9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 11a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. MAKIN(by leave) withdrew his notice of motion for the disallowance of Ordinance No.7 of 1923 relating to Crown lands in the Northern Territory.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to state when he will be able to place the agenda paper of the Imperial Conference before the House?
– I cannot tell the honorable gentleman definitely. It will probably be the week after next, and certainly some time during the coming month.
– I understood the Prime Minister to say yesterday, in reply to a question by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), that Government business is to be taken in the order in which it is set down on the notice-paper.
– Government business now covers a number of measures, and I should like the Prime Minister to state what Bills are to be taken, in time to enable us to prepare to deal with them.
– I quite appreciate the difficulty in which honorable members will be if they do not know which of the Government measures they are to deal with first. I intend to mention, before we rise to-day, the work the Government propose to take next week. I shall follow that practice during the session, so that honorable members will have a reasonable opportunity to give consideration to the measures to which they desire to direct attention.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House when he intends to give consideration to the construction of the North-South railway in accordance with. the promise which Sir Henry Barwell says was made to him? Will it be before the honorable gentleman leaves for London, or after his return from the Imperial Conference?
– The construction of the North-South railway was dealt with in the published statement of the Government’s policy, and the announced proposal for the extension from the north will certainly be dealt with during the present session.
– It was in comment upon the policy’ announced by the Government’ that Sir Henry Barwell said that we need have no fear, because the Prime Minister had given him the promise that hewould consider the extension of the North-South railway from
Oodnadatta northwards, in addition to the proposal set out in the Government programme. I wish toknow whether the Prime Minister will honour that promise beforehe leaves for England or after his return?
– In question time I can hardly enter into a discussion with the honorable member on the subject of the North-South railway, but as he has referred to a promise I am alleged to have made, I think I should make my position perfectly clear.
– I like the word “ alleged.”
– I have never made any promise to any one to deal with the North-South railway in any particular manner. The announcement of the Government’s policy on the subject of the North-South railway will be found in the Governor-General’s Speech.
The following papers were presented : -
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1923 -
No. 20- Land (No. 2).
No. 21 - Succession Duties.
No. 22- Native Labour (No. 2).
No. 23- Appropriation 1922-23.
Northern Territory Land Ordinance No. 7 of 1923.
Mr. SPEAKER (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt). I have received from the honorable member for the Northern Territory an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House this morning to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., “ An Ordinance relating to Crown Lands in the Northern Territory, and the’ desirability of its cancellation.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– I take this course in view of the fact that the Ordinance to which I take exception, unless disallowed, will come into force to-morrow morning. The Northern Territory is afflicted by a system of government by Ordinances. These Ordinances are laid on the table of this House, and remain there for a specified period, after which, if no exception is taken to them, they automatically become law. The result of this practice is that 95 per cent. of the members of this
House have no idea of the laws that are being enacted for the government of the Northern Territory. This applies to Ordinance No. 7 of 1923, regulating Crown lands, which will, in effect, tie up the whole of the lands in the Northern Territory for a period extending over something like forty-two years. This is a matter of national importance, because “the proper use of land is the pivot upon which all development turns. If *his Ordinance is allowed to become law, it will nullify to a great extent the benefits which should accrue from the contemplated construction of railways in the Territory. I will not waste time in preliminaries, but for the benefit of honorable members will tell them what the Ordinance proposes. Clause 4 provides that-
In the old South Australian Land Acts there was no provision made- for resumptions.
It is intended under this Ordinance to make provision for resumptions, but they cannot possibly be effected before 1935. This is a great consideration to the lessees operating under the old South Australian Act, and they will take full advantage of it. Later I will show that this Ordinance is decidedly to the interests, of the big land monopolists; and its machinery is such as to afford protection to them in every possible way. Section 32 of the Ordinance reads -
Ifr. Nelson. in the lease, but ‘he shall be bound by the other covenants. . ,
That provision is, purely and simply, a “get out.” Sub-section 3 of section 34 reads -
The rent payable under pastoral leases granted in pursuance of this Ordinance, in exchange for leases existing on the commencement of this Ordinance, shall be subject to reappraisement by .the Board on the first day of July, 1935, the first day of July, 1945, and the first day of July, 1955; but so that the rental shall in no case be increased by more than 50 per centum of the rental payable during the twelve months immediately preceding the date on which the re-appraisement takes effect.
That provision makes practically a gift to the leaseholders. Many hundreds of these leases are expiring by effluxion of time; but, by taking advantage of this Ordinance, the land-holders will be able to obtain a renewal for forty-two years. In addition, it is definitely laid down that the rentals are not to exceed by more than 50 per cent, those existing twelve months immediately prior to reappraisement. I have an analysis of the whole of. the land-holdings in the Northern Territory. The famous Barkly Tablelands ar,e really a continuation of the Great .Western Queensland sheep country. A wire fence marks the boundary between Queensland and the Northern Territory. On the Queensland side of the fence the rentals range from 26s. to 40s. per square mile, but on the Northern Territory side they range, from ls. to 6s. Under this Ordinance, in fortytwo years’ time, the rentals for the pastoral leases on the tablelands of. the Northern Territory, in many cases, will not exceed 6s. per square mile, while in Queensland, for the very same land, the rental will be anything from £5 to £10 per square mile. Sub-section 3 of section 34 of the .Ordinance has a far-reaching effect, and I’ ask honorable members -to give it their serious consideration. Section 44 reads -
The outgoing lessee may continue in occupation until notice in writing has been given by or on behalf of the Board that an application for a new lease of the land or some part thereof has been accepted’ or a new lease thereof granted,, or that the incoming lessee has paid or duly arranged for payment of the amount payable for (improvements.
Under that section it will be almost impossible for the small man to take up land. There is no provision to prohibit a. large land-holder from making improvements on a property four or five years immediately prior to the date of resumption, thus ‘causing it to be absolutely impossible for a small’ man to obtain the land because of the resultant valuation. The land will then automatically revert to the leaseholder under, a grazing; licence. There is a specified period during which persons may ‘hold a given area, but there is such a thing as eating out a property, and this a large squatter easily accomplishes by shifting the whole of his herd to “ one centre, thus in a very short time destroying its usefulness ‘as a grazing proposition for many years to come. The small man should be protected.
– Is th» rental of the lease fixed by auction?
– No; it is re-appraised by a Board. Section 52 sets out the various rentals. In the Victoria River district, which country is far superior to that of the Tablelands district, the rental will be not less than 2s. 6d’., and not more than 6s., per square mile. In the Barkly Tablelands district it will be not less than 6s., and not more than 8s., per square mile. Allowing for increases of 50 per cent., it will be possible to obtain only 12s. a square mile for these huge tracts of land during the next forty-two years. Sub-section 3 of section 52 reads - tin the event of the rental fixed for a lease included in paragraph (B) of sub-section (1) of this section not being satisfactory to the lessee, the lessee may within six months after receiving notice from the Board of the rental fixed, elect to retain the old lease, and the surrender of the old lease and the grant of the new lease shall thereupon be void.
This sub-section really places the lessee in the position of being able to play with the Board. He informs the Board that he will surrender ‘his lease. The Board re-appraises the lease, and if the new rental is satisfactory to the lessee nothing is said, but, if not, he surrenders the lease, and it is subsequently handed back to him. One can imagine the effect that will have on the Board. They know perfectly well that they cannot alter the basis of the rental. Section 55 reads -
When it is intended to make any resumption under section 53 of this Ordinance, the Minister shall refer the matter to the Board, and the Board shall determine the resumption in accordance with the following rules ….
The section then sets out the conditions under which the resumptions are to take place, and one of these, sub-clause d, reads -
The part or parts which, may be resumed shall not comprise the head station, or any of the leased lands within five miles thereof, or the principal watering .places upon the land.
This means that the holders of big leases - and by big leases I mean those which cover 10,000 or 12,000 square miles - can, when resumption takes place, retain the whole of the- water frontages, thus compelling newcomers to do expensive boring and provide for water conservation. Any scientific method of subdividing land should first of all take into consideration its natural advantages, and distribute them’ as far as possible among the various holdings into which it is subdivided. The water frontages should not be permitted to be monopolized by any one individual. Under this Ordinance it is impossible for the small subdivisions’ to be within five miles of water. Some members of the House perhaps do not know that cattle will feed only within a radius of five miles from water, so that* a grazing subdivision with water in the centre- of it must not exceed ten miles in diameter, this being as far as the cattle will walk. The Ordinance would make” it impossible for the cattle of the small men to travel to the natural waters. Section 58 stipulates that -
The Minister shall, on the request of a lessee; made at least two years before- any date of resumption, in lieu, of; resuming any lands held under a lease, .permit the lessees to subdivide, for closer settlement purposes ….
That section defeats the whole object of the Ordinance. It gives the holder the right, provided he- lodges a request within a stated period, to say “ I shall not allow you to resume my land. I am going to subdivide it.” This nullifies the whole object of the Ordinance, and, in the interests of the development of the Territory, should not be permitted to remain. Section 59 also merits serious consideration -
Until resumed lands are allotted to other persona, the lessee may continue to occupy the lands, under an annual occupation licence, at a rental computed at the annual rate last payable by him in respect of those lands, and on the conditions provided in the lease as far as applicable.
The Board may determine any such licence at any time niter three months’ notice to the lessee.
That, again, is one of the sections which make it .possible for the ‘big man to destroy the value of land by over-stocking the area which he has to give up, thus making it impossible for the man who takes it up to get anything off it. It is general knowledge that, in pioneering, the first period of a man’s efforts on the land decides the success or otherwise of his future activities. It he starts on a block which has been eaten out, ruin stares him in the face. The Government should at least take reasonable precautions to protect incoming interests. Section 68, sub-section b, provides -
A covenant by the lessee that he will establish a home on the land within two years after the commencement of the lease, and, subject to any exemption granted by the Board for cause shown, that he will thereafter reside on the leased land for a period .of six months in each year in the case of land for cultivation, and four months in each year in the case of land for mixed farming and grazing.
Those covenants are certainly essential. There is also provision for a covenant by the lessee that he will “ cultivate the land to the extent and in the manner notified by the Board.” I wish to draw the attention of the House to the “fact that this section occurs in division 3, which relates to agricultural leases. It is the only reaference in the whole of the Ordinance to improvements, and it is applicable only to agriculturists. None of these conditions is imposed upon the big man, but the smaller man, who takes up agricultural land, is compelled to do a’ number of things, including the fencing of his land. What would .happen if we asked the man who is in possession of 10,000 or 12,000 square miles to erect a front fence on his property. There is no logical reason why he should not be compelled to do it. When these conditions are enforced only against the small settler and agriculturist, the position is extremely unfair. Section 75 sets out that -
FA’ery miscellaneous lease shall express the purpose for which it is granted, and shall contain a covenant by the lessee that he will use the leased land only for the purpose expressed in the lease.
It will be seen that the little man is tied up very effectively, while many precau-‘ tions are taken to help the big man. Although this Ordinance was framed to pro- vide for resumptions, the House . should know that there is no necessity for the Government to frame any Ordinance for the purpose of acquiring land’ in the Northern Territory. I have figures which prove conclusively - and I defy contradiction - that the total leases which will expire from 1934 to 1944 number 223. These will expire automatically by effluxion of time, and many of them contain thousands of square miles.
– Does the honorable member know the aggregate” area ‘!
