10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr.Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 2.30p.m., and read prayers.
Footpaths–Workmen’sHomes- Transport Facilities - Roads and “No-Licence “Referendum.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that statements appear in the press to-day to the effect that the Federal Capital Commission has come to an arrangementwith a privatefirm for the carrying on of transport within the Federal Capital ? If so, has he any statement to make regarding the conditions of the contract?
Mr.BRUCE.- I am not aware that such a statement has been published in the press, nor have I seen the final terms of the arrangement made; but, the matter has been discussed between the Government and the Commission, and the Government has agreed to the course adopted. I shall endeavour to ascertain for the honorable member the exact terms of the arrangement.
– In view of the rough condition of the paths and roads in close proximityto Parliament House, which makes it a penance to approach the building, will the Minister for Home and Territories ask the Federal Capital Commission to remedy the matter?
– The commission is doing all that lies in its power to expedite the construction and completion of the roads and footpaths, not only in the vicinity of Parliament House, but also about the hotels and various public buildings. It has had a big task, and is doing its beet with the materials and labour available.
– Have complaints been received concerning the inadequate and unsuitable accommodation provided for the workers in the Federal Territory ? Is it a fact that some hundreds of applications for proper housing accommodation are at present before the Federal Capital Commission ; and if so, what is delaying the provision of the accommodation?
Mr.MARR. - Complaints have not been received concerning an inadequate supply of workmen’s houses. It has been ascertained by inquiry that the houses provided for workers in the Territory are superior to those supplied by any of the State authorities.
Mr.R. GREEN.- About a fortnight ago I asked the Minister what steps, if any, were being taken by the Government to set up machinery for the taking of a referendum to decide whether the Federal Territory is to be wet or dry. Has the Government yet decided, first, when the referendum is likely to be taken; and. secondly, what action is to be taken, in view of the fact that some time will berequired for the preparation of rolls?
– No date lias yet been determined for the submission to this Parliament of proposals for the taking in the Territory of u referendum on the liquor question. The whole matter is being investigated, including the preparation of rolls, in the event of it being decided to take such a referendum-
– Is not the visit of the cruiser Adelaide to the Solomon Islands an indication of the truth of the representations made at the recent disarmament conference at Geneva, when it was pointed out that our cruiser strength was so low that we had not sufficient vessels to protect our own far-flung Empire? When the request for assistance came from the British Government did the Common”wealth Government or the Naval Board confer with persons in Australia who had had a leng residence in the Solomon Islands, as to how best to proceed in the matter ?
– I ask the honorable member to place the first part of his question on the notice-paper. As to the second question, the Adelaide was despatched on Monday. There has been no consultation between the naval authorities here and persons who are familiar with the conditions obtaining in th* islands. Until this Government receives further information from the British Government, which is in consultation with the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, it cannot come to a decision as to what action it will take after the arrival of the cruiser in the Islands.
– When will the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Marr) be in a position to lay on the table the minutes and report of the proceedings of the conference with the religious missions there, convened some two months ago by the Administration of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea.
– We have not received the report or the minutes. I have wired to the. Administrator on the subject, and as soon as his reply is received, I shall -allOw the honorable member to see it.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs state whether the Government has considered the report of the Tariff Board concerning the timber industry? If it has, when may honorable members expect to have the report placed in their hands?
– The answer to the first portion of the question is in the negative. As to the second parr, the report will be placed on the table as soon as it has been considered by the Government.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs received from the Tariff Board its reports and recommendations regarding the iron and steel industry, the textile industry, including stockings, socks, knitted goods, and pianos and linoleums? If so, when will he give the House an opportunity to peruse and discuss them?
– The board’s report upon the iron and steel industry was received some time ago. The reports upon socks and stockings and linoleums have been received quite recently. All these reports will be considered by the Government, and, after final consideration, will be laid upon the table.
– It is common knowledge that of recent years very large sums have been sent from Australia for investment abroad, and the profits arising from such investments are not subject to Australian income taxation. In view of the fact that the non-liability for income tax on these profits is a direct encouragement to the overseas investment of Australian money, which is sorely needed for the development of Australian industries, will the Treasurer consider an amendment of the Income Tax Act with a view to the taxation of such profits?
– That . is a matter of Government policy, which it is not the practice to state in reply to a question.
– Is the Treasurer aware that the Commonwealth revenue annually loses heavy sums by the nontaxation of income from profits upon Australian investments overseas, and also that the most progressive countries today, including Great Britain and the United States of America, tax such incomes?
– I am not aware that the Australian revenue is suffering considerably for the reason the honorable member has alleged. Regarding the second part of the question, that matter has not yet been finally determined by other countries on a uniform basis.
– In view of the fact that the British Board of Trade regulations prohibiting the use of preservatives in Australian butter come into operation on the 1st January next, does the Minister for Markets and Migration still say that bicarbonate of soda, may be used in Australian butter? What definite steps have been taken not only to see that Australian butter shall not be prevented from reaching Britain, but also to see that it can remain in that country for a sufficient time to find a place on the breakfast table of the British people?
– I understand that the regulations laid down by the British Government do not preclude the use of a neutralizing agency in butter. I ask the honorable member to place the second part of the question on the notice-paper.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he issue instructions that proof copies or “ slips “ of the evidence being given before the Constitution Commission be circulated among senators and members while the commission is proceeding with the taking of evidence?
– The reply to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Proof copies could not be circulated, as same are subject to correction. It is not proposed to print the whole of the evidence of the commission, but only those portions which are considered by the commission itself and the Government as of sufficient permanent value. Authority has already been given for certain evidence to be printed, and copies will be circulated amongst senators and members after consultation, with the chairman of the commission.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, uponnotice -
– The information is being obtained and will be furnished as early as possible.
Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether consideration has been given to uniformity of rates for telegrams between the federal Capital and thu several States of the Commonwealth ?
– This matter has been under investigation by the department in conjunction with the general question of telegraph tariffs. The studies have not yet been completed.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1.No. Preliminary inspection of duties was made by Mr. Walcott, but tentative classification of Defence Department officers in all States was prepared by other public service inspectors, and finally revised by the board. Mr. Murphy was not associatedwith the work.
accommodation for telephone Mechanics.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The reply to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. I am obtaining a report on the matter from the Federal Capital Commission, and. shall advise the honorable member as soon as it is received.
asked the Minister re- presenting the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
In view of the fact that coal exposed to the atmosphere deteriorates, does the Government propose to continue the policy of importing coal for the navy at a cost of roughly £6 a ton or more before being placed on the warships?
– It is essential to maintain a stock of Welsh coal for use by the navy in the event of emergency, and a minimum reserve has been laid down by the naval authorities for this purpose. The stocks are utilized at intervals so as to prevent undue deterioration. It is not anticipated that it will be necessary to obtain any further supplies of this class of coal. in the immediate future.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
– The particulars asked for are being obtained, and will be furnished to the honorable member as soon as they are available.
asked the Treasurer. upon notice - 1. (a) What more precisely is meant by the item on page 11 of the budget speech - “Debt on behalf of the States, £94,456,237” (b) Where, if anywhere are the details and purposes of such loans to be found?
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1. (a) The item referred to, viz., “Debt on behalf of the States, £94,456,237,” represents the amount of loan ‘moneys raised by the Commonwealth for the States, less the repayments of such moneys to the Commonwealth by +,he States up to 30th June. 1927. (b) Particulars will be found on pages 100, 102, and 103 of tha budget papers.
asked the Treasurer. upon notice -
What was the total Commonwealth debt, apart from loans raised on behalf of the States., and what was the unexpended balance of loanmoneys held in cash at 30th June, 1922; 30th June, 1923; 30th June, 1924; 30th June, 1925: 30th June, 1926; and 30th June 1927.
– The total Commonwealth debt, apart from loans raised on behalf of the States, was as follows : -
The unexpended balance of loan moneys held in cash was as follows: -
The net debt of the Commonwealth, after deducting unexpended balances of loan moneys, and other sums repayable in cash to the Treasury, was as follows: -
asked the PostmasterGeneral upon notice -
Ashe has stated that “A postman’s duty is not confined to his own particular round, but he must learn other rounds in order to meet emergencies- which frequently arise,” will he state -
– In order to minimize the difficulty which arises in maintaining the efficiency of the letter delivery service when a member of the delivery staff falls out on account of illness, or isabsent from duty through other causes, it is necessary that postmen should have a knowledge of other local rounds besides their own. The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
How many rounds of ammunition have been issued free to rifle clubs by the Defence authorities in Brisbane since the 1st July last?
– The information is being obtained and the honorable member will be informed as early as possible.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– Inquiries will be made, and the information will be furnished to the honorable member at a later date.
The following paper was presented : -
Wine Export Bounty Act - Return for 1926-27.
.- I move -
That, in view of the fast increasing death rate among the aboriginal tribes in Australia, and the urgent need for their protection against disease and other effects brought about by the populating of areas which for centuries have been their hunting grounds, a joint select committee be appointed to inquire into -
It is fitting that in this, the first session of the National Parliament in our own Capital and Territory, attention should be directed to the obligation which the nation owes to the oboriginal races of Australia. At the official opening of Parliament on the 9th May last wesaw in Canberra the sole surviving member of the aboriginal tribes that for centuries past roamed over this area. The last Tasmanian black went out of existence over 50 years ago, while in Victoria, South Aus tralia, and New South Walesthe black fellow is almost extinct. In the other States of Australia and the Northern Territory, too, his may justly be termed a vanishing race. There is no reason why that race should vanish from Australia. I believe it is possible to save it. and to make the aboriginal useful to our civilization. The Australian black is the only living representative of man as he was in a pre-historic epoch of his story, and is, therefore, of great interest to scientists. Quite recently a very eminent American professor visited Australia in order to study our aboriginal, indicating that other countries realize that he is fast dying out, and that they wish to know more about him before he entirely disappears.
We all know what has happened to the Red Indian of America, and to aboriginals of other countries, Who has read, unmoved, that stirring book by Zane Grey, The Vanishing Race, and that by Eenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans. Ifwe fail to make some energetic endeavour to save our aborigines, similar epitaphs will soon be written about them. I use the term “vanishing’*’ advisedly. Undoubtedly a certain amount of killing has taken place, accounting for the death of many of our aboriginals, and there are other reasons for their disappearance. The altered conditions of living which have been forced upon them by the advance of civilization has taken toll of many. The unfortunate black has been pushed back and back by the settler, and has had to retire from his bountiful hunting grounds, leaving them in possession of the acquisitive white man. It is pitiful to see the remnants of the race that exist in our outback, such as those who may be seen along the East- West railway. Diseaseis another reason for their disappearance. While visiting the Northern Territory I was at the Government Station, “Mataranka,” on one of the banks of the Roper River, and saw sitting alongside one of the many hot-water springs to be found in that locality three blind native women. I asked a male black whether there were any more blind in the neighbourhood, and he replied. “ All about,” meaning that they were the only three. The blindness of those three blacks was caused by syphilis. The position of the black -women lodged at the compound in Darwin, when I was there, was pitiful. If honorable members were familiar with the disease, “granuloma,” they would shudder at the thought of what I saw. Something must be done for these unfortunate people. The third cause of the extermination of our natives is direct killing. I shall delve into some ancient history to show honorable members how little things have changed in a century. I have obtained from the library a book which contains a number of cuttings from reports which appeared in the early Sydney newspapers relating to our aboriginals. A poem entitled “The Lament of the Last Tas manian Aboriginal “ is preceded by the following explanatory note : -
The” chapter which relates the fate of the aboriginal inhabitants of Tasmania is one of the most melancholy in history. That island was first settled in 1S03. The number of the aborigines at the time is unknown. In 1815, however, after more than a dozen years of unceasing butchery, they were believed to amount to about 5,000. It is stated in the Herald of the 2nd February, 1859, that in five years from that time they were reduced to 340 souls. Three years ago only sixteen were left; and it is added: “It is, therefore, more than probable that in a few years the race will be utterly extinct.”
The last Tasmanian aboriginal died in 1S76. I wish also to quote from a book entitled The Aborignes of Australia, written by Mr. R. J. Flanagan, which refers to the Myall Creek tragedy that occurred in 1S39. The blacks in question were driven from their hunting ground. The extract reads : -
A number of stockmen and shepherds in the district, being enraged at some depredations committed among the cattle and sheep for which they were held responsible, sallied out in force, and, coming on an obnoxious tribe at their camping place, on a squatter’s station, seized the entire body, and marching them to a lonely spot, put them all to death, under circumstances of most appalling atrocity. The magistrates > in the district, being made aware of the circumstances, had the men supposed to be implicated arrested and sent to Sydney, where, on a second trial, having been previously acquitted, they were, seven in number, found guilty of murder, and executed.
That is one of the few instances that can be found in which the natives were avenged. Respecting the notorious Cribble case, which occurred in 1926, T quote the following statement from Mr.
