9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) tookthe chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
Bill received from, the Senate and (on motion by Sir Littleton Groom) read a first time.
– It is with very great regret, which I am sure will be shared by all honorable members, that I have to announce that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) has, owing to the state of his health, felt compelled to ask me to submit his resignation as Minister for Trade and Customs to the Governor-General, who has accepted it. I am glad to be able to say that, while the honorable gentleman has taken this course at the suggestion of his medical adviser, his present state of health is not such as to cause alarm to his friends.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– He has taken this course only because his medical adviser has told him that, in the interests of his health, it is essential that he should not continue to carry the very heavy burden of high office which he has borne for so long. We all recognize the great services which the honorable gentleman has rendered to Australia throughout his parliamentary career, and all sincerely hope that he may long be spared to continue a1’ member of ‘Hhib House and’ ‘assist “us with’ his counsel and knowledge. “
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– For the present, the Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom) will act as Minister for Trade and Customs, and will answer in this House questions with which the Department is concerned.
– Last year, I brought under the notice of the Prime Minister the fact that the 12,000-ton ship which was then being launched at Cockatoo Island Dock was to bear the name Fordsdale. This greatly incensed the people of New South Wales. I understand that next week the second of these magnificent ships is to be launched, and is to bear the name “Ferndale.” Representatives of newspapers saw me during the week-end, and suggested that I should ask the Prime Minister whether it is not possible to find typical Australian names which these magnificent ships might bear. The second question I was requested to ask was whether the new ship might be launched on a Saturday afternoon, in order that the general public might witness the- launching. The third point raised by those who interviewed me was whether a committee of citizens-
– Order! The honorable member is making a speech, not asking a question.
– I am sorry; but I do not see how I can frame my questions in any other way.
– I cannot allow them in the form which the honorable member has adopted.
– The third question which . I wish to ask the Prime Minister is whether a committee of citizens might he formed to see that proper names for these ships are allotted to -them ?
– The naming of these ships has received very careful consideration, and I shall give the honorable member the fullest information as to what led to the adoption of the present names. With regard to the second question, suggesting the postponement of the date of launching from the 12th to the 14th of next month, I will have the matter looked into, and will see , whether action can be taken, in. that direction. In his third question the’ honorable member asked that a committee of citizens should be created to determine what the names of these ships should be. The Government do not see their way to accede to that request,
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether this House will be given an opportunity to discuss the order which has been issued, that every householder must provide a letter-box at his dwelling? This order may involve great hardship and injustice upon people who are only tenants of the houses in which they live.
– I will inform the Acting Postmaster-General of the objection raised by the honorable member to . the order referred to, and will ask him to give consideration to his complaint.
Reportfrom Yarwood, Vane and Company
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he will indicate when the report from Yarwood, Vane and Company, accountants, of Sydney; on the mandated Territory of New Guinea will be made available to this Parliament?
– The report has been received within the last two or three days, and I hope to be able to make it available to honorable members very shortly.
– In view of the increasing importance properly attached by the people of Australia to matters of health, and especially with regard to the spread of cancer, tuberculosis, and venereal diseases, will the Prime Minister favorably consider the advisability of makings the Health Department a separate department from that of Trade and Customs?
– I can assure the honorable member that the Government are ever watchful to see that whatever separation of Ministerial Departments may be necessary shall be given effect when it is in the interests of the country. Action will naturally be taken if the Government considers that there should be a separate Minister for Health. “
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he is prepared to give consideration to the suggestion that the ‘ Government should assist an all-Australian Band to represent Australia at the Empire Exhibition?
– I announced in this House some little time ago that the Government has contributed £1,000 for this purpose. *
– As an Australian concert is to be given at Wembley next month, will the Prime Minister arrange for Senator Wilson - “ the gift of the gods “ - to sing the song of Australia at that function?
– As Senator Wilson is now more than half-way back to Australia, it would be utterly impossible to meet the request of the honorable member.
– (By leave.) - The loan of £10,000,000 which was issued in London on the 20th May, is to be used partly to pay off £5,000,000 of Treasury bills issued by the Commonwealth in London on the 1st of April last, and partly to provide funds for carrying out the programme of developmental works which the Government now have in hand and which were approved by Parliament when the last Budget was dealt with. The loan carries interest at 5 per cent, per annum, and was issued at par. The yield to the investor will therefore be exactly 5 per cent, per annum. The date of maturity is the 1st of June, 1945; but the Commonwealth Government have the option of redeeming the loan on or before the 1st of June, 1935, on giving three months’ notice. The terms of the loan were fixed after very careful consideration by the Government, and after consultation with the Commonwealth’s financial advisers in London. They are better than those of any of the loans floated by the Commonwealth or the States in London during the last financial year, all of which were floated at a discount. , The loan moneys secured by.this issue are to be spent in Australia, but the -Government do not propose actually to transfer any of the money from London to Australia. The Treasury has considerable revenue moneys on hand in Australia, and will transfer portion of these from the Revenue Account to the Loan Account, and, at the same time, transfer from the Loan Account to the Revenue Account the cash received in London. The London cash will thus become available to meet oar revenue commitments in London, whilst the cash in Australia will be available for carrying out the loan programme of developmental works here. The flotation of the loan does not create any exchange difficulty for the Commonwealth, which will not.be faced with the task of actually transferring cash from London to Australia.
– Is the £5,000,000, which the Treasurer says will provide funds for carrying out the Government’s programme of developmental work, to be spent upon immigration?
– The money raised by this loan is part of the £18,000,000 authorized in the last Loan Bill, to be spent upon postal and other works, as well as immigration.
Mr.WEST. - Have the Government -taken steps to raise the loan through the Commonwealth Bank or has it been raised through the stock-broking firm of Sir John Nivison and Company?
– The Commonwealth Bank is the Government’s bank.
– Has the Prime Minister seen in the Sydney Labour Daily astounding statements with regard to the treatment of natives in New Guinea, and, if so, what action does he propose to take in the matter?
– I have not seen the statements referred to.
Department of the Prime Minister.
– Is it the intention of /the Prime Minister to appoint a successor -to Mr. Dow, the Publicity Officer of his Department, who is about to be sent to >the United States of America?
– Mr. Dow is to be transferred to America to take the place of Mr. Edwards, who has been in America for some time, and is now returning to Melbourne to take up the duties of Publicity Officer in my Department.
Ill-treatment of Boy.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been drawn to a statement in the Sydney press that a boy in a military camp, who had been kept under a cold water tap for 35 minutes, caught a chill, and subsequently died?
– My attention was called to the statement in the press, and I immediately ordered an inquiry. It is impossible to stop all “ ragging “ in militarycamps, but every attempt is made to do so. However, this is a serious affair, and I shall see that it is sifted to the bottom.
– Will the Government try to arrange with the shipping company at present trading between Melbourne and Tasmania to have the s.s. Nairana - which is used in the summer months only, and is not at present in. commission - run a service once a week from Melbourne to Hobart and back? I would like this done as soon as possible, particularly because the service between Melbourne and Launceston is being continually delayed by heavy fogs, and the delays cause a great amount of inconvenience and extra expense to passengers who have occasion to travel at this time of the year to the southern part of Tasmania.
– I shall ascertain what the position is, and whether there is any possibility of the arrangement being made which is suggested by the honorable member.
– Is it the intention of the Government to re-transfer the dockyard at Cockatoo Island to the Naval Board?
– I have no knowledge of any such intention.
asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information desired by the honorable member is not at present available, and will take some time to collate. I am having inquiries made, and will advise him of the result as early as possible.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice-r-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
No oil leases have been granted. If this question is intended to relate to oil prospecting licences the answers are as follow : - (a)Eight.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– With the exception of minor items, all materials used in the construction of buildings carried out by the Public Works officers of my Department are of Australian origin and manufacture. When the use of such material is contemplated the marble offering from Central Queensland will receive due consideration.
Artisans Sent to England
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
oodnadatta-Q uorn railway.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
What were the grounds upon which the tender of the successful tenderer for engines for the Oodnadatta-Quorn railway was accepted in preference to that of the Perry Engineering Company, seeing that the accepted tender was £550 per engine higher than that of the Perry Engineering Company?
– I regret that a wrong impression was created by the answer to the honorable member’s question of the 23rd instant. The Australian tenders were as follow: - Thompson and Company Proprietary Limited, Castle- maine, £136,400; Perry Engineering Company, £.143,472; Walkers Limited, £147,896. The difference in price per engine between the tender submitted by the Perry Engineering Company and that of Thompson and Company Proprietary Limited is £505.
Interest on Current Accounts.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Willhe, in accordance with his promise of the . 1st August last, state what is the result of his submission to the Acting Governor of the Commonwealth Bank of the following questions, asked on that day by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, viz: -
Is it- a fact that a banking company has started business in Melbourne and Sydney which allows interest on current accounts?
In order to keep abreast of progressive banking methods, is he prepared to give the same system a trial in the Commonwealth Bank?
– As promised, the suggestion to allow interest on current accounts was submitted for the consideration of the Acting Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, but he has not advised me as to his views on the matter.
Plans Supplied by Messrs Kirkpatrick.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, 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 : -
– On the 21st May, 1 promised the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) to have inquiries made regarding the position of telephonists who may have been employed in a temporary capacity for long periods, and who have passed an examination for permanent . appointment but have failed to secure such appointment. The Public Service Board has now advised me as follows : -
Under the Public Service Regulations successful candidates, at entrance examinations, are eligible for appointment for a period of eighteen months, and the published conditions of the examination contain an intimation to that effect. This is a necessary limitation. The number of permanent appointments made is limited by requirements, and the provision made by Parliament. The fact that a successful candidate has , been fortunate enough to obtain temporary employment does not affect the question of permanent appointment in the order of passing of the prescribed examination.
– On the the 23rd May the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) for the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) asked the Minister for Trade and Customs the following questions: -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
General Manager’s Motor Garage
– On the 15th May the honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley) asked the following question: -
Whether he will ascertain the cost of the general manager’s motor garage, Cockatoo Island, by causing an examination to be made of the job cards headed “ G.M.’s Motor Oarage,” the total cost of same being charged rup to a standing job number for offices and “buildings?
As the result of further inquiries, I am now able to inform the honorable member that there is no trace of the job cards referred to by him, nor have any of the foremen at Cockatoo, who would have been employed in the construction, any knowledge of work being carried out by Cockatoo Island men at King Lane, Balmain. The owner of the garage referred to states that Mr. King Salter hired the building from him for a period during the year 1915, and that certain improvements were effected in that year at his (the owner’s) expense and by his own workmen.
– On the 15th May the honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley) asked what money has been spent on repairs and alterations to each “Bay” boat of the Commonwealth Line since being taken over from the builders. I am now in receipt of the following advice from the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board: -
The amount of money which has been spent on repairs and alterations on the “ Bay “ steamers, since ‘taking over from the builders, is as follows: -
Where complete accounts have not been received from branches, &c, estimates have been made of the approximate amount which would be expended to date and included in the above figures.
– On the 7th May the’ honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) asked that the decisions of the Shipbuilding Tribunal, subsequent to March, 1921, should be printed for the information of the various unions connected with the shipbuilding industry. I promised to look into the matter with a view to meeting the wishes of the honorable member if possible. I am now able to inform the honorable member that action is being taken to have all the decisions of the Tribunal, subsequent to March, 1921, printed, and it is expected that copies will be available at an early date.
– On the 16th May the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) asked me whether I would consult with the Acting Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, regarding the advisability of having a formal opening of the new bank premises in Collinsstreet, so that the public might have an opportunity of viewing the building. The suggestion was conveyed to the Acting Governor who, in a written reply, said -
It is intended to invite the public to view the building when completed, which it is thought would be fairer to the general public than inviting a selected few to a formal opening. Arrangements have been made for the opening to receive full press publicity.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at -
Bunyip, Victoria; - for Postal purposes.
Invermay, Tasmania - for Postal purposes.
Mount Hawthorn, Western Australia - for
North Norwood, South Australia - for Postal purposes.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired at Coogee, New South Wales.
Debate resumed from 23rd May (vide page 913), on motion by Mr. Atkinson -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– Before the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) continues his remarks, I should like to make one observation for his guidance and for the guidance of the House. It will be within the recollection of the House that the Standing Orders were suspended on Friday last to enable the honorable member to have extended time, and at the conclusion of that day’s sitting, he was given leave to continue his speech on the resumption of the debate. I have investigated the history of this procedure in the rulings of previous Speakers, with the object of determining how much longer the honorable member is entitled to speak. I have found no very definite rule, but the last occasion on which -this matter was dealt with was when the late Speaker (Sir Elliot Johnson) ruled, By suggestion and by enforcement, that an honorable member who had had his time extended could speak only for double the period allowed by the Standing Orders, which, on the motion for the second reading of a Bill, is 65 minutes. On that occasion, when the honorable member whose time had been extended had spoken for double the time allowed by the Standing Orders, he was ordered by Mr. Speaker to conclude his remarks, and the speech terminated. Having no other guidance, I shall feel obliged to continue to enforcethat ruling until the House sees fit to determine otherwise. The honorable member for the Northern Territory has now 33 minutes left to him.
– In view of your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I shall have to speak fast to conclude my remarks within thetime allowed. In the first place, I should like to reply to the following statement, which appeared in last Saturday’s Sun. It was made by the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), whom I am pleased to see present in one of thegalleries this afternoon - “ It would be a great advantage to Mr.. Nelson,” said Senator Pearce, with gentle, sarcasm, “ if he had read and understood the. Bill before talking about it.”
I can afford to ignore that statement. I shall leave it to honorable members to say whether I understand the subject. Regarding my complaint that I was unable to interview him when this Bill was in preparation, the Minister said that he had adhered to every appointment made with me either by letter or telephone. I admit frankly that I have been treated courteously by him on every occasion of our meeting, but I was referring to the time when the Bill was under preparation, and I emphasize, the statement that I could obtainno details of the measure. I know that a meeting of pastpralists interested was being held at Scott’s Hotel, and when I asked the Minister if lie would discuss the matter with me, he referred me to a Mr. Hicks, in the Lands Department. I declined to see Mr. Hicks, and when I requested the Minister to postpone the promulgation of the Land Ordinance for three days to give me an opportunity to discuss its provisions with him, he refused to do so. Subsequently I informed him that I intended to move the adjournment of the House to deal with the matter, and asked him to be present. I still adhere to my statement that whilst I was unable to secure admittance to the Minister to discuss this matter with him, the board of which I spoke was in close touch with the Minister all the time. In the press this morning I notice a long interview with Mr. C W. D. Conacher, the attorney for
Lord Vestey in the Northern Territory. Mr. Conacher sta’tes- lt is only in the last few years that one or two members of the’ House of Representatives have been able to make themselves to some extent personally familiar with some sections of the country, but the total knowledge of the Ho’us^e does not by any means cover all the Territory. Even Mr. Nelson himself owes what little knowledge he possesses of the country to his trip across the Barkly Tableland with Senator Pearce last year, find that with Mr. Stewart to Alice Springs and Barrow Creek this year. Apart from these journeys, Mr. Nelson’s, knowledge is confined to Darwin and the railway lines, with one excursion to the Victoria River d6p6t, which is only on the fringe of the Victoria River country.
That is a malicious and misleading statement. Mr. Conacher knows perfectly well that I have traversed a great deal of the Northern Territory, and that, in addition to touring the coastal areas, I have ridden hundreds of miles, on horseback through country that Mr. Conacher has never seen. On more than one occasion he has asked for my opinion in regard to country with which he was unfamiliar. Mr. Conacher also makes this statement -
Mr. Nelson had the opportunity of giving the facts when he referred ‘to the size of Vestey holdings, but he preferred, instead, to double the area held by our company.
On this point I refer honorable members to the following statement in the sworn evidence of Mr. McGee, manager of the Wyndham Meat Works: -
Vestey’s own and Gontrol the output of fourteen stations, covering 45,000 square miles, and carrying 200,000 head of stock.
In my remarks I was referring to certain leasehold areas on the Western Australian border. Mr. Conacher also denies that I produced the minutes of . the jneeting of pastoralists held at Scott’s Hotel, or gave the list of pastoralists present. Honorable members know that I did produce the minutes, which were signed by Mr. Massy Greene, as chairman. They also know that I gave a list of the persons present, and emphasized the fact that in the main they were holders of leases that were about to ‘ expire, and therefore were interested in the proposed legislation. These are the men who were in close touch with the Minister during the preparation of the Bill. During my speech on Friday the Minister in charge interjected to the effect that the Bill had then already been drafted. Again I refer honorable members to the remark made by Mr. Massy Greene, that the Minister had agreed to work in conjunction with them.
– What was the date of that meeting?
– ‘The 28th February, 1923.
– Mr. Massy Greene was not a member of this House then.
– That is immaterial. I do not suggest that Mr. Massy Greene deliberately misled the pastoral lessees present at that meeting, but I know that, according to the minutes, he informed them that the Minister had agreed, during the preparation of the Bill, to deal with a committee that might be appointed by the meeting. Ail this goes to show that Mr. Conacher’s statements in reply to my speech are anything but reliable. He also excuses the resolution of the meeting with regard to the dingo ordinance on the ground that it was due to a misunderstanding. I contrast that resolution with a motion on the same subject carried at a meeting of small leaseholders -
That this conference urges the necessity for immediate action in regard to dingo destruction, and until the dingo ordinance is decided upon, it requests the Government to supplv strychnine to pastoralists at half lahded cost in Darwin.
From this it would appear that ohe section of pastoralists wants the dingo ordinance and the other does not. 1 submit that the meeting of large leaseholder’s at Scott’s Hotel was not an expression of the opinion of the small men in the Northern Territory. I also desire to refer to a. letter which appeared in this morning’s press over the name of Mr. J. C. Warrington Rogers, another gentleman whose name is associated with the meeting held at Scott’s Hotel in February last. In this communication Mr. Rogers ridicules the statement I made on Friday in connexion with the possibility of profitably conducting sheepraising operations in the Northern Territory. My statement was emphatic. It is interesting to note that the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), in moving the second reading of this Bill in another place, stated -
Mr. Lloyd, the manager of Avon Dow,ns Station, has had twenty years’ experience in managing sheep stations in the back country of New South Wales. I had an interesting talk with him when passing through, and he told me that, in his opinion, that station could carry 65,000 sheep.
I contend that that in itself is a sufficient answer to the utterance of Mr. Rogers, who attacked the credibility of my statement concerning the sheep-carrying capacity of the country.
– How many sheep to the acre will it carry?