– I have not worked that out, but I know the dates on which the various expirations will take place. It. should be borne in mind that no resumption can take place under the Ordinance before 1935. Two leases will expire in 1934, 11 in 1935, 12 in 1936, 45 in 1937, 18 in 1938, 19 in 1939, 11 iu 1940, 8 in 1941, 36 in 1942, 42 in 1943, and 19 in 1944. These figures show a total of 223 leases expiring in the years I have stated. Thus more land will be made available by the expiration of leases than the contemplated Ordinance can ever hope to provide. These lauds in ordinary circumstances would revert to the Crown, whereas under the Ordinance the landholders could subdivide them and defeat the object of the enactment. I have already intimated to the House that the Ordinance, if not disallowed or withdrawn, will come into force to-morrow. That is’ why I have had to move the adjournment of the House to-day. T claim that an Ordinance which is applicable to one-fifth of the total area of Australia should not become law merely by virtue of having laid on the table of this House -for a given time. It is of most urgent and national importance that such an Ordinance should be discussed by the whole House in the interests of the development, of not the Northern Territory only, but the whole of Australia. Yet the existence of this Ordinance, which may retard the future development of Australia, was unknown to many honorable members. . No pastoral lessee in the Territory pays a greater rent than 4s. per square mile. Therefore, even with the 50 per cent, increase provided for in the Ordinance, it will be impossible for the Board which will control the leases to secure a greater rental than 6s. per square mile for the next forty odd years. I believe the Government are serious in their intention to assist the development of the Territory, but their new Ordinance will not facilitate the resumption of land. As a matter of fact, under the existing arrangements, a greater area will revert to the Crown at an earlier date than will be possible under the new scheme. . It is in the interests of the development, not only of the Territory, but also of the whole of Australia, that I have claimed the attention of honorable members.
– The thanks of the House are due to the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) for bringing forward at such an early stage the matter to which he has drawn attention. This enables the Government to tell honorable members what steps have been - taken to facilitate the development of the Northern Territory. The Ordinance to which the honorable member has referred has been prepared for the purpose of enabling the resumption of pastoral leases to be brought about more speedily than has been possible in the past. These leases are held, in the first place, under the provisions of a South Australian Act of 1901, which superseded an Act of 1899, and, in the second place, under the Northern Territory Ordinance which is now to be superseded by the recently issued Ordinance to which the honorable member has drawn attention. Under the terms of the Northern Territory Acceptance Act of 1911, the Commonwealth Parliament cannot interfere with the operation of the South Australian Act. Leases taken up under the terms of that Act do not expire for at least another twenty-two years, and there is no provision for resuming them except for agricultural or township purposes.
The conditions in the Northern Territory are similar to those that prevailed in New South Wales and Queensland seventy or even a hundred years ago, and, just as there has been an evolution in the development of those States, we hope that the leases in the Northern Territory will be followed by smaller pastoral holdings. However, at present there is no provision enabling the areas held under the South Australian law to be subdivided for pastoral purposes. For example, the Bovril Company hold 13,000 square miles under terms which the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1911 will not permit us to alter.
– There are certain stocking and improvement conditions which have not been enforced.
– The object the Government had in view was to bring about an arrangement which would permit of these areas being subdivided and utilized for closer pastoral purposes in the immediate future. We have, therefore, come to an agreement with the holders of these leases held under the South Australian Act and under our own Ordinance which will permit of the necessary resumption. We have also drawn up a new Ordinance which provides that for pastoral purposes 25 per cent. of the area of a lease may be resumed in twelve years’ time, and that in another ten years another 25 per cent. of the area may be resumed. Thus, within twenty-two years the Crown will be in a position to resume half the area of. a lease held under the South Australian law. At present it is impossible to do so. Obviously, if the Commonwealth Government are to pursue a policy of building railways for the purpose of developing the Northern Territory there must be some means of making land available for pastoral settlers.
– What leases will fall due within the next twenty-two years?
– Scarcely any.
– There will be 223 leases falling due.
– The bulk of the area that should prove valuable for closer pastoral purposes is in the Victoria River district and on the Barkly Tableland. Six leaseholders in the former district and eleven on the Barkly Tableland hold the bulk of the area available. The leaseholders in the Victoria River district depend on natural water in the streams which exist there. On the Barkly Tableland water is obtained by pumping from sub-artesian wells. The Government could not proceed with a developmental policy in the Northern Territory to increase the carrying capacity of the land and provide revenue for the railways it is proposed to build without first coming to some agreement with the present leaseholders that would permit of early resumptions. That is exactly what the new Ordinance provides.
– What is the average length of the existing leases ?
– The average length is forty-two years, and as many of the leases taken up under the South Australian law date from 1901, it will be 1943 before they fall due. Those which were taken up under the same law at a later date will, ofcourse, not fall due until later than 1943. In the Victoria River district the average rental at present is1s.10d. per square mile, and the new Ordinance provides for 2s. 6d. ; while on the Barkly Tablelands the rental average is 2s. 7d., and the Ordinance provides for 3s. At the present time leases are held on rates varying from 1s. to 6s. per square mile. It is necessary, of course, to offer some inducement to the present holders; we cannot expect them to surrender land within twenty years without some compensating advantages, and the advantages are to be offered in the way proposed. The leases held under Commonwealth Ordinances are in a different position from those under the Ordinances of South Australia. There will not merely be power to handle the land already leased according to the Ordinances, but all new lands will be dealt with by the Land Board to be appointed, and the terms of future leasing will be gazetted so that the intending lessees may know exactly where they stand. The terms and conditions will be laid down by the Land Board on the spot. The provisions of this Ordinance do not apply to future leases, but only to leases the owners of which are surrending part of their holdings. It can be contended with absolute truth, that the terms offered are really no better than the terms they actually have. They have complete control of those huge areas for twenty-two years without a break, and the bulk of the land is held on a leasehold value of1s. per square mile. It is estimated that under the new Ordinance of the Government in five years the revenue derived from leases will rise from £18,000 to £75,000, and in addition, there is an opportunity for the Government to do something in the way of resumption. The Ordinance is framed for this very purpose, and it represents a forward step in the development of the Territory, permitting, as it will, areas to be cut up at a much earlier date than otherwise. The advantages to the Commonwealth are, in my opinion, much greater than under the previous Ordinances.
. -The Commonwealth has undertaken the responsibility.of administering this immense Territory of 500,000 square miles - six times the size of Victoria - and it is important to make sure that its administration should not be by secret diplomacy or private and departmental arrangement, and that the Parliament shall have absolute control. The outstanding feature of the Ordinance is that it entirely changes the conditions without any notification to Parliament or one act of legislation; it is an Ordinance which the Government hoped to slip through without observation. I venture to say that no man ever had any other idea than that when the Government took over this Territory its affairs would be dealt with by legislative” action, on which every member of this Parliament would have an opportunity of expressing an opinion.
– Previous Ordinances were treated in the same way.
– It is well known that under all Acts of Parliament certain matters must be the subject of regulation, but in the creation of powers, involving great principles and vital changes of policy, everything must be done with discretion and judgment; and from that point of view we have to examine the vast changes proposed. It is said that since these leases do not expire for another twenty years, it is necessary for the Government, by Ordinance, to do something in the interim ; and the proposals are sub-‘ mitted as important for the development of the Territory. We have to satisfy ourselves that the Government have acted throughout with judgment and discretion, and the desire to achieve their alleged object, namely, to secure resumption. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has told us that what the Government proposes to do under this Ordinance is not to achieve the purpose which it alleges, but to impose conditions which will make ‘impossible that very purpose. That allegation was supported, not merely by affirmation, but by facts. It is first of all laid down that, since these properties may be resumed, the leases must be surrounded with conditions making it impossible for a poor man to participate, because of the lack of water supply and other difficulties. The present lessees are told that if they do not wish to take up new leases they may retain their old leases until such time as they care to part with them. It is proposed, in this year 1923, to renew leases which, according to the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) will not expire for another twenty years. That statement by the Treasurer is not correct, but it is what he has told the House. It appears, then, that a man to-morrow may get a renewal, although his existing, lease does not expire, according to the Minister, for twenty years, but, as a fact, many expire in the next nine or ten years. It will be possible, therefore, for a man, by the expenditure of a few shillings per square mile, to obtain a renewed lease that will continue to 1970 or 1980. If renewals are to be, given, surely the Government should wait until the time approaches when the present leases fall due, so that we may be able to see the change of conditions in the next ten or twenty years. If renewals are given, they should be based on conditions, not as they exist to-day, but as they will exist ten, fifteen, or twenty years hence. It has been pointed out that the Queensland Government are to-day receiving rents running from. 30s. to 40s. per square mile ‘for country in the western districts . of the State, and yet for the samel country on, the other side of the boundary between Queensland and the Northern Territory the Commonwealth Government propose to give renewals of leases for fifty yearsat rentals of 2s., 3s., and 4s. per square, mile. They propose; further, to extend the North-South railway through the country to which these renewals of. leases will apply.
– Does the Ordinance make any provision for re-appraisement of rent at certain periods 1?
– Yes, so long as the increase does not exceed 50 per cent.
– The Minister, in replying to the honorable member for the Northern Territory, said there were no leases falling due’ on Victoria Downs and the Barkly Tablelands, but I can refer him to ‘a few that will be a sufficient answer to his statement. I find that on the Barkly Tablelands three leases, comprising, respectively, 300 square miles, 300 square miles, and 900 square miles, fall due in 1935. There is one of 624 square miles and another of 400 square males falling ‘due in 1936. These are typical cases. In all the circumstances, there is a distinct obligation on the Government to postpone the enactment of this Ordinance until honorable members have been given a full opportunity to consider and discuss it.
.- I’ feel that the House owes a debt of gratitude to the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). He has set us all an example of how to present a case. He has set out the facts without heat or passion, and so clearly that even though we may not have suspected for a moment what is about to be done under the Ordinance we now realize that it relates to matters of very great importance. Honorable members will realize that I know something about this question. I have always viewed with suspicion and distrust these great holdings in the Northern Territory, which somehow or another contrive to retard its development. I do not hesitate to say that they have done this. I do not hesitate to say, further, that if these holdings were in New South Wales or Victoria the leases would have been forfeited long ago. Unless one is to disbelieve entirely the evidence of quite disinterested persons, very many of the great lessees of estates in the Northern Territory flagrantly disregard the regulations for the improvement of their leases. We are here dealing with a potentially great kingdom. We must remember that Melbourne was but a hamlet seventy years ago, and iti the fullness of time - and within not a very long period - we shall’ have a great population in the Northern Territory. The conditions of land-tenure have done more than anything else to squeeze people off the land of this country into the great cities. The- Government propose to perpetuate these conditions, and do so with their eyes open. Our forefathers cannot be blamed for the same fault, because they were pioneering the wilderness, and had to do what they could. We have evidence of the great mistakes they made in the condition to-day of many of our provincial cities. Bathurst has scarcely made any progress within the last forty years, and I, could site many similar examples of the evil effect of the land legislation which has been enacted in this country. The Northern Territory has infinite possibilities. I am absolutely amazed and staggered at the provisions of this Ordinance, to which we are asked to give our assent by our silence. This is really a code of laws. Apart from economic laws, the laws and regulations which apply to land are more vital than any others, because, after all, land is the foundation of all wealth. Though I know more of the subject than, perhaps, nine out of ten honorable members in this Chamber, I never saw one of the clauses of this Ordinance before, nor did the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster). I say that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. .Anstey), in supporting the honorable member for the Northern Territory, has made a suggestion which is fair and reasonable. He proposes that the consideration of the Ordinance should be postponed until we have an opportunity of looking into it and seeing what it really means. I am against the expenditure of vast sums of public money in order to benefit great lessees who do not do their duty by the land or by the State. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) this morning asked a question concerning the North-South railway. I am a strong advocate of its construction, but I will not vote a penny piece of the people’s money for the purpose until I know who is going to get the benefit of it. I must know whether it is to open up the country, or merely to increase the. value of some great land baron’s estate. I hope that those members of the Government in the passionate zeal for responsible government for which they became notorious in the days before this Administration was formed, will give honorable members an opportunity to consider this Ordinance before it becomes law. It covers such a. wide field, that ^Napoleon himself would not have ventured to thrust it down the throats of an unwilling senate. When I have had an opportunity of looking through the Ordinance and familiarizing myself with the facts, I shall be prepared
Mr. W. M. Hughe*. to discuss it, but not now. The House has a -right to demand that its enactment shall be delayed until time has been -given for its proper consideration.
