10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills re ported : -
Income Tax Assessment (Bonus Shares) Bill.
Dried Fruits Advances Bill.
Replyfrom His Majesty the King to Address of Condolence.
Mr. SPEAKER announced the receipt of the following letter from His Excellency the Governor-General: -
Commonwealth of Australia.
Melbourne, 10th May, 1920.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The Governor-General desires to inform the Speaker of the House of Representatives that he has been advised by the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs that the Address of Condolence with His Majesty the King on the death of Her late Majesty Queen Alexandra, which was adopted by the House of Representatives on 13th January, 1926, has been laid before His Majesty, who has commanded that an expression of his grateful thanks may be conveyed to the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives for their messages of sympathy and assurance of loyalty.
Mr. MACKAY, as Chairman, brought up the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, together with minutes of evidence, relating to the proposed extension of the trans-Australian railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill, South Australia, and the laying of a third rail to provide a railway of 4 ft.8½ in. gauge on the South Australian 5 ft. 3 in. gauge railway from Bed Hill to the Central Railway Station, Adelaide.
Ordered to be printed.
Mr.FORDE. - In view of the anxiety amongst cotton-growers for information as to the price to be paid for raw cotton next season, will the Prime Minister announce the decision of the Government on the question of the payment of a Commonwealth bounty on cotton asked for by Queensland cotton-growers ?
– The question of substituting a bounty on cotton for the present guaranteed payments to cotton-growers was, as the law required, submitted to the Tariff Board for consideration. The members of the board visited Queensland, took evidence there, and carried out. a full investigation. Its report was received by the Minister for Trade and Customs a few days ago, and will be dealt with by the Cabinet with a view to an early decision. I quite appreciate the fact that, as the planting season is commencing, it is most desirable that the decision of the Cabinet on the question should be made known as early as possible.
Opening of Parliament - Issue of Liquor Licences - Material Used in Parliament House.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether any finality has been reached concerning the arrangements for the opening of the Parliament at Canberra?
– I hope to be in a position in the course of a few days to make a statement with regard to the date of the opening of Parliament at the Federal Capital, and the attendant ceremony.
– As it is generally understood that this is to be the last session of the Parliament to be held in Melbourne, and that our . nextsession will be at Canberra, I should like to know from the Prime Minister whether, before the prorogation, the House will be given an opportunity to discuss the desirability of issuing liquor licences at Canberra.
– This somewhat difficult and complicated matter is at the moment under the consideration of the Government. When a decision upon it is arrived at, the course proposed to be followed will be announced to this House.
– Some weeks ago I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories a question relating to details concerning imported goods used at Canberra. Is the Minister able to make that information available now ?
– If possible, I shall obtain the information and supply it to the honorable member to-morrow.
– Can the Prime Minister explain why the State Premiers, who will attend a conference with Federal Ministers on Monday next, were not supplied earlier with an agenda paper showing the subjects to be discussed at the conference ?
– During the recent election campaign Ministers intimated on many occasions that when Parliament re-assembled the Government proposed to have a conference with representatives of the States to consider the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States, when all phases of the subject would be discussed. There is, therefore,, no necessity for an agenda paper. But, to assist the State Governments, they have been informed of the views of the Commonwealth Government on various aspects of it. We have sent to them a memorandum, of which all the Premiers now possess copies.
– When was it sent?
– The Premiers received it yesterday, and will have an opportunity of considering the Commonwealth’s proposals and of discussing them with - their Cabinets before attending the conference. I very much regret that it was impossible for the Premier of Western Australia to receive the memorandum before he left for the eastern States.
– Is the Minister for Repatriation yet in a position to give the House any information in reference to the granting of increased pensions to widows and widowed mothers of ex-soldiers? I sought similar information on or about the 12th March last, and was informed by the Minister that he would make an announcement on the subject later. .
– I regret that the information is still not available; but I hope to be able next week to make a . statement declaring the intention of the Government.
– Has any word yet been received from the British Government regarding the payment for work done in Australia on ex-enemy ships ?
– The information that must be obtained before any final decision can be arrived at in thematter referred to has not yet been received. An explanation of the delay will occur to every honorable member, and it is possible that it may yet be some time before we receive information from the British Government.
– Has the Minister any explanation to offer respecting the arrest of Private Edward Genner, of Bathurst. He was imprisoned at the military camp, Liverpool, in a cold cell, in which he was placed because he had refused duty on the ground that he was ill. Next morning it was discovered that he was suffering from appendicitis ; was rushed into hospital; and an operation was performed on him. Has the Minister any explanation to offer for the conduct of the officials of the Defence Department, and has any action been taken regarding this case?
– The case has been brought under my notice, and an inquiry is now proceeding. On its termination I shall inform the honorable member of the result.
– Some time ago I asked whether the Treasurer would take into consideration the advisability of altering the date of the commencement of the Commonwealth financial year. He promised to give consideration to the matter, and to make an announcement later. Has any final decision yet been arrived at?
– The Government is still considering the matter.
– Is it a fact that although certain franchise rights have been granted to Indians residing in Australia, these people are still debarred from receiving invalid pensions, and, therefore, do not enjoy full citizen rights ? If so, is it the Government’s intention to grant those privileges to them ?
– The franchise has been given to Indians residing in Australia, and it is the Government’s intention to provide for their enjoyment of pension rights.
– What was the estimated cost of the construction of the Katherine bridge in the Northern Territory, who was entrusted with the work, and has the cost of such construction exceeded the estimate?
– The estimated cost of the bridge was, I think, £92,000. The work was carried out by departmental labour at a cost of £90,000, which is £2,000 less than the original estimate.
– Has the Government decided who is to be appointed to the responsible position of High Commissioner for Australia in London?
– When the Government has an announcement to make regarding the filling of any position, it will make it in this House for the information of honorable gentlemen.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he inform the House when it is intended to proceed with the housing scheme outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech?
– At the earliest practicable opportunity.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
That amount will now have been refunded on instructions telegraphed to the collector on the 30th April last. A further question to be decided is as to whether the rails in question are entitled to entry at British preferential rates. In the meantime, a documentary security has been furnished by the Western Australian Government to pay duty at general rate, if demanded., and further inquiries are being made in Great Britain as to whether the goods are actually entitled to United Kingdom preference.
– On the 17th March, the honorable member for Maribymong (Mr. Fenton) referred to the use of Norwegian paper for memorandum forms supplied to members of Parliament. I promised to have inquiries made, and now desire to inform the honorable member that the Government Printer has reported as follows: -
The paper of which the honorable member for Maribyrnong complained was a small supply purchased to meet demands pending the arrival of . the overseas consignment. It was obtained from a Melbourne paper house, and is one of their stock lines. This paper is not manufactured in Australia, and was the only paper of its class and size offering at the time.
Wages and Hours of Labour
– On the 29th January, the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked the following questions : -
I now desire to inform the honorable member that I have been advised by the Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa that a National Industrial Council for the building industry was formed in accordance with the provisions of the Industrial Conciliation Act 1924. This Industrial Council has, inter alia, fixed the wages of artisans engaged in the building industry at rates varying from 2s. to 3s. 4d. per hour, and has fixed the working time on a basis of a 44-hour week - eight hours daily for the first five days, and four hours on Saturday. These wages and conditions of labour are not applicable to the whole union, but only to areas specially defined by the Industrial Council. Sub-section 3 of section 9 of the act lays down the penalty for failure to comply with the condition of an approved agreement arrived at by an Industrial Council. A copy of the Industrial Conciliation Act referred to by the Prime Minister of South Africa has been placed in the Library of the House.
The following papers were presented : -
Norfolk Island - Report for the Year ended 30th June, 1925.
Tasmania - Report by Sir Nicholas Lockyer, C.B.E., I.S.O., on the Financial Position of Tasmania as affectedby Federation.
Ordered to be printed.
Air Force Act and Defence Act - Regulations Amended - . Statutory Rules 1926, No. 49.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 2 of 1926 - Australasian Society of Engineers.
No. 3 of 1926 - Ams, Explosives and Munition Workers Federation of Australia; Amalgamated Engineering Union; and Australasian Society of Engineers.
Nos. 4, 5, and 6, of 1926. - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers Federation of Australia.
No. 7 of 1926 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers Federation of Australia; Amalgamated Engineering Union; and Australasian Society of Engineers.
Audit Act -Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial Year 1925-26- Dated 28th April, 1926.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations Amended - StatutoryRules 1926. No. 29.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Regulations Amended - . Statutory Rules 1926, Nos. 25. 30.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations ( Commerce (General Export)) - Statutory Rules 1926, No. 22.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1926, Nos. 37, 48, 54.
Dried Fruits Advances Act - . Return showing amount of Advances in the case of Dried Currants, Dried Sultanas, and Dried Lcxias.
Excise Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1-926, No. 27.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1926, No. 47.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Morrisset, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Bules 1926, Nos. 50, 51.
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1926 -
No. 7. - Native Labour.
No. 8. - Business Tax Repeal.
No. 9. - Timber.
No. 10. - Commonwealth Bank.
Norfolk Island Act- Ordinance of 1926 - No. 4 - Companies.
Papua Act - Ordinances of 1926 -
No. 1. - Probate and Administration.
No. 2. - White Women’s Protection.
Papuan Oilfields - Reports of the Commonwealth Bepresentative for -
December, 1925, , to February, 1926.
Petroleum Prospecting Act - Regulations -
Statutory Rules 1926, No. 45.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1926, Nos. 6, 7, 35.
Precious Metals Prospecting Act - ‘Regulations - Statutory Rules 1926, No. 52.
Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department of -
A. G. Gutteridge.
Works and Railways -
H. J. Bonwick.
A. A. Jackson.
St. L. H. Jamison.
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1926, Nos. 31, 32, 33, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44.
Quarantine Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1926, No. 57.
Scat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act -
Ordinances of 1926 -
No. 2. - Fire Precautions.
No. 3. - Careless Use of Fire.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Regula tions Amended - Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 36, 59.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired in New South Wales, at Concord, Keiravillc.
Workmen’s Compensation Act-Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1926, No. 46.
Debate resumed from 10th February (vide page 826), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The measure now before the chamber is very important, inasmuch as it deals with the future government and administration of the Northern Territory. It will be readily admitted that some action should be taken to expedite the development of the Northern Territory. That territory comprises a very large area, and this Parliament has the duty of developing it in such a way that it will absorb a large white population. The Territory was transferred to the Commonwealth by South Australia in 1911, but I regret to say that up to the present the Federal authority has made very little progress with its development. The problem is difficult, but if more attention were paid to the assistance of agriculture and mining, especially in connexion with the expenditure of loan money for the promotion of immigration and land settlement, more useful results would follow than from the immigration and land settlement schemes undertaken in the different States. Althoughwe have authoritative testimony that there is in the Territory land which, if preperly opened up, would afford a comfortable living to many thousands of people, the Commonwealth has done practically nothing to settle it, apart from letting large areas on long leases for pastoral purposes. The Commonwealth is committed to the borrowing of £35,000,000 for immigration to the various States. No properly- devised scheme has been evolved by the Commonwealth and States, but the Imperial, Federal, and State Governments have undertaken to share the responsibility for the interest on that money. The national debt is to be augmented by that amount, and I believe that that additional obligation would have more justification if the money were to be expended for the development and settlement ‘ of the Northern Territory instead of in promoting an influx of people to settle in the States and to engage in employments in- volving. in some cases, the further crowding of an already over-stocked labour market. It is idle to complain of the backwardness of the Northern Territory while we fail to evolve any comprehensive scheme for its development. The fact is well known that every new settler in New South “Wales costs the Government between £2,000 and £3,000, and probably the expenditure of that amount per head would be sufficient to induce people to take up land in the Northern Territory and engage in agriculture or the raising of sheep and cattle. I hope that the proposed commission will introduce a closer settlement policy. It will have very wide powers, and will, in fact, practically govern the Northern Territory, subject, of course, to Parliamentary control of the finances. It will have charge of railway construction, roads, telegraphs, telephones, boring for water, water conservation, ports and harbours. Therefore, it is necessary that the Government should appoint the best men available to serve on the commission. The Commonwealth should make no further mistakes with the Territory; a forward policy has been too long deferred. For that I do not blame any particular government; all political parties are equally at fault. For the purposes of the commission the Territory is to be divided into two parts. This means, in effect, the creation of a new State. North Australia will comprise all the land in the Territory north of the 20th parallel of latitude, and containing 270,227 square miles; and Central Australia all that land south of the 20th parallel, and containing 236,400 square miles. Government representatives will be stationed at Darwin and at Alice Springs, and advisory committees will be appointed, each to consist of four members, two to be nominated and two to be elected under the Commonwealth franchise. I am very pleased that the bill makes provision for some of the members of these Councils to be elected, for it is right that the residents of the Territory, who are most intimately concerned in its development, should have some voice in the selection of those who are to play an important part in its public affairs. I do not know what remuneration the Government propose to pay for such service, but some payment will be necessary to enable the men selected to pay proper attention to their duties. The Secretary to the Treasury has supplied me with the following figures relating to receipts and expenditure in the Northern Territory from the 1st January, 1911, to the 30th June, 1925, including transferred departments: -
It will be seen that the deficit amounted to £4,160,520. We all expect the Territory to show a loss, but that loss should be a diminishing quantity. There is no evidence of an improvement in the financial position of the Territory since the Commonwealth took over its control. The Commonwealth Statistician . has furnished me with the following figures relating to the population of the Northern Territory, exclusive of full-blooded aboriginals : -
There are now fewer people in the Northern Territory than there were in 1917 and 1918.
– Despite the amount of money that has been expended there.
– Notwithstanding our expenditure, in a period of fifteen years the population has increased by only 355 persons. That is a very serious, position, and an endeavour should be made to correct it. The Commonwealth Year-Book contains the following figures in regard to mineral production in the Territory : -
So far the mineral production has been small, but if transport facilities were provided I believe that it would be considerably increased. The possibilities are great, and they require only development. A successful mining venture is frequently the means of making a country. The discovery of gold or any other mineral in payable quantities attracts a large population, which, when the mines begin to peter out, is often absorbed in other forms of production. That was the experience of Western Australia. In the early days in that State the gold-fields attracted excellent types of men and women from the eastern States. Many of those persons subsequently became engaged in agricultural production. We must see that opportunities are provided for carrying on mining and every other activity in the “Territory. The following statement appears in the annual report of the Administrator for the year ended the 30th June, 1924: -
Mining returns show a distinct and welcome improvement, taken as a whole - this being especially so in the case of gold, the yield for 1923-4 having more than quadrupled in value that of 1922-3, but, unfortunately, a decrease in the production of tin ore caused the total yield from raining during 1923-4 to exceed that of 1922-3 by only ?2,273 in value. But this is evidence of an upward tendency, and reasonable hopes are entertained that it will continue.