– I said that in parts the country will carry one. sheep to the acre, and that there is a large area which will carry one sheep to three acres. On Friday, when I obtained leave to continue my speech, I was dealing with clause 58 of the Ordinance, and ‘ was pointing out that that provision defeats the whole object of the measure, because when portions of existing holdings are available for resumption, the present lessees can nominate “ dummies” who can carry on, and that, in some instances, the leases could be extended for another period after 1965. I made that statement notwithstanding the assurance of the Minister in charge of the Bill (Mr.. Atkinson), to the effect that the whole of the leases would expire in 1965. Clause 43 provides that when a lease expires the lessee then in possession shall have priority as regards- a subsequent lease of the portion to be resumed. It will, therefore, be seen that it is impossible for the land to revert to the Crown, in view of the fact that provision is made in the Bill for the present lessee’ to nominate a successor and carry on operations for an extended term. Clause 43 gives a further preference to those in possession of leases expiring in 1965. The Minister said that the conditions ‘regarding improvements set out in the original Ordinance were most stupid, and later he will probably tell the House that the Government are adequately safeguarded by the stocking provisions which can be enforced. The stocking conditions, however, will not do what the Minister expects, because under the .Bill the Land Board can only take into consideration the carrying capacity of the land in ite natural state, and cannot impose stocking conditions in accordance with what the land “might carry when improved. The Minister has decreed that improvement conditions for large lessees are unnecessary. In Mr. Conacher’s letter, which is also referred to in the article I have just quoted, it is admitted that the interests which he represents do not intend to improve their holdings, and that they must have larger areas on which to carry stock. The stocking capacity of any land without water is nil, and the Land Board, in considering stocking conditions, can only take into account the water available. It will be impossible, even if this measure becomes law, to effectively stock the land and to insist on improvements which’ the Minister says are ridiculous. Another grave anomaly is contained in clause 52, which deals with rents, and under which the big interests are again catered for. In the case of a lease granted in exchange for a lease under a South Australian Act in the Darwin and Gulf districts, the rental is to be 2s. per square mile, whereas in the case of a lease granted in exchange for a lease under the Crown Lands Ordinance 1912-1918, as determined by the Board, the rent in the Darwin and Gulf districts is to be not less than 2s. and not more than 6s. per square mile. In the.first instance, the maximum is 2s., and in the second 6s. per square mile. In the “Hctoria River district a lease granted in. exchange for a lease granted under a South Australian Act is 2s. 6d. per square mile, but for a lease granted in ‘ exchange for a lease issued under a Crown Lands Ordinance in the ‘ same district the rate is not less than 2s. 6d. and not more than 6s. per square mile. The rents in the case of areas in the Barkly Tableland, under the Commonwealth, as against those under the South Australian Acts, which are expiring, show a difference of just under 300 per cent. The figures will, not stand careful analysis. I ask the House not to permit this Bill to pass in its present form, but to support the amendment I intend to move, the adoption of which will mean that we shall at least be properly informed as to the true position. I have endeavoured to show that Part II. of this Bill repeals all Acts and ordinances under which improvement conditions can be enforced. Any one knows that it is impossible to obtain satisfactory results from land until it has been improved, but the Honorary Minister says that in the case of large holdings such work is impracticable. If honorable members will refer to the clauses which govern the conditions relating to mixed farming and agriculture they will see that there the Minister has conveniently changed his ground, because, although he considers that it would be ruinous to impose stocking conditions on the big pastoralists, such restrictions are imposed upon the smaller holders, who have not only to fence and cultivate their land, but have to reside on it and comply with the other conditions imposed. These conditions are embodied in the Bill, which relieves the big pastoralists of the necessity of improving their holdings. The small holders, who will be the principal sufferers if this measure is passed in its present form, are limited in area to 1,200 acres, while the holdings of the big pastoralists are confined only by the geographical boundaries of the Northern Territory. I think I have made it clear that the Bill, if enacted, will assist in indefinitely looking up land now held by big pastoralists, as it will allow them to nominate “dummies,” who, under clause 58, will be able to obtain preference in the matter of » renewal of leases expiring in 1965. I have shown that there is no provision for the resumption of land for closer pastoral purposes such as sheepraising, and I have demonstrated, on documentary evidence by the manager of Vestey Brothers, that his firm does not want to see sheep in the Northern Territory. I have pointed out that two years’ notice has to be given for the resumption of agricultural land, and that no permanent waters can be resumed. I refer honorable members to clauses 55 and 79. The Minister proposes, in addition to a Board of three to administer the Act, to appoint another Commission. He should have been fair, and enlightened the House as to what this scheme would cost when put into operation, and whether it was his intention to proceed with the appointment of a second Board. I have drawn attention to the fact that in clause 52 discrimination is made between the big and the little men in the matter of rents. There is no provision for selection of land before survey, but I maintain that in a great empty country like the Territory, if a man has the energy, capacity, and will to make the country profitable, he should be allowed every opportunity to do so. No attempt has been made to place conditions in the Bill that harmonize with scientific methods of land settlement. There should be provision for practical assistance in the shape of transport facilities. Although the small men will have none of the protection given to the big land-holders, they are quite prepared, if assisted with railway facilities, -“ire netting, &c, to develop in the Territory an industry that requires little or no protection, and whose main requirement is practical assistance in the matter of transportation. I have shown that the Bill has been inspired by the big financial interests. These have been catered for in detail, while small men have been ignored. I have made it clear, on documentary evidence, that the large interests in the Territory do not want to see improved holdings, railways, agriculture, irrigation, or sheep-raising, although these things are essential to the development of any country. I have shown that the big men are prepared to perpetuate the dingo evil, while the small land-holders are appealing to the Government to help them to destroy it. The Northern Territory has been condemned owing to a lack of accurate knowledge concerning it, since most people who visit it only go to the northern portion, which is the sour end. Great complaint is made about the millions of money that have been wasted there, but I have never heard any one tell the people of Australia that many of those millions have been paid directly to South Australia. I have not read of .any section of the press, or anybody else, emphasizing the fact that millions of money were paid for the railway within South Australia from Quorn to Oodnadatta, and that the loss sustained by the Commonwealth, since it took that line over, has been £1,500,000, which is debited to my constituency. One hears’ all the points that tell against the Territory, but none of the good features. When I stated that 99 per cent, of the members of this House know nothing about the country, I did the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) an injustice. I realize that he has done good work in trying to educate the people of Australia regarding the possibilities of this muchmaligned land, and the residents greatly appreciate his efforts on their behalf. If the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart) had visited the Territory and made a report upon it, the Bill would have been entirely different in many respects. He would have drawn our attention to the great possibilities of sheep-raising, because he knows what can be accomplished under a sympathetic policy of land development such as Western Australia has adopted. I have, to a .great extent, indulged in a dream over the Territory. I felt justified in hoping that as a result of the consistent efforts and agitation of the local people, this Government would at least tackle the problem of settling and developing the Territory on national lines, but since I have been a member of this House I have come to the conclusion that State jealousies still blight the deliberations of Parliament to a considerable extent. This is highly regrettable. The only fair course is for the Government to admit its failure, create a new State in the Territory, and hand it over to the people who are prepared to do the pioneering work. Those pioneers have been allowed to struggle on against colossal odds, and they have even had to submit to injustice. I marvel at their tolerance. They are expected to remain loyal, although bitter experience has taught them the many flaws in the administrative methods of the Government. Owing to a lack of judgment on the part of their own rulers, these settlers are now weighed down under an intolerable burden, but they are as capable as any people of responding to a constructive policy. They are willing and anxious to participate in a new programme of development. Unfortunately, however, the Bill makes it impossible for them to do what is necessary in the interests of Australia and the Empire; that is, to develop the country. I have no regrets for the part I have played in the affairs of the Territory in recent years. I have endeavoured, with others, to lay the foundation stone of progress, and to create sympathies and habits of thought that would some day result in the overthrow of the present tyrannical system of government that is strangling the nation. If Parliament refuses to concede full State rights to the Territory, it is at least deserving of the appointment of a Minister to devote the whole of his attention to the development of the country and the solution of its many problems. It is not sufficient for a Minister to pay periodical flying visits, and then introduce legislation based on the most meagre information; nor is it enough for. the House to legislate on the advice of Administrators, who, to say the best of them, past and present, have been mere time-servers. If honorable members of the Country party were going to develop a large tract of land, they would not enlist the. services of a man who had spent a lifetime in tha
Police Force; but for the administration of the Northern Territory any one has been regarded as good enough. My one idea has been to conserve the Territory for the white people of the British Empire. I have sounded a note of warning concerning the alarming increase in the coloured population, and unless care is exercised we shall establish a race there that may one day threaten the stability of Australia. I have been endeavouring to awaken the minds of politicians to the true position. I trust that my appeal, which is not a challenge to the prestige of the Government, will be successful. My advice to Parliament is that next time it sets out to legislate on a new problem of settlement, it should obtain practical advice as to the best methods to pursue. I am satisfied that if the Committee that I suggest is appointed a very different complexion will be’ placed upon the .Bill. I imagine that the Government desires least of all that 8 practical report should be made to this House, because such a report would have the effect of disclosing the motives of those who have inspired this Bill. I ask honorable members to support my amendment. I move -
That the Bill be deferred pending an investigation by a Committee of this House and report thereon.
– The amendment as submitted is technically irregular, but, if the House desires, it can be made regular. It is an amendment to the motion that the Bill be now read a second time. I do not know the form in which the honorable, member for the Northern Territory wishes to have the amendment stated, or whether he will be willing to move that the words of his amendment be inserted after the word “ That.”
– That will meet my requirements.
– There is a standing order which permits, any Bill, after the second reading has been carried, to be referred to a Select Committee . for any purpose.
– The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), because of the special position he occupies in this House as the sole spokesman and direct representative of the people of the Northern Territory, is entitled to, and invariably receives, the close attention of honorable members whenever he speaks upon any subject concerning that part or Australia. That being so, it is the more incumbent upon him. in discu sing any subject relating to the Territory, to place the facts as he knows them fairly and dispassionately before honorable members, and his duty to his constituents demands that he should study and endeavour to understand all legislative proposals affecting their interests. His long criticism of this Bill, however, disclosed very little evidence of a proper appreciation by him of his responsibilities; and the only conclusion that can be drawn from his remarks is that he has quite failed to understand its provisions. As I listened attentively to him, there passed continually through my mind the refrain of Newbolt’s verses in Admirals All-
Splinters were flying above, below,
When Nelson sailed the Sound. “Mark you, I wouldn’t be elsewhere now,”
Said he, “ for a thousand pound !”
The Admiral’s signal bade him fly,
But he wickedly wagged his bead.
He clapped the glass to his sightless eye,
And *’ I’m damned if I see it,” he said.
Before I deal with the plea of the honorable member for a report on this Bill by a Select Committee, I shall recapitulate some of his remarks to indicate that he put the telescope to a sightless eye, and oven, it would seem, in some cases, to two sightless eyes. He commenced with a statement that the Bill proposes to hand over one-fifth of the continent to the prese.it holders of it for 100 years. He made that statement deliberately on Friday last. The whole of the Northern Territory is less than one-fifth of Australia, and over two-thirds of it is unoccupied. The South Australian leases are only 54 per cent, of the leased area, or 178,000 square miles. Such inaccuracy is evidence of grotesque exaggeration on the part of the honorable member. He said it was proposed to lock up the Territory for 100 years. The Bill provides ihat all” leases granted under it shall automatically come to an end on the 30th June, 1965, or 41 years from now. He also said that the Commonwealth Government had power .to resume the leases granted under the South Australian Act. That is directly contrary to the legal opinion of the Crown Law authorities, and it. is further evidence of defective vision on the part of the honorable member.
– I never made that statement.
– The honorable member also said that the Bill would prevent the resumption of land within 5 miles of watering places, whereas there are provisions definitely preventing any one attaching that meaning to the Bill. He went. on to say that the Government had “ neglected “ the Territory. During the past year the Government has sent two of its Ministers to the Territory, has placed before the House definite developmental proposals, and is exercising in a most sympathetic and generous way all its powers in the Northern Territory. The honorable member has failed entirely te recognize that the Bill which he condemns brings the Northern Territory, for the first time since the Commonwealth Government took over its control, under a uniform system of local control of its lands. At present the Minister handles all applications dealing with’ South Australian leases. The passing of the Bill will ensure that all leases, whether they be South Australian or Northern Territory leases, are dealt with on the spot by a local Land Board. I shall endeavour to prove to ‘honorable members what a gross misrepresentation of the facts the honorable member’s charges are, in order that they may judge exactly the degree of credence with which his speech should be received. He has said (hat one-fifth of the total area of Australia will be locked up for 100 years in the hands of the present holders. The area of Australia is 2,974,581 square miles, while the Northern Territory comprises an area of only 523,620 square miles - very little more than one-sixth. Of that area merely 178.S34 square miles, are at present held under pastoral lease in the Northern Territory, 96.000 square miles of that area being held under the South Australian leases.
– Which are fast expiring.
– Over 200,000,000 acres of land in the Northern Territory are at present unoccupied. Yet the honorable member says that the passage of this Ordinance will mean that one-fifth of the total area of Australia will be handed over for 100 years to the present holders! Land in the Territory is unoccupied for the same reason that land in other parts of Australia is at present lying idle - the conditions . are not sufficiently favorable to work it profitably. Notwithstand- ing that the honorable member says^ in effect, that we ought to make the conditions so ha’rd that even the areas which are at- present occupied’ will have to be abandoned. Since the Commonwealth took over the Northern Territory 47 pastoral leases -have been- surrendered or forfeited. The honorable member’ himself admitted’ that the population of the Northern Territory is steadily declining.
– I stated the reason for the decline.
– In fact, there are to-day 200 fewer leases than there were 40 years ago.
Mr. Nelson and other honorable members interjecting- ;
– Order! I point out to the honorable member for the Northern Terrritory (Mr. Nelson) that he was granted the indulgence of the House while making his Speech, and he must not disturb its proceedings when another honorable mem’ber is replying.
-I would like the Minister to answer questions occasionally.
– The honorable member will have the opportunity of asking questions when the Bill is in Committee.
– This grotesque exaggeration of the honorable member regarding the area to be dealt with under the Ordinance is, however, of little importance, compared with his second statement that this land will be- locked up for 100 years.
Clause 51 of the Ordinance provides -
Any pastoral lease granted under . - this Ordinance in exchange for a lease existing at the commencement of this Ordinance shall expire on the 30th day of June, 1965.
Nothing could be more definite than that. In regard to such leases, clause 53 (a) provides that the Minister may, on 30th June, 1935- eleven years hence - resume an area not exceeding one-quarter of the total area included in the lease, and a further area not exceeding one-quarter- of the total area originally included in the lease on 30th June, 1945- about 21 years hence. It will thus be seen that under this Ordinance one-half of the total area leased will revert to the Crown at the expiration of 21 years, and it will rest entirely with the Government at that time to say what shall be done with it. That is as plain as it can possibly be made. In June, 1935, and June, 1945, the wholeof these lands, will, become subject to any conditions that the Government of the day may see fit to impose. The Crown will’ be unfettered by any consideration, ‘ other than that of the public interest, in releasing the areas it has- resumed. Clause- 53 (6) of the Ordinance sets out the powers of resumption in the case of any other lease granted under the proposed Ordinance ; that is, an entirely new lease granted to a person who is not at present a lessee. Clause 4’0 of the Ordinancelays it down that pastoral leases shall be for a term not exceeding 42 years. Clause 53 provides for the reservation, of the power of resumption. What, then., becomes of the honorable member’s contention that these lands will be locked up for a century? He said that this would be effected in the guise of a subdivision made in pursuance of clause 58 of theOrdinance. The lessee, he alleged, would make a pretence at subdivision, and by enlisting the services of a dummy, secure a lease of the subdivided area for a further term of 42 years. Honorable members need have no misgivings on that point, because clause 58 (2) expressly provides ‘ that subdivisions must be transferred to persons approved by the Minister, and the transfer shall be merely for the remainder of the term of the original lease. The honorable member’s criticism in this regard is, therefore, shown to be as grotesque a misstatement as his calculation of the area involved. There can be very little scope for the. exercise of ingenuity iu the direction of dummying in regard to the length of notice - two years - required to be given under clause 58 (1). There can be no doubt, either, that the subdivided portions of the leases will expire, on the same date as the original leaser - 30th June, 1965. It- must be clearly borne in mind, however, that these powers relate only to resumption for closer pastoral settlement. In addition, clause 78 (1) of the Ordinance expressly empowers resumption for a variety of other purposes. That clause provides -
– (1.) Subject to this Ordinance the Go vernor-General may, at any time, by Proclamation -
That is to say, this Ordinance gives to the Crown the right to resume land for those specific purposes. If mixed farming is found to be possible, the Crown will have the opportunity of dealing with this land at any time on two years’ notice, which is adjacent to railways already constructed and other probable routes. The honorable member also stated that the Commonwealth is already vested with the power to resume for pastoral purposes portion of the pastoral leases held under the South Australian Acts. That is a layman’s opinion, and it is interesting to know that an entirely opposite view is held by the Crown Solicitor. Does the honorable member for the Northern Territory want the Commonwealth Government to emulate Mr. Theodore in his famous Repudiation proposals? Mr. Theodore, by his actions, brought Queensland’s credit to the verge of destruction, and was only able to secure the recent conversion of Queensland loans in England by an assurance that the Queensland Government had been duly advised that the Act in question did not in any way constitute a breach of contract. He expressed the opinion that had he been advised otherwise, the Act would never have been passed. The honorable member for the Northern Territory, after a definite legal opinion has been given that his- resumption proposals constitute a breach of this Government’s legal obligations, now says “ For God’s sake go on and do it.”
– I distinctly referred to leases that expired by effluxion of time.
– The honorable member said: “Go ahead and break the contract.” No quicker way to destroy Australia’s credit, and prevent the development of the Northern Territory, as well as the rest of Australia, could very well be suggested. In putting a proposal of that sort before this Parliament, the honorable member does not do himself justice. The fourth point on which the honorable member apparently attempted to mislead honorable members related to conditions of resumption. These are dealt with in clause 79, subclause 2b, and in clause 55, sub-clause 1d. They are in identical terms, and have been specially drawn up to put beyond all question such a construction as the honorable member has attempted to put upon them. The provision reads -
The part or parts which may be resumed shall not comprise the head station, or any of the leased lands within 5 miles thereof, or the principal watering place upon the land.
