6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Pension Forms - Delivery op Letters - Effectsof Deceased Soldiers - Payment or Pensions - Payof Imperial Reservists - Charges for Birth Certificates.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether the necessary pension forms will be made available at post-offices and) offices of Clerks of Petty Sessions to wounded soldiers and those dependent on men who have been killed.
– I understand that the Defence Department continues to pay to the mother or other relative of the soldier the allowance agreed upon, until any question concerning a pension hasbeen dealt with. I shall communicate the honorable member’s question to the Treasurer, though I think that the Treasury is already doing what is desired.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral satisfied that the arrangements for the despatch of mail matter to our men at the front are thebest that can be devised, and that in future deliveries will be more regular? Many men at the front have received no letters at all, though several have been written to them.
– No one can guarantee that every letter will in future be properly delivered, but, so far as this end is concerned, the best arrangements possible have been devised. The work is under careful officers, andspecial attention is paid to it.
– The otherday the Assistant Minister of Defence said that he would consult with the PostmasterGeneral for the devising of a scheme for improving arrangements both at this end and at the other, so that there might be a speedier delivery of letters and telegrams. Has the Minister had a consultation with the Postmaster-General, and, if so, what was the result?
– The Minister of Defence has had a consultation with the Postmaster-General. Colonel legge, who is now on his way to the seat of war, is cognisant of the complaints that have been made, and will personally see into this among other matters on arrival.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that much of the delay in the delivery of letters to the troops is due to the fact that the letters have been sent on to England, and wenreturned to Egypt?
– I am not aware of it. I believe that has been the case with some of the mails - that some bags wenton to England and were brought back - but it certainly is not the general practice.
– May I ask the Assistant Minister of Defence, in view of the fact that the postal arrangements in Egypt seem to have so hopelessly broken down - admittedly broken down - if he will consider the advisability of placing the arrangements for dealing with the mails in Egypt in the hands of the military authorities instead of the postal authorities ?
– I do not admit that the delivery of mails in Egypt and at the front has hopelessly broken down.
– I did not say at the front; I said in Egypt.
– The honorable gentleman must remember that for some weeks past many of our soldiers have been leaving Egypt for the Dardanelles, hence there have been no replies to many of the letters which have been sent to them from Australia. But the honorable member must also see - and I wish to impress this upon honorable members - that the Department has more regard for the lives of those at the front, and for the welfare of the Empire, than for the delivery of a letter. It is necessary that every attention should be given to those who are fighting for their very lives, and this phase of the question must be regarded as more important than the despatch arid delivery of letters from Australia. We are endeavouring to do everything that we can- -
– You are doing nothing.
– I’ say we are endeavoring to do everything that we can, but we must not expect that soldiers in Ihe trenches will get their letters as quickly as they would if they were residing somewhere near Melbourne. That is an impossibility.
– I am talking about Egypt.
– The whole thing is stretched !
– Is the Assistant Minister of Defence aware that parents are being put to considerable inconvenience by the military authorities in SydneyI think it is by the Paymaster’s
Department - in obtaining the personal effects of their sons who have died at the front? Is the Minister further aware that the military authorities are writing to the parents whose sons happen to be nineteen years of age, and in some cases less than that, asking if their sons left a will, or if the parents intend to take out letters of administration? This is against the law of New South Wales, and I would ask the Minister if he will direct the attention of those responsible to this particular matter, because it is hardly fair that so much inconvenience should be caused to the parents concerned.
– I shall be pleased to bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister.
– Immediately word is received by the authorities that a soldier has been killed at the front, all payments to his relatives cease. I know of individual cases in which great hardship has been thus caused. Will the Minister of Defence take steps to make the pensions available as soon as possible after the cessation of other payments?
-I believe that the Executive Council to-day approved of certain regulations permitting the payment of pensions. All reported deaths of soldiers will be considered by the Pensions Board as quickly as possible, with a view to granting assistance to the relatives.
– Some three weeks ago I brought under the notice of the Assistant Minister of Defence the fact that the Imperial Reservists in the ranks who have been called to the front from Australia are paid the difference between the Imperial and Australian rates of pay, but that Imperial officers similarly situated are not treated in the same manner. The Minister promised to let me have a reply. Will he say whether the matter has yet been considered by Cabinet? If not, will he expedite consideration of it, so that the officers may be on the same footing as the men in the ranks?
– If the honorable member will put his question on the noticepaper I will endeavour to give him an answer to-morrow.
– Has the Assistant Minister of Defence any statementto make in regard to charges for birth certificates levied on these who are receiving separation allowances?
– I will endeavour to give a reply to that question to-morrow.
– I should like to know from the Naval Minister if he has any official information regarding the rumour that the United States has broken off diplomatic relations with Germany ?
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs inform the House whether a Royal Commission will be appointed to ascertain the quantity of butter now held in cool storage in Sydney in order to increase its price?
– Last week the honorable member for Cook asked me to inquire what quantity of butter is held in store in Sydney, and, in reply to his question, I have been furnished with the following information. The Collector of Customs, New South Wales, reports -
S.S.O., dairy exports, reports that on 22nd inst., 3,098 boxes in store. Of this quantity about 1,200 were from New Zealand, being either held in bond or awaiting transhipment. The balance is held by pastrycooks, grocers, and others. The S.S.O. states that there are no means of personally verifying these figures, as there is no power to examine 6tores other than at appointed places. There is no butter at present stored at appointed places awaiting export.
The State Supervising Officer in New South Wales was asked, on the 29th ultimo, if it was certain that there was none stored in the various factories’ own refrigerators; and he replied, on the 31st, that the information at his disposal indicated that there was no butter stored in New South Wales factories. The Collector of Customs, Queensland, in reply to a question as to the quantity of butter stored in Queensland, stated that there were 5,768 boxes held in cold stores and by wholesale houses on 28th May. If the honorable member will give me facts thatwill enable me to prosecute the inquiries further, I shall endeavour to ascertain what butter is being held, and whether the public is being compelled to pay more for its supplies than it should pay.
– What is the reason for the sudden dismissal of all the temporary telegraph operators in Victoria?
– They have not been dismissed.
– They are going to be.
– Notices of dismissal! have been sent to about twenty temporary hands.
– Some of whom have been in continuous employment for about fourteen years.
– Under a new arrangement, their places will be taken by postal assistants who are learning telegraphy.
– And who are unqualified!
– They are not unqualified. The places of these postal assistants will be filled by persons who are now ranking as telegraph messengers, but have grown to an age which requires their appointment to a superior position. The places of these telegraph messengers will be taken by applicants for appointment as messengers who have applied, and would become ineligible if compelled to wait more than eighteen months after having passed the necessary examination. I have been able to arrange, however, that the temporary telegraphists shall be kept on for about fourteen weeks from now, and that the other positions shall not be interfered with in the meantime This will give a chance to work off a great deal of overtime that has accrued. Those who take time off in lieu of overtime payment will be able to make good arrears.
– Is the honorable gentleman aware that, whilst hundreds of young men in his Department who wish to volunteer for the front are not allowed to do so, he is dismissing female telegraphists and placing in their positions male telegraphists, many of whom desire to go to the war?
– I am not aware of any men in my Department having been refused permission to go to the war. Onlyone case has been mentioned here.
– Will the Assistant Minister of Defence say if it is a fact that nurses requiring equipment may go to any place they desire to purchase their goods, and that no regulation is used to compel them to go to Ball and Welch’s?
– They can go to any place they desire in order to secure whatever they need for equipment at the front.
– Will the Assistant Minister of Defence state whether it is a fact that the German Club premises in Sydney, known as tine Concordia Club, have been accepted for hospital purposes? If so, will the Minister say whether the Commonwealth is under any obligation to pay the rent for such premises during their occupation by the Commonwealth ?
– I know these premises have been offered, but I am not sure about their having been accepted. I will make inquiries.
– And about the rent, too ?
– May I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs what arrangements have been come to with the meat exporters with reference to the export of meat from Victoria, and whether any arrangement has been arrived at in reference to the export of meat from any of the other States?
– The honorable member asked a question the other day in relation to this matter. We immediately communicated with the States of New South Wales and Queensland upon the subject to ascertain what period the contracts entered into with the Imperial Government for meat supplies had yet to run. The Victorian Government entered into no arrangement of this character. On Monday last I gave an interview to the press, in which 1 stated my intention of introducing a new procedure by havdng the date stamped upon every carcass of meat passed for export. Immediately after that interview I noticed that the exporting people came to an arrangement to place a certain amount upon the market here, and I notice also a statement that it is their intention to keep enough meat here to supply the people. I have a record, covering several months, of the amount of meat in cold storage for export, and I have also ascertained- the fact has been published - the amount of frozen meat put on the local market, and apparently sold as fresh meat. During the week ended 22nd May more mutton and lamb was placed on the market than could be consumed in the metropolitan area.
– You want it.
– I am not complaining.
– It is good food.
– Yes, it is splendid food, and that which is passed for export is infinitely superior to some of the meat intended for local consumption.
– That is the custom all over the world.
– Yes, I have said so.
– Then, what is the point?
– Order ! The Minister of Trade and Customs was asked a question a moment ago, and it now appears that the whole House is anxious to answer it. I will be pleased if honorable members will refrain from these interjections.
– The honorable member for Parramatta interjected-
– Order !
– I was asked what was the point of this meat question. The point is that the people of Australia, or at any rate the people of this State, have been charged the price of fresh meat for this frozen meat, which is usually about half the price of fresh meat. What I personally object to is that people have bought and put into cold storage meat at about one-quarter of the price that they are selling it at to-day, and are taking advantage of the necessities of the people at this particular time.
– May I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he has directed the attention of the State Government to the enormities which he says are being practised on the people of Melbourne ?
– A representative of the State of Victoria communicated with me some little time ago in regard to the Commonwealth taking over the whole work of inspection on behalf of the State Government. I agreed, and am now waiting to receive a further intimation from that gentleman that his Government are in favour of it. The State Government are being communicated with as to the necessity of having the date stamped upon each carcass, so that at least the butchers who purchase the meat may know how long it has been in cold storage.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware that for years frozen meat companies in the Commonwealth have been trying to sell their frozen produce to the Australian public at lower rates than are charged for fresh meat, but have been unable to get it on the market? Is he also aware that it is practically impossible to sell frozen meat as fresh meat owing to the marked difference between the two commodities?
– An officer of the Department of Trade and Customs, who is thoroughly conversant with this subject, visited butchers’ shops in the metropolis last week and found, I think, that at least two-thirds of them were then selling frozen meat.
– May I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister if his attention has been directed to a leading article in the Age of the 29th May last criticising a statement of Sir George Reid, the High Commissioner for Australia, in reference to his declared fiscal policy. If he has, does the honorable gentleman intend taking any action?
– The honorable member informed me of his intention to ask this question, but I shall be glad if he will repeat it on Wednesday next to the Prime Minister.
Statement by the Attorney-General.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware of any arrangement to make good the shortage of sugar in the Commonwealth?
– No, I do not know of any arrangement that has been made.
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs lay on the table of the House a copy of the report which the Attorney-General has made, and which has already been communicated to the press, with reference to the supply of sugar in the Commonwealth; and also copies of the evidence taken by the AttorneyGeneral at the inquiry to which his report relates?
– I shall be obliged if the honorable member will put his ques tion to the Attorney-General upon his return to Melbourne.
– Some weeks ago the honorable member for Moreton made a statement in the House to the effect that members of the firm under contract to supply bread to the Military Camp at Enoggera, Brisbane, were Germans. Seeing that the Minister of Defence has stated that that assertion is wrong, and that the firm in question has published an advertisement also stating that it is wrong, will the honorable member for Moreton be given an opportunity to withdraw his statement?
– Order !
– I wish to ask the PostmasterGeneral whether, during the continuation of the war, he will stay his hand in regard to the discharge of temporary employees in the Postal Department?
– I think that everything is being done to minimize as far as possible the discharging of temporary employees from the service; but, as I Have already explained, there is more than one set of persons concerned. For every twenty at the one end - representing temporary employees whose time of serviceis expiring - there are sixty at the other end. We must do justice all round.
Removal of Troopsto Seymour
– I would ask the Assistant Minister of Defence whether it is the intention of the Department to remove all the troops from Broadmeadows to Seymour; and whether the Broadmeadows Camp is to be placed in a state of preparedness to accommodate some troops in the near future?
– The following statement, prepared in answer to a question of which notice has been given by the honorable member for Grampians, will be a reply to the honorable member’s inquiry: -
Immediate steps have been taken for the temporary removal of all troops, with the ex- ception of the training schools and a small number who are detailed for early embarkation, to Seymour, where a site suitable for a camping ground has been selected.
Advance parties will be despatched forthwith; 500 or 600 will be entrained for Seymour on Thursday, 3rd; 1,000 on Friday, 4th inst.; 2,000 on Sunday, 6th inst.; and (Monday being a public holiday) the remainder on Tuesday, the Sth inst.
In the meantime, officers of the Department are investigating the question as to what steps can be taken to obviate discomfort at Broadmeadows Camp in wet weather; also as to whether the cost of such alterations would make it advisable to permanently remove the camp to Seymour.
– I am now in a position to furnish a reply to the following question put to me on the 14th inst. by the honorable member for Nepean in regard to mail services and the reductions made: -
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1 and 2. The attached statement contains the information asked for -
– I promised the Leader of the Opposition on Thursday last that I would endeavour to obtain for him a full statement concerning the reported death of Captain William Bowman Douglas. The right honorable member stated that the friends of this officer were notified of his death early last month, and that after a memorial service had been held a cablegram was received by Mrs. Douglas from Captain Douglas himself containing the single word “ Well.” We have communicated with Cairo and Alexandria, and have received replies, which I shall read. The first, which is from Alexandria, is as follows : -
Captain W. B. Douglas reported admitted to hospital ship Gascon, May 3rd, gunshot wound, wounded lower abdomen, and reported to have died at sea, May 5th, by medical officer, hospital ship. Report of death and of wounds duly authenticated by signatures of responsible officers in every ease.
From Cairo we have received the following: -
Captain Douglas reported died transport. Gascon fifth instant. Unable explain wire* mentioned.
The “wire” referred to is the messagesent by us. According to this information, Captain Douglas is dead. Thesefurther advices have been conveyed to ali* concerned.
Letter Carriers, General Post Office, Melbourne - Statement bt Mr. Skewes.
– On Friday last the honorable member for Fawkner asked1 the Prime Minister the following question: -
Will he immediately ascertain from the- Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner what are the contemplated functions, from the lt letter of a letter carrier» «r assistant in the letter carriers’ room, or in the mail r004 General Post Office, Melbourne?
The Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following reply: -
The functions of the officers mentioned are -
Assistant Mail Branch. “Assistant” (Mail Branch) means an employee who perforins any of the following: -
Primarily sorts all classes of mail matter both inward and outward, the inward for postmen’s delivery being done in conjunction with postmen (see postmen’s functions) ; finally sorts mail matter (a) into postmen’s rounds, and (b) second-class mail matter into private boxes, attends to date stamping; turns and hangs bags and removes same; prepares labels; ties and seals mails; assists in opening, closing and checking mails; “breaks up” mail matter; distributes mails and mail matter throughout the General Post Office ; sets aside insufficiently prepaid matter for taxing; calls out insufficiently addressed postal articles, attends at public counter; records changes of address and re-directs mail matter; records official papers; acts as timekeeper; receives escorts, delivers loads, unloads or stows mails, tidies room after receipt of mail; clears pillar receivers and letter boxes; drives and cleans auto cars; works elevators, hoists, and goods lifts; checks in conjunction with second officer mail matter posted in bulk; hoists mail signals ; prepares mail advices, letter bills, waybills, and mail receipt forms; keeps advance of postage due stamps, and receives amounts collected for taxed postal articles; and checks signatures for registered article in postmen’s delivery book; or
Amongst other functions of an assistant (Mail Branch) -
In the registration section opens bags and checks contents in conjunction with a second officer; witnesses enclosure of registered articles; closes arid seals mails; enters up registered lists and transfer forms; checks files and returns coupons; distributes notification cards; assists in balancing of registered articles; assists in marking off in the delivery book; or
In the parcel section receives parcels at public counter and collects charges thereon ; obliterates stamps ; enters same in counter book; lists parcels for despatch other than oversea parcels for other countries; lists parcels for delivery; opens parcels, mails, and checks contents in conjunction with a second officer; delivers uninsured parcels at public counter and collects all charges thereon; delivers parcels by cart or van; records parcels detained for Customs examination, and packs parcels in hampers or bags for despatch; or
In the dead letter section opens dead letter mails (unregistered) in conjunction with second officer; records particulars of same for statistical and other purposes; opens letters and packets in conjunction with second officer; returns postal articles destitute of value to senders (if known) ; prepares dead letter mails (unregistered) for return to other States and countries; examines and deals with undeliverable newspapers; assists supervisory officer in dealing with registered mails and articles; examines and deals with insufficiently addressed postal articles; or
Sells stamps; sells postal notes before and after regular office hours; weighs articles and advises public as to amount of postage; or
Arranges mail matter in alphabetical order for delivery at public counter; prepares dead letter office mails ; attends to applications for private boxes at public counter; records and revises lists of box-holders; and has custody of private box keys; or
Performs the following duties usually delegated to messengers where such are employed, viz.: - Faces up mail matter, carries mail matter from place to place within the mail branch; distributes official papers; clears receivers and escorts small mails when required ;
In travelling post offices when not engaged on duties as set forth above assists the sorter in charge in sorting and closing mails.
Postman. “ Postman “ means an employee who performs any of the following duties at chief offices: -
Sorts first and second-class mail matter (a) into postmen’s division, and (or) rounds and (b) into divisions of private boxes.; delivers postal articles to addressees on rounds; records re-direction orders and acts on same; indorses undeliverable postal articles; keeps directory and plan of his round; sets up postal articles; sets aside insufficiently prepaid matter for taxing; calls out insufficiently addressed postal articles; faces up postal articles; collects postage and taxes on postal articles; enters registered articles in delivery book; opens mails; clears receivers and telephone slot boxes, and, when required, performs work ordinarily carried out by assistants (mail branch).
On the same day, the honorable member forFawkner also asked the Prime Minister the following question: -
Is it a fact that Mr. Skewes stated (and was supported in his statement by the Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner) that the letter carriers were guilty of “ robbing the Government of time,” and that when he was asked to prove the assertion he (Mr. Skewes) could only produce fifty-three cases in the whole of Australia, covering a period of three years, which had been dealt with for loitering, out of 1,706 letter carriers?
Is it also a fact that when Mr. Skewes was addressing the Court he made use of the following language: - “That if the claim of the claimant organization (letter carriers) was conceded it would mean, capitalized at 5 per cent., £500,000 - half the cost of -a battle cruiser “?
Is such insinuation fair?
Will the Minister take steps to see that this officer (Mr. Skewes) conducts his cases with strict fairness?
An interim reply was furnished, and the Public Service Commissioner has now supplied the following replies: -
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether, in view of the reply made through the press by Mr. Knox, chairman of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, he does not think that the public statement by the Attorney-General should be withdrawn, as being both misleading and mischievous ?
– I should like to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the AttorneyGeneral investigated the subject of sugar supplies in his judicial capacity under the .War Precautions Act; if so, does he consider that the AttorneyGeneral was justified in publishing in the press a rancorous party utterance?
– The Attorney-General did investigate that matter in his judicial capacity as a Royal Commissioner appointed under the War Precautions Act. What any honorable member may think of the Attorney-General’s statement depends on the party to which such member belongs.
– Before the AttorneyGeneral issued his recent report dealing with the shortage of sugar stocks in the Commonwealth, did either the Minister of Trade and Customs, or any officer of his Department, attend at the AttorneyGeneral’s office, and give evidence regarding the rerported export of 3,000 tons of sugar to Canada?
– I certainly did not attend and give evidence before the AttorneyGeneral. I do not know whether any officer of my Department did so or not. After the Government decided in September last to prohibit the export of sugar it was agreed to allow raw sugar to be brought in and refined here, kept in bond, and re-exported.
– So that it was done with the sanction of the Government?
– The 3,000 tons referred to as having been exported to Canada was in all probability part of that arrangement.
– Will the Assistant Minister of Defence inform the House whether the confession alleged to have been made by Private Campbell in reference to the sale of Red Cross pyjamas at Rabaul has yet been found?
– The document has not been found, but certain information has come forward which, no doubt, the House will be interested to hear at a later stage.
– Will the Assistant Minister of Defence take into consideration the advisability of altering the method of censoring news? We are prevented from getting information in the local press, and yet, in the Herald of Saturday, appeared a report of a meeting held in London, at which Sir George Reid gave the names of the hospitals in which the Australian wounded troops are being treated, and Sir Newton Moore mentioned that a certain association had distributed goods amongst the sailors on the battle-ship Australia. The people in Australia, however, are prevented from knowing in what part of the world the Australia is doing duty. Will the Assistant Minister consider the question of revising the present policy of doubly censoring news?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister of Defence.
– As the report of a Select Committee of the House of Commons on the subject of patent medicines, distributed to honorable members to-day, is a most valuable document, can arrangements be made by you, Mr. Speaker, whereby copies of that document can be made available to the public?
– All documents are available to the public on application, and on payment of the usual fee.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that complaints have been made in Perth that sometimes two days elapse before the whole of the English mails are delivered in that city? Will theMinister take steps to expedite the delivery ?
– I am not aware of the circumstance mentioned by the honorable member, but I shall make inquiries into his statement.
– Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been directed to a letter from Lord Denman, recently published in the Times, in which the late Governor-General says that the credit for the introduction of compulsory service in Australia is due to the Labour party? Does the Minister consider that statement to be strictly accurate?
– I remember that the present Attorney-General was alone in making a motion in favour of the introduction of compulsory service, and no other member in the House supported him.
– I should like to ask the Minister whether it is not a fact that the Defence Bill of 1909 was not introduced by either himself or his colleagues, and that the first motion in this House dealing with compulsory training was moved by Colonel Crouch?
– -I believe that the Defence Bill was introduced by Sir Thomas Ewing, but I consider that the statement by Lord Denman is substantially accurate.
– In view of the fact that the Prime Minister is attending the super-Parliament in Adelaide, has the acting Leader of the House received any advice from that gathering as to when the referenda proposals will be brought forward ?
– I know nothing of the conference except what has appeared in the press.
– In view of the recent severe criticism in the West Australian in regard to the method of constructing the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway, will the Acting Prime Minister inform the House whether the “Government will approve of referring all past expenditure on that work to the Committee of Public Accounts for report?
– I have not had the advantage of reading the criticisms referred to by the honorable member, but I do not think any advantage will be gained by referring that matter to the Committee of Public Accounts.
– On Thursday last the honorable member for Parkes asked for information with reference to the escapeof two German prisoners from the Berrima prison, in New South Wales. The following particulars have now been furnished : -
On the 22nd May, 1915, the Commandant of the German Concentration Camp reported that two German prisoners who were interned in a separate wing of the Berrima Gaol made their escape by breaking the locks of their cells and using their blankets to enable them to get over the wall at the rear of the gaol. They were both subsequently arrested and placed in custody.
The two men are reported to be dangerous characters, and action is being taken with a view to having them confined if possible in a civil gaol.
Charges against Officers - Officers Entitled to Pensions - Letter Sorting System.
– On Friday last the honorable member for Fawkner asked the following questions: -
Will he furnish a return showing -
In reply to inquiries which were then being made, the following information has been obtained -
Return furnished by the Acting Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Melbourne, in connexion with Questions asked in Parliament ey Mr.
Using intoxicating beverages to excess, 15 ; breach of the provisions of the Regulations under the Commonwealth Public Service Act, 196; being negligent or careless in the discharge of their duties, 193 ; improper conduct, 74 ; wilful disobedience of lawful orders given by persons having authority to give such orders, 4. 347 officers were fined or dealt with by the Chief Officer, and 14 were dealt with by Boards of Inquiry. “ In a number of instances officers were charged with the commission of several offences on the one charge sheet.
The honorable member for Fawkner asked me the following questions on the 28tb May-
The answers were not then available, but the following particulars have now been obtained -
Mr. A. J. Christie, Mail Branch, New South Wales;
Mr. W. B. Aston, Mail Branch, Victoria;
Mr. J. Robinson, Mail Branch, Queensland;
Mr. H. H. Dollman, Mail Branch, South Australia ;
Mr. S. R. H. Roberts, Mail Branch, Western Australia;
Mr. J. W. Clinch, Mail Branch, Tasmania.
– With regard to the published statement by Lord Denman giving credit to the Labour party for the efficient establishment of the Australian Defence Forces, is the Acting Prime Minister aware that the honorable member for Balaclava, when Premier of Victoria, stated at an A.N. A. banquet in the Exhibition Building, in 1913, that if the Labour party had done nothing else but effectively establish the Naval and Military Forces of Australia, their name would be linked with all that was best in Australian life?
– May I rise to order before the Minister replies? The honorable member’s version of what I said on that occasion is incorrect.
– Again I have to call attention to the irregular way in which questions without notice are asked. At the last meeting of the House I warned the Government that most of the questions put without notice should be answered only on notice. This afternoon a question was asked, and four fresh questions were founded on it. I have decided for the future to allow no question to be put founded on a question already asked during the same sitting. I regret to have to take this stand, because when a question is not quite clear it is possible to elucidate it by a further question; but, in view of the abuse of the practice, I have resolved that in future I shall allow to be asked no questions founded on one already put.
– On a point of order, may I suggest that, instead of you, sir, taking the matter into your own hands and making a new practice for the House, it would be far better, in the interests of the liberties of honorable members, if Ministers themselves were to act? I submit, with great respect, that you, sir, have no reason to complain if Ministers do not. So long as the question is in order, your function is at an end. For instance, the ruling you have just laid down may preclude from putting a question the very honorable member who, above all others, is entitled to put it.
– What is the honorable member’s point of order?
– My point of order is that the rule you say you are going to lay down would be unfair to honorable members who have questions to ask. I am waiting now to put one concerning a matter of which I gave notice on Friday; but if somebody else happens to raise the point before me, I shall be precluded from asking it. It would be far better to leave the regulation of questions to Ministers, so long as they are otherwise in order. In this House we have not the liberty that honorable members of other Houses have. It is quite customary in other Parliaments, and even in another place in this Parliament, for questions to be asked arising out of the answers to questions of which notice has been given. I suggest that all the trouble that is occurring here of late is due to the political speeches made in many cases in answering questions.