The Commonwealth Tear-Book discloses the following position in regard to live stock : -
Whilst horses and cattle have increased, the number of sheep has fallen from 57,240 to 4,728. Apparently the Territory is of no use for the stocking of sheep. On the 28 th May last the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nel son) urged the appointment of a committee to inquire into and report to the Government upon the best’ means of developing the Territory. I supported him in that suggestion, but it was not accepted. Subsequently Dr. Stefansson traversed the Territory and furnished to the Government a report which contained some very interesting statements, one of which was the following : -
The Northern Territory, in my opinion, should have a permanent. Department of Geology with work following out a definite programme through a period of years. The first and chief man of the department should, in my opinion, bo a specialist in underground water supply. When the resources of the department grow, other men could .be added to concern themselves with oil, gold, coal, or other minerals.
Dr. Stefansson also stated ;
I should judge that in the country covered by our actual viSit and our inquiries, the number of cattle and of settlers could be multiplied by at least four over the present numbers if wells were found, and, as stated above, it seems likely that wells can be found at such distances from each other as to enable stockmen to occupy nearly, or quite, the entire area. Even more urgent than finding the stock wells to enable the increase of grazing is the providing of more numerous wells and bores to facilitate driving the stock to market. It seems evident that the number of wells, even on the chief route now in use, should be considerably increased, perhaps by a third or a half.
That statement indicates that, given a better water supply, the population of the Territory could at once be multiplied by four. I trust that, if the commission is appointed, it will make the provision of additional wells one of its first duties. After all, it is of no use for us to build railways into the Northern Territory unless we make some provision for them to get freight. To be profitable, they must have business, and we must settle people in the Territory to give them business. Dr. Stefansson also said -
Doubtless much of -the land from the Macdonnell ranges north will eventually prove suitable for wheat, orchards, &c, but that still leaves a vast area which, for the present at least, seems to be stock country only.
That report is an endorsement of the view that I expressed earlier in this speech. Seeing that there is land suitable for orchards and wheat-growing in the Northern Territory, it would be wiser for us to spend some of the money that we propose to borrow for immigration purposes in settling people there than to spend it all in the more settled states. The population in our settled areas will continue to increase without a great deal of governmental encouragement; but we must hold out some inducement to get people to settle in the Northern Territory. I believe that it would be worth our while to spend as much as a few thousand pounds a head in settling white people there. The duty rests upon us to populate this country as quickly, as we can. We cannot expect to hold it if we leave it vacant, and, as the work must be done,, we shall be well advised to take it in hand at once. While the States deserve what help we can give them, because their interests are identical with Our own, we nevertheless have a special interest in the Northern Territory. Another paragraph in Dr. Stefanssons report reads -
There is no doubt that practically every one in central Australia - wants a railway badly, and it should he built if you have the means; but if you have not the means, you can, with a comparatively small expenditure, nevertheless, build up the country fairly rapidly, incidentally thereby providing business for the railway whenever it is built.
That valuable report should help, not only the Government, but also this proposed commission to face more confidently the problems that await settlement in the Northern Territory. Mr. J. B. Cramsie, formerly president of the Australian Meat Council, has challenged this scheme of the Government. The following paragraph is taken from a newspaper report of his remarks in that connexion : -
If over a Government had overestimated a proposition the present Federal Government are doing so. Every time an experimental scheme of development had been tried it had failed, and under the proposed bill there will be a repetition of that failure.
I hope that Mr. Cramsie’s view is not correct. I trust to see the proposed commission do good work. I have no desire to offer any opposition to this measure. I realize the urgent necessity to do something to populate the country. Whether this is the best plan to adopt remains to be seen ; but at least the bill should lead to a better system of administration, and that in itself should encourage development. Unquestionably this Parliament is too far removed from the Territory to give it the attention it deserves. Until the honor- able member for Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) entered this House a few years ago, very few of us realized the magnitude of the task that we are now facing. I wish to give Mr. Nelson full credit for having opened our eyes to the nature of this problem. He directed our attention not only to the vastness of the area there that we control, but also to the sparse population there. He has rendered good service to his constituents in particular, and Australia in general, by pointing out, at every opportunity, the necessity for prompt action to develop the Territory. If he had not become a member of this Parliament I doubt very much whether we should have been as far ahead with developmental ‘ projects there as we are. I do not know whether this scheme will meet with his approval, but I shall not oppose it, for I realize that we must do everything we possibly can to settle a white and self-supporting population in the Territory. It is impossible for us to go on year after year administering the Northern Territory, Papua, and the Mandated Territories, at a huge loss, for that means that the people of the Commonwealth must be constantly finding money to meet the deficits. The sooner we can develop these territories, and make them self-supporting, the better it will be for the whole community.
– I am glad that at last the Commonwealth Government is taking some definite step to develop the Northern Territory. A movement such as this is has been far too long delayed. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) referred to the decrease in the number of sheep in the Northern Territory. That followed the decision of the proprietors of the Avon Downs station, in Queensland, to give up sheep and grow cattle, because of the comparative ease with which cattle can be transported, and the difficulty in sending wool from the station to the market. It had nothing whatever to do with the capacity of the Northern Territory to carry sheep. In June, 1924, Mr. Justice Powers visited the Northern Territory to inquire into the matter of an industrial dispute between the North Australia Industrialists Union and the Commonwealth Railways Commissioners. In delivering his judgment, His Honour made some interesting comments on the problems that have to be faced there. The following is a paragraph from his judgment : -
If the blacks, numbering some thousands, were not employed on the stations, the great majority would have to come into Darwin and be fed by the Government. It is admitted that they are entitled to employment in the country which has been taken from them because they did not make use of it. If Australia does not make use of the Territory, some other nation may make the same claim as we did.
I consider that to be a logical statement. There is no doubt that we took the country from the blacks because they did nothing with it, and that we ourselves are doing nothing with it. If some unfriendly nation should dispute our right to hold the Northern Territory on the same ground that we disputed the right of the blacks to hold it, I do not see how we could logically defend ourselves. It is passing strange that on almost every occasion when a visit of honorable members of this Parliament to the Northern Territory has been suggested in order that they might become better qualified to deal with prospective legislation for it, the visit has been postponed until after the proposed measures have been passed. That is a great mistake. It is impossible for honorable members who have not been to the Territory to visualize the conditions there. If a representative party of honorable members visited the Territory, they would be able to obtain first-hand evidence from settlers, and with the knowledge they would acquire would be able to refute many of the assertions made in this House. The bill indicates at least a desire on the part of the Government to do something, and to that extent I applaud it. The right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), in the course of .his second-reading speech on this bill, stressed the defence and White Australia aspects of the question. I regard the defence aspect as very serious. Expenditure on the Territory ought to be regarded, not as a dole to the people there, but as expenditure for defence in any other part of Australia would be regarded. The Northern Territory, and the north-west of Western Australia have thousands of miles of undefended coastline. It would be useless, or next to useless, to establish a few isolated garrisons there unless they were backed by a white, virile, and patriotic population. Until that is done, the national aspirations of Australia will remain in jeopardy. From a defence point of view alone expenditure on the development of the Territory is justified, and as a step towards the realization of the great national ideal of a White Australia, it cannot be challenged. The Prime Minister’s speech was in striking contrast to the speeches made in another place, and it was gratifying to learn that he, at least, has the interests of Northern Australia at heart. He spoke of the early settlements in the Northern Territory. They were made a little over 100 years ago, and, like many that followed, failed. It is interesting to read the accounts of the early settlements!, for they show that in every case the settlers had no fault to find with the productivity of the land. It was with, them as it is with the settlers of to-day. So long as the same conditions apply the failures of 100 years ago will be repeated. The early settlers failed, not because they could not produce, and not because they could not live in the climate, but because of the cost of transport. Communication with the outside world was so difficult and costly that it was impossible for them to advance. I do not place the blame for the present condition of things particularly on the present Government; but, on the other hand, it is useless for this, or any other, Government to attempt to develop the Territory by the means that have been followed in the past. The chief, and, in fact, the only, cause of failure has been the cause that governments have consistently ignored. They have neglected to apply a fundamental principle of development, and have thus made development impossible. Until such time as railways, roads, water, ports, and other necessary utilities are supplied, all future attempts to develop the Territory must be as futile as the efforts of the past. The right honorable the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition both laid stress on the huge sums of money spent in the Territory. It is true that large sums have been expended, and it is also true that the expenditure has been barren of result; but that is accounted for by the fact that there is no transportation, and that governments have ignored a fundamental necessity of development. Had successive governments concentrated on the fundamentals of development, I am satisfied that quite a different talc could be told to-day. The right honorable the Prime Minister also said that frequent ministerial changes were to a great extent responsible for lack of continuity in policy. I agree with that view, but I fail to see how the bill ‘will provide a remedy. Want of continuity of policy, no doubt, has had a retarding effect on development, but the bill will still leave the onus of responsibility on a Minister. The commission’ will act merely as an advisory committee, and it will be competent for the Minister to accept or reject its advice; and thus we shall return to ;the condition of affairs which the Prime Minister said has been one of the causes of retrogression. He also said that the development of the Territory was a job for “big” men, with large capital, and that it was cruelty to send small men there. That is a statement about which I must cross swords with him. I do so because it is quite contrary to the facts. The small man, starting with no capital, is the man who is making good, and there are hundreds of such mien. They are engaged in mining and cattle-raising principally, but a number of them are raising sheep.
– What about maize?
– It is premature to talk about growing maize in the Northern Territory. When those men went into the Territory their only assets were their hands and the will to conquer; and they have conquered in a great many cases. There are men who went there penniless and are now in a good financial position. I, and no doubt some other honorable members, know of men who started by working on stations, received their wages in stock, later took up land, and in a few years became prosperous. All they, as cattle-raisers, ask of the Government is that it should assist them by providing adequate water supplies; and even for that they are willing to pay. The cost of the service may be loaded on to the rent of their holdings, or recovered in any other way the Government chooses. If railways are provided, there are unquestionably huge areas of land that will be used for sheep. When the ex-Minis- ter for Works and Railways (Mi”. Stewart) went through the Territory, he called at a station covering 2,000 square miles. He questioned the owner on the possibility of raising sheep, and was informed that if the Government would provide transport facilities he would be prepared to select 20,000 acres of his land and put it under sheep, and that he would “never look back.” We should disabuse our minds of the idea that the Northern Territory is a place only for big men with big capital. It is essentially a place for small men. With a little sympathetic assistance from the Government we might have numerous settlements of small men in the Territory. After all, the real backbone of a country is its small settlers, and not big men with capital. In the Northern Territory there are many tracts of country 12,000, 14,000, and 20,000 square miles in extent with only five or six single men employed on them; but in the areas in which settlement by small men has taken place we have married couples with families. These are the settlers who are beneficial to a country. If we concentrate upon assisting to settle small men I am satisfied that, given adequate railway facilities, it will be found that there is no” problem to solve in the development of the Northern Territory. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) drew attention to the fact that the expenditure of huge sums of money on immigration is proposed. I am satisfied that it would not take anything over £2,000 or £3,000 to settle a man in a small way in the Northern Territory, and with 500 sheep a settler of the class to be found there now could make good. The result of such settlement would soon be manifested in a great production of wool.
– Does the honorable member say that a man could make good in the Northern Territory with 500 sheep ?
– Yes, I say so from experience. I know men who have made good there with 500 sheep. I do not suggest that a man going into the country with 500 sheep would make a good living straight away, . but under the system adopted there a man working for a settler shepherding sheep may be given a number of sheep in lieu of wages, and in a few years is able to stock a place for himself.
– What part of the Northern Territory was visited by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) when Minister for Works and Railways ?
– Central Australia, as far as Barrow Creek. The Prime Minister, in support of - the statement concerning the lack cf a continuous policy in the past, mentioned that we have not yet. a geological survey of the Northern Territory. That is true, and very regrettable, because it has unlimited mineral possibilities, the development of which can scarcely be said to have yet been commenced. There are in Central Australia known deposits of mineral wealth that in any other part of Australia, having reasonable transport facilities, would be profitably developed. That is why I say that the mistake made in the past has been the total ignoring of the fundamental principles of development. If those principles are applied I am satisfied that the Northern Territory may be rapidly developed. It should be said that the speech of the Prime Minister in introducing the bill was very encouraging from an Australian point of view. It showed that he had got away from parochialism and viewed the question with a broad national outlook. That is the way honorable members must face this question, because, after all, it is this Parliament that is responsible for the development, or lack of development, in the Northern Territory. It is unnecessary that I should enlarge upon the benefit which will accrue to the people of the Northern Territory, and the stability which will be given to Australia, by the application in the Northern Territory of the fundamental principles of settlement. I may say that in the recent drought Queensland lost something like 4,000,000 sheep, and they could all have been saved had the Northern Territory, been opened up by railways. Whilst I am prepared to admit that, in a manner of speaking, this bill is a demonstration of the goodwill of the Government, I am definitely of opinion that in many cases Ministers have been very badly advised. I say this because of the many anomalies which the bill contains, which are due to lack of local knowledge. It is this ignorance of local conditions in the Northern Territory that accounts for the mistakes which” appear in the bill. As it stands, it will not be a panacea for the evils in the Territory. It will not lift it out of the slough of despond into which it has been plunged by successive governments; but, if intelligently administered, there is a germ of development in the measure. If the advice of the people who hare battled along in the Northern Territory for 20 or 30 years, have overcome their difficulties, and understand its problems, were sought, I am satisfied that the Government could considerably improve the bill. When the Northern Territory Land Bill was before this chamber, I moved an amendment to the effect that its consideration should be deferred pending the visit of a select committee of this House to the Northern Territory, with a view to its reporting its conclusions after personal inspection of. the country. Unfortunately, that amendment was defeated; but I say it would be wise, even now. to send a committee of members of this House to the Northern Territory, that it might advise as to whether the bill now under consideration represents a forward . or a retrogressive step. In dealing with important legislation of this character, it is right that honorable members should be conversant with the questions upon which they are asked to legislate. As they have not had an opportunity of visiting the Territory and knowing its conditions, I contend that we should draw upon the knowledge gained by the pioneers of the Northern Territory as the result of very great efforts. These people have rights which should be considered. I was very much struck with a report of a speech delivered by. the Prime’ Minister at Ballarat, which appeared in the Age of 6th June, 1925, from which I make the following quotation.; -
Since - Australia had claimed the right to sign the peace treaty as a separate nation, and to enter the League of Nations as a separate people, that national right had a great obligation. They should use their influence as a nation to establish the ideals for which the war was fought. The war waa fought for the protection of small nations and the peace of all nations, recognizing that a small1 community of people had rights «s well as a large community.