Gribble’s report, which appeared in the Argus on the 8th March, 1927 : -
At Gotegote, Merrie, he saw a place wherenatives were executed, and nearby, in the dry bed of the Forrest River, saw an oven where their bodies had been burnt. Among the asheshe found quantities of bones, and in a waterhole close by charcoal and peices of human skulls and other bones. At the place of execution were traces of blood. In the water were two sticks, cut with a sharp axe at one end, while the other was charred and greasy.
They followed the tracks of three women prisoners on a chain, accompanied by three shod horses, up the river for six miles. On the north bank of the Forrest River found remains of huge fire at foot of a stump, evidently the remains of a dry tree. Close by were signs that horses had been tethered to the tree, and a meal eaten. In the ashes they found human teeth. They had followed three women’s tracks to this spot and followed horses’ tracks away, but no women’s tracks left the spot where the fire had been.
On his return to Wyndham, on the 24th August, Amos, one of the married men, loft to search for the remains of his sister, reported shot near Nulla Nulla station. He returned with two bones ; dingoes had demolished the body.
At Dal a, on the 5th November, Gribble’s party went to where police had camped, and where an old man, Gumbool, and his two wives, and a man, Boondung, had been shot. Fifty yards from the camp-fire he found the place where the prisoners had been chained up. There were bullet holes in the tree to which they had been fastened. There were marks where the bodies had been dragged from under the tree still visible, also hard blood-stained sand. The bodies had been dragged to a small creek 50 yards away, and burnt on a flat rock. A few yards up the creek were three heaps of ashes and charred bones. Thirty-two teeth and a shirt-button were found in the largest of these. Herbert, a mission “boy,” informed him that two women were wearing shirts when he left them in camp with the police.
Mr. Gribble produced before the commissioner teeth, shirt buttons, and pieces of charred bones, one of which resembled a human jawbone.
– Does the honorable member propose to read the commissioner’s report?
– The honorable member for Swan may read that if he pleases.
– I did not think any honorable member would read what ‘.he honorable member for Bass has read without at the same time placing before the House the report of the commissioner.
– Tlie persons charged -with that bloody atrocity were acquitted, and if they were innocent they ought tj have been acquitted ; but there is no question whatever in my mind that the atrocity was committed by white men. It appears, therefore, that things have changed very little in the course of a century. I am iv. minded of Abraham Lincoln’s words after Gettysburg -
The world will little know, nor long remember, what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here.
His concluding words referred, of course, to the soldiers. I may say that probably the world will not remember very much of the speeches of honorable members in this Parliament ; but it will remember what we do here, and how we treated our aboriginals. I do not suppose many hon orable members are aware of what King Leopold, of Belgium, said to the British Government when it brought under his notice the awful atrocities that occurred in the Belgian Congo. His reply was: “Have you read Dr. Roth’s report of the treatment of Western Australian aboriginals ?” I now refer honorable members to the report that Dr. Both made to the Western Australian Government in 1904, in which he damagingly indicted the white race in consequence of their treatment of the blacks. He pointed out that one of the reasons of the depravity of the natives was that they were supplied with liquor for dishonest purposes. I quote the following specific questions and answers from the report, which was published in the Western Australian Parliamentary Papers in 1905 - 374. Is there much liquor supplied to natives here? - The supply of liquor to natives is our greatest trouble here. We are kept going day and night with complaints and cases of the kind. The fines and penalties imposed arc numerous. 375. What would you suggest to remedy it? - I should say a heavier fine and a longer term of imprisonment would meet the case to a certain extent. The fine is at present £20, or three months in gaol; but the white man does not care a straw for the penalty. He again goes and commits the offence with impunity. Men are brought before the court for supplying the natives” with liquor; but in nearly, every case it is done with the object of having immoral intercourse with the women. A white man goes to the blacks’ camp with some beer. After giving the man a drink he asks him it he can let him have a woman. The woman is given a drink, and the man effects his purpose.
I could quote any number of similar passages. It cannot be denied that in every State in Australia, with the possible exception of Victoria and Tasmania, half-castes are still being born in consequence of the immoral intercourse between whites and blacks which, apparently, is being allowed to continue without anything being done to prevent it. At the moment I am chiefly concerned about the natives of the Northern Territory, for whose welfare this Parliament is particularly responsible. In passing, may I say that I consider that a strong effort should be made to coordinate Commonwealth and State activities in respect to the control of our aboriginals. It cannot be denied that this is a national rather than a State obligation. I quote the following report of a speech which the Attorney-General, Mr. Latham, made, following upon allegations of the ill-treatment of natives in Western Australia -
In the course of a speech to the Armadale branch of the Australian Women’s National League, in St. Alban’s Hall yesterday afternoon, the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) said Australia had an important responsibility in regard to the Pacific Islands; but its first responsibility was in respect of its own aborigines, who had been unable to stand up against the white man. He had recently read with feelings of shame what had been published as to the treatment of natives in the North-West by white men, who, if the allegations that were now the subject of judicial inquiry were true, were unworthy of belonging, to our race. The reports of the royal commission on the subject would bc taken all over the world, and that report contained a statement of police murdering aboriginals. In his recollection, he thought there had hardly been an event which would so discredit the reputation of Australia generally, as the facts which were regarded as true by tlie royal commission. That, however, was a responsibility of the States. The Commonwealth Constitution specifically prevented the Commonwealth taking charge of the aboriginals of Australia. He would not say that a change ought to be made. If a change were made, it would involve an amendment of the Constitution; but it would be very difficult for the Commonwealth to control the aborigines of Australia. In Victoria we were doing our best for the survivors of the race; but it was certainly a question for consideration whether the fate of the aboriginals was not a general national one. It was, however, a good thing that Western Australia was realizing the responsibility which had been impressed upon it as the result of the report made by the royal commission.
Up to the present very little has been done for the natives in the Northern Territory, the total expenditure of the Government in respect to them being only about £10,000 per annum. A large proportion of that sum is expended in main taming the native compound at Darwin, and the half-caste compound at Alice Springs, and the balance, between £1,600 and £2,000, is paid to missionary societies which are interesting themselves in the welfare of the natives. What has beer, the policy of the Commonwealth Government on this subject? Five or six years ago I cited in this House the case of a (police officer who had to resign from the force because the Department of Home and Territories would not permit him to marry. Yet people wonder why Ave have a half-caste problem. At Arltunga last year I said to the police trooper, “ You have not many water tanks?” and he replied “No, and what I have I bought with my own funds.” How can -a man be expected to take a woman 400 miles from the railhead if the Government refuses to supply them with fresh water? At Daly Waters for years the telegraph staff asked the Government in vain to put down a boro. Can white women be expected to go into the outback under those conditions? Tn regard to the provision of hospitals, but for the Australian Inland Mission, goodness knows what would have happened in the interior. The position would certainly be infinitely worse than it is to-day. We boast of our high standard of living, and with justification. We assert the right of every man to live, and that is undeniable. But we seem to have denied the black the right even to die in his own way in his own territory. His native land is as ‘much to him as our native land is to us. We are comparatively new occupants of this territory; we have occupied it for less than 150 years. The aborigines have roamed over it for thousands of years, yet we, the usurpers, deny them the right to live or even to die where they like in their native land. Much is said of the low mentality of the aborigines. I do not believe that it is as low as it is popularly believed to be. But whatever the intellectual standard of the blacks, what have we done to lift them from the morass ? Except the work of the missions, nothing at all has been done, and our responsibility for their depravity lies in the condonation of offences against them, the stealing of their women, and the supplying to them of intoxicants in order to facilitate those thefts. . Those have been the causes of 90 per cent, of the trouble with the blacks. What would “be our attitude if a super-or race came to Australia and took possession- of our women and children? We hear very little protest against the killing of blacks, but to-day an Australian cruiser is dashing across the Pacific because some of our own flesh and blood iia ve beer’ killed on a distant island. We look at . things differently when our own people are the sufferers. Is the black worth saving? That raises the question, How many are left? I have endeavoured to get reliable information on this subject, but the figures vary so much that I scarcely know what estimate to accept. According to the Year-Boole of 1921, approximately 41,000 full-blooded blacks have been accounted for. Of that number 17,349 were estimated to be in the Northern Territory. In a letter I received from the Department of Home and Territories yesterday, I am advised that the estimated number in the Territory is 20,500. Judging from the reports of those who are in the best position to know, I am inclined to think that between 70,000 and 80,000 would be a fair estimate of the number of blacks still living. ‘ The total may even rar. into 100,000, because parts of Australia have not yet been penetrated by the white man. I wish to impress it upon honorable members that the blacks in the far north, those who are out beyond the fringe of civilization, are infinitely superior to. and in better physical condition than those whom we are accustomed to see along the east-west and north-south railways and near townships.
– Does the honorable member suggest that they deteriorate when they come into contact with the whites?
– It :’s no mere suggestion ; it is a feet.
– In New Guinea the natives are at least fed by the Government.
– I have not been to New Guinea; but I do know that contact with civilization is causing the deterioration of tlie Australian aborigine. I quote the Kev. Jones, who, with his wife, did missionary work in the north for many years: -
To-day, for better or worse, the blackfellow is in contact with the white fellow in almost every part of Australia. The practical problem is - Shall each drag the other down, or shall the tribes be .segregated gradually by the creation of large reserves? …. When the white man comes in contact with the black, results follow which are disastrous to both.
In regard to the ability of the blacks, I remind honorable members of two aborigines in South Australia, the Revs. Thomas “Noble and David Uniapon Both have attained a high standard of efficiency and intellectual development, and any honorable member who heard the latter gentleman preach would admit that he had scarcely, if ever, heard his equal.
– I heard him deliver a most admirable address to the Presbyterian General Assembly.
– He is now engaged in anthropological work in the Adelaide museum. What can be said of him can be said of many thousands of other blacks; but what have we done to uplift them? The black is worth saving, and can be made a useful member of the community. It is right that we should do something for him, as belated compensation for his past maltreatment and dispossession of his native land. It is not too late for us to do something to retrieve the past. What is best to be done? It is impossible to segregate the vario’us tribes in the one area; but we have plenty of unalienated country - and if we have not, we could recover some thousands of square miles for selection - with which to make a large number of segregation areas for the blacks. For those who have not yet been touched by civilization areas should be set apart, such as the north-east corner of Arnheim land, as was suggested by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) last week, so that they may remain as they are until they can be gradually educated to work the country.
– Keep the missionaries out if the scheme is to be a success.
– That is a most unworthy interjection. I have met men who have unselfishly given their lives to this work, and I have a tremendous admiration for them: I refer to the missionaries of the Presbyterian, ‘Methodist, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic churches, and others. Those men have done much to induce the blacks to abandon their , barbaric tribal rites, and the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Green) ought to have made himself a little better acquainted with the facts before making such a sweeping and ungenerous statement. Those blacks who come in contact with civilization should be assisted by being placed on large areas in various parts of Australia to enable them to carry on pastoral and other rural pursuits. It would be wrong to imagine that the whole of the private missions and government stations are conducted at a loss. For instance, I was informed by the Chief Secretary’s office in South Australia last year that the Point Pearce station was self-supporting. -The Point McLeay station, which cost the Government over £4,000 per annum, has very little land, and that is the reason, I feel sure, why that station is not a financial success. The aborigines are a nomadic race, and it is wrong to confine them to small areas. The government has much land still unalienated, and it is not too late yet to do something for these people. They could be employed, in the Northern Territory, particularly, on road construction. Many thousands of pounds have been spent in supplying them with rations, and no return has been obtained, but they could be employed in useful works, one of which is water conservation. Although the Government has over half a million square miles of country in the Northern Territory, nothing has been done there in the way of water conservation. Experiments will have to be made in Central Australia in afforestation, and the blacks could be of assistance there. The native women can be taught home industries. The Hermannsburg Mission station was informed by the Government in 1921 that is must do more for the training of the natives in useful work, and tor day we have it on the authority of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) that that station has effected considerable improvement in the matter of training the natives. The women and girls jj re taught to knit socks and follow other useful occupations on a piecework basis.
I will here quote two further extracts from the book of “ cuts “ before men- tioned
While the progress of colonization is continually planting new centres in which Christian zeal devises and supports schemes for the benefit of distant nations, is this process never to bring about aught but wasting and destruction to the unfortunate savages whose ancient inheritance falls into the hands of the enterprising British colonist? . . . Enough has been accomplished to prove the plastic nature of the young aboriginal mind, and their capacity for acquiring under proper training and iu favorable circumstances a high degree of culture.
I submit that statement as evidence against the too common belief that the aboriginal race in Australia is of the lowest possible type and incapable of learning. The schemes I have proposed fit in much on the lines of the model State proposed by the Aborigines Protection League of South Australia. I do not say that I agree with the whole of the scheme set out by that body; but it proceeds on right lines. Up to the present time we have merely tinkered with the problem, and- it is necessary to do something of a substantial character.
