No matter how barren the reports of our experts may show the country to be, the Commonwealth will be bound, under the terms of this Bill, to construct the line through South Australia and the Northern Territory. No precaution has been taken to protect the Commonwealth in the matter of leaseholds. During the discussion on the Land Tax Assessment Bill, I pointed out that practically the greater portion of the Northern Territory worth holding is to-day under lease. An area of 103,419,428 acres is held under lease, much of it for forty -two years, and for1s. per square mile. We are going to build the railway right through those leaseholds, and enhance their value enormously, but not the slightest precaution is taken to protect the interests of the Commonwealth by saying that any leases resumed shall be taken over at the valuation prior to the construction of the railway.
– The terms of the lease expressly provide that, in paying compensation for resumption, no public works are to be taken into account.
– I have givennotice of a clause upon which I intend to test the feeling of the House. If we take over the Territory, and construct the railway at a cost of millions of pounds to the people of Australia, the men holding these enormous areas, locking up the country for forty-two years at a rental of1s. per square mile, will havethe value of their leases enormously enhanced, and some provision ought to be made to allow the Commonwealth to resume them, if necessary, at the original valuation.
– That is already provided for in the Act under which the leases were taken up.
– The precaution that we need is not taken. Regarding the railway, there has never before been a proposal made between two Governments where there has been such a difference of opinion between the contracting parties. We are taking not the slightest precaution to prevent our entrance into the High Court immediately we commence the construction, unless we absolutely subscribe to the conditions imposed by South Australia. The Attorney-General of the Commonwealth says that under this Bill the Commonwealth has power to deviate the line outside South Australian territory.
– That is a ridiculous opinion.
– It is the opinion that is going to carry the Bill through this House. The opinion of the Crown law officers of South Australia is that we have not thatpower. In face of that direct conflict of opinion between the legal advisers of the two contracting parties, we are going straight ahead without making the slightest attempt to see which is correct. I believe the South Australian contention is correct, and it will mean that the House is leg-roped irrevocably to constructing the railway, no matter what we may find the country to be. If with our eyes open, and in the face of the legal opinion of South Australia’s advisers, we pass the Bill as it stands, we shall be guilty of a dishonorable repudiation if we afterwards try to vary the South Australian contract. Strongly as I am opposed to this condition being imposed in the Bill, disastrous as I believe it will be if carried into effect, nevertheless, so far as I am concerned, if the Bill is passed as it now stands, I shall never be a party to deviating the railway outside of South Australian territory. The national honour of Australia and the honour of the Commonwealth . Parliament will be pledged to the agreement. I should not be a party to any attempt to get the Bill through under a sort of false pretence, and then to turn round on South Australia and deprive her of that which she has publicly claimed as her right, and which she has given us ample time to consider before the passing of the Bill. I have no feeling in this matter beyond what I believe to be the duty of any member when a project of this importance is before us. I have found in my researches that every attempt to settle tropical Australia by white labour has failed. It failed in the mines on the railway, and in the plantations’. My object in putting these facts before the House is that we shall know our exact responsibility in passing this measure. We already havean enormous responsibility in Papua. We have had the control of that Territory for ten years, and he would be a bold man who would say that our success has been very great. The result of the control of Papua by the Commonwealth Government does not redound very highly to our credit. I have on more than one occasion pointed to the extremely lax conditions-
– Order. The honorable member must not discuss that matter.
– I shall content myself with saying that the enormous responsibility we have taken on in Papua, the
Federal Government and Parliament have not been able to successfully shoulder. Our responsibility in that connexion should make us seriously pause before we take upon ourselves another enormous burden in this agreement. It is not the payment for the overland railway, or for the overland telegraph line, or the railway to Oodnadatta, or the railway to Pine Creek, thatI am afraid to face. It is the enormous problem which will devolve upon us of the future development and settlement of the Territory when we have taken it over. Rather than undertake the construction of the overland railway, which, from all reports, is doomed to failure from its very inception, rather than incur the responsibility of constructing the line willy-nilly, no matter what its prospects of payment may be, or what desert country it may have to pass through, I would prefer the Commonwealth Parliament to assist South Australia to make a fair trial of whether the tropical parts of northern Australia can be successfully settled by white people. South Australia, having that enormous responsibility upon her shoulders, would have a perfect right to say to theFederal Parliament that the burden was more than any one State should be called upon to carry. If we solve the question of settling the tropical portion of the Northern Territory we shall settle the same problem in regard to northern Queensland and the northern portion of Western Australia. Instead of ‘the Federal Government pressing on with this Bill, and undertaking the construction of a railway which may cost up to £8,000,000, it would be infinitely better for us to say to South Australia, “ Leave your railways as they stand at present; make a development from Port Darwin in any direction you like, and we will back you in securing the right class of white labour, and see if we cannot solve the greatest of all problems confronting Australia - the settlement of our tropical regions with white people.” With the people in their present temper, and having regard to the temper of practically every member of this House, there is no fear of the Federal Government or Parliament, or the public of Australia, at present consenting to an inferior coloured race being brought in to settle any portion of the Continent. We have started out on the lines of a White Australia policy, and the temper of the people is to maintain it. It is the duty, not of one State, but of the whole Commonwealth, to solve the problem involved. It is far better for the Commonwealth to spend anything from £1, 000,000 up to £5,000,000, if necessary, in honestly attempting to solve this great question, than to first squander millions of money on a railway which the great majority of the members of this House believe will be useless forthe purpose sought to be achieved, and still have to incur afterwards the great responsibility of settlement. Let us take up the great burden that really rests on the National Government and Parliament, of showing, for the first time inthe history of the world, how to settle a white people in a tropical country. The problem is great enough, and will be heavy and costly enough for us to undertake on its own merits, without tying ourselves to the conditions imposed in this contract. I firmly believe that the proper outlet for the northern portion of the Territory is eastwards into Queensland. The Queensland Government could carry its railway from Cloncurry to Camooweal, as it is either about to do, or will do, in the near future. That would bring the line practically to the border of the Northern Territory. Every report I have been able to read shows that the very best land in the whole of the Territory lies in the north-eastern corner.
– Then, the honorable member does admit that there are some good lands there?
– Of course there are.
– What about the desert?
– That is down in the centre, where the honorable member wants to carry the railway. We have no right, even from the stand-point of the Territory itself, to saddle it with a railway running for 1,600 or 1,800 miles right down to Port Augusta, instead of giving it its natural outlet, wherever that may be. We have been told that the Northern Territory cannot be settled unless the transcontinental railway is made. It must be remembered that there was a settlement at Melville Island, another at Port Essington, a third at Raffles Bay, and one or two others before Palmerston was made the capital. The earliest settlements in the Northern Territory were made in the same manner as that at Risden, in Tasmania, and Botany Bay, in New South Wales, being military and penal stations. The people of
New South Wales and Tasmania, of Victoria and of Queensland, did not wait until railways came to take possession of the country and develop it. If country is good enough, the pioneer is content to commence with a bullock-dray. But, although the Northern Territory has been settled for so many years, it is to-day practically without population, showing that its conditions are very different from those of the southern States. We have been told that it has no communication with the outer world; but large foreign-going steamers call at Port Darwin thirty-five times every year, and sometimes more frequently. In the early days of the Sydney, Hobart, and Port Phillip settlements, there were not steamers calling fortnightly or every eight days, nor was there a market close at hand. The people had to be satisfied with the rare appearance of a hulk, or the still rarer arrival of an immigrant vessel. Nevertheless, settlement increased, and the country was: developed. Let it not be thought that, by constructing the proposed railway, and liquidating the indebtedness of South Australia, we shall solve the Northern Territory problem. Our difficulties are only commencing. My objection to the Bill is that it ties us hand and foot, by imposing the stipulation that we must construct a railway by a particular route, against our better judgment and that of those who know the country. We are asked to take over an indebtedness of between £3,250,000 and £3,500,000, and to construct a railway which may cost anything from £6,000,000 to £8,000,000or more. We shall have committed ourselves to an expenditure of £15,000,000 or £16,000,000 before we can commence the solution of the problem which confronts us. Therefore, it is the duty of the Government to tell us whether the Commonwealth will have a free hand in the construction of the railway. Ministers should promise to so frame the Bill that it will be absolutely clear to this Parliament, to that of South Australia, and to the people that our hands are not tied. Above all, Ministers should tell us what they propose to do in the way of railway construction, and what’ means they intend to take for the settlement and development of the Territory when they get possession of it.