I say “Hear, hear!” to the Prime Minister’s statement that small communities have rights, and I claim that the small community in the Northern Territory has exceptional rights. The men who have blazed the track, done the spadework of development, pushed out from civilization into unknown parts of Australia, and torn from mother earth a living to prove to Australia and the world that the Northern Territory is a white man’s country, have very great rights. Because they happen to be few in number, and do not make up a quota under our electoral law, they are given no rights whatever. In view of the special knowledge of the Northern Territory which these people have acquired, it would be wise if provision were made whereby they would be given the right to elect at least one of the members of the proposed commission. I am informed that immediately this bill becomes law, the constitutional aspect of this legislation will be challenged. I am not going to discuss that phase of the question, as I have no legal knowledge on the points involved. It would appear from the bill that only the northern part of the Territory is capable of wealth production, and that is a conclusion to which I take very strong exception. If the intention is to give Central Australia a fair go, there is nothing in this bill to indicate it. In my opinion, the laying down of a definite developmental policy for Central Australia is as necessary as it is for North Australia. A logical thing to do would be either to increase the number of members of the proposed commission, and have administrative centres in both the north and south of the Territory, or give the southern section a small commission with the same powers as those proposed to be vested in the commission for the north. If that course were followed, it would considerably augment the speedy development of the Northern Territory. It is of no use to say that Central Australia can be effectively administered from Melbourne, because experience over a number of years has proved the contrary. The people in the southern section of the Northern Territory will labour under great disadvantages under this bill. Quite recently men in the southern section of the Territory were desirous of taking up land. The land, was to be gazetted, and these men were awaiting developments. The land was gazetted in the Government Gazette in Darwin, but it was not until six weeks later that the people in Central Australia knew that it was gazetted. The land was taken up long before they knew that it was gazetted for lease or otherwise. If the northern commission is to administer the whole of the lands of the
Northern Territory similar difficulties will occur in the future. The contention that administrators in Melbourne are capable of looking after the southern section of the Northern Territory will not stand examination. Land settlement is one of the principal mediums of development. Every application for land in Central Australia would have to be sent to Melbourne, would then be referred to Darwin, and referred back again to Melbourne. If a commission were appointed for Central Australia with powers similar to those to be given to the northern commission there would be no necessity for such delays. The whole of the lands north and south of the 20th parallel of latitude could be administered separately. The people of Central Australia, in being subjected to the inconveniences to which they will have to submit under this bill, are not being given a fair deal. I agree with those who claim that the distance of the southern portion of the Territory from Darwin is too great to permit of its effective administration from the north, but to a certain extent that disability could be overcome even if the powers of the commission, with its headquarters at Newcastle Waters, were enlarged to embrace the whole of the Territory. By the application of modern means of transport, such as’ aeroplanes, I think the disability would be considerably diminished. Certainly, mails which now take weeks and weeks to convey could reach their destination in a day. . But, unfortunately, as it is not contemplated to make use of these modern means of transport, the distances of the Territory will continue to be exceedingly great, rendering local autonomy necessary in its various sections. If it is intended to cut the Territory into halves in order to expedite administration, in my opinion, all land matters south of the 20th parallel of south latitude should be administered from Alice Springs, and separately from those of that portion of the Territory north of the 20th parallel. This bill will not remove from the people of Central Australia the disability of having a long drag t© Darwin in connexion with the administration of justice, because all appeals from decisions of magistrates in the southern portion of the Territory must be heard at Darwin. The appointment of a circuit court judge to deal with these matters would overcome, many of the disabilities now suffered by the people of Central Australia. From what I can see, the administration of this portion of the Territory will always be subservient to the commission. In my search for any provision setting out the powers of the administration of Central Australia I could find nothing to guide me, except sub-clause 3 of clause 48, which provides -
The Government Resident shall exercise and perform all power’s and functions that belong to his office according to such instructions as arc given to him by the Minister.
Yet we are told that the ideal of the bill is to avoid lack of continuity of policy by the removal of the responsibility of the Minister. As a matter of fact, the effect will be just the opposite, so far as Central Australia is concerned. In further illustration of the disadvantages the residents of this portion of Australia are likely to suffer, let me read clause 29, which is as follows : -
1 ) The revenue of the commission shall consist of the following moneys; -
Any ordinance administered by the commission.
It will be noticed that the commission situated in North Australia will practically control the whole of the revenue of the Territory. Honorable . members will note particularly paragraph 3, which says -
Moneys appropriated by the Parliament of the Commonwealth for the purposes of the development of the Territory.
In order to ascertain the meaning of “ Territory,”we have to turn to clause 5, which provides the following definitions : -
In this act, unless the contrary appears- “Central Australia” means that part of the territory situated south of the 20th parallel of south latitude. “North Australia” means that part of the territory situated north of the 20th parallel of south latitude. “The Territory” and “the Northern Territory “ mean the Northern Territory of Australia.
It is obvious that the “ Territory “ referred to in paragraph c of clause 29 is the “whole of the Territory,” and with the commission controlling the revenue derived from the whole of the Territory, and not, as I think the bill intends, from that portion onlywhich lies north of the 20th parallel of south latitude, Central Australiawill not get a fair deal. Clause 16,which sets out the powers of the commission, provides that its powers shall extend to -
I could understand the commission having this power in relation to a defined portion of the Territory, but the bill as it stands leaves it open to this body to actually dominate the whole of the Territory. The people of Central Australia will have very little say in the shaping of the policy of the commission, and I think they are justified in the fear that the administration of their portion of the Territory will be merely a farce. They are supported in this belief by clause 21, sub-clause 2, paragraph g. This clause relates to the procedure for the authorization of the construction of railways, and gives power to secure information relating to -
– This commission will have no control over the projected Alice Springs railway.
– Certainly not; but I am pointing out the overlapping powers given by the bill. The commission will dominate the whole of the Territory, and the people of Central Australia will have no voice in the shaping of the policy inflicted on them. Clause 36 .emphasizes what I contend is the outstanding omission of the bill - the omission of the word “ prescribed.” This clause reads -
On and after a date to ‘be fixed by proclamation (in this act referred to as “the proclaimed day”) that part of the Northern Territory which comprises north Australia, as defined in this act shall be administered separately from that part of the Northern Territory which comprises central Australia, as defined in this act…..
By the omission of the word “prescribed” in the other clauses, the definition means that the commission will have control of the whole of the Territory. Probably that is a typographical error, which will be rectified. Clause 60 also extends the powers of the commission. It reads -
The Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent with this act, prescribing all matters which by this act are required or permitted to be prescribed, or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed, for carrying out or giving effect to this act, and in particular for the following -
for specifying other matters in relation to the development of the Territory with respect to which the powers of the commission shall extend.
The people of Central Australia are quite right in contending that the administration of that Territory, as proposed under the bill, will be nothing but a farce. They want, and are certainly entitled to, something more tangible. They are anxious and willing to participate in a constructive policy, and the knowledge that they have acquired during their long years of residence in that country would be of great advantage to the commission in arriving at its conclusions. So far as I can see, the object of the bill is to exploit the north of Australia only. Any one who has travelled through the Northern Territory knows that the possibilities of Central Australia are just as great as those of North Australia. If it is right to launch out on a policy of development for the north of Australia, it is equally right to adopt a similar policy for the development of Central Australia. Although I stand second to none in my desire to assist the Government to develop the Northern Territory, yet I am responsible to my electors, mid they expect me to put before this House their fears respecting the inefficacy of the present proposal. They have no wish to see a repetition of past dismal failures. The bill totally ignores the right of the people of the Northern Territory to have representation on the commission, despite the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) at Ballarat that these people were entitled to direct representation on any board or commission formed to control the Northern Territory. It is true that, in the bill, there is provision for the appointment of an advisory council, but, unfortunately, its powers will be exceedingly limited. I was rather surprised that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), when speaking on this phase of the bill, did not refer to the limitation of the powers of the council. It may advise only on domestic matters, and will be called together twice a year for that purpose. It cannot advise on vital matters affecting the development of the Territory, such as the construction of roads and railways, and water and land facilities. The council will, in fact, be reduced to making suggestions relating to ordinances dealing with aborigines and other inconsequent matters. In reality, it will have no power whatever. Such a policy will not inspire confidence in the residents of the Northern Territory. They want to have some say in this allimportant question of the development of the Northern Territory, and they ars certainly justified in demanding a greater representation than that proposed under the bill. At one time, Twas a member of an advisory council that represented the people of the Territory. The council met. for some eight or ten weeks, and dealt with matters of vital importance to the Territory. It was ultimately ascertained that none of the recommendations of that council had been submitted to the Ministry. The people, in indignation, withdrew their representation from the council, and the m’ovement consequently collapsed. If this bill is put into effect in its present form, the advisory council will have no power whatever. If the Commonwealth Government intended to co-operate with the people, it would bc only fair and logical to consider their views respecting the’ development of the Territory. But under the bill this can- not be done. The advisory council will deal with unimportant matters. We have been told that it is to be a safety valve for popular opinion. The Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), in another place, when questioned about this phase of the bill, said that it had been found that the best safety valve was to let the people talk and blow off steam, provided that they kept within reason. The advisory council will really be a medium through which the people will blow off steam. According to the Minister, if the council .keeps within reason, and deals only with matters of no interest and value to the Territory, everything will be all right. But if it suggests something essential to the development of the Territory, it will then be out or order. It is essential for every administration to have the co-operation of the people. Australians, in particular, readily respond to increased responsibility, and if some measure of responsibility is placed on the advisory council both of the north and of the south, great benefit will result. Certain inspired articles have been published in the Pastoral Review. The appointment of certain men, and also the violation of the White Australia policy, have been suggested. The following passage is taken from the issue of the Pastoral Review dated 16th December, 1925 : -
The recent statement .by the Minister for Home and Territories that his Northern Territory Bill will shortly be introduced, providing for the division of the north of Australia into Northern Australia and Central Australia, is all very nice, but everything will depend on the personnel and powers of the Commission to bc established. The appointment should he for ten years, and it should, be left to the body to add to their number or fill any vacancies if required. For instance, such men as Messrs. J. B. Cramsie, C. W. D. Conacher, R. C. Philp, and E. T. Bell, of Queensland, would be admirable, and these men should get a salary commensurate with the importance of the work.
Mr. Cramsie has control of immense holdings in the Northern Territory, and is therefore opposed to the successful development of the Territory. Mr. Conacher is the Australian representative of Lord Vestey, and has done a great deal to retard the progress of the Northern Territory. It is only fair to assume that the appointment of these men to the commission would be inimical to the interests of the Territory. Mr. Philp is a son of a late Premier of Queensland. I suggest that the men appointed to the commission should have a practical knowledge of colonization, railway construction, and water conservation. Under the bill, a very costly commission is to be appointed. After inquiry for twelve months or more, it will recommend to this House that, before development can take place in Central or Northern Australia, roads, railways, and water facilities must be provided. As we already know this, why the necessity for appointing the commission? In any case, the commissioners should at least have some interest in, . and some knowledge of, the territory which they are to administer. If that were obtained better results would accrue, because, after all, no policy that any commission can suggest to this Parliament will be effective if it ignores the fundamentals of development. Every Minister or member of Parliament -who has visited the Territory has declared that the country is all right, and that its most urgent need is improved means of transportation. If that fact is recognized the Government should defer the appointment of this commission and start at once upon providing the essentials of development - roads, railways, and water. But if the Government is determined to proceed with the bill and appoint the commission, it would be well advised to strengthen the administration by utilizing the services of men having local knowledge. At the committee stage I shall propose several amendments, and I hope that the Minister will not regard them as emanating from one desiring to embarrass the Government. I know the thoughts of the people in the Territory and the things that are required for its development, and my object is only to assist to drag my constituency from the “ slough of despond “ into which successive administrations have plunged it throughout its history. The failure of the Northern Territory hitherto has been due, not to a lack of resources, but to a lack of those services which are essential to development.
Mr. MANNING (Macquarie) [4.471. - This bill represents a genuine effort on the part of the Government to improve conditions in the Northern Territory. In the past the country has been hampered, not by lack of continuity of policy, but by the lack of any policy at all. Things have been allowed to drift, and year after year the position has become worse. This bill provides machinery for establishing a commission that will take charge of the Territory, and make representations to the Minister which will eventually come before Parliament. The success of the scheme will depend wholly upon the personnel of the commission. If men with the necessary breadth of vision and experience are appointed I expect a great improvement to follow. M’any extraordinary statements have been made about the possibilities of the Territory, but the last speaker capped them all by suggesting that it could be developed by men with flocks of 500 sheep. He described how those men could engage in other work while niggers shepherded their flocks.
– Some men have done that.
– I do not say that that policy may not be a success in individual cases, but the suggestion that it represents a practical way of developing the Territory as a, whole is extremely absurd. A living cannot be made in the Territory by depasturing 500 sheep. Workmen with other jobs may be able to supplement their incomes by running a few .sheep shepherded by niggers - a great advertisement for White Australia ! - but the only effective means of developing a territory is the encouragement of men with large capital. Unfortunately, in the past, governments have not proceeded upon right lines. The history of pioneering in Australia as a whole has been such as to make men with capital very dubious about investing their money in the development of big areas outback. Most pioneers lost the money they invested, and the fruits of their labour were reaped by the second, or even the third man, who was able to carry on from the point at which the pioneer failed. Men went into Central Queensland with large amounts of capital, but how many of them are reaping the. benefit of the pioneering work they did ? Many of them left their holdings with practically nothing. To attract men with large capital to settle in the Territory we must offer good conditions. I shall not be content to see a handful of men with flocks of 500 sheep ekeing out a bare existence. I wish to see the vast areas of the Territory made fully productive. That can be done only by offering to men with capital lengthy leases, but with adequate safeguards. Some of the best development work in New South Wales was done under the improvement lease conditions, and successful settlement followed. Those conditions should be applied in the Northern Territory. If, as an inducement to men to invest their capital in the Territory, they are given long leases, conditions relating to stocking and improvements must be imposed.
– The Northern Australia Development Bill, which this Parliament recently passed, imposed no conditions whatever.
– This bill proposes the appointment of a commission to recommend means of developing the Territory.
– But the commission cannot alter a law passed by this Parliament. The existing leases cannot be repudiated.
– Of course they cannot; but a large area of country is not leased, and even existing leases can be further extended, subject to improvement conditions. A large area of the Barkly Tableland will carry sheep, but it must be subdivided, fenced as a protection against dogs, and provided with- water. Only by giving very good terms to men with capital can development of that kind be achieved. To send to the Territory a man with £2,000 or £3,000 would certainly not be to do a kindness to him. Hitherto, the greatest block to the progress of the Territory has been the wonderful opportunity in nearer and more-favoured parts for men with a limited amount of capital to invest. Such men are better advised to take up land in the southern and more advanced States than to go ill-equipped to the Territory to engage in a pioneering battle. It is absolutely necessary that the powers of the proposed commission shall be limited. Some commissions have been appointed with unlimited powers, and the results of their complete immunity from parliamentary control have not been satisfactory. Parliament should have an effective check upon the work cf the commissioners. But if they are men worth their salt, their recommendations will be carried out, and the Minister and Parliament will hesitate to act contrary to any proposals they may make.