– The league in South Australia has the active support of enthusiastic men who know a good deal about the problem.
– Yes. The matter of the health of the natives should be placed under the control of the Commonwealth, and I hope that the States will confer with the Federal authorities upon it. The presence of venereal disease among the natives cries for immediate attention. In Western Australia not long ago it was stated that although the Federal authorities had endeavoured to secure the co-operation of that State they had been unsuccessful. It may be said that the Government has done all in its power to help the blacks ; but, as evidence to the contrary^ I submit an extract from the annual report of the Chief Protector of Aborigines m Western Australia. Dr. Cecil Cook, a specialist in tropical diseases, had conducted a medical inspection of the aborigines through the north. The
Chief Protector’s report stated, inter aim -
The main object of the survey was to discover to what extent leprosy was prevalent amongst the people. . . . Dr. Cook’s recommendations subsequently formed the subject of a conference held between the Honorable the Chief Secretary, the Honorary Minister controlling the Medical Department, the Principal Medical Officer, and myself. Dr. Cook has recommended, inter alia, that if possible the Commonwealth Government should be asked to co-operate by making arrangements for the treatment of all lepers at the Port Darwin lazaretto. The opportunity was taken to press this proposal when the Honorable Mr. Hickey a.nd myself visited Melbourne shortly after, where together with Dr. Cook we interviewed the Federal authorities concerned, but, unfortunately, without much success.
Much could be done to improve the health conditions of the natives if there were a general health law. Most of the diseases from which they suffer have been disseminated among them by members of the white race. According to Dr. Roth’s report, one man definitely says that he knew the person who introduced syphilis in Wyndham. The disease then found its way to the black race.
– Then we must insist on the natives wearing clothes.
– I hardly think that that aspect of the problem arises at this stage. Where the natives are kept in compounds, wearing apparel should be provided; but with regard to the blacks who have not come in contact with civilzation that would be impracticable. I remind honorable members of the tragedy that has occurred at Alice Springs. When I returned from Central Australia, in 1921, I brought under the notice of the Government the awful conditions existing there among the half-castes. In 1923 the Government appointed Sir Baldwin Spencer to report on their condition, and as a result it was decided to build a new compound for these unfortunates, reserving 25 square miles of land, which, in my opinion, is infinitely too small an area. After spending some thousands of pounds in building operations, the attempt to find sufficient water was a failure, and the matter has been held in abeyance for another two years. I am informed that the Government has selected a second site, and, if that is so, I urge that, before a final decision is arrived at, inquiry be made as to whether the area reserved is sufficient. Why are there so many half-castes in Central Australia? Simply because of the lack of transport and the absence of white women. The evil continues to-day just as it existed many years ago. Let me quote again from Dr. Roth’s report. Question 1189, dealing with drovers, was - “Do the drovers and others bring tha young gins back again?” . The answer was -
In the majority of cases they do. If the gins want to leave them at Turkey Creek, they let them go, and pick up some more. To tell the truth, they cannot do without them.
That is the reason why we have the problem with us to-day. When I returned from Alice Springs last year I asked a question without notice regarding the Jay Creek compound. The Minister by some means became aware that the question was to be submitted, and he was prepared with an answer which, in small type, almost filled a page in Mansard, and now, fifteen months after the question was asked, these poor unfortunates, half white and half black, are still herded together at Alice Springs in a galvanized building with no fence, and the building is almost attached to a hotel. Mrs. Standley, to whom the honorable member for Wannon referred last week, stated “I cannot keep these little children in the compound. I cannot watch them ali night.” They are enticed out by white men, and more half-castes are being born. I am not speaking of quadroons and octoroons; they are to be found there as well. The half-castes, when they reach a suitable age, are sent to Adelaide a.nd other parts of South Australia to work; but too many of them return to Alice Springs and further accentuate the problem. The sooner the difficulty is seriously faced the better it will be for the half-castes themselves and the people of Australia. Further assistance should be given to the mission stations in effecting partial segregation, and also by providing better regulations and increased penalties with regard to offences against the blacks. The Government regulations consist of long lists of penalties for offences which the blacks might commit. Probably a large number of penalties are provided against the whites; but too often their offences are condoned. This pitiful condition must not be allowed to continue.
Before concluding, I should like to read the last two verses of The Lament of the last Tasmanian Aboriginal -
My sight grows dim - my senses swim -
I come! I yield my breath to Him,
That great Almighty Power. Last of my race - not one is left To close my eyes- of all bereft,
In this my dying hour.
The white man’s God, who reigns on high,
Looks down, with his all-seeing eye,
On all who dwell below.
Vengeance, they say, to Him belongs -
Then may He right the black man’s wrongs -
To Him I leave the blow.
Is this Parliament to allow the aborigines in every State and theNorthern Territory to go uncared fer, or is it going to do something, even at this very late hour for the good of the native race ? If beneficent action is taken, it will be appreciated by the blacks and welcomed by all rightthinking persons in the community. Whatever expenditure may be incurred, the Government will recoup itself, apart entirely from the consideration of Christian charity. I commend the motion to the House, and urge that it be passed without delay.
.- This motion is so important that I think that the debate should be adjourned until at least to-morrow in order to give honorable members an opportunity of properly considering it. The Aboriginals Protection Society of South Australia is, I understand, about to make representations to this House, and would have done so this week had the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) been in his place; but, as urgent business has necessitated his presence in South Australia. I should certainly like the debate to be adjourned to enable this society to petition Parliament before any decision is made by this House.
– Would it not be more desirable for the petition to be presented to a committee of this House for examination ?
– The petition has been signed and is ready for presentation to this House ; therefore I see no reason for taking the course suggested by the right honorable member.
– If the motion is carried, the whole matter will be referred to a committee of this House.
– If the delate on the motion is not now to be adjourned, I shall proceed to put to the House, although somewhat imperfectly, the view of the Aboriginals Protection Society of South Australia. That society has taken a keen interest in all matters affecting Australian aboriginals. First of all, we regard as impossible the total segregation of the natives. It would certainly be wrong to compel them to occupy certain areas set apart for that purpose. The white man has constantly “trespassed upon the domain of the aboriginal and driven him from his hunting ground and water springs. We have endeavoured to force civilization upon him, with detrimental effects. When Captain Cook landed in Australia some 160 years ago, about 350,000 aboriginals inhabited this country. To-day the native population is about 60,000. This is an alarming decrease, and has undoubtedly ben caused by the intrusion of our civilization among the blacks. The South Australian society considers that had the natives’ mode of living at the time of Captain Cook’s arrival here not been altered, the native population would now have been considerably more than 350,000; but the advent of the white man and the consequent exploration and occupation of land have deprived the blacks of their most valuable areas. Because of the constant alienation of land to which they certainly had a moral claim, and the progress of civilization in the interior of Australia, we are faced with many problems respecting the care of the blacks, quite apart from those referred to by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson). One of the great factors that has led to the serious decrease in the number of aboriginals is the laying of poison baits for wild dogs and other pests. Many of these baits during heavy rains are washed into the rivers and waterholes, and contaminate the water used by the aboriginals for drinking purposes.
– That would not kill one man in a million.
– The Aboriginals Protection League in South Australia, of which Dr. Basedow is president, considers that the poisoning of the waters in Central and Northern Australia has been responsible for mortality among Australian aboriginals.
– The honorable member said that the poison baits were washed down the rivers.
– That is ray own deduction, and the responsibility for the statement does not rest upon Dr. Basedow or any member of that committee. I understand that the poisoning of the drinking waters has been partly responsible for the heavy death rat« among the natives. I should not like to think that white men have been responsible for the hellish practice of poisoning the waters.
– Would not that have the same effect upon tlie whites as on the blacks?
– They might not have to use the same water. Had the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) been present, he could bear OUt the view that I have expressed on behalf of the South Australian society, and if it is true, then the white man must bear the responsibility for the injustice that has been done to the aboriginals The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) delivered a thoughtful speech setting forth the very grave circumstances associated with the case of the Australian aboriginal. It is to be regretted that any effort which we may make will be so belated; but at this eleventh hour we should make that effort worthy of the cause, one that will be creditable to all concerned and it should be immediate. The Australian aboriginal is the rightful owner of this country, and it is fitting that his claims should receive attention, and that his well-being should be studied. Protection should be granted to him against any harm that might come to him from association with white men. The Aborigines Protection League urges that an area should be set aside for our aboriginals, and that a model State should be created and governed by an administrator, the aboriginal himself having some voice in its government. It is urged that he should be allowed to live his own life and that he should be encouraged to eliminate from his nature many undesirable traits that he has acquired from association with the white race; that he should be encouraged to cultivate an ideal in life instead of, as at present, wandering aimlessly through existence, and being the victim of the worst type of white man. Perhaps it would be well if I were to place on record the actual recommendations of the league. The league asks that the Government -
The league further states: -
In their wild state the natives for centuries have been nomads and hunters, but since white occupation their position has become serious, and with the increased pastoral occupation following the construction of railways their already greatly depleted sources of food supplies will be further diminished.
The opinion so generally held that the Australian native is the lowest type of humanity in the world is now found to be quite erroneous. On the contrary, he does not belong to any negro race, and has been proved to possess great mental powers, ability to quickly learn, and can be taught agriculture, engineering, carpentering, &c, while there are already a number of native Christian clergy.
If we regard the native races as our spiritual equals, if we recognize their rights and do not treat them merely as chattels, if we assist them to accommodate their methods to new conditions, if we return to them areas of country where they may work out their own salvation safeguarded from the envious eyes of encroaching white population, we shall at least have the satisfaction of knowing that even at the eleventh hour we have endeavoured to redeem any neglect, indifference or maladministration in the past and to do substantial justice. And the aboriginal will pay us back. We shall assuredly find that we have races of people who will be of immense help in developing our empty northern estate, particularly in the more torrid zones. Andwe shall find that relieved of so much attention to material affairs, the self-sacrificing, spiritual work of missionarieswill be greatly accelerated.
I understand that a great number of people are under a serious misapprehension concerning the desire of the league in regard to the conditions of residence of the aboriginal in the suggested territory. The league feels that it is neither just nor desirable to compel the native to stay in such a community if he has no desire to do so. It is contended that he should have freedom of action. Syphilis and tuberculosis are the’ most serious menaces towhich our aboriginals are subjected, and it isimperative that we should make every effort to assist him in retaining his health andwellbeing. The league suggests, as two aboriginalsvery competent to assist in governing the suggested territory, the Reverend James Noble and Mr. David Unaipon, the latternow being engaged in professional duties at the Adelaide University. The attainments of those natives will enlighten honorable members as to the high intellectual standard to which an aboriginal can attain when given the opportunity. In the past Ave have given more attention to the inhabitants of New Guinea, New Britain and the Solomon Islands than to our Australian aboriginal, and it is high time that we rectified our obvious neglect of his interest. While I entertain a profound admiration for the worderf ulwork accomplished by missionary societies in the Pacific, I feel that it is our duty first to consider thewellbeing of ourown native races resident within our continent, the people from whomwe acquired thiswonderful territory. I am not at this moment offering hostility or opposition with the proposal to appoint a select committee, although it should not be necessary to take that course to bring home to us our duty to the aboriginal. I f the appointment of a committee is necessary to make more apparent to honorable members our obligation to the aborignial, I shall not offer serious objection, but I do emphasize that we should get on with the job of providing a model State without delay. I should like to confer with the honorable member for Bass with a view to amending the motion now before the House. In the first place, I feel that courtesy demands that the honorable member for the Northern. Territory (Mr. Nelson) should be a member of the committee. There are other amendments which could probably be made in the motion to the advantage of our aboriginal population. South Australians have a direct interest in this subject, for previously the parts of North and Central Australia in which many aboriginals live were included in their State, and the residents therein had representation in their Parliament. It might be said that in those days South Australia did not do all that she might have done for the welfare of the natives; but the land had not been alienated from the Crown to such a great extent-then as it is now, and it was felt that the rights of the natives had not been seriously transgressed. During the last twenty years, however, it has become more and more apparent that something must be done for the welfare of ‘ these people. We must recognize that we are responsible for them. We are not entitled, in my opinion, heartlessly to overlook them simply because they are darkskinned. That would indeed be callous of us. It is .l,rue that the black race cannot intermix with the white race, but something should be done for them. They have the right to expect just and even generous treatment from us, and the adoption of the policy of repression towards them is inexcusable. In the circumstances I feel that it would be wise for us to adopt the suggestion that has been made to allocate to them limited areas in different places, in which they should be allowed to live according to their own customs. Such settlements should be managed as economically as possible, and should resemble, in so far as the circumstances will allow, the Australian States. The parent of these model settlements should exercise certain powers of government over the others and every effort should be made to build up within them a sense of responsibility. The natives should not any longer be made to feel that they are merely waifs and strays, but they should be encouraged to develop along their own lines, and to look after their own well-being. The parent settlement should be the eyes and ears of the natives, and should resist any . undue aggression by the white people. It is discreditable to us that in almost every outback pastoral area in Australia the blacks have been put into a distinctly servile position. In most cases arrangements were made for them to be paid a certain wage for their labour, but the arrangements were often dishonored; and in almost every case the accommodation provided for them was disgraceful. The degradation of the natives is undoubtedly one cause of the decline in their numerical strength. It has led to the development of a feeling of bitterness and hatred towards the white people, which is regrettable. The half-castes present another difficult problem. Like the full-blooded natives, they are not able to intermingle with white people to the mutual advantages of each. It would be wise, in my opinion, to constitute these people also a community of their own, and encourage them to develop along their own lines. In all the capital cities of the Commonwealth, possibly to a less degree in Adelaide than elsewhere, halfcastes are to be found who exhibit every sign of embarrassment when they are brought into social contact with white people. This is caused perhaps by the unconscious’ air of superiority which white people display towards them. It should be our earnest endeavour to be truly sympathetic with these unfortunate people, and to do everything we can to alleviate their condition. I commend the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) for his sympathetic interest, and I trust that the discussion of the subject in this Parliament will’ result in the righting of many of the wrongs which our aboriginals have suffered for many years. We should use whatever powers we possess to make easier the lot of these people who have been dispossessed of their inheritance. We should certainly allocate to them as many tracts of country as may be necessary to enable them to live contentedly. I feel sure that under a wise and prudent administration we should be able to do something to clear ourselves of the charge of heartlessness towards them which, up to the present at any rate, might justly be levelled against us. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) has intimated to me that, in consequence of his activities a’s a member of the Motion Picture Industry Royal Commission, he will not be able to accept membership of the proposed select committee. He suggests that the parties who are interested in the welfare of the natives should be invited to nominate representatives on the proposed committee. That appears to me to be a good suggestion. It would also be wise for us to obtain the help of some experts in investigating this serious problem. It is a matter that should receive the attention of all of us, bus because of the multiplicity of our duties we do not give to these matters the consideration they deserve.