.- I rise to support the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). It may be held that the Act which is responsible for his presence in this Chamber was not the best that could have been passed in the interests of the Commonwealth, but the honorable gentleman has -more than justified his presence here. Although I am a resident as well as a representative of the city area of Adelaide, I have endeavoured to secure information about the Northern Territory. I made inquiries in the South Australian Parliamentary Library, but could get only one work on the subject - by the Hon. J. M. Parsons. When I came over to Melbourne I made inquiries in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library, and I was given the report of a Commission of which David Lindsay, the explorer, . Mr. Clarke, ‘ and another man whose name I forget- were members. The Commission was appointed by this Parliament to investigate the potentialities of the Northern Territory, and the wisdom of constructing a railway bisecting the continent.
– The members of the Commission were recalled before they got half-way through the Territory.
– That is so; but not before, they had secured all the information concerning the Territory which we . have now, even after the visit of the peregrinating Minister who demanded, at one time, that he should go with Mr. Hughes’ and Sir Joseph Cook to be in the. limelight of the Empire. The way in which the affairs of the Territory have been allowed to drift is evidence of the low mentality of those who are supposed to be governing Australia. How did this Ordinance come into existence ? The Minister has not told us. The first p heard of it was when the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) told me that he intended to move for its disallowance. He asked my Opinion on the matter, and 1 suggested that he should get in touch with Mr. Tom Butterfiel’d, the member for Newcastle in the South Australian Parliament, who represents an area that runs up to the boundary of the Northern
Territory. I saw Mr. Butterfield last week, and asked him where he got hold of theOrdinance. He replied, “ I saw a statement in the newspapers to the effect that the pastoralists had met the Commonwealth Government, and had arrived at an amicable agreement. When the pastoralists arrive at an amicable agreement with the Commonwealth Government you can bet your life that they have got the big end of the stick.” The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) has interjected occasionally that the present Government are “ a Government for big business.” That is a fact, and in that lies the reason for this Ordinance. The Minister should have told us why it was not presented to the House.
– It was laid on the table on the 13th June.
– That is not the proper way in which to deal with so important a matter.
– That is the way in which all Territory Ordinances are dealt with.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh gave notice of a motion for its disallowance.
– I again direct the attention of honorable members to the necessity of listening to the honorable member who is speaking. In the last few minutes it has been almost impossible to hear even so loud a voice as that of the honorable member for Adelaide.
– Perhaps I was myself partly responsible for the cross-firing that has occurred, owing to my “metallic voice,” as the newspapers describe it, and your, rebuke, sir, has some justification. I reach my top note too quickly. I should rise to it gradually instead of jumping into my stride straight away. The Government say that they are desirous of doing the best for the Northern Territory, but the explanation of the Treasurer (Dr.Earle Page) was not half so convincing as the indictment of the honorable member for the Northern Territory. Under this Ordinance the big pastoralists will obtain a great advantage if anything is done for the development of the Territory by the only sure means recommended by Mr. Lindsay and other members of the Commission to whichI have referred, and that is railway communication. The honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) says . he will not consent to the expenditure of one penny to feed the cormorants who hold large estates in the Northern Territory. There are one or two lessees who are pioneers, and doing good work, but others - like Sir Sidney Kidman - are not doing the fair thing by the Territory. He will not keep down vermin on the leases he holds. Under this Ordinance lessees are not to be forced to do this. There is nothing in the Ordinance to force the big landholders to develop their territory, but, on the other hand, it makes provision for settling agriculturists on the land. The time has passed for further investigation and dissertation upon the mineral, pastoral, agricultural, and tropical cultural possibilities of the Territory. If this country were handed over to the teeming millions of the congested East, development would soon follow. Why should not the white races accomplish what the Asiatic races are able to do? If we are unable to compete with the Asiatics in the development of the Territory, we stand self-condemned. Development will follow by not playing up to the big interests who are making enormous profits through their operations in that Territory. If we proceed on proper lines of development, it will be a profitable undertaking. Honorable members are not cognisant of the regulations contained in the Ordinance, and until they thoroughly understand their effect, no vote should be taken. I trust the request of the honorable member for the Northern Territory will not be futile, and that the Government will be prevented from bringing the regulations into operation as from to-morrow. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) withdrew his notice of motion that the regulations be disallowed, to enable the honorable member for the Northern Territory to place the position before the House prior to their coming into force. Honorable members opposite talk glibly of the potentialities of the Northern Territory, and I appeal to them to join with this side of the House in formulating a definite policy for the development of that country.
.- I earnestly request the Government to withdraw this Ordinance and allow this House the opportunity to substitute a Land Bill in its stead. South Australia held the Northern Territory for thirty or forty years before transferring it to the Commonwealth, and I can imagine the alarm which will be created in that State when the far-reaching effect of this Ordinance is ascertained. If the policy of the Government concerning the land legislation of the Northern. Territory is to be altered in any way, the alteration should take the form of a Bill. If the Government will npt withdraw this Ordinance, I appeal to the House to nullify its operation.
.- I rise for the purpose of drawing the attention of honorable members to a correct perspective of the Ordinance relating to the Northern Territory. From the nature of the discussion this morning, one might suppose that something entirely novel in the annals of this Parliament had suddenly been -sprung upon the House. The mild indignation expressed, and the alert watchfulness exhibited, by the honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) are certainly somewhat entertaining to those of this Parliament who know the history of the last decade. I do not wish to detract in the least from the measure of praise which has been justly given to the honorable member for the Northern Territory for the excellent and considered address which he gave in the discharge of his new responsibilities. I applaud his speech as being worthy of the great Territory he safeguards’. Although he has initiated a very important arid useful discussion this morning, it is the discussion of ‘an abuse which is ‘by no means new. I claim to be ranked amongst .those who on more than one occasion in this House have protested against legislation by Ordinance, and in particular in regard to the Northern Territory. .The honorable gentlemen who now sit ‘behind this Government, and for the last eight years sat behind the Hughes Government, and who pretend to be indignant concerning this land Ordinance are guilty - if I am permitted to say so without committing a breach of. a standing order - of mild hypocrisy. Ordinances have ‘been thrown on the table before to-day. This heritage of the Northern Territory has been made a shuttlecock .before the eyes of honorable members Opposite previously, and they have submitted without -protest. But it suits them to-day apparently to be indignant. It suite them to point out that the Territory, as the honorable member for Wakefield stated, should be legislated for ‘by a Land Act. For the last ten years the honorable member has opposed those who have advocated a Land Act for the Northern Territory. The honorable member, and every honorable member who sits with him, has prevented us on this side of the Chamber from dealing with the Territory in a sane manner. The Government have turned out these regulations through what I have on more than one occasion termed a sausage machine, without giving honorable members an opportunity to consider or discuss them. Such regulations are as ‘binding as a considered and long-discussed Act of Parliament. The practice of governing by regulation has been a flagrant scandal in this House for more than the last decade.^ It has been exposed from time to .time by almost every honorable member sitting on this side of the House, ‘but because of insufficient numbers our protest has been futile, lt has suited honorable members previously to legislate secretly rather than in the open light of day There can be nothing of more importance than the terms and principles upon which the development of the land of the Northern Territory is to take place; or, for that matter, the land of any Territory belonging to the Commonwealth. These principles are fundamental to the well-being of the Commonwealth, and ye they are dealt with in a furtive” and secret way. Nominally honorable members are able to move for the disallowance of an Ordinance. The honorable member for Hindmarsh placed a notice on the paper for the disallowance of this particular Ordinance, but he would not have had an opportunity to discuss it in the ordinary course of business. Honorable members on this side of the House have placed scores of notices on the paper in order to secure the disallowance of regulations, and automatically these notices have lapsed without- any discussion whatever. The same fate would have befallen the notice of the honorable member for Hindmarsh. But by withdrawing it he enabled the honorable member for the Northern Territory to move the adjournment of the House. The psychology of Parliament is a very curious thing. We suffer these things for years, and wake up suddenly one morning and find ourselves immensely distressed and animated about them as if they were entirely new. This subject is not new. This position ought not tobe tolerated, but I am merely repeating this morning what I have said scores of times in this Parliament without any visible effect.
– I wish to say a word or two on the question of the Ordinance, because of a certain amount of misunderstanding as to what the position really is. Mention has been made inthe speeches this morning of the curtailment of discussion, and the secretive methods adopted by the Government. It was stated that honorable memberswere kept in the dark. There is not the slightest foundation for such statements. The facts are these: An Ordinance was promulgated concerning the Territory which dealt primarily with land tenures. That now under discussion is. onlyan amending Ordinance, although it repeals the old Ordinance. It re-enacts many ofthe provisions of the old Ordinance. The original Ordinance was promulgated by the Fisher Government.
– That does not justify the continuance of government by regulation.
– This Ordinance is totally different from that promulgated by theFisher Government.
-I have cautioned the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney), but always after a call to order from the Chair he persists in interrupting. I give him one more warning.
– The Government have adopted the same procedure as previous Governments in respect of the Territory. There is nothing extraordinary or unusual in the action taken on this occasion. We have been told that no publicity was given to this Ordinance ; but more publicity has been given to this Ordinance than has ever been given to any other. The Government recognised that this Ordinance involved an important principle, and they wanted the people to understand the policy they were adopting for the Northern Territory.
– The Prime Minister would never have said a word about the Ordinance if the subject had not been forced upon him.
– This Ordinance was published in the Commonwealth Gazette on 10th May, 1923, and its provisions, in so far as they effect a radical change, have had the greatest possible publicity. They were featured in the last election campaign. The Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), in every speech which he made, dealt with the policy of the then Government -not this Government - in the Northern Territory. When the new Government was formed, I referred to the subject; I have dealt with it in many speeches in the country, and have also mentioned it in this House. When I was dealing with the problems of policy with which we were faced, I indicated to the House the broad lines we intended to follow. There can be no question that the fullest publicity has been given to this particular Ordinance, and its relation to land tenures inthe Northern Territory. It is absurd for any one to say, “ Look at this Ordinance. It is a code of legislation which even Napoleon would have hesitated to force on his Senate.” As a matter of fact, there is really only one point that is new in it. The remainder of its provisions are a re-enactment , of the old Ordinance, which was repealed because it was thought that it would be more convenient to have one Ordinance than two.
The House has had an opportunity of disallowing this Ordinance, and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) actually put a notice of motion upon the business paper with regard to it. That was the ordinary course to pursue to get the matter discussed. The Government felt that it was essential that the Ordinance should be promulgated, and that the proposals embodied in it should be known at the earliest possible moment, particularly because there are in Great Britain a number of people with Australian interests who are trying to get some assistance in carrying out a developmental policy in the Northern Territory. The basis upon which we were prepared to give opportunities to these men had to be made known. But as. the discussion has shown that honorable members desire to consider the Ordinance before it is actually put into operation, the Government will issue instructions that no action shall be taken under it until the House has had an opportunity of considering it and expressing an opinion upon it. What action will be taken by the Government with this object, I cannot say at present; but I assure honorable members that the Government is desirous that the policy to be pursued in the Northern Territory, whose development is one of the greatest problems facing Australia, should be fully considered in this House. The Government would like an expression of opinion from all honorable members if they will give us the advantage of their assistance.
– Do I understand that this Ordinance will not be put into operation on the 1st July, but will remain in abeyance until the House has had an opportunity of considering it?
– That is quite satisfactory.