– If they are men of the right type and their [recommendations are good, why should their powers he limited ?
– Their power of recommendation should not be limited, but Parliament should have power to accept or reject any proposal they may make.
– But the honorable member has said that the Minister or Parliament should hesitate to interfere.
– The recommendations of expert commissioners should not be interfered with lightly and without due consideration. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) suggested that the commission’s power should extend to Central Australia also.
– Or that Central Australia should be treated in the same way as Northern Australia.
– The reason for differentiating between the two is obvious. A letter from Melbourne can ‘reach Alice Springs in a week, but as the honorable member pointed out, a letter from Alice Springs to Darwin may be six weeks in transit. I am very glad that this bill is being introduced, and I hope that the Government will appoint the right men to the commission and that Parliament will support their proposals. During the present season a big loss of stock has occurred in Queensland, the whole of which could have been saved if a railway had been built from the drought-stricken area to the Barkly Tableland, where the season was good. Railway construction is an essential preliminary to settlement. I have no doubt that the commission will at once recommend a policy of railway construction, and I trust that this Parliament will find the money to give effect to it. The honorable member for the Northern Territory suggested that the consideration of this bill should be delayed until honorable members have had an opportunity to visit the Territory. Too much delay has occurred already. I would very much like to go there, but when honorable members considered the proposal we decided that a parliamentary party could not make the trip with advantage this year. If such a party goes to the Northern Territory next year it will not only gain a first-hand impression of the coun try, but will be fortified by the reports and recommendations of the proposed commission. They will then be- able to give the House the benefit of their experience. Unfortunately, it is only pos- .sible to travel through that portion of Australia at this time of the year. It was suggested that the party should start early in May. Those with an intimate knowledge of the country say that it would not be safe to do so. Only last week there were reports of heavy rains in Central Australia, indicating clearly that it would be unwise for any party to start, as early as the beginning of May. If. however, the party starts in June, those who undertake the trip will be away from the most important work of Parliament. The Government would be well advised, if this trip is to be made, to alter the time of the sitting of the House. Supply could be obtained for two or three months, and the House could adjourn during the winter months to enable honorable members to visit the Territory without neglecting their parliamentary duties.
.- The Government is to be congratulated upon giving Parliament practically a clean sheet in connexion with Northern Territory development. All that has been done hitherto has been practically wasted. The most unfortunate appointments have been made, and in many instances money expended on the Northern Territory, particularly in the earlier period of Commonwealth control, might just as well have been thrown into the sea. The most pressing need is railway communication.
– There is no other problem.
– I agree with the hon- . or able member for Bass. Unfortunately, the most pressing appeals for railway construction have, until recent years, been disregarded, with the result that development has been seriously retarded. For this unsatisfactory state of affairs some blame must be attached to certain newspapers published in the eastern States. It is easier now to travel through the Northern. Territory than it was a few years ago. An enterprising company has begun what is intended to be a regular passenger service between Adelaide and Port Darwin, and the first journey, with 25 tourist passengers, left Adelaide this week, and hope to make a record run through the Territory.
– That is a pity.
– It is. If their object is to learn something of the country they should meet the people at every point. Parliament is deeply indebted to those members of the Public Works subcommittee who, a few years ago, traversed Central Australia and took evidence from representative settlers in various parts of the Northern Territory. The report by that committee was easily the best that has been presented to this Parliament on Northern Territory affairs during the last ten or twelve years.
– The honorable member is now throwing bouquets at the honorable member for Bass.
– And the honorable member for Bass well deserves every credit, because by lectures throughout Tasmania and in some of the other States, he has done a great deal in the interests of the Northern Territory. I should like to emphasize that, whatever may be done in the future, it will be impossible to manage the Northern Territory from Melbourne.
– What will the Age say tomorrow?
– The Age cannot make a case against the Northern Territory now. The exploring party which this week will set out from Adelaide to Alice Springs will also visit the Tanami alluvial gold country, which has never been properly prospected. Some years ago hostile natives speared members of prospecting parties in that locality, and caused them to abandon their work, f understand that the exploring party which leaves this week will penetrate portions of the Northern Territory that have never before been visited by white men, and that they will come out somewhere on the north-west of Western Australia. The party in question is equipped for five months entirely at the cost of a wealthy patriotic citizen of Sydney for scientific and national purposes, and ‘will be led by Dr. Basedow, of Adelaide. The north-south railway should be put through with the least possible delay. If any attempt is made to carry out construction from Melbourne, we shall have a repetition of the mistakes that occurred during the building of the east-west line, and will not get full value for money expended.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad to have the endorsement of the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). He knows that what I am saying is true. We need not trouble much with the details of the Northern Territory development for some time to come. Our first concern should be to complete the railway. Then we may proceed with the work of development in a business-like way. Immense sums of money have been spent by the Government in putting down bores in various parts of the Territory. One-half of the cost of this work has been due to the heavy cost of transporting plant from one bore to another. Those who are familiar with pastoral development in the Northern Territory know that it is almost impossible for the industry to expand until there are improved transport facilities. I am sure that when the railway line has been built we shall find sufficient men of the right type- men experienced in the pastoral industry - eager to take up land and carry on the business of development. About six years ago, two of our leading pastoralists - one from the Western District of Victoria and another an experienced stockman from Melbourne - spent six or seven weeks in the Alice Springs country, which, they declared, comprised some of the best pastoral areas -in Australia. The mining possibilities are also most important, but it is impossible to’ exploit the known mineral fields without railway facilities. We have it on the authority of eminent experts, as well as of well-known geologists, that the White Range field in central Australia is one of the biggest low-grade propositions in the Commonwealth. Broken Hill people have expressed the opinion that with a railway it will be possible to erect machinery and work that immense mining field with profit for many generations. According to experts, Central Australia is teeming with minerals, but without modern means of transport they are not worth twopence. The recently discovered silver-lead deposit at Barrow Creek is believed to be as rich as ever Broken Hill was at the start. That is only one of many mining propositions. These valuable discoveries are not merely surface shows. Before he returned to England, Mr. George Klugg was instructed by Messrs. Bewing, Moreing, and Company to inspect in Adelaide a big haul of specimens that had been taken from the Barrow .Creek silver lead mine. When he had seen it, he said, “ It is one of the finest shows I have seen for years. The richness that it promises comes to a country only once in a generation.” The Commonwealth has been guilty of criminal neglect in allowing this great wealth to remain undeveloped. The opening up of mining fields leads to a considerable amount of settlement. I hope that when the railway is constructed it will be administered locally, and that six years will not be occupied in work that ought to be completed in between two and a half and three years. I trust that before another three years have elapsed the Territory will be showing the promise of a fine future. It will not be possible to show anything worth while in the way of development until the railway has been constructed. Everything will depend upon the commission that is appointed. If the commissioners are not men of the right type it will be a poor look-out for the Northern Territory.
.- In speaking to this measure I am under a disadvantage that is common to the majority of honorable members, in that I have not visited the Northern Territory, and I should not have taken part in the debate but for the fact that this is purely a machinery bill, and particular local knowledge of the Territory is not required to enable one to discuss certain of its proposals. It is gratifying to note that during the debate in this and another place it has not been suggested that the Northern Territory as a whole is not a white man’s land, but that, on the contrary, there appears to be complete agreement in the belief that it is a country in which the white man can thrive. Its development obviously must present peculiar difficulties. I have no doubt that had it not been for the difficult problems that have attended its development a large portion of it would have been settled upon many years ago. The outstanding fact in regard to the administration by both South Australia and the Commonwealth is that a large expenditure has been incurred with very slight result. Notwithstanding the experience of successive failures, however, it appears certain that a great deal more money will have to be spent in the future. It will, therefore, be necessary, for any government that is charged with the administration of the Territory to make the developmental machinery as efficient and economical as possible. I shall not attempt to criticize drastically the machinery that it is proposed to set up, but it appears to me to be excessively complicated and duplicated. I cannot see the necessity for a special development commission and a separate administrative authority. The bill provides for the appointment of three commissioners, who are to be charged not merely with the physical development of the Territory, but also with the maintenance of a number of its most important services They are to administer the railways and the ports and harbours, and they are to build and maintain roads. In addition, they will have full control of all lands. Little or nothing will remain to occupy the time of a purely administrative staff under the control of a Resident Governor. As I view the position, we propose to set up a civil service the size of which will be out of all proportion to the work it will have to perform.
– It is to be hoped that it will be no worse than it is at present.
– lt may not be worse than it is at present, but that will not be sufficient. We should endeavour to avoid the continuance of what, so far, has been a scandal. It will be necessary to appoint a secretariat for the developmental commission. This will probably be composed of experts representing the various departments, such as roads, water, railways, ports, and harbours. I cannot see what the Resident Governor will have to do; but it is certain that he will have a secretariat and the nucleus of a departmental staff. There may be a sound reason for that, but I have not been able to discover it. We appear to be heading in the direction of a civil servants’ paradise, the creation of which will bring great discredit to the administration in the years that are ahead. It is proposed to have an advisory council, partly elective and partly nominee. If it is thought necessary to obtain the services of men who have spent their lives in the Territory and understand its needs, surely they could be used most advantageously on the developmental side! The activities of the commission could he extended to include the administration of the Territory as a whole, and thus do away with the necessity for having two distinct governing authorities. I have no doubt that the Government will appoint an able commission. In selecting a pastoral representative, I trust that it will choose a man who has strong closersettlement sympathies. The speech of the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) in the other chamber, and that of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in this House, indicate a definite disposition to regard the Territory as a big man’s country for a long time to come. I do not know the country well enough to speak of its agricultural qualities, but, in regard to the pastoral industry, the position is misconceived if it is contended that pastoral settlement necessarily means settlement in large areas. The most impressive feature about land settlement in New South Wales and Queensland during the last 25 years has been the multiplication of small pastoral holdings. In the western part of New South Wales, there are hundreds of men who are carrying, only a few thousand sheep. That is also the case in central Queensland. No other settlers have been so progressively prosperous in recent years as those who have carried only a few thousand sheep.
– The western division of New South Wales is now carrying a little more than a third of the number of sheep that it carried twelve years ago.
– What happened when they were overstocked, and had to face the most calamitous drought that Australia has ever experienced? They lost heavily. Since the areas have been small, and adequate provision has been made for water, the country has been almost perfectly safe.
– I do not know whether there is in the Northern Territory a considerable area of sheep country. It is contended that the Barkly Tablelands contain excellent sheep country. On the assumption that it will carry sheep, I trust that the Government, when providing railway communication, will adopt the policy of settling men on relatively small pastoral areas. It may be that a minimum area of as much. as 50,000 acres will be needed. But if we are to spend money in developing the Northern Territory we should settle there the maximum possible number of experienced Australians. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), expressed the opinion this afternoon that this Parliament and this Government would be better engaged in inducing people from overseas to settle in the Northern Territory than in expending large sums to bring migrants from Great Britain to settle in the various States. With that opinion I entirely disagree. We should court disaster, and increase the waste of money if we tried to settle inexperienced European migrants in the Northern Territory. Those who go there must be acclimatized, experienced Australians. Those portions of the Commonwealth which have the greatest actual and relative capacity for the profitable absorption of migrants from overseas are the States which are the most densely settled. That can be proved by reference to the migration statistics. Victoria, for instance, which has more population to the square mile than any of the other States, and whose secondary industries are relatively well developed, is absorbing the most migrants. I am surprised and ‘ disappointed that the Government proposes to adopt the name “ North Australia “ for the northern portion, and “ Central Australia “ for the southern portion of the Territory for whose administration the bill provides. I do not suggest that those responsible for the measure are destitute of ideas, but’ they have apparently overlooked this matter of nomenclature. It is my intention to move in committee an amendment to give these areas other names. It is, I think, lamentable that we should have such names . as South Australia, Western Australia, North Australia, and Central Australia for various portions of this Commonwealth. This is an opportunity to immortalize such a man as Matthew Flinders by giving his name to the area which is called North Australia in the bill. That great navigator’s name could most appropriately be conferred on the northern part of Australia, because though not the first mariner to pass along its shores, he was the first Englishman to explore its seas, and he charted not only that part of our coastline, but practically the whole coastline of the continent. In place of Central Australia as the name of the southern portion of this territory, I suggest “ Sturt “ - the boldest, and most heroic of our early explorers. It may be justifiable to distinguish the two portions of the continent of America as North and South America; but there is no reason why in Australia we should use the points of the compass for the designation of our territorial divisions. The establishment of special staffs for Commonwealth territory is not proposed in the bill, but I think the time has arrived ‘when the Commonwealth should deliberately undertake the training of special staffs for the administration of the territories now under its control. As the mandated territory of New Guinea, Papua, North and Central Australia are now under the control of the Commonwealth, and later the northern portion of Western Australia may be also, the Government should consider the appointment of a specially trained staff for service in its territories. In speaking thus frankly of the administration of the Government in regard to the Northern Territory, I do not wish to appear a hostile critic of the measure; I have put these views forward merely in the hope that they may be of some little help.