– There is something more involved in the position I am taking up than the honorable member for Parramatta has indicated. If the Ministry will not take the necessary steps to ask that notice be given of questions, I still have the responsibility of seeing that the business of the House is reasonably conducted, and I propose to attempt to assume that responsibility. It was carried out by my predecessor last session with satisfaction, and the practice laid down by him seemed to me. to work very well. I have allowed honorable members to get as much information as possible from Ministers, because I realize that that is desirable, but when I see on one afternoon one question asked and many other questions founded on it, I recognise that this cannot go on indefinitely, and, in the circumstances, I intend to take another course.
– I presume, Mr. Speaker, that, if honorable members are not inclined to accept your ruling, the only way to find out the true opinion of the House will be to move that the ruling be disagreed with? If so, I feel inclined to take that step.
– I did not understand that there was a definite ruling.
– I take it that the ruling having been given, it will apply for the future while you, sir, occupy the chair?
– As a point of order on the ruling-
– If the honorable member desires to take any special action regarding the ruling, he must give notice of motion.
– I remember being at the banquet referred to-
– Where are we?
– The Minister of Trade and Customs has no right to refuse to accept the explanation of the honorable member for Balaclava.
– I have to ask honorable members not to continue these interjections.
– I accept the Speaker’s ruling; andI shall be pleased if the honorable member for Bendigo will give notice of the questions.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister noticed a newspaper report of a statement by the honorable member for Bendigo, in which that gentleman pleaded, as a Christian, for the establishment of peace? Before acting on thats Christian suggestion, will the Minister inquire as to the reality of the honorable member’s halo?
– The honorable member for Wentworth must not make a farce of Parliament by asking questions in that strain.
– On Friday, either the Assistant Minister of Defence or the Prime Minister promised that today they would let me know what action they proposed to take in regard to the institution of a double shift at the Small Arms Factory. Is the statement in the newspapers correct, and, if so, how far does it carry us? Has the Minister of Defence changed his mind, and does he now intend definitely to inaugurate two shifts ?
– The Minister of Defence sent two experts to the Small Arms Factory to investigate and report on the question. From what has transpired, and in view of information that has been received during the last week or two, the Minister is considering the advisability of starting a second shift. I think I may say that a second shift has practically been agreed upon.
Pensions Paid to Dependants
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What pensions do (1) the United Kingdom, (2) Canada, (3) Australia, (4) New Zealand pay to the dependants of officers of the following ranks who have lost their lives on active service: -
Also, what pay do such ranks draw in the field in each case?
Mr.JENSEN.- The answer to the honorable member’s question is very lengthy, and will be made in the form of a paper laid on the table of the House. The particulars are as follow: -
The pensions payable to dependants of officers of the following ranks who have lost their lives on active service are -
No information is available regarding the pensions payable to dependants of members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
To other dependants such rates shall be paid as are assessed by the Pensions Board, but not exceeding in the aggregate the rate specified as payable to a widow plus £52 per annum.
Provided that the maximum rate of pension payable to any one dependant of a member shall not in. any case exceed the amount specified as payable to a widow. (Section 8 (a) (iii) War Pensions Act.)
The sections of the New Zealand Defence Act 1909 referred to above read as follow: -
Section 76 (a). If the deceased was killed in action, or died of his wounds within twelve months of being wounded, then in either of those cases, but in those only, the special pension fixed in the first column of the said scale may be allowed.
Section 76 (b). The special pension fixed in the second column of the said scale may be allowed if the deceased died from illness brought on by the fatigue, privation, and exposure incident to active operations in the field before an enemy within twelve months after his having first been removed from duty on account of such illness, provided the illness is certified to have commenced during and as the result of active operations, or, if he died in consequence of injuries received in the performance of military duty otherwise than in action within twelve months after having been injured.
Section 80 (1). If such officer, noncommissioned officer, or private leaves no widow or child, an annual allowance,as specified in the third column of the aforesaid scale, may be granted to his mother, provided she is a widow and in distressed circumstances, and was mainly dependent upon the deceased for support; but if the mother is herself in receipt of a pension from the Government, or has any other provision of any kind from the public, no allowance under this section shall be made to her on account of her son, unless she relinquishes such pension or provision; and in the event of her remarrying, any allowance that may have been granted to her shall cease.
Section 80 (2). The aforesaid annual allowance shall be payable to the mother who is not a widow in any case where her husband is incapable, through infirmity or incapacity, of earning his livelihood, and she is otherwise lawfully entitled to the allowance.
Section 81. If such officer, non-commissioned officer, or private has left no widow, child, or mother, but has left a sister or sisters having no parent or surviving brother, and having been dependent for support upon the deceased officer or private, an annual allowance as specified in the aforesaid third column may be granted to such sisters, or to such sisters collectively under extraordinary and special circumstances to be judged of by the Government; but the allowance in such case shall cease when the person receiving it marries or is in any other manner sufficiently provided for.
Section82 (1). Annual allowances, as specified in the fourth and fifth columns of the aforesaid scale, may be given to the children in those cases in which the widow would be entitled to a pension if it is shown that the children have no other allowance, pension, or provision from the Government, and that the pecuniary circumstances of themselves and their families are so limited that they actually require assistance.
Section 82 (2). The fourth column shall apply where the father was killed in action, or died of wounds as mentioned in paragraph (a) of section 76 hereof, and the fifth column where he died from illness or injuries as mentioned in paragraph (b) of that section.
The following are the rates of pay of the ranks mentioned: -
The above daily rates are for infantry; other arms vary slightly.
No information is available regarding the rates of pay for the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
No information is available regarding the rates of pay in the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What pensions do (1) the United Kingdom; (2) Canada; (3) Australia; (4) New Zealand pay to the dependants of private soldiers who have lost their lives on active service; also, what pay do said soldiers draw in the field ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is verylengthy, and will be made in the form of a paper laid on the table of the House. The particulars are as follow: -
The pensions payable to dependants of privates who have lost their lives on active service are -
Class I. - Widows, 10s. weekly; each child, 2s. weekly.
Class II. - Widows, 9s. weekly; each child, 2s. weekly.
Class III: - Widows, 7s. 6d. weekly; each child, 2s. weekly.
Class IV. - Widows, 6s. weekly; each child, ls. 6d. weekly.
Class V. - Widows, 5s. weekly; each child, ls. 6d. weekly.
No information is available regarding the pensions payable to dependants of members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
Pension to widow, £52 per annum; allowance to each child, £13 per annum.
To other dependants such rates shall be paid as are assessed by the Pensions Board, but not exceeding in the aggregate the rate specified as payable to a widow plus £52 per annum.
Provided that the maximum rate of pension payable to any one dependant of a membershall not, in any case, exceed the amount specified as payable to a widow. (Section 8(a) (iii) War Pensions Act.)
The sections of the New Zealand Defence Act 1909 referred to above read as follow: -
Section 70(a). If the deceased was killed inaction, or died of his wounds within twelve months of being wounded, then in either of those cases, but in those only, the special pension fixed in the first column of the said scalemay be allowed.
Section 76(b). The special pension fixed in the second column of the said scale may be allowed if the deceased died from illness brought on by the fatigue, privation, and exposure incident to active operations in the field before an enemy within twelve months after his having first been removed from duty on account of such illness, provided the illness is certified to have commenced during and as the result of active operations, or, if he died in consequence of injuries received in the performance of military duty otherwise than in action within twelve months after having been injured.
Section 80(1). If such officer, noncommissioned officer, or private leaves no widow or -child,- an annual allowance, as specified in the third column of the aforesaid scale, may be granted to his mother, provided she is a widow and in distressed circumstances; and was mainly dependent upon the deceased for support; but if the mother is herself in receipt of a pension from the Government, or has any other provision of any kind from the public, no allowance under this section shall be made to her on account of her son, unless she relinquishes such pension or provision, and in the event of her remarrying, any allowance that may have been granted to her shall cease.
Section 80(2). The aforesaid annual allowance shall be payable to the mother who is not a widow in any case where her husband is incapable through infirmity or incapacity of earning his livelihood, and she is otherwise lawfully entitled to the allowance.
Section 81. If such officer, non-commissioned officer, or private has left no widow, child, or mother, but has left a sister or sisters having no parent or surviving brother, and having been dependent for support upon the deceased officer, non-commissioned officer, or private, an annual allowance, as specified in the aforesaid third column, may be granted to such sister, or to such sisters collectively, under extraordinary and special circumstances, to be judged of by the Governor; but the allowance in such case shall cease when the person receiving it marries, or is in any other manner sufficiently provided for.
Section 82 ( 1 ).- Annual allowances, as specified in the fourth and fifth columns of the aforesaid scale, may be given to the children in those cases in which the widow would bc entitled to a pension if it is shown that the children have no other allowance, pension, or provision from the Government, and that the pecuniary circumstances of themselves and their families are so limited that they actually require assistance.
Section 82(2). The fourth column shall apply where the father was killed in action or died of wounds as mentioned in paragraph (a) of section 76 hereof, and the fifth column where he died from illness or injuries as mentioned in paragraph (6) of that section.
The following are the rates of pay of privates: -
One shilling per diem for infantry. Other arms vary slightly.
No information is available regarding thi rates of pay for the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
Ifr. Jensen r-
Six shillings per diem.
No information is available regarding the rates of pay for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The particulars asked for by the honorable member are as follow: -
Mr. Deakin ‘s Expenses
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Acting Administrator - Wave Hill Station - Tin-mining Industry - Walhalla Station.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1 and 2. There is no such office as Acting; Administrator. During his absences in the south, the Administrator is in daily communication by telegraph with the various heads of offices.
Mr. LAIRD SMITH (for Mr. Higgs) asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice - l..Is it true that the late Director of Agriculture (Mr. W. H. Clark), and the late Director of Lands (Mr. George Ryland) endeavoured to induce the Administrator nf the Northern Territory to purchase Wave Hill Station for the Commonwealth Government, and to secure the signatures of cattle-owners to an agreement to supply cattle to a Government Freezing Works?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are- 1 and 2. I have no knowledge as to who first made the suggestion that Wave Hill Station should be purchased by the Government, but the records show that the Administrator viewed the suggestion with favour. No Action was, however, taken. At the time when the Government had under consideration the question of erecting freezing works, the Administra tor was in communication with several stationowners, with the view of obtaining guarantees to supply a certain number of cattle to such works.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Mr. LAIRD SMITH (for Mr. Higgs). asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1 and 2. The Administrator observed the unstocked condition of Walhalla Station during his visit in 1912. He discussed the matter with the Land Classification Board, which instructed the police to inspect. Their report stated that the lands were unstocked, and the Director of Lands, in April, 1913, recommended forfeiture, in which the Administrator concurred. The Administrator subsequently repeated his recommendation, but in view of representations that the property was about to be transferred to new owners, who were prepared to fulfil the stocking and all requirements of the lease within a specified time, forfeiture was not proceeded with. All rentals, penalties, &c., have been paid.
I assume that the run is still unstocked, but am not aware that it is being held for speculative purposes.
Expenses of Mr. Costello
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
The following papers were presented : -
Census and Statistics Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 48.
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired under, at -
Ashfield, New South Wales- For Postal purposes.
Bunbury, Western Australia- For Quarantine purposes.
Carlton, Victoria - For Postal purposes.
Lismore, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Port Hedland, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
St. Kilda, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Public Service Act - Promotion of W. Layton, as Postmaster, Grade IV., 3rd Class, Bourke.
War Precautions Act - Provisional Regulations - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 77.
War, The - Notes exchanged with the Chilean Minister respecting the sinking of the German cruiser Dresden in Chilean Territorial waters.
. - On behalf of the Prime Minister, I desire to move -
That on each sitting day, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of general business.
– What is the reason?
– When my honorable friend was on this side of the House, his party cut down the number of sitting days from four to three, and at the same time they abolished private members’ day ; and we find that, with private members’ business intervening, the progress made with Government business is not so satisfactory as the Government would wish.
– When is the session likely to end ?
– I cannot say; that rests with honorable members opposite.
– No ; I think it rests with the conference in Adelaide.
– The matter, as I have said, rests with honorable members opposite as well as with honorable members on this side of the House. Those honorable members who were in this House during the discussion on the previous Tariff know that we are not likely to get through that work very speedily.
– Why not?
– I hope we will make good progress both with the Tariff and the several Bills on the paper.
– What is the business which the Government want done this session ?
– The Bills which are on the paper as well as the Referenda Bills.
– As originally introduced?
– I have not seen the Bills as they will be brought into this House.
– You mean as amended in Adelaide.
– I do not think that the Bills themselves will be altered by the Adelaide conference, but if they are, I have no doubt my honorable friends opposite will know just as much about them as members on this side. Honorable members know the position. This motion, if carried, will take away the opportunity for private members’ business on Thursday afternoons. At present a lot of valuable time is lost on that day, and the matter was referred to not long ago by the Prime Minister, who said that unless we could make better progress the Government would have to ask members to be prepared to sit an extra day per week. Instead of doing that, it is now proposed that members shall curtail the opportunities for private business.
– Let us have the extra day.
– Move an amendment to the motion.
– If honorable members desire to have an extra day instead of curtailing the opportunities for private members’ business, they will be able to indicate their wishes by their voting on this motion.
– Will the House rise as soon as the programme outlined by the Government has been completed ?
– There are’ the various Referenda Bills as well as the Tariff to be disposed of, and in the course of another three or four weeks we shall have another set of Estimates, and the Treasurer will have to introduce his Budget, so I think that some time will elapse before we get through with the business.
– About next December?
– I think it will be about December, but if we do not get rid of private members’ business, and still sit only three days a week, I do not think we shall finish even then.
– I rise to speak on this motion with considerable trepidation because of the suggestion from my own side of the House that we should sit more days in the week.
– It is all right for you, because you can get home every week-end.
– I believe I am just about as far away from home as the honorable member. All I have to say is that hard work does not agree with me, and apparently with many other honorable members, but the proposal, amongst other things, will probably avert a political strike. I believe if the Government asked members to sit more days per week at the present time there would be a strike.
– On this side, too.
– Well, perhaps I would lead it.
– That would be like the old days, then.
– I know I have a lot of things to my credit, but up to the present I have not led a strike, although I am threatening one now. Seriously, I cannot see the value of the afternoon set apart for private members’ business as at present availed of. I do not think that much has ever come out of it.
– Some of the best proposals submitted to this Parliament have been the outcome of discussion on private members’ day.
– There seems to be so much wrangling on the whole subject that I will not say another word.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra - Minister of
Trade and Customs) [4.10]. - I move -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Lighthouses Act 1911.
The object of the measure is to safeguard the Commonwealth in the event of the Government not being able to obtain the consent of all the States to hand over the lighthouses. We will not put the Act in operation at once. I will explain the Bill fully at the second-reading stage, and introduce the measure later in the day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 28 th May, vide page 3557) :
Department of External Affairs
Division 34 (Administrative), £22,343
Mr. GLYNN (Angas) T4.10].- I wish to deal with some matters connected with the Northern Territory. I should like, at the outset, to call attention to some estimates given as to the cost of management of the Territory in answer to a question asked by the right honorable member for Swan some little time ago. The total cost was stated, I think, at £611,320. Details are given at page 76 of the Budget-papers, but it is necessary to analyze the figures to discover what really may be considered as the annual cost of the management of the Territory. Taking the figures for 1912-13, the Budgetpapers show a deficiency of £390,523. In 1913-14 there is a deficiency shown of £460,654, and in 1914-15 a- deficiency of £467,320. This is the deficiency on receipts and expenditure, without taking into account the expenditure from loan funds; but in these figures are included items of expenditure such as interest and sinking-fund payments, and payments for works constructed out of revenue. Taking the figures for 1913-14, £260,447 of the expenditure was for interest and sinking fund only, not taking works into account. These are items transmitted to us in connexion with the management of the Territory for about twenty-five ‘or thirty years. They are expenses which have grown since the first construction, I think in 1881, of the railway connexion between Port Darwin and Pine Creek. We have to leave this expenditure out of account to get at what ought to be regarded as the normal annual expenditure upon the Territory. Let us consider, again, the expenditure for 1913-14, and ta’ke into account the expenditure from the loan fund. The total expenditure from revenue is given nt £535,260. If we add the loan expenditure, chiefly for redemption, and amounting to £262,107, to that, we get a total of £797,367. I do not say that these figures are given by the Administration, but when one quotes them without explanation, one may be guilty of self-deception and the deception of others as to what ought to be regarded as the real financial position of the Territory. The expenditure from loan fund for the year I have mentioned was £262,107, and interest and sinking fund taken from revenue bring the total of that class of expenditure up to £522,547 out of a total expenditure of £797,367. We must all acknowledge that the Northern Territory presents a rather difficult problem. We have there 527,000 square miles of country, of which about 147.000 square miles, or a percentage of from 29 to 30 per cent. of the total area, has a rainfall of under 10 inches. If we consider the whole of Australia, we shall find that from 36 to 37 per cent, of the total area has a rainfall of under 10 inches, and looked at from that point of view the problem in the Northern Territory is not one which should dishearten us. Another matter which has to be considered is that up to the time of the transfer to the. Commonwealth the development of £he Territory was stayed by the fact that in 1902 a proposition was made, of which I never approved, for a land-grant transcontinental railway. Fortunately, that was defeated, and then the question of the urgency of the transfer to the Commonwealth was mooted. From that time up to the transfer development by pastoral leases was stopped, and annual permits were substituted for leases. Other conditions affected development in those years, and one of considerable importance was that in 1883 or 1884 the Imperial Government refused to give a title to the Territory to the State of South Australia. As a consequence, the Government of that State did not quite know their position until the actual transfer of the Territory to the Commonwealth took place. At the time of the transfer the best part of the pastoral land of the Territory had been let on pastoral leases, which originally were for forty-two years. I believe that at the time of the transfer the unexpired terms of those leases ran from twentyfive to thirty-five years. There was an area of about 70,000,000 acres under such leases, but the total rental they produced was less than £9,000 a year. We must remember, further, that the Northern Territory, which is about one-sixth of the total area of the Commonwealth, is not a tropical country. Very often when people talk so glibly about the use of coloured labour, the fact is overlooked that, apart from other objections to the use of that class of labour, only a comparatively small area of the Territory is really tropical country. I think that the coastal belt, which has a 60-in. annual rainfall, is not deeper than from 150 to 200 miles. I can give one or two of the figures, which honorable members will find set out in detail in the report of the Railways Commission. Pine Creek, which’ is 145 miles from Darwin, has an elevation of 175 feet. The Katherine River, 200 miles from Darwin, has an elevation of 600 feet. Bitter Springs, 270 miles from Darwin, has an elevation of 500 feet, and the Macdonnell Range country, 915 miles from Darwin, has an elevation of 2,500 feet. The ranges gradually rise to that elevation coming down from the north, and drop with almost a precipitous face when they come to their limits on the southern side.
I have not all the figures relating to the rainfall, but I gather that the coastal rainfall is about 60 inches, and that it does not always fall at the best time of the year for the purposes of development. It falls chiefly between November and April. At the Katherine the rainfall is 41 inches; at Daly Waters, 24 inches; at Borroloola, which is 60 or 70 miles from the Pellew Islands, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, it is 27 inches ; at Alexandra Station, one of the typical stations on the Barclay Tablelands, it is 15 inches; whilst at Alice Springs it is less than
II inches. In other words, the rainfall varies from 11 inches in the Territory proper to 60 inches within the limits of tropical settlement. Statistics show that men from the south do not care to remain in the Territory. The absence of society with the better half of humanity - I suppose that a married man ought to say that - affects the inducements to settle there. From Brisbane to Port Darwin the distance is 2,100 miles, and from Sydney to Port Darwin 2,600 miles.
– Yes. Let us take the communications within the northern part of the Territory itself. From Port Darwin by sea to the Barclay Tablelands - one of the best parts of the Territory - the distance is 800 miles, whilst by coach the distance is 130 or 140 miles. From estimates which I have seen, I believe that if a man ordered in Melbourne machinery for well-sinking, the plant could not be erected in the Barclay Tablelands in less than twelve months, so great is the difficulty of transit. Attention has been drawn to some of these facts by the Administrator in his reports. In his report for the year 1912 he referred to the great isolation experienced by residents in the Territory, to the high cost of cartage, and to the then complete absence of facilities for the sale of stock - a disability which the late Government endeavoured to overcome by entering into an arrangement with Messrs. Vestey Brothers for the erection of freezing works at Port Darwin. As to the means of communication, I think there are three lines o’f boats running to the Territory, including Burns, Philp Limited; but until recently these vessels undertook about twelve voyages a year, and there was often a very short interval between their arrival. I wish now to refer to the cost of cartage in the Territory. When I was Minister of External Affairs I took advantage of the presence in Melbourne - as I am sure my successor does - of officers from the Territory, and also of some visitors, with a view to securing personal information to supplement the official information which I had already acquired. That official information, I may remark, is exceedingly reliable. Although we may draw different conclusions from certain data, there can be no question as to the honesty of the data supplied by the officials. Amongst the persons whom I saw was Mr. Playford, Chief Warden of Mines. On page 75 of his report for 1912 he points out that the great drawback to mining development in the Territory is the high cost of cartage. Upon good bush tracks this cost amounts to 2s. and 3s. per ton per mile. The cost of transporting machinery to the Marranboy tin fields will be almost double that. Mr. Playford says -
Apart from the inaccessibility of the Territory, the principal other drawbacks to mining here have been want of capital, high charges for storage of explosives (reduced one-half two years ago), high cost of living-
I am not sure that he is quite correct in that statement. I think the Administrator inquired into the cost of living about twelve months ago.
– It is pretty heavy.
– I know that; but I do not wish that portion of Mr. Playfords statement to be regarded as absolutely conclusive. That gentleman continues - excessive charges by teamsters (ranging from 2s. to 3s. per ton per mile, although roads are good and feed plentiful most of the year), high charges on gold, and, until recent years, no local buyer.
The prospects of Brunette Downs, which are distant from the Gulf of Carpentaria some 4.20 miles, are jeopardized by the high cost of cartage, which at times amounts to £20 per ton. Now let me point to the transit charges which obtain from the other end. From Adelaide to Oodnadatta the cost is £7 per ton; from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs, whence goods are conveyed principally by camel, a distance of 330 miles, the charge is £10 per ton; from Alice Springs to Newcastle Waters it is £23 per ton. From Oodnadatta to Arltunga gold-fields the cost of transporting provisions ranges from £14 to £17 per ton; whilst for mining machinery it varies from £35 to £40 per ton. I also obtained an estimate of the cost of carriage to Tanami about eighteen months ago.
– That £23 per ton to which the honorable member referred a moment ago has to be added to the £7 per ton from Adelaide?
– Yes. I have taken these three figures from the report of the Royal Commission. From Tanami gold-fields, transportation charges run from £50 per ton upwards, according to the route that is taken. I come now to the deposits of mica which are to be found in the Macdonnell Ranges. I have been told by experts that these deposits consist of about the best commercial mica that is obtainable; but to bring it from the Hartz Mountains to the rail head, a distance of 400 miles - owing to this commodity being of an extremely brittle character - necessitates a charge which is almost prohibitive. In the Victoria River country, in the Barclay Tablelands, and in the Macdonnell Ranges we have three localities which afford very great probabilities of development - a development which ought to encourage men who have the grit and energy which are necessary to enable them to face big enterprises. The Barclay Tablelands have an elevation of from 600 to 1,000 feet, and the soil upon them is excellent. Over a great portion of this area it has been described as black. The evidence taken by the Royal Commission supports that view. Upon those tablelands there are eleven lessees whose holdings average 2,553 square miles out of a total of 29,000,000 acres. I forget what the rental is, but it is not more than from £2,000 to £3,000 a year which they are paying. The Victoria River Company hold thirteen leases comprising 38,713 square miles, and pay a rental of about £2,162 a year. As a matter of fact, one will find in the Northern Territory rentals of ls. 6d. and 3s. per square mile, whereas in Queensland, for similar country, the rental may be up to, exclusive of rates”, 5s. 6d. On the other side one will find, as I showed in the outlines of policy I put on the table in; I think, June, 1914, a great discrepancy for similar lands between the rentals averaging 6s. 5d. per square mile paid to the Western Australian Government and those charged under the unfortunate leasing provisions which we took over in connexion with the Territory. In the Victoria River country there is a white population of one person to 1,000 square miles, the reason being that it is principally cattle country. In the Macdonnell Ranges there are sixteen stations with an area of about 18,000 or 19,000 square miles under lease, 38,000 cattle and 13,000 sheep and goats. Commencing with the Barclay Tablelands, the country is exceedingly fertile. Dr. Jensen made an examination of parts of it, especially the country close to the Macarthur River, and in the direction of Borroloola, and he expressed the opinion that artesian boring there ought to be successful. Sub-artesian boring always is successful in the Barclay Tablelands. I think that out of seventy to eighty bores put down there, there have not been 10 per cent, of failures, and -good water is got at a depth of from 300 to 400 feet. There is only one station where a trial was made to get artesian as well as sub-artesian water. The State Government conducted the experiment, but it was a failure. However, provision is made for testing there and at other places for artesian water. If we take the rivers to the eastward, .we find that the Roper River is navigable for about 80 miles -from the mouth by vessels with a draught of 7 feet. The difficulty is a bar at the entrance. It may be expensive to clear the bar, but once you get inside there is a navigable stretch of 70 or 80 miles that brings you to the river head, and that is within about 200 miles of Bitter Springs, to which probably the transcontinental line will be brought. The sandbank at the entrance to the Macarthur River is easily susceptible of removal. At low water there is a depth of 4 feet. The navigability to Borroloola can be improved for about £2,000. Captain Barclay has never given a full report, but he has sent in preliminary reports. According to an interim report he made there is an excellent anchorage for shipping at the Pellew group of islands, which lie in front of the mouth of the river. I think that when, as is intended, a report by a marine engineer is obtained in connexion with that part of the Gulf of Carpentaria, it will be admitted that there is an opportunity of making there a harbor equal to the requirements of any vessels which, for years, are likely to go up there. It will give, too, what cannot be got in the other parts of the gulf lying towards Queensland, and along the Queensland coast - it will give a good anchorage near the coast. For over 100 miles of coast in Queensland an anchorage inshore cannot be got, because, owing to the shallowness of the water, the vessels have to lie 10 miles off. Such a harbor will enable us to deal with most of the country called the Barclay Tablelands, and some of the Queensland country, and also to command the trade that I believe will be developed in connexion with the Roper River, which is only about 130 or 140 miles from the mouth of the Macarthur. Freezing works in the vicinity of Borroloola, which is about 60 miles from the mouth of that river, would, according to the evidence taken by, I think, the Royal Commission, deal with 30,000 or 40,000 cattle during a season. I think the Minister will bear me out in saying that there is a possibility, but not a probability, of the development of freezing works in connexion with that part of the Territory. Coming for a moment to the Macdonnell Ranges, the climate is good. On the around for many days in the year the early temperature is at freezing point. One gets bracing mornings, sunny days, and cool nights - to quote the evidence of mining men. The White Range is described as a big hill of low-grade ore. I was informed by one of the officers from the Arltunga district that there is a very large extent of country running from 6 to 8 dwts. and that it can be developed by open cut. I do not say that the mining prospects of the Macdonnell Ranges are absolutely proved, for it would not be right to say that the reefing has been wholly determined. At all events, we have had the report of Mr. Brown, who was Government Geologist for South Australia for many years, and Mr. Alexander Davidson, an English mining expert, who explored the country, that the prospects of finding minerals in that part of the Territory are exceedingly good. The mica I have mentioned - and that country measures 70 by 10 miles, but it requires capital and communication.