– A deputation waited on the Minister for Home and Territories some time ago to urge the appointment of a royal commission by the Commonwealth in collaboration with the States.
– I have no doubt that the Minister will extend to the Australian aborigines that sympathetic consideration which he has expressed towards the native population of the mandated territories. I pay my tribute to those who have interested themselves in the conditions of the original inhabitants of this country. Particularly do I commend public committees such as the Aborigines Protection League of South Australia, particularly mentioning the president and secretary, Dr. Basedow and Mr. Genders, also the missionary societies and individuals who have actively engaged in this work in North a:;d Central Australia. It is our .duty to allow the blacks to live their own life in their own country, and the minimum of consideration we should show them is the setting apart qf a sufficient area in which they can work out their destiny according to their own customs and inclinations. “We have usurped their country and imposed upon it our own forms of government. We have acquired a wonderful heritage, and the least we can do foi’ the aborigines is to care for them and preserve them in the manner that has been suggested during this debate.
– Scientific societies anil other organizations are interested in this question, and their opinion should be sought as to whether the terms of the proposed reference are adequate.
– I agree with the honorable member that we should not endeavour to come to a -decision on this question this afternoon.
– This motion may not be passed for months if wo Jo not vote upon it to-day.
– I do not agree with the honorable member. If the Government desires to give effect to its professed sympathy for these people, it can provide an opportunity for this motion to he disposed of at any time. There should be no occasion for undue- delay, but it is strange that although we. have been in control of this continent for oyer a century, we have never previously endeavoured to deal with this problem. It is necessary that the House should know the whole truth. How can it be expected that the motion can be carried before the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) and the Minister for Home and Territories have spoken? We should have regard also 1o the opinions held by outside bodies who are interested in this problem. The honorable member for Bass expressed the views of some of them, but there are many other .sympathetic bodies who are just as keenly interested and who have an equal right to he heard. After full consideration of the motion the House may determine to proceed immediately without further reference to a committee or commission to do what is most advisable to ensure the welfare of our native population, which I trust will be along the lines I have suggested.
.- This very important question cannot be settled in the few minutes remaining for the consideration of private members’ motions. Perhaps if the private Orders of the Day are expeditiously dealt with we can return to this motion at a later hour. ‘
– If the Minister continues the discussion till 4.30 p.m. he may then ask for leave to continue his remarks at a later hour cf the day.
– I shall do so. This matter affects the whole of our people and particularly the White Australia policy. Within a fortnight of assuming control of the Department of Home and Territories in April last, I interested myself actively in this problem, and a week later received a representative deputation which included the leading anthropologist in Australia, Professor Radcliffe Brown. I am as keenly interested as is any honorable member in safeguarding our native population, and I assure the House that the Government will do everything possible to ensure to them a fair deal. I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order ]19, and Orders of the Day called on.
Debate resumed from 29th July, 192’6, vide page 4705, Vol. 114, on motion by Mr. MCGRATH -
That, in the opinion of this House, the grunting of titles is contrary to the sentiment of the citizens of Australia.
That the above resolution be conveyed to His Gracious Majesty King George through His Excellency the Governor-General.
.- I cannot allow this motion to go to a division without recording my views upon it. The statement in the motion that the granting of titles is contrary to the sentiment of Australian citizens is quite true, and I believe that if this proposal .were submitted to a referendum of the people it would be carried by an overwhelming majority. I do not propose to discuss individual recipients of titles, but shall content myself with saying that the offering and acceptance of such baubles is personally offensive to me and repugnant to the democratic spirit of the Australian people. It is offensive to the Labour movement, which represents a large section of our citizens. These honours are not always bestowed for merit, and if some of the recipients were examined they would be found to possess nothing worthy of note but their titles. The manner in which knighthoods and other honours have been granted in recent years has brought the system into ridicule, and it goes very much against my grain to have to address by a title some of the persons against whom one bumps in every-day life. Apart from personal antipathy towards some titled persons I regard the bestowal of these distinctions as a relic of a less enlightened past. As regards the acknowledgment of public services, I think that the admiration and gratitude of the community are a greater recompense to the individual than the mere prefixing of a title to his name. Apparently because the authorities are driven to extremes in seeking fresh titles to give to those who seek them, they recently created the title of “ Dame.” I have always associated that word with a woman advanced in years or a pantomime comedian. Many of our pantomime artists have charmed thousands with their antics as dame this and dame that; but we should not make social distinctions by applying the term to women, and thus increasing snobbishness. The custodians of the power to bestow titles have not appreciated the public sentiment against them. Persons must have influence exerted on their behalf before titles are awarded to them. They must get on the right side of those in authority, and pay for these titles, if not in coin, in faithful service. I remember the case of an individual who obtained a title for which he must have recommended himself. What he rereceived it for has remained a mystery. Speaking as an Australian, if it were necessary to grant these baubles, they should be given in Australia for Australian service, and not accepted from what in that sense is a foreign country. But those who are deserving of such distinction are not desirous of recognition in this way. Many of our outstanding scientists and men of letters have refused titles, because they can assess them at their real value. Although the motion will probably be defeated, the time will come when the principle involved will be accepted. I place on record my opposition to all titles, and I hope that the members of my party will unanimously support the motion.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolvedin the negative.
Debate resumed from 25thFebruary, 1926(vide page 1150,. volume 112), on motion by Mr. Manning -
That it is essential for the proper develop ment of Northern Australia that a railway be constructed from Bourke, New South Wales through Central Queensland towards Cloncurry and thence across the Barkly Tablelands to a point on the north-south railway in the Northern Territory - the carrying of this resolution to be taken as an instruction from this House to the Government to approach the State Governments of New South Wales and Queensland with a view of apportioning the expense of constructing this line between the Commonwealth and the States mentioned
Upon which Mr. Gregory had moved by way of amendment -
That all the words after “ constructed from “ up to and inclusive of the words “Northern
Territory “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following: - “ Broome or Derby starting in an easterly direction up to its junction with the north-south railway at or about Newcastle Waters, thence south of east to Camooweal.”
– The motion should commend itself to every honorable member, because it vitally concerns the economic life of Australia. I congratulate the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) for having introduced it. I realize that the magnitude of the undertaking may frighten many honorable members,because it would involve the expenditure of some millions ofpounds, but I contend that a display of timidity and parochialism in such matters will not get Australia anywhere. Any curtailment of expenditure on essential services will be to the detriment of the progress and development of Australia, and will mean that we shall slip backward instead of going forward. Only by encouraging essential services shall we make the Empire what we desire it to be. The construction of a railway from Bourke, New South Wales, through Central Queensland towards Cloncurry, and thence across the Barkly Tableland to a point on the northsouth railway, is a national project, and, if carried out, the sheep and cattle industries will become firmly establishedin Northern Australia. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) has said that the Barkly Tableland should be carrying 12,000,000 sheep, and I quite agree with him. The construction of this railway would certainly make available a huge tract of country for stock-raising purposes. Some honorable members will suggest that the object of this proposed line is to dragnet the whole of the produce along its route for Sydney, or for the ports of Queensland. That suggestion does not stand investigation when one considers the distance that would have to be traversed by the railway. It is over 2,000 miles from the centre of the Barkly Tableland to the eastern coast, whereas the distance from the centre of the Tableland to Port Darwin is about 500 miles, and to Burketown, Queensland, about 250 miles. It is obvious that settlers would not sendtheir produce by train for 2,000 miles when there are ports situated only 250 miles distant, in the case of Burketown, and 500 miles distant in tho case of Darwin. Let us examine transport by water. As honorable members know, water transport is cheaper than rail transport. It is 500 miles from the centre of the Tableland to “Darwin. The distance from Darwin to Singapore is 1,850 miles; to Melbourne; 3,310 miles; and to Hongkong, 3,280 miles. In other words, it is 30 miles Its** to Hongkong than to Melbourne. Prom Darwin to Yokohama the distance is 4,860 miles, or 1,500 miles further tha” to Melbourne. The question that naturally arises is whether it would be business to send commodities by train 2,000 *mila to Sydney or to ship them to a port which is only 250 miles from the original starting point? The argument that th«i railways would be used to get produce to Sydney, or to some of the Queensland ports, will not sta ad examination. The railway would considerably benefit the production of wool, meat, and minerals. The Australian market is limited, so far as some of our primary products are concerned, and, therefore, we are compelled to send any surplus overseas. It is obvious that our produce much reach outside markets by the shortest and most economical route, and, therefore, we can disregard the fear that this railway, if constructed, would become a dragnet for New South “Wales or Queensland. The motion is national in character, and aims primarily at the development of Australia. Above, all things, it would prevent much economic waste, which alone would more than justify the expense of constructing the railway. During the last eighteen months the loss of live , stock in Queensland has been estimated at £12,000,000, and there has also been a considerable loss of stock in New South Wales. Much of that would have beel obviated had a railway been constructed.
– How would the line have prevented that loss of stock?
– A line to the Barkly Tableland would have enabled stock to be sent there. Tropical rains fall in ..he northern end of the territory for five months of the year. Country, that in the dry season is capable of maintaining one beast to the square mile, would at” least maintain 30 or 40 beasts to the square mile during the wet season, because of the prolific growth of herbage there. The agistment on the Barkly Tableland would also be beneficial in keeping down the growth of rank grasses. A railway to that country would have prevented a considerable loss of stock. Not only would stock have been saved ; it would now be multiplying. All that economic waste occurred, because of the dearth of transport facilities. If Australia is to become the greatest wool and mineral producing country in the world she must develop the vast areas that are at present practically unoccupied, and which are so generously supplied with potential wealth. Closer settlement would follow the development of the Territory, resulting in the subdivision of large estates, which would make available to settlers rich and productive areas.
I congratulate the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) upon making one of the finest speeches dealing with Central Australia that I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. The honorable member did not go to extremes when describing the country, but delivered a matured opinion on tha area, which he discri bed as good, sound, cattle country. As we possess that country, it is only right that the Government should do something to make it productive, by making it accessible to settlers. It is useless to persist in the argument that the Northern Territory has not been a payable proposition for a number of years. It has not had the opportunity to become payable, chiefly because of the lack of transport facilities. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) who is an expert upon sheep matters, states that the Barkly Tableland is capable of carrying at least 12,000,000 sheep. Just visualize the prosperity Australia would enjoy if such a state of affairs were brought about! And it is possible if the Government builds these lines. That laud could be resumed at from 5s. to 10s. a square mile and would be an excellent area upon which to settle young and virile Australians. Instead of having to sink all their capital in the purchase of land, they would be able to put it into stock, making it reproductive immediately. The scheme opens up a new realm of possibilities, and it must be regarded purely from a national point of view. It is unnecessary for mc to reiterate the statements of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) regarding the economic waste that is taking place in Australia, as honorable members are conversant, with the disastrous nature of the drought to which Australia has been subjected during the last two years.’ They must also be aware that that economic waste can be arrested by the establishment of railways that would make practicable the moving of stock from drought-stricken areas to other areas having ample agistment. That is why this matter must be viewed nationally. It is a huge national undertaking, fraught with tremendous possibilities, requiring high courage and stoutness of heart if it is to be carried out successfully, and it is a job that must be completed when once begun.