.- The subject of. the Northern Territory is one with which I have been familiar for many years. My late father, the Honorable J. Langdon Parsons, was for-three years the Minister controlling the Northern Territory in a South Australian Government, and then was for six years the Government Resident in the Northern Territory; and for three years later he was one of the first members to represent the Territory in the South Australian Parliament. I lived in the Territory for some time, and can, therefore, claim to have an intimate knowledge of the country. ‘ The history of the Northern Territory is very depressing to those who really believe in its possibilities. I can say, without fear of contradiction, that no man had greater faith in the potentialities of the Territory than my late father, and, perhaps, if he had not been so persistent in his belief in it, he and his family would have been better off in many ways, At the time the South Australian
Government took over the Northern Territory, the trouble, which has continued since the Commonwealth has been in control, was that the Territory was administered by Parliaments who knew nothing whatever about it. It is a grave reflection upon the Commonwealth Parliament that it has not benefited by the mistakes made when the Territory was under the control of the South Australian Government. For instance, when it was proposed to construct a railway to. Oodnadatta, and another from Darwin to Pine Creek, the money for the work was borrowed by the South Australian Parliament two or three years before it was needed, and consequently a large sum was involved in unnecessary interest. All along there has been an almost deliberate conspiracy to refuse to accept the advice of men on the spot. When a bill had been passed to authorize the construction of the Pine Creek railway, my father, who was appointed Government Resident in 1884, was sent to the Northern Territory to advise .the Government. Amongst other things, he recommended that the railway to Pine Creek should be built by Southern European labour, and upon its completion the mon engaged on the work should be given grants of land along the” route, in order to develop the country and provide traffic for the railway. The South Australian Government turned down the proposal, and employed Chinese coolies, who, when the work was completed, returned to China with the money they had earned. [Quorum formed.] The possibility of developing the Northern Territory by white labour was doubted by many who believed in its future, including my father; but I believe that, if he were alive to-day, he would think, as I do, that its development by white labour can be successfully undertaken. I was associated with those who held ideas contrary to my own, but my opinion was confirmed during the construction of the Panama Canal, when it was shown what could be done in combating tropical diseases with the assistance of medical science. Medical and agricultural science will, I think, assist in solving the problem of developing the Northern Territory. Oneof the greatest difficulties in settling the Northern Territory with white people is, as I am sure the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) will agree, the position in which women and children are placed; but when the north-south railway is constructed, some of the inconveniences from which they now suffer will be removed. Under present conditions the women and children have a most trying time during the rainy season. The rain is often very heavy and the atmosphere extremely humid; and neither women nor children can get away from the country except by sea, travelling through the tropics down to Sydney, or further south. The women have a particularly trying time in cases of approaching maternity, and at that time they cannot take the risk of a long sea journey. I am in favour of this bill, because I believe that one of the first recommendations of the proposed commission will be that the north-south railway shall be completed. When that line is finished women and children will be able to get away from the humid north in the rainy season and spend that part of the year, which comes within the Christmas holiday season, at Sanatoriums, in Central Australia, where the climate is the finest in the world. A good deal has been said about the poor quality of the land in the Territory. Many years ago there were millions of acres of land in the United States of America that were deemed to be just as poor and unproductive as much of the land in the Northern Territory is said to be to-day ; but when the American railways stretched across the continent wonderful developments followed in this socalled’ useless land. I believe that the same thing will happen in the Northern Territory when adequate railway facilities are provided. I can see no limit to development there. The advancement of agricultural science has made possible wonderful developments in the southern States. A farm that was recently sold in South Australia for £29 17s. 6d. an acre is adjacent, to land which, before the use of superphosphate, was not deemed to be worth £1 an acre. I know men who were unable to make a success of farming on it at £1 an acre. Advanced agricultural methods have improved the value of that land,’ and I believe that they will improve the value of the land in the Northern Territory when reasonable marketing facilities are available. The South Australian Government years ago considered it a duty to the rest of Australia not to develop the Northern Territory with black labour, and incurred enormous losses there in consequence. Some honorable members have said that they find a difficulty in giving proper consideration to Northern Territory problems on account of having never visited the country. I admit that, to a large extent, that is a difficulty. But one of the finest works on Indian life and scenery was written by Thomas Moore, and he never saw India. I consider it to be our duty to read all we can of the writings of persons who have visited and lived in the Northern Territory, so that we may at least bring informed minds to bear on its problems. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) questioned whether there was much sheep country in the Northern Territory. On that point I quote the following paragraph from a pamphlet that was issued years ago when it was proposed to build a railway through the N orthern Territory on the land grant system: -
Ithas been often said that sheep will not thrive well north of Barrow Creek. This has certainly not been proved, but in roughly dividing the Northern Territory into portions most suitable for sheep and cattle, a line running cast and west from Barrow Creek has been adopted, somewhat in deference to that idea. Speaking quite approximately, the extent of the country south of this line indicated is 200,000 square miles, which, at an average of 50 sheep per mile, gives a total of 10,000,000; and, reckoning the total area per mile south of Barrow- Creek, this number would be increased one-third. The annual clip of wool at a low valuation, say, of 5 lb. wool, worth 2s. per lb., would equal £5,000,000. To this must be added the value of the surplus sheep sold annually.
That is weighty evidence that there is good sheep country there ; but it will be impossible to develop it until facilities are provided for getting produce to market. Those figures were given by men who have lived in the Northern Territory, and knew its possibilities well. In considering the probability of agricultural development in the Northern Territory we must remember that there is a considerable area of land right along the coast, and for 80 to 100 miles inland, that is capable of growing every imaginable tropical crop. The Northern Territory has a coast-line of about 1,200 miles on the Indian Ocean ; numerous rivers, such as the Roper, the Adelaide, the Daly, and the Victoria, which are navigable for from 20 to 100 miles: and a harbour at Darwin which is said to be capable of berthing all the fleets of the world. I have cruised on that harbour, and I know what a great stretch of water it is. In 1885, when my father was Government Resident in the Northern Territory, he submitted to the Government a report which contained the following paragraph : -
It must be freely admitted that the north coast of Australia is distinctly tropical, but it can be affirmed that the climate of Palmerston is undeniably healthy. Children live under the verandahs in the open air, and grow and thrive. Dr. “Wood, who had had a wide experience of tropical countries said that for its latitude he knew of no place so healthy.
In referring to the agricultural possibilities of the Territory, the late Mr. Maurice Holtze, who was for many years director of the botanic gardens at Darwin, and later at Adelaide, said -
There is enough suitable land in the northern extremity of the Northern Territory for very considerable cultivation, on the coast and along the rivers. This is only a very small part of the Northern Territory, but large enough to employ hundreds of thousands of people in tropical agriculture.
Reference to the reports of Mr. Holtze for 1890, and to those of his son, Mr. Nicholas Holtze, who succeeded him, made in 1897, 1898, and up to 1901, show that the following crops have been grown with success in the Northern Territory : - maize; the following oil plants - peanuts, chufa, sunflower, sesame, castor oil, croton oil, benoil, jatropha oil; the African oil palm; the Chinese date; sago, and other palms; ramee, cotton, kapok, manila hemp, bowstring hemp, and pita fibre; red and white arrowroot; cassava, which in good, friable soil grew as well as it could be grown anywhere; pepper, cinnamon; ginger; citronella, nutmegs, vanilla, and other spices; millett, sorghum, broom corn, &c, all of which grow most luxuriantly; Madagascar earth bean; fodder grasses of all descriptions; rice, cocoa, Liberian coffee, tobacco, pineapples, sugar-cane, ginger, jute; and the following four kinds of india-rubber - Ceara, Hevea, Assam, Madagascar. Mr. Nicholas Holtze says in his 1901 report -
I would particularly refer to the different starch plants - Turmeric, Patchouli; peanuts, citronella oil plant, rice, cocoa, and the different fodder grasses, cassava, grasscloth (Rhea), and the various other fibre plants.
It is extraordinary that, although the possibility of growing all these plants had been demonstrated beyond question, the wonderful Batchelor Experimental Farm, which was established by the Commonwealth Government after it took over the Territory from South Australia, and named after the late Hon. E. L. Batchelor, was able to produce only one trombone. It certainly was a bachelor in that respect. Mr. Holtze had proved that all the tropical, plants I have mentioned could be grown. My father also made the following report on the Territory -
During the three years I was Minister, and the six years I was Government Resident, I saw and conversed with a large number of explorers, travellers, drovers, and prospectors, and while their descriptions and opinions varied, and some were tinged with the dreariness of disappointment, the great majority of them were to the effect that the Northern Territory generally is a good pastoral country, that large areas are very good, that the north coast is good cattle country, and that southward from the head waters of the Victoria there is fine sheep country.
Soil examinations were made on all the principal river areas, and every one of the reports showed the superior nature of the soil. I mention that because there is an impression, both inside and outside of Australia, that there is practically no good land in the Territory, and that the country is a wilderness. The only reason why sheep are not a payable proposition is that the cost of marketing them is prohibitive. Cattle can convey themselves to market, whereas sheep cannot. The late Mr. Flint, who was at one time inspector of telegraphs at Alice Springs, said that he had .been ten years in the north. He had found Alice Springs an agreeable place to live in. At Barrow Creek, Tennant Creek, and Alice Springs, they grew every kind of vegetable except asparagus and celery. The late Mr. W. Forrest, of Western Australia, said there was pumping water to be found all over the tableland. Mr. Chas. Chewings said:– “ Of the fertility of the soil, there can bc no doubt.” Mr. Tenison Woods said -
A slight examination convinces one that many of the reefs in the Territory contain rich metal, even though the prospector has turned away from them.
The appointment of a local commission for the development of the Northern Territory is a step in the right direction. The’ trouble in the past has been the mismanagement of the Northern Territory by people living a great di. stance from it. I shall support this bill as it is an honest attempt to provide machinery for the development of the Northern Territory by persons on the spot. While I do not say that the measure is perfect, I shall not adversely criticize it at this stage. In the light of experience it may be necessary later to make modifications, but that is no reason for delaying the matter any longer. Because of the money invested in the Northern Territory, and for the sake of the good name of Australia, there should be no further delay. I am confident that the commission’s first report will point out the necessity for the completion of the North-South railway. The first essential is the construction of a north and south railway.
– A line running east and west should follow.
– That is so. . The lack of railway communication has been the main cause of the Northern Territory remaining undeveloped. The construction of the North-South line is not a big undertaking for the Commonwealth. With a population of about 200,000 persons, South Australia, in 1884, commenced, the construction of a through line of railway. A length of approximately 600 miles of railway, terminating at Oodnadatta, was constructed, as well as a line 146 miles in length from Darwin to Pine Creek. South Australia also constructed the overland telegraph line. In the few years following 1884 more was done for the development of the Northern Territory than has been done since. But the building of a north-south railway will not solve the problems of the Northern Territory. That line should be constructed first, and it should be a line north and south. There should be no curvature of the spine so far as that railway is concerned. With that north and south line constructed, other lines running east and west should follow without undue delay, and it would not be long before the Northern Territory, instead of being a huge undeveloped tract of country, would be the most important part of this great Commonwealth. Although the problem before us is a big one, there is no need for pessimism. The problem only requires to be tackled in the right manner. We should not be afraid to spend money in the process. Railways cannot be built for nothing, but without them the Northern Territory will never be developed.
.- I desire to refer to some remarks made by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) when introducing this bill. He referred to the lack of a developmental policy for the Northern Territory, and said that each succeeding Minister had some bright idea regarding it which, on assuming office, he endeavoured to put into practice, at the same time discarding the ideas of his predecessors. He said further that he criticized no one and blamed no one for what had taken place in the past. With that statement I entirely disagree. Some one is to blame. Let us examine the facts. In 1921 some of the members of the Public Works Committee visited the Northern Territory, and on their return they submitted a report to the then Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) containing suggestions, the chief of which I now find is embodied in this bill. The committee recommended a developmental policy for the Northern Territory, the work to be spread over a number of years. It was, therefore, incorrect for the Prime Minister to say that the developmental policy contained in this bill is entirely new. Four valuable years have been lost through the failure »f the Government to adopt the recommendations contained in that report. When introducing this bill in another place, Senator Pearce gave a brief historical sketch of the Northern Territory, but, unfortunately, the record was not complete. The honorable gentleman did not mention that a number of persons had cycled - and that others had walked - from Darwin to Adelaide, and vice versa. He told the Senate, as the Prime Minister told this House, that the problem _ of the Northern Territory was one of transportation. If that be so, what is the necessity for the- appointment .of the commission which this bill proposes? We should set to work to build roads, bridges, and railways without delay. Senator Pearce said that he doubted whether the sum of £200,000 has been spent on roads in the Northern Territory. That the Minister was far from right in mentioning that sum is shown by the fact that, since 1911, the Commonwealth has expended on roads and bridges in the Northern Territory not more than £32,000.
– That sum represents the amount paid by the Government in subsidizing the work done by pastoralists.
– Why should the pastoralists of the Northern Territory be required to construct its roads?
– Why should the States be asked to expend money on road construction in their territory?
– If the Government is serious in its desire to develop the Northern Territory, it will not ask the pastoralists, who do not own land there, and cannot under the present law own any, but merely lease it, to spend their money to develop a territory which belongs, not to them, but to the whole of the people of Australia. It stands to the discredit of this, and every previous Government, that the pastoralists in the Northern Territory have had to do most of the road construction there.
– The sum of £500 was spent by private individuals in making a road to a mine which they had opened up, but when they asked the Government for a subsidy, their request was refused:
– The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), who has travelled along the Victoria River track, knows that were it not for the work done by Bovril Estates Limited and Vestey Limited, it would be impossible to travel along that track for four months of every year. If, as the Minister suggests, the pastoralists of the Northern Territory are to be asked to pay part of the cost of making roads there, I promise him that I shall strongly oppose any such proposal. Senator Pearce, in his speech on the Northern Territory Crown Land Bill, in July, 1923, said-
I am convinced that the people of Australia do not realize what a splendid asset they have, and are not seised with the difficulties of the situation, or of its immensity. So far, this has been nobody’s business.
I claim that it has been the business of every Minister who has been in charge of the Home and Territories Department. Senator Pearce went on to say -
Now it is our business, and if we take up a little extra time in its consideration, that time will have been well spent.
He concluded his speech by saying -
Under this Ordinance, and our general developmental policy, I feel sure that the Terri tory will progress as other parts of the Commonwealth have done.