The word “ thereof “ clearly relates to the words “head station,” and the clause can only be made to read as the honorable member has endeavoured to read it by inserting the word “ of “ after the word “ or “, second occurring. But even then only lands within 5 miles of the principal watering place would have been included, so there is no justification for concluding that lands within 5 miles of any watering place were exempt from resumption. Only one watering place, and that, quite equitably, the principal watering place, is expressly non-resumable. Two-thirds of the area of the Northern Territory is not occupied, and if we impose conditions which are not quite equitable on land already occupied, ere long the whole of the Territory will be abandoned. Such provisions as I have read are usual in leases, and are quite necessary when one remembers that 200,000,000 acres of the Northern Territory, despite the fact that its rainfall is much greater than that of Western Queensland, are unoccupied. . This can be confirmed by a glance at the Government Meteorologist’s map. We must offer some inducement, especially that of fair dealing, to the people that we desire to settle in the Territory. The honorable member for the Northern Territory has complained of the proposed omission of the improvement conditions. He apparently fails to realize that effective occupation depends primarily upon adequate stocking conditions, and that if the lands are kept adequately stocked, improvements will follow without any compulsion of law. The lessees will be compelled, by force of circumstances, to effect such improvements as are necessary to carry their stock. The Ordinance, indeed, by providing for compensation for improvements upon the determination or resumption of the leases, tends to encourage lessees to undertake improvements voluntarily. Everything possible is done to ensure the provision of improvements. Clauses 25a and i, 26a, 396, and 41 lay down reasonable stocking conditions, and it is proposed to rigidly enforce compliance with them. Inthe past, onerous improvement conditions have been imposed, but it is considered to be the wiser course to refrain from subjecting lessees to financial obligations to the prejudice of the primary needs of their pursuits. There is nothing in the Ordinance itself to prevent improvement conditions from being imposed in any new lease if the Government sees fit. Paragraph j of clause 25 reads -
The non-imposition of improvement conditions will not. detract from the obligagations of lessees to provide proper housing accommodation for their employees. This will be dealt with in a separate Ordinance. I thought it only proper to deal with those points which are contrary to facts, and on which the honorable member for the Northern Territory has gone astray. He has put up a plea for further delay and further reports. Up to date, the only products of the Northern Territory have been reports and delays, and I am surprised that a representative of the Territory wishes to increase this load of production by postponing . the advent of a progressive developmental policy such as is foreshadowed in the Ordinance. His reason for this further delay is to enable honorable members to visit the Northern Territory to view, in a period of two months, the conditions throughout the whole of the Territory.
– Has the Minister been there ?
– I have visited Darwin, but I would not say that I knew anything of the Northern Territory because of that fact. It is proposed that honorable members should spend a couple of months in viewing the conditions of the Northern Territory - an area over 500,000 square miles in extent, and six times greater than that of Victoria - with practically no roads or railways, and few telegraphic and telephone facilities. Yet the honorable member wishes a Committee of this House to report upon the general principles of pastoral settlement, and to suggest a better method of placing land in the hands of the Government within a shorter period than is proposed under this Ordinance. These results can better be obtained by honorable members sitting in Melbourne. I invite honorable members to read on this subject the 150 odd reports that have from time, to time been submitted to this House. Instead, the honorable member wants them to rush to the Northern Territory to obtain a report that will later be added to the file of unread documents. The questions raised by the Ordinance are, first, that of the general principle underlying the administration of pastoral lands in Australia, and, second, that of figures and areas : whether this Ordinance, if passed, will enable more land to be resumed within a reasonable time than would otherwise be the case. It seems to me to be almost as sensible to suggest sending a parliamentary party to the moon to determine whether wits operations are controlled by the law of gravitation as to suggest sending one into the huge uncharted areas in the Northern Territory to determine, after two or three months’ investigation, the principles which should govern our efforts to-‘ ‘encourage settlement there. When a proposal is made to stimulate settlement on the pastoral land of the north-weste; of Western Australia honorable members do not suggest that a parliamentary party should be despatched to that territory; nor would the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) suggest that-we should send a parliamentary party into the Western District to determine the principles which underlie any proposed legislation which would affect it. Consideration of this Ordinance has already been delayed for twelve months to give honorable members an opportunity to “visit the Northern Territory.
– The Treasurer stopped that project.
– I did not stop it. Although efforts were made to arrange a party, it was not possible to find a sufficient number of honorable members who wished to make the trip. Yet the honorable member representing the Northern Territory wishes to postpone for another twelve months the adoption of a policy of progressive development for the Territory, and to prevent the people from obtaining a certain measure of local government. This Parliament has ample information on which to found suitable legislation for the pastoral development of the Northern Territory. The conditions upon which Crown leaseholds are granted in Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland are available, and honorable members must realize that they are not only almost identical in the various States, but are the result of the experience of over a century. The Ordinance now before the House was founded on the provisions which at present govern the granting of such leases in Australia. Can the honorable member for the Northern Territory seriously suggest that a two or three months’ visit to the Northern Territory, by a parliamentary party, will equip them with such information as will entitle us to disregard the experience of over 100 years in settling pastoral lands in other parts of Australia? Land settlement in all the Australian States has been .along similar lines. First, the big pastoralist has occupied large areas of country; then that country has been subdivided into smaller holdings for cattle and sheep, and finally those holdings have been subdivided again for mixed farming and agriculture. The Northern Territory must also pass through those stages before it will be satisfactorily settled. The country will have to be made available on fair and just conditions to men who are able to handle it, and the present unoccupied country, which comprises two-thirds of the total area, will have to be offered on conditions which are generous. The difficulties of the situa tion are increased, for this country is farther away from the great cent-res of population than a/ny other Australian pastoral areas. The conditions governing the allotment of pastoral leases in the Various Australian States are interesting. In New South Wales Crown leases may be granted for agricultural or grazing purposes, or for both, in blocks of such area as the Minister may determine, for a period of 45 years. The lessee must reside upon his block for five years. The annual rental is lj per cent, of the capital value of the land, and reappraisements are made every fifteen years. Leases of country in the western district of New South Wales, which is more comparable with the Northern Territory country than any other land in Australia, contain an extra provision that rents may not be increased more than 25 per cent, on each re-appraisement. In South Australia, pastoral leases are issued under the Pastoral Acts for terms of 42 years, at rentals fixed by the Commissioner of Crown Lands. Re- appraisements are made after fifteen years. The lessee must expend 10s. per square mile per annum on improvements, as recommended «by the Pastoral Board, and certain conditions are made in respect to stocking. Under the provisions of the same Act a person who discovers pastoral land, or who applies for a lease of country which has been abandoned for three years or more, may obtain a lease of such land for 42 years at a peppercorn rental for ten years, 6d. per square mile per annum for the next ten years, and thereafter at 2s. per square mile per annum. In the last eleven years, 47 pastoral leases, with an aggregate area of 18,000 square miles, have been surrendered in the Northern Territory. Pastoral leases are granted in Queensland for terms of 30 years, and re-appraisements are made every ten years. In Western Australia, Crown leases of a maximum area of 1,000,000 acres aTe granted for pastoral purposes to persons who agree to certain stocking conditions. Such leases expire in 1948. Rents are re-appraised after fifteen years. I submit to honorable members that the conditions which prevail in other parts of Australia must, necessarily, be the basis that this House must accept iii fixing the conditions which should apply to leases of the Northern Territory pastoral lands. We should not be justified in disregarding the long experience of the States of Australia in respect to leasing pastoral country. Certainly, we shall not act wisely if we send a party to the Northern Territory for two or three months and are guided by their hurriedly-formed judgment. Already over 100 reports have been made on the Northern Territory pastoral lands. I have about 100 of them by my side on the table.- Honorable members should read them. It may be objected that some of them are 40, or even 50 years old. But Northern Territory conditions have not appreciably altered in that time. Within the last thirteen ‘ or fourteen years, the Public Works Committee has visited the Northern Territory twice, and three Royal Commissions and some other parliamentary parties have made expeditions there.
– There have been three parties of members.
– That is so. The first settlement in the Northern Territory was made 100 years ago, and our “sports average more than one a year for the whole of that time. Yet the honorable member representing the Northern Territory cries, “ Woodman, spare the tree for another year.” He wishes us to send still another Commission of investigation to the Territory. The Northern Territory was first - settled in 1824. South Australia took control of it in July, 1863. The total population, in. 1881, was 3,435. So successful was the administration that in 1910 the total population was 3,005, or over 400 less than 30 years previously. The Commonwealth Government assumed control of the Territory in 1911, and by increasing the number of officials, increased the population to 3,271 in that year. The highest population ever recorded there was 5,062 in 1918, but, in 1923, . the returns showed an increase of ‘ only 21 on the 1911 figures. There are now 3,292 people there, or 143 less than in 1881. This decline has occurred in spite of all the efforts that have been made to encourage industrial and pastoral development. Large sums of money have been spent there on the mining industry. Three Government batteries have been established, and altogether £250,000 has been spent on mining. Over £50,000 has been spent to assist agricultural settlement, but no satisfactory results have followed. Special advances totalling £8,000 have been made to various settlers, of which £5,000 has been written off as irrecoverable. Experimental farms were established at Daly River and Batchelor, at a cost of £35,000, and both have been abandoned. Thirteen free blocks were granted to settlers on the Daly River, and only two or three of the original settlers are -in occupation to-day. The time has come when we must return to first principles. Honorable members know that the pastoral industry has always been Australia’s pioneer industry. It is the only hope of that country. This Ordinance aims at providing some security of tenure for the pastoralists, at the same time enabling the Government when it proposes to undertake a progressive policy of development to lay its hands upon lands required for closer settlement and cultivation. This Ordinance will secure for the Northern Territory four definite advantages immediately. The first is the abolition of the present divided control between the Minister situated in Melbourne and the Classification Board in Darwin. By this Ordinance the whole lands administration will be consolidated and brought under local control. In the second place it will put the Government in a better position to carry on a developmental policy by giving it greater control of lands already leased, and the power to resume areas for closer pastoral settlement. It will place more fully under local control the whole system of lands administration, and will obviate the necessity under existing conditions of having many matters referred to a distant Minister. It will serve to remove anomalous and onerous conditions attached to leases granted under the existing Ordinance, which if not rectified will lead to small holders abandoning their leases. By permitting reasonable security of tenure with equitable conditions, it will be an incentive to existing lessees to put their holdings to the fullest possible use. The Ordinance is an honest attempt to get back to the first principles of Australian settlement. The only objection that could be raised to such a proposal would be that it locked up the lands which should be available to give effect to a developmental policy, and which could not be secured except with undue advantage to the present holder. This is a matter which can be decided, as well as the other matters to which I have referred, without a visit to the Northern
Territory. It is merely a question of looking at the map of the Territory, considering the reports received, and knowing the developmental proposals to be dealt with. If this Ordinance is not carried, out of the lands held under South Australian leases, which include the bulk of those which are likely to benefit most from any immediate railway development, only fourteen leases, comprising a total area of 3,758 square miles, will revert to the Government in eleven years. If this Ordinance is carried, we shall be able to relume 24,060 square miles, or seven times as great an area, in the same period of eleven years. Up to 1945, half of the present total area can be; resumed, which will practically represent the total area held under the present South Australian pastoral leases. With regard to other pastoral leases the position is as follows, and it is just as well that it should be put upon record. There are 246 leases, comprising a total area of 82,588 square miles with a total rental of £10,000 per annum. These leases would under the present system, by effluxion of time, revert to the Crown within varying periods. From 1935 to 1939, both inclusive, only eight leases, with a total area of 950 square miles, will fall in. That is to say, that under the present conditions the Government would only have available 3,758 square miles plus 950 square miles, which is 4,700 square miles, whereas from the South Australian leases alone in that time it would be able to resume 24,000 square miles. From these lessees the Government can take another 20,000 square miles, and so will have available 44,000 square miles for resumption in 1935. From 1940 to 1943, both inclusive, there will revert to the Crown 27 leases with a total area of 7,687 square miles. During 1944 to 1955, both inclusive, no leases will fall in. From 1956 to 1960, both inclusive, there will be 98 leases, with a total area of 33,297 square miles reverting to the Crown; from 1961 to 1965, both inclusive, there will revert to the Crown 113 leases, with a total area of 40,654 square miles. Honorable mem-‘ bers will see that whilst it is not in the power of the Government, under existing conditions, to resume land from the South Australian leases for other than public purposes, under this Ordinance the power of resumption is given, not . merely of 24,000 square miles in eleven years, but for the ten other purposes to which I have already referred.
– When do the South Australian leases expire?
– In various years up to 1945. By that time, under the Ordinance there would have fallen into the Government over S0,000 square miles, and afterwards 40,000 square miles in every period of ten years.
– Cannot the Government resume land under Commonwealth Acts at the present time?
– I shall deal with that later. I have shown conclusively what the position is. It can be determined by honorable members themselves if they will consult the map which they will find hung behind the Speaker’s chair. They will find marked on that map the South Australian leases and the Commonwealth leases. If they study it for five minutes for themselves they will learn what the honorable member, representing the Northern . Territory desires that a party should be sent to the Territory to find out. If three, six, or nine members of this House, representing the various parties, visit the Northern Territory, the remaining- members will still have to consult the map, and will be in the position in which they are now. I do not think I need dwell longer on this aspect of the question. Honorable members will see that if they accepted the honorable member’s suggestion they would merely add another to the file of reports, and we should be exactly where . we are to-day, except that, perhaps, the Treasury would be a little poorer, owing to the cost of the trip. The Government showed last year that it was anxious to facilitate visits by honorable members to the Northern Territory. It would, be a very good thing if honorable members did visit the Territory, but they could not expect by doing so to settle the general principles of land administration. The honorable member representing the Northern Territory went on to suggest that there was something sinister in the fact that the views of the pastoralists who hold leases in the Territory were obtained before the Ordinance was drafted. I point out that the object of the Ordinance is to consolidate and amend the land laws of the Territory, a”nd to bring the whole of the leased lands under its provisions. Without some assurance that the bulk of the pastoralists would elect to come under the Ordinance it would have been useless to proceed with the measure. It should be borne in mind that the South Australian leases comprise. 96,000 square miles of country, and 34 per cent, of the total area of leased lands in the Territory at the present time. If the holders of these leased lands did not elect to come under the Ordinance it would be quite useless to pass it with a view to consolidating the land laws of the Territory. Honorable members are aware that lands in the Territory at present are held under two different South Australian Acts, and under the existing Crown Lands Ordinance, and are subject to widely divergent conditions, and to divided control as between the Minister and the Classification Board. It was, therefore, a common-sense and businesslike proceeding to inform the pastoralists, confidentially, what it was proposed to do, and to ascertain whether such inducements as were offered would be likely to secure the end in view, namely, to bring the whole of the land of the Northern Territory under one enactment. It is the sheerest absurdity to suggest that the Ordinance originated with the pastoralists, that its terms were dictated by them, that the pastoralists’ views prevailed against those of the Government, or that the advantages to the pastoralists outweighed the advantages to the Government. Any one who considers the whole of the facts will agree that the greatest advantage under the Ordinance will accrue to the Government. The Ordinance gives effect to the policy that the present Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) has been advocating for the last two years. He first submitted it in July, 1922, as Minister for Home and Territories in the previous Ministry. In view of the fact that section 10 of the Northern Territory Acceptance Act of 1910, preserving, as it does, all estates and interests held by any person from the State of South Australia within the “Northern Territory at the time of its commencement upon the same terms and conditions as they were held from the State, was held to preclude the resumption except for certain specified public pur poses of any portion of the land held on leases granted under the South Australian Act, it was decided to negotiate with the pastoralists for the surrender of existing leases for leases under the proposed Ordinance, and to offer them reasonable inducement to this end. As I have already pointed out, the best of the lands in the Northern Territory are held under South Australian Acts. They are closer to railways already constructed, and are likely to benefit most by railway construction in the immediate future.
– Does this Bill represent the pastoralists’ terms?
– I am answering the objections of the honorable member representing the Northern Territory. In return for an extended tenure, the holders of lands leased under the South Australian Acts were asked to agree to an increase in rentals with more frequent periods of re-appraisement as provided for by this Ordinance. It was a question of quid pro quo. Steps were taken to consult the pastoralists in September, 1922, and in February, 1923, the first meeting with the representatives of the pastoralists took place in Melbourne, when the Minister’s proposals were discussed. The negotiations ended early in March, 1923, and on the 10th May, 1923, the full text of the Ordinance was published in the Commonwealth Gazette. During the period of the negotiations with the pastoralists the election of a member of the House of Representatives for the Northern Territory was still in progress, and the result of that election was not declared until the 26th March, 1923, at Darwin. At that time the honorable member was in Darwin, and from what I can gather he did not come to Melbourne until some time in June of that year. The honorable member is, therefore, seriously mistaken in his statement that he, as the accredited member for the Northern Territory, was ignored during the course of the negotiations, which, it will ‘be seen, had ended before it had been ascertained that he had been elected to this House, and about three months before he arrived in Melbourne to take his seat. The honorable member is equally wrong in his statement that upon calling to see the Minister for Home and Territories in Melbourne he was denied access to .him because at the time the Minister ‘ was discussing the Ordinance with the representatives of the. pastoralists. The honorable member is reminded that whenever he has made an appointment with the Minister for Home and Territories that appointment has been faithfully kept. It is unreasonable of him to expect that whenever he sees fit to call at the Department, without having first made an appointment, the Minister should set aside other engagements into which he has entered, in order to give him precedence. I think I have completely exposed the untenable position the honorable member takes up in the statements he has made”. His statement with regard to the. locking up of one-fifth of the continent for 100 years has been completely exposed by showing that the area involved is not more than one-thirtieth of the continent. In regard to the honorable member’s contention that the South Australian leases can be resumed, I have shown that legal opinion is diametrically opposed to his view. He can, of course, hold his own opinion, but, in view of the facts, I do not think he should try to press it upon the House. Then, with regard to his statement that resumptions can only take place 5 miles from any watering place, I have shown, from references to the clauses of the Ordinance itself, how unfounded that assumption is. I have shown, I think, that the honorable member has failed to explain that the Government’s measure will bring about a unified local control of the whole of the. leased land of the Territory. I think I have completely disposed of the honorable member’s contention that the best means of ascertaining what should guide this Parliament in its attitude towards pastoral leases is to send a special delegation of this House to the Territory, and add to the many reports already made upon it. The only result would be to increase the delay, add to the expense to which the Territory has already put us, and retard for a certain length of time any prospect of increasing the rate of development. Already over 100 reports have been submitted on the Territory. Many of them are of extreme value, and despite the fact that some of them are more than 40 years old, I urge honorable members, and particularly, the honorable member., for the Northern Territory, to peruse them, to see whether their value is not as great to-day as it was when they were originally submitted, because the conditions to-day are practically as virgin as they were in the beginning. Before I conclude I wish to rebut the charge of neglect levelled against the Government by the honorable member. We have defined our policy, which is to subdivide the land, keep it stocked, overcome the present difficulties of pastoralists in respect to high freights and lack of means of communication by improving the railways and roads, by giving increased telegraphic communication, by installing wireless telephony, by putting down bores and wells, and by inaugurating a better shipping service to Territory coastal ports. - We also propose to improve the facilities for shipping live stock at Darwin. Our policy, however, is to a large extent contingent on the acceptance of the terms of the new Lands Ordinance by the owners of the leases, thus enabling the land to come practically into our own hands. If honorable members will look at the map and see exactly where the leases held under the South Australian laws are situated, and if they will also note what is being done by the Government at the present time, they will see that the charge of neglect made by the honorable member can be absolutely cast on one side and put into the limbo of things which are viewed, as the honorable member for the Northern Territory has viewed them, with the blind eye to the telescope. At the present time the Government are proceeding with the construction of a bridge over the Katherine River and with a permanent survey prior to the construction of a railway line to Daly Waters. A survey is also being made for a proposed railway or road from the mouth of the McArthur River to Anthony’s Lagoon on the Barkly Tableland, and tenders have been called for the erection of a wireless station at Wave Hill, to be followed by a similar station at Camooweal. Arrangements have been made, with the Postal Department to improve the existing mail services, arid provision is being made for a special vote to cover expenditure in this connexion. In regard to the provision of a coastal shipping service, a contract has been entered into with a. company which has been formed for the purpose of trading in the Northern Territory and for the supply of two auxiliary vessels. Contracts have been let for improving the road crossings on the main route between the Katherine River and the Western Australian border, and machinery is being employed for the purpose of improving the road southwards from the Katherine River towards Newcastle Waters.