.- It is satisfactory that the question of land tenure in the Northern Territory has been raised in this House, and I am delighted that the Prime Minister has intimated his willingness to allow us to discuss it. But I fear that even so honorable members will be unable to obtain a clear perspective of such a great question, affecting such a distant territory, of which they have very little or no personal knowledge. In these circumstances, even this House is likely to make very grave mistakes. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) quoted the rents -per square mile per annum paid for land in the Territory, and I notice that there were murmurs of wonder from those honorable members who are living on 33-feet city blocks. Such members, however, have no knowledge of conditions in the Territory, and before we attempt to reach a conclusion regarding any Act or Ordinance dealing with this question, we should know the value of the land and the prospects of settlers. Without this knowledge, it is possible that the future state of the Northern Territory may be worse than its present condition. Federal territory along the transcontinental railway line is let at 2s. 6d.- per 1,000 acres. The Western Australian Government has leased land at a cheaper rate than was quoted by the honorable member for the Northern Territory. When the Western Australian leases were to fall due in. 1928, a. section of the Western Australian Parliament desired to close down on the leaseholders. They refused to give any intimation to the lessees that an extension would be granted. This nearly crippled the industry, because there was no assurance of continuity of tenure. Money lenders would not advance money to settlers, and the people on the land would not extend their improvements, because they had no permanent asset in them. For these reasons, the Western Australian Government was compelled, in the interests of the State, to give an assurance of an extension of tenure. People will not go into the distant Northern Territory without a similar assurance. After all, the Northern Territory is not a place for the little man. I would like to see it settled with small holders, if such could be done to their benefit, but those who are prepared, to form large companies, and take up big areas, appear to be the natural forerunners of closer settlement. If we grant large leases now, the time may come when we can settle the land more closely. I think we might consider a Lands Act to deal with the land of the. Northern Territory, but before we undertake the consideration of such a measure, a section of the House, or a Committee appointed from it, should visit the Territory with experts and make full inquiries as to the area necessary to make a success of sheep or cattle raising. The Western Australian Government limited the area that one man. could hold, and we may find it necessary in the Northern Territory to have’ a similar restriction. Nothing ought to be done, however, until we have made the closest possible inquiry. I do not think members of this House, with their want of knowledge of the subject, would be likely to frame a satisfactory measure. Even the honorable member for the Northern Territory may only have knowledge of the wants of the small settlers, but the House- ought to have, in addition, knowledge of the position of the big man. With all-round knowledge in our possession, we might be able to frame an Act which would be for the betterment of the Northern Territory and Australia generally.
. -We have been informed that one of the objects of this Ordinance is to facilitate theresumption of land. In considering the matter before it is again brought before the House, I hope the Government will pay attention to the statement made, doubtless with a full sense of responsibility, by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes). He said that lessees of great areas had flagrantly disregarded the regulations. If that is the case, and the regulations are properly drawn, there is doubtless a power of resumption. The regulations are administered by Departments and Ministers, who are supposed to be responsible for their enforcement. On the other hand, the regulations ought to be reasonable. If they are unreasonable, they should be altered. It is very bad practice and faulty administrationfor Ministers to condone breaches of regulations. If there have been breaches, I hope the Government will look into them. I fully realize that if there have been breaches of the regulations in the past the responsibility rests, not upon this, but upon another Government.
– Before submitting the motion to the House, I desire to make a brief observation on the procedure followed in connexion with it. Honorable members who are familiar with the Standing Orders and the practice of the House will be already aware that the procedure to-day has been different in one vital respect from that adopted on former occasions. We have two standing orders which prevent the anticipation of a matter which is the subject of a motion on the notice-paper. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) had given notice of a motion relating to the subject the House has been discussing, and by leave of the House it was withdrawn this morning. But on three former occasions at least, and notably when the ex-Speaker (Sir Elliot Johnson) was in the chair, it has been plainly ruled that anotice of motion withdrawn remained on the notice-paper until the next day. In other words, the withdrawal of a notice of motion and the subsequent discussion of it could not take place on the same day. I think that is, broadly speaking, a healthy procedure, but I took the responsibility on this occasion of relaxing the rigour of former rulings. I did this for two special reasons. One was that the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) came amongst us only recently, with special responsibilities that differ from those of other honorable members. The other was that this was a very important matter to the Territorywhich he represents, and was urgent because of the prospective early operation of the proposed Ordinance. Those are the reasons why some relaxation of the method of procedure has taken place to-day, but I would like honorable members to understand that the departure must not be regarded as a precedent. The older rulings are healthier for the general guidance of the House.
Question resolved in the negative.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What is the total amount contributed to the Commonwealth Oil Refinery Companyby -
– The total amounts paid up to date are - 1.(a) By the Commonwealth Government, £150,000 12s.; (b) by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, £149,999 8s.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the fact that Mr. Kell, Deputy Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney, is now Acting Governor, will the Minister say whether the other officials willbe promoted in order of seniority?
– I am not in a position to answer this question, as all matters concerning the promotion of officials of the Bank other than the Governor and Deputy Governor are under the control of the Governor alone.
Leasing of Shop
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Willhe lay upon the table of the House the papers in connexion with the leasing to a Miss Stewart of one of the shops in the new street in front of the new General Post Office, Perth?
– My colleague, the right honorable the Minister for Home and Territories, will be pleased to afford the honorable member an opportunity of perusing these papers whenever he can make it convenient to call , at the Home and Territories Department.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
If so, will he -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Damage at Liverpool.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Leane v. Kneebone.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - l and 2. The Department has concurred in the institution of the proceedings, and has guaranteed the reasonable expenses of General Leane.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– An announcement on this matter will he made later in the day.
Charges against Administration - Expedition of Dr. Campbell Browne.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The exact site has not been finally determined. Negotiations in the matter are now in progress.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– It is expected that a contract will shortly be let for the Main Exchange building, which will take about twelve months to erect and fit up. Meanwhile, arrangements are being made to provide an interim exchange in another building, which will give service to a number of waiting applicants for telephones some months earlier.
Appointment of Publicity Officer
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the reported outbreak of small-pox in England and the danger of its introduction to Australia, any action is being taken by the Commonwealth Health authorities to insure close medical inspection of the passengers and crews of ships arriving at Australian ports from the British Isles.?
– Instructions have been given to exercise special vigilance against small-pox.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
At the present time there is considerable difference of opinion as to the relative efficacy of the various arms of our Defence Forces, and as to the probable effect of advancing one as against the others. However, all authorities agree that a well-equipped Air Force would be a tremendous weapon of defence in the event of war. It is a well-known fact that the duration of the recent war was considerably shortened by the supremacy in the air gained by the Allies. The ability of the Allies’ airmen to blind the eyes of the enemy practically led to the sudden collapse of the Germans, and competent authorities acknowledge the part which the pluck and ability of the members of the Australian Air Force enabled them to play in bringing about that result. All countries now recognise the power which an Air Force could wield in time of war, and they are making efforts to increase the strength of this arm of their forces. Wo are told in this week’s newspapers that the strength of the British Royal Air Force has been increased by thirty-four squadrons, possibly representing 600 extra machines. The establishment has hitherto been maintained at thirty-two squadrons, with approximately 3,000 officers and 27,000 men.
At the outbreak of the recent war the science of aeronautics was in its infancy, but the exigencies of warfare led to such a rapid development that ultimately the air forces came to occupy a most prominent position in the forces of the combatants. At first the British Air Force was attached to the naval and military arms. There was a Royal Naval Air Service, and also a Royal Flying Corps. Eventually, however, it was found necessary to create the Royal Air Force as a separate arm. We have done the same in Australia. Our aviators were during the war attached to various British corps and armies in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Palestine, and France, where they contributed in many ways to the efficiency of the forces engaged. They located enemy batteries, conducted reconnaissances, co-operated with the artillery, made raids on enemy camps and munition dumps, and harassed opposing troops by machine-gunning them in their trenches. It is unnecessary to dilate upon well-known facts recognised in all countries. Upon the cessation of hostilities and the demobilization of the Australian Forces, the Commonwealth Governmentof the day thought it would be disastrous if the country lost the services of skilled pilots whohad been trained in the greatest school of all, that of actual warfare, and Australia, in an emergency, was compelled to create another Air Force, and train and equip a new personnel.
In the early days of military aviation the training of pilots was very haphazard. As the force developed, it became recognised that a longer term of training was necessary. Many of our pilots in the war were trained in England, and, incidentally, this cost our own Government about £852 per man. In a country like Australia, with its great distances, poor means of communication, and long’ stretches of unoccupied territory, the provision of aeroplane communication with distant settlements and isolated towns and villages becomes a matter of paramount, importance. These and other considerations led the late Government, two years ago, to provide for civil aviation, and also make provision for the maintenance of the nucleus of our Air Forces and the training of such forces and of civilian pilots. This action was taken by means of regulations passed under the Defence Act, but it was intended to be only a temporary measure, and all appointments were of a temporary character.- Our pilots and officers of the Royal Australian Air Force hold only temporary commissions, and some of them have left us in order to obtain permanent positions in the British Forces. A significant paragraph appeared in last night’s Sun, which quotes a statement by Sir Samuel Hoare, Minister for the Air, in England. Sir Samuel Hoare is quoted as saying that in the event of an enlargement of the Air Force he would welcome inquiry from Australian pilots desiring to serve in it. He emphasized the fact that expansion for purely Home defence was not intended to constitute offence against anybody; and he went on to say that in England they had not anything like the number of pilots necessary for the new squadron, but that the Government had not yet elaborated their arrangements for securing recruits. We know that officers who have gone to England to join the Air ‘Force there are communicating with officers in Australia, and intimating that if they choose to go there situations are ready for them. In view of the fact that our officers hold only temporary commissions in our own Air Force, there is some unrest in the service, and also amongst men outside whom we hope eventually to include in it, in regard to their future; and there is very great temptation for them to avail themselves of opportunities which are presented in the Old Country.
– Is it not difficult for a young man, who wishes to be trained, to get the chance?
– It is not difficult for any young man who is, of course, up to our standard. I am now talking rather of men who have been trained and are skilled pilots, and who at the present time are available in case of emergency. In the present scheme we have, of course, provided for only a limited number in training. Twelve men are taken in every year - four from the Navy, four from the Army, and four in connexion with civil aviation. If either arm does not furnish to the requisite number, the establishment may be completed from other sources. ‘This year, as a matter of fact, the Navy has not filled its quota, and we are training five civil pilots instead of four, and five army pilots instead of four. The only authority for the constitution of our Air Force at the -present time is our Defence Regulations, which is purely a temporary arrangement. This has not proved satisfactory, and it is necessary to have special legislation, such as is presented in the Bill before us, in. order to give effect to the regulations and the scheme as a whole. The desire is to put our Air Force on a footing similar to. that of our Army and Navy, and this Bill is on the lines of those of the Navy Act and the Defence Act, which are already the policy of the country.
The object of the Bill is to provide authority for the constitution of an air force, to be known as the Royal Australian Air Force. This force will be composed of both Permanent and Citizen Force units, as is the case in both the Army and the Navy. The force is designed to meet the requirements of the Naval and Military Forces, and of civil aviation as provided for in the training of pilots for civil work. This Bill gives no control over civil aviation, which is vested in the Controller of Civil Aviation and the Minister. To provide for the harmonious working of the Naval and Military Forces with the Air Force, and for the control of the Air Force in matters of policy as determined by the Government or by Parliament, it is proposed to “create - as a matter of fact, there has already been created - an Air Council which, at present, consists of a Naval representative, a Military representative, two representatives of the Air Force, and the Controller of Civil Aviation.
– Why is the Government not represented?
– The Minister, of
Course, is always chairman of the Air Council, and all decisions of the Air Council are subject to his personal revision and approval.
– He has the right of veto.
– He has the right of veto, and, of course, Parliament keeps general control through the Estimates.
– Is there no provision for the civil side and the defence side to co-operate ?
– There is no provision in the Bill, but the idea in placing the Controller of Civil Aviation on the Council is that the two sides may work together. As a matter of fact, they are working together now; as, for instance, in the selection of sites and the establishment of aerodromes and hangars. The idea is that the problems of communication, as well as the problems of Defence, shall be considered in the selection of sites, and for that reason the Controller of Civil Aviation is given a seat on the Council. It is hoped that a large number of aeroplane’s will be used in peace times for commercial purposes, and these aeroplanes will be available to a limited extent in case of war.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– The administration of the Air Force proper is to be vested in a Board, consisting of two members of the Air Force and a finance member. The functions of the Air Board will correspond to the administration of the Navy by the Navy Board, and of the Armyby the Military Board, except that the powers of the AirBoard will not be so wide as are those of theNavy or Military Boards. Some of the powers exercised by the latter Boards will be exercised in the case of the Air Force by the Air Council. The Air Council and the Air Board have been functioning successfully forthe last two years. The Air Council was originally formed under the provisions of the Defence Act, but in view of the f act that the Defence Act gives the Governor-General direct power to constitute a Defence Council and a Military Board and the Naval Defence Act give’s him power to constitute aNavy Board, it is considered advisable that, under this Bill, the GovernorGeneral should be given specific powers to constitute an Air Council and an Air Board. The members of the Air Force will be liable in time of war for service with either the Naval or Military Forces. Neither the Naval Defence Act nor the Defence Act make provision for this at the present time.