The amendment of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) seeks to strike out all reference in the motion to the construction of a line in any part of New South Wales or Queensland, and through the tablelands up to Newcastle Waters. Instead, the honorable member desires that a line shall be constructed from Derby or Broome, in Western Australia, to Newcastle Waters. Both the mover of the motion and the amendment are imbued with a patriotic spirit, and desire to see those tremendous and rich areas opened up and made accessible; they merely differ slightly in their methods of giving effect to that desire. If they wish to have their names inscribed on the Roll of Fame as people who have achieved something great for their country, they should co-ordinate and fuse the motion with the amendment. Any one familiar with the geography of the country under review realizes that the one idea is inseparable from the other, that it merely means the continuation of the same route. Some may argue that the Bourke-Camooweal line is purely a State matter, while the Derby- Wyndham scheme is more or less federal. I contend that the development of Australia is a national, and not a. State question, and that parochialism should be cast aside. When the east-west line was suggested, many honorable members pointed out that it would prove to be a financial calamity. Instead, it is yearly improving its fianancial position, and is making possible the development of large tracts of country as sheep areas. My contention is that the country now under review is decidedly superior to the Nullabor Plains. There, great difficulty is experienced in obtaining water, while on the Barkly Tableland, a copious supply of excellent water is available. If the east-west line has proved to be of national advantage, that is all the more reason why this proposed line should be of even greater advantage to Australia.
– Is it proposed to bring back the line from Broome to Darwin?
– No. Both lines are essential for the development of Australia. If considered only from the point of view of the removal of stock from drought-stricken to good agistment areas they would be justified, as they would mean the stabilization of the sheep industry of Queensland and New South Wales. A huge tract of pastoral and mineral^ country would be developed, and, as Wyndham is the natural port for the Western Northern Territory, it would cater for all that country as far back as Hall’s Creek. It is a pity that the honorable member for Riverina had not the opportunity to go over this country, as he would have realized that it is in a far different category from that of Central Australia. A characteristic of this northern country is that it varies greatly in quality. The area proposed to bc served by this railway is thoroughly watered by beautiful and continuously running rivers.
– How much of it is sheep country ?
– Quite a lot of the Victoria River Downs is suitable for sheep. Forty years ago Messrs. Goldsborough, Mort and Company had sheep running on stretches of it for six or seven hours a day, and they were always in the pink of condition ; but the cost of transportation was so heavy that the whole area was allowed to revert to cattle, for cattle can be sent to market on the hoof. I should not like honorable members to think that I am suggesting that the whole of the a:ea is suit!, hie for sheep ; but I have been through the country from Hall’s Creek, aud I have seen much of it that is quite capable of producing fine wool. It has sweet dry grasses which are very fattening.
– The late Mr. Paterson, when he was the manager of a hig company up there, told me that millions of acres of it would carry nearly a sheep to the acre.
– Had I suggested that, I am afraid that honorble members would have thought I was exaggerating. When I said that some of the country would carry a sheep to every three acres I was told that I was romancing, and did not understand sheep-raising. The sweet dry grasses that may be found there for many months after rains have fallen are most nutritious for sheep.
– They contain a large percentage of protein which is invaluable for fodder purposes.
– I had an experience of that fifteen or sixteen years ago when I first passed through the country. We had had a bad time with our horses, for
Ave had been travelling over very bare areas. Upon reaching these stretches of dry grass, we decided to spell the horses, thinking that they might pick up a little in spite of the dryness of the feed. They began to fatten immediately. Some little time afterwards I met some men who knew the country well, and I inquired from them whether the dry grass had any real value as fodder. They were emphatically of the opinion that it had. In addition to the grasses, many edible bushes may be found there. In the circumstances, I must say that I think the motion and the amendment arc not antagonistic, but complementary.
– The question is, which line is the more urgent for building up the north?
– The motion and the amendment give us the eastern and the western view of the same problem.
– That is so. We should ask ourselves whether a line constructed through to Queensland would not be more valuable than the other line for marketing purposes, or for providing an outlet for stock in dry seasons.
– But is it not a fact that Australia will have to develop her export trade through her northern ports?
– I have already pointed that out. It appears to me to be ridiculous to suggest that stock should be travelled 2.000 miles south when a port could be reached by travelling them 200 miles north. We must develop our northern ports.
– Is not the quality of the land through which this railway would pass better than that which will be traversed by the north-south line?
– I would go so far as to say that a line running from Camooweal due east to Newcastle Waters and then through the western territory to Wyndham, would pass through infinitely better country, acre for acre, than that through which the north-south line will pass. Another argument that may be advanced for the construction of this line is that it will help Australia to support a much larger population. We have had an experience in recent years of trying to settle people upon land the capital value of which is too high to make success possible for the settlers. The only way in which we can maintain our white Australia is to open our doors to British migrants, and I suggest that the Government would be well advised to make some of this country available for settlement. It often happens that the construction of railways into the outback is completed before any attempt has been made to settle the country. The result is that for several years the new railway must necessarily be operated at a heavy loss. As soon as it is decided to build either of these lines the Government should take steps to settle the country. I suggest that blocks should be made available alternatively for Australian and British settlers. We must open up new areas if we desire to hold our position as a wool producing country. The time is rapidly approaching when very much of the southern country that is now used for sheep raising will become too expensive for that purpose. It will have to be converted into agricultural holdings. This means that unless we are developing other pastoral areas we must unquestionably allow some other nation to displace us as the world’s principal producer of wool. We are often told that the home market is better than the export market ; but it cannot be expected that Australia will ever be able to consume all the wool and meat which she produces. It is necessary, therefore, that we should take every possible step to produce these commodities at a figure which will enable us to sell them profitably in the markets of the world. We must improve our transport facilities as other countries are doing, or we shall lose our markets. Doubtless it will be expensive to build these railways, but the matter should not be determined upon a straightout pounds shillings and pence basis. Wo should remember that an obligation rests upon us to develop this continent. The subject is of national importance, and I trust the honorable members will regard it in that light. I hope that the mover of the motion and the mover of the amendment will sink all minor differences and make it possible for honorable members to vote upon the issues involved irrespective of State or personal prejudices.
Debate (on motion by Mr. j. Francis) adjourned.
Order of the Day called on for the resumption of the debate upon the following motion by Mr. Seabrook -
That, in the opinion of this House, and in the best interests of Australia, the time has arrived for the repeal of all sections of the Navigation Act relating to the coastal trade.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Perkins) adjourned to 24th November.
Debate resumed on motion by Mr. Jackson(vide page 518).
– Shortly after I took office as Minister for Home and Territories, a representative deputation, which was introduced to me by the honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott), urged that a royal commission should be appointed to inquire into the following matters : -
– Will the Minister state the personnel of the deputation ?
– I have not a complete list of the names of those present, but they were thoroughly representative of all sections of the Australian community. The honorable member for Reid was amongst them. Mr. Aubrey Williams, who was a member of the deputation, in the course of his remarks, said -
As a result of his visit to Northern Australia, he had concluded that with the institution of aborigines protection boards and in other ways, the natives were well looked after, but there was still much to be done to help them. The natives on the stations rendered very valuable service. They do not, however, seem to have any aim in life and go to pieces when they come in contact with the white race. Opium and disease take their toll of the natives, and it is interesting to note that the census report for last year showed a decline of 3,119 in the twelve months previous.
Mr. Williams stated that throughout the Northern Territory there was no exploitation of the natives. The Chief Protector of Aborigines kept a very close eye on them, but abuses would, of course, creep in.
I placed before the Cabinet the views of the deputation, and subsequently the following letter was sent by the Prime Minister’s Department to the Premier of each State: -
A deputation which recently waited upon my colleague, the Minister for Home and Territories, requested that an “ ExtraParliamentary “ royal commission be appointed to inquire into the present status and general condition of the aborigines, including half-castes, throughout Australia.
The deputation suggested that the following matters might form the subject of inquiry -
Here are enumerated the points I have already mentioned -
The members of the deputation expressed the hope that the Federal Government, with the co-operation of the States, would be able to appoint such a commission.
In view of the fact that the control of aborigines in the various States is vested in the State Governments - the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government extending to only aborigines in the Territories under its control, - a question arises as to how far, if at all, the Commonwealth and the States could legally cooperate, through the medium of a royal commission, in giving effect to the wishes of the deputation.
In the opinion of the Commonwealth law authorities, the Commonwealth Royal Commissions Act 1902-1912 does not authorize the appointment of a joint commission, and apparently the only course possible would be to appoint a commission under the Commonwealth act consisting in part of State nominees. It is, however, pointed out that it would be the duty of such a commission to report to the Governor-General, and that, so far as the investigation related to matters outside the constitutional sphere of the Commonwealth, the commission would not have power to compel tlie attendance of witnesses or the giving of evidence.
The Commonwealth and each State could, if they thought fit, appoint the same persons a royal commission under the respective Commonwealth and State acts, but this would necessitate agreement between the Commonwealth and the States concerned, and might lead to confusion in that the commission would, under the Commonwealth appointment, be required to report to the Governor-General, and, under each State appointment, to the Governor of the State concerned. Under such an arrangement, also, doubt might arise as to the authority under which the commission was acting in a particular case.
Under the circumstances, I should be glad, to be favoured with the views of your Government as to whether it is considered desirable that an inquiry of the nature suggested by the deputation should be made.
To ‘ that letter the Government of Queensland has not yet replied. The Governments of Tasmania, New South Wales, and Victoria said that there was no justification for the appointment of a royal commission, so far as those States were concerned.
– If we had not done so, the Government of that State would have been the first to take exception to the omission. The Government of Western Australia said that it was prepared to afford such a commission all necessary facilities, provided that the State incurred no financial responsibility. The South Aus tralian Government thought that the appointment of an advisory committee would better meet the requirements. The appointment of a royal commission or a select committee could not be agreed to merely on the evidence placed before the House by the honorable member for Bass. Whilst we are all agreed that the aborigines are our particular care, and that the Government and the Parliament should do everything possible to make their lives easier and happier, to review the record of Australia since 1S03, or even since 1859, when Tasmania practically wiped out the blacks in that State, would be to unjustly misrepresent the conditions that obtain to-day. If we were to broadcast to the world that nearly 100 years ago the aborigines were treated in a dastardly way - and admittedly they were - we should do injury to our White Australia policy; whereas we wish to convince the world that we are as mindful of our black brethren as of the whites. Most of the abuses quoted by the honorable member for Bass occurred in the States, and not in the Territories under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. I quote from a leading article in the South Australian Advertiser on the deputation -
According to Mr. Gribble, it is a mistake to imagine that the aborigines are a disappearing race. The aim of the Forrest River Mission has been to allow the adults to live their own lives while efforts have been made to correct abuses. The hope lies mainly with the children. Mr. Gribble, however is in full agreement with other friends of the aborigines who urge that it is only by their segregation that the race can be prevented from extinction. It is, he says, well worth while saving them, for they are capable, of improvement, and in time could be made, especially in the pastoral districts, a valuable asset to the Commonwealth. This is to consider not only their own ethically strong claim to a place in the sun, but their potential utility to the higher civilization which is displacing them.
There is much to be said both for and against the appointment of a royal commission. We are all agreed that some investigation should be made, and it is for the House to decide the nature of it. For the information of honorable members, I quote a letter forwarded by the South Australian Premier from the Advisory Council on Aborigines, Adelaide -
This Council has taken into careful consideration the letter from the Prime Minister’s
Department respecting the appointment of a royal commission to inquire into the status and the general condition of the aborigines in Australia, and would respectfully suggest that some of the subjects named such as (a) and
Then it suggested a council consisting of three representatives from each State and a chairman. Such a body would be unwieldy, because the representatives of one State might not be permitted to make inquiries into the relations between blacks and whites in another State.
– Then must our inquiry be limited to Federal Territory?
– Yes.We know that atrocities occurred many years ago. Latterly, however, no such outrages hav< been reported, except one in Western Australia. It was alleged that certain things happened, and the men charged with the offence were acquitted.
– There was very strong suspicion that there was a terrible atrocity.
– The remains discovered certainly suggested that.
– But nobody knew whether the culprit was a black or a white.