In the Territory we have gold, tin, copper, silver, lead, wolfram, and mica, and very nearly £3,000,000 worth of metals, even under the disadvantageous conditions which have prevailed there, has been raised. It was part of the policy outlined by the late Government, which has been printed as a parliamentary paper, to improve those communications. I feel sure that my successor in office looks favorably at the development of railways within a reasonable period.
– I agree with most of your conclusions.
– I make that remark because when the honorable member for Barrier was Minister of External Affairs he had a flying survey made of some of the country by Lawrence and Chalmers. I think that 1,390 miles were surveyed by the firm, namely, 330 miles from Oodnadatta to Birt Plains or Alice Springs, 450 miles to Newcastle Waters, and 250 miles to the Katherine River, and 360 miles from Newcastle Waters to Camooweal. The survey was of the central route, which approximately meant the route of the telegraph line, and also of a line which one may describe as a branch line from Newcastle Waters to Camooweal, apparently with the intention to give two connexions, because the connexion with Queensland is not a big one, when you have a transcontinental line ‘ to branch from. I will refer to the four routes which were considered by the late Government. When Dr. Gilruth was in Melbourne in March of last year, I went into this question of the railway very carefully with him, because he had gone over a good portion of the country with a view to seeing it first-hand, and getting some data, apart from the reports of officers, on which he might come to a decision. He had proceeded from Camooweal via the Alroy Downs to the Macdonnell Ranges, and made a fair observation of the country through which he passed. The lines of which the last Government approved are set out on pages 7 and 8 of my “ Outlines of Policy for the Northern Territory.” These were: Oodnadatta to Katherine River, 1,026 miles; Newcastle Waters to Camooweal, 360 miles; and Anthony’s Lagoon to the Pellew Group, 230 miles; or a total of 1,616 miles. I shall mention the routes taken into consideration when I was discussing the matter with the Administrator, but, first of all, I point out that it was a settled part of the policy of the late Government to connect Oodnadatta with the Macdonnell Ranges by a line running to Alice Springs, and to continue, from the Katherine, the construction of the line now in hand from Pine Creek to Katherine River. I understand that a survey has also been made for a continuation of this latter line southwards to Bitter Springs. The point for consideration was what should be the intermediate line of connexion between Alice Springs and the termination of the line running south from Darwin. All sorts of recommendations have been made. One was for a line to be regarded as a central line, and to follow approximately the telegraph line between Alice Springs and Pine Creek. Some people consider that this is a straight line, but that is not the case. There are several bends in it. It does not run due north and south. It runs south-east from Katherine River to Bitter Springs, and there are curves from Barrow’s Creek to Ryan’s Well, and from Ryan’s Well to Alice Springs. But as the country lying along this proposed route might not prove to be so good as some country lying more to the east, and as it was doubtful if the country to the west is even fair, it was not decided, without proper examination, to accept the telegraph line as the route of connexion between Alice Springs and the Katherine River. Another route would come south from the Katherine River through rich pastoral country, passing through Milleroo Station and Victoria Downs Station, and joining the telegraph line somewhere in the vicinity of Tennant’s Creek, and thence running south to Alice Springs. I think that in March of last year a feature survey of that country, as well as of some other parts of the Territory, was ordered, and I do not know whether that survey has been completed; but the objection raised to that route was that it would only serve the cattle country of the Victoria River, and that below Tennant’s Creek the country is comparatively poor. However, these facts have yet to be tested by feature surveys. Another route proposed is one from the Katherine River by All Saints’ Well to Borroloola, which, as I have said, is 60 or 70 miles from the Gulf of Carpentaria, and thence going south viâ Brunette Downs, Alroy Station, and Arltunga to Alice Springs. There are engineering difficulties in the way - com paratively great engineering difficulties- - and a great deal of the country is purely pastoral, and mostly suited for cattle. Railways do not pay by traffic derived from cattle country, and this class of country does not pay for developing as well as does sheep country. I now come to the route which, subject to further examinations, the Administrator thought would be the best, and I think I may safely say that it is one of which the right honorable member for Swan, with his fairly large experience of the Commonwealth, would approve. I may say that the right honorable member for Swan did support the transcontinental line. Whatever views may have been entertained previously as to the expediency of commencing the connexion between the Darwin line and the southern line, I think that all parties now recognise that in our action of taking over the Territory there was a declared policy to bring about that railway connexion ; and, so far as I can see, I cannot admit that any Ministry, this or the last, has given ap the idea of fulfilling loyally the carrying out of that policy.
– You and the right honable member for Swan did not agree as to the route.
– We disagreed only upon some minor points. I have the correspondence that passed between us.
– Did you agree with the proposal contained in the letter written by the right honorable member for Swan to the Acting Premier of Queensland ?
– I did not agree with his action in writing a letter of whichI was unaware, but the whole of the correspondence came before me. The honorable member acted with the very best of intentions. On occasions Treasurers, in matters affecting expenditure, assume certain control which perhaps other Ministers would not care to assume, or, rather, make inquiries in departments other than their own.
– The honorable member for Swan said that he had no axe to grind, but that was because his axe wasalready ground.
– The point is that when Mr. Barnes, the Acting Premier of Queensland, was in Melbourne the honorable member for Swan discussed matters with him, and was rather impressed with the desirableness of pushing the line downwards first.
– In order to dodge ari agreement.
– No; I have the correspondence here.
– So have I.
– I refer to the correspondence thai; passed between the right honorable member for Swan and myself, correspondence which has not been published. The honorable member for Adelaide is referring merely to the correspondence between the right honorable member for Swan and the Acting Premier of Queensland. If it had not been a matter for Cabinet decision, I think that the right honorable member for Swan would have preferred to push the railway downwards first ; but I pointed out that the policy should be to push the railway upwards as well as downwards.
– The right honorable member for Swan favoured going further to the east.
– The right honorable member for Swan was in favour of a transcontinental route recommended by the Administrator, but which has not yet been tested. As I was saying, the right honorable member preferred to bring down the railway from the north to the Macdonnell Ranges first of all ; but I said that I preferred that the line should go up from the south as well as come down from the north, in order to push on with it quickly, and that was the only point of difference between the right honorable member for Swan and myself. I was not aware at the time that the right honorable gentleman, in endeavouring to help in the matter, had written a private letter to the Acting Premier of Queensland; but I think that if he had thought the matter of any consequence he would have told me of his letter. The route conditionally recommended by Dr. Gilruth was to proceed from Katherine River by Newcastle Waters, Brunette Downs, and Alroy Station, and thence southwards to Arltunga and Alice Springs. He had been over that country, and he thought that we should have the portion between Alroy Downs and Macdonnell Ranges tested, because’ he expressed the belief that, though it was not as good as the Barclay Tablelands, there was a fair portion of it nearly as good. He favoured that connexion between Alice Springs and Katherine River. Everything had been based on the assumption that the transcontinental line was to be extended to the Macdonnell Ranges. That policy had been set out in black and white. Dr. Gilruth was of the opinion that if we deviated perhaps 100 miles to the east, and made the connexion by Newcastle Waters or Daly Waters - I think he would have preferred Daly Waters, subject to certain surveys being completed - and by Anthony’s Lagoon through Brunette Downs and Alroy Station to Alice Springs, better results would be obtained, and, as a matter of fact, would complete the whole policy by enabling a connexion with the Pellew Group from Anthony’s Lagoon, a distance of 230 miles, which would mean a saving of 100 miles as against connecting the Pellew Group branch with the line surveyed by Lawrence and Chalmers. What was done as regards that ? Before leaving office, I directed that a feature survey of that route should be made, and the present Minister of External Affairs has sent Mr. Day along the route, from south to north, to examine the country. I also sanctioned the survey of the Victoria River country. We proposed to spend up to £20,000 on sub-artesian boring, and made provision for artesian boring. Generally we set to work to carry out the policy which we had outlined, and submitted for the approval of Parliament.
– What is the good of putting down bores when freights are as costly as the honorable member has intimated ?
– The stock routes must be kept open. There is a stock route from Victoria River to Newcastle Waters, and thence on to Camooweal. Captain Barclay recommended the putting ‘down of five or six bores, and we directed that that should be done. It was necessary also to keep open a stock route from All Saints’ Well to Newcastle Waters, and to do that, and to enable the country to be tested, we gave instructions for the sinking of bores there. All this work was incidental to development. Provision has been made for boring on the Barclay Tablelands. Incidentally, we made arrangements for the granting of new leases. I had the assistance of a Queensland draftsman in the preparation of a Land Bill to encourage, among other things, lessees to spend money on boring. I have dealt merely with generalities, but I think that it will be seen that it has been the continuous purpose of Ministers to do the best they can for the development of the Territory. We laid down a railway policy which was pursued.
– Does not the honorable member think that the economical method of construction is to work from the south northwards ?
– It has been urged that to do the reverse would be more expensive because of the long carriage of material, but I think that the honorable member will agree with me that the best thing to do will be to work both northwards and southwards.
– That is what I advocate.
– That was the policy of the last Ministry. The outline of that policy was determined after the correspondence, of which I have a copy, had been completed.
.- As I have not spoken before about the development of the Northern Territory, the Minister of External Affairs cannot call me a perennial. When the Leader of the Oppositionwas speaking, he said, possibly because my expression indicated what my desires in this matter are, “ Look at the honorable member for Adelaide!” I admit that I am interested in this matter. I wish to know what South Australia will get after waiting for so many years for a tangible reward of her efforts to develop the Northern Territory. I was astonished to find that the right honorable member for Swan, in the course of correspondence which was indorsed by the then Prime Minister, the present Leader of the Opposition, made an offer to Queensland which he said was made to allow the Government to get out of a performance to which they were pledged.
– Nothing of the kind. The honorable member cannot twist the language of the right honorable member for Swan to bear out that statement.
– I shall read the state ment, so that the plain English may speak for itself. In the concluding paragraph of a letter written on the 13th June, 1914, the right honorable member for Swan said -
The western portion, however, is impossible, unless we have communication with Queensland, and, if it is denied to us, we must turn our attention to connecting the Northern Territory from Oodnadatta, a policy to which we are pledged.
The right honorable member acknowledged that the Commonwealth is pledged to carry out an agreement made with South Australia, namely, to construct a railway directly through South Australia to the Northern Territory, which is the line that would be most beneficial to the Commonwealth as a whole.
– There was no repudiation of the agreement with South Australia.
– The right honorable member acknowledged that the Commonwealth was pledged to the agreement with South Australia, but he made a suggestion to Mr. Barnes, who was then Acting Premier of Queensland, for “ letting light into the Northern Territory,” to use his own expression.
– He proposed to attack the problem at two points.
– His proposal was for an additional line.
– That may be the honorable member’s view.
– It was the view of the right honorable member for Swan.
– I do not think so. We who come from South Australia think that if effect were given to the suggestion of the right honorable member for Swan, it would be many years before the central parts of Australia would be served by a railway.
– The right honorable member for Swan is in favour of building the Queensland line now, and the other next century.
– It might be a hundred years before the direct line would be made, if the Queensland line were made first. The right honorable member, in supporting his suggestion, said -
It seems to me that this proposal would be in the interests of Queensland as well as in the interests of the Northern Territory, and, although I do not write with the authority of the Government, I feel sure that I shallhave no difficulty in obtaining the consent of the Commonwealth Government to the proposal I have above outlined.
That statement is an admission that the right honorable member, in making the suggestion, went behind the back of the then Minister of External Affairs, who wrote -
I have received from your Department copies of correspondence which took place in May last between yourself and the Acting Premier of Queensland on the subject of connecting the railway system of the State with’ the railways to be built in the Northern Territory, and officially must express some surprise that the Treasurer, whose observance of the conventions is in personal relations unfailing, has in this matter, doubtless from the best motives, intervened, without reference to the Minister within whose special province it comes.
South. Australia has waited a long time for a connexion with the north. Had the negotiations of the right honorable member for Swan materialized, that connexion might have been deferred until next century. The right honorable member did not deal fairly with South Australia in suggesting a line to connect with the Queensland system.
– He did not suggest that connexion as the only route. The honorable member is doing him an injustice.
– I do not think so. My chief concern now is to obtain a definite statement from the present Government. The construction of strategic railways has been mooted, and, undoubtedly, money will be found for them, if they are sanctioned by Parliament. Yet we are told that a railway connexion with the Northern Territory direct will be proceeded with only so soon as finances may allow. The Commonwealth is most vitally interested in the development of the Northern Territory as a part of Australia, and also as its individual property, and the Government should indicate a definite line of policy and state definitely when it will be carried out.
– Was not the Government’s policy enunciated the other day by the Minister?
– That statement does not quite meet my ideas. It does not go far enough. I am speaking now with the object of inducing the Government to go further. It should set aside some of the money obtained to keep going the public works of the country for extending the line northwards from Oodnadatta, in accordance with the promise given at that august gathering which celebrated the opening of the east-west railway. The honorable member for Wakefield remarked, on that occasion, that it would be well to leave in the custody of the Mayor the barrow that was used for the ceremony of turning the first sod, because in a. short time it would be needed for a similar celebration in connexion with the extension of the railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. Apparently, the honorable member thought that that line would be commenced long before this. The time has come for the Commonwealth to act honorably by its agreement with South Australia, and to extend the line northwards from Oodnadatta. The honorable member for Wannon said that if there were an agreement that that line should be so extended, he, for one, would not turn his back on it; and I hope that that will be the feeling of every honorable member. The Commonwealth is yearly losing a large sum of money on the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, and the loss cannot be stopped until the line is extended northwards. I have never been further north than Farina, but from what I read, the potentialities of the Northern Territory are almost immeasurable. The honorable member for Wannon said it was impossible to expect people to leave comfortable homes in the city, and go into the wilds of the Northern Territory, facing all the risks, drawbacks, and shortcomings of that district without something to attract them. I agree. It is altogether too much to expect, under present circumstances, but I am satisfied that as soon as this railway is constructed its effect will be to so lessen distance that a general development will follow. From what we can read of the utterances of those who best know the Territory, as soon as a railway is taken into the heart of the country, a lot of people will go there. The seductiveness of a new country is irresistible to many people who may be of rough disposition, but who are good pioneers; but as long as the only method of locomotion is by long camel relays, it is not surprising that the country is not developed. Some people have argued as to whether the real potentialities of the Northern Territory are what they have been stated to be. I hold in my hand the latest utterances of one of our South Australian enthusiasts who condemned the transfer, of the Territory, and I honestly think that if South Australia had kept the property they would have been able to administer it better than the Commonwealth have done-
– They could not have done worse.
– I agree. As long ago as 1902 the South Australian Government did pass a Land Grant Act in connexion with the construction of a railway across Australia, and they built the transAustralian telegraph line, and yet, notwithstanding this, South Australian representatives are now told they have only South
Australia in their minds when speaking on this subject. The right honorable member for Swan twitted the honorable member for Angas that he could not see outside Adelaide. Even if the allegation were justified, the honorable member might be pardoned, for there is still a lot owing to South Australia for her action in handing over such a splendid Territory to the Commonwealth. I do not know the country myself. I have never been higher than the point I mentioned a moment ago, and cannot talk about the Territory as knowing it. I fall back, therefore, upon the information of those who do know it, arid I quote Mr. John McDonald, who says -
On my return from the Katherine, when at Port Darwin camp, I was shown some sp’lendid bins of rice which had been growing on the Margaret River. The Chinaman who owned the rice informed me (and it was confirmed by Mr. W. D. Armstrong) that the Chinese gave 2s. more per bag for this rice than for the rice imported from China….. I thought the sample so fine that I purchased a 56-lb. bag for the Colonial and Indian exhibition in London. At the same place I was shown some splendid cobs of maize. On suitable soil maize grows two crops in the year, and with fair seasons each crop yields 40 bushels to the acre. The price of maize up country this year is £10 a ton.
Surely that is a good enough return for rice.
– Is rice grown by coloured labour?
– It is grown by Chinamen. How can you expect otherwise if you will not give opportunities to whites to go up there.
– Where is that at?
– The Margaret River.
– It is a pity South Australia did not keep that good country.
– There are a lot of people who believe South Australia made a mistake in getting rid of it. The late Mr. John Darling, who was known as the great wheat king, said ali along that we were giving a good asset to the Commonwealth, he only drawback to its possession by South Australia is that it is too big a proposal for one State, situated so far away from the centre as South Australia is situated, to deal with. In the possession of the Federation, it ought not to be an impossible proposition, for where South Australia could do something, the Commonwealth ought to be able to do much more. But, as the honorable member for Maranoa has said, they have done nothing, and as the honorable member for Robertson said, South Australia could not have done less than the Commonwealth have done. Let me quote here an extract relative to the sheep-growing possibilities of the Territory, of which the honorable member for Corangamite spoke. Mr. Flint, Inspector of Telegraphs at Alice Springs, in the course of evidence given on the subject of sheep, says, in reply to the questions that were put-r-
Have you any experience in keeping sheep? - We have about 4,000 for the telegraph 10 miles north of Alice Springs.
How do they do? - Splendidly.
What is the increase? - The highest increase has been 97 per cent., and the lowest 67 per cent.
You have plenty of water there? - Unlimited.
How about wool - do you find the wool fail? - The wool is very good. It is not like the wool grown further north. I sent some specimens to Adelaide a few years ago, and the wool from Alice Springs was worth Id. a lb. more than wool from sheep of the same age bred and shorn near Farina.
– Where is this at?
– It is at Alice Springs. I will now quote the Hon. J. Lewis, who is a member of the firm of Messrs. Bagot, Shakes, and Lewis, sheep experts.
– And, as a young man, spent many years in the Territory.
– Mr. Lewis, in addressing the South Australian Parliament, said -
One district alone was capable of keeping 10,000,000 sheep. Barclay Tableland, of which very little was known, was a tract of very good country between latitudes 17 and 21, and adjoining the Queensland border, and extending in a westerly direction about 150 miles. Some of the cattle bred on that country, after travelling 1,150 miles, sold in the Adelaide market at about £12 10s. a head, and some sheep which were recently travelled down, brought 16s. He believed that country was capable of carrying from 8,000,000 to 10,000,000 sheep. It had a very good rainfall, and suffered very little from drought, and was better to go squatting on than the dry saltbush country, which this country could well replace. Some members would remember that the country was known as the Herbert River blocks, and brought as rents up to £2 or £3 a mile. It was close to the Gulf of Carpentaria ports.
Mr. J. B. Solomon gave evidence on the same lines in regard to sheep. I am not going to quote any more on this subject, though I have several quotations left.
– Let us hear them all if they are going to prove that this is good sheep country.
– I have plenty of them.
– What was the date of that report?
– It” was issued in 1903- I think the report was quoted by the honorable member for Angas - and contains the evidence given before a Northern Territory Railway Commission as to the potentialities and possibilities of the Northern Territory. In view of the statements contained in it, it is interesting to compare them with the statement made by the Minister of External Affairs a day or two ago that he did not know what to do with the Territory, and that the only fresh, suggestion that had been made to him was that by the honorable member for Wimmera, who suggested irrigation.
An Honorable Member. - That is. the only hope.
– But everything will be hopeless, unless you let light into the Territory.
– Irrigation is the only hope for closer settlement.
– I grant that for closer settlement and for the raising of agricultural products irrigation may be necessary, but where there is big sheep country, big cattle country and big horse country, such as is referred to in this report, good communication is of far more importance. Men holding leases there now will tell you that if a railway is constructed they will be prepared to forego half their leases. The country, they say, is not one-quarter stocked, because of the great cost of the carriage of materials required to properly develop the land. These men say that under present circumstances it is impossible to properly develop the Territory, and that they are forced into big holdings. I will quote now Mr. Winnecke, F.R.G.S., F.R.A.S., who wrote a letter to the editor of the Adelaide Register - I think it was the Register - in 1902. He says -
My experience of the Northern Territory extends over thirty-five years, and I have been astounded at the frequent mention of desert country: My experience is that some of the finest pastoral country in the world is found in Central Australia. Water, principally artesian, is more abundant than is supposed. Gold is scattered all through this vast area, one quartz range showing gold for fully 36 miles. The Orabarra reef, in the Jervois and Tarlton ranges, has never been visited by any white man but myself. Professor Tate and Experts Watt and Achimiovitch (members of the Horn expedition, of which I was com mander) all stated that the best indications’ of diamonds exist to the west of Charlotte Waters. Coal of good quality is found in the Macdonnell and more northern areas. It speaks for itself that more than one-fourth of the Territory is settled with mines, &c. I have no hesitation in declaring that it will be the finest and most remunerative country in Australia. The extent of auriferous country is simply unknown, and a railway would increase all these resources a hundredfold. My past remarks on the fertility of the Northern Territory should be a guarantee that I am not in error.
I might also quote Mr. Simpson Newland, a man who has for many years taken a great interest in the country-
– And who was also there as a young man.
– But I am anxious to refer to a report issued by this Parliament. I refer to the Northern Territory Railways and Ports Report, issued in June, 1914. It will be within the knowledge of honorable members that it refers to what the Territory now is. On page 6, dealing with the cost of carriage, the report states -
The conditions are further reflected in the exceedingly high rates of. inland carriage. Bates on the railway from Darwin to Pine Creek range from £3 upwards per ton. As the roads are closed for several months each year during the wet season, teamsters are compelled to fix rates at a figure which will compensate them for the long period of enforced idleness. In the mining districts of the north cartage averages 2s. to 3s. per ton per mile.
The figures that were quoted by the honorable member for Angas are the same figures that I have annotated here as showing the disabilities under which settlers labour by their not having any communication with the south. Freights have to be carried round by sea, and, in addition, from 2s. to 3s. per ton per mile has to be paid to convey goods from Port Darwin to their inland destination. This means that we cannot expect the Northern Territory to be anything but the white elephant which it proved to be whilst controlled by South Australia, if the Commonwealth Government continue to be as inept as, judging by this report, they appear to have been in its administration. I learn also from this report that the total area held under agricultural leases is 8,317 acres. These leases are chiefly within the coastal district, and the rental average is 4d. per acre. The rentals are not prohibitive, provided that facilities are afforded to make these areas useful and productive. At page 9 of this report, dealing with the question of the mining industry, we have the statement -
To the development of the mineral deposits of the Macdonnell, Davenport, and Murchison Ranges, the construction of the north-south transcontinental railway line will prove of great assistance. At present mining costs, including almost prohibitive rates of carriage, are an insuperable difficulty.
We have no right to expend money in making investigations by means of a Royal Commission if we are not prepared to take action upon its reports, more especially when the question involved is so important as is the development of the Northern Territory. When before this Commission Mr. Allan Davidson said -
These are vast fields where prospect trials yielded at the rate of 15 dwts. to 2 ozs. of gold per ton. With the extension of the railway from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin the conditions would be modified, and the mineral resources of the interior would then become the great factor in the development of Central Australia.
The majority of the witnesses before the Commission urged the construction of the line from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin. The honorable member for Wannon recently referred to the subject-matter on the agenda paper of the present Labour Conference. I would remind him that the Labour Conference, now sitting at Adelaide, has on its businesspaper a notice of motion from Tasmania to the effect that the Commonwealth Government should proceed immediately with the construction of the northsouth railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. It will thus be seen that South Australia is not the only State that asks that we should do our obvious duty in regard to the development of the Northern Territory.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
, - I had not intended to speak to this question, but in view of the remarks just made by the honorable member for Adelaide I feel constrained, in justice to the honorable member for Angas and my other colleagues in the late Government, to offer a few observations. The honorable member has urged, because of a statement in a letter written by the right honorable member for Swan, in which he dealt with one specific question, that there was, on the part of the late Government, practically a repudiation of a solemn compact entered into between the Commonwealth and South Australia in regard to the building of a railway from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta. There is nothing in that letter from which such an inference can be drawn, and there is certainly no other source from which the honorable member could attempt to draw anything of the kind.
– I think I can show the honorable member that such an inference may be drawn from the letter in question. I invite the honorable member to quote the last sentence in it.
– I shall do so. The letter in question was written on 30th June, 1914, and in the last paragraph we have the following statement: -
The western portion, however, is impossible, unless we have communication with “Queensland, and, if that is denied to us, we must turn our attention to connecting the Northern Territory -from Oodnadatta, a policy to which we axe already pledged.
– But they would only turn to it, he said, if the other project were denied them.
– Not at all. The right honorable member for Swan distinctly said in this letter that the construction of a line from Oodnadatta through the Northern Territory was the policy of the Government of which he was a member. The Government, he said, were pledged to it.
– How does the honorable member explain the words “ if that is denied to us “ ?
– But in this very letter the right honorable member for Swan spoke of the construction of a line from Oodnadatta, through the Northern Territory, as “a policy to which we are already pledged.”
– But they did not carry it out.
– The honorable member is now shifting his ground. I repeat that the policy was one to which we were pledged. In the Ministerial statement of policy in regard to the Northern Territory, submitted by the late Government to Parliament, it was also stated, beyond dispute, that we were pledged to that policy. The honorable member for Angas, who was Minister of External Affairs in the late Government, introduced in this House the Bill which authorized the construction of a railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. That was to be the first connecting link.
– As a matter of fact, that was agreed to by a previous Parliament.
– No. The Bill to which the honorable member refers as having been passed by a previous Parliament simply authorized the survey of the line.
– But a previous Government was in favour of the building of that line.
– Quite so. I am merely showing what was done by the late Administration.