Not until nearly three years after that speech was delivered did the Government introduce the Oodnadatta to Alice Springs Railway Bill, . a measure which has been promised since 1911. Other than that bill, the one now under consideration contains the first suggestion the Government has made for the development of the Northern Territory since Senator Pearce delivered the speech to which I have referred. We have been promised one railway, and now it is proposed to hand over to a number of private individuals - soon to become public servants - a task in which every previous Government has failed. I regret that the Government deems it necessary to take from Parliament the control of the Northern Territory. It may be said that Parliament will still have control, because it will have to vote the money necessary for its development; but there have been instances in the past of the control of expenditure having been taken from Parliament, and we have seen absolute failure as the result. Some years ago, I mentioned an incident in connexion with the development of the Northern Territory which I think will bear repetition on this occasion. If the Minister in charge of the Home and Territories Department is sincere in his desire to people the Northern Territory, why was a certain police officer at Anthony’s Lagoon forced to leave the police force when he got married because the Department would not provide him with proper accommodation? His intended wife was waiting in Adelaide, but the Department said, in effect, “ If you get married you will have to leave.” The Northern Territory will not be developed if that policy is continued. Only within the last few months has anything been done to provide hospitals in that portion of the Northern Territory south of Marranboy, which is less than 250 miles south of Darwin. Until a month ago, one could travel south from Marranboy, a distance of 750 miles within the Territory, without meeting a nurse or being able to obtain medical attention other than that possible with the small medicine kits at the various telegraph stations. There was so little concern for the health of the people there that, in 1921, when we went through the Territory, the department required the members of the staffs of the telegraph stations to pay for refills for the medicine chests. Ministers now say that they want to do something to develop the Territory. There are two ways in which that can be done effectively. The first is to complete the North-South line right through to Darwin. That line should follow a route slightly east from Alice Springs, go somewhere near Anthony’s Lagoon, and join up with the line that must be built across the Barkly Tableland into the State of Queensland. It has been said over and over again that it is ridiculous to think that a territory of 500,000 square miles can be properly developed with only one railway through the centre of it. I am hoping that the railway system of the Northern Territory will some day be as well developed as the railway system of Victoria. I agree with the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning), that if the line had been constructed into the Barkly Tableland through Camoo- weal. many thousands of stock would have been saved during the recent drought in Queensland. ‘Governments should build railway lines to develop their own territories, but the Commonwealth Governments of the past seem to have considered the development of all territories but their own. A. railway line has been built to Western Australia - I approve of that; and the Commonwealth has. assisted several States in carrying out the Murray Waters scheme - I approve of that; but it stands to the discredit of the governments that have had charge of the finances of this great continent that they have neglected so much of their own heritage, which the Commonwealth promised to develop, and across which it undertook to build a railway. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) referred to the decreasing population of the Territory. Many of the settlers who went there in 1911 and afterwards, had the idea firmly fixed in their minds that something would be done, by providing roads and railways, to promote genuine development. They have been most bitterly disappointed. Since 1916 or 1917 no rails have been laid in the Territory, and the Government’s pitiable record to date is the construction of about 50 miles of line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. Certainly the construction of the Daly Waters line is now being proceeded with, and it is hoped that work on the Alice Springs section will soon be commenced. Now that the line will soon reach Daly Waters, it is time that the Parliament considered the question of its extension to Newcastle Waters or Powell’s Creek, and then east to Queensland. If honorable members will consult the report presented by the Public Works Committee in 1922, they will find that the committee, in recommending that that should be done, stated that the line to Daly Waters would be quite useless until it was extended across the Barkly Tableland. The prospect is even worse to-day than it was then. This brings me to a second suggestion. I have been exercising my mind for quite a long time on the question whether it is desirable to extend to the Territory the right of freehold for pastoral purposes. I have made a few in- quiries, and have tried to obtain information about countries where the leasehold, system of land tenure has been tried. I have not, however, met with any success. Most of the Australian States have developed rapidly because the man who went on the land had the right to purchase the freehold of his property after he had proved his bona fides. The time has arrived when more consideration should be given to the question of granting freeholds in the Northern Territory. It is proposed that small freehold areas shall be provided for the purpose of agriculture, although the right honorable the Prime Minister, and every one else who speaks about the Northern Territory, affirms that it is a pastoral proposition.
– All new countries are pastoral propositions.
– Then why hold out this bait to a few small agriculturists? Why induce them to purchase land to grow something they will, for the want of a market, be unable to sell? Why not give the right of freehold tenure to the pastor alist, who will actually open up the country? Nearly £50,000 has been spent during the last fifteen years on agricultural experiments. Perhaps not all of it has been wasted, for presumably something valuable must have been learned; but much of it has been wasted. The Government is taking the wrong course in offering small areas to agriculturists while still retaining the leasehold system for the pastoralist. The right honorable the Prime Minister said that everything would depend upon getting the right men as commissioners. No one ever spoke truer words. I sincerely trust that this Government will be more fortunate that previous governments in its selection of men as administrators. I am reminded of one administrator who was there for a number of years, who, in his annual reports to the Government, wrote in glowing terms of the wonderful land in the Territory. He suggested, among other things, that some of the land on the Daly River would be excellent for the repatriation of returned soldiers. Yet that gentleman wrote an article in Smith’s Weekly not long ago under the heading, “ The Northern Territory. Workless. Hopeless. Useless.” That was the man who, when he was Administrator, could not find words to express his admiration for the land that was available for agricultural settlement. Some of our administrators seem to go to Darwin with large ideas, which they retain for only a few months, after which they settle into arm chairs and allow affairs to drift.
– Is not that largely due to the lack of support from Melbourne ?
– I believe the honorable member is right. If an honorable member of this House spoke about the Northern Territory four or five years ago he was almost laughed at. To-day we find that almost every member of Parliament is alive to the fact that the Territory is really worth developing. Perhaps that explains why we are passing so much legislation for the Territory. It is very gratifying that honorable members who have not been there are expressing a desire to go there; but up to the present the Government has not done much to facilitate their going. The money which the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) said had been spent on roads and bridges was, perhaps, £200,000. The actual amount is £32,000, and every penny of that was spent in the northern part of the Territory. If there is one part of the Territory that a visitor should not go to first, it is the north of it. An entirely wrong impression is thus gained. The problem of developing the Northern Territory, as I have said over and over again, can be solved only by tackling it from the south and east, and not from the north. The Labour Government of 1911 made a great mistake in sending an army of civil servants to dig themselves in at Darwin. In 1923-4, over £90,000 was spent on the administration of the Territory.
– There will not be much of that to debit against Central Australia when the reckoning is made.
– The amount will be insignificant. Great care was taken that none of the money was spent south of the Barkly Tableland, except to provide an occasional well or bore, and that only in recent months. The administrative staff at Darwin could be cut down by one-half with great advantage to the administration, and the £45,000 or £50,000 that would be thus saved would almost finance the construction of the line to Alice Springs.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– There is one provision of the bill upon which I must touch before I resume my seat. As honorable members are aware, any proposed Commonwealth expenditure upon works in excess of £25,000 has to be referred to the Public Works Committee for consideration and report to this House. Under this bill such works in North and Central Australia are to be dealt with directly by the proposed commission. Dealing with this matter in the Senate the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) said that considerable delay would take place if these proposals for expenditure were referred to the Public Works Committee. Having had some experience on the Public Works Committee and of various commissions, I am of opinion that there would be no greater delay in referring these works to the Public Works Committee than in referring them to the proposed commission, whilst if they were referred to the Public. Works Committee this House, which will have to provide the money for them, would be kept in much closer touch with the expenditure. It is strange that the Government which has allowed things to drag as they have done in the Northern Territory - should now talk of a possible delay of a few months in the reference of proposed works to the Public Works Committee. The Government has delayed for many years the development of the Northern Territory, which it now seems so eager to carry into effect. Senator Pearce, in his concluding references to this measure, made a rather startling statement. I quote his exact words: “ I hope that this experiment will be given a trial.” I direct the special attention of honorable members to the use of that word “ experiment.” Surely to goodness we have had enough experiments in the Northern Territory. I regret that the Ministry should regard this bill as a further experiment, after the scores, nay, hundreds of reports we have had upon every conceivable topic affecting the Northern Territory. Year after year we have had the advice of men who know, and reports’ of their experience as the result of sometimes futile and sometimes successful experiments, and surely all this information should take this proposal_ out of the experimental class. I regret that the word “experiment” has been used to describe this bill. A reference has been made to the delays that occur in the delivery of mails in the Northern Territory. We have been told that a letter from Melbourne addressed to Alice Springs, to go through the Administrator in Darwin, would take three months to get there. We cannot blame the people of the Northern Territory for this, rather is it the fault of the Administration. The present service is run at a- loss, and certainly a better service could and would be given by the Postal Department if the Home and Territories Department were prepared to pay an adequate subsidy for the purpose. What is wrong with establishing a motor bicycle mail service between the Katherine River and Alice Springs if it should be necessary for the Administrator to write to persons at Alice Springs ? We know that there is a telegraph line, and it is to be presumed that messages could be forwarded from Darwin to Alice Springs within three hours if necessary. Surely, there is an efficient code in the Department. The statement that it takes three months to send a letter from Melbourne to Alice Springs is rather a poor argument to put forward to support the necessity for the appointment of the proposed commission. The Government proposes, apparently, to make available whatever money may be asked for by the commission. The commission will probably be appointed within the next month or so, and the first thing it will want to do will be to make a trip through the Northern Territory in order that its members may become acquainted with local conditions. The Government may be fortunate enough to appoint to the commission men who have already been there and know the conditions. I suggest that those appointed to the commission should be men with a first-hand knowledge of this vast territory, and not men who yet have to learn all there is to know about it. I believe that there are scores of very capable men who have an actual knowledge of living conditions, and have spent years in pastoral or in mining pursuits in the Territory t who would be prepared to take up the work. We are going to make money available to the commission, but I point out that this House has been in the temper for a long time past to give the Government much more money than has been asked for to ensure the more speedy development of the Northern Territory. When the Commission is appointed there will be practically only three things which it can recommend. Itcan recommend railways, and these must of necessity be railways which the Public Works Committee has already recommended. It is not suggested that there are to be railways constructed through the Northern Territory other than the North and South line, one from western Queensland across the Barkly Tableland, and possibly a third going across the Victoria River country to link up with the port of Broome in Western Australia. The commission will be able to suggest roads and bridges, but I submit that it cannot suggest any (roads and bridges other than those which have from time to time been advocated by members of this House. The commission will be able to suggest proposals for water conservation and boring. I have said before in this House that it stands not to the credit, but greatly to the discredit of different Commonwealth Governments, that the only water conservation in the Northern Territory is that which was carried out by a man named Verberg, who erected a weir across the Adelaide River. His work is truly wonderful, considering that he carried it out practically single-handed. I have said on many occasions that the Go- vernment would do well to take a leaf out of this man’s book, and follow his example in other parts of the Northern Territory. Sir Sidney Kidman has said that there is no better sheep country in Australia than the Macdonnell Range country, and the facilities for water conservation there are second to hone in Australia. Yet not a single penny piece has been spent on the conservation of water there.
– It will not be a costly job either.
– That is so. It is deplorable that there has been practically no expenditure whatever in that part of Australia which it is proposed to call Central Australia.
– What is the rainfall in that part of the Territory ?
– The average annual rainfall of the Macdonnell Range country over a period of 30 years was 11 inches.
– What is the average on the Barkly Tableland?
–The rainfall of the Barkly Tableland is a minimum of 15 inches rising to 21 inches per annum. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) when Minister for Works and Railways visited Alice Springs. He subsequently said in this House, and repeated the statement to me only the other day. “ I should like to take a hundred of my Mallee farmers to Alice Springs. We could show them how to grow wheat.” The Commonwealth Government spent something like £50,000 on agricultural experiments in the north of the Northern Territory, but it has not spent a penny piece upon such experiments in that part of the Territory in whicli they would be most likely to get good results. I have mentioned that the commission will be able to recommend railways, roads and bridges, and water conservation. Having built railways, roads, and bridges, the commission will have solved practically the whole of the problem of the Northern Territory, because the Prime Minister has told u3 that the problem is solely one of transportation. In regard to water conservation, whilst the Government has been busy now and again in passing an occasional £1,000,000 to aid the Murray Waters scheme, I find that it has spent only £161,000 on bores, tanks, and wells in the Northern Territory during the fifteen years in which it has had control of it. This represents a paltry expenditure of £10,000 a year in a territory comprising one-sixth of the total area of Australia. I have to support this bill not because I think it is necessary or because I want it, nor yet because I think that the people of the Northern Territory are clamouring’ for it. They are clamouring for and expect the development of the Territory, but I do not think that they look for more speedy development from the proposed commission than they could secure if the Ministry itself grappled with the problem as it should. I support the bill because it appears that the Government has fallen down on its job of the development of the Northern Territory. It seems to me to wish to dodge its responsibility and throw it upon the proposed commission and upon the members of this House.
.- I support the measure on much the same grounds as those referred to by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson). I reiterate what he has said and what the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) tried to impress upon the Government, and that is that it is railway construction that is necessary for the development of the Northern Territory. We may appoint a commission, but I can hardly see how it could make recommendations for roads and bridges and water conservation if means of transportation are not first provided. As stated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), means of transportation is a primary factor in the development of Central Australia. I hope that the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) is not going slow on his job, and that before the end of the year a contract will be let for the construction of the line to Alice Springs. The honorable member for Bass told us that the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) said that he would like to take 100 Mallee farmers to the Alice Springs country. That is the country which will be served by the proposed railway. Until railway facilities are provided I do not see what the commission can do. We have already passed a land ordinance for the Northern Territory, and the Government has seen to it that whatever develop? ment takes place under that measure will be for the benefit of the big landed proprietors.
– The commission is going to tell us what we already know.
– That will be so, and the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) speaks with practical knowledge of the country. As the honorable member who has just resumed his seat has said, we must support the appointment of a commission, although we do not like it. I do not think the people in the Northern Territory will welcome it. In my opinion, there will be no cessation of the losses that annually fall upon the Commonwealth in its control of the Territory until the real saviour of that portion of Australia arrives in the shape of a railway. We have dallied with the problem for years and years, and this bill is the only solution the’ Government can offer. Whether this particular egg contains a chicken that will prove of benefit to the Commonwealth, I know not, but it will certainly be one that will come home to roost, because it will involve us in further losses until the north-south railway is put through. My sole purpose in supporting this bill is to quicken the activities of the Works and Railways Department in the construction of this railway. There are reams and reams of printed matter to prove the potential wealth of the Territory. To claim that it is not a white man’s country is again an indication of falling down on the job. The fact that the southern portions of Australia are more populated and developed is no indication that the north is a useless, barren waste. In my opinion, one great factor that will tend towards the development of the Northern Territory, and the northwestern portion of Western Australia, which is a splendid country from all one can hear of it, is the necessity for giving the people in those parts a better opportunity to get in touch with civilization. It is a strenuous business to live in the northern portion of Australia, and one of the greatest drawbacks to the settlement of that country is the fact that, when one leaves to recuperate his health, he must be absent from home at least three months. By means of a railway any resident of the Northern Territory could reach any other part of Australia within a fortnight. This bill is before its time. The construction of the railway should have preceded it. With the railway built, the commissioners would have an opportunity to exercise their capacity to promote the settlement of the land and the development of the Territory with all the facilities railway communication provides. However, the Government is pledged to do something to develop the Territory, and I shall not stand in its way and say that this commission should not be appointed. Like the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) I accord the bill my support, because it makes some slight effort to undo some of the things that have been done in the north, and because it is at least an attempt to go a little further ahead on the road of progress.
– The Government is pleased with the manner in which the House generally has accepted this bill. The committee stage will afford opportunity to discuss the clauses in detail, and the suggestions that have been put forward by honorable members will receive careful consideration from the Government, but several remarks have been made during the debate which call for immediate reply. It has been said that much money has been wasted in the Northern Territory.
– There is no doubt about that.
– One could say the same of every State in the Commonwealth and of every dominion in the British Empire. Money is always scarce in a new country awaiting development by a handful of people. Honorable members know that, quite, recently, States have approached the Commonwealth Government for financial assistance, to see them through their trying periods of development. The Commonwealth will always endeavour to help the weaker States to become as strong as the stronger and more developed States. We all know that the British Government, in the earlier stages of Australia’s development, gave financial assistance to the colonies. The Northern Territory has been the baby of the Commonwealth for fourteen or fifteen years. It is wrong to say that the blame for its lack of progress rests entirely on the Commonwealth Government. South Australia had the territory for many years, and was very glad to hand it over to the Commonwealth, just as, at the present time, other States are anxious to unload their financial burdens on to the Commonwealth. It must also be remembered that during the fourteen years we have had control of this portion of Australia, operations had practically to be suspended for the period of the war, and that, not only during the war, but also since, the financial strain upon the Commonwealth revenues has been exceedingly great.