– That is so. Still, we should not draw the attention of the world to solitary cases and give the false impression that our natives are killed in large numbers. The aborigines council in South Australia states that the establishment of a native State would not be in the interests of the blacks themselves. We must view the problem from all aspects. Is it suggested that we should segregate the natives in the Northern Territory and enclose them with a barbed-wire fence?
– That would be as bad as deportation.
– Yes. It has been suggested that we should reserve the whole of Arnheim Land for them. If our desire is to kill the aborigines off as soon as possible, that would be the best way to go about it.
– It would be impossible to confine them to Arnheim Land.
– So impossible that I did not suggest it.
– I have not attributed the suggestion to the honorable member. Many recommendations have been made to the Government, and honorable members are at liberty to look through the correspondence. It has been claimed that, if the natives are segregated, it will be impossible to develop North and Central Australia. If they are to be made useful citizens, are we to confine them to particular areas that the Parliament of the day may favour? If so, it could be contended that only the missionaries should be allowed on those areas. No persons in North and Central Australia have done better work among the aborigines than have the missionaries. During my tour of the Pacific Islands, I found that missionaries of all denominations had rendered exceptionally good service to the native population, and, if the Government can do. as much good as the missions have done for those coming under their influence, Australia will be all the better for it. The Government’s only desire is to do the right thing towards the natives, and I am glad that Parliament is prepared unanimously to support the Ministry.
– Does it favour the appointment of a select committee?
– Yes, if honorable members think that is the best course to follow. In November, 1926. the Aborigines Protection League, whose headquarters are in Adelaide, advocated that a large area of land should be reserved forthe aborigines of Australia. The proposal was that the settlement should be managed by them, with such assistance as might be found necessary, according to their laws and customs; but cannibalism was to be disallowed, and unauthorized persons were to be debarred from entering the reserved area. The scheme has been described by one of the associations interested in the aborigines as fantastic and impracticable. We know that the intercourse between blacks and whites has resulted in a tremendous burden being cast upon civilization. It has meant the downfall of the blacks and it has been injurious to the white race. It is hopeless to expect to discover a remedy for the evil ; but we can at least place every impediment in its way. The half-castes are the most unfortunate beings in existence, and they present the greatest of all the problems to which the tare of the aborigines gives rise. These unfortunates are hated by the blacks and despised by the white people. Therefore, they are the particular care of the State.
– We see that to a pronounced degree in the Pacific Islands.
– Yes, and I have noticed it in. India. To the credit of the British nation be it said that in India the Government has taken care of the Eurasians and trained them for useful work. The Government’s one desire is to help the halfcaste aboriginal.
– Has the Government any opinion on the matter ?
– We contend that we have power to deal with the blacks in Federal Territory only.
– Do not our health laws give us the right to go beyond Federal Territory?
– I do not think we can go beyond Commonwealth Territory in this matter. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) stated that the compound at Port Darwin was unsavoury. I have not seen it; but I have received good reports regarding it. The department has formulated a scheme for the removal of the leper station at Darwin to Channel Island, and this has been approved by the Government.
– What is being done in the Northern Territory for the care of the blacks?
– The Church Missionary Society which controls the Roper River Mission, the Groote Island Mission, and the Oenpelli Mission/ receive £500 per annum. The missions ask for a great deal. We grant them subsidies on a flat rate; but consideration was given to the question of making payments on a per capita basis, each mission being required to state the number of aborigines actually supported by it. Up to the present time only ohe mission has given a satisfactory answer. They want the grant without being able to tell the Government the number of natives helped by them.
– What is the total annual expenditure ?
– It is shown in the Estimates. The estimated expenditure for the Oenpelli Mission station under the control of the Church Missionary Society is £250 ; for the Goulburn Island and the Elcho Island Mission stations under the control of the Methodist Mission Society, £250 each ; for the Bathurst Island Mission station, under the control of the Roman Catholic Mission, £250; and for the Lutheran Mission, £400. We have had good returns from the Lutheran Mission, which is the only one that has sent us any information in the detail desired. Those in charge of the mission have asked that the payment be increased to 5s. a head, but at the moment I cannot see the necessity for an increase, seeing that it does not cost more than 4s. a week to keep a native in the Alice Springs home. We have no intention of keeping natives that are able to work. The job of the missions is to teach all able-bodied natives to work and to become useful citizens. I understand the present rate amply repays the missions for the exj»ense that they incur on the education of the natives.
– What is the aggregate sum that the Government pays to missions ?
– I have no figures with me, but they are contained in the Estimates. The estimated annual cost of the compound and half-caste home at Darwin is £2,650.
– What is the nature of the compound?
– It is a compound for indigent aborigines and half-castes.
– What is the compound like?
– I cannot describe the compound, as I have not seen it. The Government leaves the form which the inquiry shall take entirely to the House. It is quite prepared to appoint a committee of honorable members or a royal commission consisting of outside experts, xl congratulate the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) ~on his excellent speech. In bringing this subject under the notice of Parliament, he has acted in the interests not only of the Australian natives but also of Australia generally.
.- My principal reason for joining in the debate is that I was invited some months ago to advise various scientific and missionary societies of the best manner in which representations on this subject should be made to the Minister. The proposals that were submitted to the Minister by a deputation were made by persons who are in close touch with the natives, and an anthropologist of world-wide reputation was consulted. The deputation that waited upon the Minister asked for the appointment of an extra-parliamentary commission consisting of experts, including persons familiar with the customs of the natives* and others employed in the Northern Territory and elsewhere who are closely associated with labour and social problems. I cannot understand the attitude of the Minister towards an important national problem such as this, in which Australia’s reputation throughout the world is involved. Statements reflecting ou the treatment of natives will continue to be made unless some adequate action is ‘taken to investigate them.
– There has been no statement made respecting the treatment of natives in the Northern Territory.
– The statements are general in their application.
– I have approached all the States, but they have refused to cooperate with the Commonwealth.
– Then this problem should be discussed at a Premiers’ conference. I admit that the aboriginal problem is not confined to the Northern Territory, and I realize that we have a protector of aborigines there at present. The motion of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) is therefore totally inadequate, . and more or less futile. The Minister has admitted that no complaints have been made about the treatment of natives in the Northern Territory, so why go to the trouble of appointing a committee which, in the Minister’s own opinion, will he largely futile. The deputation to the
Minister regarded the half-caste problem as of the greatest, importance.
– That exists in the Northern Territory.
– That is so; but it is of greater importance in the States. It has become of sufficient importance to warrant discussion at a Premiers’ conference, and some definite steps should be taken to ensure the collaboration of the States. The deputation referred to represented various interests. Among its members were Dr. Gilbert White, recently Bishop of Willochra and formerly Bishop of Carpentaria, Professor Radcliffe Brown, Professor of Anthropology, and ‘ other persons representing pastoral agricultural and religious interests. All sections of the community are interested in the aborigine problem, and I protest against the Government’s decision to let the House determine what form the inquiry should take instead of assuming the responsibility of making a recommendation after further consultation with the States. Even if this motion is passed, we shall unquestionably be ,up against a constitutional difficulty. Our jurisdiction is limited to the Northern Territory, and this makes it imperative to bring the matter before a Premiers’ conference.
– If the Commonwealth is not able to attend to the few blacks under its control, how is it going to deal with the larger problem?
– That criticism may, admittedly, be directed against the Government; but if it tackles its own problem why not deal with the treatment of natives generally. I travelled through New South Wales some time ago, and when in a certain country town I visited a blacks’ camp. The blacks were living under appalling conditions. An invalid tubercular aboriginal was living with a white woman. They had ten children, and the woman was pregnant. Every one of the children was more or less diseased and suffering from ear, eye or throat trouble. That is an absolute blot upon the fair name of Australia.
– Those conditions are not confined to aborigines.
– That is so; but it * is no reason why we should ignore this question. Apart from the presence of diseases, we are breeding a race of
Ishmaels who will be isolated from society and whose descendants will, according to eugenic theory, possibly throw back in a few generations. “We do not want halfcastes. We should endeavour to increase our racial purity and take steps to lessen the degradation of the blacks and halfcastes.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– In view of the limitations of its Constitution there is little justification for incurring the expense of a select committee or a royal commission, because any inquiry must necessarily be restricted to those areas where the white race are in contact with the black in the Northern Territory. Further, the Minister has stated himself there is not much complaint as to the administration of the native question in the Northern Territory. Mr. Aubrey Williams, of the Sydney Morning Herald, who was instrumental in introducing the deputation to the Minister, said -
With the institution of the Aborigines protection Board, the natives were well looked after. In the Northern Territory there was comparatively no exploitation of natives. The Chief Protector kept a close eye on the aborigines.
In view of this statement, and of the information I have gained from an examination of the Minister’s file - which the honorable gentleman made available to me during the dinner hour - most of the complaints regarding ill-treatment, malnutrition, immorality, and the half-caste problem as it affects the Australian aboriginal, concern to a greater extent the various States of the Commonwealth, and are, therefore, beyond federal jurisdiction. According to the figures supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician to the Minister for the year which ended on the 30th June, 1926, only about 25 per cent. of our aborigines are in the Northern Territory, so that the proposed committee would be limite.d to an inquiry from which 75 per cent. of those concerned would be excluded. Statistics show the disposition of aborigines to be as under -
It will be observed that the majority of half-castes are in New South Wales.
– The committee would not be limited to the taking of evidence in the Northern Territory.
– The co-operation of the States is essential, and already two States have refused to cooperate. The problem is of sufficient national importance to warrant the Government assuming the responsibility of raising the matter at a Premiers’ conference, or of suggesting such action as will induce the States to cooperate actively with the Commonwealth Government in its solution. No doubt the States would claim representation on any investigating authority. The deputation which waited upon the Minister stated that the committee should be composed of a man of good judicial mind, and not necessarily connected intimately with the native problem; an anthropologist; a medical man; a representative of the missions, and a representative of the pastoralists. The suggestion was to make the committee as representative as possible, and it was urged that it should work in cooperation with the States, and should, of necessity, he an extra-parliamentary inquiry. . I consider the motion of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) to be totally inadequate. As indicating the representative character of the deputation, I might state that he following were present: Mr. Aubrey Williams, Dr. Gilbert White, recently Bishop of Willochra and formerly Bishop of Carpentaria; Professor Radcliffe Brown, professor of anthropology; Mr. D. G. Stead, who has played a leading part in recent years in wild life research and preservation; Rev. W. Morley, secretary of the Association for the Protection of Native Races; Rev. J. S. Needham, chairman of the Australian Board of Missions; and Mrs. Roberts, of the Women’s League.
– Was that deputation unanimous in the view the honorable member mentioned.
– Yes. Before it approached the Minister a long discussion took place, at which I was present, and it was stressed that the committee was vitally concerned with the half-caste problem, the degradation of the races, and the intermingling of blood. The existence of immorality and venereal disease . loomed largely in the discussion, but the cases brought under the notice of the Minister vere generally from parts of Australia other than the Northern Territory. In fairness to the good name of Queensland. I may state that Dr. Gilbert “White said he was glad that Queensland was doing everything possible to protect the aboriginal. The majority of the natives in the Northern Territory are removed from contact with the whites, being in wild country, so the question of contact affects the States more than the Northern Territory. I consider that the Government should recognize its responsibility, and work along the lines suggested by the deputation. The honorable member for Bass urges that the action of the select committee for which he has moved should be founded upon the following bases: -
Northern Territory of its present aboriginal population.
Every one realizes that segregation is practically impossible, particularly when dealing with a race of nomads. It would be better to call in the’ assistance of experts to formulate practical lines of investigation, based upon scientific research. The second line of action suggested is -
Co-operation with States in matters affecting the welfare of aboriginal tribes.
We have been told that that is impracticable. In certain cases it has been refused, so that eliminates that reference until the Government secures State cooperation. The third basis is -
The half-caste problem.
That is mostly confined to the States, principally New South Wales and Queensland, and to a lesser extent Western Australia and South Australia, so, to a great extent, the third reference is futile. The fourth reference is -
Allocation of assistance to aboriginal mission stations.
We have no jurisdiction to interfere with State controlled aboriginal stations, so that ends our efforts there. The matter of Commonwealth assistance may be ventilated in the House when it is dealing with complaints. Undoubtedly the disturbances that occur from time to time in Australia iri connexion with aborigines attract international attention. On the 22nd July last the AntiSlavery and Aborigines Protection Society of London wrote to the Minister urging that he should adopt the basis of investigation recommended by the deputation to which I have referred. Under the covenant of League of Nations we are bound to safeguard the welfare ofnatives in the mandated territories, and to present an annual report to the Mandates commission. Surely then, in our own interests, and to be consistent with the international view on this matter, we should take such steps to redeem the good name of Australia in regard to the treatment of aboriginals as will prevent any wrong impression from being created abroad. If necessary a thorough investigation should be made into the question, one that will end the complaints and criticisms for all time.