– I do not think that there is much to choose between the two Governments, so far as the Northern Territory is concerned.
– We are concerned not so much with the honorable member’s opinions as with the question of what are the actual facts relating to this matter. In the policy statement laid on the table of this House by the late Government, we have this paragraph -
Communications in a country of vast spaces and great distances (see Royal Commission’s Report, paragraphs 9 and 10) being essential, proposals vail be submitted for the construction of railways to connect Oodnadatta and the Katherine River through the Macdonnell Ranges; -
Is that not clear and explicit? to connect Newcastle Waters, or some other point on the transcontinental railway, with the Queensland border at Camooweal or elsewhere, when the great western railways system of Queensland is in course of construction to such place; and, as probably a later project, to link Anthony’s Lagoon on the branch line to Queensland with the Pellew Islands, at the mouth of McArthur River.
It is clearly beyond dispute that this was the policy of the late Government as publicly announced by the honorable member for Angas. The honorable member for Adelaide, however, has endeavoured to show that because of certain correspondence which passed between Queensland and the late Treasurer of the Commonwealth a breach of the original agreement was contemplated. He is quite mistaken. Does he say that the Northern Territory line is never to be connected with the Queensland railway system?
– No; I should like the honorable member to say when it will be.
– I am glad to have that statement from the honorable member. I have been associated with the taking over of this territory from the time that the agreement was drafted. As a matter of fact, my signature is attached to that agreement, in which the Commonwealth covenanted, amongst other things, to -
Construct, or cause to be constructed, a railway Une from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper (which railway, with a railway from a point on the Port Augusta railway to connect therewith, is hereinafter referred to as the transcontinental railway).
In other words, we undertook, if the Territory were handed over to the Commonwealth, to construct a railway, one of the terminal points of which would be Port Darwin, while the other would be Port Augusta, and that that railway should traverse the Northern Territory and pass through the northern boundary of South Australia. There is nothing in that agreement, however, which binds the Commonwealth to any specific, definite route. If the line had these two terminal points, and ran within the Territory as well as through the northern boundary of South Australia, nothing more could be required of the Commonwealth. So liberal a view did the late Mr. Tom Price and his Government take of this agreement that they submitted to the South Australian Parliament the plan of a railway, which, instead of crossing the southern boundary of the Territory as suggested, would cut into Queensland and into South Australia itself. This action on the part of the Price Government seemed to imply that South Australia would be satisfied with a railway from Port Darwin coming south, crossing over to Camooweal, and thence back to Hergott Springs, and on to Adelaide. That is the view which the South Australian Government at that time took of the matter.
– But the South Australian people did not share that view.
– I am not dealing with that point. I am merely showing the liberal view which the South Australian Government of that day took of the agreement. I speak with a” full knowledge of the facts of this matter, because it was my duty to invite the House to accept the agreement. In doing so I said, as reported in Hansard, volume L, page 1888, that the Government of South Australia appeared to have been willing that the line should run partly through
Queensland territory. I pointed out that -
It is open to the Commonwealth to allow any connexion from any of the other States with this particular line in the Northern Territory. The late Mr. Batchelor, who then represented Boothby, interjected, “ That is the safeguard.” He admitted tha* the safeguard was that, although the Commonwealth undertook to make this connexion from north to south, there was nothing in the agreement which precluded i,t from being linked up with the railway systems of the other States. Governor Le Hunte, in reporting on the Northern Territory, said there would have to be three railways for its development. One of these, he urged, would have to run through the centre, another would go east to the Queensland border, whilst a third would ultimately go west and connect up with the Western Australian railway system. My view, as stated by me in this House as far back as 1909, is that under the agreement the Commonwealth pledged itself to build a railway from Port Darwin to Port Augusta. That obligation is clear and unmistakable, and cannot be evaded without the consent of the contracting parties. As long as the agreement stands in its present form that objective must be kept in view.
– Does not the honorable member think that the central line should be the first to be constructed ?
– That is another question. The view of the late Government was that the construction of this line should be proceeded with; that a start should be made with a line running from Oodnadatta northwards, - and that we should also proceed to lay a line from Pine Creek southwards, and that seeing that it was possible to have a connexion with the railway system of Queensland^
– That is not in the proposal which was submitted to Queensland by the right honorable member for Swan.
– Ye.s, it is. Sir John Forrest’s letter simply indicated that he desired the Queensland Government to press forward with the line they were constructing, and he indicated the intention of the Commonwealth Government to connect the Federal line -with the Queensland Government’s line. Will the honorable member say that that is not a fair thing to do? Honorable members must admit that the Northern Territory must be developed, and that more than one railway will be required for that purpose. The Territory must remain absolutely useless to us until we build railways through it. The point I desire to emphasize is that the members of the party on this side of the House have always distinctly understood the constitutional obligations of the agreement with South Australia. We have never desired to deviate from its terms one hair’s breadth. On the contrary, the desire of the Liberal party has been to proceed in accordance with the spirit and letter of the agreement. The honorable member for Adelaide has fallen into a serious misapprehension, simply because Sir John Forrest urged the Queensland Government to make a connexion which would be entirely in harmony with the spirit of the agreement, and not in substitution of the line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. I think the honorable member should admit, in justice to the honorable member for Angas and those associated with him, that the Liberal Government all along tried to adhere to the letter and spirit of the agreement.
– You admitted just now that the north-south line should be built first. Why did Sir John Forrest say that the Queensland line was an alternative?
– The honorable member must understand that the Queensland line is to be a continuous railway of great extent, and that it has already been started, and a proposal was to be submitted for linking it up with the line from Oodnadatta. Sir John Forrest was urging the Queensland Government to expedite the line it is already constructing, so that a connexion could be made with the north-south line. That Queensland connexion was not put forward in substitution for the north-south line or with any idea of committing a breach of the agreement with South Australia. I am sure that Sir John Forrest, if he were in the Chamber, would assure the Committee that the Queensland connexion was never intended to be a substitute for the other line.
– But if the money were spent on one line it would block the construction of the other.
– The proposal was to press forward with the whole line, which would cost £10,000,000. Honorable members must realize that the Northern Territory, without railway communication, can never be a valuable asset to the Commonwealth. Another reason why the Minister should press forward with the construction of the railway is this: The beef markets of the world are now making greater demands on Australia for the supply of cattle. The Northern Territory and Queensland are the principal sources of supply. When the war is over meat will not be cheap ; the putting of this party or that party into power is not going to result in the community getting their meat at a cheaper price, because there will be an increasing demand in the markets of the world for our products. Before the outbreak of war a big demand had set in in Queensland for pastoral properties suitable for beef raising, and I am satisfied that if the Northern Territory railway is constructed, and a connexion made with the Queensland system, the pastoral resources in the Northern Territory will be opened up, and the railways will be of great help to both the Territory and Queensland. The Northern Territory will not be developed for a great many years as an agricultural proposition, but it can be developed on pastoral lines. The land policy of Queensland has led to the settlement of the greater portion of the northern State on a sound basis. Queensland lies side by side with the Northern Territory, but whilst on one side of the boundary there is in operation a land policy which is rapidly settling the land and leading to a considerable increase in stock, on the other side the whole province is lying practically idle. Queensland has already the elements of prosperity, and if the Minister will investigate the land tenures of that State and apply the same policy to the Northern Territory a considerable development will follow.
– I wish we could get the same rents for the Territory land as Queensland gets for its lands.
– I think the same rents will be obtained if the Territory is given railway communication. People will not go to that country without railway facilities, but provide the railway and offer fair inducements to people to take up land under reasonable conditions, and I believe that land settlement will be fairly rapid. I am sorry that the honorable member for Adelaide entirely misinterpreted the action of the right honorable member for Swan by basing his criticism on an isolated document. The policy of the late Government was clearly and unmistakably that which was explained by the honorable member for Angas this afternoon.
.- Making all due allowance for the many changes in the occupants of the office of Minister of External Affairs since the Northern Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth, I still think that Parliament cannot feel satisfied with the little progress that has been made there. On this matter neither side can point the finger of rebuke at the other, because it appears to me that both parties have been neglectful of the important matter of pressing’ forward with the development of the Territory. It is not sufficient to lay down a policy; we desire to see a policy carried out. I agree with the remark of the honorable member for Darling Downs that the Territory can never be developed until railways are built through it; except” in the extreme north there are no waterways, and the railway must be the only means of communication and transport. When the subject of the Territory was before the Committee a few weeks ago we heard .the usual pessimistic speeches which we are accustomed to hear when the Territory is under consideration, and it was refreshing to hear from the honorable member for Angas to-day a speech which was both hopeful and instructive. I desire to see a definite move made in connexion with the development of the Territory. I do not propose to enter into the merits of the discussion :is to the action which the right honorable member for Swan took when a member of the last Liberal Government. I am quite satisfied in my own mind as to what the honorable member intended to do, and there is no getting away from the meaning of the last paragraph in his letter -
The western portion, however, is impossible, unless we have communication with Queensland, and if that is denied to us, we must turn our attention to connecting the Northern Territory from Oodnadatta, a policy to which we are already pledged.
What is the value of a pledge if it is to be carried out only if something else is denied ?
– The right honorable member for Swan did not say that, and you cannot read that meaning into his letter.
– I have quoted the right honorable gentleman’s exact words. I am not blaming the late Government. The honorable member for Angas made it clear to-day that the right honorable member for Swan had not expressed the policy of the Government. In his letter of the 24th July, he properly took the right honorable member for Swan to task for interfering in matters with which he had nothing to do when he said -
However, it is hardly necessary on this occasion to do more than indicate that the Treasurer’s ideas on this subject cannot be accepted as those of the Government as a whole.
– The Adelaide press put that construction on the letter “of the right honorable member for Swan.
– I have already said that I do not blame the late Government. There is no doubt that the honorable member for Angas in his outline of policy for the Territory distinctly stated what the intentions of the Liberal Government were. However, it is not the intentions of Governments that we have to deal with. I speak as one who is not a member from South Australia or Queensland, but who is interested in the development of Australia. We have a great problem to handle in developing the Territory, and a problem in which a large sum of money is involved. It is a problem that must be tackled on a large scale, or not at all. If the Government attempt to develop the Territory by spending a few thousand pounds they will be throwing their money into the gutter. But if a bold policy is adopted, and money is spent in millions in promoting it, it will be found that the Northern Territory will prove a great asset to the Commonwealth. We are told that the country in the Territory is poor, but some of the so-called poor country in Australia has already been proved by development to be some of the finest land in the Commonwealth. Some of the best land in Victoria is in the Mallee district, which a few years ago was considered unfit for settlement. Near my own home is a considerable stretch of country which, thirty years ago, was not considered worth fencing. To-day the value of that land has been proved. Therefore, it is idle to say that a particular piece of country is poor, and is not worth developing. As views adverse to the
Territory have been expressed over and over again in this House, I make no apology for repeating opinions which I have previously quoted with reference to the lower portion of the Territory. From much of the talk that is heard in this Chamber, it would be inferred that the Territory consists entirely of the land in the far north. Honorable members seem to forget altogether that there is an enormous portion of territory south of Newcastle Waters which is worthy of development, and which can never be developed by the railway from the north; the only means of developing that area is by the extension of the railway from Oodnadatta northward. The honorable member for Angas referred to-day to the opinions expressed by Mr. Allan A. Davidson, the leader of the Central Australian Exploration Syndicate. Mr. Davidson, in his report published in 1905, said - . . The country is there and the gold is there, and it remains for others to improve on the prospects obtained. . . . The one essential feature necessary for the development of the interior, and the opening of payable gold-fields is cheaper communication. This can only be accomplished by continuing the transcontinental railway across the continent. An extension from Oodnadatta to the Macdonnell Ranges and the Arltunga gold-field would very materially assist in opening the interior and making other portions more accessible. The possibilities this country contains certainly warrant a great endeavour (even at a sacrifice for a time) being made to create a central mining population. … No effort or expenditure should deter those in authority from constructing a line.
Honorable members may recollect the famous journey made to the Territory by Lord Kintore, when he was Governor of South Australia, and those who were interested in politics will remember the stir made by his publishing his report on the journey without first obtaining permission of the Ministry of the day. Referring to this particular portion of the Territory, Lord Kintore said -
My visit to that portion of the country led me to-share the hopes that are universally entertained, that the exploitation of that district will handsomely repay South Australia for the money expended on it.
Professor Baldwin Spencer, who went through the Territory on two, if not more, occasions, wrote -
Central Australia and the Northern Territory, except that portion of it which borders the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Carpentaria, is commonly regarded as desert country, more or less useless, and not only uninhabited, but uninhabitable. This is very far indeed from being the case. A small part of it, such as the region which centres in Lake Amadeus, and extends to th’e eastern borders of Western Australia, is certainly true desert, but there are, on the other hand’, vast areas, including the Finke Basin, the Macdonnell Ranges, and practically all or the central country north of these to Port Darwin and the Gulf of Carpentaria, which are anything but desert.
Referring to the railway, he observed -
However, nothing serious can be attempted until the railway, which now ends on the southern fringe of the steppe lands, is continued across to the north.
In his work Across Australia, published later, referring to the desiccation that might occur there, he says -
As yet, however, except during occasional severe droughts, they are far removed from being anything of the kind - that is, a desert - and all that is needed to transform the greater part of the centre into a valuable territory is, firstly, some scheme of water conservation on a large scale, and, secondly, adequate means of communication with the coastal districts. When Professor Spencer was in Port Darwin, I had a conversation with him with reference to water conservation, and he told me that, in the Macdonnell Ranges, there are some magnificent gorges with narrow necks, which at a comparatively small expenditure could be closed in to make reservoirs for the conservation of large quantities of water. In 1910, there was published in the Age a. letter received by Mr. William Orr, of Shepparton, from Mr. William Taylor, of Cresswell Downs, to this effect -
Should the railway ever be built from Oodnadatta - South Australia’s northernmost railway point - to Pine Creek, it would touch the western boundary of these Downs, and a railway run from Newcastle Waters to Camooweal (to connect with Queensland) would run right through the centre of the Barkly table lands. There . would be no more engineering difficulties than there are between Hughenden and Cloncurry. Say a branch were then run from the main trunk line (Oodnadatta to Pine Creek) from either Newcastle Waters or the Katherine River to either Wyndham or Derby, in Western Australia, all this fine pastoral, mineral, and agricultural country would be made available. I have seen most of the articles in the papers advocating different routes for railways, but I have spent thirty years in this country, and I do not think any one knows it better as a whole than I do. The three lines I have suggested would open all the country, would be the least expensive to build, and would, I firmly believe, be the best for the future of Australia, and that is what I suppose most of us have at heart. Again, when some American land seekers were in the Territory, Mr. Albert Campbell was reported thus -
He considers that the whole place is held up, because, with the exception of droving, there is no means of marketing stock. All the really good pastoral country could be most profitably occupied if railways and freezing works were provided.
Professor Spencer pointed out in one of his reports that the trouble from a pastoral point of view is that the land cannot be utilized for stock without a railway, because when dry seasons set in the graziers wait to the last moment before shifting their stock, and then find it impossible to travel them the necessary distance to get feed. Without talking about the whole of the Territory from north to south and east to west, I want to impress on the Government the fact that if the southern part is to be developed it can be done only by the continuation of the line from Oodnadatta north to the Macdonnell Ranges. We ought to have from the Government, when the next Budget is introduced, a distinct promise that before the next session expires they will introduce a Bill authorizing the construction of the railway from Oodnadatta to the Macdonnell Ranges. When that railway is built, I would suggest that the Government should divide the Territory into two, making the part from Newcastle Waters south into another Territory, and putting it in charge of a separate administrator. By that means only shall we be able to have that portion of the Territory developed. Once that is done there will be no trouble in looking after the rest. Settlement will push itself forward from south to north, and the land will be developed accordingly. Then, of course” we shall agitate for extensions both to the east and to the west; but the first and primary necessity is to make the railway from Oodnadatta north to the Macdonnell Ranges, covering that 337 miles of desert, which makes everything in the way of commerce and business with the Macdonnell Ranges prohibitive at the present time.
– I take up the parable exactly where the honorable member for Gippsland has laid it down. Not only do we want development from the south, but we want the development that has been so severely criticised, from the east. If we are to develop the Territory in the lifetime of any one of us, making it an economic as well as a racial and national proposition, we must attack it from several points. It is a many-sided problem, and the longer we delay tackling it, and concentrating our efforts on it, the longer will be the delay in achieving success. Here we are complaining about one another again in the same old way. My honorable friends opposite do not do anything themselves, and will not let anybody else do it. If any one else tries to tackle the problem, they say “it is wrong.”
– Who has tried?
– We tried.
– Where is the evidence?
– The evidence is on the records of the House, in the only feasible scheme ever submitted to Parliament. It was the first working scheme submitted. The present Minister, instead of going on with it, now proposes to review the whole question for himself.
– I never said so.
– He told us he had no policy to submit.
– I said I had no new policy to submit.
– He said he had not had time to declare a new policy. Does he propose to carry on the policy he found in the Department?
– A policy is not found as easily as you hand down a waistcoat.
– No. It seems to take other Ministers on that side of the House as long to find a policy as they are in office. When they leave office they have not found it. Another Government comes in and finds a policy, but the Minister will have nothing to do with it. He repudiates it. The concrete fact remains that, after all these efforts, one solitary settler has been added to the population of the Territory, during my honorable friend’s régime. I have never heard a policy of despair uttered in the same way that my honorable friend uttered it the other day. There was none of that strength, elasticity, enthusiasm, and interest that one expects to find in a new Minister tackling a new problem of this kind. I am not blaming the honorable member for his caution.
– Did you expect-
– I did not expect the honorable member to try to hoodwink the House with a policy which he knows he cannot carry out. I gave him credit for more common sense. He has as much courage as most men, and it required no small amount of courage to tell the House the other day that he had no cutanddried policy, but was seeking to find one. There is too much talk of policy concerning the Northern Territory. The only course to pursue in connexion with the Territory is to do something.
– To do what?
– I shall tell the honorable member later.
This is the biggest proposition the House has ever had to consider - the greatest responsibility the National Parliament has ever assumed. It is an urgent proposition. We are losing money over it right and left. The accumulated deficit since we began to manage it three years ago amounts now to over £1,200,000. The Territory has cost us in one way or another, in the obligations we assumed, and the way we have added to them, no less than £7,500,000.
– What is it worth?
– If it is worth nothing we had better curtail our expenditure, and regard it as a useless and worthless proposition. I do not so regard it. I believe the Northern Territory, like every other part of Australia, has good and bad land, good and bad seasons, droughty places, and places with a superabundance of rainfall. It is a tremendous asset and a tremendous obligation. I think we have begun our operations up there by unlearning many things. That seems to be the attitude of the present Administrator. After all his efforts, all his travelling, all his expenditure of mental and physical labour for some years, he is only in his reports beginning to unlearn something. He went up there full of hope and optimism. He professes to be still full of hope and enthusiasm, but he is modifying his opinion on some matters very considerably. He has a perfect right to do it, and to look at the facts as they exhibit themselves up there. We have been told that closer settlement is possible, and that mixed farming and many other things are possible there.
– Who said so?
– Many members of this House have said so time and again; but, strange to say, the Administrator now tells us that all that sort of talk is nonsense and moonshine. Here is what the Administrator - His Excellency himself- says; and it shows some of the things he is beginning to unlearn.
Speaking of the progress of land settlement, he writes -
The progress of land settlement has been disappointingly slow, as will be seen by the report of the Director of Lands. Yet, on the whole, I am not surprised. While the southernStates continue an active policy of land settlement in districts already partly settled, the Territory will not offer any real inducement for the small farmer with reasonable capital to transfer his home from the south. And as, apparently, there is still much available land in Australia, where the climate and life generally offer more attractions than in the north, this is not altogether to be regretted.
Here we have His Excellency saying that it is of no use trying to get men from the south, because, if they do go there, they will not stop in the Territory, but, whatever the conditions, will drift back again. He goes on to say -
I have always been of opinion that it wonld not be a desirable method of settling the Territory, even were it possible - which I doubt - to over-stimulate the transference of agricultural settlers from the south to the north; or, in other words, the transference of people from a sparsely-populated area of a comparatively empty continent to even a more sparselypopulated, especially while the States generally are using every effort to encourage immigration of that class of settler.
Southern residents rarely appreciate the fact that the journey to Darwin occupies at least twelve days from Sydney ;that mails are infrequent and practically only twice monthly - in some cases four weeks elapsing between mails. Even applicants for land and other would-be settlers seem to fail to grasp these facts.
On another page he says-
As regards labourers from the south becoming permanent settlers, the experience of all our Departments is against the probability. Rarely indeed do men remain for over a year.
All countries of the newer world to-day are finding greater and greater difficulty in securing what is deemed to be the best class of immigrant, namely, the Anglo-Saxon and the Northern European, and it may be safely said that the extra-tropical parts of Australia can readily absorb all its available share - even with the most strenuous encouragement - for years to come. But were such induced to come to the Territory by the most liberal concessions and labour treatment, the likelihood is that as soon as many had saved a fair amount of money they would remove to the south.
He goes on to say -
Were immigration of a good class of Southern European encouraged - it being insisted that a large percentage be accompanied by their families, and the remainder more or less related to them - the nucleus of permanent settlement may be established.
Then he says that the construction of a railway would provide such settlers with work, and that there would be a chance of peopling the land in this way. Again, he says -
Such visits, which have not been confined to the best parts of the year for travelling, have impressed me with the necessity for providing the two prime necessities to the advance of the Territory, viz., roads and means of communication generally, including railways, and the greater tapping of subterranean waters, together with conservation of surface waters. The Government may do much, but it is also necessary that the land-holders should do their share. The increasing value of cattle, the establishment of freezing works, and the extension of the railway, will warrant both public and private money being expended to a very great extent in such ‘ prime necessities.
Here, in the last paragraph of his report, he shows what in my judgment is the only practical policy, namely, the provision of water, railways, and roads - all means of communication.
– And freehold titles for cultivation land.
– Yes; but even with a freehold title, I doubt if, for some years to come, there would be any large amount of land settlement of a close kind. The main thing is that, even if men be placed on the land, and treated as well as possible, they will return to the more temperate latitudes, where they can enjoy life contiguous to civilization.
There are one or two facts outstanding of which we ought to take notice. The Territory is at a stand-still.
– And why? Because the attempt is being made to develop the tropical portions of the Territory, instead of directing our attention to the more temperate parts.
– I quite agree that we have been trying to do something that, perhaps, we should not have done, though I am not sure that we have been trying to do much at all.
– We have spent money.
– And talked about the Territory in this House. When His Excellency made his last visit here, and discussed the matter so exhaustively with the late Government, and particularly with the then Minister of External Affairs, the honorable member for Angas, we understood that a policy had been enunciated with which he was in thorough accord. So far as my judgment went’, the Administrator was quite satisfied with the policy that the late Government had elaborated at great length. That policy was to tackle the Territory at two ends, or, shall I say, on the Queensland side and on the South Australian side. Any one who reads the letter of the right honorable member for Swan outright, cannot, without straining language, interpret it as it has been interpreted in South Australia. Here is the famous passage to which exception is taken -
The western portion, however, is impossible, unless we have communication with Queensland -
That is to say, we cannot develop the western portion of the Territory except through Queensland - and, if that is denied to us, we must turn our attention to connecting the Northern Territory from Oodnadatta, a policy to which we are already pledged.
If that means anything more than that, if we are not permitted to tackle the Territory on one side as well, we must confine ourselves to development from the south, I do not understand the meaning of language.
– We never claimed that.
– Honorable members in South Australia have claimed that; they say that this was suggested as an alternative policy, but I say that it was an additional and not an alternative policy.
– By the Government, yes.
– That is not the view taken by some honorable members. A territory like this cannot be developed from one single point; this is a many-sided problem, and the more railways we can build from various directions, the more chance there is of making the Territory an economic proposition.
The Territory has many disadvantages, and not the least of them, from an agricultural point of view, is connected with the labour conditions that have been imposed by the Arbitration Court. Do not let me be misunderstood for one moment. I do not say that the Judge has fixed the rate of payment for labour too high; but I am afraid that the rate fixed makes agriculture, with all our known means, impossible.
– A wage has been fixed of £3 13s. per week of fortyfour hours. The Administrator has said, in one of his reports, that labour efficiency up there is not more than 80 per cent. of what it is in the southern States; and if we add 20 per cent. to the £3 13s. it means a real wage of about £4 7s. 6d.
– I think that80 per cent. is a very low estimate.
– It is under the mark, in my judgment; but I am taking the figures of the Administrator.
– Does that not show how preposterous the whole thing is?
– It shows how preposterous it is, under present conditions, as an agricultural proposition; and the facts have driven the Administrator to say that agricultural settlement of tha kind desired is impossible for many years to come. But are we to allow the matter to remain dormant and do nothing? There are certain things that can be done. A good part of the Territory is good cattle country, and good sheep country, too; and, further, it is, in my opinion, good mineral country, if it were only systematically prospected for water.
– The cattle country is already under cattle.
– There is such a thing as developing country that is already in occupation of cattle. Just as it is possible to make two blades of grass grow where one grew before, so two bullocks can be produced where one was produced before.
– By improvements the production of cattle can be increased four-fold.
– I entirely agree with that opinion. Cattleand meat are rising in value, and this, I think, will help materially in the development of the Territory. So far as mixed farming and agricultural experiments go, we may spend money to the extent wo are able, but my opinion is that the economic conditions make it impossible to develop the agricultural side of the Territory at present.
– If there is no agriculture, how far will the stock trade go towards making the railways pay?
– My opinion is that the stock trade will develop many forms of collateral trade, as has been experienced elsewhere in Australia. We could scarcely push a railway anywhere into good stock-raising country without improving that country, and making it pay in the near future. In a country like Australia, with the present prospects for primary products, we could scarcely go wrong in piercing any country with railways. The more railways we can get into the country, the more likely we are to eventually get a return. The problem requires that we should proceed by a process of elimination as well as by a process of accretion; and the Administrator himself is learning what to set aside and on what to concentrate.
– We have been 100 years learning what to do with the Territory !
– We have been 100 years learning what to do with many propositions.
– We are repeating the same blunder in trying to develop the Territory from the same end - a blunder that cost South Australia £4,000,000.
– My opinion is that we ought to develop the Territory from both ends. If we had railways connected with the Queensland system we should, I think, do more to develop the interior of the Territory than, perhaps, by any other means. There is plenty to be done, in addition, with the southern system of railways. The sooner the line is started from the south the better I shall be pleased.