– Are you not doing too much for them?
– Not if we can get the Territory properly developed ; but if this Bill is not accepted by Parliament the Territory will go back, as it has been doing for the last 100 years. I do not think there is any need for me to say anything further, except, perhaps, that unless something of the nature proposed is done there will be no development in the. Northern Territory. The fact that during the last thirteen years only 99 new pastoral leases have been granted, for an area of 42,112 square miles, does not indicate that there are thousands of would-be settlers anxiously looking around for land, as the honorable member would have made us believe there are. J leave it to the House to determine whether another year should be wasted, and more money spent in settling a matter which, on the experience of the rest of Australia, can be as readily settled now as it can be at any future time.
.- We are all agreed that the development of the Northern Territory is a matter of considerable importance. Therefore, honorable members are under an obligation “to the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) for having, as he has on previous occasions, enlightened the House in regard to the position in the Territory. The honorable member, who has no vote in this House, and belongs -to no party, is now probably beginning to realize the deplorable fact that, notwithstanding his desire to do what is best in the interests of Australia by urging the development of the Territory which he represents, an endeavour is being made to put a party aspect upon his statements. Probably three-fourths of honorable members, like myself, have not had “the opportunity to pay a visit to the Territory. It is true, as the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) , has’.said that an invitation was’ extended to honorable members to pay such a visit, but one cannot always get away at the. time an invitation is given. In the circumstances, we are dependent upon those who are conversant with what is happening in the Territory, the people of which have made a, wise choice in the selection of their representative in this House. I do not agree with the contention of the Treasurer that the amendment submitted by the honorable member for the Northern Territory would lead to delay. I am inclined to think that it would expedite the development of the Territory. It might delay the passage of this Bill for a few months, but if the committee of inquiry for which the honorable member asks would enable honorable . members to get the information needed to guide them in framing land laws in the interests of the progress of the Territory, it would render a valuable service to the community. The Treasurer urges that there is no need to appoint such a committee, but he would not maintain that there was no justification for the appointment of a Royal Commission at considerable expense to the State of New South Wales to inquire into his pet subject, the formation of new States. As a matter of fact, the Treasurer has already given evidence before that Commission, which has been appointed to secure evidence for the guidance of the Parliament of New South Wales, and, possibly, the Commonwealth Parliament. The Northern Territory is a big area, which requires development. As we are constantly reminded, it is the weak link in the chain of Australian defence. Yet we are asked to pass legislation dealing with that Territory without any inquiry. Surely it was a fair proposal for the ‘honorable member for the Northern Territory to submit that what he termed expert members of Parliament, that is to say, honorable members acquainted with land matters, should be asked to investigate the position and determine whether the legislation proposed is in the best interests of the development of the Territory. Very little can be said against such . a proposal. It is not fair to say that all which the honorable member has said is discounted by the fact that the honorable member interpreted one’ provision of the new Ordinance in a way which was quite different from the interpretation given to it by the Trea^sirrer. What is occurring in1 Australia to-day so far as big lease’Kolds0are concerned? The Treasurer has quoted what has happened in other States. For years past there has been an outcry in New South “Wales against large areas being held under lease by the very gentlemen who are securing a hold on the Northern Territory. Wherever one goes, the same people are found operating, and in ‘support of that statement I quote the following answer given in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly on the 11th December, 1923, by Mr. Wearne, the Minister for Lands : -
I find that in the Western Division Sir Sidney Kidman holds fourteen leases containing 1,464,323 acres, Sir Sidney- Kidman and the Hon. W. C. Angliss hold one lease containing 433,826 acres, and Sir Sidney Kidman and Malcolm Donald Reid hold one lease containing 200,179 acres. Sir Sidney Kidman is said to have an interest in several companies holding leases.
Sir Sidney Kidman and other big leaseholders are interested in the Northern T.erritory Lands Ordinance, and the statement made by the honorable member for the Northern Territory about these men meeting at Scott’s Hotel and making representations to the Commonwealth Government cannot be brushed aside. The honorable member quoted the minutes taken at the meeting, and those minutes appear to have been embodied in the new Ordinance. That is direct evidence that these gentlemen will benefit by the passing of this legislation.
– And they are the people who have not paid their land tax.
– Yes, they are the very people who have been disputing with the Commonwealth Government in regard to the non-payment of their land tax, and the honorable member for the Northern Territory is condemned because he seeks to prevent them from holding large areas of the Territory. What does it matter that they hold one-sixth or ouetenth of the whole area of the Territory ? Our concern is to develop that country, and all the evidence shows that the best land is held under lease.
– Eight-tenths of Sir Sidney Kidman’s leases were secured by him for the price of the stock on them, and not for the value of the leases themselves.
– I know nothing of Sir ^Sidney ‘Kidman’s leasesorhisfinancial position. 1 am simply pointing to the facts as disclosed by Mr. Wearne’s reply. It is idle for the Treasurer to say that they hold only one-seventh or one-eighth of the total area of the Territory, and that because fully three-fourths of the Territory still remains unoccupied others who are seeking holdings can go there and take up land. As a matter of fact these people know why so much land remains unocqupied. Very little of it would produce a living for them. The eyes of the Territory have been picked out. Those men who took leases in the past did not take up the barren portions. The barren land through which the transcontinental railway to Western Australia runs is unoccupied because it is not good land, and the same remark applies to a considerable portion of the Northern Territory. According to statements made by the honorable member for the Northern Territory, and by Ministers who have visited the Territory, and also according to reports submitted to Parliament, there is some very good land there suitable for raising sheep, but that land is already held by people who are raising cattle, and are practically running the Territory to suit their own ends. The Treasurer has quoted reports. A report placed in the hands of honorable members a few days ago states that the white population of the Territory is 2,000, and that a number of the people there are unemployed.
– Getting doles.
– Yes, getting doles. Would it not be better for us to devote some of the money proposed to be spent on immigration to populating the Territory, rather than tq give it to the big leaseholders. That is one of the matters we should inquire into.
– We must first get rid of the big leaseholders.
– But the Government propose to give them an extension of their leases.
– According to the new Ordinance the Government can take a quarter of the area of a lease in 1935, and another quarter in 1945, leaving the lessee with half of the lease in his possessionuntil1965.
– Only by consent.
– Yes, but half of the leases will remain in the possession of the present lessees until 1965. Under the existing Ordinances they would all expire by 1945. What is the use of the Minister saying that, the purpose of this measure is to get rid of the present lessees? It is actually giving them a 20-years’ extension of their tenure. I asked the Treasurer a definite question, and he admitted that this Bill will grant an extension of the existing leases.
– No one denies that.
– But a few minutes ago the honorable member said that the purpose of the new Ordinance is to get the land from the present lessees as soon as possible.
– So it is.
– Yet the Ordinance will give an extension of 20 years to the lessees.
– In respect of half of their holdings only.
– But if the existing Ordinances were allowed to continue, the whole of the land would revert to the Crown in 20 years. The House is asked to pass this legislation immediately, and the Treasurer objected to the appointment of a Committee to investigate on the ground that it would delay this legislation for some months. None of these leases will expire until 1935, so no serious delay will be occasioned if this legislation is deferred for six months. The Treasurer objected that a Parliamentary Committee would merely travel through the Territory and look at the country. But the main work of the Committee would be to take evidence from everybody, large holder or small holder, who is capable of throwing light upon the problem of development. Having got that evidence, the Committee would be able to make recommendations that would be a guide to the House. Such guidance is lacking to-day. We are not justified in locking up immense areas of the Territory until the year 1965, for there is not the slightest doubt that the existing lease-holders will get a renewal of their leases. It is true that the Government has the right to resume any holding, but, in nractice, the leaseholders are being given security of tenure until 1965. How can there be progressive settlement in such circumstances,? What is the use of . talking about closer settlement and subdivision into living areas when the Government will not agree to the appointment of a Committee to ascertain what is a living area in the Territory ? The appointment of ‘ a Committee of experts to investigate this problem and advise Parliament as to the best policy to follow, would be far better than obedient acceptance of the views of persons who are directly interested. Nobody denies that such persons have the right to make representations, but the House should not’ be guided by them alone; we should obtain the fullest possible information from all sources, and that can be done only by appointing a Committee to investigate the matter fully. We are all desirous of populating the Territory. The Commonwealth has had possession of it for a number of years, and it is not to our credit that so little has been done to develop it up to the present time. Now, the Government is proposing legislation that will tie up the most valuable lands of the Territory for 40 years. This Parliament could do effective work in settling and developing the Territory, but a necessary preliminary is:,, inquiry by a competent Committee into the problems of land settlement and mining development. The annual report of the Administrator for the year ended 30th June, 1923, reveals a very unsatisfactory state of affairs. Mr. Urquhart says -
The continued lack of employment over the last three years is the most disturbing feature of the whole situation in the Territory, and the constant resort, under compelling circumstances, to Government relief seems to my mind most deplorable in that it is sheer loss to the public purse, and if not actually demoralizing to the recipients, cannot at any rate have an elevating effect, and confers no permanent advantage on them.
Could a stronger statement emanate from s responsible public official? It shows that many men in the Territory are dependent upon doles from the public purse. Should not this Parliament devise some means of employing those men, and attracting others to the Territory?
– This Ordinance will not prevent that being done.
– A similar land policy has been in operation ever since the Territory was transferred from South Australia to the Commonwealth, and no progress has been made. Mr. Urquhart continues -
Thfcre are now from 160 to 2010 men ojit of. empioyiSent, ‘most of whom ard ‘gdflir average’ workers, disliking relief, and willing to take any work offering;; but thene is none to offer them, . there is . no other . place to iwhich . they can go overland in search of wonk, and the cost of removal by sea is prohibitive. Of -course, the main incidence of ‘this trouble falls on Darwin ; but it is aiot confined ito ithe capital, and it has been found necessary to give relief , at Pine -Creek, Katherine, and other points on the railway line.
Su-rely . that statement Indicates that a new policy should be . adopted toy Ahis Parliament. The present state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue, hutt the proposed Ordinance will do nothing to relieve it. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) referred -tn the lease-holders . employing natives wihMe white men are out of work.
– What would the honorable member do with the natives ?
– I would make proper provision for them - find suitable work for them, and see that they are properly -clothed and fed.
– Pastoral work is the only work that is suitable.
– Nobody is supporting this measure more strongly than is the honorable member for Wakefield, and his remarks indicate that the labour which the lease-holders will employ will be blackfellows. I believe in giving full consideration to the natives, but a proper investigation might disclose that” by the provision of water - and water can he got almost anywhere at a depth from 11 feet to 250 feet - and the subdivision of the large holdings into living areas, something effective could be done towards populating the Territory. I have urged on many occasions that Parliament should do something to encourage the mining industry in the Territory. The Administrator’s report says: -
The mining industry generally, I am pleased to 3ay, as evidenced by the returns furnished with the report of the Director of Lands and Mines, shows some improvement as against last year, the yields of both gold and tin showing increases in value, and now that this turn for the better has taken place it may reasonably be hoped that it will continue on the up grade, and once again become a substantial ingredient in the productivity of the Territory.
We have reliable evidence that there are many good mines in the Territory.
– This Ordinance has nothing to do with mining.
– No; but the purpose of the^ Ordinance is supposed, tq, be the development of the Territory,’ arid I am advocating” the appointment of a Com mittee to investigate the best means by wJaiich development can (be effected, so that the House may be fortified with sound . advice. Some >of the . money that is spent in other directions -could be applied . to ithe encouragement -of . mining.
– Thefirst essential is a railway.
– It is essential to the . development of the land -and mines that railway facilities shall vbe provided. One of the reasons for the backward state of the Territory is the lack -of adequate means of . communication, without which . that isolated area -cannot be developed. The . time has arrived for the adoption of a wide and comprehensive policy. We -are not justified in passing a Land Ordinance without first obtaining the most complete information. . It cannot be said that this Ordinance is urgent. A delay of five or six months, in order that authoritative information might be collected, would be fully warranted. We have no right to follow in the same old groove as the States have followed. That policy of letting large areas of country in long leases at a peppercorn rental has sucked the life-blood out of portions of Australia. The whole of the leases in the Northern Territory are yielding to the Commonwealth Treasury only about £10,000 per annum in rentals. Of course, the rentals are subject to re-appraisement at certain intervals. But if the land is to continue to be held in large areas the Commonwealth will never get an adequate, rent for it, and population will not increase as it should. This is mainly a Committee measure, but before it is allowed to go into Committee the whole lands policy should be thoroughly threshed out. We have to decide whether or not this is the best policy that can be adopted by this Parliament. I remind honorable members that this is not a party question. Ever since I have been in this Parliament I have heard honorable members on both sides of the Chamber deploring our inability to settle people in the Northern Territory. The Government urges, in support of this Ordinance, that stability is necessary to the development of the lands of the Territory, but the very conditions that the Ordinance imposes have existed all along, and have been ineffective. The country has made no headway ; the best lands, ha ve . remained in the possession of the lease-holders.’ Now, the
House is solemnly asked to perpetuate that condition of affairs. This proposal will not improve the position at all, for it will give to a few people the right to hold the most valuable parts of that country. Ministers may talk about the hundreds of thousands of square miles of land that are unoccupied, but it would be more honest to tell people that much of that land cannot be occupied for very many years. If the land that is now locked up in leases is suitable for closer settlement, why should we not take the necessary steps to give people access to it? The Commonwealth is borrowing millions of pounds in order to bring immigrants to Australia. That money might be better employed in the development of the Northern Territory. If put upon a proper basis, the Northern Territory should carry hundreds of thousands of people within a few years.
– What on earth would they do up there?
– Surely the honorable member does not think I suggest that large numbers of people should be introduced at once? The process of opening up the Territory must necessarily follow upon provision of facilities to enable the people to be absorbed. The history of development in Western Australia shows that following the gold-mining era, people, when they had the opportunity, settled permanently upon the land. Thus, if we develop the mining propositions of the Northern Territory we shall encourage people to go there, and eventually they will settle upon the land as it becomes available. Assuredly we shall not be able to make land available if we pass this Ordinance, and thus tie up the lands in the hands of a comparatively few people.
– But if the mining will not pay, and under present conditions it does not, people are not likely to go mining in the Northern Territory.
– We should take the necessary action by the provision of railways to make mining pay. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) laughs. Yet a few minutes ago he was urging, by way of interjection, that railways should be constructed there. Whenever” a big national question is under discussion in this1 House, and certain honorable members are unable to answer arguments from this side, there is a disposition to laugh, and in that way they endeavour to sidetrack the issue.
– I will answer out of the mouths of practical men every argument you have put forward this afternoon.
– Order I The honorable member for Wakefield must cease interjecting.
– I am confident that if the Committee were appointed,, and if the honorable member for Wakefield were a member of it, it would bringin a finding not in keeping with the provisions of this Ordinance.
– I have read all the material from which the honorable member is quoting. I wonder if he has ?
– I have. I doubt if many members read more of the reports that are tabled in this House than I do.
– I believe that.
– Then the honorable member’s accusation against me carries no weight. I take a keen interest in all reports that are tabled in this Chamber. I think the honorable member for the Northern Territory has rendered a distinct service to the people he represents here. He has made the position quite clear from his point of view, and his important speech should be carefully considered. I hope that the Government will see fit to accept his amendment and appoint the Committee to make the necessary inquiries. The House will then be in possession of the facts. The honorable member is conversant with the Territory. He has told us of its possibilities. His opinion is supported by all members and Ministers who have visited the Territory, although previously many of them were under the impression that it was a desert.
– Nonsense !
– It is to the credit of the honorable member for the Northern Territory that he has changed the views of most members of this House in regard to its possibilities.
– He knows little about it.
– No one else in this House has spent so much time in the Northern Territory.
– And in his speech he showed that he has traversed more of the’ country than any other member.
– That is very^l’ikely. ‘
– Then why make rash statements? It is unfair to say that the honorable member for the Northern Territory knows nothing about it. Unfortunately, there is a prejudice against him in this House. He has no vote, and is a member of no party. He is simply doing what, in his opinion, is in the best interests of the people he represents. We are all in the same position. Therefore we ought to give fair and reasonable consideration to anything he may have to say on Northern Territory problems. The Minister would do well to accept the amendment, and allow a Committee to be appointed to inquire into the position.
– How long do you think it would take to do that?
– Not more than a couple of months.
– It would take twelve months at least.
– If we made the matter urgent a report should be available in two or three months at the outside. Even if it took longer, where is the urgency? If this Bill were urgent there might, perhaps, be no force in my remarks. It appears to me that the only urgency is in regard to the passing of the Ordinance, lest too much daylight be let into the whole of the circumstances.
– You are not doing yourself credit by making that statement.
– I do not agree with the honorable member. This is a most important question. It should receive the fullest consideration by this House, and I submit that if honorable members pass it without further information than is now available to them they will do themselves no credit. With the knowledge I possess at the moment, I would not like to pass the Bill. Other honorable members are in the same position. We want to see the land laws of the Northern Territory placed on a satisfactory footing. For that reason the amendment should be accepted.
– Would it not be wise to compare them with the land laws of Queensland and Western Australia?
– Experience has shown that our land legislation for the Northern Territory should be placed on a more satisfactory basis, and thus encourage settlement. We all know of the mistakes that have been made in the dif ferent States. We should seek to profit by those blunders. We shall certainly not’ be doing that if we pass this Bill and lock up certain leaseholds until 1965.
– We shall be able to resume one-half of the leases at an earlier date than that.
– Apparently, the Minister is satisfied to protect large leaseholders in the Northern Territory in respect of at least one-half of their present holdings. One-fourth ‘ of the leaseholds will expire in 1935, another one-fourth in 1945, and this Bill proposes an extension of one-half the area of the leaseholds until 1965. Nobody denies that. The whole matter at issue is : Are we justified in passing this Ordinance without further information? . I do not think we are. If we have made no progress since we took over the Territory - and the last two years have been worse than former years - why should we continue the existing leasehold system to 1965 in respect of onehalf of the total area held? We should know where we stand. Under this Bill, if leaseholders are interfered with iu any shape or form prior to the expiration of their leases, they will be entitled to compensation, notwithstanding that we may have some difficulty in getting taxation from them. That is another important matter that should receive consideration. We cannot permit certain favoured individuals to become millionaires at the expense of the people who provide money for the development of the Northern Territory.
– Some are millionaires now.
– I do not think they made their money in the Northern Territory, though.