– What type of investigation does the honorable member suggest ?
– I suggest we follow the scheme outlined by the deputation to the Minister, or, alternatively, that the Government adjourn this debate and make inquiries from the various organizations interested in aboriginal welfare. It is positively unfairtobring in to the arena of discussion here a subject like this, without giving honorable members an opportunity to consult State authorities and inform themselves on the matter. The honorable member for Hindmarsh intimated that he has received representations from South Australia to present a petition to this House. Yesterday when I heard of the proposed debate, I rang up Sydney to make inquiries,, but was unable to make my information available for to-night. The general public is interested in the matter, and it should be fully ventilated. The various remedies that have been suggested during the course of this debate conclusivelydemonstrate that honorable members have different ideas on the matter of safeguarding the welfare of our natives. That indicates that the whole question should be examined by experts, and not by honorable members, although there may be some honorable members who have an intimate and extensive knowledge of the aboriginal problem. The Government has already appointed innumerable boards, commission’?, and committees to investigate various subjects which really call for direct legislative action, but this matter affects our national reputation, and it should be exhaustively inquired into before a decision is reached.
.- Whether we agree or disagree with the method suggested by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson), for dealing with this problem, I am sure we must admit that honorable members have profited by the discussion that has occurred. I appreciate the courage of the honorable member in moving his motion, but I do not think that a select committee should be appointed. I am more inclined to agree with the proposal made by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman). It is a pity that the various States did not accept the proposal made to them by the Minister for Home and Territories, on the advice of the deputation which I had the’ honour to introduce to him in Sydney, and at which the honorable member for Reid was present. Something of a practical nature would have resulted had the States been agreeable to the appointment of the proposed commission. This subject bristles with difficulties. If a select committee visited North and Central Australia and the States in which aboriginals are being controlled, I am afraid that it might too readily assume that the issues which it had to determine were clear-cut, whereas the fact is that they constitute one of the most complex social problems which face the nation. I have listened with interest to the speeches which honorable members have delivered during this debate, and have been impressed, with, the conflict between their ideas. It has been suggested that a policy of segregation would best meet the situation. I disagree with that view. It would not be wise, in my opinion, to oblige the aboriginals to reside in a given area, or even in a number of areas, for the customs of the remnants of the various tribes are so diverse that harmonious living conditions would be impossible. An artificial segregation would ho more suit the conditions of our natives than it would suit those of the white people who live here. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), who intended to participate in this debate tonight, but has been prevented from doing so, intimated to me that his view was that it would be wise to segregate the natives of Arnheim Land. That would be a different proposition from segregating the natives in other parts of Australia, for those people are bound together by. their coastal habits and rites, and so long as natives from the interior were not permitted to mix with them, a policy of segregation might not be inimical to them. The greatest problem that we have to face, however, concerns the half-caste. It has been suggested that these also might be segregated on a large scale in extensive tracts of country, and that this policy would result in a return to the Utopian days which existed before the arrival of Captain Cook on our shores. It is said that the adoption of this policy would enable these people to build up a strong and virile race; but, in my opinion, the proposal offers no real remedy for the problem. I regret that the honorable member for Bass, in moving the motion, suggested that the proposed select committee should inquire into certain grave charges that have been made respecting the ill-treatment of natives in various parts of Australia. It was unnecessary for the honorable member to search the pages of history to buttress up his case. He recited a mass of details relating to massacres, atrocities, and tragedies in which our aboriginals have been involved; but that part of his speech had no bearing on the main issues with which we are concerned. It cannot be denied that in the early days of settlement in Australia our pioneers went out from the centres of population taking their lives in their hands. They met with a good deal of treachery from the aborigines, and many of the tragic happenings in those days were in the nature of reprisals. The same thing may be said in respect to unfortunate incidents with the natives in more civilised times. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) quoted statistics which conveyed to me the impression that the half-caste problem was more pressing in some of the States than in North or Central Australia; but I have lived all my life in North Queensland, and I know that the half-caste problem has been with us there since the earliest days. Queensland may be credited with having attempted to do something definite to meet it; but I do not think it can be said that the solution is to be found in the appointment of select committees. One of the great difficulties which has been encountered wherever an effort has been made to deal with the half-castes is that of finding suitable employment for them, and specially for the half-caste women. Many of these unfortunates have been trained on mission stations to take up work in our cities ; but it has been found, particularly in Adelaide, that the sending of them to work amongst city people has only accentuated the difficulties of their position. A good deal has been said about the work of missionary societies for these people, and I should be the last to detract from the splendid efforts that they have made to solve the problem ; but these have almost invariably been directed to civilizing the aboriginals. From that point of view I think their work has not been an outstanding success. The fact has become apparent that immediately any attempt is made to civilize the natives they are brought into contact with the dangers of venereal disease and alcohol. In all the circumstances I disagree with the view of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) that a select committee should be appointed. I consider that much more satisfactory work could be’ done by a committee composed of scientists, medical officers, and representatives of the pastoral industry, who have been in close touch with the aboriginals for many years. The appointment of a select committee would merely result in delay. Probably the most effective action that could be taken at present would be for the Minister for Home and Territories to make fresh overtures to the States concerned in the hope that they will review their former decision. The deputation which waited upon the Minister was a thoroughly representative body, and its suggestions were made only after the most careful consideration. In conclusion, I wish to refer to certain statements that have been made by several honorable members during the debate. I sincerely regret that the honorable member for Bass thought it necessary, in order to strengthen his arguments, to refer to what is known as the Gribble enquiry into, certain happenings in the north-west of Western Australia, which involved, in particular, two members of the police force of that State and a number of natives. That matter has since been investigated by the- Supreme Court of Western Australia, and it was proved to the satisfaction of the court that the two policemen who were indicted were not guilty of the atrocities with which they were charged. It was also proved beyond dispute, on the evidence of Mr. Gribble and certain other persons who were hostile to the accused, that no white people, other than the two policemen, were in the vicinity at the time the atrocities occurred. The conduct of certain armed black trackers was strongly censured. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) has handed me the findings of the commission which enquired into Mr. Gribble’s charges, and in rebuttal of the statements made by the honorable member for Bass, as well as in fairness to the police officers concerned, T think I should read them. They are as follows : -
That the practice of arming native trackers is necessary, but regulations governing the supervision of armed trackers are not properly observed.
That armed trackers are permitted to” get away so far beyond control of their white officers as to render the trackers a menace to the blacks against whom they are operating.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), in the course of his speech, made a statement which led me to conclude that his informant was handling the truth very rashly. The honorable member stated on the authority of Dr. Basedow, a member of the Legislative Assembly in South .Australia, that owing to pastoralists laying baits for dingoes and . other vermin, poison had been flushed down into wells and water-courses by the floods, and a considerable number of aborigines had died a lingering death through drinking the polluted water. I suggest to the honorable member that he either misheard or misinterpreted Dr. Basedow’s remarks, for I am certain that the learned doctor cannot produce one scintilla of evidence in substantiation of such a statement. Recently I saw attributed to the same gentleman a statement that when passing through North Queensland he had made short stays at two townships in each of which were 3,000 inhabitants, none of whom could speak English, and that at one place, he saw a notice to the effect that no Britishers need apply for work. If Dr. Basedow made that statement he might also be responsible for the allegation which the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has attributed to him. Dr. Basedow should either, withdraw or substantiate the statement about the poisoning of natives.
– The statement was made at a committee meeting at which Dr. Basedow was present, but I do not say that he made the statement.
– He is supposed to be a learned man, and unless he is one of those out of whom all intelligence has been educated, he should avail himself of the” first opportunity to put the lay mind right.
– Stick to a member of your own union.
– I do not know whether Dr. Basedow is a member of my union, but I assure the honorable member that my remarks are not prompted by professional jealousy or hostility. I have had a long experience of the aborigines, and it has not. consisted of merely visiting missions or travelling through the Northern Territory and making casual contact with those who are on the fringe of civilization. I was born in a district which was infested with blacks, and at twelve years of age I had the sad experience of holding in my arms an uncle who was dying from a spear wound in the chest. Throughout my life I have had a close’ association with this problem, and I realize that it bristles with difficulties. With all respect to honorable members, more brains than a Select Committee will have will be needed to evolve a solution of this question which, in fairness to our White Australia policy, should be dealt with thoroughly .and on its merits.
– I congratulate the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) upon the introduction of this motion. It is not the first occasion on which the honorable member has championed the cause of the oppressed, and I sincerely trust that his efforts tonight will be crowned with success. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman), and the honorable member foil Herbert (Dr. Nott), after quoting statis-tics regarding the number of aborigines and half-castes in different parts of Australia, expressed the view that the halfcaste problem is the responsibility of the States. I dissent from that view. Apparently those honorable gentlemen would defer action in the Northern Territory until the same racial tragedies as have occurred in the United States happen iri the far north. Now is the time to grapple with this problem. In the States the half-caste stigma diminishes every year, but in the Northern Territory where the number of natives is roughly estimated to be between 18,000 and 19,000, it is an ever-increasing reproach to our civilization. A white community is being settled there, and, necessarily, the country will be pioneered by males. In the circumstances, the number of half-castes must increase. Therefore, preventative action should be taken now. The honorable member for Herbert suggested that on any commission of inquiry the pastoralists should be represented. I did not hear either him or the honorable member for Reid propose that the workers should have representation. Yet this matter is of vital concern to them in a young country with nascent industries.
– What about representation of the aborigines ?
– I do not know whether any aboriginal could effectively act in such an inquiry.
– I could name some who could.
– There are exceptions; but certainly if there is to be representation of different sections of the community, the workers are entitled to consideration.
– -1 merely mentioned the basis of representation suggested by the deputation to the Minister.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh was, I think, in error in repeating the statement which he thought had been made by Dr. Basedow, that a number of natives had been poisoned by poison baits. From that, ?,he honorable’ member concluded that they had been the victims of baits laid for vermin. I do not think the honorable member said that Dr. Basedow actually drew that inference. But, in any case, if the honorable member inquires into the matter, he will realize that such a conclusion was absurd.
– I do not wish Dr. /Basedow to be held responsible for- the statement.
– That is how I understood the honorable member. Certainly natives may have been poisoned through the drinking of water, but it is not unusual for them to poison water with ironwood bark in order to stupefy the fish, and it is possible that other natives are sometimes affected through drinking such water.
– The remark was made by some gentleman at a meeting, but I believe that Dr. Basedow was present.
– Investigation will convince the honorable member that the statement is without foundation. The red plague is unquestionably a very serious problem, with which the Government should grapple without delay. So far as I have observed, little or no attempt has been made to deal Avith. it. During the construction of the railway from Pine Creek to Katherine River, I asked the Administrator of the Northern Territory to instruct the police troopers to round up the natives for medical inspection, but he did not do so. The result was a harvest for the doctors and indescribably revolting conditions amongst the workers. That sort of thing is happening to-day, and no attempt is made to keep the natives away from the construction camps or to control the disease. It is high time that this evil was ventilated in the House, so that the Minister may direct the authorities in the north to do, in the interests of humanity, particularly of future generations, what they have neglected to do in the past. The nature of previous attempts to assist the natives is indicated by the compounds at Darwin and Alice Springs. The Darwin compound is an enclosure of three or four acres about a mile from the township. Huts are built for what may be termed the more or less permanent boarders, and the adjacent beach is used for casuals. Up to 500 natives congregate there at times, and the place becomes a centre of disease. In a community in which the males largely outnumber the women, with 400 or 500 natives congregated in one locality, many of them going into town to attend picture shows, and then walking home late at night, one can imagine what happens. I have frequently suggested that it would be a wise precaution if the Government removed that plague spot 50 .or 60 miles inland, where the labour of the natives could be utilized in the growing of cereals and root crops for their own consumption. Some honorable members have seen what is alleged to be a compound or bungalow at Alice Springs. It is a small flat roofed shanty alongside an Hotel, and the consequences of this arrangement are reflected from year to year in the misfortunes that overtake the young girls accommodated there. We know of their being sent to Adelaide and other places, and returning the victims of our civilization. As honorable members of all parties are unanimously of the opinion that the problem of the native population should be tackled, why should not the Government establish a school of domestic instruction in Canberra for the training of the girls, thus removing them from their present environment, and a technical college to which the boys could be brought at a tender age? The saddestvictims of modern society throughout the world are the half-castes. They are despised by blacks and whites alike. The suggestion has been made that a compound should be established 50 miles out in the bush from Alice Springs. That would do no more than drive the half-castes back to the natives. The only possible chance of saving the half-castes is by removing them from the country at a tender age; when they are thirteen or fourteen years old no good can be done. It is said that statements of this nature reflect on the credit of Australia, but it is time that the anomalies that are found in the far north, under the name of law and order, were rectified. Although we are supposed to legislate to protect the natives, we find half-castes there bearing the names of person’s’ in authority. If those who should protect the aborigines fail in their duties what is to be expected of the rest of the white population ? There are examples enough to shock any person who makes intelligent inquiries into the present conditions. In some of the compounds one sees quadroons and aboriginals who are almost white. It is a reflection on our civilization to have 30 or 40 half-castes of both sexes, up to the age of fourteen or fifteen years, sleeping side by side. As the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) said, the Government is fortunate in having the services of Mrs. Standley, who interests herself in the training and protection of the half castes, and also the education of white children. Year after year she has been paid a miserable stipend, . and although I have brought the matter under notice repeatedly when the estimates have been under consideration, no attempt has been made to increase her allowance to an amount commensurate with the services she renders. This lady cannot watch the natives day and night. I have seen them go through the windows at night time when men were hanging around the hotels, and the result can easily be imagined. These unfortunates should be removed from their present environment, from which, under present conditions, there is no escape. If they were brought to Canberra the boys could bo taught trades and the girls could become useful domestic servants.