Honorable members will realize that very many provisions of the Defence Act are applicable to an air force as well as to a military force. Those provisions are not repeated in this Bill, but by one of its clauses they will be made applicable to the Air Force. Many of these provisions will be before the House for consideration in the Bill introduced to amend the Defence Act, and any alterations of them then made will apply automatically to the Air Force as well as to the Military Force.
The Army and Navy are governed by their various Acts in peace, but when on war service they come under the British Army Act and the Naval Discipline Act. This is necessary for complete co-ordination of Empire Forces in time of war. The provisions of the Imperial Acts are, however, in every case subject to the provisions of our own Acts and apply only when not inconsistent therewith.. In the same way, by clause 55 of this Bill, the provisions of the British Air Force Act are applied to the Royal Australian Air Force when on war service, save in so far as they may be inconsistent with the provisions of this’ Bill, and subject to such modifications and adaptations as may be prescribed.
The Royal Australian Air Force is a highly technical unit. In its personnel there are very skilled engineers and tradesmen of various kinds. It is believed that the Air Force will provide a good opening for a limited number of boys, in ground work of course, and not in actual flying. Provision is therefore made in the Bill for the enlistment of boys under the age of eighteen years, with the object of teaching them the trades to which I have referred, but subject always to the approval of their parents or guardians.
To facilitate the co-operation of Naval, Military and Air Forces, provision is made in the Bill for the transfer of officers and personnel from one Force to another. Naval officers may in this way be attached to the Air Force or officers of the Air Force attached to the Navy or Military Forces. While members of the Air Force are temporarily transferred to the Naval or Military Forces, they will be under the Naval Defence Act or the Defence Act, as the case may be, and also while undergoing training with those Forces.
– That will give rise to trouble.
– I do not think so. It would give rise to much more trouble if Air Force officers on board ship were not subject to the Naval Defence Act, or if those attached to the Military Force were not subject to the provisions of the Defence Act.
– How is it proposed to deal with the mechanics?
– This provision will apply not so much to mechanics as to flying officers.
The Bill provides that trainees allotted to the Citizen Air Force shall be liable for the same periods of service as trainees allotted to the Naval Force, and it is anticipated that this will be one of the most popular arms of the service.
Authority is given by the Bill, in addition to that given by the Defence Act, to acquire, construct and maintain aircraft material, aerodromes, and other necessary equipment for an Air Force.
The provision made for examination and testing for promotion is as nearly as possible the same as that which applies to theRoyal Air Force, in order that the same standard of efficiency may be maintained.
An officer trained by the Royal Australian Air Force, on receiving acommission in the Air Force will be compelled to serve for eight years, unless the Board gives him permission to retire. This is a reasonable provision because, as the training of officers involves the Government in great expense, it is considered that they should give a certain length of service in return. No hardship will be involved, because those joining the Forces will know the conditions, and where hardship is proved there is power to grant the officer permission to retire.
During the war difficulty was experienced in connexion with the enlistment of young men serving under articles of apprenticeship or clerkship, and important provisions dealing with this matter contained in the Naval Force Act and the Defence Act are also embodied in this Bill. Under this measure, a master is not allowed to prevent an apprentice from enlisting in time of war, and immediately a boy is demobilized on the cessation of war operations, his master must take him back, and permit him to complete his apprenticeship, if he so desires.
– That is not absolute. The apprentice must give satisfactory service.
– His articles of apprenticeship will provide that he must give satisfactory service. The difficulty experienced in the past has been that some men would not consent to take their apprentices back into their employment on their return from the war.
– There is nothing to compel a boy to go back to complete his apprenticeship.
– No ; but if he desires to do so the Bill compels his master to take him back.
Honorable members will realize that it is necessary in air manoeuvres that every care should be taken to prevent accidents or injuries to citizens. These might result from an airman performing stunts over a city, or a machine flying over a city might crash in a crowded street. It may be necessary to prevent private machines being flown over forts, magazines, ordnance stores, or other defence works, and perhaps taking photographs to the detriment of the country. To meet these difficulties power is given to the Governor-General, under the Bill, to proclaim certain areas prohibited for the flying of aircraft.
For the sake of convenience the provisions of the Defence Act relating to courts martial and legal procedure have been incorporated in this Bill. By this meads members of the Air Force will be given protection under the special Act applying to their force. If the provisions contained in the Defence Act are amended when we consider the new Defence Bill, the amendments will be applicable also to the Air Force.
Power is given to the GovernorGeneral to proclaim air districts. This power will not be used at the present time because the only State in which we have an Air Force is Victoria. It is thought that with the development of the force some units may be allotted to different military districts, such as New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia,or other States. Power is therefore required to proclaim air districts, the boundaries of which will be probably the same as those of the military districts proclaimed at the present time.
Every advantage has been taken of the opportunity to utilize the existing staffs of the various branches of the Defence Department in order that the Air Force may be maintained economically and efficiently. The present personnel and men form an establishment of which Australia may well be proud. The officers have all been tried and proved in the fierce furnace of the war. They have won great distinction for themselves, and brought credit to the country to which they belong.
– Is it proposed to utilize the Air Force for the carriage of mails?
Mr.BOWDEN.- No. The aerial carriage of mails will be left to those engaged in civil aviation.
– Is it proposed to provide for co-ordination between the Air Force and civil aviation?
– Yes. It is proposed to appoint the Controller of Civil Aviation a member of the Air Council. The Air Council and the Air Force will have no control over the civil aviation organization, but in order to secure the coordination to which the honorable member refers the Controller of Civil Aviation will be a member of the Air Council. This will insure co-ordination in the work of laying out routes, the selection of aerodromes, the erection of hangars, and so on. I believe that the officers of the Air Force can be depended upon to serve Australia with the same enthusiasm, the same skill, and with as great success in times of peace as they gave evidence of during the war which was so recently upon us.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
– I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill ran the gauntlet of the Senate twice, and was passed by that Chamber in the last Parliament. It was read a first time in this House, but was not further proceeded with. The Bill, as now presented, embodies the amendments made in the Senate in the measure originally introduced. It is in the form in which that measure left the Senate, with the exception of certain minor alterations which it has been found necessary to make.
The proposed application of the Army Act to our Forces caused much discussion in another place. The Bill introduced into the last Parliament provided that the Military Forces should be subject to the Army Act in time of peace as well as in time of war. That proposal was rejected in the Senate, and this Bill does not contain it. It provides that in time of peace the Military Forces shall be under the Defence Act, but not under the Army Act, except in respect of the procedure of courts martial, and the preliminary hearing of charges. The original Act already provides specifically that the procedure of courts martial under the Army Act shall apply to courts martial held in Australia from time to time. The Bill proposes to extend this procedure to the preliminary hearing also.
– That means that the person charged is not to be allowed to say a word in his defence.
– An accused person gets a far better chance to place his case fully before a court martial than before a civil tribunal.
– I have seen dozens of courts martial at which the person who was being tried was not allowed to speak.
– I have appeared for the accused at courts martial, and know that the procedure is much more favorable to an accused person than is that of an ordinary civil preliminary hearing. For instance, the prosecuting officer in a court martial is not allowed to bring evidence before the Court until the accused has had in writing aprécis of what is to be said against him.
– That is a rule which is more honoured in the breach than in the observance.
– In a civil trial the accused has no knowledge of the evidence to be brought against him until he is in the dock, and charged with an offence.
– At a court martial if the officer asks the accused person what he has to say, and the latter attempts to speak, he is immediately silenced.
– Under the Bill an accused man must be supplied with a précis of the evidence to be used against him, and if any further evidence is given he is to be entitled to an adjournment of the court martial so that he may have time to consider the evidence, and, if necessary, obtain evidence in rebuttal of it. The Defence Act has been amended from time to time, and now forms a large body of law, containing favorable conditions for an accused person. Provision is made for giving the accused the right to be represented by an advocate, and if he is not so represented, an officer is to be appointed to defend him.
– Will courts martial still consist entirely of military officers?
– Then no change has been made as a result of the war experience ? Is it not proposed to appoint to them officers with legal training?
– When a serious charge is to be tried an officer of legal training will foe appointed. Judge advocates and their assistants are officers possessing legal (training. Throughout Hie States there are barristers and solicitors who are given commissions for the express purpose of sitting on courts martial, so that the legal procedure may be properly conformed to. The decisions of courts: martial are subject to the review of a judge advocate, the high military authorities, or the King.
– Great changes were introduced during the war.
– A Commission was appointed in England as the result of the experience gained during the war. On it there sat not only legal men hut members of the House of Commons, including Mr. Horatio Bottomley, who at the time was the proprietor of John Bull, and was posing as the soldiers’ advocate. Many matters were inquired into by the Commission, and it came to the conclusion that there was little room for improvement in the procedure of courts martial. It recommended, however, that .power bc given to the officer holding a preliminary inquiry to call civil witnesses, and thus collect all the evidence obtainable. This may sometimes enable ah officer to ascertain whether a court martial should be held, or the accused man acquitted straight away.
– Why not extend, that privilege, and permit the accused to retain any counsel he desires.
– The accused can do so.
– I thought you said the court martial is composed entirely of military men.
– Yes, but an accused person can obtain any counsel he desires.
– Certain reforms were introduced by Lord Birkenhead to which I should like to draw the attention of the Minister.
– I shall be very glad to consider any information the honorable member may supply. Several drafting errors are amended by this Bill. Several of its clauses repeal sections of the Defence Act and substitute others. They are of minor importance but make for greater accuracy. It has been doubted whether certain regulations which have been passed are within the scope of the Act, and therefore power is taken in the Bill to make these regulations, and in some cases the subject matter of existing regulations has been embodied in a clause. When the Defence Act was passed there were Naval and Military Forces only; now, .where necessary, the Bini refers to the “ Naval, Military and Air Forces.” Under the Act the Governor-General has power during war to reduce the period of compulsory training or suspend it altogether year by year. There is no power for such action to be taken in time of peace, and although the length of compulsory training has been materially reduced, it is questionable whether the regulations affecting the reduction are legal. The Bill provides for the regulation of the compulsory training required of the Citizen Forces in peace time and in war time. A provision similar to that affecting graduates from the Royal Naval College is embodied in this Bill in respect of graduates of the Royal Military College at Duntroon. Graduates from that college are not allowed to retire from the Service until they have served for eight years. ‘ In respect of the oath of allegiance, members of the Military Forces are put on the same basis as members of the Public Service under the Public Service Act. The application of the Defence Act is extended to military forces serving outside Australia. If Commonwealth military forces were stationed at Rabaul in war time, the Army Act would not apply to them because they would be absent from Australia, and not on war service in that country. The provisions of this Bill will apply to the forces outside the Commonwealth as well as to forces inside the Commonwealth.
– During war time and peace time ?
– In war and in peace they are subject to the Defence Act, but in war also to the Army Act, except when any of its provisions clash with the Defence Act or regulations.
– The Army Act is required only during war.
– Another clause gives the Minister power to control, in the vicinity of camps and during the training of trainees, the sale of intoxicants to members of the Forces in uniform. Power is also taken to prevent undesirable people from being in the vicinity of camps. Honorable members will realize what class of people are referred to.
– The Government has that power now.
– The power exists now only under regulation. It is proposed to amend the Act so that we may nave specific power to exclude undesirable people, especially undesirable women, from ‘the vicinity of camps.
– In whom is the power vested ?_
– In the commanding officers of camps under Ministerial control. An amendment is proposed in regard to offences punishable by the death penalty, which is provided for certain great crimes which may have far-reaching consequences.
– Is the sentence imposed by court martial?
– Yes, subject to the ratification, in times of peace, of the Governor-General; but, as a matter of fact, in times of peace, the death penalty could not be awarded, nor could a man be tried by court martial for murder.
– Why not permit the accused person to go to a civil Court?
– Because it is impossible to do so in time of war. The only amendment proposed in this connexion is that murder is included in the crimes for which the death penalty is inflicted. By an oversight this crime has not previously been specified.