– Our experience in other parts of the Commonwealth will be repeated in the Northern Territory, and the honorable member, for Swan knows it.. If we carry out a comprehensive railway policy, the taxpayers will have to foot the bill, and the leaseholders will benefit. It would be in the best interests of all concerned to carry the amendment submitted by the honorable member for the Northern Territory.
.- I think I can claim to have given the subject of the Northern Territory quite as much attention as any other member of this
House. I believe that this Bill will do something for the development of that immense area. It is gratifying to know that so much interest is now being taken in the Northern Territory . by other honorable members. When, as a member of the Public Works Committee, I returned from a trip through the Northern Territory in 1921, very few members were prepared to give credence to my statements, made not only in this House, but also on public platforms in every State, as to its possibilities. To-day, honorable members are eager to champion the cause of the Northern Territory. The Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart), after his recent visit is more enthusiastic than I was’. Let me trace briefly the steps taken by the various Governments for the development of the Northern Territory. As the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) has just reminded us, that in 1863, after McDouall Stuart had successfully crossed the” ‘Continent from ocean to ocean from the south, such glowing reports were presented as to its possibilities that the South Australian Government decided to annex the Territory.. Very little developmental work was done until that State commenced the construction of . a railway to link up the north with the south. Unfortunately, it was too great a burden for a small State to carry. The project broke down, with the southern railway terminus at Oodnadatta, and the northern terminus at PineCreek, 150 miles from Darwin.
– Don’t forget that the South1 Aus’tir-alian Government erected the overland telegraph line-.
– I do not forget the wonderful achievement mentioned by the honorable member for Adelaide. But what is the position . to-day? Since the Commonwealth took over the Territory in 1911, in an area of country of over 500,000” square miles, we have built just 46- miles of railway. Can honorable members wonder that the Territory has not progressed ? The reason is simply that the Northern Territory has not been provided with satisfactory r’o’ad communication, quite apart from sufficient railway facilities’. The people in the north can carry on operations’ for” Only seven months of the year, as during five months it is impossible’ to travel over the roads. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is supporting the amendment, the adoption of which would delay the considera- tion of this measure until investigations had been made by a committee of inquiry, but such a committee could not supply honorable members with more information than is at present in their possession. In view of the expense incurred by the Public Works Committee when investigating . the NorthSouth Railway question in 1921, I am . satisfied that the expense of such an inquiry would.be at least £10,000. Although some honorable members are in favour of spending millions of pounds at Canberra, where the return will not be great, there is an area in the north on which the expenditure of the same ‘ number of millions would result in great benefit to the Commonwealth. Reference has been made to sheep raising, and the suitability -of some of the land in the Northern Territory for this purpose. One pastoralist in the Macdonnell Ranges obtained 34d. per lb. for the wool he produced in 1920, which demonstrates that the land is quite suitable for sheep raising. » The principal obstacle to the extension of this industry in the Territory is the cost incurred in carting stores and other necessaries to the stations, and the carriage of wool to the railway or the sea-board. Country, which for a time was carrying sheep is now being used solely for cattle raising, owing to the heavy expenditure involved in transportation charges.
– Was the price quoted for wool an average price?
– It was the average for the whole of the clip from 3,000 sheep, and the seller was Mr. ‘Cavanagh, who was once the manager of the Arltunga gold battery. The area of the Macdonnell. Ranges is greater than that of Tasmania, and its height above sea level’ varies from , 2,000 to 5,000 feet. The conditions generally are enjoyable, the climate ideal, and although there are a few dismal folk in Australia who say that the climate is unsuitable for white people, during the winter water freezes right through the centre of Australia, and during July the mean low temperature is lower than that of Melbourne. The Leader of the Opposition referred to the necessity of developing the mineral deposits, but the great obstacle is the difficulty in obtaining suitable miners and other workmen on the fields.
– Is not their transportation abig item?
– The insufficiency of transport is the most important factor, as it takes twelve days to travel from Sydney to Darwin by steamer, and then after a long railway journey there is from three to four days’ travelling by horse-teams 01 camels to reach the mining fields. Therefore, mining is impracticable under present conditions. Until recently the authorities have been attempting to make the railway pay on an ordinary basis, whereas it should be treated for many years as a developmental line, and the public exchequer called upon to make up any “ losses in revenue which may be deemed necessary. Frequent reference has been made to the action of those who have been termed land-grabbers, but we should direct our attention to what has happened in Canada. In the early eighties the Canadian Government surrendered 35,000,000 acres of land to the CanadianPacific Railway* Company on the condition that the company should make a railway across Canada. The Canadian Government did not regard that as a land deal. The company spent $68,000,000 in assisting settlers, and the amount advanced by the company was greater than that expended by the Canadian Government over the same period. Recently the company tackled irrigation in Alberta, which the Canadian Government refused to do, and spent $18,000,000 on irrigation works, which have been so successful that very large numbers have been placed on the land. Although the country was classed as semi-arid, it was not long before the Canadian Pacific Railway Company received a substantial return in the form of freights, and to-day that revenue is considerable. Is any honorable member opposite prepared to say that the actions of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company have been the means of retarding development in Canada?
– The company has treated some of the farmers badly.
– I do not think that that is the case, as the financial assistance recently rendered by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company has practically saved western Canada.
The company has extended the time in which repayments can be made for a further 30 years, and the interjection of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) conveys a wrong impression. If the honorable member will refer to an article in a recent issue of the Review of Reviews, concerning the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, he will, I think, be prepared to modify his statement.
– I am not likely to do that, as I have received evidence from men who occupied the land.
– The policy of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company is to develop the country, and such a policy is needed in Australia. This great railway company has recently formulated an immigration scheme, which the Canadian Government failed to do.
– Do the large landholders in the Northern Territory propose to assist the construction of a railway?
– No. I am replying to the statements made by the honorable member for the Northern Territory to the effect that the big man is not of any benefit in the Northern Territory.
– I read their letters.
– The only means by which the Nortliern Territory can be developed is the activity of those with cepital, and the honorable member knows as well as I do that the small holder, under present conditions, has many difficulties with which to contend, and necessarily fails where the large holder succeeds.
– Why not change the conditions ?
– The conditions are such that, during the last twelve months, 12,000 square miles of territory held by small holders have been surrendered. I ask the honorable member if he thinks that the advent of Vestey’s into the Territory - they invested probably not less than £1,250,000 - was not an honest attempt to deal with some of the problems?
– There is a smaller number of white men there than when the Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth.
– I am not concerned with that, but with the question of how many men can be employed. I contend that the Government have not given Vestey’s a fait deal, and, to a certain extent, did not keep their bargain in regard to railway freights and other matters. Up to the present, Vestey’s have expended on their meatworks no less than £950,000, and that amount of capital is to-day lying idle. The cessation of operations at the meatworks is one reason why small stock raisers cannot prosper in the Territory, as they have no outlet for their product, and have to sell their cattle to the big pastoralist. Vestey’s, who have invested their capital in the Northern Territory, expect some return, and it is their desire, of course, to make their money earn as much as possible. The honorable member for the Northern Territory said that the land belonged to the people, but he should remember that any one could apply for it when it was made available. This Bill is submitted with the object of improving the conditions, and to do what the South Australian Government failed to achieve. It is useless Parliament authorizing the expenditure of millions of pounds on railway construction unless land is made available, and if a line were built from Camooweal to Newcastle “Waters, such a line for a distance of 250 miles would pass through property controlled by one man. Is it not desirable to acquire some of that land, which is what this measure provides for?
– When could it be resumed?
– It would probably take four or five years to construct a railway, and if the measure is passed it would not then be long before some of the land would be available. To appoint a Committee, as has been suggested, would merely be retarding development.
– In the event of a railway being constructed, would the. land bo resumed at the present-day value or at the enhanced value consequent upon the construction of the railway?
– At its present-day value. There is no freehold land in the Northern Territory, south of the Katherine. In discussing Northern Territory matters generally in various parts of the Commonwealth, I have ascertained that it is the consensus of opinion that an active developmental policy should be pursued, and that railways should be built. Apart altogether from the promise made to South Australia, a line to Alice Springs or the Macdonnell Ranges is justified in the interests of development. The Government must have power to resume some of the land, and although some honorable members are of the opinion that the proposal of the Government is to tie up large areas until 1965, one-half of the land now held under lease will be available for resumption by 1945.
– How much will be available in 1945?
– I have not the figures before me. A large area will be available for resumption in 1935. When the Territory was taken over in 1912 the Labour Government which was then in power could, have framed an Ordinance such as Parliament is now asked to ratify, but nothing was done. I quite agree that some of the residences or places in which men are expected to live there are unfit for human habitation, but I do not think any honorable member could honestly say that those provided by Vestey’s, the Lake Nash Company, the Bovril Estates Limited, and the Gulf Pastoral Company are unsatisfactory. The difficulties of transport are very serious, and it has been pointed out on many occasions that the cost of getting goods from the south to central Australia is from £30 to £35 per ton. Many land-holders in the Ranges would erect vermin-proof fences if fencing wire and wire netting could be obtained at reasonable rates. The honorable member for the Northern Territory, when speaking of dingoes, said that the big holders were opposed to improving their holdings.
– That is stated in the minutes of their meeting at Scott’s Hotel.
– The Dingo Ordinance was prepared in the first place in response to urgent requests, in 1921, from several large pastoralists, and copies of the proposed measure were shown to a number of pastoralists in May of that year. In view, however, of protests from about a dozen small pastoralists, the then Minister decided to allow the matter to remain in abeyance. It was raised again in 1923, owing to urgent representations by Vestey Brothers, and other large pastoralists. This proves conclusively that the . big men are keen on suppressing the dingo1 pest. If the honorable member for the Northern Territory has travelled south in the Victoria River district he will have noticed that Vestey Brothers have spent from £85 to £100 per mile on wire fences.
– Only because of the dispute with the Victoria Downs people.
– I do not know from what source the honorable member gets his information, but expensive fences are no doubt erected for some particular purpose, generally to protect their own stock. In vast areas in other parts of the Territory no fences are to be seen. For instance, one can go from Oodnadatta to Mataranka, a distance of over 900 miles, without noticing a solitary fence-. If half the money that has been wasted in the Northern Territory had been spent in the southern portion- of it there would be something to show for the expenditure to-day. As I have previously declared, development has been commenced at the wrong end of the country ; it should have taken place from the south. ‘ It has been suggested that a secret conclave of pastoralists was really responsible for the introduction of the Bill. I have before me a copy of the policy speech of Mr. Hughes, as reported in the Sydney- Morning Herald, of 25th October, 1922. The ex-Prime Minister is credited with these words: -
The Government desires to extend to the pastoral industry in the Territory all the assistance and encouragement possible,, but regards the subdivision of the larger holdings as a necessary precedent to any effective scheme. Subject to the- lessee acquiescing in any equitable surrender of portions of their leases (which acquiescence it is believed will be forthcoming, and which will enable the Government to provide holdings for additional settlers) the Government proposes: liberal expenditure on bores, wells, and roads, and to provide access to markets.
On the 3rd November, 1922, the Minis ter for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce),. speaking at the Unley Town Hall, South. Australia, on “ The Problem of the Northern Territory,” said, in reference to- the Land- Ordinance -
The principal provisions of the- Ordinance would be submitted as follows : - (1) That a Land Board of three members be constituted; (2) the Territory to be divided into districts.; (3) a minimum rental per square mile, and a minimum stocking rate per square mile to be determined for each district; (4) the Government to have the right of resumption of lease or portion of lease, subject to the following provisions : -
Lessees whose leases are resumed to continue to hold the total area for a. term not exceeding two years. At the. end of such term one-quarter . of the area held on lease may be resumed, and at the end of ten years a further quarter of the total area originally held may be resumed. and so on, outlining further provisions that are. in this Bill.
– Another Board!
– Honorable members fail to realize, that Australia is a continent, and that all its affairs cannot be administered from one centre. The United States of America comprise 50 or more States, with a similar number of Governments, apart from the Federal Administration. Five or six months would elapse before a Committee of this House could make an inspection of the Terri- tory, and bring in its report . We could not say whether the members who obtained this first-hand information would be re-elected, and in any case, no report that could be made would add a. single line to a report already in the possession of the House.
– What report?
– The sectional committee of the Public Works Committee clearly recommended a developmental policy spread over a period of twenty years.
– Was it adopted?
– The honorable mem-‘ ber knows perfectly well that it was not. The members of the Works Committee who reported on the Territory said that it would be necessary to build, railways, roads, bridges, and telephone lines, but no such line has been erected there since the South Australian Government built the overland telegraph line. When it was suggested by the Treasurer that a wireless station should be erected at Charleville or Camooweal, an interjection came from the Opposition side that it would suit only the big men.. One. cannot take serious notice of such comments, for anything that can be done to bring the settlers and employees in closer, touch with the markets and with civilization will lead to development. The members of the Public Works Committee noticed the need for hospitals in the Territory, and they were able to get a sum of money made available to the Victoria River Hospital. I have no fear of the big man exploiting the country. I should like to see them putting as much money into the Territory as possible, but honorable members opposite, if. they had their way, would send the big men, and their money also, out of the. country. Many of the men holding leases there have, given the best years of their lives to the study of the problems, to be faced.
– The majority of them have not seen their land, except to walk over it.
– That is not the case. The manager for Vestey Brothers (Mr. Conacher) goes through the Territory every year. I should like to place on record the names of those who attended the meeting at Scott’s Hotel. Those present were - Messrs. Douglas Fraser (representing Alexandria), M. P. Durack, M.L.A. (Auvergne, Victoria River Downs, Rosewood and Bullita Pastoral Company), A. G. King and H. Brown (Avon Downs),, H. V. Miller (Bradshaw’s Run), W. Massy Greene (Brunette Downs, Eva Downs, and Walhallow), J. S. Thonemann (Elsey), H. E. Thonemann (Hodgson Downs), and T. A. Snelling (Lake Nash), Hon. John Lewis, M.L.C. (Newcastle Waters, Sir Sydney Kidman, R. Sandford, Alfred Giles, and
– Then there was a meeting at Scott’s Hotel?
– Certainly, and several, of those present are regarded as small land-holders. The statement has been made that only a handful of men were present, and it was stated by the honorable member for the Northern Territory that it was significant that the men who attended possessed huge leases. Obviously a meeting of Northern Territory lessees would be attended by holders of large leases such as are to be found in the Territory. I fail to see any significance in the nature of the attendance. Many of the other small leaseholders could have attended had they wished to do so.
– r-Name the small holders who were present.
– The representatives of Newhope and Renner’s Springs may be regarded as being in that category.
– Two out of the whole lot!
– Others who would have attended were unable to do so. People in the Territory are unwilling to stock the country under the present conditions, and there are thousands of square miles of unoccupied lands. I have already mentioned that between 11,000 and 12,000 square miles have been surrendered in the last two years, and most of this has been given up by small holders. . The sole solution of the problem is for this Parliament to make up its mind at once to spend several millions of money on developmental railways.
– And make the coun-try a close preserve for the boodleiers?
– It is strange to regard the Territory as a close preserve when half of it, if not more, is still available- for settlement, and an area equal to at least one-eighth more will become available in 1935. I suppose one can say that there will soon be a railway to Newcastle Waters, and, perhaps, across to Queensland, and one from the south to Alice Springs so that the Government will have ample time to evolve a large developmental scheme.
– There will be nine and a half times more land available under the Bill than without it.
– That is so. I hope, in the” interests of the pioneers in the Territory,, that the House will agree to the Bill, and negative the proposal of the honorable member for the Territory, because it would mean further delay without adding to the information already available.
.- Before the amendment is put to a vote I desire to- say a few words. I do so feelingly, because I can see in the Bill a replica of a number of Acts, passed by the different State Parliaments. The history of land legislation in Australia is, indeed, very interesting. If there is any boodling to be done, or any roguery or corruption to take place, it inevitably finds its expression in land legislation. The legislation of the States shows that from time to time the people have been deliberately robbed, and that -by corruption and the buying of Governments, land has been alienated from the people in the interests, not of the people, but of the wealthy few. The Bill now before this House is the worst of all the boodling schemes that have been put forward. It is one of the greatest boodling jokes ever put over any Parliament in Australia. Those behind the Government are the boodling sections of the community, and the Government has catered well for them. The Minister (Mr. Atkinson) knows that, last year, when representatives of the pastoral interests of Australia asked the Government to remit £1,300,000 of taxation, the Government endeavoured brazenly to do so. The Government brought down a Bill to make a present to the wealthy squatters, including the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen), of that large sum of money. They secured the repeal of the Act, but were not able to rob the people of £1,300,000. Although this Parliament would not allow that great theft to take place, the Government has repeatedly refused to make available the names of those who owe the money. It has neglected to prosecute them for nonpayment, and has not collected a ponny of the debt from them. The honorable member for Riverina is one of those who are benefiting by the Government’s action. The great pastoral interests, when they throw their weight of wealth behind a political party, must be catered for, and their orders must be obeyed. I can easily understand the eagerness of the Government to pass this Bill as quickly as possible, so that the injustice may be perpetrated before another Government comes ‘ into office. I say to honorable members on the Government side of the House, that there are some Acts of Parliament that are moral, but there are many that are immoral. Contracts that are immoral are made for the purpose of “ “boodling,” or corruption, or for giving land and other things to people who in ordinary circumstances would not receive them. But whether a contract is immoral, whether it is entered into honestly, whether it is in the interests of Australia, and whether it will open up land for settlement, the fact remains that Governments change. If a Government, by weight of numbers, passes an Act in which morality is lost sight of, it is competent for a succeeding Government to alter that Act. When I make that statement I am not advocating repudiation. I am speaking of honesty and morality in the politics of this country. Any “jokes” or “boodling” schemes which may be put over by a Government to-day, can be altered by a Government to-morrow. Apparently the whips have been cracked. and this Government knows that it has sufficient support to enable it to force through the House a scheme which will benefit not the land-owners of Australia - I am speaking of those who matter, who go on their blocks and work them - but the big men, by prolonging the life of their leases. We have been told that the Bill will give a right of resumption. It will, subject to certain conditions. It will give power to resume in 1935 lands which, in any event, would become the property of the people shortly afterwards. The Government will not take those lands, or make provision to take them in 1935, or. thereafter, but will give the lessees the right to hold them until 1965. The Minister is about to interject. I presume he would say, “ But we have the right of resumption.” The Bill proposes to contract the Government out of the right of resumption, and to give the first right to subdivide to the lessee. The lessee will have the right to subdivide, and his right will take priority over the Government’s right. Again, it may be said that those to whom the subdivided land is given have to be approved of by the Minister. Much will depend, therefore, upon the Minister. If Vestey’s or Kidman should name men who are bona fide settlers, apparently the Minister would not be able to take exception to them. There is a great difference between a Board making land available to persons who have been selected by ballot and the Minister making land available to individuals named by interested persons. In 1935, onequarter of the total area, and in 1945 a further quarter of the original area, will be made available, but the remainder will continue under lease until 1965. This particular clause relating to subdivision is the replica of a scheme which was only recently evolved by the New South Wales and Victorian tory . Governments, which are similar in character to this Government, being representative of the boodleiers and the wealthy interests generally of Australia rather than of the people. The New South Wales and Victorian Governments, which passed the Border Railways Act, have not effected any resumptions that are of value to the people. The pastoral interests, the banks, and insurance companies, which control those Governments, possessed so much influence that they secured the insertion in that Act of a provision that iands which have been gazetted within 15 miles of proposed railways shall not be subject to subdivision by the Crown provided the owners subdivide within a certain time. The result has been that in New South Wales holdings totalling 60,000 and 70,000 acres have been subdivided into 10,000 and up to 20,000 acre blocks, which for railway purposes is of very little value, as in such cases a maintenance area should not exceed from 2,000 to 4,000 acres. The right to subdivide, when conferred on the lessee, merely provides him with an opportunity to “ dummy.” There has been a good deal or dummying in connexion with land in Australia. I can speak of New South Wales particularly. In that State, dummying has been indulged in in the past, and it will continue in the future, although the opportunity now is not so great as it. was in days gone by. That bad old system is revived when the right to subdivide is given to lessees. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) read a list of names of men, representative of certain interests, who attended a meeting held at Scott’s Hotel. That action of the honorable member constituted a recognition of the veracity of certain documents which had already been brought to the notice of honorable members. During his speech, the honorable member for Bass stated that Vestey’s had publicly urged the making of a Dingo Ordinance.