.- It is deplorable that members who are not favorable to a proposal will stoop to the tactics of the horse-dealer, who, wishing to make a bargain, decries in every way the animal with which no fault can be found. The honorable member for Franklin has made a speech which, from beginning to end, de-, predated the Northern Territory. If he does not wish to support the Bill, he is not obliged to do so ; but he should have beer: fair to South Australia, and should not have discredited the Territory. The honorable member for Brisbane commenced by praising South Australia for its efforts to keep the Northern Territory white, but sympathy without relief is like mustard without beef, and the rest of his speech was similar to that of the honorable member for franklin. To discredit the Territory he accepted the report of a geologist, who, although a clever man in regard to things under the surface of the soil, is not looked upon as an authority upon country. South Australia does not come here as a mendicant. She offers full value for what she asks. What would have been the position to-day had the Northern Territory been dealt with differently? One of the first acts of this Parliament, in 1901, was to wipe out the black stain in Queensland ; and the people of South Australia, even the poorest, have not complained of the cost. Only this week, to keep Queensland white, we passed a measure continuing a system which burdens the consumers of sugar.
– Order !
– I am merely referring to that measure by way of illustration.
– The honorable member may make a casual reference to the sugar legislation, but I cannot permit him to go into details, because, were. I to do so, others would claim the right to reply to him, and the debate would get right away from the question before the Chair.
– I shall not refer at greater length to the sugar legislation. What would have been the position if South Australia had parcelled out the Northern Territory among chartered companies, British or foreign? She could have done that, and she could have allowed the importation of coloured labour. Even though the Legislature of the State passed measures permitting the introduction of the Tamil, the people rose in a body, and declared that they would sooner the Territory remained idle than have it peopled with alien races. The time will come when the Commonwealth must deal with the problem which confronts it in the north. South Australia does not ask to be paid a penny more than she has. expended on the
Territory, nor would she offer the Territory to any other party than the Commonwealth. In offering it to the Commonwealth, she is offering it to the people of which her population is a part. The South Australian Parliament would reject without consideration any proposal for the transference of the Territory to any other party. For many years the State has kept die Territory white, and has refused to parcel it among chartered companies, or to allow its eyes to be picked out by syndicates. The late Sir Frederick Holder put it on record that the Government of South Australia was offered £10,000,000 by an English syndicate, when the Honorable Thomas Playford was Attorney-General, ;f it would allow the Territory to be worked with indented labour. At that time, South Australia was passing through one of the worst periods in its history, but, to its credit, it refused the offer”. I ask honorable members to consider the position of the Northern Territory. Port Darwin - is within six days’ steam of Java, with a population of 30,000,000; not far from China, with a population of 450,000,000 ; and within nine days’ steam of Japan, with a population of 46,000,000. lt is close to Sumatra, Malacca, Singapore, Borneo, the Philippines, and New Guinea, all places teeming with native races. This is a real, and not an imaginary, danger. I should now like to say something about the potentialities of the Territory. We have here a strip of country 900 miles in length, and 650 miles wide, with a very low rainfall on the borders of South Australia, where, after all, is the dead heart of the continent, increasing to a rainfall of 60 inches on the 1,200 miles of coast fronting the Indian Ocean. The rainfall at Katherine, soo miles inland, is 32 inches ; at Daly Waters, 21 inches; Victoria Downs, 22 inches ; Boroloola, 26 inches ; along by the Queensland border, 15 to 20 inches; and at MacDonnell Ranges, a mean average of 11 inches, and in some years 26 inches. The Northern Territory may be roughly divided into three classes of country - tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate. The 1,200 miles of coast facing the Indian Ocean is the tropical country ; and I shall have something to say presently of the possibilities of tropical culture. The subtropical area consists of 80,000,000 acres, from Katherine River to Powell’s Creek and Victoria River to Camooweal ; and there is a very fine climate, which, though fairly warm, shows a great difference between winter and summer temperature. In this respect, it differs very much from the tropical country on the coast-line, where the average heat is 80 or 90 degrees, with very little difference between the summer and winter readings. Midway we encounter climatic conditions which mark the temperate zone; and here is country equal to any in Victoria. Some of the country south of the MacDonnell Ranges may be regarded perhaps as the poorest portion; but yet there is useful country which has for many years sent some of the best stock to the Adelaide market; and a policeman, who was stationed at Alice Springs for seven years, assured me that when he was out in search of some blacks who had been interfering with some cattle he saw near the Western Australian border some of the best country in the Territory. I should now like to refer to some of the tropical products which are possible in the Northern Territory. Under the supervision of Mr. Holtze, who had charge of the Botanic Gardens of the Northern Territory, experimental plots were established. Amongst the products dealt with was sisal hemp, in regard to which all the experiments up to date have been very successful, showing a luxuriant plant, containing a very fine fibre. Australia- imports annually 10,000 tons of binder twine made of sisal hemp, while in the United States there is imported 200,000 tons, at a cost of £8.250,000. The experiments leave very little doubt that in time there could be produced in the Northern Territory sufficient sisal hemp to meet, not only all Australian requirements, but to establish an export trade. The latest reports on this product are given in one of the documents laid before Parliament; and there Mr. Holtze, who is a son of the Mr. Holtze who was an officer in the Northern Territory, says -
It is too early yet to speak of the results of our fibre-making experiments. I may say, however, that a very fine sample of fibre is being produced, and the results so far show that the leaves grown here contain a larger percentage of fibre than has been obtained in Queensland. A bale of the fibre produced will be exhibited at the forthcoming Chamber of Manufactures Exhibition in Adelaide.
In regard to upland rice, he says -
Several plots were planted last season with the variety of upland rice which was so successfully grown the previous season, and which I propose to distinguish in future under the name of No. 1 White Upland : - No. 1 yielded at the rate of 55 bushels of grain to the acre;
No. 2 plot yielded at the rate of 39 bushels of grain to the acre; No. 3 plot yielded at therate of 30 bushels of grain to the acre. No. 1 plot has received a light dressing of stablemanure, and the above result very plainly shows, the worked-out condition of the soil in (he garden and the necessity for manuring in futureresults. All the plots received the same cultivation, and the natural rainfall was not supplemented in any way. The seed was planted. 24 in. x 20 in. But this was too far apart; too much ground was thus wasted, “and if planted closer the yield per acre would have been, greater. The average height of the plants was 4 feet, and the yield of straw i£ tons per acre. The straw, after the rice was threshed off, was. converted into chaff for the Government horses. The time that the ground was occupied with the crop was four months, and I believe the., best time for planting is towards the end of December.
Then he deals with harvesting machinery,, showing that in Louisiana and Texas, modern appliances do away with the necessity for such cheap labour as is employed in China and India, and that some- 600,000 acres are there under crop. He goes on to say -
It is, therefore, of interest to read the following remarks in an official publication issued by the United States Department of Agriculture :- “ The employment of machinery in the ricefieldsof the south-west, similar to that used in the great wheat-fields of California and the Dakotas, is revolutionizing the methods of cultivation and greatly reducing the cost. The American ricegrower employing higher-priced labour than any other rice-grower of the world, will ultimately be able to market his crop at the least cost and the greatest profit.”
Rice straw is worth preserving. As a fodder for stock its value is about equal to good hay. Rice-straw contains 4.72 per cent, crude protein, 32.21 per cent, of carbo-hydrates, and 1.87 per cent. fats. The sweetness and excellent flavour of well-preserved rice-straw adds very materially to its practical feeding value, because slock will consume large quantities of it.
Jared G. Smith, special agent in charge Hawaii Experiment Station, writing in the June, 1908, issue of the Phillippine Agriculture Review, says of rice in Hawaii : - “ Even with the expensive, primitive methods employed, ricecultivation is a very profitable industry.”
I should now like to quote Mr. Holtze on the subject of the yield -
The yield of rice varies with conditions of soil and climate and methods of cultivation. However, the yield in South-west Louisiana issaid by good authority to range from 28 to 63 bushels per acre.
One of Adelaide’s largest wholesale housesinformed us that they were prepared to pav £19 to £21 per ton of 2,240 lbs. for dresser! Australian-grown rice delivered in Adelaide.
With, say, a low average of 25 bushels of 45 lbs. each per acre, and, say £i$ per ton for undressed rice, or, roughly, £ ton per acre, worth £7 10s. per acre, rice culture in Australia should pay with white labour.
That is in the tropical country -
Wheat with the exceedingly good yield of, say, 25 bushels per acre, is only worth, with good prices,£5 per acre, and that is seldom attained.
– What areas are available for rice-growing?