– Is cowardice subject to the death .penalty?
– No; but desertion to the enemy is. Simple desertion - that is to say, not desertion to the enemy - is not included. A man must desert from his own Forces, and go over to the enemy, .before he can be tried by court martial and sentenced to death. After he has reached the enemy, however, the court cannot get hold of him, and there were no such trials during the whole of the recent war.
The powers of the commanding officers to deal with minor offences are ‘slightly ‘ increased. There are certain minor offences by officers which at present can only be tried by court martial, but in the Bill power is given to divisional commanding officers, who are always men of or above the rank of colonel, to deal with minor offences with the consent of the accused person. If the person charged says he would rather that his commanding officer dealt with him, the commanding officer can try the case. If the accused, however, should prefer a court martial, he can have one. The position will then be analogous to that in civil Courts, whereby a person charged may elect to be dealt with by a magistrate or be committed for trial before a jury.
Certain amendments are proposed regarding the punishments inflicted for failure to attend compulsory training. The .provisions relating to this phase of the subject are at present unsatisfactory. The proposed new1 (sections - are 134A, 134B, 134C, 135, 135A, and 135B. One of the principal provisions of clause 70 is that the magistrate who orders a trainee to undergo training in a detention camp must issue a warrant, so that there will be no dispute regarding the period of training or where it is to be carried out. Many magistrates have pointed out that power to issue a. warrant is not given to them, and the length of time a trainee has to serve in a detention camp is dependent upon the rough pencilled notes taken by the prosecuting officer when his case was before the Court. It is always possible for an officer to make a mistake, and in the hurry of the moment to enter against one man the sentence imposed upon another. Disputes have arisen in several cases. Honorable members will see at once how undesirable the present practice is, and obviously we might lay ourselves open for prosecution for illegal detention. In order that there may be no doubt in future about the terms of a sentence, power is given to the magistrate who sends a boy to a detention camp to issue a warrant stating exactly the terms under which he is sent.
The other clauses in the Bill are of minor importance. The provision to which I have referred regarding men coming into the air force is also included in this Bill. Persons entering the military forces from outside, from the air forces particularly, will be under military discipline while they are attached to military units. It is also provided that civilians accompanying military forces on active service shall come under military - law. That applies particularly to war correspondents, and will affect gentlemen in the press galleries more, perhaps, than honorable members. The office of the District Commandant is abolished, and the command will go to Divisional Commanders. There are other small provisions in the Bill which will require discussion in Committee.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Austin Chap man and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The practice of brewers in the past was not to pay excise duty on beer consumed on brewery premises, and some prosecutions have f ollowed. The Crown Solicitor points out that an amendment of the law is required, and the Bill makes the necessary amendment. It also deals incidentally with brewers’ licences. A brewer now pays duty on the beer brewed, irrespective of the quantity. It is now proposed to have a graduated scale of fees in accordance with the quantities brewed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN (Eden-
Monaro - Minister for Trade and Customs) [2.58]. - I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is similar to the Beer Excise Bill, and proposes to amend the Act so as to insure the payment of duty on beer consumed on brewery premises. It is consequential upon the Beer Excise Bill. A further provision is made so that the production of a telegram, purporting to be signed by a Collector of Customs, shall be sufficient authority to institute a prosecution in connexion with a contravention of the Act.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is on similar lines to the two which have preceded it. It in troduces no change of consequence, but will make the administration of the Act easier for the Department. At the present time a test still of one gallon capacity is not subject to the provisions of the Distillation Act, and it is proposed to insert a clause by which the necessity for obtaining a licence for a still of that capacity will be dispensed with. The provisions of section 12 of the Act are sought to be amended accordingly.
– Is it not possible to embody in one Act, the provisions’ of the Bills with which the Minister isnow dealing?
– It is not possible. Otherwise I should be very pleased to do it.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
– I move -
That the Billbe now read a second time.
It is unfortunate that this and other Bills with which I am dealing to-day cannot be incorporated in one Act. The Spirits Act contains no provision for agents or manufacturers to make a declaration, and the Bill proposes to incorporate inthe Act part of the Customs Act. This will have the effect of making the necessary provision.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
A regulation framed under the provisions of the Seamen’s Compensation Act, and empowering an arbitrator or a County Court Judge to direct in what manner payments may be made to dependants of a deceased seaman has been found to be ultra vires. This Bill will remedy that defect, and enable a Court, instead of the Department administering the Act, bo apportion the amount of compensation which may be due.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill provides that Australian importers who are desirous of taking action against ships representatives may do so in Australia instead of, as at present, in the foreign countries from which the goods which are the subject of dispute have been ‘exported. As the law now stands our merchants are practically precluded from obtaining redress against some ships for the non-fulfilment of any conditions for which they are possibly liable.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
Sitting suspended from 3.7 to 3.12 p.m.
.- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is a very small measure to which I hope all honorable members will consent. It provides for the protection of the name “Boy Scouts Association,” enables the badges, emblems, decorations, and uniforms of the Association to be registered, and guards against their unauthorized use. The offence of “ unauthorized use “ may be the subject of proceedings taken in the Courts, but only with the consent of the Attorney-General, and the penalty provided is £5. No serious action can be taken for any infringement of the Bill, but the desire is to give legal protection to the boy scouts’ name, their uniform, and emblems generally. That will commend itself to honorable members, because the boy scout movement is of the greatest value to the community, instilling as it does into the minds of boys of all classes, irrespective of creed or any other distinction, the concept of good citizenship, honour, and decent living.Such an objective, I am sure, meets the approval of not only every member of the House, but also of the whole people of Australia. This association has been recognised in Great Britain, Canada, and Am erica, and I am sure Australia desires to afford it the protection to which a movement of the character is entitled. To this young country of ours the movement is peculiarly appropriate. One of its basic ideas is to develop the quality of initiative, and afford training in many directions in which it is of the greatest value, particularly in country districts. Boys who have been through the scouts’ training make good citizens, and generally speaking, are more self-reliant and capable of more intelligent service than are other boys, while their standard of honour and conduct is commendable. Sir Robert Baden-Powell, who has done wonderful work for boys generally, has thus described the object of the movement-
The whole object of our scheme is to seize the boy’s character in its red-hot stage of enthusiasm, and to weld it into the right shape, and to encourage and develop its individuality, so that the boy may become a good man and a valuable citizen for our country in the immediate future, instead of being a waste of God’s material.
I emphasize the fact that this movement removes the abominable idea of class distinctions between boys in the community; its members are drawn from all sections of the community, and, in their association there is created a spirit most desirable in Australia, which we regard as the purest Democracy on the face of the globe to-day. The aim is of the highest, and the measure hefore us must meet with unanimous approval. One objection has been raised against the movement, namely, .that it partakes of the character of a military organization. There never was a wickeder libel uttered. The movement is entirely opposed to militarism; it .is founded on an ideal of good citizenship, and a high standard of conduct of which all can approve. I hope this ‘Bill will be treated as one into which party considerations cannot enter. Its sole object is the recognition of a movement which is in the highest interests of the ‘ country.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
– I move-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday next, at 3 p.m.
I do not wish to raise any question that may prove controversial ‘ between the two sides of the House, but I may go so far as to remind honorable members that last week we did not meet -until Wednesday. There was certain work which the Government desired to get through during this present week, and it was necessary that we should dispose of the Supply Bill by last-Wednesday night. There had been a debate on the AddressinReply, in which honorable members had had an opportunity to discuss broad general questions that were agitating their minds, and the Government took the view that, as the Supply Bill was based on Estimates that had already been approved, and as honorable members would have subsequent opportunities to express their views when the general Estimates - in which the Supply then granted would be absorbed - were before us, the time allowed for the consideration of the Supply Bill was reasonable. I regret that honorable, gentlemen opposite did not share the views of the Government in that regard, and I say these few words merely because of this difference of opinion. T wish to make it quite clear that the Government were thinking only of the time required for that particular measure.
I take the present opportunity to indicate one or two measures to which we desire the House to give special attention during the coming week. I again remind honorable members that there is a certain amount of work to be done, and only a limited period in which to do it, but that period is not so limited as not to afford ample opportunity for reasonable consideration and discussion. Next week we shall meet on four days, and there is certain business which the Government hope to be able to accomplish. The first Bill I propose to deal with is the National Debt Sinking Fund Bill, and the next the Meat Export Bounties Bill. I hope, also, to have an opportunity to move the second reading of the Commonwealth Shipping Line Bill. In addition, there are certain Customs and Excise measures which may be grouped as one. That is the order of business contemplated for next week. When w.e shall reach the debate on the Commonwealth Shipping Line Bill will depend, of course upon when there is an opportunity . to move the second reading; I quite re- “ cognise that honorable members will require a little time to study that measure after it has been placed in their hands. I ask honorable members to co-operate ‘ with the Government in passing legislation necessary in the- interests of the country. It is essential that it should have reasonable consideration, and I can assure honorable members that they will be given, ample opportunities for discussion. There is such a thing as obstrucing the business of the House.
– We have not done that.
– Honorable members opposite must realize that one of the duties of a Government is to see that the business of Parliament is transacted, and even if they disagree with our proposals, they will at least recognise that we are endeavouring to carry out our task in the way we consider best. s
.- The Prime Minister’s statement concerning the necessity of meeting on Tuesday instead of Wednesday is not at all satisfactory to me.
– Why not meet on Monday?
– If this week, when we had to pass a Supply Bill, the Government did not think it necessary to . meet until Wednesday, surely there is no justification for meeting on Tuesday next week. Evidently that arrangement was made to suit their convenience. The Prime Minister has stated that reasonable time will be allowed for the discussion of the Bills to be introduced. Quite a number have been mentioned, and I venture to say that any old parliamentarian would admit that the business introduced yesterday and to-day is sufficient to keep this House regularly employed until the end of the year. I desire to disabuse the Prime Minister’s mind of the belief that there is a desire on our part to obstruct the business of the country. We are not hero to do that, but as representative men it is our duty to see that the legislation introduced is properly considered in this branch of the Legislature. Quite a number of Bills have” been introduced, and I hope that the Prime Minister does not expect them to be passed by the application of the guillotine. A good deal of the work on some of the measures will have to be clone in Com- “mittee, and honorable members must peruse existing Acts, study the amendments, consider the necessity of al- “teration, and decide if they have objections to offer. This work cannot be carried out efficiently if only a few hours are allowed for the discussion of any particular Bill. Statements are being published in the press throughout the Commonwealth concerning the obstructive tactics employed, but there has been no obstruction. New members, in their parliamentary innocence, may smile, but if they refer to the records they will find that there have been very few instances in which an Address-in-Reply debate has been disposed of in a fortnight, or a Supply Bill passed in one sitting. It is our duty to protest, and I trust the Prime Minister will not attempt to get legislation through by applying the guillotine. If it is necessary to pass certain legislation this year, he should allow the Parliament to continue in session while he is absent, because it must be evident to every honorable member that the business of the House cannot be arranged merely to suit the Leader of the Government. However necessary it may be for the Prime Minister to attend the Imperial Conference, it is just as desirable that the * Parliament should remain in session to carry on its work. I make this appeal to
Mr. Charlton. the Prime Minister, and I trust that the actions of the Government this week will not bc repeated. Such actions do not improve the dignity which should characterize parliamentary proceedings; and however desirable it may be to conduct our work with decorum, that will be impossible if the guillotine is applied in the early stages of the session.- Every honorable member has the right to voice his opinion according to his lights, but when an endeavour is made to force legislation through at the point of the pistol, hostile feelings are aroused -which do not , permit the transaction of business in a proper manner. I have been in State and Federal politics, but have never been guilty of creating a scene in Parliament. I have always endeavoured to uphold the prestige of Parliament. But it is impos1sible to be silent when one is deprived’ of his rights. I trust the Prime Minister will carry out his promise and allow proper time for the consideration of the Bills to be brought forward, and if he does that we shall have no reason to complain.