– That is all we are asking for.
– Then why does not the honorable member ask his own Government to do it? The honorable member is trying to read all sorts of meanings into the statement made by the right honorable member for Swan, and he is full of criticism of members on this side of the House, but he has not a word to say about members on his own side.
– That is not correct. I have criticised members on this side also.
– The fact is, the honorable member is supporting a Government who have done nothing in this direction for years, and I submit that he should call the Government to account in this matter of the development of the Northern Territory. The problem is a difficult one, and it will never be solved, in my opinion, until three of the essentials - railways, roads, and water - are provided. Given these, together with the freezing works that are to be established, I venture to say that the stock-breeders of Australia will develop the country. The prospect is not so clouded, and I do not despair over the Territory at all, but would urge that we cannot go on with an adverse balance-sheet year after year. Something must be done to relieve our revenue of this tremendous incubus. What should be done, and done immediately, is to institute a different form of government to that which we have at present for the Territory. We have appointed an Administrator who is the “ Poo Bah “ of the place, and I am afraid he gets no help from the population. Unfortunately there is a good deal of friction in the management of the Territory.
– And there always has been.
– I urge, therefore, that there should be some form of localized government which would have the effect of bringing the whole of the ability, the whole of the interest, the whole of the enthusiasm, and, above all, the whole of the experience, to bear in a settlement of those problems that confront the people in that part of Australia.
– You had fifteen months’ administration; why did you not do something in that direction ?
– The Government supported by the honorable member have had four years’ administration, and have done nothing.
– But you are now making suggestions; why did you not carry them into effect when you were in office?
– We made suggestions, and we sought authority from the people of Australia at the last election.
– Yes, and you went down.
– Now that is a statesmanlike view to take! The honorable member judges us by the results of the elections, whether we went down or whether we went up.
– The same thing happened in Queensland recently.
– What form of government does the right honorable member, suggest?
– I would suggest that the government should be along the lines of a commission, say, the appointment of three or four men who should be given a sum of money, and made responsible for the government and development of the whole Territory. As far as possible, they should be untrammelled in their administration. If this were done. I believe good would be the result.
– Does the right honorable member mean a Board of local residents, such as, for instance, a municipal council ?
– No. An administrative Board or Commission appointed by the Government. I think a Board constituted in that way would bring the best of their ability and experience to bear upon the solutions of the problems that confront us. Above all things, experience is required. I do not care what it would cost; I am satisfied this form of government would be the cheapest in the end. The railway is wanted at the earliest possible moment; but I do not see why, if the right form of government is established, there should not be the most cordial relations maintained with the residents there on the spot. I am not blaming the Administrator for this position of affairs at all.
– The present system is all right if you can get the right man.
– No; the. trouble is, people would not be satisfied with government by a single individual, I do not care how wise he might be.
– But friction would only be a matter of degree under your proposal, as the government would still be by a board.
– Whether you have one or three men governing the Territory, you will have the same trouble. The first consideration is to have the railway built.
– The honorable member is right in one sense. He has one idea, and that is to have the railway constructed, and I am not sure that he is not right. But we must not lose sight of the fact that if there is not a good form of government in the Territory railways alone will not develop it. We want there practical men associated with the Administrator who would bring the whole of their experience to bear on a solution of the several problems before us.
– The right honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 7.45 p.m.
Mr. RICHARD FOSTER (Wakefield) friend. I regret exceedingly that the administration of the Northern Territory by the Federal Government since its transfer to the Commonwealth from. South Australia can only be described as a shocking failure.
– As it always was before the transfer.
– The administration of the Territory was never very successful; but whatever may have been the results accruing from its administration by South Australia, the loss upon it under the State was not onefourth of what the loss has been year by year under Federal control. We were told here the other day that there has been an increase in the number of settlers in the Territory. We were told further that the increase was one, and that it took about nine months to secure that increase. At that rate in the increase of the population, it will be a very long time before we can look to those who will have been induced to fill up this vacant place of our great continent as a very powerful means for the defence of Australia. I have heard directly from time to time from residents of the Northern Territory of the disappointment of the people around Port Darwin, and particularly of the old hands, who have seen the ups and downs of the place for the last thirty or forty years. Referring to the increase of one in the number of settlers, perhaps the Minister of External Affairs will say whether any definite attempt is being made to secure settlers. I have here a letter dated 5th March, 1915, which may have some bearing on the subject. The writer says -
The following is a sample of the dilatory methods of the Government Lands Office. In December last I wired Darwin, asking if a block described was vacant. The Lands Office replied that the land required was open for allotment, but my application could not be considered till the first year’s rent, with 10s. for a grazing licence, was received. I told them I would forward cheque by mail. Soon after that I had money wired and paid by the E. S. and A. C. Bank at Darwin. Received in reply by wire, “ Amount collected and matter under consideration.” Wired Lands Office again from B.K. last month. They wired, “Still under consideration.” Wired Lands, Darwin, again ou 2nd March, asking was block g ranted or was it still under consideration. Lands Office replied, “ Matter still receiving consideration.” I replied to the Lands Office, if block not granted on receipt of this, please pay money to my account at E. S. and A. C. Bank, as the probability was that I would be receiving tbe old-age pension before the matter was fully considered. I wonder how many more intending settlers are disheartened by the same methods, as I know that this is far from being an isolated instance. Thinking this may interest you, I am, yours sincerely,
– I shall be very pleased to hand it to the Minister. If that is characteristic of land administration in the Northern Territory, there is very little wonder that it should still continue to be a white elephant. I believe that the very beginning of Federal administration of the Northern Territory was based upon principles which were just about as far from sane business principles as anything could possibly be. There are in Australia practical men who have known the Northern Territory intimately for from twenty to forty years. If we had the most experienced and brainiest men to be found in Australia in charge of this tremendous work, they would deserve all the sympathy which the Federal Parliament and the people of the Commonwealth could give them in their efforts to solve the big complex problems involved in the settlement of this country. It seemed as though the Government of the day decided that practically no one should be employed in the Northern Territory who knew anything about it, and the appointments to the various positions there included scarcely a single man of experience. I regret to say, and this is the first time I have made the statement in this House, that the mistake began with the appointment of the Administrator of the Territory. He was called upon to perform work for which a university professor was not likely to be an ideal appointee. It was work in connexion with which an ounce of experience was worth a ton of theory.
– The Government which the honorable member supported would not leave the practical man there.
– I do not agree, so far as the control and administration of the Northern Territory are concerned, with what has been done by any Federal Government so far. I did not intend to mention any Government, because I am not discussing this matter from a party stand-point at all; but since the honorable member has interjected, I think I should say that no man could have put in more devoted, conscientious, and earnest work towards the solving of this big problem than did the honorable member for Angas when he was Minister of External Affairs. The work of administering the Northern Territory, from the Ministerial and parliamentary point of view, is rendered more difficult because it involves the settlement of the country from the Seat of Government. On that account I maintain that there should be some form of local self-government established there.
– Why did not the honorable member see to that when he had control of the Territory in the South Australian Parliament?
– I want to tell the honorable member for Barrier that for years and years the South Australian Parliament was holding its hand in anticipation of the Federal Parliament taking the Territory over. I tell honorable members, as I have told them repeatedly before, that South Australia recognised the White Australia principle, and it was because the South Australian people desired to hand the Territory over to the Federal authorities on those lines that they did not do a very great deal more for its development than they did. If it had not been for their regard for that principle, the people of South Australia might have secured the investment of any amount of British and foreign capital in the Northern Territory. The honorable member for Grey, who knows the facts, will agree with me when I say that South Australia would have had no difficulty at all in inducing the investment of money in any quantity in the Northern Territory, and did not do so because otherwise the White Australia principle would not have been preserved. I hope that the last reproach we shall hear on the subject is that which we have just heard from the honorable member for Barrier, against South Australia, because she was not more successful in her administration. Unsuccessful as she may have been, her work in the Territory was infinitely more rational, and involved infinitely less of loss to the taxpayers, than the work of the administration since it has come under Federal control.
– The cost to the taxpayers has been increased, but it has been passed on to the Federal Parliament, and we are now paying it.
– I am including every penny that has been passed on. Since the Northern Territory came under Federal control the deficit there has grown until it has reached nearly £1,250,000. If we take the revenue derived from the Territory since it has come under Federal control, we shall find that it has been a diminishing quantity from the start.
– No : the revenue has increased from £46,000 to £76,000.
– If the right honorable gentleman eliminates the amount of public money spent at Darwin since the Territory has been under Federal control, and calculates the revenue on the basis upon which, it was collected prior to the transfer of the Territory to the Commonwealth, he will find that it has been on a diminishing scale.
– Will the honorable member say what was the debt we took over with the Territory?
– I am not referring to the debt, but to the deficit. The debt, including that on the wharf at Port Augusta and the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadattta, was between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000. I think that some of the loans falling due during the last few years have been paid.
– There is still over £6,000,000 of the original debt.
– I believe there is still about £6,000,000 of the original debt due.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– I suggest that, for the present, and, indeed, for a long time to come, we should abandon the idea of agriculture in the northern portion of the Territory. There has been a lot of money expended in order to promote agriculture there, and it might just as well have been thrown into the depths of the sea.
– Where does the honorable member expect to get population from if he will not engage in agriculture there?
– I shall deal with that in a moment. . We ought not to regard the Northern Territory as a wheat-growing proposition. I may tell the ex-Minister of External Affairs, the honorable member for Barrier, that this is not by any means a laughing matter when we take into consideration the amount of public money which has been thrown away as the result of administration, based upon inexperience and incapacity. It is impossible to grow wheat there.
– How does the honorable member know?
– That is my opinion. But if wheat can be grown there, it cannot be produced for less than 10s. per bushel.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– I know it from a long experience of wheat-growing. Indeed, my opinion is that it would cost nearer £1 per bushel to grow wheat there. But assuming that it could be produced in the Territory, it would be impossible to mill it.
– The honorable “member ought to have made this speech before we took over the Territory.
– I have made the same statement on several occasions. If we could produce wheat in the Northern Territory we could not mill it, because there would be too much moisture in the grain. It would be impossible to utilize it for milling purposes unless it were mixed with a large proportion of hard grain from a dry climate.
– That statement does not apply to the whole of the Territory ?
– I am talking of that portion of the Territory in which such a lot of money has been absolutely wasted upon experiments in agriculture. Every practical man in this country knows that it is commercially impossible to conduct agricultural operations in the tropical portions of the Northern Territory and to successfully compete with the wheat-growing portions of Australia.
– But there are other things besides wheat which can be grown.
– What other things can be grown ?
– The finest wool in Australia has been grown on the Barclay Tablelands.
– I am not speaking of wool. The day will come when there will be many millions of sheep in the Territory, and the finest possible results will be obtained from them. But similar results will not flow from the establishment of the agricultural industry there. I do hope that the Government will ask the Public Accounts Committee to visit the Northern Territory for the purpose of investigating what money has been expended there and how it has been spent. Distant as we are from the scene of this public expenditure, Parliament ought to have some first-hand check on what has been done there. If closer settlement in the Territory is possible, our first task must be to secure suitable settlers. If we can only obtain them at the rate of one man in nine months, the sooner we abandon the idea of closer settlement the better. We ought to resolve this problem by definitely pushing forward with pastoral and mineral development. We must recollect that all Australia has been settled by the pioneering pastoralist. He has demonstrated the possibility or otherwise of closer settlement. If that process has characterized Australian development in the more favorably situated portions of this continent - portions in which there is a suitable soil and a reliable climate - how much more necessary is it that a similar process should be followed here? But if we intend to promote closer settlement in the Northern Territory we must commence by getting suitable families to settle there - families which can do the greater portion of their own work. I venture to say that we shall not get such families in Australia. There is not the shadow of a doubt about that, because there are in Australia untold undeveloped areas in districts which are relatively settled - districts which lie close to all the best phases of civilization. If there were any possibility of getting such families to settle in the Territory we should certainly have to offer them the inducement of the fee-simple. If men, after devoting the best portion of their lives to the task, succeeded in converting what is now comparatively a desert into a fruitful place, they would deserve every penny that they made. The latest report of the Administrator seems to breathe in every line a recognition of failure to attract this class of settler. From the very beginning I predicted that there was no likelihood of getting Australians to settle in the Territory, seeing that they could secure so much happier conditions nearer home. If a practical attempt is to be made to secure settlers from Southern Europe - as appears to be suggested by the Administrator - we shall have to maintain them for a few years, and even then, if they ultimately succeed, it will not be bad business on our part. But whatever chance there may have been of securing such immigrants a couple of years ago, the prospects are much less alluring to-day. I think it would be infinitely better for this Parliament to bend the whole of its energies to the development of this Territory on pastoral and mineral lines. There is just one other phase of this question to which I desire to refer. Hitherto only inexperienced men have been sent to the Territory to handle this complex problem. If these men would tell us the truth, they would admit that they are only just beginning to learn that they know very little about the Northern Territory. The only way in which this country can be developed along pastoral lines is by providing the pastoralists with adequate railway facilities. Until we do that, the heavy cost of cartage will be such a serious item that nobody can embark upon the industry except capitalists - and big capitalists at that. Then I would point out that drought-stricken areas have to be traversed in order to get stock to market from the more favorably situated climatic portions of the country. That is the difficulty that has been experienced in connexion with the pastoral settlement in the Macdonnell Ranges.
– That is more evidence that we got a bad bargain from South Australia.
– It is nothing of the kind. But the position in regard to both the east-west and the north-south railways is that a lot of inferior country will have to be traversed - country possessing only a limited rainfall and subject to periodic droughts. But we must not condemn a country which is big enough to be a continent in itself merely because, here and there, droughtstricken areas have to be traversed. I repeat that we shall not secure pastoral development to any great extent unless we face the railway question. I make bold to affirm that by bridging with a railway the country between Oodnadatta and the Macdonnell Ranges we shall secure an infinitely better financial proposition than we shall get from the east-west transcontinental line.
– Where is Sir John Forrest ?
– The right honorable member for Swan knows that. Between Oodnadatta and the magnificent pastoral country in the Macdonnell Ranges an. area of 300 miles of droughtstricken country has to be crossed. The bridging of that track would not only render pastoral settlement in those ranges infinitely more prosperous than it is, but would immensely increase the revenue-producing capacity of the line between Oodnadatta and Port Augusta - a line upon which there is a considerable loss each year. It is just like constructing a costly bridge across a wide stream.
TheCH AIRMAN. - Order! The honorable member has reached the time limit.
– The honorable member for Wakefield has delivered a speech on the settlement of the Northern Territory which, to my mind, displays a good grip of the situation. But there is one remark he made to which I desire to take exception. He said, “Wewill never get Australians to settle in the Northern Territory.”
– By agriculture.
– If the honorable member qualifies his statement in that way, it is a different matter. An interjection was made from the other side that under the system he was putting forward we were advocating sheep, not men. How has Australia been settled? This is no new problem. The problem of settlement, as it presents itself in the Northern Territory to-day, has been met and overcome in every State in the Commonwealth. First we get the cattle-man and the prospector for minerals. When the mining towns are developed; when the cattleman has opened up country, and, to a certain extent, has developed and rendered it more useful by putting on permanent improvements, along comes the sheep-man, and with him settlement, improved conditions, and a larger population. That has been the history of the development of Australia from one end of it to the other, and that, undoubtedly, should.be, and will be, the history of settlement in the Northern Territory. There can be little doubt that, so far, the Territory has not been properly handled. For one thing, it has not been properly advertised. In looking through the re port of the Administrator for the year 1913, one may be well surprised to see the wealth of mineral deposits which are found, and which are being developed, in certainly an unsatisfactory way, in the Territory. We are all more or less aware that there is a great quantity of minerals scattered throughout the Territory. We are also aware that it contains good cattle country; but to make people understand what minerals are there, may I quote a few excerpts from the report of the Department of Mines. It starts off with a reference to gold, and talks about a seam of 1 foot of stone which is carrying 4½ ozs. of gold to the ton. We do not need anything better than that. That is surely good enough for any one. In various paragraphs gold is mentioned. There is quite a number of places which are being developed, and concerning Tanimi, in particular, we read -
It will, therefore, suffice to say that, from surface indications, the field is a good one, and will go ahead by leaps and bounds when it is afforded means of crushing and treating the stone.
There are mentioned fully a dozen places where there is good payable gold, and all that is wanted are means for developing it. Next we come to tin. There is no need for any one, either here or outside, to emphasize the fact that there are large deposits of tin in the Northern Territory, because it is well known. But what is, perhaps, not common knowledge is the fact that there are also large deposits of silver-lead. For instance, here is one place mentioned - O’Neill Creek -
The silver-lead lode, now known as McCarthy’s, at the head of O’Neill Creek, about 24 miles east of Pine Creek, is opening up far better than was expected from the look of its outcrop. This lode was discovered by the lateRobert Cundy, locally known as “ Bob the Stranger,” who showed it to the present holders. Last year a party of Chinese tributers were put on, and these men have worked portions of the lode to a depth of 60 feet. At the lower workings the lode carries solid galena over 3 feet wide.
One cannot ask for anything better than that in any part of the country -
The 300 tons of ore sent away from thiamine averaged about 70 per cent. of lead, but were low in silver values.
On the next page copper is dealt with, and one copper deposit is spoken of in the following way -
At the old Copperfield mine, 4 mileswest of Pine Creek, a rich chute of copper ore was met with at a depth of 50 feet.
Unfortunately this, like most of the other mines in the Territory, is at present being worked by Chinese, and we must recognise, as is commonly recognised in many parts of New South Wales, that Chinese will undertake thedeveloping, or rather the destroying, of our mines without the means of communication which the white man needs to open up the country. The longer we leave these mines and rich mineral lodes in the hands of Chinese, the less valuable will they become, because, as the honorable member for Wakefield rightly interjects, they do the pig-rooting. They pick out the eyes of, and destroy the value of what should be, large workable reefs. These are not all the minerals that we have in the Territory. In this report mention is made of wolfram, and also mica, about which we read in the report -
The new manager, Mr. Haworth, is well pleased with the prospects of the district, and has sent away several small lots as samples, which have been pronounced by an expert in Sydney to be equal in quality to anything produced in any other part of the world.
That aggregate of mining possibilities is surely sufficient to attract the attention of those who are qualified to do the mining work of this country. Every man who knows anything of Australia is aware that cattle men have already been working the Territory, and working it under a great disadvantage. In this report we are told that they are well on the way to establishing freezing works, which, of course, will not only make a much larger area of land available for profitable occupation, but will render a great deal of that land which is already occupied far more profitable. The whole world to-day is beginning to look to Australia for meat. The Northern Territory is an absolutely ideal place for the production of meat. But there is another point which appeals to me even more strongly. We know that, of the total revenue of Australia, fully a third is made up from woolproduction, and that at present the wool production is decreasing. We also know that the gold production is decreasing, and that within the last ten or fifteen years it has decreased by about 33 per cent. Here, it seems to me, is a part of the country adapted by nature to fill those two wants. When the present terrible war is over there must be not only a large demand for our wool, meat, and other products, but we shall want gold to meet the situa tion. In all probability, so far as human foresight can foretell, the war will yet last long enough to give us a chance to in some measure meet the requirements of the situation by the development of the Territory, if its development is taken in hand at once and pushed on as it should be. We will have the food supply which the world is even now demanding, and which every year it will be demanding more and more. We will have wool, which has been, after all, the staple industry of Australia, and which more than any other industry has gone to pay the interest on our national debt. We can produce the gold which will be necessary to meet our tremendously inflated note issue.
– What do you suggest?
– What is necessary has been suggested here time and again. In the first place, the development of this country must be done by railways. But there is another aspect which appeals to me very largely, and that is that there has been no sympathetic administration. We know very well - I dare say that a great majority of the public know it too - that the people in the Territory have protested against the Administrator. He may be a well-meaning man - I have nothing to say against him in that respect - but he does not understand the position, and, as the honorable member for Wakefield quite rightly said, no man who is a university professor, and that only, can be expected to go up to the Territory and take a practical grip of these questions.
– Do you not think that the people up there would protest against any man who conscientiously did his duty?
– No. I know that these men who go out to pioneer a country like the Northern Territory are of the real stuff. They are absolutely, as the honorable member for Wakefield interjects, the finest men in the world. They are not out looking for trouble, trying to find complaints about the Administrator or any one else. They are out to develop the country. They have gone to the Territory because they like the life, and because they see opportunities before them. That is one of the troubles we find in connexion with the Territory. It has not been going ahead, because there has been no sympathetic administration, and because in recent years many young Australians who would have turned their eyes towards it have feared that the Government might interfere with their ventures. They have no security. Let me read from this report of the Department of Agriculture what happened at one place -
Wages ranged from £3 2s. 4d. to £5 per week for farm and contractors’ labourers respectively, and bore runners ranged to 90s. per week. Food cost less than ls. per meal at the farm mess. The place was like a beehive, and all hands were apparently contented; but when a strike of labourers was proclaimed in Darwin, practically every man on the farm joined the strike, one contractor even going on strike against his partner.
That is one of the causes why we are not getting any development of the Territory - the uncertainty where labour is concerned. But lately there has arisen another cause, which is even worse than that, and that is the danger of the fixation of prices. Only last week in my electorate I attended a cattle sale in a yard which I know very well, where I have bought and sold a good many cattle, and where I know very many of the buyers and sellers. The sale had not started more than a few minutes when I saw that there was something wrong. I perceived that the sellers were not at all satisfied with the prices they were getting. I saw that the buyers were not rushing the cattle, as is usually the case when the sellers are not satisfied. When neither sellers nor buyers are satisfied, there must be something seriously wrong somewhere. I inquired from both parties what was the trouble. The sellers told me that the cattle were down from£1 to £2 a head, and the buyers informed me that they were afraid to operate, because they did not know at what moment the Government might come along and fix the prices of meat; that if they were to buy at present prices, and the Government fixed the prices of meat on a comparative basis with that on which they fixed the prices of butter, lucerne hay, wheat, and other things of that kind, they would stand to lose. There is no security at present, and until the Government give security to these men, we cannot expect them to go out and spend the best years of theirlives in working a young country like the Northern Territory.
– You are now speaking of the State Government.
– I am speaking of the general trend of things in this community. The State Government have been fixing prices; but the people are afraid that this Government will probably follow their lead. They give the people no security in land tenure. They do not allow them to go out and take up long leases, and say,”You will be able to rest secure on that lease for thirty or forty years.” There is always the danger that the men may lose the land, and, as the honorable member for Wimmera interjects, there is also the danger of reappraisement all the time. And, further, the Government give these men no security as to improved conditions or prices. Is it likely, in such circumstances, that men will go out to develop the Territory under the hard conditions which always obtain in new country ? I would like to take a number of honorable members to new country to show them the hardships which are experienced. Can we expect men to spend their best years in developing Australia as our fathers did before us, unless they have some security that, at the end of their term of pioneering effort on the areas they acquire, they will be in a position to take advantage of their lifework ?
– Did not the squatter go back on the leasehold in Queensland?
– I am quite prepared to say that the squatter will go back on the leasehold in the Northern Territory if you will give him security of conditions - security as regards his lease, his working conditions, and his markets. Give those securities, and we have in Australia’ any number of young fellows with any quantity of grit, and with a sufficiency of the courage which is required to go out and work the back country just as the pioneers did before them. The trouble is not the quality of the Northern Territory ; that is there - what are termed the potentialities of the country are there. We have richness of minerals and richnessof soil, andwe have the men who will work them both if Parliament will only give them security of conditions and security of occupation. These are the only means by which we can induce people to leave the comforts of civilization as we know them in the districts close toour capitals, to go out in these distant parts and put in years of stress and struggle in order to make a competency not only for themselves, but also for those who come after them.
.- One would gather from some of the speeches delivered upon the Northern Territory that we are dealing with a small piece of country. But it is an immense country, and though there are some poor parts, there is an immense area of it that is rich which, if properly handled, must become a valuable asset to the Commonwealth. I have no hesitation in saying that if I were given that asset of 334,000,000 acres and allowed to go to London with it, I could finance it in forty-eight hours, and take over the whole of the liabilities now existing upon it.
– But you do not suggest doing that.
– I am not suggesting it. But we are adopting a doginthemanger policy in regard to the Territory.
– Does the honorable member say that private enterprise will do what the Government cannot do?
– I am not satisfied with the attitude of this Government, nor with the attitude this Parliament has assumed, towards the Northern Territory since it has been taken over. Any sane man must have realized that when we took over the Territory with its liabilities those liabilities would accumulate unless some common-sense effort were made to alter the position. That commonsense effort has not been made so far.We have had a clearly-defined policy in regard to what the Opposition intended to do with the Territory - it was not so clear in the letter that the right honorable member for Swan sent to Queensland upon the matter - but I have not yet heard from this Government, roy own. Government, any definite statement as to what its proposals are. My honest conviction is that there is only one policy with which we can start the development of the Northern Territory. Until we provide facilities for people to get there with their stock, and to send their produce away, the money now being spent might just as well be thrown into the Gulf of Carpentaria. I differ from the honorable member for Wakefield. He is absolutely correct in saying that the first stage of development of the Northern Terri tory will be by occupation for the raising of cattle and sheep; but does he mean to say that the country will not grow cereals profitably later on?
– I did not say that. I was speaking of the present only.
– As the honorable member for Robertson has just said, in each State the grazier has been the forerunner of other settlement. Until a few years ago it was thought that wheat could not be grown beyond Gawler, in South Australia, and in every State there are millions of acres now in occupation, and utilized for the growth of cereals that thirty years ago people said it would be absurd to attempt to grow in those areas.
– Less than ten years ago.
– Yes, in some cases less than ten years ago; and yet people have succeeded in doing this. The honorable member for Wakefield was speaking of what is called the tropical portion of the Northern Territory. Too much emphasis cannot be laid on the fact that it is but a portion of the Northern Territory that has tropical conditions. As the honorable member for Angas has said, the first 150 miles from the northern coast only may be said to be under tropical conditions.
– And that is the part that is destined to carry the agricultural population of the future.
– It may do so later on ; but I venture to say that the Barclay Tablelands and the Macdonnell Ranges country will carry more population than that tropical country will carry, and under healthy conditions. I stake my reputation as a man that in the country that I have indicated the climate is as good as it is in any part of the Commonwealth.
– Into what areas would the honorable member cut up that country for occupation?