– Some honorable members have suggested that the money has been spent in the wrong way and at the wrong end of the territory.
– That is purely a matter of opinion. When the Labour Government took over the control of the territory from South Australia, it set out upon a developmental policy which it believed would be in the best interests of the Commonwealth, and I think every honorable member in this House, no matter to what party he may belong, is keenly anxious to see the territory developed. As a matter of fact, honorable members of the Opposition have assisted the Government with this bill, not only in the Senate but also here. It is an indication of the keen desire of every one to help the territory and make it a better place than it is. In discussing the bill, the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) declared that Central Australia would not benefit by the bill to the extent that North Australia would, but he must recognize that, although the .former is more sparsely populated than the latter, it will have the same sort of advisory council as is provided for North Australia. The honorable member denied the usefulness of these councils, but where they have been instituted in other territories controlled by the Commonwealth they have proved most successful and helpful to the Government.
– In the mandated territories, for instance.
– Have they not wider powers than are proposed in this bill ?
– They have power to make suggestions. The honorable member claimed that these advisory councils would not meet more than twice a year. The bill provides that they must not meet less than twice a year. . They may meet more frequently. They will certainly not have the right to criticize the actions of the commission, but they will study the ordinances governing the Territory and make suggestions for its better administration. The honorable member also claimed that residents of the Territory should have direct representation on the commission. Practically every honorable member who has spoken has said that the success of the commission will depend entirely upon the calibre of the men selected . The responsibility for the selection will rest upon the Government. I am pleased to say that the selection of the gentlemen who comprise the Canberra Commission has been a great success, and if we get as good men for the Northern Territory Commission we shall be pleased indeed. Reference has been made to the powers of the commission. The bill is very clear in defining those powers, but in committee I shall move amendments to increase the responsibility of Parliament by providing that the commission shall not be beyond the control of Parliament in the expenditure of money. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) referred to the bill as another example of the readiness of the Government to launch into new enterprises and creating huge departments costing many thousands of pounds. If honorable members will peruse the speech delivered by the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) in moving the second reading of this bill in the Senate, they will learn of *the many ramifications of administration in the Territory, and of the huge cost involved.
– Whose fault is that?
– The fault rests on the parliaments of the past.
– Why not grapple with the matter instead of waiting for a commission to do it ?
– We have all done our best. When the Labour party was in power it did its best, according to its ability, to develop the Territory along the lines it thought suitable. But when we find that the railways in the Territory, taxation matters, and public works are administered from. Melbourne, Customs and quarantine matters from Brisbane, and postal work from Adelaide, all but three state centres having a finger in .’the pie, can the honorable member for Henty still contend that the creation of a commission to supervize all these services is bound to increase the cost of administration? The honorable member also said that if a commission were appointed there would be no need for an Administrator, because he would have nothing to administer. As a matter of fact, the commission will not deal with such matters as law and justice, police, education, mines, fisheries, aborigines, and many other minor services. The honorable member’s suggestion that the Commonwealth should commence the training of a staff of young officers to administer its various territories has already been forestalled. Twelve months ago the Commonwealth commenced to train young lads from high schools by passing them through a university course, and giving them special training in the mandated territories. These youths will spend several years in the territories, and it is hoped that in this way we shall get within a few years a staff of young officers who will be able to render efficient public service in the administration of the territories. The honorable member’s suggestion that instead of using the names “North Australia” and “Central Australia,” we should call the two subdivisions of the Territory, “ Flinders “ and “ Sturt,” respectively, will receive the consideration of Cabinet. As a matter of fact, the Government is prepared, to give full and sympathetic consideration to every suggestion put forward. When the bill reaches the committee stage honorable members will be able to discuss it at greater length, and any suggestions that they may then offer will receive sympathetic consideration. By giving the bill a speedy passage, honorable members will assist the Government in its endeavour to develop the Northern Territory and to place it upon a good financial footing within the next two or three years.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
Mr.GULLETT (Henty) [8.33].- I should like again to refer briefly to my suggestion that the two portions of the Northern Territory, “ Central Australia “ and “ North Australia,” should be given more distinctive names. I appreciate very much the promise of the Minister in charge of the bill that the Government will treat the suggestion seriously. I have suggested that the northern area should be called Flinders, after Matthew Flinders, the navigator, and the southern area called Sturt.
– Why not Stuart?
Mr.GULLETT. - Not McDouall Stuart.
– He crossed Australia.
Mr.GULLETT. - He did so after Sturt and others had pioneered and broken the back of that work. I do not wish for one moment to impose upon honorable members any particular names that I might select. It is for them to decide what names should be chosen. There should be little or no objection to the selection of the name of Matthew Flinders for the northern area. We have here an opportunity to immortalize and to do honour to a great man, at the same time doing honour to ourselves. I should not dare to enter into any controversy respecting the merits of Sturt and McDouall Stuart, but I do say that Sturt, following on Oxley’s tracks, first discovered the Darling, and a year or two later, I think in 1829, followed the Murrumbidgee to its junction with the Murray, and traversed that river to its mouth. He subsequently made two most gallant attempts to reach the interior of the continent. Sturt’s work and the lessons drawn from it made relatively easy and simple all subsequent exploration in the interior and dry areas of this country, just as, for instance, the initial work, first of Scott, and later of Shackleton, made relatively easy the journey of the great Amundsen to the South Pole. If the Government is disposed to consider the alteration of the names which I know have accidentally been put in the bill, and which are pitifully humdrum, it should take action now or as soon as possible by introducing a short amending bill during this session. If we delay too long, the names of North Australia and Central Australia will be printed on a thousand and one documents, making it exceedingly difficult and expensive to alter them.
.- I suggest that Central Australia should be named after Stuart, and not after Sturt, as suggested by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett). Stuart was the first to cross the continent. He left his mark on a tree when he and his party gazed upon the Indian Ocean. That tree was discovered by an expedition led by my father, and from it portions were taken back, and preserved for a number of years. Unfortunately, before an opportunity was afforded to make a permanent memorial, a fire swept that part of the country, and when subsequent expeditions went to the spot there was no trace whatever of the tree. Stuart undoubtedly crossed the continent. Central Mount Stuart is named after him. If any change is to be made in the name of Central Australia, I certainly suggest that Stuart, and not Sturt, should be selected.
– This clause may need amendment if amendments are made in subsequent provisions. Take, for example, the Advisory Council. If we link up the Government Resident with the Advisory Council, then the clause will have to be altered. We find that there is to be one Government Resident for North Australia and one for Central Australia. Evidently those areas are to be full, or nearly full, of Government Residents. I suggest to the Minister that any amendment of the clause such as suggested by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) might very well stand over until we have dealt with the rest of the bill. That would give the Government an opportunity to consider the matter. When considering the immortalizing of the name of Sturt or Stuart, as the case may be, by applying it to Central Australia, and that of Flinders, or some other equally eminent name, by substituting it for “ North Australia,” we must remember that this country in time to come will consist of many States. For at least 250 years after the founding of the colonies of North America all the country west of the Mississippi was terra incognita. No one knew anything about it. It was referred to vaguely as “ the West.” But what were formerly territories have attained the dignity of States. If half of the eloquent description of Central Australia by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) be true, and I have no doubt that the whole of it is, then Stateswill eventually be thickly scattered throughout that fertile and progressive area. There is method in the manner of the Government’s drafting of the clause. The names “ North Australia “ and “ Central Australia “ are generic terms. In the fullness of time I have no doubt that the country known as the Barkly Tablelands will be a. State. There will be a State, coastals in its nature, and including the tropical parts of the Northern Territoryperhaps two, or even more, States: will be carved out of that area. I am certain that in the future there will be a State in the centre of Australia, with climatic conditions not dissimilar to those of New Mexico and also of Arizona, in the United States of America. The Minister might very well postpone this clause, and if amendments are made in subsequent portions relating to the commission and the Government residents, the definitions can be altered accordingly, and further consideration given to the suggestion made by the honorable member for Henty.
– I agree to the postponement of the clause.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 -
.- I move-
That the word “ who “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ one of whom shall be elected by the people of North Australia and two of whom “.
Having discussed this matter with many pastoralists in the Northern Territory, I have in mind the election of such a man as the present Chief Stock Inspector and Veterinary Officer of the Territory, who has traversed the country from one end to the other, is thoroughly familiar with all phases of the pastoral industry, and would reflect the matured opinions of those who have settled there and made good. It is desirable that the commission should be reinforced with some local knowledge. The country is most deceptive, and a newcomer might be apt to condemn land that an old resident knew to be valuable, and to see virtues in country which experienced people knew to be “worthless. Only years of personal experience of the country fits a person to judge its capabilities. If at least one member of the commission were elected by adult franchise the Territory and Australia generally would be advantaged. Direct representation of the people would give to them more confidence. I am sure it is the desire of all parties that the commission shall have the co-operation of the pioneers, who may be depended upon to choose a capable and trustworthy representative.
.- I hope the Honorary Minister will favorably consider the amendment. It is only fair that the people in the Territory should have representation on a commission which is to be endowed with very wide powers. It will be practically the parliament of the Territory, and the people who are directly concerned in its doings, and will have to pay the taxation that is imposed, should have a voice in the election of at least one of its members. We need not doubt that they will elect a man fully qualified for such a responsible office. If the people most intimately concerned are not given a voice in the administration we may expect dissatisfaction to arise. People like to have a representative to whom, they can apply and who has a knowledge of their conditions and requirements. Such a man would be of considerable assistance to the Government nominees. After all, one man will not control the commission.
– Is it suggested that the elected representative should have certain qualifications, or would anybody be eligible ?
– If the people were allowed to exercise their judgment they would choose a man who, in thenopinion, was qualified. After all, they should be the best judges of who is most fitted to represent them. Many people may say that some honorable - members of this chamber are not qualified to be in Parliament, but the people who sent us here think otherwise. If this commission is to function successfully the people must have some say in its administration. Today the residents of the Territory complain that they are so lar removed from (he seat of government that they cannot get their needs attended to. They say that this Parliament lacks knowledge of their conditions, and it is true that prior to their getting direct representation in this chamber we knew very little of their country. Our ignorance was unavoidable, because honorable members cannot spare the time to visit and make themselves familiar with that distant part of Australia. The commission would probably be concerned in the imposition of taxation and the raising of funds by other means, and there is an old axiom that there should be no taxation without representation. This is a non-partisan bill .; all honorable members desire to make it an efficient instrument for the development of the Territory. No draughtsman can produce a perfect bill, but by the collective wisdom of the committee defects are discovered and remedied. The amendment is a desirable improvement, and is worthy of the serious consideration of Ministers.
– I strongly object to the amendment. The members of the commission must be men of standing, intelligence, commercial experience, and, if possible, experience of Northern Territory conditions.
– Would not the people of the Territory choose such a representative?
– No. Those people who have a stake in Northern Australia, and have borne the heat and burden of the day are outnumbered by the wharf labourers and lumpers at Darwin, and if an election were held the nominee of the latter would be returned .
– I suppose they are human beings; they are not mere bricks and mortar.
– They are human beings, but they are not qualified to choose a member, of a commission to administer the affairs of the Territory. An election would not produce a commissioner who would be worthy of the great powers and responsibilities that would be entrusted to him.
.- I support the amendment. The commission will be in the position of a government. Unlike commissioners in the more populous States, the North Australia commissioners will be far removed from .the control of the Government and the scrutiny of the people. No form of government can be successful unless it has the confidence of the people whose affairs it controls. I resent the remark of the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie’) concerning wharf labourers. According to him, the members of the pronosed commission must be men of known commercial experience. History teems with the records of dismal failures in administration by commercial magnates whenever they have turned their attention to the business of governing a country. The psychology of commercialism is founded on principles of personal profit, whereas the psychology of governing is based on service. If the people in the Northern Territory have an opportunity to elect at least one representative - I would prefer two - they will have the satisfaction of knowing that one member of the commission, at all events, will have the real interests of the Northern Territory at heart, and they will naturally be disposed to appeal to him for a redress of grievances. The adoption of the amendment will make the bill more effective. The view of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) should be respected. He is the elected representative of the people there, and as such enjoys their confidence. I hope, therefore, that the committee will carry the amendment.
– I support the amendment. Hitherto the Administrators of the Northern Territory have been Government nominees, and we have been told that, up to the present, all attempts at successful administration have proved futile. If the Northern Territory is to be developed on sound lines, the people who live in that portion of Australia should be consulted concerning the personnel of the commission to be entrusted with this important duty. The honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) stated that if the amendment is agreed to one of the members of the commission will be elected by wharf labourers at Darwin. I remind the committee that the people of the Territory have their elected representative in this chamber, and I believe we are all agreed that he is a man whose opinion is respected
– And I was not elected on the wharf labourers’ votes; I did not get one of them.
– No man in this Parliament knows more than the honorable member about the affairs of the Northern Territory. Therefore, there is no danger in accepting the amendment. Mr. Turley, who at one time adorned the presidential chair in the Senate, was once a wharf labourer; and I remind honorable members that Lincoln, one of the greatest Presidents of the United States of America, at one period of his life was engaged on the wharfs and river boats. Like many other great men, he came from the ranks of the workers. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mt. Hughes) also has had a good deal of experience with wharf labourers. We all know that they are able to elect a good man as their representative. We may assume that if the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) had his way, he would probably select the Government nominees on the commission from other walks in life - possibly from the Melbourne Club or Flinders-lane. I doubt, however, if we are likely to get the best men in that way. We want, if possible, to ensure the appointment of pioneers - men who understand the problems of the Northern Territory. I question if we are likely to find them in the suburbs of either Melbourne or Sydney. This amendment touches the principles of constitutional government, because it involves the representation of the people. If we adhere to the principle of nomination, the three men selected by the Government will not be under any obligation to please the people in the Northern Territory at all, as long as they satisfy the Government. If, however, members of the commission; are elected by the people, they will be disposed to “ stir the possum,” and get things done. The remarks of the honorable member for Warringah were really a serious reflection upon the great mass of the people, because 90 per cent, of Australians are workers and wealth producers and quite capable of electing their own representatives on any governing body. I realize, of course, that it is hardly fair to expect the Minister, without notice, to alter the whole basis of the bill, but I hope that if he is not disposed to accept the amendment he will agree to the postponement of the clause, so that the Government may consider this proposal. At the last election the Prime Minister declared that he was as good as any trade unionist. He now has an opportunity to prove it by agreeing to the principle of election by the people in connexion with the appointment of the proposed commission.