– Enormous areas. From Adelaide River, right round to Arnheim’s Land, are some of the best rice lands in the Territory. Mr. Holtze goes on to say -
According to the Year-book of the American Department of Agriculture for 1908, which is the highest authority of its kind in the world, rice is the twelfth crop in point of value in America. It states there were in America in 1907 627,300 acres under rice cultivation, producing 18,738,000 bushels, valued at85.8 cents per bushel, or a total farm value of16,081,000 dollars - over three million pounds of English money. The average yield per acre was 29.9 bushels. Of the acreage under cultivation, 310,000 acres were in Louisiana and 284,000 in Texas.
Much more could be said in regard to tropical products ; but I have no desire to unduly occupy the time of the House, recognising the desire to close the session. I probably should not have spoken at all, had it not been for the fact that, from the position I occupy, I shall have no opportunity of expressing my views at the Committee stage. Mr. Ernest Favenc and Mr. L. Crawford have both explored this country ; and their opinions are worth quoting. Writing of the McArthur River country, they make the following statement -
All this country is quite available for cattle, and will, no doubt, be thickly populated in the future. After running an almost easterly course for some distance, it comes abruptly on a red sandstone range of great height. After touching this range the river runs nearly north, and, on the north-western bank, is always of a character which would induce to the settlement of sheep. On the eastern - skirting the range - are a few small flats very richly grassed, between the range and the bank of the river. The whole of the valley of the river is here of a character exactly resembling the best downs in the interior. We have never seen better or more richly-grassed country in any latitude. The country is admirably adapted for settlement, being level, and supplied with fresh water.
Speaking of the value of the river, they say -
The McArthur is, without doubt, a grand stream, deep under the banks to the extent of at least 30 feet by our own measurement, and with little hindrance in the way of islands. The banks are free from mangroves, and the country near them is open box forest. We could not get down to the actual mouth of the river on account of the deep salt water creeks on both sides, which, of course, stopped us from crossing on horseback. There is no doubt that if no bar exists this will be one of the finest ports in the Gulf district, i.e., the part of the Gulf owned by the South Australian Government, which we can state is certainly the best part (as we have seen all the Queensland portion), and, excepting the Batavia River, there is nothing to equal the McArthur in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
In a further report Mr. Ernest Favenc wrote -
I am now in a position to tell you of the capabilities of the whole country that lies south of your portion of the Gulf const as far as the 19th parallel of latitude. There is no doubt about the value of this country, but at present there is a drawback from the fact of there being no recognised port in the Gulf portion of the Northern Territory. There is a large tract of territory comprising land of the same nature as the best “Downs” country in Northern Queensland - in fact, equal to such places as Lansdowne, Terrick Terrick, Northampton, and Portland Downs, which are recognised as the cream of the Barcoo country. This is all tableland country, the main slope starting about 17deg.30min. S., and running thence almost east and west until reaching the overland telegraph line.
Captain Barklay, who has explored all the country, in an article for Life, wrote -
Fully one-third of the Northern Territory is first-class pastoral country, admirably suited for sheep. Northward from the Jervois Range a great tableland stretches for hundreds of miles.
– Where is that range?
– It is not shown on the map, but it is towards Tennant’s Creek. Captain Barklay continues -
The southern limit is 2,500 feet above the sea; thence it gradually falls until it meets the coastal ranges bordering the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Indian Ocean. Owing to the elevation above the sea, the climate is perfect, and there seems no reason why agriculture should not flourish, the rainfall gradually increasing over vast plains of rich soil, from about 10 inches in the MacDonnell Range, to 45 inches at Pine Creek and 62 inches at Port Darwin.
He divides the Territory as I have divided it to-night into three districts - tropical, subtropical, and temperate. I wish now to make a quotation in reply to the assertion made this evening by the honorable member for Franklin, that the lower portion of the Territory is destitute of game. Mr. D. J. Gordon, of the Register, travelled over all that section of the Territory, and he is recognised throughout Australia as a capable judge of pastoral and’ agricultural country. Speaking of the character of the Barrow Creek country, which is between the. MacDonnell Ranges and Tennant’s Creek, he says -
To the east of Barrow Creek are- the Murray Downs, and in “ this direction we shape our course for about 40 miles, when Mount Skinner stands out prominently, while stretching away to the right and left is a fine valley well covered with vegetation of various sorts. The Skinner Creek runs through the Murray Downs, providing a fine supply of water. We camped -that night alongside a waterhole about a mile long, 60 yards wide, and some 18 feet deep. Further on to the eastward is the Spence Creek, -and as we ride along the valley of the Spence we almost forget that we are some r,300 miles north of Adelaide, and in the very heart of the Continent. We have seen nothing to equal this valley we are now in. On either bank of the Spence grow large trees, confusing in their very variety, luxuriant grasses, wild flowers, and delicate ferns. Large snow-white lilies grow to the water’s edge, while the screeching cockatoos and beautifully plumaged birds that fly overhead all tell us we have come into a new country.
What is to be said now of the statement by the honorable member for Franklin, that there is no bird life there? -
On our Tight, about a quarter of a mile away,
Tunning parallel with the creek, is a high range of hills rising Abruptly and overlooking the valley, with white lime-trees and vegetation growing to the very tops, and flowering creepers overspreading the rocks. The sky, sun, air, and eloquent waters, inspiring mountain-tops, the murmuring and glossy woods, are all evidence that here in this valley nature deals with si bountiful hand. We rode for 35 miles along the Frew, which at the time of our visit was running. Altogether, the country is the best watered and the finest we have yet seen. At places the Frew is almost wide enough and deep enough to be navigable.
I would impress upon honorable members that this report relates to the lower portion of the country running westerly from the route of the proposed railway as shown on the map, and not to the extreme northern part of the Territory -
Where the Frew head statio”n is situated the river widens out, and there are several splendid sheets of water. It is evident, from the vegetation, that the Frew country has a good rainfall, and as the river contains a variety of fish-
The honorable member for Franklin said that there is no game or means of sustenance in this part of the country - some of them being several pounds in weight, it is pretty good evidence that protracted droughts are unknown. Some of the station hands have caught sufficient fish in the waterhole close by the station - -Tootoowa, as the natives call it - in two hours to last all hands for a week. Birds are very numerous on the Frew. Twenty-five miles below the station we saw a sight to delight in - a moon-lit lake some two miles long ; on either bank the typical Australian gum trees towering above the water in majestic splendour, making, with their evening shadows, a picture full of the sublime and beautiful. The natives have christened the place with a pretty name - -Arralooloola. Nature’s gifts are plentiful here, and we saw wild ducks, pigeons, emus, and kangaroos, and, no doubt, in the water are fish in abundance.
I have here an interesting telegram from Sydney, which appeared in the Argus last week, and has an important bearing on the question of the climatic conditions of the Northern Territory -
Professor David has received a letter from 1 Dr. Danes, lecturer in geography to the University of Prague, who was commissioned to investigate the physical geography of limestone countries, especially those in tropical areas. Dr. Danes travelled about 6,000 miles in Northern Queensland. He was strongly of opinion that the climate was healthy and the general geographical (Conditions so favorable that the vast region to the north-west of Cloncurry could be successfully peopled by a white race. In the opinion of Dr. Danes, two measures should be taken for the amelioration of the present conditions, and as preventives against immediate future dangers : - (1) Proper medical sanitary supervision of the alien elements and greatest possible restriction of their evil contact, not only with the aboriginals, but also with the white population itself ; and (2) the improvement of the living conditions of the white population within the tropical and sub-tropical parts of Australia, with special regard to houses, food, and water.
Three years ago I travelled over portion of the Territory with Mr. Speaker and the honorable member for Illawarra. We engaged in a riding trip extending over ten days, and traversed a wide area of country. We rode from the Katherine to Brock’s Creek, skirting the Flora Falls, and thence down the Daly River to the Douglas. We passed stream after stream, and saw some of the finest country that one could wish to look upon. The honorable member for Illawarra having travelled, like the honorable member for Cook, on the railway line, from which nothing is to be seen but mineral country, had formed a very bad impression of the Territory, but after this riding tour he candidly informed me, in the presence of others, at the last night’s camp - and he repeated the statement at a public meeting at Port Darwin - that in the course of our trip he had seen some of the finest country on which he could wish to clap his eyes. The honorable member for Brisbane said to-day that the grass was coarse, and had to be burnt off.
– I was quoting one of the honorable member’s own authorities.