– At the beginning the areas will need to be fairly large. I have heard the honorable member for Kennedy, in speaking on this matter, say that 20,000 acres was quite ample even for grazing sheep on the Barclay Tablelands. There are 80,000,000 acres on that tableland, which is admitted on all sides, by those who know anything about the country, to be the finest stretch of land in Australia. Yet nothing is being done. I sent a telegram to the Prime Ministerasking whether his strategic railway would interfere with the connexion of the Northern Territory line, and he replied -
The strategic railway relates to defence, and does not in any way affect the obligation of constructing the north-south railway, nor will it retard it being undertaken.
-Where will be the outlet for that country?
– Its outlet will be partly through Queensland; then there will be an outlet through Port Darwin to Java and other places, and ultimately trade will also come south and west. In fact, there will be room for three or four railways. But we have first to consider what will be the first thing to do in order to get a move on. The Prime Minister was interviewed in Adelaide, and I noticed that, while he said the policy was to construct from Oodnadatta onwards, he also said that the starting of the work was largely a matter of finance. I venture to say that if the strategic railway be approved by Parliament, the money needed will be found.
– What will it cost - £7,000,000?
– It will cost that fully. If the Government can find the money for a strategic railway, surely they can find the money for this particular line.
– It is also a strategic railway.
– It is one of the strategic railways. Prom Oodnadatta to Burt Creek, near Alice Springs, a d;stance of 330 miles has been surveyed which will carry the line through the Heavy Tree Gap, in the Macdonnell Ranges. Every detail of that route has been worked out by Mr. Stewart, the Engineer-in-Chief in South Australia. The work was done many years ago. The letters that have been printed show us that the policy of the Cook Government was to construct from the Queensland side.
– No. Our policy was contained in the memorandum of the honorable member for Angas.
– There was a proposal for Queensland to construct a line from Cloncurry to Camooweal, and then the Cook Government were to build one from Camooweal to Newcastle Waters, and link up with the Katherine. That was their policy.
– That is so.
– Concurrent with any policy for the construction of railways to link up with other States, we should bridge that 300 miles between Oodnadatta and the Macdonnell Ranges.
– Hear, hear!
– Prom the standpoint of economy for the stock-owners, or the Government, building from the south will be infinitely cheaper than building from the north to the south. At present we send men to Port Darwin, and dump them down there under tropical conditions. We have to pay big fares to get them there, and since quite a number of them become dissatisfied because the conditions are so foreign to those to which they have been accustomed, we have to pay big fares to bring them back again. Again, if we wish to stock the country, every hoof has to be taken to Port Darwin, and then moved south through tropical country, some of which is more subject to disease than are the higher portions where the altitude is as much as 4,000 feet. Taking all things into consideration, the expense of building the line and the expense of stocking the country is greater than if we adopted the policy of building northward from the present settlement. When the Minister of External Affairs was speaking on the last occasion on which this matter was discussed, he left us gloriously in the dark as to what was his policy. He complained that he did not know what to do. His was really a policy of despair. He said that his own policy was that indicated by the right honorable member for Swan; but that right honorable gentleman makes the South Australian connexion an altogether secondary consideration, as shown by his final letter to the then Prime Minister -
The offer of the Federal Government is onesided, butstill the interests of Australia (which are our main consideration) have to be given prominence, and if the Northern Territory is to be opened up by railways in a few years, we must build from the Katherine southward to Newcastle Waters, and from Camooweal westward to Newcastle Waters. The western portion, however, is impossible unless we have communication with Queensland, and if that is denied to us, we must turn our attention to connecting the Northern Territory from Oodnadatta.
The honorable member for Angas, in his letter, repudiated that as having indorsement by the whole of the then Ministry.
– No; what he pointed out was the fact that the one proposition was never regarded as an alternative to the other.
– I did not wish to occupy time by giving the whole of the letter written by the right honorable member for Swan to the then Prime Minister, but in the circumstances I shall have to do so. The right honorable gentleman, who was then Treasurer, wrote -
I was disappointed in reading Mr. Denham’s official reply, dated 22nd June, to your letter to him of the 16th May last, on the subject of the railway extension from Cloncurry to Camooweal. Although the proposal was that Cloncurry should be connected with Camooweal, I do not think it matters much how the connexion with the western border is made, whether from Hungerford or from any other place, so long as some place in the vicinity of Camooweal is made the terminus.
I should like to point out some of the great advantages that Queensland would derive from the connexion of her western border with her railway system : -
The Commonwealth would undertake to construct a railway from Camooweal through the Barclay Tablelands to Newcastle Waters, and thence up to the Katherine River, which will by that time be connected with Port Darwin.
In the construction of this work all the traffic of rails, machinery, and sleepers would be carried over the Queensland lines; and I am informed wooden sleepers can be obtained in Queensland. This in itself during the time of construction would mean an immense advantage to Queensland. Then it would necessarily have the trade of the Northern Territory from Newcastle Waters and the Barclay Tablelands, which would all gravitate into Queensland.
It would be an outlet for the enterprising people of Queensland, and would encourage them to occupy and utilize the lands in the Northern Territory.
Looking at the matter from whatever point of view I can, I cannot conceive of anything but great advantage to Queensland from this connexion (and advantage to the whole Commonwealth as well), because we would have communication in a very short time from Fremantle on the west, to Port Darwin, viâ Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Rockhampton, Camooweal, and Newcastle Waters.
The expenditure necessary to be incurred by Queensland to connect her western border is very small compared with the expenditure that is proposed by the Commonwealth Government; and, as I have already said, I am not only disappointed, but I may add surprised, that such an advantageous offer should not have been at once accepted. I can only advise you to again submit the matter, and ask for further consideration. The offer of the Federal Government is one-sided, but still the interests of Australia (which are our main consideration) have to be given prominence, and, if the Northern Territory is to be opened up by railways in a few years, we must build from the Katherine southward to Newcastle Waters, and from Camooweal westward to Newcastle Waters. The western portion, however, is impossible, unless we have communication with Queensland, and, if that is denied to us, we must turn our attention to connecting the Northern Territory from Oodnadatta, a policy to which we are already pledged.
This pledge was to be regarded only in the event of the Queensland Government refusing to accept the suggestion of the right honorable member for Swan.
– That was not the right honorable member’s meaning.
– It is not a fair construction to put on his words.
– It is the only construction.
– The phrasing is not clear.
– It is the construction put on the words by the honorable member for Angas, who was at the time Minister of External Affairs, and charged with the administration of the Northern Territory. He said -
It is hardly necessary on this occasion to do more than indicate that the Treasurer’s ideas on this subject cannot be accepted as those of the Government as a whole.
I have no doubt as to the meaning of the right honorable member for Swan. The. policy of the Opposition has been clearly laid down. There never was a better opportunity than the present for getting the country settled. As the result of the progressive land tax, land in every direction is being cut up, and the graziers are being crowded out. They would gravitate to the country through which the proposed line will go, if concurrently with its construction the land were surveyed, preparatory to subdivision, and boring operations were conducted. The whole of the Barclay Tablelands has a supply of sub-artesian water.
– Does the honorable member say that the Labour party’s land tax is breaking up the large estates?
– A great many large estates have been cut up.
– Is the honorable member aware that the smaller estates are becoming fewer? He should read a return furnished to the Senate on the motion of Senator Grant.
– We have had a distinct statement of the policy of the
Opposition, and I desire a distinct statement of the policy of this Government.
– It is time that we got one.
– The Prime Minister is generally candid and straightforward in replying to a question, but he was very ambiguous in a reply that he gave in South Australia the other day, when questioned regarding this railway. The press report says -
The Prime Minister (Mr. Fisher), who is in Adelaide, was questioned on Monday regarding the attitude of the Federal Government on those matters. He said it had already pledged itself to go on with the railway to the Northern Territory. It was its policy to construct hig and necessary lines throughout Australia, which was the only way to develop the country in the absence of water-ways. The question of route had nothing to do with the big main question. It was not for him to say whether the line would go north and south; people could look at the surrender agreement in connexion with the transfer of the Territory to the Commonwealth, and see that for themselves. It would bc settled on an economic basis, in keeping with the terms of the agreement. The starting of the work was largely a matter of finance.
– If the language of the right honorable member for Swan was vague, how does the honorable member characterize the language of the Prime Minister which he has just quoted?
– In a telegram which I received from the Prime Minister, during the State elections, he said -
The strategic railway relates to defence, and does not in any way affect the obligation of constructing the north-south railway, nor will it retard it, if it be undertaken.
– That is the whole question. I think most honorable members would like an answer to it.
– When would the northsouth railway have been made if the suggestion of the right honorable member for Swan had been accepted?
– There would have been two railways then.
– That is not made plain in the letter written by the right honorable member, whose suggestion evidently had not the indorsement of the Cook Administration, as is shown by the correspondence. We should have some statement by the Government of its policy regarding the Northern Territory. The statement of the Prime Minister is about as definite as that of the Minister of External Affairs, who said, in effect, “ If
I have any policy at all, it is such as has been indicated by the right honorable member for Swan.” I look upon this question purely as one of finance.
– Where should we get the money to build the line now?
– Where could we get money for strategic railways? Unquestionably, if there were agreement as to route, the necessary money would be found at once. Often in private business it is necessary to spend money in order to save money, and that is our position in regard to the Northern Territory. The manner in which the development of the Northern Territory has been attempted is not creditable to this Parliament. As far as the Administrator is concerned, there appears to have been nothing but trouble since he went to the Northern Territory. He is one of the worst hands that ever I came across at handling men. If there is likely to be any trouble at all, he seems to help it along. I stated in the South Australian Parliament that it would be foolish for South Australia to attempt to develop the Northern Territory from the north, and that any such proceeding would be a huge failure. It will be an equal failure if we attempt it. The journey from the south is into a different class of country in which any of our people can live, and I venture to suggest fiat by the time the railway is constructed, and a proper survey made by the Department of Lands, millions of acres of good Mitchell grass country will have been taken up by the men who will gravitate along that line. Mr. Wells, Deputy Commissioner of Taxes in South Australia, is as pronounced as anybody in favour of the possibilities of this vast area of country; but what are we going to do? Surely we are not so financially stuck that we cannot raise sufficient money to bridge the piece of bad country between Oodnadatta and the Macdonnell Ranges. Once through there the chief difficulty will be overcome. The honorable member for Robertson referred to mining propositions. Carriage to some of these propositions costs no less than £40 a ton. It is a moral impossibility to get explosives. Take the Macdonnell Ranges through the Murchison country. You cannot get explosives there, because only camel teams in charge of Afghans are available, and they will not carry explosives. In the White Range, which extends 8 miles through rich country in the same district, and which was spoken highly of by the honorable member for Angas and Dr. Jensen, the Government Geologist, men are to be seen working with the obsolete method of hammer and gad, with black gins carrying the ore down from the range. With things as they are, it is impossible to do anything in the way of development. If the railway were constructed many developments in other directions would take place, but until we take the risk, or have the courage to spend money, we shall, year by year, discuss these Estimates, which are showing an increasing deficit, without any results at all. I hope before the Estimates go through that a statement will be made by the Minister giving some indication that, at any rate, this work is to go on.
– Is it a fact that the Pine Creek railway was made by coloured labour on contract?
– That is true, and the work was done by contract. The contractor imported the labour himself. There was a proposal that South Australia should import Tamils - a race of Indian coolies - but in the interests of keeping Australia white, South Australia refused to take this step, though the recommendation was strongly made that it should do so. This Parliament does not want to conduct operations with any coloured labour, and we ought to be very proud that the Territory is now comparatively free of coloured population. The Chinamen that have been spoken of were brought to the Territory by Miller Brothers for construction work, but the step from the stand-point of settlement was a bad one. Had the line been constructed by white labour, I have not the slightest doubt that a number of the men would have settled near the line, and that development would have eone on as soon as the line was opened. I believe now that as soon as the line is opened hundreds of men will settle in the Territory.
– I desire but a few minutes to conclude my remarks, which were cut short by the time limit. Leaving the Oodnadatta railway where it is to-day, is like building a bridge across a wide stream, taking it half-way across, and then leaving it, with the bridge absolutely purposeless. That is very largely the position owing to the northern railway terminal not being continued from Oodnadatta.
The suggestion of the South Australian Government in regard to the Great Northern Railway system was that, starting from Port Augusta, it should branch off from Farina to tap the north-west Queensland country; but before the construction reached Farina, the South Australian Government determined upon a fresh policy. They decided to tackle the question of Northern Territory development, and instead of deviating in the direction of Queensland, it was decided to carry the railway straight through in a direct line to Palmerston. The construction by sections was carried on until the railway reached Oodnadatta, and then, owing to a period of financial stringency, the further construction had to be held up. In the meantime, the proposal to transfer the Northern Territory to the Federal Government was introduced, and that is the reason why South Australia did not continue its original intention to carry on the construction of that railway until it reached, at all events, the Macdonnell Ranges. The honorable member for Grey has referred to a statement by the Prime Minister, and another statement in regard to strategic railways; but I would remind honorable members that when Lord Kitchener was in Australia - this proposal was in hand at the time - he distinctly referred to this as a strategic military railway that would connect the south with the large populations in the eastern cities.
– Is that on record ?
– I believe it is.
– I cannot tell the honorable member where, but I am distinctly of the opinion that it is on record that Lord Kitchener, in discussing defence matters for the whole of Australia, advised the prosecution of this railway to its completion as early as it could possibly be accomplished.
– Are you referring to the north-south line?
– Yes, this very railway. It was regarded by Lord Kitchener as a strategic railway which was necessary for the purposes of military defence. He included the eastwest section of the railway, too. I wish it to be clearly understood that I did not desire, when speaking a few moments ago, to convey the impression that I thought there would never be any agriculture in the Northern Territory. What I do say is that at present, and possibly for a good many years to come, agriculture there is not a promising commercial proposition, and should be abandoned for the pioneering development which flows from pastoral pursuits, from wool-raising, stock-raising, and the production of meat, for which there will continue to be an ever-increasing demand. There are millions of acres in the Macdonnell Ranges that are just as promising for wheat production as the average wheat country within the settled areas of Australia. The climate of the Macdonnell Ranges is better than the best climate in the southern portions of Australia.
– But what about the rainfall ?
– There is a rainfall of from 10 inches to 21 inches over millions and millions of acres in the Northern Territory.
– Does it not fall mostly in the summer time?
– No. Un7 like that of the semi-tropical and tropical parts of Australia, it does not. It does not fall, possibly, in what we in the southern parts of Australia would regard as the ideal months of the year, but it comes at a time when large wheat-growing areas in New South Wales have their rainfall. The most competent judges in Australia - the best bushmen, men who are most conversant with Australia’s interior areas - say that there is nothing to surpass the way-back country of the Northern Territory for stock-raising purposes, and that in the hills there we have the finest horsebreeding country to be found in any part of the world. But while millions of acres of this part of the country would grow wheat, it cannot be regarded to-day as a wheat proposition, because the haulage to the nearest outlet at the seaboard would be out of the question.
– How many miles would it be- 500 ?
– It would be between 700 and 800 miles from Port Augusta. The day will come when that part of the Territory will not only grow wheat, but will be required to grow it. In Canada, the haulage of wheat over 700 miles of railway is regarded as a mere bagatelle. Wheat is carried three times that distance, both in Canada, and in some parts of the United States. The proposition which the Parliament and the Government of the Commonwealth should foster, however, is the development of the pastoral and mining industries in the Northern Territory. Nothing to-day has a more encouraging outlook than has the pastoral industry. Indeed, I am not sure that the pastoral industry has not a more encouraging outlook on the average generally than has that of wheatgrowing. The pastoral industry in the Northern Territory will become a necessity, because, in the areas that have carried the flocks of Australia, graziers are gradually being pushed out by the promotion of closer settlement. As the honorable member for Robertson has pointed out, wool is the staple product that has made Australia. As he said, very truly, Australasia contributes 25 per cent, of the whole of the wool production of the world ; or, if we take the wool production of the world that is worked up into textiles, the Australasian output represents about onethird of the whole. Again, if we take sheep, and all for which they stand, they represent 48£ per cent, of the exportable values from Australasia. ‘ There was never a more promising outlook for the pastoral industry than to-day. A few years ago, when this matter was debated in the House, and when the pastoral industry did noi look anything like so promising as it now does, I was inclined to think at times that the picture was not altogether too rosy a one for the Government in taking this responsibility; but a great change has come over the scene. Not only have we a right in our own interests, as a business proposition, to maintain the reputation of Australia for the production of wool - to maintain the highest level of the past, and to go beyond that level - but we have the prospect to-day of making bigger profits than we have ever had before from stockraising in the disposal of meat by export. We have, in this respect, a prospect of profits, and of a volume of trade that we did not dream of eight or ten years ago, and, indeed, of which we little thought only five or six years ago. It is a good proposition, therefore, to let the pastoralist do the pioneering work in the Northern Territory, as he has done all over Australia. When I said that young Australians would not be induced to go to the Northern Territory, I meant to convey that I did not think they would go there to engage in agriculture or horti- culture - to engage in closer settlement. But if we gave young Australians in the interior an opportunity to secure leases of from 20,000 to 50,000 acres of good pastoral land, they would readily seize it. We have in the interior of South Australia, as well as in Queensland and Western Australia, numbers of claypan squatters who for years have been looking oat for decent leaseholds. Give them fair areas under lease, and they will rush the Terri: tory. I agree with the honorable member for Grey that vast areas of the best pastoral land are held under leases which have yet to run for a considerable time. And I should not mind their being held in large areas if the lease-holders would develop and improve the country - if they would increase production year by year. Unfortunately, we shall have to wait for these long leases of large areas to come to a termination before we can secure closer settlement by the settlement of smaller pastoralists and graziers. The day will come, however, when that will be possible. Meantime, I believe it would be fair to say to these men who are holding unduly large areas - thousands of square miles in extent - “ You got these leases at a peppercorn rental, at a time when you had to face the greatest possible pioneering difficulties that were ever known in Australia, and if you secure railway facilities, intersecting the Territory east and west, and north and south, the value of your leases will be increased enormously, so that it is reasonable that you should have to pay something, possibly, in the way of a betterment tax.”
– That can be done under the Northern Territory Ordinances.
– I believe so. I believe that that proposition is not only legal, but very fair. I look forward to the day when these immensely valuable pastoral areas will have, not one proprietor for every 5,000 or 6,000 square miles, but a proprietor for every 500 square miles. I do not take a pessimistic view of the Territory. The possibilities of the meat export trade are bound to increase from year to year, and a very satisfactory return will be obtained, not only from the wool, but also from the carcasses and hides, and we shall yet have a prosperous settlement in that Territory, which is almost big enough in itself to be called a continent.
.- I wish to claim the Minister’s attention to a few remarks I shall make on an island territory recently acquired by the Commonwealth. I refer to Norfolk Island, situated about 1,000 miles east of Australia, and comprising an area of some 8,000 odd acres, upon which are settled about 600 descendants of the Bounty mutineers. Most honorable members are acquainted with the story of the mutiny of the Bounty, and the sequel. The mutineers settled on Pitcairn Island with some Tahitian women. The families’ increased until it was found that Pitcairn was too small to support them. When the British Government discovered, many years after the “mutiny, where the mutineers were settled, it was reported that the islanders were a most pious, happy, and righteousliving socialistic community. In consequence, the Pitcairners became known as pets of the late Queen Victoria, and she gave instructions that when any ships of the Admiralty were, passing Pitcairn they should leave there clothing, blankets, and foodstuffs for the settlers. In fact, I understand that special instructions were given that ships voyaging in the direction of Pitcairn Island should load up with articles of comfort and necessity to be left for the islanders.
– The original mutineers were not treated so generously by Her Gracious Majesty. Some of them were taken Home by the scruff of the neck.
– I have no desire to go into the detailed history of the affair; I am merely making a few preliminary remarks in order to make more understandable what I am about to say. The population having grown to such an extent that Pitcairn Island was found too small, the British Government were asked if a more suitable habitation could be found. At that time Norfolk Island was a convict settlement, and eventually it was offered to the Pitcairn Islanders as a permanent home. After holding public meetings they decided to accept the offer of the Government, and some sixty or seventy years ago a vessel, specially chartered by the Imperial Government, conveyed some 198 Pitcairners over 3,000 miles to Norfolk Island.
By this time the whole of the convicts had been removed from Norfolk Island, but a number of magnificent residences, completely furnished, had been left standing. It is quite apparent, from the deep-rooted impression of the local population, that they were told that they could occupy Norfolk Island under the same conditions as they had previously occupied Pitcairn Island - that is to say, the island would be practically theirs in perpetuity to occupy and administer as they thought fit. Although no legal document confirming this arrangement can be found, it is a fact that those houses have been occupied for sixty or seventy years without any question having been raised as to the rightful occupation of them. Indeed, the houses have been willed from father to son as if the occupants held regular titles to them, as we understand such titles in Australia. It appears, however, that some four or five years ago an islander, who had made some legal studies, raised a question as to the ownership of the houses, and an effort was made to obtain a proper title to them. The outcome was a decision by the Administrator, the then Governor of New SouthWales, that the fact was to be placed beyond all future dispute that the houses belonged to the Government, and the local people had no right to them. They were, however, to be allowed to continue in occupation, provided they signed a form of nominal lease, which would guarantee to them the use of the houses for three generations to come. This decision the islanders practically unanimously refused to accept. They simply said, “ If, by signing such a lease, we acknowledge that these houses do not belong to us, we shall be impugning the veracity of our parents, who told us that the properties were handed over to them, and who claimed to have bequeathed them to us in a proper way.” The authorities went to the extent of evicting some of the people, with their goods and chattels. I object to that procedure, mainly for this reason: Even if it be true that the islanders had no legal claim to the houses, the fact remains that the Government had absolutely no use for them, and the islanders have absolutely refused to occupy houses from which others have been evicted. I understand that the only two such houses which are now occupied are those in which live the local medical officer and the Church of England minister respectively. Those houses, which would probably be worth thousands of pounds in Australia, are lying vacant and simply crumbling to decay. The Government have turned the people out of the buildings, and, having no use for them, have allowed them to go to rack and ruin. That is more than unjust; it is farcical. If the Government had any use for the buildings, there might have been some justification for asserting their authority. They put the people out because a question as to the proper title was raised; and to assert the authority of the Government the occupiers were told that they must sign leases or be put out. The matter could have been as effectively, and more humanely, handled, even from the viewpoint of the authorities, by the mere issue of a proclamation asserting ownership, but without uselessly disturbing the local population. The holders, who in many cases had occupied the buildings for several generations, refused to sign leases, and were promptly turned out, with their goods and chattels, on to the road. The local indignation was so intense that I was informed that there certainly would have been a riot; but they were told that, if they insisted, a British war-ship would be brought to shell the place, or land a party, and that they would be practically slaughtered if they did not yield.
There is a good deal of property in the way of buildings standing on Norfolk Island, and if the Government are going to assert ownership there ought to be some systematic arrangement for putting the buildings into and keeping them in repair. There can be no justification for turning the people out and allowing the houses to go to ruin. Will the Minister, who knows something about the hardships of evictions, and whose sympathies are, I am sure, with the people in a case like this, see that a stop is put to this business ? A case was brought under my notice there where a young widow, with several young children and an old maiden sister-in-law, was living in a place which had been occupied by the family for about three generations. They had kept it in repair, but they were given notice to shift. I asked the Administrator what justification there was for this action, and he said “ We want the place for the local policeman.” There are plenty of other places, from which people have already been evicted, which are being allowed to go to rack and ruin, and that could easily be put into repair to accommodate the local policeman. Will the Minister look into this case and act on his own initiative? The present Administrator was probably an official in the Department in New South Wales, and many of the evictions may have taken place during or under his authority as an officer in New South Wales. He may have recommended some of them, or may have had something to do in carrying them out. I am not certain on this point, and I would not like to do the present Administrator an injustice. What has happened is altogether beneath the dignity of the Government, and I hope that an effectual remedy will soon be applied.
So far as regards local government on Norfolk Island, there are 600 descendants of the early mutineers in occupation of 8,000 acres, which is fairly close settlement. There are also, probably, a couple of hundred coloured people connected with the Melanesian Mission. Of course we cannot, expect much interest to be taken in this Parliament in the local conditions of the people on the Island, which is 1,000 miles out in the Pacific. Their business is a very small affair compared with the big problems which have to be handled by Federal Ministers and the Federal Parliament; but they certainly have the right to manage their local affairs themselves.
– How would it do to treat them like the people of Lord Howe Island, who are represented here by the honorable member for East Sydney ?
– If they had the right to be represented in this Parliament, it would be a great improvement on present conditions.
– I understand that these people do not pay any taxes.
– They pay some in Customs duties, notably on kerosene and tobacco.
– The honorable member is proposing representation without responsibility.
– No. I would give them the right to manage their own local concerns by some form of local government, and place upon them the responsibility of providing for their own administration. Local affairs would be much more economically managed.
– Would that satisfy them?
– I believe it would. It would uot cost much for them to manage their own affairs. About £3,000 is on the Estimates for managing the island for the current year. Fancy £3,000 for the year to manage the affairs of some 150 families! There must be gross extravagance while the affairs of the island are managed from Melbourne. The whole thing is small, and probably the Commonwealth Government, with its £20,000,000 of revenue, can pitch away £10,000 a year without any one taking any notice of it. We have there quite an array of officials who are absolutely unjustified. There is an Administrator, a Secretary, a Customs Officer, a Medical Officer-
– The medical officer is necessary.
– Do we pay him ?
– Partly; he is a sort of communal officer. The descendants of the Pitcairners, apart from outsiders, pay 15s. a year per family for the medical officer; but he is remunerated mainly from what is known as the Norfolk Island Fund, which was raised many years ago, and is invested in, I think, New South Wales bonds.
– How is the Customs officer paid?
– First of all, let me finish the list of officers. There is a postmaster, a secretary to the local Executive Council, and a policeman, who has two island assistants. Apart altogether from what these gentlemen are paid - and some are paid very little, the postmaster, I think, about £30 a year-
– Is that excessive for 600 inhabitants?
– No. If we are to have officials, they should be fairly remunerated ; but my contention is that one Administrator and a policeman could do all the work necessary for the 600 people. This 600 includes men, women, and children.
– Could the policeman do the Customs work as well?
– I think the Administrator could do the Customs work, seeing that the boat calls only once a month, and is there but a few hours.
– There is all the work of the Lands Office.
– A Lands Office for less than 150 families on 8,000 acres ! Let me give an illustration of what I mean. There are any number of trade unions, with memberships up to 1,000, the secretaries of which manage the whole of the business; and a trade union secretary has much more to do for individual members than the Government have to do for individuals on Norfolk Island.