– I did not say they had done so at the meeting held at Scott’s Hotel. That was an extract from a memorandum in the departmental records.
– Publicly, they may have urged the making of such an Ordinance, but there is not the slightest doubt that privately they exerted the utmost pressure of their organization in opposition to it.
– They did not.
– Does the honorable member question the veracity of the minutes of that meeting read by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson)?
– I question the statement” which the honorable member has just made.
– So do I.
-The honorable member for Wakefield will have ample opportunity to place his influence behind this “ boodling “ scheme, as he has done with many other “boodling “ schemes since I have been an honorable member of this House. The honorable member for Wakefield has at least been consistent and honest on every occasion, in expressing his views and casting his vote in favour of vested interests. He at all times has shown himself unafraid by courageously putting up a fight for the wealthypersons of Australia, particularly the pastoralists. It will not be a new experience to hear him plead the cause of the Northern Territory pastoralists. It may be that the honorable member himself has certain interests in the Northern Territory, and that might constitute a very good reason for his taking more than a passing interest in this matter.
– I am very fortunate in not having any such interests.
– In New South Wales, we have a very good illustration of what big men can do. I want to make myself quite clear as to my meaning of the term “ big men.” I quite appreciate the difficulties which face those who go into the Northern Territory. I realize that a large sum of money must be spent in order to make the Territory reproductive and fit to live in. I am willing that those men should get a fair return, but I am totally opposed to granting them leases for a term which will carry them on to the year 1965. I am prepared to allow them to take up land and live on it. I would give them opportunities to develop and improve their land by providing them with railway communication, and bores, and carrying their goods on the railways for a merely nominal charge. I am not prepared, however, to give them the advantages which would be conferred on them by this Bill.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the adjournment, I was debating whether companies or persons who take up land in the Northern Territorty, suffering the disadvantages of heavy cost of transportation and labour, and of remoteness from civilization, should be compensated for their risk and work in the development of that country. I do not object to any person or company being well paid for any developmental work, but the pioneering of the Northern Territory is totally different from what has taken place in other portions of Australia. The pioneers of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland, in the majority of cases, lost everything, and made way for. the banks. But in the Northern Territory, while those conditions may have been applicable to some of the smaller settlers, in most instances men have gone there with large sums of money, content to wait for many years for a return from their outlay. So far as one can gather from .reports on the Northern Territory., the land has not been properly stocked. The men who have taken up holdings in the Territory are not typical of those who usually go on the land. They ,get other persons to manage and work it for them., so we are not dealing with the man on the land in the ordinarily accepted sense of the term. We are dealing with persons who, living in the cities of Australia and overseas, employ managers and servants to guard their interests in. the Northern Territory. The question of land settlement and development must be ‘approached in a manner totally -different from that adopted, many years ago, by the State Legislatures. Many of those .holding unstocked land in the Northern Territory, and making no real attempt to develop it, are awaiting the unearned increment. This curse is prevalent throughout Australia. We know the disadvantage of building railways to develop the natural resources of a State - the whole of the people bearing the burden, in the form of extra taxation - and allowing private individuals to reap the .benefit of the money so spent. I am strongly in favour of an active developmental policy for the Northern Territory. Before sheep can be grown there, we must provide cheaper transportation to reduce the cost of improvements, and of. marketing stock, and the line which seems to me the’ most important for this purpose is one running south from Port Darwin, for perhaps 300 miles, then across to Wyndham, Western Australia on the one side, and on the other, towards Camooweal on the Queensland border, with perhaps a branch line to Borroloola, in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Such a line would undoubtedly serve good sheep country. I am not referring to cattle country; I would not spend a penny on developing cattlecountry by railways. To me a railway such as I have outlined seems inevitable, but not one clause in this Bill provides for the unearned increment remaining with -the Commonwealth. As the leases may extend until 1965, it can easily be imagined that the interests held in the Territory to-day will,, indeed, be very valuable in 1965. Many years ago a large tract of country in New .South Wales was placed in the hands of the Western Lands Commission. In the Walgett -district, portion of the Darling electorate, is some of our best pastoral land, producing very fine wooli While in the Western Lands Act and its amending legislation, there is a provision to resume one-sixth of this area at certain periods, the .great proportion of it does not .become available to the people of Australia, its .rightful owners ( until 1942’. Some stations comprise from 60,000 to 110,000 acres ,of land, which, if .properly subdivided, would, on an average, carry a family to «very 3,000 acres, and provide a very fair living indeed. The Government of the day, being at the beck and call of the pastoralists holding those leases, were responsible for withholding from the people areas of land, the development of which is so much needed for the progress of Australia as a :nation.’ Everywhere in that district can be seen men, looking longingly at beautiful land which at ‘present is held, not by pioneers, but by companies and persons who took over from them. The New South Wales Government decided to carry out a resumption policy, but no land has been resumed, since this policy has not been endorsed by the ‘great pastoral interests and institutions of New South Wales. When the Minister for Lands, some few months ago, visited Walgett to confer with the representatives of the lessees, they offered their land to the Government at 10s. per acre for the unexpired portion of th« leases. The Minister, in reply- and the
National Anti-Labour Government endorsed, that reply - said that as the land would become available in 1942, when the. Government would obtain the land for. nothing, there was no need for re^ sumption. In the meantime, the people cannot claim land which rightly is theirs, and which was bartered away by politicians to interested parties, purely for “ Doodling “ purposes. What was done respecting the western lands of New South Wales- is about to- be perpetrated by this Government in regard to the Northern Territory land’s. I have a vision of men in the Federal Legislature, 30 or 40 years hence, talking of the Parliament and the. Government which bartered away the birthright of the people to vested interests - people who. to-day arc holding lands with a view to making large profits, The mem who. torday desire certaiu valuable concessions from this Parliament, are the very men who a few months ago- were given great concessions by this same Government and’ Parliament, when attempting to remit large sums of money which they owed in taxation. First and foremost is Sir Sidney Kidman, who owes the Commonwealth of Australia, over £100,000 in respect of taxation due; on leaseholds-. This Government has not attempted to collect, that tax. It has already relieved him of the obligation to- pay further taxation on those leaseholds,, and is now prepared to extend! his leases in the Northern Territory to the year 1965. I can imagine’ the Kidmans* who- follow Sir Sidney blessing the “ boodling Government” of 1924, which laid the foundation of’ their . fortunes. When the honorable member- for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) tried to obtain information respecting the amount, of money owing to the Commonwealth by Sir Sidney Kidman, the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) informed him that as it would take too long to collect the information, he could not see his way to supply it. That was two months ago. When a similar- question was recently asked, the Treasurer told the House that it was not the policy of the Government to divulge such information. We know perfectly well that particulars of income, tax are- kept secret, but that land taxation is viewed differently. The Government, refusing to divulge the information asked for, was actuated by exactly the same motive that’ lies behind the intro* duction of this Bill. It is a desire to look after the interests of the wealthy squatters. We have already had experience of the great “ squattocracy “ of Australia, and, generally speaking, its members have obtained far more out of Australia than they have ever conferred upon it. In western New South Wales, all the country is held practically by one man. It is what is generally termed as “the Kidman blight,” and what has taken place in New South. Wales this Government seeks to have repeated in the Northern Territory. This “ blight “ in the western division of New South Wales has. . caused a serious decrease in flocks. The figures show that in the Milparinka district flocks totalled- 331,597 in 1904,- and only 51,957 in 1924, the decrease thus being 279,640. Figures for the same period’s for Wanaaring district are 291,307’ and 62,981 respectively, ‘ the decrease being 228,326; and f or; Wilcahnia district 329,895 and 166,862 respectively, the decrease being 163,033. In 1904 the flocks in the western division of New South Wales totalled 5,051,404, and in 1924 the total was only 3,770,034, the decrease being 1,281,370.
– Have not droughts beep responsible for that?
– I must remind my. honorable, friend that the figures. I have quoted cover a period -of - twenty years.. Tha decrease, has been caused mainly by. such, actions as this Government now propose to take to assist, the “ boodleiers.” Certain interests in Australia have obtained substantial benefits from this. Government. The “ rag merchants,” for instance,.’ obtained possession- of the Commonwealth Woollen Mills at half their value as. a quid pro quo for the moneythey put into party funds. The oversea shipping companies, which operate their vessels, by black labour,, secured a com-. cession worth £100,000. When, it was proposed last year to remit taxation, amounting to £1,350,000 to ‘.certain: leaseholders, the supporters, of the Government “fell down on- their jobs.” They were frightened to give their assent to the Government proposal. Because the Government’s proposal to remit that money was not agreed tOj they now propose to present to the “ squattocracy of Australia a- still greater prize in the Northern Territory.. The anxiety of the
Government to assist these lease-holding “boodleisrs” is clearly shown in this measure. But the transactions which led to the “ rag merchants” of Flinderslane and York-street obtaining protection from State instrumentalities by purchasing the Commonwealth Woollen Mills for half their value; and to the black-labour shipping companies, which appeal- to have a secret control over this Government, obtaining a remission of £100,000, sink into insignificance when one contemplates the rich prize which is being laid at the feet of the great “boodling” schemers in the Northern Territory by this great “boodling” Government.
– I am in hearty accord with every movement to promote the welfare of Australia. I realize that in attempting to develop the Northern Territory we are undertaking a gigantic problem, but success is well within the bounds of possibility. The responsibility for Northern Territory development rests with this Parliament. We must remember, however, that the land laws of a country should be just and fair to all parties. It would be inequitable to pass land legislation which would be most lenient to one section of the community and extremely hard on another. There are several most objectionable features in this Bill. In years gone by, opportunity was given in the legislation of every State for land “ boodleiers “ to greatly enrich themselves at the expense of the country. I consider that clause 31 in the schedule of this Bill throws the door wide open for more land “ boodling.” It reads -
It seems to me to be quite clear that under the provisions of that clause a man who desires to secure a lease may say to a friend of his: “You go on the land; I will supply the stock and will accept a mortgage from you.” The man who in such a case actually goes on the land has no intention whatever of remaining there. He obtains the lease simply to oblige the one who finances him. That clause appears to me to afford every opportunity for land dummying, for when the mortgagor is called upon for payment, and is unable to meet his obligations, the mortgagee enters into possession of the lease, and occupies it for the remainder of the term.
– I have circulated an amendment which I intend to move to meet that’objection.
– I have not seen the proposed amendment, but I hope it does meet the case. I think that it would be an outrage to pass the clause as it is. The clause which provides for resumptions by the Minister contains the following paragraphs : -
There can be no objection to permitting a man to retain- his homestead and the main watering place on bis holding, which may be a. large hole in the river near his home. An examination of the land map will show that all the best land in the Northern Territory has been taken up. Practically all the country in the rich Barkly Tablelands and adjacent to the Roper and Victoria Rivers right down to the Macdonnell Ranges, which has a watercourse running through it, has been leased. We cannot blame the men who secured these well-watered areas for taking advantage of the land laws, but we certainly can blame the Government for attempting to tie that land up for a lifetime. If we agree to this measure as it is, many years will pass before any land settlement worth speaking of can occur in the Northern Territory. The Bill provides that the Minister must give a leaseholder two years’ notice of his intention to resume portion of any lease. I can see no necessity for such long notice. Why should the Government compel men who want land to wait for it until the expiration of two years’ notice to a lessee ? That provision is absolutely wrong. I also object to the provision that the lessee shall have power to subdivide his lease and sublet it to other people. That principle is absolutely unsound, and it is most objectionable to me.
– Does not the honorable member think that it will lead to closer pastoral settlement?
– I think it will enable a lease-holder to put his friends into occupation of his leaseholds. The Minister should be the only person entitled to subdivide a lease. A lessee who could subdivide and sublet would have altogether too much power.
– I think the position is safeguarded by an amendment which I have foreshadowed.
– The provision in the Bill is unfair and unreasonable, and should not have been placed before the House. I hope that the Government will consider the necessity for providing railway communication for the people of the Northern Territory. We cannot expect people to pioneer that country when to do so will mean that they will be practically cut off from communication with other parts of Australia. They should not be condenmed to a lifetime of struggle, and, at the same time, be denied railway facilities, adequate water supplies, and wire netting. I would make the conditions of settlement as easy as possible. 1 would not charge lessees a shilling rent nor a shilling income tax for five years, and I would certainly give them railway facilities at the earliestpossible moment. I have unbounded faith in the future of the Northern Territory. I believe that tha Territory will grow anything that can be grown in the northern parts of Queensland and Western Australia - and probably grow it better. Unfortunately a section of the people desire the Northern Territory to remain in its present condition. According to the testimony of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson), the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), and other members of this House who have been there, some of the finest tropical lands to bo found in any part of the world are in the Northern Territory. It goes without saying that country which can produce the class of cattle that are brought to the southern markets from the Northern Territory, must be amongst the finest cattle country in the world. No one can convince me that country that produces such cattle will not also produce wool.
– No one disputes that. This Ordinance is an attempt to secure the production of wool in the Northern Territory.
– I am sure that we cannot expect wool production without, population. It is not just to deny the young manhood of Australia the right to a portion of the rich grazing lands of the Northern Territory, which I have no doubtwill in the future be producing wool as well as it is produced in any other part of Australia. They should not be tied up for a life-time in the hands of a few people.
– We arc hoping by this Bill to enable people to get certain areas of that country more quickly than they would otherwise be able to do.
– The Government will be very slow about it if they have to proceed under this Bill, because, amongst other things, it proposes to stabilize the leases of the people who are already in the Territory.
– Only as to part of their land.
– Under this Bill they will not part with much of their lands in the next quarter of a century. The Bill makes no provision for hurried resumptions to meet a progressive settlement policy. If, for instance, it is found that the Northern Territory will grow cotton, tea, hemp, or some other product of great value to Australia, and the Government is besieged by numbers of applicants for land in the Territory on which to raise these products, it must wait for two years before under this Bill it can resume land from existing leases. The lands in the Territory which are not now held under lease appear to be practically waterless, or, at least, are cut off from the main river frontages. The Government should make provision for water conservation and for the transport, with their goods, of people who desire to go to the Northern Territory. They should not be called upon, as they are at the present time, to pay up to £100 per ton to have their goods taken from Adelaide round to Port Darwin, and then down the Northern Territory railway.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Government should carry intending settlers’ goods free?
– It should make tremendous concessions to intending settlers in the Northern Territory. If it is going to cost them £200 or £300 to transport their goods to the Territory I think the Government should meet them .by making the cost repayable over a period -of five or six years.
– They give wire .netting to Northern Territory settlers free of interest on cost.
– So they should. I have been glad to learn from the Minister in charge of the Bill that he proposes to submit amendments to meet objections to it. I desire to assist in the development of the Northern Territory, but I have very strong objections to companies being allowed to hold very large areas of country to the exclusion of young land seekers in Australia. That is one of the worst things which can occur in any country, and it certainly should not he permitted in Australia. I hope that when we have finished with it the Bill will be acceptable to the people of the Northern Territory and also to the people of Australia (generally.
.- I have listened with .some pleasure to the speech of the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. It was in splen-did contrast to the strained statements of the honorable member for Darling (Mir. Blakeley). The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McNeill) evidently knows something about pastoral country, and the practical difficulties that have to be encountered before outside pastoral country cam be brought into anything like a condition of remunerative occupation. Wh.cn the honorable member said that he was prepared to give pastoralists who would go .right away back their land rent free for four or five years, and other concessions, he struck a note which all honorable members who know anything about the interior pastoral country must thoroughly appreciate. Rent and taxation during the early period of the settlemerit of such- country are not worth thinking of. The first question is its settlement, and in order to bring it about reasonable conditions should bc offered to encourage men who are prepared to go right away back from civilization and to’ put the greater part of a lifetime into the development of the country. Such men are the .real warriors of this country, and are, in fact, the men to whom Australia owes everything. The nonsense about boodleiers, -corruption, and nil that sort of stuff, may be all right for the Yarra bank and the Sydney -Domain, but it is very inappropriate to a debate in a deliberative assembly such as this. The honorable member for Darling ‘(Mr. Blakeley) was inaccurate, possibly innocently, in one statement he made. When the honorable member is inaccurate it is always innocently. He made a reference, and a sneering reference as usual, to the men who go outback, and risk their money, paying out all that they make for the first ten or twenty years to establish an industry that gives employment to the men who are specially represented by the honorable member in the position which he holds in the Australian Workers Union. I am told that -the meeting in Scott’s Hotel, which has been ;ref erred to, with the exception of two, passed all its resolutions unanimously. One >of ihe ;two was that referring to the Dingo Ordinance. That was lost by two votes, and Vestey’s, who, we are led to believe, would sweep every one else out of the Territory, voted for that Ordinance. I am sure that the honorable member for Darling, with his characteristic, desire . for fair play, will appreciate my correction of his remarks, because he would not, for the world, let it go forth that lie had misrepresented Vestey’s or boodleiers who take up land in the back country and make mighty big fortunes.
– Those people do not go to the back country.
– There axe very few who know the conditions of the back country. The people of. Victoria do not know them, because Victoria has no interior. They are known only to a few people in a few of .the States. I could give the House, briefly, the history of out-back .settlement in this country, and I say that if honor.orable members could realize what the pastoral industry has meant during the last 30 to 50 years to the men who have gone away to the back country, they would know that the instances of ruination after a lifetime of effort have .outnumbered the instances in which men have gathered fortunes. The honorable member ..for Darling referred to the decrease in the flocks in western. New South Wales.
– The honorable member is talking to -the ^gallery now.