– Let me give my own personal experience. The day before we reached Brock’s Creek, on the riding ex- pedition to which I have just referred, we were travelling through grass so high that we could tie it over our horses’ withers. On one side of our route there was a fence - the only fence that we saw on the journey - and in the paddock we saw grass growing so high that it looked like a vast wheat field. There was a fine mob of horses in the’ paddock, and they were in splendid condition. On the following day Mr. Birne, the owner of a run, having learned of our approach, sent out a black boy to pick up our party, and the lad guided us to his station. Mr. Birne inquired which track we had followed, and asked whether we had seen any horses along the route. I told him of the mob we had seen in the paddock, and he replied, “All that country is mine.” When I asked him whether he had burnt off the country, he said, “ No, there has not been a fire there since the fence was erected, and that splendid grass is the result of stocking.” He had been living in the district for about seventeen years, and when I asked him how he liked the climate, he replied, “ Look at my wife and my children. Some of the children were born here, and I invite you to say whether they look as if the climate did not agree with them. 1 came from Wagga, but would not change my present home for Wagga or any other part of New South Wales.” I can understand the fascination that this great, rich, lone land has for the explorer. I never travelled over a piece of country that was more fascinating to me. We could not but be impressed by this land of promise, as mile after mile we met with magnificent lagoons, billabongs, or running streams covered with game of every description. In the buffalo country, known as the black jungle, we saw magnificent animals in fine condition feeding on buffalo grass such as is used for lawns in Victoria, and which grows in great abundance. No wonder that it is regarded as a great pity that such grand country should be so little, occupied, with its great resources in land and its abundance of rivers, t do not think there is any part in the whole of Australia better, watered than is the Northern Territory. A relative of mine has been on that side for the last eight years, and I learn that the wool produced on Guthrie- Downs has realized the highest price in the London market. I am sure that where the water is not on the surface an abundance of good semi-artesian water can be got in the limestone country at a depth of 60 feet, over a large tract, right” through from the Victoria River to Camooweal, and to the south by Tennant’s Creek. The time is not far off when it will carry more sheep than Victoria, and South Australia together now have. I have said that we are not mendicants in this matter. Honorable members think South Australia is trying to press this agreement hard, but the honorable member for Angas told the honest truth yesterday when he spoke pf the great difference of opinion there is in South Australia on the matter. Petition after petition is being presented to the South Australian Parliament asking them to go back on the agreement. It allows of a deviation from the centre, say, to the Queensland corner, but further than that I do not know what it does mean,
– The honorable member will not catch us with that.
– The Brisbane influence on the honorable member is so strong that I would not attempt to catch him. We want finality in this matter. Since 1897 wc have not leased 1 acre of the Northern Territory except on an annual permit. No man could get a bit of land to put his house upon there to-morrow on’ any other terms. We have retarded the development of the Territory so as to leave the Commonwealth free to deal with it- in its own way. I grant that a number of pastoral leases, have been let at a very low rental, but I shall be one of the first, when we have to deal with our own’ Territory, to help to get at them in another way if we cannot get at them under the conditions of the lease. Most of those leases can be resumed now on two years’ notice, and on payment of compensation for improvements, but the lessees have never had to put any improvements, even a’ fence, on them. I trust that honorable members will bring this matter to finality, and I ask them, at any rate, not to discredit the Territory if they do not want to accept it.
-3S]- - 0n listening to the speeches of several members, it has struck me that this’ question is like the other great .projects that we have lately considered^ such as the Federal Capital site and the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. If we believed all that was said by one section, we might say, “ Oh, happy Australia,.” but if we believed the others, we should exclaim, “ Oh, unhappy Australia.” When one hears one section parading the virtues of the Northern Territory, and another section strongly deriding it, one naturally seeksthe middle course, and regards both parties as guilty of exaggeration. That method leads one to the conclusion that the Northern Territory, taken as a whole, might be fairly used by the Commonwealth to the advantage of Australia. While I donot think that it is all that it is painted by the representatives of South Australia, I am not going to believe the strong condemnations hurled at it by the opponents of the measure. We have got rather into the habit in this House lately, when advocating a measure, of claiming that we are the Nationalists, and branding those who are opposed to us as parochialists. When I hear certain honorable members claiming to be actuated by strong national feelings on this question, I cannot help remembering that on other questions on which I entirely disagreed with them they have also made claim to national pretensions. I have never visited the Territory, and have to view this matter in the light of what I read and what I hear from honorable members and from gentlemen who have traversed portions, if not the whole, of the Territory. I have come to the conclusion that it is essential for the Commonwealth to acquire the Territory in the interests of Australia as a whole. I cannot help paying my meed of praise to the peopleof South Australia for keeping it as clean as they have up to the present. In spite of what the honorable member for Franklin says, I believe they could have materially benefited their revenues by getting rid of the Territory on the land-grant system. It is to their credit that they resisted all attempts in that direction. We know that those gentlemen whom we sometimes call untra- Conservatives are willing to adopt any course in placing their money out, and I feel sure that we could get a company strong enough, if not in England, at any rate, in Europe, if we wanted it, to take the Territory over, as long as it was allowed to develop the country as it thought fit. We cannot help conceding to the people of South Australia the credit for having, as far as possible, kept the Territory white. While Chinese have been greatly used in opening up thecountryand building the railway, yet the Chinese population is decreasing, and the white population is increasing. Having conceded credit to South Australia on those points, I must admit that the South Australians, as a people, are driving as hard a bargain as they can in their own interests. I do not complain of them for doing that, seeing that almost every other State in the Union has done something similar, and has, unfortunately, got what it has asked for. I do not know that South Australia is asking too much. I am quite willing to believe that there is a strong section of politician’s in South Australia who would be only too willing, even now, to break the agreement and resort to the land-grant system for the building of a railway to open up the Territory ; but, of course, this Parliament would have a say on the black labour question. I believe that a majority of the people in South Australia would fight against a land grant system if this Parliament were so foolish as not to come to some arrangement with the State for taking the Territory over. Of course, the old bogy that we have in every State, in the shape of a House of landlords, will be trotted out. Those individuals are always interested in the holding of large landed properties in the interests of a few. The whole of the fight has centred in the question of the proper route for the railway to follow ; but I do not think there is one man in the House who can give a conclusive opinion on that matter. He would require, first of all, a full knowledge of the whole of the Territory ; and I do not think many men have that. One alternative route that has been suggested by many would not tend to the development of the Northern Territory at all. It would simply be for the development of the eastern States. I do not think a deviation to the east would matter much, because the other section might be placated by going a few hundred miles further west, and touching the eastern boundary of the MacDonnell Ranges; but with regard to’ the suggestion to start from Mildura, on the Murray, and carry a line into New South Wales, almost through the centre of Queensland, and then across to Pine Creek, it is, of course, very evident that those who put that forward are doing so with a view to the eastern States benefiting. I could not help thinking that Brisbane interests were actuating the honorable member for Brisbane in the strong attack he made upon the route through the centre of the Northern Territory. The fact that Tasmania recognises that she has no passible chance of any material benefit from a railway probably explains the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for Franklin this afternoon.
– Does not the honorable member think that it might make a market for our products?
– It might, butI believe that Tasmania will get’ the least material benefit of all the States from any railway, whatever route it follows. She can only share in the general national benefit. I am inclined to think that, wherever the railway goes in the Territory, it must be built to develop the Territory, which, it must be remembered, will be Federal property after being acquired by the Commonwealth. Regarding the matter as a layman, I am of opinion that the line should not be taken by way of Hergott and Oodnadatta, but continued north from Tarcoola, and kept to the west of the MacDonnell Ranges, until it gets somewhere near Tanami, where we are told there is gold-bearing country; from there it could proceed north. That would provide for the opening up of country which is not likely to be touched in the near future by State lines. New South Wales will, of course, push her railways westward, and Queensland will continue to do so. It does not heed much imagination to suppose that the line to Longreach will ultimately be pushed westward to meet the Commonwealth line.
– Queensland will be drawing traffic from the Northern Territory before the Commonwealth line does so.
– Queensland proposes to extend her railway from Cloncurry to Camooweal, which will develop her own country, and attract trade from “the Northern Territory between Pine Creek and the Roper River and Camooweal, which is the best known portion of the Territoryat present. Queenslanders who object to the transcontinental line being taken through the centre of Australia are a little selfish, seeing that their railways will tap the Territory before the Commonwealth line can do so. In voting for the Bill, I accept the statement of the honorable member for Ballarat that, when he made the original agreement with representatives of South Australia, it was decided that the transcontinental line might be deviated to the east or to the west as might be necessary in the interests of Australia. South Australia would have lost nothing had it left it to this Parliament to settle the whole matter, though I do not blame the people of the Stale for refusing to trust us, seeing that the eastern States endeavour to get all the material benefits of the expenditure of the
Federation. The advocacy of the central route by representatives of South Australia, who are all of one mind in this matter, though differing widely in their general politics, is evidence that the people of South Australia desire that the Territory should be transferred to the Commonwealth, and wish for the material benefit to be obtained by the construction of the transcontinental railway. I expected that the honorable member for Ballarat would have done more to prove that the original agreement allowed a deviation. Of course, the people of the State may say that that wasnot intended, but Mr. O’Loughlin’s opinion might be asked, seeing that he took part in the Conference. After serious consideration, I have come to the conclusion that the Northern Territory must be acquired by the Commonwealth for several reasons. In the first place, South Australia cannot develop it. I do not think that any nation would make a military landing in the Northern Territory with the object of ultimately securing possession of the continent.