.- No - one realizes more than I do the desirable- . ness of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) attending the forthcoming Imperial Conference, and it is necessary that while he is abroad this House should be in recess as otherwise attempts might be made to harass him in the work he will have in hand. I am sorry that the House was not summoned for Tues- day instead of Wednesday of this week, and I sympathize with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) if he considers that ample time was not given for criticising the actions of the Government, and of emphasizing the requirements of the country. I -cannot, however, see any valid reason why this House should not meet on Monday afternoon.
– Does the honorable member live in Melbourne?
– I am merely put- ‘ ting that forward as a suggestion. Honorable members, require ample time in ‘ which to discuss the measures introduced here, and when the Budget is before the House, I suppose every honorable member will have something to say. There are some proposals of the Government with which I do not agree, and ‘ concerning which I shall want to express an opinion. Others may be in a similar position. Although I am supporting the Government it is my right to protest when I think it necessary. (Work cannot be done properly if the time allowed is insufficient. That is not fair to honorable members on either side, if it is possible to provide sufficient time to have the work of the House properly done. We can look forward to a parliamentary holiday of six or seven months, and there is no reason why we should not meet on Mondays. I hope the Government will seriously consider the adoption of that course after this week.
– I am glad that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) has given vocal expression to the simmering discontent manifested by supporters of the Government. It is quite evident that they are discontented with the way in which business is being carried ou.
– Oh, no.
– If I have made a mistake in giving Government supporters credit for desiring to discuss the business of the country I will withdraw what I have said. I believe that they sincerely desire to express the views of their constituents on certain political happenings, but if I have made a mistake, I apologize to them, and will confine the rest of my remarks to the views held by honorable members on this side. I agree with what has been said by my Leader (Mr. Charlton). There is no desire on this side to obstruct the business of the country. If any attempt were made to do so I -should not join in it. But we have duties to perform in the interests of the people. The Prime Minister has said, on more than one occasion, that ample opportunity would be given to discuss matters, but he is to be the sole judge of what is ample. The honorable gentleman ‘has repeated to-day an absolute misstatement, for which ho was responsible earlier in the week. When reference was made to the grave blunders of the Government in connexion with Supply, he told the House that the Supply Bill contained only items which had appeared and been passed on previous Estimates. If that statement were true there would have been much justification for the attempt of the Government to rush the Bill through. But this statement was not correct, and the Prime Minister should have known it. If he did not know it he did not know the purposes for which he was asking the House to appropriate £4,000,000. He should have told the House that in the schedule to the Supply Bill there appears an item to cover the expense of a new policy initiated by the Government, something that was not previously before this Parliament in any form. Honorable members on both sides were waiting until that item was reached to have something to say about it; I refer to the vote to meet the expense of sending a trade commissioner to America, and to the appointment of Mr. Donald Mackinnon to the position. I can recollect that a few weeks ago the Prime Minister publicly stated that he would see that persons appointed as trade commissioners were business men and not ex-politicians . After making that statement he appointed an ex-politician and a lawyer, and a man who was a defeated Nationalist candidate at the last Federal elections. When the honorable gentleman talks of giving the House ample time to consider the business I ask whether he considers it was fair to make such an appointment on the eve of the meeting of Parliament and then to say that there was nothing new in the Supply Bill, and prevent honorable members having an opportunity to discuss it.
– May I remind the honorable member that the motion before the House is that at its rising it adjourn until Tuesday. This is not the ordinary motion for adjournment.
– I am well aware of that, sir. I have no objection to our meeting on Tuesdays, though honorable members coming from the other States may have serious objections to that. I suggest that if the Prime Minister wishes to consult the convenience of all the members of the House, he will ask honorable members . to sit in the morning as well as in the afternoon. If he wishes to close up this Parliament in order that he may get away to London, better reasons for the adoption of such a course should be given than those which have so far been given by himself or his supporters. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) has justified the closing of Parliament during the absence of the Prime Minister on the ground that resolutions might be passed in Parliament embarrassing to the honorable gentleman while he was in London. In other words, the Prime Minister is afraid of this Parliament. He is afraid of what the representatives of the people may do while he is away.
– I did not speak of the passing of resolutions ; I spoke of the moving of resolutions.
– How could the moving of a resolution in this Parliament embarrass the Prime Minister any more than a speech made outside? The only thing that could embarrass the Prime Minister more than a speech is the passing of a resolution, and the moving in this Chamber of a resolution that was not passed would be less embarrassing to the Prime Minister than the moving and passing of a resolution outside. That can be done, and very probably will be done, while the Prime Minister is in London. The honorable gentleman must remember that although he controls a majority in this House, as the result of the coming together of certain factions, he does not represent the majority of the people of this country. When he is on the other side of the world, attempting to represent Australia, he will be without a mandate from the people. They will be justified in moving and carrying resolutions at public meetings, whether this Parliament is sitting or not. I again enter a protest against the unseemly action of the Government in bludgeoning the Supply Bill through as they did the other night. At the same time I issue the warning that whilst the honorable gentleman may think he can adopt his timetable methods, the Opposition have their methods also. Whilst I shall never stand for obstruction of the business of the country, I say that there are items in the Supply Bill which required discussion, and which we were not given an opportunity to consider .
.- The Prime Minister made an omission from his speech, which I hope he will supply when he replies to this debate. I want to know whether it is his intention to deprive members of the right they have previously enjoyed, to discuss private members’ business on one afternoon each week.
– I moved a resolution yesterday concerning the right of private members in that respect.
– I am pleased to obtain even that admission. I trust the Prime Minister will go further and intimate that he does not intend to deprive the House, at any time between now and the close of the session, of the right of discussing private members’ business, which privilege they have had since the opening of the Federal Parliament twentythree years ago.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– (By leave) - It is within the knowledge ofhonorable members that a loan of £38,700,000 has to be redeemed on the 15th September next. That amount is the balance of the loan of £44,000,000 raised in October, 1918, which was the last loan raised during the war. The rate of interest was 5 per cent. It was the most successful war loan raised, the sum of £40,000,000 having been asked for, and an excess of £4,000,000 obtained. It was also the largest amount received in any single war loan. Altogether, 243,000 persons subscribed to the loan, that number being more than twice the number of persons who have subscribed to any other loan raised by the Commonwealth. The original loan has been reduced to £38,700,000, by redemptions out of Sinking Fund and conversion into other loans. In April last, holders of stock and bonds maturing in September were given the opportunity to convert into new 5 per cents. repayable in twentyfive years, with a bonus of £1. While the result is not quite up to expectations, it is satisfactory to find that £17,200,000 has been converted. It is believed that small holders generally, and they are very numerous, regarded the conversion terms as unattractive. Probably the chief reason for the comparatively small conversion is to be found in the competition of borrowing States. The Commonwealth Conversion Loan opened on the 11th April. The interest on this loan was subject to Commonwealth income tax, but not to State income tax. The Rural Bank Loan, which was floated by the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales, closed on the 24th April. The amount raised was £1,000,000, at5½ per cent. free of both Commonwealth and State taxes. The New South Wales 5i per cent, conversion loan of £3,000,000 closed on 10th May. This loan also was free of both Commonwealth and State taxes.
– How could it be made free of Federal income tax?
– Because of an understanding which a Labour Prime Minister and Treasurer gave to the States that they could issue loans free of Federal income tax. The practice has been questioned since, and, constitutionally, there is some doubt as to its legality. In fact, the Constitution is not clear as to the right to tax, and that is the reason why there has never been a test. In addition to the loans I have mentioned, Victoria had a 5 per cent, loan on the market until the 10th May. This, too, was free of Commonwealth and State taxation.
– It was floated in London.
– No ; every one of these loans was floated in Australia. Having’ regard to the high rates of interest being offered by the States at that time- very high considering the freedom from tax - it is scarcely to be wondered at that some holders thought the Commonwealth terms unattractive. The confident expectation of investors that further State loans at high rates would be available was another factor in the case, and there is reason to ‘believe that the intentions of State Governments were known in some quarters. The Commonwealth Government’s policy is that the interest on loans shall be subject to taxation, and the Commonwealth Government suggested to the States that no more tax-free loans should be issued. The States agreed, but stipulated that they should have the right to continue the issue of tax-free loans until 31st December next. Thus, for the present, the Commonwealth is suffering from most unfair competition. The balance of loan to be converted is £21,500,000. The new loan is to be at 5 pdr cent., and the price of issue 98. Interest will be subject to Commonwealth tax, but not to State income tax, and the period is five years.
– Is that in Australia?
– If the Minister had made the original conversion for a shorter period, he would not be in the mess he is now in.
– We are not in a mess at all. The loan was long-dated for a definite and deliberate reason. The Government desired to ascertain the exact extent of the market in Australia for a long-dated loan, so that they might have a guide for future conversions.
– You should reduce the interest on all war loans; otherwise the people will continue to be robbed.
– We, unfortunately, have to rely on the market, and we cannot force investors to take part in a loan if the rate offering is not the prevailing market rate. Holders of the unconverted balance of the loan maturing in September have the right to convert into the new loan, which will be open to all persons for subscription in cash. Holders of 4J per cent, tax-free loan, which matures in 1925, will also be given right to convert into the new 5 per cent, loan, on condition that they find an equal amount of new cash. Where 1923 bonds are- converted, the persons converting will receive a bonus of £2 per £100 on amount, converted. Where the 1925 loan is converted, the conversion of the old bonds will be at par, and no bonus will be paid on the converted bonds. The new cash subscriptions to be made by the holders of 1525 loans who convert, will be £98 for each £100. All other persons who subscribe new cash will also pay £98 for each’ £100 of the new loan. The 4$ per cent, loan was tax free, and this offer is made to holders to bring them into this particular conversion. These new terms are the outcome of consultation with financial authorities, and the Government believes that they will be satisfactory, and that the loan will be fully Subscribed. The prospectus will be available in about a week, arid the loan will be offered only until a sufficient amount has been received either by way of conversion or new cash. It is not the Government’s intention to keep the’ loan open until the whole balance of £21,500,000 has been subscribed, because there- is in the Treasury a large sum of money available to pay off portion of the loan.
Ministerial Answers to Questions - H.M.A.S. “ Geranium “ Aground - Immigration Notices in Post Offices - Loan Conversion - Administration of Mandated Territories - Distribution of Ordinances - New Guinea Exploration.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do no’.i adjourn.
– I do not desire to attack any Minister or the Ministry, but I wish to bring under notice inaccurate answers which have been given to questions asked in this House. I shall mention particularly some questions answered by the Minister for Customs (Mr. Austin Chapman). I do not blame him in the slightest, but I blame those departmental officials who supplied him with inaccurate information. What reason had he for stating, on the 14th June last, in reply to a question relating to the Fruit Pool, that “ Mr. Ennis occupies no position in the Commonwealth Service,” while on the 27th instant he said, “ Mr. Ennis is at present employed by the Commonwealth, and his remuneration was steamer fare to London and £100 a month from the date of his commencing duty in London? “ I would like *o know whether the facts were suppressed and misstated at the request of the Tariff Board, and, if so, which member of it was responsible, and what was the reason for suppression? Does the Minister approve of Parliament being deceived by misleading Ministerial replies to questions? No word of mine would convey that he does approve of it. But honorable members are entitled to accurate answers. This is not a party question, and I do not desire to get any party advantage out of it. In recognition of the privilege of Parliament, and to vindicate its supreme authority, what steps will the Government take to insure at all times that the information supplied by Ministers to Parliament is accurate? Will the Government take steps to obtain a written report from the members of the Tariff Board, so as to fix responsibility for the misleading and inaccurate replies given to Parliament? What steps will the Government take to vindicate its right to obtain accurate information from officials?
– What is the nature of the inaccuracy?
– It has reference to the Fruit Pool and to a person who, I am credibly informed, is an American. As an Australian I love my country, and I think I voice the opinion of every honorable member when I say that we must give to Australians by birth and adoption the first chance of filling any positions for which they are fitted. There is more behind these questions than honorable members perhaps realize. That is why I was so desirous of getting accurate information. I absolve the Minister from any mal-intent. We are too old friends for me to think that of him, but I want him, if possible, to find out who is the author of the inaccurate statement.