– It is just as -well that people: should have the benefit of a correction of the very, wild statements that are sometimes made in this Chamber. The decrease in the. flocks in New South Wales, Queensland, and, to a ‘greater or less extent, in all the States, has been due to the depredations of the dingo, the rabbit, and the fox. These pests are making their way- into-‘ the Northern Territory. It will take years; even in New South Wales and Queensland, before their’ flocks are restored to their former numbers; but it will’’ take much longer to cope with these pests; in the Northern Territory, which offers greater facilities for their spread. I was extremely disappointed with the speech of the ‘honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). The reply- by the ‘Treasurer- (Dr. Earle Faire was very emphatic and -convincing, and it was founded upon knowledge, common sense, and experience. When ‘this Bill was first introduced, I was very much concerned about it. I knew a good deal about, what the Ordinance contained, because I was connected with the Government when its general principles were laid down. As :SoOn as we received it in priut, I took the Ordinance to South Australia, and asked the ‘Commissioner of Crown Lands of “that State if ho would permit me to have an interview with Mr. Day, the Surveyor-General of South Australia, who was previously SurveyorGeneral, under the ‘Commonwealth Government, of the Northern Territory; and also with, the ‘Chairman of the Land Board, Mr. Larry Wells, who nearly 40 years ago had charge of the survey of the Northern Territory. There are no two Government officials in Australia who know the Northern Territory better than the. gentlemen I have mentioned. The South Australian Commissioner of Crown Lands said he would be delighted to o grant my- request. Those two officials went through the Ordinance very carefully. I met them once or twice, and I found that, on a general review of it, they both declared that it was. a very f air and ‘practical Ordinance. Apart from same minor details, they approved -of it entirely. We thoroughly investigated the provisions to enable ‘the Government to- resume portions of the bigger leases with a tenure of 42 years. They said that if what was proposed could bo accomplished on the lines laid down in the Ordinance, it would be real good business. Mr. David Lindsay, an explorer and practical mining man.; Mr. Day, to whom, I have just referred; and Mr. Combes, a. railway engineer, were appointed by the Commonwealth Government as a Royal Commission to make a general survey- of the Northern Territory. They spent eighteen months on the task, and their report is available to honorable members. Will the Leader of the Opposition say that a committee of honorable members would be likely to submit to this House a report on the Northern Territory of equal value to” one presented by these men, two of whom were public officers?
– Has the honorable member read, the report of the Royal Commamission?
– Yes, many a time-; and I ‘know something .about -the Northern Territory. My knowledge extends, over a period of 32 years. When the Territory was under the control of the State of South Australia its affairs were- administered apart from the ordinary State business, and the debate on Northern- Territory matters, which took place in ‘the South Australian Legislative Assembly each year, lasted sometimes a week and sometimes a fortnight. When I made the suggestion -to the Leader of the Opposition tha’t he should read the reports on the table of the House, I did not wish to infer, as I am afraid the honorable member thought I did, that he -was not doing his duty. I do not know any other honorable member, leader of a party or otherwise, who is as diligent or industrious as is “the Leader of the Opposition. I am afraid he does his work so thoroughly that he jeopardizes his health. I say this from the bottom of my heart, and I would’ not have the honorable member think £on a moment that I would have the indecency, or the brutality, to suggest what he thought I had suggested. ‘This ‘Ordinance provides the easiest, shortest, and most effective method of subdividing the existing leases.
– Tell us where that method is indicated.
– The Ordinance explains itself, and the Treasurer, who has contradicted nearly every statement made by the honorable member, has fully indicated what will be done. If the leaseholders hare these prizes, as the honorable member says they have, and can hold them for another 42 years, are they likely to part with them? I think it a splendid arrangement to ensure that at a certain period a quarter of the area of a lease will be surrendered, and at another period still another quarter of the area, so that eventually the Government will hold - half of the existing leases. At any rate, this arrangement has the thorough approval of the gentleman who was ‘ formerly Surveyor-General of the Northern Territory.
– It cannot be done under the new. Ordinance.
Mr.FOSTER. - The honorable member has a lot to learn ; otherwise he would not have laid himself open to contradiction on almost every statement he has made by official facts as brought forward by the Treasurer. A 42 years’ lease is not unheard of in respect of pastoral holdings. It must be borne in mind that these leases do not apply to country close to centres of settlement. They can only be taken up in country far away from railways and facilities of all descriptions and exposed to all sorts of pests.When the Government of South Australia introduced the 42 . years’ leases, with a revaluation at the end of the first twentyone years, . they knew what they were doing. At that time the pastoral industry was almost being wiped out of existence. Men were starving on their holdings. Fortunes were being lost, and leases were being abandoned on all sides. South Australia was the pioneer of the Commonwealth in the matter of giving long leases with security of tenure, and then offering assistance to the lessees by the formation of vermin districts. As a result of that policy, enormous areas in the interior of the State have been recovered, and arc today better stocked than they over were, so that the golden fleece is producing revenue for the Government from stations which once were abandoned. It has proved to be a godsend in times which would otherwise, have been periods of intense distress. The western country of New South “Wales and Queensland, referred to . by the honorablemember for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), where the flocks are decreasing year by year, will never recover until the policy initiated in South Australia is applied, and vermin districts are established, notwithstanding the great cost likely to be entailed. Only in that way will the returns from sheep be anything near their standard of a few years ago. Lessees under the 42-years’ system in South Australia have advances made to them by the Government for the erection of dog-proof fences 6 ft. 6 in. or 7 feet high. These advances have ‘ to be repaid within 21 years, and an idea of the cost involved may bo gathered from the fact that in some instances these repayments are double, and even treble, the actual amount of rent paid by the lessees. This will also give honorable members some idea of what it will cost to recover the pastoral country in the Northern Territory. The lessees will be taking on a contract that the bravest men will do well to accomplish within the next 20 years, but the sooner we get a fair start and give them every encouragement to go ahead, the sooner will the object in view be accomplished. Settlement is everything. We must keep there the men we have there. It is unfortunate that some of the leases run to thousands of square miles, but the lessees have not made a penny out of them.
– Kidman sold one for £200,000.
– I know that Sir Sidney Kidman has enormous territories, and I know a thousand times more about him than does the honorable member. I wish there were 50 men there to share Sir Sidney Kidman’s areas, but, for 80 per cent, of the leases he has bought during the last 20 years, he has given nothing more than the price of the stock on them. He has not given a penny for the leases themselves. When people talk about the problem of recovering the way-back country they must thoroughly understand the conditions to be faced. Therefore, let us understand the position of the Northern Territory. The first step towards establishing successful progressive occupation is the provision of railway facilities. Some people talk about turning the Territory into sheep country. It cannot be done until a railway is built to enable the lessees to get to their holdings the material which can make them fit for sheep. In these days of dingoes, rabbits, and foxes, it takes an enormous amount of money to run sheep, and only the rich man, who can command capital and is working under the best conditions, can undertake the task in many parts of the Northern Territory. The day of the small man there - at all events beyond Barrow’s Creek - has not yet arrived. What is the position of the big lessees as they exist to-day? I suppose that because of the unprecedented position of the beef industry they are having a .bigger gruelling than they have ever had before in the Territory. Not only in the Northern Territory, and in the outer districts of the Commonwealth, but also in the inner areas closer to the centres of population, there is nothing in the raising of beef to-day. The men of Queensland who a few years ago were called “ beef barons “ are paupers to-day, and they are plucky men to hold on as they are doing. I believe that there will be a solution of the export problem that will be favorable to the successful raising of beef in Australia, and when we once get a market for our beef properly established in the Old World these men will probably again amass fortunes, which they will thoroughly deserve, and which no one ought to begrudge them. The position of the lessees in the Northern Territory is very much worse than that of pastoralists in other parts of Australia. Heaven only knows how they are able to hang on. The man who has stuck to his land in the Northern Territory is a hero. He is the best type of man we have in Australia. We ought to honour him, and not desert him in his hour of need. We must pass this Ordinance at once. People are looking for it, they are waiting for it; they are losing rooney year after year, and they see in this proposal their only ray of hope. I was amazed when I heard that they had accepted it. There is one good piece of fortune of which I must remind the House. Some of us will remember the agitation for the establishment of freezing works in the Northern Territory. There was at that time a craze for the Government entering into the business; but, thank God, something happened to place Vestey’s instead of the Government in it. That firm has sunk there a million pounds which for years have not been earning interest. Goodness knows what would have happened if the meat works had been a Government undertaking. We should be thankful that the Commonwealth did not enter upon that enterprise. But in order to restore an industry which, if not flourishing, was fairly good a few years ago, we must help Vestey’s, not for their sakes, but for the sake of the Commonwealth. Unless we do that, there can be no hope of development in the Territory. When I speak of assisting Vestey’s, I mean that the Commonwealth should not charge railway freights that would be appropriate in a country that was in a position to pay its way. Railways and other facilities must be regarded as pioneering works, and in order to encourage settlement, we must charge encouraging rather than crushing rates. In many other ways we shall have to assist in the development of that great country, and the sooner we do so, the sooner will the Territory have a chance of paying its way. Without such assistance there is no possibility of its doing so. A couple of years ago a Sectional Committee of the Public Works Committee travelled through the Northern Territory at great cost, but the visit was very useful. Under existing conditions the Territory can be visited only at great cost.
– Did the Committee charge up to the Territory the cost of the visit to Java?
– The expenses were, no doubt, charged to the appropriate vote. The Sectional Committee rendered excellent service; its members worked throughout like tigers. They brought back an excellent account of the country. I wish to pay a well deserved compliment to the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson), who was a member of the Sectional Committee, and whose enthusiasm and illustrated lectures have made the Northern Territory known to the people” of the Commonwealth to an extent that it was never known before. In many States his propaganda has converted to support of the north-south railway and the development of the Territory, people who were previous bitterly opposed to such a policy. The honorable member has not yet finished his good works, and I hope he will continue them until the object for which he is striving is accomplished. Generally speaking, the Ordinance contained in the Bill is good, although it is possible that in Committee some improvements may be suggested. I hope for the sake of the people in the Northern Territory that the honorable member representing, them will withdraw his amendment. Hundreds of ex-Territorians are living in South Australia, and they were distressed when they heard of the suggestion that there should be further delay, and that the facilities that have been promised for the last fifteen or twenty years should be further deferred.
.- It was hardly necessary for the honorable member for Wakefield to tell the House that he represents the interests of Sir Sidney Kidman, because the whole purpose of his speech was to uphold existing conditions in the Northern Territory. Members of this House have no graver problems to handle than those relating to the control and development of the land, and anybody who is acquainted with the history of land legislation in the various States will not hesitate to support the fullest inquiry into the proposals contained in this Bill. No State in the Commonwealth has been without some scandal in connexion with land. In New South Wales there have been numerous public inquiries affecting Ministers of the Crown, members of Parliament, and private citizens. Those investigations were conducted by the keenest judicial intellects that .’could be found, and they revealed that there is more trickery, chicanery, and rascality in connexion with land deals than in any other phase of our social and economic life. I visited the Northern Territory some years ago, and came away with ideas very different from those I had before my visit. I do not pretend to be an authority on land, but many years ago I travelled, extensively into the interior of New South Wales in connexion with the provision of water supplies on station properties, and thus gained- a fair knowledge of land. I saw in the Northern Territory land that was eminently suitable for grazing. This House is not as -well qualified to’ deal with the important problem of the land policy in the Northern Territory as it would be if it had before it the report of an expert Committee specially appointed to investigate the subject. The honorable member for Wakefield thought that a 42 years’ lease would not be excessive. Such an extended tenure might have been all right when Captain Cook first landed in Australia, and the honorable member’s ideas “seem to be appropriate to that date. Over 40 years ago, I travelled 500 miles inland from Sydney to install a water supply on a big station, and that land had been leased by Sir John Robertson at £1 per acre. To-day a railway runs within 2 miles of the land, which is being used for dairy farming, and is worth £50 per acre. The granting of leases in the Northern Territory for 42 years, at a rental of 6d. or 8d. per square mile, might prove very injurious to future generations.
– Land at Bathurst was sold 100 years ago for ls. per acre.
– The honorable member’s interjection provides an excellent illustration in support of my argument. When I visited the Northern Territory, I encountered a great number of men connected with the pastoral industry. Their minds seem to be poisoned with the idea that nothing should, be done to develop the cattle runs in the Northern Territory, lost the prices of cattle and sheep in the southern States should fall and the community get the benefit of cheap meat. I believe that that idea still permeates the minds of the pastoralists. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson)’ has told us that this Bill was submitted to men who believe that any progress in the stock-raising industry in the Northern Territory would be injurious to their interests. I ask honorable members to ponder carefully before they agree to surrender control of the soil to a few people. In Ireland, Russia, Germany, France - in fact, all over the world - the greatest economic curse has been the possession of large areas of land by a few people. Many of us had to struggle in our early years, and the least we can do for those who are to follow us is to leave the land accessible to them. Think of the wrongs of Ireland in connexion with the land system ! In my boyhood, nearly 60 years ago, I heard addresses in London on the cruel land conditions in Ireland. Yet, despite the lessons taught by history, this House is asked to give to a few private persons absolute control for 42 years over vast tracts of country. Such a proposal will not stand a moment’s investigation. With development in the mining and pastoral industries, prosperity will come to the Northern “ Territory. Unfortunately, in.: connexion with mining’, there has been moore robbery from British capitalists . in> the Northern Territory than in any. other part of. Australia. We- had ample evidence of. this on the occasion of our visit some.- time ago. On one mineral lease we saw rusting away wire roper long enough almost to put. a cable round the coast of Australia. There were also three Cornish boilers 45 feet long and 7 feet in diameter lying in the ground half rusted away, poppet heads 100 feet high fitted with windlass and wheel, a. manager’s residence, and. half a. dozen half-finished cottages foi- workmen, and with it all not 10 feet of soil had been disturbed. That was not an isolated instance. I was informed by Mr. Matthews-, a South Australian mining manager, that at one time his company worked on a goldmining lease at Pine Creek,, with a number of Chinese and. Javanese who had to be accommodated in. separate houses. He told me that after paying all debts and cleaning up, the company, made a. profit of £17,000, but, so disgusted, were they with the prospective: expenditure that they closed down. We saw several of these abandoned mining ventures. -No wonder British capitalists hesitate to further invest in Northern Territory mining propositions under existing conditions. The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) to-day endeavoured to belittle what the honorable member for the Northern Territory had said. That is not the kind of treatment W6 might expect from, a responsible. Minister: The honorable member for the Northern Territory, I have noi doubt, had in mind the interests of future settlers, and in his own forcible manner he emphasized the need for a system of group settlement in order to secure permanency in occupation and progress in development. I hope the time will never come when immigrants will be introduced and placed on land 10 or 12 miles distant from the nearest neighbour, with none of the conveniences of civilization. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) spoke of the establishment of ice works in Darwin. On the occasion of our visit the days were very hot, so if; was easy to realize what an essential commodity ice is in a climate like that of the Northern Territory. Conveniences of the kind should be established there. Much real work was done by the Labour Administration for the development of the Territory. The Batchelor Experimental Farm ^demonstrated that, anything grown in New South Wales can be produced in the Northern Territory. When we visited the farm-, we partook of foodstuffs, such as one gets in Melbourne or Sydney, all grown on the farm. I hope that the remarks of the honorable member for the Northern Territory will not be entirely ignored by the Government. There is sound reason for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into, the land settlement conditions of the Territory. Although I have been, there, I would be loth to arrogate, to myself the right of determining whether this Bill is designed to meet the needs of the Northern Territory in the best possible way. I want further information. An inquiry hy a Committee extending over a few months would equip honorable members with that knowledge so essential to the proper framing of a land Ordinance for the development of the Northern Territory. Without well-considered legislation on this subject there is- no possibility of progress in the Territory. We do not want to make this a party question. In Committee I shall vote on the various clauses of the Ordinance as I think fit, and I hope other honorable members will adopt the same attitude in order to improve the Bill. If a committee of inquiry were appointed^, and reported to the House, honorable members would be better informed as to the conditions of land settlement, and, therefore, would be in a better position to deal with this important measure. The Treasurer has told us that legal opinion has been obtained. We know that legal authorities differ. I think the course outlined by the honorable member for the Northern Territory is the best one to take. The history of land scandals in Australia up to the present ought to be sufficient to make honorable members insist on further information before passing this Bill.
Mr. KILLEN (Riverina) [9.281- Honable members on both sides of the House will agree that this is one of the most important measures that has come before them. It deals with an immense territory, which is almost wholly undeveloped, and it seems1 to me that one of the principal duties of this. Parliament should be to try to -develop and populate it in the shortest possible time. We on this side of the House differ from honorable members opposite as to the right course to take. To my mind, this is a pioneering proposition. I think I am qualified to speak of pioneering, since I was one of the pioneers of that tract of country, then 250 to 300 miles from the nearest railway, about which the honorable member- for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) said something to-night. It was then unoccupied, and had never been stocked. A number of us went out to occupy it. We lived like blackfellows for several years, and after working hard and enduring all the hardships inseparable from pioneering, came back poorer than when we went there. There ave three stages of settlement. There is, first of all, the pioneering, which has yet to be done in the Northern Territory. After the pioneers go out, most of them ruined, other men come in and make the land fit for closer settlement. This, takes a good number of years. Only about one-third of the Northern Territory is occupied, and it is proposed under the Bill to grant leases up to 42 years of portion of the runs. Some honorable members opposite, who have spoken during this debate, appear to think that if this measure becomes law large areas will be locked up, and that it will be impossible for those desiring small holdings to acquire land. This is not so, because we are informed that approximately 7,000,000 acres which have gone out of occupation within the last two years are available for any one who desires to take up land there. Itis safe to say that a ‘ larger area is being surrendered than that for which leases are required. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) is in a more favorable position than other honorable members to discuss this question, inasmuch as he lives in the Northern Territory, and has travelled over a good portion of it; but it does not follow that because he is so circumstanced he can suggest the best way of developing the Territory. Personally, I differ from him as to the best method to adopt. Unless the Government provide the easiest possible conditions, and grant long leases to those who are doing the pioneering work, a very large area will remain unoccupied. I do not understand why those who have- opposed the Bill fail to realize that under it instead of locking up the land for a long period, a much larger area will be thrown open for settlement than would otherwise be possible. Of the land held under leases granted by’ the South Australian Government, 3,758 square miles will revert to the Crown in 1935 if the Bill is not passed, whereas if the measure becomes law 24,260 square miles, an area approximately seven times as large, will revert to the Crown during the same yeal*. Of the balance of the Northern Territory held under lease 950 square mile3 will revert to the Crown in 1935, if the position remains as at present, whereas if the Bill is passed, and the pastoralists agree to bring their holdings under its provisions, 20,500 square miles will be available for settlement, or twenty-one times the area that would be available under the existing conditions. A combined area of 4,708 square miles would be available in 1935 under existing conditions, whereas if the Bill is passed, and all leases are brought under its provisions, 44,760 square miles, or nine and a half times as much, will be available. These figures prove that the arguments of honorable members opposite will not stand investigation.
– Why should there be any hurry if the leases do not expire until 1935?