– No army could be got overland
– No. Of course, if a landing were made, and the invaders were not driven out, they would in time establish themselves there, as the African negroes have established themselves in the United States of America, by living there for generation after generation. I do not look upon the proposed railway as of much advantage for the conveyance of troops. The difficulty ofconveying troops over 800 miles of railway was shown in the South African war.
– But during the RussoJapanese war over1, 000,000 men were transported by the Siberian railway.
– We must take reasonable precautions. The eastern nations and especially Japan, desire to expand. I hope that Japan will confine her efforts to Korea, China, and Formosa. The honorable member for Grey spoke of the millions of coloured people within a comparatively short distance of the Northern Territory. It is a wonder that they have not come to Australia already. But western ideas are beginning to spread, and the eastern nations are beginning to follow the example of European nations by trying to’ enlarge their territories. As I feel that the only way out of the difficulty with which we are faced is for the Commonwealth to take control of the Northern Territory, I shall vote for the Bill. South Australia is, of course, making a good bargain, but she has alienated as little as possible of the Territory, and we shall have no coloured races to drive out when we take possession.
– The question of taking over the Northern Territory has been before the people of Australia ever since the accomplishment of Federation. It. has been the subject of discussion in this House in two sessions. The whole matter has been exhaustively debated on both sides, and one feels irresistibly drawn to the conclusion that the time has come, that the hour has struck, when we mustdefinitelydecide whether or not we are going to take over the Territory on the terms available to us. It is just as well that to-day we have had the case presented from both sides. The case against the adoption of the agreement has been fairly stated by two honorable members in particular; by the honorable member for Brisbane and the honorable member for Franklin. But I think that after considering their pessimisticutterances and giving due weight to their arguments the case for the Bill must be regarded as overwhelmingly strong. Their speeches have not in any way refuted the strong case presented in support of the agreement by the ex-Minister of External Affairs, the honorable member for Darling Downs ; by the present Minister of External Affairs ; by the ex-Prime Minister the Leader of the Opposition, by the honorable member for Grey, and by several others. Those speeches, considered togetherwith the literature which is available to all honorable members, have, in my opinion, made out a strong and convincing case. They have shown, first of all, that the Northern Territory is worth taking over. It is worth fightingfor, and when we acquire it will be worth holding, worth spending money upon to develop it, and worthy of the consideration of the highest and best statesmanship that Australia can devote to it. The objections that have Been made to some of the terms of the agreement particularly relate to the question of the railway. But I thinkthat we ought to give due credit to the negotiators who arrived at the agreement, representing respectively the Commonwealth and the State of South Aus- tralia, for having done their best for the interests with which they were charged. It was hardly to be expected that the representatives of South Australia, who had to conduct the negotiationson behalf of their State, would on the one hand disregard utterly her interests. Nor could the representatives of the Commonwealth have ignored its interests, or failed to do their best for them. After listening to the explanations given by the Leader of the Opposition - clear, lucid, and straightforward as they were - as to the circumstances in which the agreement was entered into, and the considerations and inducements affecting both sides, one must feel convinced that the very best was done. It may be that there is, to some extent, an ambiguity in the agreement. I will refer to it later on. But that ambiguity may be got over by friendly negotiations at a subsequent stage between the two Governments. I think that the Northern Territory, as portrayed on the map hanging in the chamber, is an inheritance which the people of Australia ought to be proud to have an opportunity to participate in. I am convinced that we should not be doing common justice to the Government and the people of South Australia if we did not give them full credit for the way in which they have so far managed and conducted the affairs of the Territory under trying and difficult circumstances, retaining it without seriously hampering it by excessive burdens or unnecessary debts and obligations, and certainly avoiding the dangers to which the honorable member for Grey has referred - dangers which would have accrued from a hostile or coloured population being located there. We take over the Territory free from any such taint, difficulty, or danger. The money borrowed, for which we have to assume responsibility, may not all havebeen spent to the very best advantage; but all young communities naturally make financial mistakes. Such mistakes have been made, and will be made again, without necessarily reflecting upon the capacity for self-government of the early pioneering Governments that made them. At any rate, it is obvious that South Australia, with her limited financial resources, has not been able to bring to bear upon the Northern Territory that great power of development and government which will be at the command of the Commonwealth of Australia. Therefore, the Commonwealth is not only justified, but bound, to take it over, and to do so without any further delay. Because delays are, and will be, dangerous. Negotiations for a supplementary agreement in modification of the existing agreement would probably involve a delay of years ; and that delay would not in any way free the Commonwealth from any of the difficulties or embarrassments which at present confront it. If this agreement were defeated by a hostile amendment being carried, I entertain no doubt whatever, from what I have heard in this House, and from the manifestations of public opinion in South Australia, of which I have read, that the Legislature and the people of that State will make a fresh start with the Northern Territory, will launch upon fresh enterprises, will probably begin to construct a railway in a manner, and in the direction, and under conditions which suit them best, without consulting the Commonwealth. Inevitably the time will come - thetime must come - when the Commonwealth will take over this area of country, either as a Territory or as a new State. If the Territory be incorporated as a new State, probably by that time the railway that we have been talking so much about will be an accomplished fact, and we shall have to take it over without having had a voice in its construction. I should like to point out that the agreement as it stands, with the admitted ambiguity in it, may not prevent the realization or the carrying out of that deviation from the direct route through the MacDonnell Ranges, to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred, and which he said was apparently concurred in by Mr. Price and by Mr. O’Loughlin, as a possibility.
– Why was not that provided for in the Bill?
– I have said that, unfortunately, there is an ambiguity in the Bill. If, however, the matter were to be determined by paragraph 1, sub-paragraph b, of the agreement, there wouldbe no ambiguity. The mandate is not to be found in that portion of the agreement, but in a subsequent portion, which is slightly inconsistent with this paragraph.Paragraph b, which, I would point out, deals with the obligations and powers of the Commonwealth, reads -
The Commonwealth .. shall . . . construct, or cause to be constructed, a railway line from Fort Darwin southwards to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper (which railway, with the railway from a point on thePort Augusta railway to connect therewith, is hereinafter referredto as the Transcontinental Railway).
If the matter depended upon that paragraph alone, which, it will be observed, is the dominating paragraph dealing with the obligations of the Commonwealth, there can be no doubt that it would be within the competence of the Commonwealth to construct a railway in the outer circle, so to speak, indicated by the map hanging on the wall of the chamber.
-And go outside the Territory ?
– Undoubtedly; under the paragraph, because that would be a railway going southward tothe boundary of the State of South Australia. There would be nothing to prevent it from going out into the adjacentportion of Queensland and coming in at the northern bounday of South Australia.
– That is, under that paragraph ?
– Yes. That is, apparently, the dominating paragraph, and the only one which defines the obligations of the Commonwealth. I am not now endeavouring to give an authoritative legal interpretation of the agreement. That has already been done by authorized officials, namely, by the Attorney-General of South Australia on the one hand, and by the AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth on the other hand. I am merely pointing out what may be the parts of the agreement on which those authorities rely in support of their respective contentions. I have no doubt that the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth relies on that paragraph in support of his view in favour of a deviation to the eastward, and probably the Attorney-General of South Australia relies on the paragraph which was quoted by the honorable member for Franklin, and’ which he described as the recital paragraph. What does paragraph c of clause 2 of the agreement - which I shall, for the sake of shortness, call the recital paragraph - refer to? It does not refer to the powers or the obligations of the Commonwealth, but to something which South Australia has to do. It reads -
The State . . . shall . . .at the time of such surrender authorize by legislation the Commonwealth to do all that is necessary to enable the Commonwealth to make surveys, acquire the necessary lands, and to construct, or cause to be constructed, a railway in South Australia proper from any point on the’ Port Augustarailway to a point on the northern boundary line of South Australia proper to connect with that part of the Transcontinental Railway to be built in the Northern Territory from Port Darwin southwards to the northern boundary of South Australia proper. . . .