From Mr. Atlee Hunt’s report it will be gathered that there is little occasion for a policeman, because, in the absence of liquor, there is no crime - none of those petty misdemeanours which arise from over indulgence in drink.
At present there is an Executive Council, a minority of which is nominated by the local people; but that Council has practically no authority. All it has to do is to see that the bridges and roads are kept in repair; and this work is accomplished by the male population, who devote so many days a year to it, the Council deciding when any repairs are necessary, and whose turn it is to make them. Beyond that, however, the Council has really no power or authority.
When we were at Norfolk Island, a public meeting was held, at which the islanders laid their views before the visiting members; and I must say that there was more ability manifested by the islanders than is found in most of the municipal bodies in this country; indeed, I feel certain that their case was put probably as well as it could have been by even the representatives of this Parliament. People who know what they want, and can state their views so clearly as did those islanders, ought to have the right to manage their own local affairs.
At present, of course, very little money is raised locally by way of taxation, the Commonwealth making all the necessary payments; and I may say that the first year the island was taken over by the Commonwealth, the expenditure of the New South Wales Government in the previous years was doubled. The local people, if they are spoken to about it, say that they cannot understand why all this official paraphernalia is necessary, seeing that they used to be able to manage the island on very little expenditure; but, of course, if the Commonwealth cares to appoint these officials, and pay them, the islanders wish the Commonwealth good luck, so long as they are not ultimately called upon to find the money.
– Are there more officers there now than there were when the island was managed by the New South Wales Government?
– Yes, and we are levelling up their salaries. The Customs officer, who was getting, say, £75 a year, felt that that salary was not a fair one, while for similar officers in the Commonwealth service there is a minimum of £126. If we employ men, we ought to pay them decently; but it is a farce to employ so many, when one could do the whole of the work. I notice that the Administrator has £100 a year as a living allowance in addition to his salary, although the cost of living there must be about one-third of what it is in Australia. The standard rate of pay for’ labour on the island is 6s. a day; and we who have visited the place know that the cost of living is very low. Probably 6s. a day on Norfolk Island is equivalent to 10s. a day in Australia; and yet the Administrator has this allowance, as though he were stationed in some place where the cost of living was sufficiently high to justify it. The local people feel that, in all probability, the money spent on the administration will be charged up to them, and that, if ever they are placed on a basis of local government, and have to raise their own taxation, they may be called upon to pay interest on the previous expenditure, and gradually liquidate the debt. If we gave those people the right to manage their own local concerns, and to raise the necessary small amount of money by local taxation, there would be a better state of affairs.
It is complained that there is no originality or initiative shown by the’ local people - that they do not take a pride in the place, and keep the roads and bridges in as good a state as when the convicts were there. But there must have been upwards of 1,000 convicts, and, of course, it was possible to keep every- thing in the best of order - & condition of things beyond the means of the 198 people who were the first to occupy the land. At the same time, if we do not allow these people to manage their own concerns, how can we expect them to take a pride in the place. At present we simply put officiate in charge, and affairs are administered without any knowledge on the part of the islanders. As a matter of fact, when we were there, I found that the local Executive Council did not know what was being spent by the Commonwealth during the current year; and when I turned up the Estimates for them, that was the first intimation they had had of local administrative expenditure and its abnormal increase over that of the previous year.
.- I have listened with a great deal of interest to the remarks made by the honorable member for Cook, but at this stage I do not intend to discuss the matter referred to by him. Having been a visitor to Norfolk Island, I understand that the Commission which has recently visited the island will shortly bring down a report, together with a recommendation.
– Tell us about that robbery.
– Some honorable members appear to be anxious to know about the robbery to which I referred, but I think, on reflection, that it took place four or five days before we arrived there. I believe it involved an amount of about £200, and it caused a great stir in the island.
– It was quite an isolated instance.
– Yes, and it galvanized the whole place, for there had never been anything of the kind on this island before.
– Did you see any necessity for police there?
– No; I think one policeman would be quite enough, but he has other duties to perform. However, it is not my intention to discuss that question just now. I intend to direct the attention of honorable members to what we are doing with regard to the Northern Territory. I think, in the first place, we have been endeavouring to develop the Territory quite from the wrong angle, and that we should have followed the example set us by the other States, by paying more attention to the pastoral industry, allowing the development of the mining industry and “ farming to follow in their natural order. Instead of doing that, we have been trying to develop the farming resources of the Northern Territory, and I think it would have been a good thing for the Northern Territory, as well as for the taxpayers of Australia, if we had never spent a penny in starting those Utopian demonstration farms. Up to the present something like £30,000 has been expended on the Batchelor farm, on the Daly River, and I find there has been an expenditure of £7,944 on machinery alone for these farms, whereas in South Australia the expenditure last year for similar farms was only £8,068, and Western Australia, which is fast developing into an agricultural centre, only spent £3,014. In view of all the circumstances, I am not surprised that settlers should feel reluctant to go to the Northern Territory. The net gain last year, according to a report recently submitted, was only one settler. I have been looking through the reports, of the managers of the demonstration farms, and could not help thinking that they read like a page from the Arabian Nights. If a man had an idea of settling in that country, I think he would certainly be discouraged after reading the reports. I now intend to entertain the Committee for a few minutes while I read a few extracts. The manager of the Daly Demonstration Farm states -
Corn planting had to be delayed till the grasshoppers disappeared, as they demolished the young plants as they cams up. The wet weather set in very suddenly after this, and prevented the sowing of ground that had been ready before the advent of the grasshoppers, and it was necessary to replough the land on account of the weeds.
Then in regard to cattle he remarks -
Seventy full-grown bullocks and four brokenin workers were purchased for the purpose of supplying working bullocks for the settlers, but were not availed of. Fourteen of these have been killed, and the meat sold to settlers and to the men’s mess.
Turning now to the Batchelor Demonstration Farm, I find that the report sta te s -
On the retirement of Mr. C. N. Woolley, Mr. J. E. Syme was appointed acting manager on 9th June. His first duties were the sorting out and accumulating of machinery, much of which was in the paddocks owing to the strike. A. new staff had to be collected. This and various other initial work occupied until 20th
June, when the traction engine started ploughing in the railway paddock- 65 acres. Fortythree acres were ploughed, at a cost of 15s. per acre.
Further on I find that there was trouble in ploughing, owing to the hard nature of the land, and the report states -
Also water had to be brought from Adelaide and Darwin Rivers by rail, and was supplied in leaking tanks, much of it being lost.
Fancy supplying water in leaking tanks in a country like that !
– In South Australia I saw men who were carting water twenty miles from the railway line.
– The report states further-
The remaining 22 acres in this paddock were ploughed with the new oil tractor, and also cost 153. per acre. . . . This can be understood when it is borne in mind that it is green timber country, full of roots, hard and compact by heavy rains and sun, with a heavy growth of suckers and seedlings and deeprooted grass, that in a favorable season grows 8 to 10 feet high.
Turning now to sorghum, I find the report states -
Another area of 5 acres was sown on 10th November in paddock C, thesoil being a sandy loam. The seed used was “ Planters’ Friend,” 10 lbs. to the acre. As there was not enough “ Planters’ Friend “ to finish the area, the remainder was drilled with Sorghum Saccharatum, the seed being sownat the same rate. This crop germinated evenly, but the parrots destroyed a lot by pulling it up, and the native annual grass grew so strongly as to choke the sorghum.
The experiments regarding cotton are thus described -
An area of 5 acres was sown down with Caravonica cotton on 25th November, in squares 10 feet apart, and germinated well, but as the annual grass grew so strongly it was decided to scarify and resow, which was done on 30th December.
Lucerne is referred to as follows -
About 14 acres have been sown down in lucerne. This land was ploughed twice at a depth of 7 inches. Five acres was heavily manured with stable manure, which was spread over the land before the second ploughing.
Now, how could it be expected that land could be heavily dressed with stable manure in the Northern Territory? Oats, I find, are referred to in the report as follows : -
An acre was sown in the experimental plots on 8th November with Algerian oats.
I have never yet heard of a farmer putting in oats on 6th November. The report continues - 1¾ bushels being used, with 56 lbs. superphosphates -
We know that the effect of superphosphates in a hot climate would be to burn the seed - but did not germinate. This seed was obtained locally, and was not good seed.
– Are these things which the experts did up there?
– These are the things which the experts have been doing in the Northern Territory. I have marked thirty or forty passages of the report, but I shall not weary the Committee with them. I venture to say that if these reports were published in pamphlet form and circulated among our farmers, they would prefer them for reading matter to the Bulletin or Punch, but they would not be encouraged by them to go to the Northern Territory. We have heard a great deal about the suitability of the Northern Territory for cereals. I should be disposed to agree with the honorable member for Wakefield that the Macdonnell Range country and other elevated parts in the centre of the Northern Territory would be eminently suited for cereals, but to attempt to grow wheat near Darwin in a tropical climate would be ridiculous.
– Surely the honorable member does not say that wheat will not grow in tropical countries.
– I do say so.
– There is plenty of wheat grown in India.
– That may be so, but it is only on the highlands. I have been in Ceylon and India, and I never saw a grain of wheat grown on the lowlands. I admit that there is a great deal of wheat grown on the highlands of India, but the climate there is similar to the climate of Bathurst and Orange, in New South Wales. According to Mr. Knibbs, the net result of all the efforts of farmers in the Northern Territory, including those on the experimental farms, was the growth of 1,350 bushels of maize; oats, nil; rye, nil; wheat, nil; other cereals, nil ; lucerne,1 ton ; other hay crops, 80 tons; beans, 100 bushels; sweet potatoes, 20 tons; pumpkins and melons, 24 tons. I think that the possibilities of the Northern Territory are very great, but they should be developed in the right way. I have said that Canada and Russia settled and developed their big empty spaces by first of all building railways through them. The Canadian railway connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic ran through a vast empty country, which now, under the occupation of teeming millions, has become one of the granaries of the world. The same may be said of Siberia. The effect of the construction of the trans-Siberian railway has been really wonderful. Only the other day in Sydney I was informed by an agent of the Massey-Harris Company that they sell more agricultural implements in Siberia than in any other part of the world. This shows how fast that country has been developed, and it has been almost entirely owing to railway extension. Looking through- Mr. Knibbs’ figures, I find that in the Northern Territory there were 22,792 horses, and 1,181 were exported in the year. There were 417,643 cattle, and 57,289 fat cattle were exported in the year. There were 67,109 sheep, and 11,296 were exported, and there were 1,018 pigs in the Territory. I think the Government made a big mistake in the selection they made of sheep for the Territory. They secured a big flock from Avon Downs, and took the sheep towards Port Darwin. I consider that the country there is quite unsuitable for merinos. The class of sheep for which that district is suited would be a cross between ‘the Romney Marsh and the merino. For quality of wool, length of staple, and robust constitution, the Avon Downs flock is not excelled for merino sheep, if it is equalled by any other flock in Australia, but those sheep are quite unsuitable for the Darwin district. We must have there a cross with the Romney Marsh sheep that are immune from foot-rot and fluke. I venture to say that if you put- merino sheep on that country, and leave them there for any length of time, they will develop foot-rot and fluke, and none of them will be left in a few years. I cannot say how much wool was grown in the Northern Territory, as the records do not disclose the facts, but I was pleased to find that in 1913-14 the Territory exported minerals to the value of £44,626. That is a good nucleus to start with. If such results could be obtained for mineral development without the assistance of railway communication, how much better results might be obtained with an extensive railway system ! The honorable member for Wakefield quoted Lord Kitchener as saying that for strategic purposes the railway should be extended from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin.
– No, I did not. I said that the railways should be pushed on to connect with Brisbane and the other big cities on the eastern coast.
– I am glad to have that correction, because that is what I was prepared to suggest myself. I advocated from the platform during the Federal elections that the railway should be extended to the Katherine River, and from there as close as possible to Cloncurry and Camooweal, and that there should be extensions towards the Territory from Longreach, Charleville, Bourke, and Broken Hill. That would link up the Territory with the whole of the railway systems of the eastern States. We should bring the railway system of the Northern Territory as near as possible to centres of the population and the seaboard. In travelling through Queensland a few years ago, I noticed that at Townsville, Rockhampton, and many of the eastern coast towns, extensive freezing works have been established, and it is above all things necessary that we should find a market for the produce of the settlers in the Northern Territory. If we do not, we cannot expect to have any settlement there
– Did the honorable member suggest that to the late Government?
– I have always suggested that on the platform and, I think, also in this House.
– Did the late Government adopt the suggestion ?
– No Government has so far adopted it. If the honorable member for Gwydir agrees with the suggestion, I hope that I shall have his support in recommending it to the present Government.
– What is the honorable member’s influence worth when he could not get the late Government to move in the matter?
– I have a vote just as the honorable member for Gwydir has. On the question of settling the interior of the Northern Territory, I may say that I was only last week reading an article on Siberia published in the Nineteenth Century. I find that the Russian Government, in settling people there, went so far as to give them a freehold title to a certain area of land for themselves, and for each of their children. In addition, they allowed them the timber necessary to build their houses with ; they defrayed the expense of cultivating the land for one year, and further advanced the settlers sufficient money to equip them with a good agricultural plant. It is all very well for us to show people how to grow various produce, but the trouble in the Northern Territory is to find a market for the produce grown there. I gave a lecture some time ago in the “Wingham district of New South Wales on the subject of bee-keeping. The editor of the local newspaper was good enough to publish my lecture in three different issues, and some few years later Mr. Gale, the Government expert, visitedBlayney, and lectured there. During the course of his remarks he stated that at Wingham some years previously a bank manager had shown the people how to grow honey. They had paid so much attention to his counsel that they produced tons of honey, but, unfortunately, he had not told them where they would find a market for it. That appears to be our position in respect of the Northern Territory to-day. It is idle to grow cereals there unless there is a market for them. The honorable member for Maribyrnong has said that wheat and hay can be produced in the Territory. If the Government wish to stimulate the production of these commodities, let them say to the people, “We will pay you 6s. per bushel for all the wheat you can produce in the Territory, and so much per ton for your lucerne and hay.”
– The honorable member wishes to socialize all industry.
– I do not wish to socialize anything. To my mind, the Government might well take a leaf out of the book of the late Government of Queensland. That Administration has assisted settlers in the central western parts of Queensland - which comprise some of the best wool-growing country I have ever seen - to put down more than 2,000 artesian bores. Yet, in the southern part of the Northern Territory we have only one artesian bore. Certainly, we have subartesian bores, but not artesian bores which go down thousands of feet. The result is that in the portion of Queensland to which I have referred bores are now to be found running freshly like English brooks, and instead of the sheep having to travel to the water the water travels to the sheep. The honorable member for Wakefield spoke of portions of the Terri tory which have a rainfall of only about 10 or 11 inches.
– Why, in some parts, they get a rainfall of 70 inches.
– I admit that near the sea-board the rainfall runs up to 70 inches. But there are other portions of the country in which it varies from 4 to 10 inches. I consider that the Minister of External Affairs should place a sum upon the Estimates for the purpose of testing this country for artesian water. So far as the mining industry is concerned we have a big asset there.
– Why, we have spent £35,000 in prospecting without securing a decent show.
– We have expended £35,000 in prospecting there, but in the year 1914 alone the returns from minerals aggregated a value of £44,626. This sum was made up as follows: - Diamonds, £482; gold, £13,250; silver, £2,228; tin, £25,526 ; and wolfram, £3,140. I believe that there is untold wealth in the Northern Territory - wealth which only requires to be developed. When I was in the Kalgoorlie electorate some time ago I learned that millions of pounds’ worth of gold had been taken out of a very limited area. That circumstance should encourage us to try and locate these rich mineral deposits. In the Northern Territory I find that there are engaged in the mining industry only 90 Europeans and 530 Chinese. If the Government will only endeavour to develop this country upon right lines, and by closing up the experimental farms, I venture to say that the taxpayers will be much better off.
– I wish to direct the attention of honorable members to a letter which has been sent to the London Times by a former Governor-General of the Commonwealth, in the person of Lord Denman. In writing on the question of national service in Great Britain- .
– What has this to do with the Department of External Affairs?
– It has much to do with it, and involves a matter which certainly ought to be brought under the notice of that Department. Lord Denman states -
The Labour party is fairly entitled-
– The remarks of the honorable member are outside the scope of the question before the Chair. Consequently, he will not be in order in pursuing the course which he wishes to adopt.
– I should like to direct your attention, sir, to the fact that the Department of External Affairs deals with all matters external to Australia.
– I have already given my ruling, and my reasons for that ruling may be very briefly stated. Lord Denman is not the Governor-General of the Commonwealth, and any statement which he may make has nothing whatever to do with the Department of External Affairs. Had the honorable member raised the question on the Defence Estimates, he might have been in order, but he is certainly not in order in raising it now.
– If you, sir, rule that a reference to matters external to Australia cannot be discussed when the Estimates for this Department are under review, I am at a loss to know what can be discussed.
– Order ! That was not my ruling. I ruled that the statement made by Lord Denman has nothing to do with the External Affairs Department.
– I suppose that I must abide by the ruling, but if we cannot discuss questions which are extraterritorial, I would like to know what jurisdiction the Department has in connexion with matters outside of Australia.
– It does not rule all the world, although it is the External Affairs Department.
-May I suggest to the Chair that under the Department of External Affairs we might discuss questions relating to the Panama Exposition and the High Commissioner’s Office in Great Britain? All matters which have an international relation to Australia may, I take it, be properly brought up on the Estimates for that Department. I regret, sir, if, by your ruling, the Committee is denied an opportunity of discussing a question which has a very close relation to the Defence policy of Australia.
– Order ! I cannot allow a discussion like this to continue. As regards one case proposed to be submitted by the honorable member, I ruled that it was out of order on the ground that it was not connected with the External Affairs Department. I suggest to the honorable gentleman that if he disagrees with the ruling, there is one course open to him. When he refers to other matters I will give a ruling.
– May I, in discussing these Estimates, ask the Minister to request the High Commissioner to deny a statement which is inaccurate, and which was made by a gentleman who formerly occupied the position of Governor-General of Australia?
– Order ! The honorable gentleman is now trying to get in in another form what I have ruled he cannot do.
– Would I be in order, sir, in proceeding in that way?
– If you will allow me, I will dispose of the matter in one act now. The answer is “ No.”
– The Committee can ask the Minister to do so, and he probably will take its instruction.
– I do not think it is very likely that the Committee will.
– The honorable member ought not to anticipatewhat the Committee may do. However, sir, if you deny me the right to bring this matter forward in this wide discussion on the Department of External Affairs, I will have to take another opportunity. I have already spoken on the question of the Northern Territory. I regret that the Ministry has not submitted a general policy, so that the House could discuss the whole question of the Territory, instead of always compelling honorable members to deal with the Territory on the Estimates. It is a subject of sufficient importance to be discussed in the House, and in a way which would cause the Government of the day to bring down a comprehensive policy for the development of the Territory, which is constantly costing the Commonwealth enormous sums, without any appreciable result. It is unfair that honorable members should be denied an opportunity of discussing a general policy, and should be constantly called upon to discuss the matter on the Estimates within a space of time which does not enable them to do justice to the subject, and which at the same time precludes us from coming to a definite conclusion or instructing the Minister what kind of a policy he is to carry out. Several years ago the Commonwealth took over the Northern Territory, for the reason that the South Australian Government had failed to develop the country as rapidly as should have been done. It has been under our control for a number of years, but we have lamentably failed to do anything which is calculated to lay down even the foundations of a general policy of development.
– You are now blaming your own Government.
– I am not discussing the question from a party stand-point. It is a question which belongs to this Parliament, and, indeed, to Australia. As this Parliament undertook the great and serious responsibility of settling the country, it should take the problem in hand and deal with it in a way which would give some results, or would, at any rate, lay down, the foundations of an effective scheme. I believe that there is a good deal of misconception regarding the Territory. In my opinion, its development is one of the most perplexing and difficult problems which could be laid upon the shoulders of any Minister. The Minister of External Affairs should take the Committee into his confidence. He should launch a general policy, so that we could have an opportunity to discuss the various aspects of the question and come to a final determination. I agree with the remark made by the honorable member for Gippsland this afternoon, that a policy for the Territory is a matter which cannot be taken hold of piecemeal or paltered with. I consider that we can only induce persons to go to the Territory by expending probably millions of pounds on public works. I would not confine the expenditure to the mere building of railways, but would expend the money in the construction of public works generally, with the view to inducing settlement. We have heard a good deal to-night to the effect that this country can only be settled by the grazier penetrating the interior, and that the grazier will only establish grazing areas when railways are constructed to provide him with the means of transport. I would like to know how it is that the grazier has not penetrated the interior of the Territory in the same way as the grazier penetrated the back country in the early stages of the settlement of every State of the Commonwealth. There must be a very sufficient reason why the pioneer settler has not gone into the back country of the Territory and opened it up, in order that it might warrant the construction of railways.
– All the country that is any good is occupied to-day.
– I think ‘that there is a good deal to be said in support of the interjection from the grazing standpoint.
– That is why South Australia got rid of the Territory.
– If it is worked out on something like a systematic basis it will probably be found that its grazing capacity has been largely tested already.
– I told you that men do not go into the Territory because they cannot get stock to market.
– If you question the large graziers in Queensland and the Territory you will find out that the transport of bullocks or cows is not a very difficult matter if there is water on the road, and is a very much cheaper method of getting stock to market-
– But they have not got water.
-If it is a wellwatered country there should be water on the road. I know that the transport of stock from the Barclay Tablelands, which are now producing most of the cattle, is through the north, and that the farther north they go the better is the rainfall and, therefore, the water supply. If the Territory is ever going to be developed it must have a coastal trade, which, of course, can only be established by having freezing works. We know that the honorable member for Angas, when he ‘ was Minister of External Affairs, came to an agreement to establish freezing works somewhere within the influence of the port, in order that we might create an export trade. To open that country we need to copy the policy of railway construction adopted in the different States, that is, to run our lines out from suitable ports into the interior, and tap the best country, and thus encourage people to open it up. I do not say that the north to south line will not need to be constructed. We have to carry out that work, and we should do it as the first line to connect the north with the south. When the proposal to take over the Northern Territory was before Parliament, I contended that our hands should not be tied by the obligation to build that line; but I hold now that, having agreed to take over that Territory, honorable members did so with all its responsibilities, and it is a solemn obligation upon us to construct the line from north to south. There is only one method by which we can have anything like dense population in the Northern Territory, and that is by the establishment of agriculture, and agricultural settlements can only be established in the most tropical parts where there is a good rainfall, and where there are rivers enabling water to be conserved, thus facilitating intense cultivation. No one has attempted to show that my contention in that regard is wrong. The honorable member for Grey has spoken of 80,000,000 acres of land on the Barclay Tablelands suitable for raising cattle, and no one disputes his statement. He also said, _on the authority of the honorable member for Kennedy, that the area would probably need to be cut up into stations of about 20,000 acres - I believe that the limited rainfall there would necessitate its being held in very large areas - which means that it will only carry a population of 4,000 or 5,000 people, the population of a good-sized village. At Darwin the rainfall is 62 inches, and 200 miles south, at Katherine River, it is 40 inches. There are 70,000 square miles between Darwin and Katherine River.
– All the rain falls in the hot weather.
– That is why it must be conserved, so that an agricultural population may use it all the year round. There is sufficient rainfall, with an extensive river system between Darwin and the Katherine River, to carry an agricultural population, and probably the greatest proportion of the mineral deposits situated within that tropical portion of the Northern Territory. There is a further area of 50,000 square miles from the Katherine River to Newcastle Waters, 150 miles further south, where the rainfall is 20 inches. The distance between Newcastle Waters and the southern boundary of the Northern Territory is about 550 miles, and the rainfall drops from 20 inches at Newcastle Waters to 5$ inches at the southern boundary. I think every one will agree that this lower portion of the Northern Territory, with so light a rainfall, can only support a population on very large holdings, on which the number of sheep or cattle must be relatively small. It is doubtful whether it will pay to run a railway through that country except as a great national artery connecting the northern with the southern part of the continent. The future hone of the Northern Territory lies in agricultural settlement. There is no reason why we should not have some dairying under a system of irrigation along the rivers.
– And feed the cattle on spear grass.
– No, on lucerne. The honorable member apparently does nol know that there are irrigation settlements in Australia equal to anything in the world. There are, in South Australia and in Victoria, several irrigation areas. The only way to have the Territory developed will be by close settlement on irrigation areas devoted to the growth of fodder, mixed farming, and a system of dairying. There is plenty of markets available for dairy products. Great Britain at present imports milk products to the value of about £33,000,000 per annum.
– But a great deal of that land is often 6 feet or 7 feet under water.
– That is quite true, and on those flats there is no reason why we should not grow all the rice we require in Australia. I am not speaking of this matter from a theoretical point of view. I have been in the Northern Territory, and have seen the country about which I am talking. I believe that there are flats along the Adelaide River that could be put under rice in the course of time.
– Saltwater flats.
– No ; freshwater flats. There are flats which could be inundated by the fresh water of the river which receives its supply from the higher landa of the Northern Territory.
– What about the economic position?
– If we had the old system of the wooden plough and the reaping-hook in the Mallee we could not compete in the world markets with India or any other low-wage country, but we do so by the use of the latest agricultural implements and labour-saving machinery. I see no reason why jute should not be grown in the northern part of the Northern Territory. We ought to be able to do it by the inventive genius of the British devising new appliances enabling us to compete with the lower pan labour of other parts of the world. However, I have no wish to discuss details. We have a great burden of responsibility resting on us, and it remains for the initiative and genius of this Parliament to find some means of settling the Northern Territory. We can only achieve a satisfactory result by every honorable member attempting to suggest some constructive policy applicable to country of this kind. It has been denied that irrigation can be successfully undertaken in a tropical country; but India supports almost twothirds of her population by means of irrigation. In the Herbert division, about 40 miles from Townsville, a splendid example of what can be done with irrigation is afforded by the sugar plantation of Messrs. Drysdale Bros., one of whom is an engineer. They have put down spear pipes into the sand, and they also pump from the lagoons. The plantation is situated on the delta of the Burdekin River.
– Where will you get those conditions in the Northern Territory?