– A very difficult point has arisen. I have listened carefully to the arguments and have turned them over in my mind. It is admitted that the position in the Northern Territory to-day is due, in the main, to lack of understanding and experience on the part of the Government of the day. Being an interested party, I remained silent while eulogies were being showered on the Governments of which I was a member. But all this is to be changed. It is the Government’s declared policy to bring about a new and very much better state of affairs in the Northern Territory in the future. We are told that this is to be achieved by the appointment of the right kind of men to the proposed commission. It is admitted that everything turns upon their being the right kind of men. The amendment of the honorable member is intended to ensure that one member of the commission, at least, will be a man who knows the country. I am deeply obliged to my friend, the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) for his references to my association with waterside workers. I see no difference whatever between a wharf labourer and a member of the Union Club. There are good men to be found in every walk of life. I judge each on his merits. I am not one of those who believe that no good can come out of Nazareth. I know something of land boards in my State, particularly the western land boards of New South Wales, and I have noted that the men selected have usually come out of the west - out of the country. Therefore, unless we suppose that the people in the Northern Territory would elect the most incapable from amongst themselves, and that they would show such a lamentable lack of appreciation as to make every effort on our part in vain, I think that, theoretically at all events, a good case can be made out for the election of one member of the commission. On the other hand, I must say that I do not lean to that kind of government at all. I believe that the people are best governed when they elect their Parliament, and when that Parliament, in effect, elects a Ministry which takes full responsibility for the selection of individuals to carry out the work that devolves upon Parliament. Although selection is not always uninfluenced by personal prejudice and a natural tendency of men to appoint persons of their own colour, still, on the whole, British institutions work out pretty well. I feel that this measure will be prejudiced from the outset, if the Government does not appoint one man who is a resident of the Northern Territory. Apparently, because of the risks involved, the Government is not inclined to look with favour upon the amendment, but an assurance might be given that one of its nominees on the commission will be from the Northern Territory. If possible, all three commissioners should either be present residents of the Territory, or have had a long experience of conditions similar to those that are encountered in the Territory. A statement from the Government that at least one commissioner will be a resident of the Territory would clear the air; but if the Government not only opposes the amendment, but also remains silent regarding its intention in the choice of the three commissioners, the measure will be prejudiced from the outset. .
.- Those who pay taxation should have, a voice regarding its expenditure. The residents of the Northern Territory will be called upon to pay certain taxes. To protect their own interests, the Government proposes to have two nominees on the commission. That commission will have the power to borrow, subject to the Treasurer’s approval. The interest on any loans. that are raised will have to be found by the residents of the Territory. The present-day tendency of the large trusts in America and England is to allow the employees to have a representative on the board of management. The day is approaching when a similar spirit will prevail in Australia. I cannot understand the reason for the Government’s opposition to it. Nothing can be said against the ability or the integrity of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), and, if the residents of the Territory were given an opportunity to elect a representative to this body, I feel sure that they would choose a man of his calibre. They would have more confidence in the commission, and pay greater respect to its decisions, if they were represented upon it. There is an old adage that the people will obey laws that are liberal, but will not obey those that are not liberal. No honorable member can deny that a person chosen by the people of the Northern Territory would be better acquainted with their requirements. During the last ten years this Parliament has belittled itself by delegating many of its powers to boards and commissions. Commission after commission has been appointed, with the result that Parliament is not now regarded with a great deal of respect. Under this bill the Government proposes that Parliament shall hand over to a commission the control of the public revenue of the Territory. It is the duty of Parliament to criticize expenditure and to suggest means for raising revenue. I hope the day of commissions is fast approaching its end. It cannot be expected that the Government will view this proposition favorably, because it is under the thumb of those who have not the welfare of the people at heart. I am sure that, upon reflection, the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) will admit that he made a mistake when he cast a slur upon those members of the community who are not so fortunately placed as he.
– Does the honorable member suggest that only the taxpayers should be allowed to elect a representative?
– I said that that representative should be elected by the people who will have to provide the money that will be required for the development of the Territory. A better feeling would exist between the railway employees and the departments in the various States if a representative of the employees assisted in the management of the railways. This measure will place another heavy burden upon the shoulders of the taxpayers of Australia. Honorable members must realize the wisdom of seeing that any boards that are appointed expend their funds to the best advantage. It is wise for the Government to be represented on the commission, but its interests could be watched equally as well by one as by two men. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) voiced the opinion of his constituents when he moved the amendment. Because a man is not a member of the Union Club in Sydney or the Melbourne Club in this city, he should not be debarred from having a voice in the management of the affairs of the Northern Territory. We hope that this measure will instil in the hearts of the people of the Northern Territory a desire to see it progress. The amendment does not propose to give them anything that a free, educated, and enlightened democracy ought not to have. If a resident of the Northern Territory were appointed, he would be in a position to furnish the other commissioners with valuable information of a practical nature. I hope that the amendment will be carried. If it is, I feel sure that honorable members will not regret it.
– The eloquence of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) was not sufficiently persuasive to convince the Government of the desirableness of embodying the amendment in this measure. I would remind the committee that the taxpayers in the Federal Territory are not represented on the Federal Capital Commission, and that the various territories under the Commonwealth control are administered by officers responsible only to the Minister. I welcome, however, the suggestion made by the honorable member. The Government is as anxious as are others that satisfaction shall be given the people in the Territory; they are the pioneers, and deserve consideration. As the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said, we are all looking forward to the time when the population will be large enough to enable the people there to return their representatives to Parliament, from whom a government is formed which is responsible to the electors. The Government, however, will be responsible for the appointment of the commission, and will endeavour to obtain the services of the best men available. . I know that honorable members opposite desire to do their best in the interests of the Territory, and I ask them to believe that the Government is just as keen to select the best men to act as commissioners. If we can appoint three who have lived or who have had experience in the Northern Territory, we shall be very pleased.
Mr.Foster. - It was always intended to give the people of the Northern Territory representation at the proper time.
– Tea. The Government thinks that they should have representation on the advisory council.
– Unless the members of the commission have had experience in the Northern Territory, or in similar country in Queensland or South Australia, they will be of no useat all.
– That is admitted. The Government is anxious to meet, not only the wishes of the right honorable member for North Sydney, but also those of every honorable member, and if we can obtain the services of capable men who have had practical experience in the Northern Territory such men will be appointed as commissioners and also as members of the advisory council. Whilst the Northern Territory is in its present undeveloped state, the advisory council will meet the requirements for the time being, but as it progresses a different form of control will doubtless be found desirable. After all, the Government is responsible for the expenditure of the money. It is quite true, as stated during the second-reading debate, that vast sums of money have been expended in the Northern Territory, and the Government is keenly desirous that a satisfactory return shall be obtained for every £1 spent. The commission will advise Parliament, which is responsible to the people. On a later clause I shall explain how it is proposed to place further power in the hands of Parliament. I regret that I cannot accept the amendment, and I trust the committee will allow the clause to pass in its present form.
Am en dm en tn egati ved .
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 -
The commission shall not, without the consent of the Minister, sit elsewhere than at the seat of government at. North Australia.
. -I ask the committee to negative this clause as I intend to move for the insertion of another clause, to read -
The commission shall sit at such times and places in North Australia as the chairman determines.
– I move that the following clause be inserted : -
.- The new clause appears to give the chairman of the commission very wide powers, and, so far as I can see, there is nothing to prevent six months elapsing between the sittings of the commission.
– That is not so. They will be full-time commissioners, and will be engaged in travelling a good deal.
– Under the proposed clause the chairman is to be given extensive powers, and I am not at all satisfied with the proposal submitted by the Minister.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 to 12 agreed to.
– I move-
That after the word “ Public “, line 1, the words Railway or other be inserted.
The sub-clause will then read -
If an officer of the Public Railway or other Service of the Commonwealth or of the Territory is appointed a commissioner…..
– If a permanent officer of the Commonwealth is appointed a commissioner will he still be entitled to benefit under the Commonwealth Superannuation Act?
– Provision is made in the bill whereby a member of the Commonwealth or State Public or Railway Service who may be appointed to the commission will not be asked to resign from the Service, but will be seconded in order that he may retain his existing and accruing rights. The service in the
Norther u Territory of an officer of the. Commonwealth Public Service will be regarded as service in the Commonwealth, and his rights under the Commonwealth Superannuation Act will not be interfered with.
– I understand that only those employed in the Commonwealth Public Service, and under the Public Service Board are entitled to benefit under the Superannuation Act.
– Some officers who have been contributing to the superannuation fund have been transferred to other services, such as the Commonwealth Shipping Board, but they are still continuing to contribute to the superannuation fund, under which they still have the right to benefit. The same can also be said of officers who are working under the Federal Capital Commission.
– This makes it possible for the Government to appoint men from the Commonwealth Service to the commission without interfering with their existing rights.
– That is so.
– Supposing you desire to employ a public officer who is at present in the railway service of a State, it would not do him any harm if the amendment were made in line 17 as well as in line 12. If the! railway service of a State is not covered by the term “ public service “ then a railway man’s rights and privileges will not be preserved for him under this clause.
– The intention is that if any man is transferred from the railway service of a State his accruing rights shall be taken into account. We desire to safeguard the rights of both Commonwealth and State public servants.
– A railway officer in the service of the New South Wales Government enjoys certain rights. Will those rights be safeguarded if he transfers to the service of this commission ?
– If the right honorable member thinks that there is any doubt about the matter I am quite prepared to accept the suggestion that line 17 be amended similarly to line 12.
– Will the Minister give us an assurance that if an officer transfers from the State service his rights will be transferred with him ?
– I promise that.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).For the information of honorable members, and in order to avoid any misunderstanding, 1 point out that this bill has already been passed by the Senate. If amendments are to be made, they should be made at this stage.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause further consequentially amended , and, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 14 -
Amendment (by Mr. Marr) proposed -
That the words “ Commonwealth Public Service,” in sub-clause 3, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Public, Railway, or other service of the Commonwealth “.
.- Is it proposed to give this commission power to depart from the conditions that regulate the ordinary Public Service of the Commonwealth? It appears from the provisions of clause 13 that transferred officers will retain all their existing and accruing, rights in regard to increments, annual and sick leave, and so on; but it seems to me that if the commission is allowed to depart from the ordinary conditions governing the Commonwealth Public Service when it employs persons who are at present outside the Service, it will be discriminating between its employees. That will undoubtedly cause much discontent. I should like the Honorary Minister to make the intention of the Government quite clear, and to give us an assurance that the ordinary conditions of employment in the Public Service will apply not only to transferred officers but to all employees of this commission.
– At present there are more men working for the Commonwealth Government who are exempt from the provisions of the Public Service Act, than who are working under them. It is reasonable to assume that this commission will offer reasonable terms of employment. Otherwise, it will not be able to get men to work for it. Another clause in the bill provides that employees of the commission shall be subject to the provisions of our Arbitration Court awards. Ipresume that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) has in mind clerks and other officers who will be employed. I remind him that there are many officers working in the Defence Department today who are not under the Public Service Commissioner, but who have special regulations governing their employment. The same is true of employees of the Canberra Commission. All the public bodies which control numbers of employees adopt the Public Service regulations as a guide.
– If the employees of this commission are not to be governed by the conditions of the Commonwealth Public Service, will they have the right to apply to the Federal Arbitration Court for an award ? If they cannot apply to the court they ought to have some tribunal in Central Australia, or elsewhere, to which they can apply.
– Employees of the Commonwealth Government who cannot apply to the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator for an award can apply to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court for one. They are doing it every day.
– I am afraid I do not quite grasp the intention of this clause. How does the Minister expect to get an efficient service for this commission, if its employees are not given some permanancy of tenure 1 It is not likely that the best men will be obtained if there is any sense of insecurity about their position. Men with existing and accruing rights in our Public Service in Melbourne, Sydney, or the other capital cities will not give up their positions to take up service in the Northern Territory unless they are offered something attractive. We all know very well how a man may miss promotion in his old department by taking a position in another one. It is necessary to assure the men we desire to fillpositions under this commission that their olaces will be secure. It is hardly likely that men will leave a position in, say. Hobart or Launceston, where things go so smoothly that they hardly know that time exists, to take up a position in Cen tral Australia unless the conditions there are quite satisfactory. I should like to hear from the Honorary Minister how he proposes to command a service for this commission. Will he tell us how an act of the Commonwealth can preserve to a State public servant his existing rights under a State act. Sub-clause 3 of clause 14 reads -
An officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, or of the Public Service of a State, or of the Public Service of the Territory, who becomes an officer under this act shall retain all his existing and accruing rights.
An officer transferred from the Commonwealth Treasury or the Works and Railways Department could be told that he would lose nothing by his transfer, but not a man transferred from, say, the Lands Department of New South Wales.
– He could be loaned.
– In that case, these words would have no meaning.
– I think that I can assure the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) that no officer is likely to apply for appointment to the Northern Territory unless to obtain a higher remuneration than he is receiving.
– He will not go unless he receives an appointment for a definite period.
– The appointment of an officer to this commission would be on “ all fours “ with the appointment of an officer to the Canberra Commission. He does not resign from the Public Service. When his work with the commission is completed, he goes back to the Public Service to the position he left, plus any increments he would have received had he remained in that position.
– What about State public servants?
– When we take an officer from a State, we take him over with all his existing rights. That is frequently done.
– Then, the Commonwealth occupies the same position in relation to that officer as the State did prior to his being taken over.
– When a man comes from the State to the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth assumes the responsibility for his existing rights.
.- One of the accruing rights of a public servant is superannuation. The position will be that certain public servants in the Northern Territory will be entitled to superannuation, and that others will not be so entitled.
– That is quite likely.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 15 -
The commission shall not, without the sanction of the Minister -
.- The amount of£500 referred to in paragraph a is too small. The cost of living in the Territory is high, and it might be found necessary to appoint, urgently, an officer at a salary in excess of that amount.
– The Minister’s consent only is necessary.
– To that I object. The commission might find it urgently necessary to appoint a man temporarily to a position at. a salary in excess of £10 a week. I move -
That the following words be added to the clause : - “Provided that this shall not apply to temporary employees.”
That would give the commission the right to employ a man temporarily at a salary in excess of £500 per annum, and would provide for the immediate appointment of an officer in the event of an epidemic such as the outbreak of rinderpest in Western Australia.
Mr. MARR (Parkes - Honorary Minister ([10.8]. - I cannot accept the amendment. All the appointments made by the commission will be of a temporary nature, excepting where an officer is borrowed from a Commonwealth or a State department. If the amendment were accepted no appointment, excepting of men loaned from the Public Service of a State or the Commonwealth, could be made.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
House adjourned at 10.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 May 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260519_reps_10_113/>.