– We do not wish the present occupiers to vacate their holdings because of the unsatisfactory conditions that exist. The western division of New South Wales, with which I am familiar, is, in many respects, similar to a great portion of the country in the Northern Territory. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) referred to the western division, and I was at a loss to understand why he should have used it as an illustration, because it shows the futility of settling small men on land quite unsuitable for small holdings. I was in the western division when a Land Act was passed which released half the area of the runs held under lease, and threw it. open to settlement in 10,000 acreblocks. At that time some members of the New South Wales Parliament spoke as honorable members opposite are speaking to-day, and made frequent reference to the fact that large areas were locked up. After the Bill was passed matters became worse. The lessees’ rents were raised four or five-fold, and although many of the small areas were taken up I do not think one settler succeeded. Some of them stayed on the land for three or four years, but later, when a drought came, they either abandoned their holdings, or sold out for whatever they could obtain. A great portion of the land which was then surrendered is at present leased by Sir Sidney Kidman. His occupancy of the land has been referred to as a calamity. It is from one point of view, inasmuch as if the former lessees had been well treated and encouraged land on which only a few cattle run might now be carrying millions of sheep. The honorable member for Darling did not tell the House that dingoes came down in thousands from Queensland, that rabbits swarmed over the country, and that in consequence of this and drought periods the few remainin’g sheep were destroyed. The flocks of some holders were destroyed by dingoes, and in many cases adjacent land-holders, after seeing what was happening to their neighbours, removed or sold their sheep. The dingoes were the greatest menace, but rabbits and droughts were largely responsible for the failures. Sir Sidney Kidman now holds a large portion of the country in the Western Division, and if he had not taken it up, a good deal of it would be lying idle to-day. Surely it is better that it should be occupied even as a cattle proposition than that it should be used as a breeding ground for rabbits, dingoes, and other vermin. The Government will have to spend a large sum of money on developmental work in the Territory. I agreewith the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) when he says that the Government ought to raise a loan of £10,000,000 or whatever amount is necessary to construct railways in the Northern Territory, as the country will never bc developed or populated until that is done. A railway from Charlotte Waters to Camooweal through the Barkly Tablelands would open a fine tract of country. I have not travelled through that part of the Territory, but I understand that it is similar to country in the Western Downs of Queensland with which I am familiar. It will not carry one sheep to the acre, as the honorable member for the
Northern Territory states part of the Territory will, but from what I have heard, the Barkly Tablelands country will carry one sheep to four acres.
– The South Australian people will kill the honorable member if he advocates that route.
– The north-south railway is a different proposition, and would not open up such good country. It will have to be built eventually, but meantime we must construct lines that will develop the best country, but that is a question which I do not intend to discuss at this juncture. A railway from Emungalan to Daly Waters will cost a good deal, but it will considerably aid the development of the best portion of the Territory. If the Government cannot see their way to spend money in railway construction in the Northern Territory, they should adopt the policy of the Canadian Government, which granted land to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company which built the CanadianPacific railway.
– When the Price Government was in office in South Australia, they held a deposit in the bank for such a purpose.
– The cheapest way in which to develop the Territory is on the land grant system, under which alternate blocks would be granted to the company constructing the line, as was done in Canada where there was an immense tract of fine country lying undeveloped until the Canadian Pacific Railway Company built the line, and revolutionized conditions in that portion of the Dominion. The honorable .member for Darling referred to the wealthy squatters in the Northern Territory, but I, think he has been carried away by his imagination. From what I have heard I do not believe that any one in the Northern Territory has made money. I have no interest in the Territory, neither has any of my friends, and so far as I know there are no wealthy squatters in that locality. A typical case of hundreds who hold large areas is that of a man whose outgoings for wages and other ‘ expenses in connexion with the management of a station in the Territory amounted. in three years, to £15,000, whereas during the same period he received only £3,500 for the stock he sold.
– Is he staying, there for the good of his health?
– He and many others are still- holding on, and it is in the interests of the country that they should continue to- do so. Honorable members have referred to the desirability of some land being utilized for sheep raising, but when one realizes that goods, after they leave the railway, have to be carried from 400 to 500 miles, and that the rate of carriage is 2s. 9d. per ton per mile, it is easy to see that such a proposition is impracticable. Slow administration is also a drawback.
– The administration should be on the spot.
– Yes. Matters of administration have to be referred - to the Home and Territories Department in this city,, and by the time a reply, is received months have elapsed. It. is heartbreaking to the settlers. Another hardship is that the- train runs from. Port Darwin to the terminus of thu line only once a fortnight. Why do not the Government put on a motor train? I do not wish to be unfair to the Administration, but I do not think the Government has done enough to assist settlers in the Territory. The ordinary requirements of civilization ought to be provided wherever possible. Mail services should be maintained where _ the people need them. In one instance a service could have been provided for an expenditure of £250 a year. This would have given the people reasonably quick communication with the rest of Australia, but at present owing to the roundabout route taken by the mail, six weeks are bccupied in transit.
– Did not Vestey Brothers maintain a service for the benefit of the people there:?
– I understand that they did provide a service that should havebeen maintained by the Government. Wireless communication would be of great benefit in a big tract of country such as the Territory, where telegraph and telephone lines are expensive to construct. Two companies offered to install wireless plants if the Government would erect a central station, but the offer was not accepted. The Government should do its duty and provide the ordinary facilities of civilization, otherwise we cannot ‘ ex pect the Territory to be populated’. The expenditure of a few thousand pounds- in the right direction would accomplish- a great deal, and the Government should not hesitate in the matter. While Vestey Brothers were operating the meat works at Port Darwin 300 or 400 workmen were employed. The works were closed!. I understand,, because the Government declined to improve the wharfage facilities. During three years when Vestey Brothers’ works were open,, the revenue al Darwin amounted to £923,304’, whereas during the three years since tlie closing of the establishment the revenue has dropped to £34,634. Another handicap experienced by the settlers is the. lack of educational facilities for their children. I am told also that there is” only one doctor in the Territory. Since a Land Board ls to be appointed, I hope that practical men with local -experience: will be selected. Unless the Government choose men who know the locality and their work tihe Board is ‘bound to prover a failure. After the Government has made, sure that it has appointed the right men it should allow them to carry out their duties without interference. The measure may require slight amendment in Committee, but, on the whole, I approve of it.
.-I intend to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), who was sent here to inform us regarding Territory affairs, and who, as a resident of the country, should be presumed to know his subject. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) suggested that he would show that the honorable member for the Northern Territory did not- know what ‘he was talking about.
– The Minister showed that.
– I sometimes wish tlie honorable member for Wakefield had been a worker, because he would have made the nest labour organizer in Australia. He talks about the” poor “ men struggling in the Northern Territory, and about the awful conditions the pastoralists have had to contend with in making themselves wealthy. How many of the pastoralists, for whom the honorable member has so much pity, are now to bc found working on the roads as navvies? It amuses me to hear the honorable member . cry, “ They are heroes.” If . the squatters in. the Territory are heroes, what about the unfortunate workmen there, who . have ito trudge from station to station to obtain . ‘employment’?
– I did not speak only of squatters I referred to every one in lihe Territory.
Mr.YATES. - Last year. Parliament had before it a Bill ‘to- relieve the wealthy pastoralists of a just debt of £1,300,000, due by way of taxation on their leases. Then these people secured, in addition, a bounty on the beef they exported.
– That is all moonshine.
– -Items in the Budget spoak for’ themselves. The honorable meniber knows full -well that an attemrit was made %o -relieve the “” beef barons “’ of the Nor-them Territory, and other parts of tthe Commonwealth, nf a just obligation in connexion with their leasee.
– The honorable member is stating -the matter wrongly.
– The fact remains that honorable members opposite tried to relieve them of the payment of a million and a quarter of money due to the Commonwealth. Does the honorable member think I should say that they had been unduly penalized to that extent?
– He would be right if he said that the Taxation Department dared not take* the matter to Court.
– Prior to the advent to power of the party . opposite, the Government collected the money, and tihe party now in power decided to give the lessees the benefit of its remission. Thepresent Bill is intended to (further entrench these gentlemen who are in such a parlous position.” Their leases fall in . firoiH , 19-35 onwards, and they want a further tenure of the land that is such a g<ce&t burden to them-. That tenure will be anything up to 40 years, because they have the Aust right of resumption. The plea is . for the squatter in the Northern Territory. Official statistics . show that the primaiy and . secondary industries in South Australia.,- or any -other . part of the Commonwealth, were aaever in >*- more flourishing condition.
– South Australia is not tihe . Northern Territory.
– I chaltaige the honorable member to examine the statistics for the whole of Australia, and ‘attempt to refute my statement. I admit that the first efforts towards settlement consists of pioneering work, -but I claim that the “ eyes “ of the Territory have been picked out, and the pioneering work done.
– That land will all come back to the Government.
– It . may, but an attempt is being made to tackle the problem in the wrong way. If . the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), during his long . association with this Parliainent, had . adopted the right policy for the Territory as ‘vigorously as he hae studied the interests of bis own followers, South Australia would have now lhad a railway ibuSlt from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. Had South Australia not disposed -of : the Territory to the iCommonwealfh, I . believe ‘the NorthSouth line would have been built ere now.. iEn having omitted” to construct this line the Comimonwealth has stumbled ; it has adopted the -wrong policy for developing that . country. Parliament is now asked to give a guarantee to those at present engaged in ‘beef production there, the -assumption being that a railway to assist ‘them will -subsequently be built. I contend that the proper policy is to build a -railway first of all. The House should defer the matter of ‘land ‘tenure until the railway has been built. If it is not constructed before 1935 it may be taken for granted tha* there is no intention to build it at all. Clearly the Bill is another move to buttress the monied interests of the Territory. Will the honorable member for Wakefield name one- of the unfortunate individuals, to whom he has referred, as having been ruined and driven off the land ? My mind runs to the places where these “ poor “ men meet. Do they assemble on the Yarra bank, Melbourne, in the Domain in . Sydney,, or . on the banks of the River Torrens in Adelaide!? The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) knows -where -they foregather, since he meets with them. He is one of the favored individuals who wer« relieved of taxation, which . they should in justice have paid.
– Where do these people meet?
– At Scott’s Hotel, or Menzies’. Anyway, it is not where the hoboes meet and the ruined people foregather. You may see them smoking clay pipes and wearing bowyangsl Will any one say that it is not this section for which we are legislating ? It is all very well to say that our country will never be developed unless we hand out doles at intervals to this or that interested party. No wonder that song which we sing so melodiously in our party rooms - “ Allelulia, I’m a hum “ - was composed. While I have no desire to obstruct the passage of any legislation that is genuinely for the real development of Australia, I object to one-sided legislation. If Mr. Justice Powers is asked next year to fix a rate for stockmen, rouseabouts, and shearers, and if he happens to award £2 a hundred for the shearing of sheep, there will be a loud outcry from the hoboes. I have often marvelled how a man oan throw 100 sheep a day, hold them down for five minutes, and take the wool off them. But they are heroes who look on from the homestead ! I do not know what a station homestead is like. I have never been in ‘one. I have been to Yarralumla, where one or two of these men were ruined? In that old homestead there are 23 to 30 rooms, including a billiard room and reading room. I would like to be one of the hoboes who own a station like that. They are heroes all right. Yarralumla is where our lovelv lakes are going to be, on the banks of the Molonglo River, where we shall be sung to sleep by frogs at night and awakened by the lark-
– This Bill does not deal with the Federal Capital Territory.
– It deals with pastoral leases in the Northern Territory, and I wish to make comparisons between them and other leases. I suggest that honorable members opposite have not correctlv envisaged the effects of the Bill, and I am trying to portray to them how hard it is for poor pioneers who so out into the arid areas to make a living.
– Can the honorable member imagine how many years it took to build Yarralumla ?
– I once worked in a factory. It was . hard work, from 7 o’clock in the morning until 5.30 in the evening. I received 39s. a week, and it was seventeen years before I was shifted into the warehouse. Is that case parallel with that of the squatter who formerly lived at Yarralumla 1 Did I expect, at the beginning, that I would get into the warehouse, that I would be a traveller, and that I would eventually be a member of the Federal Parliament? It brings to my mind the following lines: -
You may run a swift race and be counted the victor,
And yet you but get there a step at a time;
And np the steep ladder, where fame keeps her glories,
If you want to get one you must certainly climb.
One would not expect a squatter to just fall into a Yarralumla. Is the Bill intended to ensure that in 1945 Yarralumlas shall, so to speak, fall upon these people like manna from Heaven? Honorable members know very well that the proposal is to tie up Australia so that posterity will find that it is being prevented from progressing by the dead hand of the. past. 1! object most strongly to it. The House will be well advised to accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for the Northern Territory. Before the Bill is passed, we should finalize our policy regarding the Northern Territory railway. Do we intend to construct a railway to Alice Springs ? Arewe going to take it from Daly Waters to a point opposite the Pellew Islands, or to Camooweal? Let us know what we are going to do with the Territory before we appoint a Board to watch the people to whom the Bill will give security of tenure, and who will be able to snap their fingers at any Board. We all know what is the state of affairs in the Territory to-day. We know that methods of transit prevent development. The progress of the Territory is not all involved in the question of land tenure. It is governed, also, by transport facilities. An opportunity should be provided for the people in the south to know the north. I suggest to the Government that that is a sane, and in fact the best, method of development. The railway should be built first, whether it is built from Oodnadatta or some other place. I shall certainly endeavour to induce the House to honour the compact made with South Australia, not because we are under an obligation to do so, but because the building of the railway from Oodnadatta would be in the best interests of Australia. The squatters have been cute in their selection of land. I do not put myself forward as an expert judge of land, but between Sydney and Albury I have passed through many miles of country which is better than any I saw in seven day’s travel through Italy and France. This land, right on the railway line, is locked up. Who has locked it up ? Some more of those “ hoboes.” On my first visit from Adelaide to the Mr Gambier district, I went through miles of lovely country on which hardly a tree had been felled, and in spite of this we are talking of sending soldiers out back. Who holds this land? Have they been starved off it? The same thing can be seen between Launceston and Hobart, where the railway goes through beautiful, undeveloped country. One cannot see it in Italy. In that country every foot of the land is cultivated, and the same statement is true in most parts of France.
– It would be true here if we had the population.
– Without any additional population, if we were to compel certain people to let go the strangle hold they have on the land, the people of the cities would swarm into the country like flies. Instead of tying up land as we do to-day, we ought to have a sound policy of development. In the Northern Territorythe railway should be provided first, and land settlement afterwards.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted (Mr. Nelson’s amendment) be so inserted - put. The House divided.
Majority … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I do not desire to delay the House, but some of the statements that have been made by honorable members opposite require correction, and with these, by leave of the House, I shall deal to-morrow. I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
. - I move -
That Order of the Day No. 2, “Naval Construction Bill- Consideration, in Committee, of the Governor-General’s message No. 30,” be discharged from the business-paper.
The desire is to bring down another message.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
Motion (by Sir Littleton Groom) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
..- - A majority of the members or the. Soldiers Committee, which deals with the medical history of returned soldiers, met last week, and thoroughly discussed the position with me.. An arrangement was, come to whereby, if honorable members- will first submit to me the cases they wish, to have investigated, I shall have them dealt with by the Committee. To-morrow the Committee will be sitting at 4 o’clock.
Mr.FENTON (Maribyrnong) [10.20]. - I do not know whether the Prime Minister or the Government has power to deal with the matter I intend to bring forward, but those who read to-night’s Herald, no doubt have seen a sketch published by it.
– Written or drawn ?
– Partly written and partly drawn-. The words underneath the cartoon are - “ Some one- is feeling nervy.” Then there is a door,, branded “ U.S.A.,” with the words, “ No admittance to Japanese.” Japan is shown struggling at this particular door, and overlooking the fence or the enclosure is a man labelled “ Australia,” with the words, “ Now, will he try to get in here? “ As every one knows, this cartoon has reference to the exclusion law recently sanctioned by Congress, and endorsed by the President of the United States of America. Cartoons of this character concerning a nation living in friendly relationship with Australia, and an ally of the British Empire, are, to say the least, insulting, and totally unwarranted. Has the Prime Minister power to stop this kind of thing? It was mentioned by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), in an address delivered’ by him in Sydney last week, that on a recent visit to Japan a prominent Japanese official, if not a Japanese Minister, showed him a drawer full of cuttings from Australian papers containing insulting references to Japan. As a true supporter of the White Australia policy, I object to this type of cartoon appearing in the public press of this country. Nothing is more calculated to bring about International complications than humbugging and_ slanderous representations of this kind. This sketch does not represent Australian feeling, and the Prime Minister should repudiate it and any others that appear from time to’ time, in. certain sections of the Australian, press. Everything possible should bedone to stop this practice.
– I have not seen the cartoon, referred to by the, honorable member, but I need hardly say that I and. theGovernment entirely repudiate any cartoon in any paper dealing with delicate international relationships^ and tending to- foster ill-feeling between Australia and other nations, or any hostilitytowardsr Australia. I regret that anything of the sort should have appeared:. I shall look: into the- matter,, and see whether ‘steps can be taken to prevent the publication of cartoons calculated in any sense to engender ill-feeling between. Australia and other nations.
– I feel certain that, the artist who. has drawn this cartoon has done so from lack of thought.
– The cartoon is true.
– It is not true, and is- very unjust. I- suppose that I am the only member of Parliament whom tha merchants of Sydney, when I made my first visit to Japan, wished to prevent from landing there. I have to thank the Consul-General for Japan for not listening; to the representations of the Sydney merchants. Had he done so, I should have considered it only fair and in keepmg with his position. While the Prime Minister is making his inquiries, I ask him to consider whether it will not be worth while to publish throughout the length and breadth of Australia the wonderful letter that was written by our then greatest philosopher, Herbert Spencer, at the request of the Japanese Government. There is no better argument for a White Australia, or for the American view, than what Japan did in following the advice of our great philosopher. There should be nothing to prevent Australia from approaching Japan, and in the name of reciprocity saying,, “ If any Australian owns one acre of land in Japan, then by all means let Japan own thirteen times that quantity of land in Australia, with its wider spaces,” or “ If one Australian has become a citizen of Japan and is living there, then by all means let thirteen times as many Japanese come here.” But Japan cannot complain of the United States of America. It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If we follow Japan, which instituted laws based upon the advice of Herbert Spencer, then wo can say, ‘ In the name of reciprocity you cannot blame us if we follow your splendid example.” But for goodness sake do not let us insult a brave nation, older in civilization than , we are, whose navy, at all events, defended our soldiers when they were being transported overseas, and did a most chivalrous act when it stood aside and let H.M.A.S. Sydney destroy the Emden. Any one of the Japanese war vessels thatwere convoying our troops at the time could have destroyed the Emden.
– If that is the honorable member’s version of the incident he ought to write a new history book.
– If the honorable member will help me to write it, and will take the pen which my older fingers find difficult to use, I may then make the attempt with his good advice. I feel certain that if the position were put to the artist responsible for the cartoon, he, as a true lover of Australia, would cease to use his talents in a way much regretted by honorable members.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 May 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240528_reps_9_106/>.