.- I desire to inform the House that, at 6 10 p.m. on Wednesday, 27th June, the wireless message was received from H.M.A.S. Geranium, surveying vessel, that she had run aground south-west of Cape Vanderlin, off the Pellew Islands, in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The message stated that it was hoped to refloat the ship about midnight. The messages were being received through the Commodore Commanding H.M.A. Fleet, who was in H.M.A.S. Melbourne at Hervey Bay, on the Queensland coast. The Naval Board directed the Commodore to keep in wireless touch with the Geranium, and to send a light cruiser to assist her if subsequent reports rendered this course necessary, and immediate arrangements were also made for H.M.S. Fantome, the Admiralty surveying ship, in the neighbourhood of Thursday Island, to proceed to the assistance of the Geranium. The Commanding Officer reported later that he had been able to move the ship into shallower water, and that he was anchored off Cape Vanderlin. The ship’s bottom was being examined by a diver, and while the ship was making some water, the pumps could keep the ingress of water under, and steps were being taken to effect temporary repairs.
It will be realized by honorable members that an accident of this nature is a contingency which must be reckoned with when a surveying ship is carrying out her duty in uncharted waters. No anxiety is felt by the Naval authorities as to the safety of the vessel, and H.M.S. Fantome is, with the ready consent of the British Admiralty, proceeding to her assistance.
.- >I would nob delay 1 he House on the present occasion if I had had an opportunity to speak on the Supply Bill. I have received a complaint from the Lancashire Association, the secretary of which waited upon me last week upon my return to Adelaide, and I promised him that I would ventilate his grievance when speaking on the Supply Bill. His complaint has reference to the action of the Departments of the PostmasterGeneral and Prime Minister. The association desired to get into touch with Lancastrians arriving as immigrants, and asked to be allowed to exhibit notices in the General Post Office at Adelaide, where most of the immigrants go for letters immediately after their arrival, and also in the Post Office at the Outer Wharf, where most of them arrive. The object was to give new arrivals an opportunity to meet old friends, who would take charge of them. This is a laudable object of the association. I have been shown a copy of the notice which it is desired to display in the General Post Office, and at the Outer Harbor. It is nicely printed and framed. I need not read the two replies sent by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and a further two sent by the Prime Minister’s Department. I would like to know whether the Prime Minister has knowledge of the replies sent by his Department. The notice invites all Lancastrians upon arriving in Australia to get into communication with the association, and they are assured that in that case they will meet friends from the Old Country. I know what this small amount of help means to a new arrival, for I was once an immigrant myself from Staffordshire, and was able to find very few Staffordshire people here. I would like the Prime Minister, and especially the PostmasterGeneral, to reconsider the matter. The Postmaster-General has stated that the Department would have to permit other associations to display notices if it allowed the Lancashire Association to do so, but even if he allowed an association from every country in Great Britain to display a notice, it would-be no disfigurement of the Post Office if the notices were similar to that issued by the Lancashire Association. The Department might consider the provision of a board on which all notices could be displayed for immigrants to see. I cannot see that there is any justification for the PostmasterGeneral refusing to allow the notice to be displayed in a prominent position. I hope the Prime Minister will reconsider this matter. If permission to the Lancastrian Society should lead to other associations of British people making similar requests, no harm would be done. On the contrary, it would probably bring immigrants from British countries together in this, their new home land, and lead to more satisfactory settlement, because those who are here would show some interest in the new-comers, in whom, apparently, very little interest is taken by the authorities after their arrival.
– I am pleased to know that, as the result of repeated questions which I have addressed to the Prime Minister in connexion with our loan indebtedness, we have at last been able to get a statement from the Treasurer concerning the conversion loan. If Parliament had been consulted as to the terms of conversion, the Government would not have been in their present’ position. There is a general feeling amongst all who understand public finance, that sooner or later we must take drastic steps to wipe out our war loan obligations.
– Do you mean that they should be repudiated?
– The Prime Minister’s interjection is a wicked suggestion, and as I know that attempts will be made in the press to misrepresent and injure me and my party, I exclaim against it at once. I have never, in any shape or form, preached the gospel of repudiation.
– I am glad to hear it; but will you tell me what you mean when you say that our war loans should be wiped out ?
– 1 mean that they should be redeemed at the earliest possible date, otherwise they will be a perpetual punishment of the people. We should not offer inducements to those who acquired wealth rapidly during the war to escape their just obligations now by investing in gilt-edged securities like the conversion loan, and thus throw an additional burden upon the industrial classes of the community. T do not know if honorable members have paid me the compliment of reading some remarks which I made upon this subject on tho Address-in-.Reply, but I have sent copies of my speech to the editors of various financial journals in England and elsewhere. A gentleman who thoroughly understands financial problems has assured me that what I have advocated is sound public policy. I very much regret the terms of the conversion loan. I regret also that gentlemen controlling large insurance companies and other financial ‘institutions should seek investment for a large proportion of the capital they control in England in order, as I view the situation, to maintain a high rate of interest on their financial investments in Australia. This course is not patriotic, and certainly it is not in the best interests of the Commonwealth. Honorable members, who are as well able as I to unravel the tangled skein of finance, should know what is. taking place. War loans, as they fall due, should be converted at a lower rate of interest, and the difference between the original and the conversion rates devoted to redemption of the capital liability. A 5 per cent. loan could be converted at 4 per cent. or, perhaps, 31/2 per cent., and the difference placed to a redemption fund. In this way the people would be getting their money back gradually, and it could be employed in the development of various industries throughout the Commonwealth. Our producers, likewise, would benefit; instead of being obliged to pay a high rate of interest for bank accommodation, in some cases ranging up to 10 per cent., for the purchase of, say, farm implements. This relief will not come so long as these gilt-edged securities are on the market. They must be removed. It can be done if only we are bold enough to take the step, and I believe that the people would indorse our action. Already the interest rates in America have fallen. The financial agreement between the United States of America and Great Britain in respect of British war loans, provides for an interest rate of 31/2 per cent. on the funded debt, whereas Australia is paying 6 per cent. on her war loan to Great Britain. It is sound business, from the British point of view, to devote the difference in the interest rates to the redemption of the American debt. Something should be done. There will be a demand for a tax on capital if we cannot get the revenue out of the income tax. I would be in favour of a capital tax rather than impose this burden of a high interest loan upon our people for the next twenty-five years. Farmers cannot carry on their operations without overdrafts; neither can the building contractors. I am sorry that I have made arrangements to remain in Sydney next week, when the National Sinking Fund Bill will be under consideration in this House.
Mr. LATHAM (Kooyong) [4.17).- This morning, in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) about recent revelations concerning the administration of plantations in New Guinea, the Prime Minister treated the matter in what appeared to me a perfunctory official manner. I want to remind the Government, if, indeed, a reminder is necessary, that the international reputation of Australia is at stake in this matter, and that it is most important that it should be dealt with at once. If the Department in control of the Mandated Territory is properly administered; the information necessary to refute the very definite assertions that have been made, ought to be in its possession now. If it is not available in Melbourne at the present time, there must be something wrong with the administration of that Department. Australia cannot be too careful in its administration of Mandated Territory. We are being closely watched by hostile and envious powers, and our administration of New Guinea will always be the subject of the severest criticism. Therefore, instead of waiting for the receipt of reports from officials whose administration is impugned, the Government should institute inquiries in Melbourne immediately, and issue a rebuttal of the statements which have been made, which, if not refuted at once, must tend to destroy the reputation of the Commonwealth. It is most undesirable that these statements should get a start and be used on the other side of the world to damage Australia. I realize that, if the allegations are true, the fault does not lie with the present Administration. During the term of office of the past Government, citizens of Australia could not obtain any information as to how Australia’s international trust was being discharged. I hope that the present. Government will show a better appreciation than was apparent’ in the last Government, of the duty that Australia owes in this respect to the nations of the world and its own citizens. The matter is of the most urgent importance. Every effort should be made to ascertainthe facts, and if they are found to resemble the allegations, immediate and stern action should be taken to apply an immediate remedy.
.- I appreciate what has been said by the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham). When I was in the Mandated Territory twelve months ago, the administration was not all that could be desired. The medical services were so unsatisfactory that I felt it my duty to bring that fact specially under the notice of the Government. The conditions under which the people are obliged to live, call for prompt and most earnest attention. The housing arrangements are most unsatisfactory. No provision had at that time been made to enable the children of European parents to secure the advantage of such facilities as were necessary to their education. Matters concerning the expropriated properties in which our international reputation is involved, require our urgent attention. I hope thatthe Prime Minister will give the subject his most earnest attention.
If we are to legislate by Ordinances in the manner to which this morning the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) drew attention, I trust that, in future, copies of all Ordinances gazetted by different Commonwealth Departments will he supplied to honorable members. We can obtain copies if we send in a request to the different Departments, but it is quite possible that many important matters affecting the Commonwealth are overlooked by honorable members because these documents do not come directly into their hands.
. - I shall look very carefully into the matter which has been raised by thehonorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney), and inform him next week of the result of my investigations. I think there must he some misunderstanding; no one would have any reason for misleading him.
.- This morning, in. reply to a question which I had placed upon the business-paper, the Prime Minister informed the House that the Government had not received the final report of Dr. Campbell Browne, who conducted an expedition to New Guinea at a cost of approximately £10,000. Does the Prime Minister expect to receive that final report from Dr.Campbell Browne; if so, when? I understand that Dr. Campbell Browne has departed from Australia. Did he leave behind him a report, or does he intend to send the Government his final report?
– The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) raises a question which concerns the Postmaster-General’s Department, and I shall bring the matter under the notice of that honorable gentleman.
I was quite unaware that Ordinances were not issued to honorable members with their parliamentary papers. I think the whole of the arrangements for the distribution of the papers issued to honorable members might well be investigated. . I shallhave the matter looked into and see if arrangements can he made along the lines suggested by the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
I have inquired about the report to which the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has referred, and have been informed that when the report was expecteda large number of requisitions were made to the Government to supply information for use in its preparation. As the collection of the information asked for would have involved a very large, expenditure, Dr. Browne’s request was not complied with.
– Did he not go away to obtain information?
– That was my impression. I am now trying to ascertain how we stand in regard to the presentation of the report.
The question raised by the - honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr.Makin) is of almost transcending importance, and is one in connexion with which the good name and reputation of Australia are at stake. There is nothing inregard to which this Government or this Parliament should be more jealous than the manlier in which we administer the Territory which has come to us under a Mandate from the League of Nations. Ever since they took office Ministers have given earnest consideration to this matter.We have investigated very fully the existing position, but we feel that it is necessary to have an even deeper investigation than we have so far been able to make in regard to the Expropriation Board and tihe physical care of the plantations. We have appointed a firm of accountants in Sydney - Messrs. Yarwood and Company - to investigate the whole matter. It will send tothe Territory one of its representatives, accompanied by a tropical expert, who will make an absolutely independent report to the Government. The general administration of the Territory naturally is causing the Government very groat concern. It is imperative that we should have administering this Territory persons of the very highest reputation,possessing qualities which will enable them to deal properlywith questions that arise in the handling of a native population. As the British race has always prided (itself on administering, in a way that no other nation hasbeen able to rival, territories where there is a native population, it is essential for us to demonstrate that we . possess the aptitude and facility for governing a native population.
– We have a most efficient and satisfactory Administrator at Papua.
– The whole position is being investigated in order that wo may make sure that we are discharging in the best possiblemanner the task that has been laid upon our shoulders. One alteration that we are making immediately is the transference of the control of New Guinea from the Prime Minister’s Department to that of the Minister for Home and Territories. The reason actuating that decision has been that this is a very important- administration, requiring the- most careful and -close handling depair’tmentally. It is inevitable that’ the Prime Minister can not give’ the attention that is necessary to : , the administrative ‘ questions that arise from day to day. I ask honorable members to consider the consequences very seriously before -making statements on this subject. Australia’s reputation is involved in this matter. I give honorable membersthe assurance that the Government realize that it is aquestion of transcending importance, and that they are doing everything in their power to insurethat no reproach can be levelled against Australia touching the manner in which it is administering the Territory.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 June 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1923/19230629_reps_9_103/>.