– In the Northern Territory water can be conserved on the surface. Messrs. Drysdale Bros. are cutting up their land, and selling the freehold in conveniently-sized blocks to cultivators whom they supply with water, and probably not even in Utah is there a better system of water control. The settlers are sure of a permanent supply of water, and the plantations are among the most successful in Queensland. Something of that kind can be done in the Northern Territory. Knowing, as I do, what is done in the Murray Valley, I can testify to the value of the application of water to the land. I should like to touch on a number of other points, but time does not permit now. I ask the Minister if I may continue my remarks.
– The honorable member has made two speeches.
– There are several particulars regarding rainfall that I wish to bring out.
– What the honorable member has said about irrigation is largely a repetition of his previous speech.
– I wish to emphasize my views. The Minister told me on a previous occasion that he was willing to look into the possibilities of irrigation in the Northern Territory, and to obtain from India, or some other place where large experience of irrigation has been gained under tropical conditions, an expert engineer to report on the subject. We could afford to pay £4,000 or £5,000 to an expert for a report on the possibilities of the Northern Territory. Such a man would show us how we could best establish agriculture by means of irrigation. The utilization of the whole of the grazing area within the Territory can afford a means of livelihood to only a few thousand persons at best. If the Territory is to carry anything like a dense population, agriculture must be fostered there, and for that irrigation is necessary. The bulk of the mineral deposits of the Territory, excepting those on the Macdonnell Ranges, lie on each side of the line from Darwin to Pine Creek, which runs through about 140 miles of country. English capitalists have spent a million pounds at least in prospecting that country, but have abandoned operations because they could not find deep lodes. We shall have to spend a great deal of money if our search is to be more thorough than theirs has been.
– Bottomley’s company found a lode at 700 feet.
– The lode has generally ended with a dyke formation, and the companies would not go lower, because there was no chance of getting payable gold. I do not say that there are not large mineral deposits in the Territory, but it must be admitted, after the work of the British companies, that the prospects of mineral development are not bright.
– How many places were tried?
– They established an iron blow, and four or five companies were operating at different places.
-All the money was spent on the surface.
– Because they could not find deep lodes. The area of Australia is about 3,000,000 square miles, of which about one-third has a rainfall of less than 10 inches. The alienated area comprises 102,000,000 acres, which is about 5¾ per cent of the whole.
– The honorable member has reached the time limit.
Bill presented by Mr. Tudor, and read a first time.
Control of Food Supplies - Compulsory Military Training: Statement by Lord Denman.
Motion (by Mr. Tudor) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I want to take this opportunity of making a few remarks in reference to the food supplies of the people of this country. The position at present is very serious, and it is becoming more serious every day. I expressed the opinion, at an early stage at and after the recent elections, that this session should be practically a non-party session, dealing with war preparations, finance, and unemployment, and with the food supplies of the people, including the acquiring of power to adequately grapple with the latter question.
A great deal of our time has already been taken up by matters relating to the war, but as to the question of food supplies nothing has been done. The Minister in charge of the Department which has the subject of exports under its jurisdiction is very obliging when asked for any information, or to have any inquiries made, and my complaint is not directed against the Minister in this respect, but against the Government as a whole. The Government ought to operate over a much larger field, and more effectively, than it does. It ought to show more initiative and originality, more public-spirited aggressiveness, in dealing with a position such as that with which we are now faced, than it does. Difficulty has arisen particularly in regard to wheat, flour, butter, meat, sugar, and fodder.
What is the position with regard to wheat and flour ? Only a short time ago 100,000 tons of our own flour were exported to New Zealand. Now, in Sydney, we are faced with a flour famine.
– What we exported to New Zealand was wheat, and it was exported on the express understanding that it would be paid back to the New South Wales Government.
– But when will it be paid back ?
– I do not know. New Zealand only got it on that distinct understanding.
– Supposing it is paid back after the new season’s crops are in, and we have no need for it; what will be the position? Apparently, according to the statement of the Minister, he does not know when it is going to come back. This is an absurd position for the National Government to be in.
Then we come to butter. We are told that large consignments of Australian butter have been sent to London, and have had to be shipped back to Australia because of the shortage here. That also is an absurd position for us to be placed in; and I say that the Government, which has control over the exports from Australia, ought to have sufficient information upon which it could take steps to prevent such a thing.
There is also the supply of meat. The Minister is endeavouring to find out what meat is in cold storage. Questions are being asked day after day about it; butI understand, with the machinery at his disposal, the Minister is not able to obtain accurate and reliable information as to the actual position.
– We can only deal with that meat which is placed in storage for export. If they do not place it for export, we have no power. The honorable member knows that as well as I do.
– If we had an Intelligence Department organized for the express purpose of finding out the position, and keeping the House posted iu regard to the food supply of Australia - the amount produced, the amount exported, the requirements of the people, local shortages, and market prices - if we had such a Department connected with the Department of Trade and Customs, perhaps we should be able to obtain this information. It could, for instance, cooperate with the States in this matter.
In regard to the threatened shortage of sugar, we are in a position that I can only describe as humiliating. We are right on the eve of a sugar famine, and yet we are dependent for all the information that is supplied to us as to the close proximity of this famine upon one individual, who represents a private company in Australia.
– But Mr. Hall says that you are not within measurable distance of a sugar famine, and will not be.
– Let anybody go into the shops of Sydney, and try to obtain sugar. They will find out. The first thing to be done is for this Government to have some machinery which will obtain information as to the’ movements of our foodstuffs at all times. It is intolerable that we should be in the position we are in to-day, when, at the eleventh hour, we are threatened with famine, when extraordinary prices are in operation, and when we have to start scurrying round with inefficient and ineffectual make-shift arrangements to find out the position in which the people are situated with regard to their food. I hope sincerely some immediate steps will be taken to create a Department to deal with this matter.
– You have seen the statement that the 16,000 tons of sugar necessary to tide us over has been ordered.
– I have seen the statement.
– Who has it been ordered by?
– By Mr. Knox, after consultation with the State Government.
– I say there is practically a famine in sugar now.
– Oh, no.
– Oh, yes, there is. I have been buying sugar during the past week end in various shops in Sydney. To get half-a-dozen pounds it is necessary to go to probably half-a-dozen shops.
– Or get half-a-dozen people to go.
– They have been pulling the honorable member’s leg.
– They have been doing nothing of the kind, because where I went the tradesmen did not know me at all. It is no use trying to turn this into a jesting matter. I have been in my electorate this week end, and I find that the women who have to do their shopping are at their wits’ end to know what to do to keep their families supplied with proper food.
– Where are the sponsors of that doctrine of over-production we used to hear so much about?
– I am not talking about over-production. Honorable members opposite can try and side-track this matter if they like. With me and my electorate it is a serious matter, and I hope, for one thing, that there will be an immediate arrangement made so that we can have the information I have referred to supplied. If necessary, let the Government Statistician issue a monthly bulletin, as he does with other matters, dealing with questions of foodstuffs, prices, the stocks available, movements of supplies, and all that kind of thing.
– The position has been accentuated by State interference.
– God help the people if there had not been State interference. In New South Wales, where there has been interference, butter is ls. 4£d. per lb. In Victoria, where there has been no interference, butter is 2s. Id. per lb. There is a difference of 9d. a lb: in the price of butter as between Sydney and Melbourne.
– Butter is ls. 4$d. a lb. ! I think you will find it is not.
– It is ls. 4Jd. a lb. An increase was made this week end. It was ls. 3£d. a lb. up to this week end, but on Friday or Saturday the Necessary Commodities Commission gave permission for an increase up to ls? 4jd. per lb.
– It cannot be produced at that price.
– It can be produced. As a matter of fact the. North and South Coast districts of New South Wales have had one of the most prolific seasons in their history.
– They have, but it cannot be produced in Victoria.
– My honorable friend admits that the New South Wales butter-growing districts have had one of their best seasons. Usually New South Wales produces largely in excess of the requirements for local consumption. We are told in New South Wales that there is no butter because the Government will not increase the price above ls. 4½d. per lb. They have locked it up until they can get a better price for it.
– Your Minister today says there is nothing of the kind. Where are you ?
– The Minister is not in a position to know. The only thing the Minister can tell us is the quantity in cool store for export.
– Those were the figures I gave.
– The Minister cannot say whether butter is being hidden away, or stocked up privately. How does the right honorable member account for the fact that in ordinary times the dairying districts on the north and south coasts of New South Wales have produced largely in excess of local requirements, and that, although they have just enjoyed one of the best seasons ever experienced by them, it is not possible now to obtain butter in that State?
– I suppose that they are supplying the rest of Australia.
– The answer to that interjection is that since April last the Government of New South Wales have prevented the export of butter to any other State.
– I do not think so.
– No butter has been exported from New South Wales for two or three months:
– I do not think that is so.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs knows that the State Government have done something in the matter.
– I admit that they issued a proclamation to the effect stated by the honorable member, but I do not think it had the force of law.
– It may not have had the force of law. That is not the point. It had the effect pf stopping the export of butter to other States.
Something like 83,000 of our men enlisted to go to the war, and are receiving, as privates, 6s. a day. When the majority of. them enlisted, foodstuffs were available at normal rates; but the cost of supplying a household has since almost doubled. What is to become of the families of these men, who were prepared to go on comparatively short rations, whilst their breadwinners went to the front to fight the battles of the Empire? Largely because of the war, and largely because of the greed of some people, who think they can make a few extra pounds out of war conditions, the cost of maintaining the households of these men has practically doubled. And yet the families of these men are expected to live on 6s. a day. The situation demands some special action on the part of the Government. They ought not to wait till they are pushed a little here, and a little there, before they do something. These unrelated, spasmodic, and uncoordinated efforts accomplish little. They should endeavour to devise some means of helping the people. There should be resource, initiative, definiteness of aim and plan and righteous assertiveness.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– I suggest, first of all, that the Government should set up a department that will be able to supply accurate and immediate information concerning the supply and movement of foodstuffs, and so prevent the farce of ship-loads of butter and other commodities being sent to the other end of the world, only to be brought back again.
– The Minister has such machinery at the present time.
– He has not. -He cannot even tell us what meat is available in Australia to-day.
– Nor what quantity of butter, or any other commodity, is available.
– That is the Minister’s answer to the Leader of the Opposition.
– There are certain appointed places under the Commerce Act over which we have control; but we have no control over other places where such commodities may be stored.
– When a man sends some of his produce into the cooling chambers, prior to its export, then the Department of Trade and Customs, under the Commerce Act, can come in and make inquiries.
– That is so. That is the only power we have.
– There should be available to the Government machinery by which they could obtain more information, and more minute details of the position in regard to our foodstuffs than can be secured at the present time. There should be in existence^ a Department that will make these inquiries without being prodded on to do so - a Department that will act on its own initiative, whose business it should be to collect this information ; to bring under the notice of the Commonwealth Government any movement that is likely to prejudice the interests of the people, and to find out means and suggest devices to counteract those exploiting the public. The sooner the Government efficiently create such a Department the better.
-We had one, hut our successors turned it down. I refer to the Commission consisting of Mr. Deakin, Mr. Knibbs, and Mr. Dugald Thomson. It was appointed to deal with these matters. I invite the honorable member to look at their reports.
– I have seen something of their reports. I do not think that Commission met the situation. But I am sorry this Commission has been destroyed without something more effective being created in its place.
– They sat for some months, and did nothing.
– Why does the Minister sit there telling falsehoods?
-The right honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– Whilst referring to commodities in respect of which there is a scarcity, I must not pass over the question of forage. Carters and others, who have to employ horses in connexion with their business, find it practically impossible to obtain fodder. Inquiries that have been made, however, show that there is plenty of fodder stored away in country districts. But every one is waiting for a rise. Holders of these supplies think that because of the war prices will go up, and they are holding on a little longer in the hope of securing a little more for their produce.
The machinery is not in existence to meet the situation. This is a defect which should be at once remedied. The Government should act even on the information at hand. I believe that they have ample power under the export laws, the War Precautions Act, and our statistical powers to deal with this matter.
The country is in a state of war, and surely if the Government find that those who have control of food supplies are manipulating the markets, that they are making money out of the war conditions that prevail - that they are. prepared to starve people and to starve the families of men who are fighting at the front - they should take action. The man who is prepared to starve the families of our soldiers at the front is one of the biggest traitors in the country.
– The biggest criminal in the country.
– I repeat such a man is one of the greatest traitors we have in the country. He is the enemy within our gates. I contend that the Government are not taking adequate steps to meet the situation, and that we have ample power under the War Precautions Act and the law relating to exports to deal with the whole matter. It is said that we need to have the Constitution amended.
– The honorable member, after making these strong statements, ought to go a little further. All these Governments have the power to do what they like so far as foodstuffs are concerned.
– Does the right honorable member include the Federal Government in that statement?
– I believe that they have the power, and the Leader of the Opposition confirms my view. At all events, I should like to see them exercise the powers they have. We should then learn whether they were really insufficient to cope with the situation. The Government ought certainly to exercise their ingenuity in endeavouring to devise means to meet the trouble.
– Proclaim martial law?
– If there were no other means of dealing with the matter I should be prepared to say that we should proclaim martial law to an extent sufficient to give the Government authority to deal with the foodstuffs of the people. At this hour it is impossible to discuss the question as one would like to deal with it, and to prepare a motion on the subject.
– I do not know what the honorable member hopes to gain by raising a matter like this at this hour.
– In my own way, in my own party, I have been doing what I can to impress upon the Government the seriousness of the situation, and I feel it is time that my constituents knew that I have expressed in the House my view as to what ought to be done, and that the Government should get a move on.
– I think the honorable member has chosen the very worst time to do this.
– I have availed myself of the only opportunity offering me. Private members’ day has been taken away, in order that the Government may occupy the time with Govern- ment business. Therefore, private members have to find their own time and opportunity to bring before the House matters which they consider to be urgent and important. I think I would not be doing my duty if I held silence longer. I consider this question of foodstuffs one of the most urgent and important that is before the country to-day, and second only to arranging for the despatch of troops and munitions to assist in the battles of the Empire.
– Let us deal with this tomorrow.
– We will approach the question again to-morrow ; and I hope that other honorable members will join me in making a demonstration which will impress on the Government the urgent necessity of action. With the expression of that hope, I shall leave the matter for the present ; but I trust that these few remarks will be taken into earnest consideration by the representative of the Government, and that the Ministry will do something to assist in mitigating what is almost a famine in the necessaries of life, on account of circumstances which have arisen out of the existing state of war.
Mr.SAMPSON (Wimmera) [11.6]. - Lord Denman, a former GovernorGeneral of Australia, writing to the London Times on the subject of “National Service,” is credited with having said -
In Australia its success has been acknowledged. The Labour party is fairly entitled to the credit of it. In my opinion, it is due chiefly to the efforts of Mr. Fisher, Senator Pearce, and Mr. Hughes.
The honorable member for Ballarat has just handed to me a copy of the Herald of this evening, in which the following cable message appears: -
Following upon his first letter to the Times on the subject of the adoption by Australia of universal military service, Lord Denman, formerly Governor-General of the Commonwealth, now writes to that journal to point out that it was at the invitation of a Liberal Ministry that Lord Kitchener went to Australia. Inasmuch as it was on his report that universal training was based, and as the Labour Government administered the scheme during the early years of its operation, the responsibility of its inception was shared by both political parties.
I am glad to read that modification of Lord Denman’s original statement, although his Lordship does not deny the statement I previously read. I regret very much that a former Governor-General, in advocat ing nationalservice in Great Britain, should have imported any names into the discussion; but as names have been so imported, it is only just to those to whom the real credit is due that their names also should be mentioned. In 1907, a comprehensive policy of universal service was outlined in this House as a matter of Government policy by Mr. Deakin.
– Supported by the Labour party.
– I admit that. That statement of policy was followed by a definite proposal by Sir Thomas Ewing of a policy of universal service, and concrete effect was given to it by an Act of Parliament introduced by the present Leader of the Opposition. If the names of three men who are most entitled to credit for having given concrete and statutory effect to the policy of national service are to be mentioned, those names should be the Honorable Alfred Deakin, Sir Thomas Ewing, and the Bight Honorable Joseph Cook.
– The present AttorneyGeneral was the first to advocate universal training in this House.
– As a matter of fact, Colonel Crouch was the first man who suggested universal training in this Parliament.
– He was not.
– I do not wish to be unfair. Indeed, I am glad that the policy of defence, which has been such a success, has generally been regarded as of a non-party matter, and I am willing to extend credit to the Labour party, together with the Liberal party, for having given loyal support to the Liberal policy. I am glad that we have had partial, if not complete, unanimity on the question of universal training. The former Governor-General showed questionable taste in introducing any political names into his advocacy of national service in England, but as that has been done, it is necessary that the credit should be placed where it is due, and I say again that the credit for giving concrete and statutory effect for the formulation of a policy of national service, the introduction of the policy into this House, and the placing of it on the statute-book, is due to the Hon. Alfred Deakin, Sir Thomas Ewing, and the Right Honorable Joseph Cook.
.- The hour is late, and I would prefer that the honorable member for Cook had brought the matter of foodstuffs before the House by moving the adjournment tomorrow. The Leader of the Opposition in an interjection made a remark which I think is worthy of note, and for once I am in agreement with him. The right honorable member said that in time of war the Federal Government have full power to do practically anything in regard to the control of foodstuffs. I believe that to be the case. In time of war the Federal Government are in the same position as they would have been in had the referenda proposals been carried.
– I said in association with the State Governments.
– There is no doubt “that the Federal Government have full power to do anything and everything that is necessary in the interests of the community. Some honorable members interjected, when the honorable member for Cook was speaking, that it would be necessary to proclaim martial law in order to take over supplies of butter, meat, and other commodities. The Government did not proclaim martial law when they seized the woollen goods throughout the Commonwealth at the commencement of the war, and appointed an officer to fix prices for the goods. They simply took that action in the interests of the defence of the Empire. What the Government were able to do in regard to woollen goods they can do with regard to wheat, sugar, butter, and other commodities. I charge Ministers with being negligent of, and unfaithful to, their duty, We are fighting an enemy outside Australia, but there is an enemy inside the Commonwealth that ought to be fought. I am sorry that the Acting Prime Minister is the only member of the Government present to hear what honorable members have to say on this question.
– Why do you not say it when Ministers are present?
– I will say what I think to-morrow. There is hardly one necessary of life that has not been increased enormously in price during the last few months. In Great Britain the purchasing power of a sovereign has dwindled to 15s., and I suppose it will decrease to the same extent in Australia. Fodder has risen in price, not because there is not sufficient obtainable in the
Commonwealth, but because supplies have been cornered by a few people. The Victorian Liberal Government have taken a whole month to make inquiries as to where commodities are being stored, and have not yet given an answer to questions on the subject. In the Federal_ arena there is a Labour Government in office, with full and unlimited power to deal with these matters at once, but they have not yet taken advantage of the opportunity to make the necessary inquiries. I hope to say more on this subject tomorrow.
.- The honorable member for Wimmera has done Lord Denman an injustice. Lord Denman, referring to compulsory military training, said -
In Australia its success is generally acknowledged. The Labour party is fairlyentitled to the credit of it. In my opinion, it is due chiefly to the efforts of Mr. Fisher, Senator Pearce, and Mr. Hughes.
There is nothing there about who advocated or introduced it. He simply says it was a success, and mentions the persons to whom the credit for the success is due.
– It is a partisan statement, whichever way you look at it.
– I said, when the honorable member for Wimmera was speaking, that the honorable member for Balaclava had said the same thing. In 1912, or before April, 1913, at the opening of the cement works at Geelong, the honorable member for Balaclava, who was then Premier of Victoria, said -
At different times he (Mr. Watt) had criticised the doings of the Federal Ministry, but whether it had done well or ill with regard to industrial or financial matters, there stood to its everlasting credit that the defence problem had been faced and met.
– What are you quoting from?
– The Argus report of Mr. Watt’s speech -
As a Liberal, he did not take any notice of those who claimed that the defence’ scheme was the product of Liberal thought. He did not caro who originated it ; but the ‘ people who had been sufficiently game to put ft into practice deserved their full share of the credit.
– That is an altogether different statement from that of Lord Denman, who left the impression on the public mind that the Labour party were entitled to the credit of initiating the scheme.
– Lord Denman says that the Labour party was entitled to the credit of the success, and the honorable member for Balaclava said exactly the same. The success could only have come from putting it into practice. No other Government could get a chance of the credit for its success, because shortly after the Bill was passed, the Deakin-Cook Government went out of office;. The original proposal was to train up to twenty-five years of age. That was opposed by the then Opposition, who wished the age fixed at twenty.
– What was the original proposal?
- Sir Thomas Ewing’s proposal, to which the honorable member for Wimmera referred.
– And who were the Opposition on that occasion ?
– The honorable member for Parramatta and his party.
– It was opposed by the Labour party, too.
– When the Fusion Government came into office and brought in their Defence Bill, the majority were strong enough to force on the Liberal section who had .joined them an alteration from the twenty-five years they proposed to twenty years. Then, when the Bill was in Committee, an amendment was moved from the then Opposition that the training should go up to twenty-five years of age, and one of the most pitiable sights I ever witnessed as the result of party government was to see Sir Thomas Ewing, who was understood to have got his knighthood for being the first Minister to propose compulsory training, voting against the twenty-five years’ limit, which was his original proposal, and for the twenty years. Then Lord Kitchener was brought out, and one of the things that gratified us who had stood up for the twenty-five years all through was to find Lord Kitchener backing up the twenty-five years. Had that Government remained in office I am satisfied that they would have carried out the twenty-five years’ proposal.
– What Government?
– Your Government.
– We pledged ourselves to it before Lord Kitchener came here.
– Your Bill was limited to the twenty years. When the other Government came in an amendment raising the age to twenty-five years was carried. That Government, and no other, had the chance to make a success of the scheme. Consequently they are entitled, as Lord Denman said, to the credit of making it a success.
– Not to the whole credit.
– To the whole credit of making compulsory training a success, because nobody else had a chance to share in that credit. The three men on whom the task really fell were the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General, and, above all, the present Minister of Defence. I mention that simply because the honorable member for Wimmera did not get a proper impression of the meaning of Lord Denman’s words, but did him an injustice by making it appear that his statement was wrong, whereas, as a matter of fact, the same credit was given to the Labour party by the honorable member for Balaclava, when speaking at Geelong.
– The honorable member for Gippsland, with his usual appearance of independence and judiciousness, and with his in-between attitude, has succeeded in a complete misrepresentation of the case.
– I will back my facts against any contradiction.
– I will put the honorable member’s facts against his fancies, and his facts will go down every time. The first man in this Parliament to suggest the training of youths was Colonel Crouch, not Mr. Hughes.
– Mr. Hughes, inside and outside the House, too.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. It is in Hansard that Colonel Crouch was the first to suggest the training of cadets; That was in connexion with the first Defence Bill. Then Mr. Hughes came along with a proposal for training everybody - I will not say a scheme, because there has never been a scheme of a workable character suggested in this Parliament by any Labour Government.
– Twenty-six of us supported thirteen Deakinites, and compulsory service was on our platform; it was never on Mr. Deakin’s platform.
– Compulsory service is only a name. All sorts of crazy schemes under that designation have been proposed to the House, and three or four of them were submitted by the AttorneyGeneral .
– You have just said that the Labour Government never proposed any.
– I am talking about the Attorney-General, and not about the Labour Government. Honorable members opposite will not keep quiet to hear a single sentence, so eager are they to import politics into this question. We see the same tendency in regard to the price of foodstuffs, and so forth ; and it is the curse of the situation t hat everything they do or say has a political aspect.
– What about the political aspect of the remarks of the honorable member for Wimmera ?
– The honorable member should ask what is the political aspect at the other end of the world.
– Do you want a coalition?
– Honorable members opposite seem much amused, but I do not know what about. I am referring to Lord Denman’s statement, which, standing by itself, and in the circumstances, is one that he would have done well not to make.
– We have not seen it yet.
– I mean that, if the report be a correct one, it is a statement that should not have been made.
– It is very indiscreet to judge a man by a short paragraph.
– I am qualifyingmy remarks in the way I have indicated. In any case, honorable members opposite are assuming that the report is true, and are claiming all the credit for the compulsory training. However, to-morrow is “ grievance day,” and I shall defer any further remarks on the point.
– Although it is “ grievance day “ to-morrow, and an opportunity will be presented for discussing these matters, it is only fair to impress on honorable members that the answer I gave to-day to the honorable member for Balaclava, regarding the statement by Lord Denman, as reported in the press, embodied my opinion that that gentleman was substantially correct in his utterance. That is the view I held then, and the view I hold now. As to what was said by the honorable member for Moreton, I have never denied that I voted against the Naval Bill. The fact is that, when the honorable member for Parramatta deliberately refused to speak, I voted against the Bill being further proceeded with until he had had an opportunity to speak ; and I should do the same again under the same circumstances. I know that when compulsory training was very unpopular, it was the Labour party who were blamed for introducing the policy. The Leader of the Opposition, the very last time he was in office, when referring to the imprisonment of cadets, denounced the previous Fisher Government for their connexion with the scheme of compulsory training. It would appear that the Labour party are to bear all the odium of introducing that measure, and to be denied any credit connected therewith.
– Nothing of the kind. That is another complete misrepresentation.
– As to the matter raised by the honorable member for Cook, I may say that about ten days ago the Government communicated with the AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales, through the Prime Minister and the Premier of that State, asking whether the wheat that had been lent to New Zealand had been returned. It will be seen, therefore, that we have not been unmindful of the matter. It was at the request of the Premier of New Zealand that this wheat was lent to tide the Dominion over a period when they were without any; and I shall ascertain by tomorrow whether any reply has been received.
– A fortnight is a long time fo wait for a simple answer.
– Answers to other inquiries have taken quite as long to arrive. The point is that the Government have endeavoured to get information. As to the prices of food, I am not sure what powers the Commonwealth has. It is all very well to say this is a time of war, and that we have complete power over foodstuffs
– Surely the Commonwealth has power to do something?
– The Commonwealth haa power to stop wholly or partially all exports at any lime; and this power the Government did exercise in the case of sugar the day after they came into power.
– You have power to make political capital out of the matter, and that is all you are doing !
– Honorable members opposite are apparently anxious that all they say, in their anxiety to make political capital, shall goout to the public, and no reply appear in Hansard. The Government have done everything possible in the way of trying to get information, though I do not think we have the power to obtain full information at the present time. Honorable members will admit that I always endeavourto afford information of thekind whether it be to a political friend or a political opponent; and I shall continue to do so while I remain in office. We have no power to fix prices, but we have taken action from time to time which,I think, has had a fairly marked effect in this connexion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 June 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1915/19150602_reps_6_77/>.