These are not enacting words, but mere recitals of something apparently thought to be intended. They are hardly words of limitation or of command. They are certainly not words imposing an obligation on the Commonwealth. They are words of description, apparently inserted by the draftsman, and that was probably where the mistake referred to by the Leader of the Opposition occurred. These are the only words in the whole of the agreement which introduce ambiguity.
– But that is clear enough, is it not?
– Yes; but, as I have said, these are not enacting words, but words apparently of recital or description.
– South Australia must permit that?
– Yes, South Australia must permit the Commonwealth to makesurveys in order to carry out the connexion from PortAugusta to the boundary of the State. However, I do not intend to carry this legal argument any further.
– Does not the honorable member think that we ought to be clear on the question?
– We cannot help ourselves. Here is an ambiguity which the Leader of the Opposition has said has crept into the agreement, which escaped the vigilance of the law officers, and which will somehow have to be got over. If the Bill be passed even in its present form, possibly negotiations Can be entered into hereafter by the respective Governments to arrive at an understanding to reconcile and dispose of this ambiguity without resorting to litigation. At any rate, so far as a mandate is imposed on the Commonwealth by the agreement, that is to construct a railway from Port Darwin southwards to the northern boundary of South Australia. If it does that, it will carry out the mandatory portion of the agreement.
– That is not the opinion of South Australia, one of the contracting authorities.
– I am aware of that, as I stated at’ the beginning of my speech. I am not attempting to predict what the High Court might decide.
– Does not the honorable member think that it would be better for us to make the agreement clear now?
– Undoubtedly ; but probably if we inserted an adverse amendment it would mean the smashing up of the agreement, and the postponement of the whole thing for years. While regretting the ambiguity, and regretting that Parliament has not a free hand, I feel forced into accepting the Bill, and making the very best which canbe made of this bargainwith the ambiguity, hoping that at a later stage the two Governments will be able to.arrive at an understanding which will avoid a conflict, and the possibility of an appeal to litigation; at any rate, to come to an understanding which will prevent any dangerous delay, because, even though the agreement be passed, South Australia, if it could not come to an understanding, could not force the Commonwealth to proceed with the construction of this railway within any particular limit of time. The Commonwealth will be the master of the situation. It can decide when and in what circumstances the railway is to be started. It seems almost inevitable that the eastern States should show a disposition to have a “cut in,” so to speak, or to tap this transcontinental railway, and make it an avenue directly or indirectly communicating with their own western borders.But we ought to realize that the problem is which railway and which route would best develop the Territory, not which railway or which route would best promote the interests of Victoria, or New South Wales, or Queensland. It is of no use to construct a railway to divert traffic into Queensland for its benefit, or into New South Wales for its benefit, or into Victoria for its benefit, if such diversion would not benefit the Territory. We want the railway to go through the principal portions of this country - to be able to make such deviations as may be necessary to include the best portions of the Territory. The interests even of South Australia should be subordinate to the interests of the Territory In deciding the route of the railway. I suppose that South Australians will admit that. It has been pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition, that the final decision of the route ought not to be arrived at before an exhaustive inquiry has been made under Commonwealth supervision, and the results of proper exploration’s are available.
Mr.Higgs. - The agreement does not say that.
– The agreement leaves the Commonwealth to determine the route from Port Darwin south to the northern boundary of South Australia. It is quite open to question whether the words of recital in the subsequent part of the agreement dominate its qualifying words. Consequently, I think there is a good deal tobe said in support of the opinion which hasbeen expressed by the Attorney-General. The question of the route of the railway must be determined in the interests of the Northern Territory; but I see that one of the projected lines is intended to cut into Camooweal at the parallel on which Townsvilleis situated, leaving the Northern Territory a few hundred miles south of the ocean. That is scarcely a line calculated to benefit the Territory. It may be a railway which is intended to divert traffic into Queensland, and if so, it is doubtless one in which Queenslanders feel a kindly interest. But I assume that, in making this big bargain, we ought to consider the interests of Australia. Of what use would such a line be for developing the Northern Territory? It would leave the whole question of the railway through that Territory still unsettled.
– It would drain the western portionof Queensland at Port Darwin.
– It would still be necessary to construct a railway through the Northern Territory, either to the cast or west of or through the MacDonnell Ranges. I do not consider thatwe are bound to take the direct route through those ranges. But the Commonwealth Government, in negotiation with the Government of South Australia, and with its friendly assistance and co-operation, may be trusted to make thebestsurveys to enable us to arrive at a decision upon this question. In conclusion, I believe that if the Bill be passed, there will be a rapid development of colonization and civilization in this big Territory. Recently, I had the honour to introduce to the Minister of External Affairs a gentleman who represents a powerful syndicate, which is prepared to spend no less a sum than£250,000 in the development of some of this northern country in the region of Arnheim’s Land.
– Just to the west of Anthony’s Lagoon.
– The money is waiting to be invested there. All that is required is that the company shall be granted security of tenure by the Commonwealth. When that is forthcoming, itis prepared to at once enter upon the expenditure of capital in introducing stock and the necessary labour to carry out their great undertaking. The gentleman in question is a resident of Bendigo, and only recently arrived from London. He is anxious that this Bill should be passed, in order that his negotiations may be completed. Every year’s delay of this problem of government means delay in the settlement and colonization of this important part of the Commonwealth. Millions of money may be lost as the result of delay. Delay, therefore, is to be deprecated, and any further postponement of this question ought to be opposed by every true friend of the Commonwealth, and by every person who has faith in the prospects and future destiny of the Northern Territory. In common with other honorable members, I have for years advocated the taking over of that Territory, and the time has arrived when we ought to take it overand do the best that we can with it. Although there is an ambiguity in the agreement, we must trust that that ambiguity will be overcome and that we shall obtain atruly national railway, which will not be constructed for the benefit of any State,but for the benefit of the Northern Territory itself.
.- I feel that I cannot allow the second reading of this measure to pass without making a few observations. We appear to have gone somewhat crazy open the subject of de- fence. Without doubt, we ought to flu all that we can to train our citizens to defend our hearths and homes. I have advocated the adoption of that course for a dozen years past, and it was one of the arguments which I used in favour of the establishment of Federation. But since the advent of Federation, we seem to have become abnormally alarmed about cur defenceless condition. Any honorable number who desires a transcontinental railway to be constructed anywhere in Australia, usually pleads that it is necessary for the defence of the country. In my opinion, we have to apprehend no danger at present from Japan. That nation has Korea, Manchuria,and Formosa to settle; and it is extremely unlikely that a country which has had its hands very full with Russia, and which still has to pay off a considerable war debt, will attempt an invasion of Australia. It is true that China is awakening; but she is awakening only because the so-called Great Powers of the world have been stirring her up. We shall receive warning from China long before she attempts to attack Australia. That warning will take the formof a notificationto all foreigners to quit China. They may expect to be driven but of that country, because they have goaded it into training its citizens as soldiers. Even the British have acted the part of tyrants by forcing the opium trade upon China. We owe a debt of gratitude to South Australia for the hold’ she has kept upon the Northern Territory. I remember reading that in 1898 it was proposed that a very considerable area of land in the Territory should be granted to any syndicate provided they settled there a colony of at least three Japanese to every acre. If that proposal, which was agreed to by the British Government, had been carried into effect, we should long before this have had thousands of Japanese settled in the Northern Territory. The proposal was opposed by the Government of which the Right Honorable Charles Cameron Kingston was the head, and it never reached fruition. But because South Australia has held the Territory for us, and because there is a great wave of national sentiment at present passing over Australia, that is no reason why the people of South Australia should endeavour to exploit that sentiment in order to compel the taxpayers of the Commonwealth to find ^4,000,000 or ,£5,000,000 for the construction of a railway which may not pay. I cannot believe that the Minister in charge of this Bill, and other Labour members who are supporting him, and intend to accept the agreement as it stands, are desirous of pressing upon the Commonwealth a huge burden of debt. I am satisfied that not one of these honorable members, if they realized that it would handicap the Labour movement of Australia, would urge the adoption of a proposal which will involve the Commonwealth in a debt of some millions, the interest on which must be met by Commonwealth taxpayers, wherever they may reside.
– The honorable member thinks that those interested in the Labour movement should never take a’ national view.
– No; I think that most members of the Labour party hold national views. It is because I am afraid that . this proposal will compel the Com-, monwealth .: build a railway from Pine Creek southwards to a point on the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line which would cost so many millions, and that the difficulty of finding the money would impede the progress of the Labour movement throughout Australia, that I am opposed to it. We shall require to expend a great deal of money when we take over the Northern Territory. I wonder if the honorable members who .propose to take it over under the terms of the agreement have in mind any scheme for its development? What are they going to do with it when they get it?
– Open up the country. What does the honorable member think we should do with it?
– How does the honorable member propose to open up the country ? Is it by granting large areas to pastoralists at a rental of is. or 2s. 6d. per square mile ? That is all that has been done with the Territory so far.
– For what reason?
– That is a question which the honorable member should answer. Why is it that, so far, the only means adopted for the development of the Territory has been to grant large areas to pastoralists ? . Let me inform honorable members that I approach this question with an entirely open mind. I have never been in the Northern Territory, butT have read a great deal about it, and I find that the opinions expressed by men who have been there are very contradictory. Some say that the land there is good, and others that it is very poor.
– Contradictory opinions are expressed about the land in Queensland, also.
– I have” no-doubt that the honorable member considers that a very pertinent interjection. Let me give him the reply to it. Will he tell me why it is that Mr. O’Loughlin, the Minister for Agriculture in South Australia and Commissioner for Lands in the Northern Territory has, within the last few years, sent his sons to Queensland to get land if the land in the Northern Territory is as good as some persons would have us believe? The honorable member is silent.
– I arn not silent. That would not be necessary if the country were opened up by railways.
– One reason is that no one could get an acre of land in the Northern Territory since 1897, except on an annual permit.
– If there is good land in the Northern Territory, why has South Australia not continued theline from Oodnadatta to the good country, which we are told isto be found there?
– Because bad times came along, and then Federation.
– People are leaving South
Australia in dozens and going to Queensland, and it is a fact that Mr. O’Loughlin has sent his sons to that State to get land. This fact seems to me to confirm the statement that the land in the Northern Territory is not so good as some South Australians say it is. But, even if the land were poor, I should raise no protest against the taking over of the Territory by the Commonwealth. I hold that we should take it over. My objection is to the demand made in the agreement that the Commonwealth shall construct a railway southwards, from Pine Creek to a point on the Port Augusta railway. I claim that “southwards” has only one reasonable meaning in this connexion, and that is that the line must be taken by the direct route indicated on the map exhibited in the chamber. I was interested yesterday in listening to the honorable member for Ballarat referring eloquently to the national sentiment, and saying that he thought the Federal Parliament ought to have the power to construct the railway by the best route. The Minister of External Affairs cheered that statement to the echo, as did other South Australian representatives. But the moment the honorable member for Ballarat proposed that there should be an addition to the agreement to say that the Federal Parliament should have the right to take the railway where it pleased, representatives of South Australia said, “ No, you must not alter a comma in the agreement, because, if youdo, you will spoil the whole thing, and the Commonwealth will not be able to get the Territory.” Honorable members must have heard often enough that in our Courts the Judges consider only the wording of the sections of an Act of Parliament, and take no notice of the speeches which may have been delivered in Parliament in connexion with them. It is not to be presumed that, in the event of any dispute as to the route by which thisline should be constructed, Judges called upon to decide the matter would read the speeches delivered on this Bill. They would take the words of the agreement, andI submit that it is cleat from the wording of the agreement that the line must be constructed southwards, as some of the supporters of the agreement have frankly admitted. It is useless for honorable members supporting this measure to try to persuade Western Australian representatives that the line may be taken towards Western Australia, or Queensland representatives that it may be taken towards Camoowcal, because we shall not be able to do that if the agreement is carried. I shall vote to take over the Northern Territory, but I shall try in Committee to secure for this Parliament the power to construct the railway along the best route, to be decided aftera thorough investigation by engineers. I should like honorable members to consider what we are to do with the Northern Territory when we get it. How is it proposed that we should settle it? There is any amount of good country in New South Wales and in Queensland yet to be settled.
– There is a little bit in Western Australia.
– There is a very great deal of land yet to be settled in Western Australia. We have only to look at the map to see that the area in Western Australia still unsettled is as large as the Northern Territory itself, and if there is any force in the argument that we are likelyto be invaded in the north, that part of Western Australia is as open to invasion as is the Northern Territory. The only way to settle and develop the Territory would be to advance considerable sums of publicmoney to people prepared to live there. Judging by the slow progress made in settlement in Queensland, good as the lands are there, I think that in the Northern Territory we should not only have to advance money for the building of houses, but assist the settlers in getting their produce to market.
– Surely the honorable member does not object to that?
– I am only pointing out that that is what, in my opinion, we shall have to do, and we shall not be able to find the money if we spend several millions in constructing a railway which may not pay. Honorable members speak of the Northern Territory as being of great value to the Commonwealth ; but there is no doubt it will eventually have to be handed over to the people who go there to live, and who will then have placed on them the indebtedness caused by the expenditure on the railway. The South Australians are asking the Commonwealth to recoup them all the money they have borrowed in the past for public works in the Northern Territory, and later on, when the people in the north establish their own local Parliament, which, I hope, will be at the earliest possible time, they will be asked to take upon themselves the expense previously borne by the whole Commonwealth in opening up the country.If we are to develop the Territory as it should be developed, there will have to be an agricultural policy, With a Minister of Agriculture ; a railway policy, with a Minister of Railways; a land policy, with a Minister of Lands; together with a Minister of Education and a Minister of Mines, and so on. The honorable member for Hindmarsh laughs, and thus shows that he cannot have given much thought to the question. Honorable members do not seem to realize the task we are taking upon ourselves, and the terrible expense that will be involved. Of course, if all that is to be done is to take over the Northern Territory and relieve South Australia of her present burden, well and good; but if we desire to settle the country, Departments such as I have indicated must be created.
– That would fill the place with “ carpet-baggers “ from the start!
– It is the honorable member’s policy which would fill the place with “carpet-baggers,” seeing that he proposes to govern the Northern Territory from Melbourne, and that a lot of officials will be required to collect the rents from the big pastoralists, who, we are told, are going to settle there. Later on we shall find whetherthe honorable member or myself is right.
– That will not be for fifty years!
– If we have to wait fifty years for the development of the Territory, and there is any basis for the alarm about invasion, I am afraid we shall have suffered long before that time has expired.
– It will be fifty years before the Territory is completely settled and in full swing.
– There is not much in the proposals before us, if we have to wait so long. I think I express the national view whenI say that we should relieve South Australia of her burden ; but I also express the national view when I protest against an agreement which binds us to construct the proposed railway in a certain direction ; and in Committee I shall endeavour to carry an amendment in that regard.
.- I quite agree with the honorable member for Capricornia that this agreement should not be trammelled by a railway stipulation. This question has not been placed before the House in a proper light. A threat is held out that the transcontinental railway to Kalgoorlie will not be approved unless this agreement is entered into. In fact, there are threats all through, seeing that the Commonwealth is told that it will not be allowed to do this, that, or the other unless Parliament agrees to the construction of the Pine Creek to Oodnadatta line. We have had a lot of”clap-trap “ to the effect that the Northern Territory must be taken over in order that it may be defended ; but, so tar as I understand, agreement or no agreement, the Commonwealth must defend the Northern Territory. In regard to the railway to Kalgoorlie, the South Australians have been the stumbling block from start to finish. Years ago Western Australia offered to construct a railway from the westto Port Augusta, and pay the interest on the cost of construction ; but South Australia refused that offer. If that is not a “ dog-in-the-manger “ spirit I do not know what is! South Australia has had this northern line in view for years past ; but they must recognise that the distance is greater from Colombo to Palmerston than from Colombo to Perth. The mail steamers would have to dodge many islands in order to get to Palmerston, and with a rise and fall in the tide of about 40 feet, it would never be known whether or not they could get to a jetty. On the other hand, there is a straight run to Perth, with ample port accommodation, and, that being so, the mail boats would never go to Palmerston.
– Who desires that the mail boats should go to Palmerston?
– That is one of the chief arguments in favour of the proposed railway. Is it fair that Queensland and Western Australia should be saddled with a portion of the upkeep of this new State, while South Australia is relieved? What are we going to do with the Territory when we take it over ? South Australia has done its best to open it up during the last thirty years, and has failed. When I went to South Australia thirty years ago I found that the southern portion of the State had been nearly ruined by the efforts of the Government to open up the north. Sons of old setters had been sent up there to try to make a living, but had either died or had returned impoverished or ruined. Some of the smartest and best men in Australia have endeavoured, without success, to develop the Territory. The failure was ascribed in the first instance to the want of a railway, and a line from Port Darwin to Pine Creek was accordingly constructed. We are told that South Australia is entitled to every credit for having kept the Northern Territory white. She went a strange way about the work of keeping it white. The State Government rejected a tender to construct the Pine Creek line by white labour, and accepted one which made provision for the employment of coloured aliens. The Northern Territory is the only part of Australia where aliens have worked in harness. The Chinese engaged in the construction of the Port Darwin to Pine Creek railway line worked in harness ; they wore collars like horses, and dragged trucks from the cuttings to the tips. The country was so bad that as soon as the line was constructed the Chinese left.
– Who was the contractor for that line?
– It was built by Messrs. Millar Brothers, who, under their contract, were .allowed to employ Chinese labour. The Chinese are not the only race who have been in the Northern Territory and have deserted it. As far back as the fifteenth century the northern part of Australia was known as Great Java; . The Portuguese first held it, but could not settle it. In the sixteenth century the Spaniards sailed through Torres Straits and tried in vain to settle the country. The Dutch likewise failed, and South Australia, having made fruitless efforts to develop the Territory, now asks the Commonwealth to take up the burden. This proposal is all very well from a South Australian point of view, and if I represented that State I should probably be found supporting this Bill just as vigorously as are my South Australian friends. I should recognise that I was doing my best for the State in trying to induce the Commonwealth to shoulder the burden.
– I have never run down the proposed Western Australian transcon- tinental line. Why attack the Northern Territory ?
– I am speaking in an impersonal sense. The honorable member for Grey knows that some of the cleverest men in Australia have tackled the problem of developing the Northern Territory and have failed. A blunder was committed in the first place in constructing the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. That line was intended originally not to open up the Northern Territory, .but to rob Queensland of the traffic from the Diamantina and the Cooper. A line was surveyed to the Queensland border. When the railway reached Hergott Springs, however, it could go no further owing to the flooded state of the country, and even the surveyed route was lost. A route was then chosen towards Oodnadatta. Later on it was found that another blunder had been committed in aiming at the construction of a line over the highest part of Australia. With the exception of the big Dividing Range, there is only one “pimple” in Australia which reaches an altitude of 3,000 or 4,000 feet. I refer to the MacDonnell Ranges, and we are asked to put a railway through that country. Pictures are exhibited showing a gap through which a railway could be carried. The largest rocks immediately abutting on this gap are 60 feet high, but they are as nothing compared with the ranges running up as high as 3,000 or 4.000 feet. Would any sensible people try to run a railway over that elevated country when an easier route could be found? The route starts east by north. After reaching Hergott Springs it runs in a westerly direction, and then turns due north. Had any more deviations been made a complete circle would have been described. A more devious route could not have been chosen had the surveyors been paid for their work by the mile. The route chosen suggests the flight of carrier pigeons ; they fly in a circle and )’ou never know where they will take off. Weare now asked to take over this railway. Beggars should not be choosers. Surely South Australia should not impose conditions as to the route to be followed, and attempt to dictate to all Australia? As to the attempt of South Australia to compel the Commonwealth to build the western railway via Tarcoola, I would point out that the South Australian authorities would not agree to the survey of a line running straight to the west. It was said that it would be unwise from a defence point of view to follow a route too close to the coast, yet at a point a little further west a course was chosen running very close to the coast.
– Why carry the Western Australian transcontinental line to Kalgoorlie - why go so far north?
– A survey has to be made to the nearest point of population, lt is , un fair that one State should attempt to impose conditions on the whole Commonwealth as to the terms upon which it shall be allowed to take over “ its Territory,” as it calls it. We are told that the Northern Territory is a beautiful country in which to reside and work. Last month I was talking to a man who told me that on the second day after his arrival in the Northern Territory the heat was so great that the leather was burnt off his boots. Life in the Territory is no picnic. We are told that a big population is to be brought from the Old Country and settled there. It would be cruelty to settle new arrivals in the Territory. Since people from other parts of Australia have refused to go there, how can we reasonably expect new arrivals from the Old World to settle there? I know of no means of settling that country. We are asked to build a line hundreds of miles long, and terminating at a point where there is a population of only 1,000 white people. If those people could afford to travel up and down that line every day, and pay their fares, it would not earn working expenses. It would never pay to run wool, wheat, or any other product over such a long length of railway.
– Would it pay to run such products over the proposed Western Australian transcontinental railway?
– We have a population of over 300,000 in Western Australia, as against a population of only 1,000 in the Northern Territory. The fact that the Territory cannot be developed without a railway is mere “ clap-trap.” How was Western Australia developed without a railway from the east ? We have a growing population there, and yet at present there is no railway joining that State in the east.
– Western Australia was unknown before the discovery of gold.
– The interjections of some honorable members clearly show that they are prepared to vote in the dark, and know nothing about this question. They talk about Western Australia not being discovered until gold was found. Are they aware that it was discovered before Vic-, toria, New South Wales, or Tasmania? New Holland, as it was called, was discovered by the Dutch people before they got as far as Tasmania, and then they found ‘ Tasmania by accident. Dirk Hartog sailed down the coast of Western Australia in 161 6. Had that portion of. Australia which was discovered back in the fifteenth century by the Portuguese been the paradise that we are led to believe today, it would have been settled, and instead of the people now going from the south to the north, they would be coming from the north to settle the southern portion. I hope honorable members will consider seriously what .they are going to saddle the Commonwealth with. There is, perhaps, not much harm in a State being unable to do better than South Australia has done, but it would be a standing disgrace to the Commonwealth if it took the Territory over and could not do better with it than has been done in the past. Other portions of Australia require defending as much as the middle of it. My idea is that if we had the four corners defended, the middle would look after itself. I am certain that nobody is going to interfere with the MacDonnell Ranges, anyway. Even the ‘South Australians have not yet had the pluck to build the railway up to them. I do not think they ever made up their minds where that railway was really going to. It reminds me of Jerome K. Jerome’s story about the porter telling the stationmaster that there was a strange train in the station. The stationmaster told him to ask where it came from, and he replied, “ I do not think it knows itself; it seems a little dotty.” Similarly, this railway is a little dotty. It does not know where it came from or where it is aiming at. If the Commonwealth dares to take over the proposition of running the traffic such as would be required on a line of that length on a rickety 3 ft. 6 in. gauge railway, built as this one has been, it will be the worst enterprise that was ever started in Australia. When we do build a line we shall want a proper gauge and proper rails. Let us have at least 80-lb. rails and decent sleepers, so that we can run the trains at 40 or 50 miles an hour. We should want to get over these long stretches as quickly as possible. This is an illadvised proposal, and it is a shame that it should come before the House when only a few members are present. I warn honor- able members representing different parts of Australia that they will regret the day they agreed to take over the Teritory with the proposed conditions attached to it.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma.
BANK NOTES TAX BILL.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Quarantine Act - Regulations Amended, Nos. 44, 138-140c, 143 (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 93.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
Postal - Electoral Papers - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 91.
Payment of Postage by Receiver; Telephone Regulations - Part XIX. - Statutory Rules 1910, No.92.
Scott Antarctic Expedition - Order of Business.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I desire to announce that the Government have decided to donate£2,500 towards the Scott Antarctic Expedition. We hope that it may be of some assistance to the furtherance of scientific research, and the eminently desirable objects of the expedition. To-morrow, after the motion dealing with the order of business has been disposed of, we intend to proceed with the Committee consideration of the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, and when that has been concluded, to devote the remainder of the sitting to private members’ business. On Tuesday, we intend to go on with the Referenda Bills, and to finish them.
– I congratulate the Government on having joined as has almost every other part of the Empire in giving financial support to the attempt to reach the South Pole, which is now being made by the strongest corps of scientists that has ever faced the many great problems associated with the South Polar regions. Its problem of climatology, in particular, is of the deepest interest to Australia. I could have wished that the sum voted were twice as large, so that we might share in this expedition to the same extent as we did in that of its predecessor. The fact that the Government have decided to support this daring attempt of highly capable and brave men will give satisfaction to practically our whole people. I also suggest that it would be well to allow an interval - to be occupied by the discussion of other Government business - for the consideration of the Referenda Bills when their second readings have been moved. No legislation of more moment has been submitted to this Parliament, and the discussion can hardly be resumed until the explanations of the Acting Prime Minister regarding them have been studied. It might be sufficient to move the adjournment of the debate only until a later hour of the sitting; the interval that will be necessary will depend on the ground broken, and the line of argument pursued by the honorable gentleman. One would wish to do justice in this important debate to the very grave and serious questions which must necessarily arise in considering these measures.
House adjourned at 11.11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 October 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1910/19101013_reps_4_58/>.