– Would not the same trouble arise here, even if not to the same extent?
– The moral sense of the community in Canberra would afford protection.
– Other half-castes would arise in due course.
– That may be so; but we must grapple with the problem as we find it. Some attempt must be made to alter the present shocking conditions. It is argued in certain quarters that in time the native race will die out. I contest that statement. There is every possibility of the natives, particularly in the Gulf country, perpetuating their species as freely as ever. The tribes along the coast have been in contact with the Malays- for over a century, and so pronounced are the characteristics of the Malay in them that they are superior to the inland tribes. I have lived north of the Tropic of Capricorn for the last 26 years, and I am in a position to say that the natives in Arnheim’s Land are capable of receiving education and becoming useful citizens.
– Have they .contact with the whites to any great extent?
– The coastal traders, prospectors and others have communication with them, and as the population in the north increases the greater will be that contact. Those who talk about segregation evidently know nothing of the customs of the natives. We might as well try to confine a flock of birds to a given area, and tell them to stop there, as attempt to keep a large body of aborigines in one district. If we did, they would have their corroboree periodically and work themselves into a frenzy in the process. Up would go a spear and a battle would start. I venture to say that under those conditions more damage would be done in two nights than has resulted from all the atrocities that are alleged to have occurred in the last 25 years. It is not impossible to penetrate the McArthur River and Roper River country and Arnheim’s Land; we could teach the natives how to cultivate the soil, market their products, and obtain the full fruits of their labour. In that way we could materially assist the natives. It may be said that it would be useless to attempt to educate a nomadic race. I agree that it would be hopeless to atempt to improve the full grown natives; but if we concentrated upon the young aborigines we might make them producers of no mean order, so far as tropical production is concerned. In other directions the Government should encourge the natives to undertake cattle raising, at which they can be made adepts. They would soon awake to the fact that they could earn more by producing than by their present mode of living. Of course the fertility of the district in which they lived would determine the degree of success they could achieve; but no matter how poor the country they will desire to return to their home regions at least once a year. Then why not dismiss the idea of segregation and assist the natives to live in their own areas ?
– Is venereal disease prevalent in the north?
– Unfortunately that grave problem has not been properly grappled with. Until quite recently there were only one or two doctors in the whole of the Territory and it was impossible for them to supply the medical needs of a community spread over half a million square miles of country, where the centres of population are on the extreme edges of the area. The hawkers in the north of Australia do a large trade in medicines for the treatment of venereal disease. What would the payment of an extra £700 or £800 a year for a doctor amount to compared with the ravages of the “red” plague? Apart fromafew areas in Arnheim’s Land the rounding up of the natives would not present serious difficulties if they were offered a few pounds of tobacc o and flour.
– Could a select committee find a solution of all these difficult problems?
– It could at least give the House a report that would open its eyes as to the needs of the natives in the far north.
– Would not a royal commission be more serviceable?
– Yes. But I do not wish to postpone the inquiry a moment longer than necessary. I ask leave to continue my remarks on . another occasion.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
The time allotted for precedence to general business having expired, and Government business being called on,
WAYS AND MEANS(Formal).
Returned Soldiers’ Military Tatoo - Exchange of Animalsfor Zoological Purposes - Wireless Installations at Lighthouses -Fur Industry and German Dyes - Federal Capital Territory Representation - Canberra Housing - Public Service Grievances - Timber Industry - Oldage Pensioners - Canberra Postal and Telegraph Clerks - Parliamentary Typists - Carrying of Firearms.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and the House resolve itself into Committee of Ways and Means - proposed.
.- I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister for Defence a matter concerning the United Returned Soldiers Fund in which are interested the Returned Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Imperial League, the Limbless Returned Soldiers’ Organization and the Tubercular Returned Soldiers’ Organization. An application was made by these combined bodies to the military authorities of New South Wales for permission to hold a military tattoo during the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York, but they were informed that it was impossible to hold the tattoo at that time because all the available troops were at Canberra, but definite permission was given them to hold one as soon after that event as possible. Later, the Red Cross Organization approached the Minister for Defence for permission to hold a tattoo, and he advised those in control to co-operate with the returned soldiers, the police and the firemen. That was done, and although it was the first intimation that the league had had respecting the intention of the Red Cross Organization to hold a tattoo it was quite prepared to co-operate with the Red Cross Organization so long as each body interested received a proportion of the proceeds, but that stipulation was refused on the ground that the Red Cross Organization desired the whole of the proceeds. It would be most unfortunate if any friction occurred between those magnificent bodies, and therefore I ask the Minister to use his influence with them to prevent any deadlock from arising in respect of the holding of the tattoo. I suggest that both the United Returned Soldiers’ Fund and the Red Cross should participate in the profits.
.- Last week in the House I asked the following question: -
Is it a fact that the Health Department prohibits the exchange of animals with other parts of the world when such animals are for zoological purposes only?
I received the following answer : -
The Health Department does not prohibit the exchange of animals for zoological purposes. Wild or undomesticated animals are admitted into zoological gardens, or other premises licensed for exhibition purposes, but are not released from quarantine while in Australia. There is no quarantine restriction on- the exportation of such animals from Australia,
The- city council of Hobart, which controls the Zoological Gardens in that city, has for the last twelve months been trying to export kangaroos, wallabies and native wild cats in exchange for animals from other parts of the world. The Premier of that State has also endeavoured to effect this exchange of animals. In every case the department has refused to allow them to be sent out of Tasmania, and yet the Government has stated that there is no prohibition on their exportation. That is a grave reflection on some officer of the department concerned, because the City of Hobart has been trying for some time to effect an exchange of animals. The circumstances of this case should be investigated. I understand that this matter really comes under the Department of Trade and Customs although my question was directed to the Health Department. I trust that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) will lift the prohibition on these animals so as to allow an exchange for zoological purposes only.
A few days ago I asked the Minister the following question : -
Is it a fact that the wireless plant on Tasman Island is so badly in need of repair that it is useless?
The reply was-
At the present time there is no wireless plant at Tasman Island. Wireless installations are being established at lighthouses in order of their urgency, and Tasman Island will be considered in due course.
I have received from a mau who has been employed at the lighthouse at Tasman Island a letter in which he states that a wireless plant has been installed there for the last three years. Whether it is a private or government plant I am not prepared to say, but the letter goes on to say that after the plant had been installed it began to give trouble, and engineers were sent from Melbourne to effect repairs, but that as soon as they had left the island the trouble recurred. It further stated that the engineer of the Lady Loch could have repaired the set, but as he had no authority to do so the station simply stated that the machine was out of order. If this wireless plant is a private installation, the least the Government could have done was to put it in order. The Minister stated in his reply that Tasman Island would be sup- plied with wireless in order of urgency. Wireless installations .are badly needed at Tasman Island, and also at Maatsuyker Island lighthouses. These islands are huge rocks upon which live six men and their families. There is no communication except by the Lady Loch, which carries stores and mails there every three months. Recently a serious accident happened at Tasman Island. The crane there is used for lifting passengers and articles from the deck of the steamer to the island. This crane was being inspected by one of the men on the island, and as he climbed the arm the whole structure collapsed. The man’s head was smashed on the rocks, and he fell into the water and was never seen again. Another man standing at the foot of the crane was severely injured. As there was no wireless on the island, four carrier pigeons were released with a message for help, but they were taken by the hawks before they arrived at Hobart. Fortunately, a steamer happened to be passing Tasman Island that night, and the station sent it a Morse signal and the message was transmitted by wireless to Hobart. The wireless station there is unattended at night time, but fortunately a warship was in the harbour and picked up the message. The man was taken to hospital three days after the accident, and he remained there for months so seriously was he injured. The persons on those two lighthouse stations are practically marooned, and surely their case for wireless communication should be taken as urgent.
– Other lighthouses are also in need of wireless installations.
– The other lighthouses are more or less in touch with the mainland. Those two islands are unable to communicate with the mainland other than by pigeon post, or by the Government store boat when it arrives. They, more than those situated on the mainland, should receive the consideration of the Government, and a wireless installation should immediately be placed at their disposal. In the case of a wreck, it would probably obviate a serious loss of life.
Tasmania has just entered into the fur industry. When visiting Tasmania, the Prime Minister, the Public Accounts Committee, the Minister for Markets and Migration and the Film Commission, availed themselves of the opportunity of inspecting that factory, and all expressed pleasure at the excellence of its work. Although it is situated in the constituency of the honorable member for Denison (Sir John Gellibrand), I have taken a very great interest in it since its inception. This year it will treat more than half a million rabbit skins, and it is sending very fine furs to the Australian market. One trouble that it experiences is that it cannot secure a further stock of German dyes. It has found that British dyes are not nearly so reliable as the German product for treating furs. Although I am a strong supporter of British products, I am unable to support them for this type of work, as they have been found ineffective as compared with the German product. Australia sends millions of rabbit skins to other parts of the world to be treated by German dyes, and later imports those skins in a treated condition. Last year we paid £400,000 in duty on skins so treated. The Tasmanian factory is manufacturing an article quite as good as that produced by any other organization in the world, and it is the duty of the Government to enable it to purchase dyes which will ensure the continuance of a firstclass production.
– The statement of the honorable gentleman is too sweeping, when he says that British dyes are not effective.
– The factory has dyed furs with both German and British dyes. When such furs are dyed black, it is found that that treated with the British dye turns brown, whereas that treated with the German product retains its original color.
– Did I understand the honorable member to say the factory had been using German dyes?
– Yes, also British dyes. It was found necessary to procure German dyes in order to turn out the most efficient article. Its stocks of German dyes are now practically depleted, and the factory foresees difficulties ahead.
– The complaint is the fear of the future ?
– It is practically a fear of the present, as the stocks of German dyes are nearly exhausted. The factory must have German dyes, otherwise it will probably have to go out of exist ence. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) is always a keen advocate of Australian-made articles, and I trust that he will lend his assistance to the project. I understand the Commonwealth Government is able to secure German dyes, although the British Board of Trade will not allow their entry into Britain, due, I understand, to the fact that that board has upon it three representatives of British dye concerns.
– I shall touch upon certain topics that may raise the ire of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins), who generally regards himself as the member for the Federal Capital Territory. I regret that steps have not been taken to provide the people of the Territory with the privileges of the franchise. It is deplorable that such an anomaly should be allowed to continue. Men and women are arriving in this Territory who previously have lived in live constituencies all over Australia, to be deprived, on arrival, of the privileges of the franchise. Although they may not pay State taxation, they pay Federal taxes, and I contend that they are entitled, just as much as we are, to enjoy the franchise. Those individuals belong to all parties, and it is the duty of this Parliament to endeavour, at a very early date, to restore them to the full privileges of citizenship which they enjoyed prior to being immured in federal terrtory.
Naturally, quite a number of grievances must crop up when a new area such as this is created. As the Federal Capital Territory is not specifically within the province of any honorable member, it is the privilege of any of us to voice the grievances of the inhabitants of the Territory, in the endeavour to have them redressed. Some people might say Iammerelyamplifyingpublicreports, and broadcasting something that may be detrimental to this Territory. However, we are here, professedly, to establish a model State that will be admired notonly by Australians, but by visitors from all parts of the world. If we are to achieve the city beautiful, the community within that city must be a model community, and my quotation indicates that our endeavours may be jeopardized. It is from a Victorian paper, and will probably be attributed to State jealousy, but
Imust claim innocence in that regard. Nearly eighteen years ago, when I first entered Parliament, I pledged myself to my electors that I would endeavour to alter the seat of the Federal Capital to a place that was considered more satisfactory, if it were possible so to do. However, Canberra has many attractions, particularly to the person who is aesthetically inclined. My quotation reads : -
Humble Hessian Shanties House Children. behindtrees.
Canberra, Tuesday. - Although the Federal Capital Commission is the self-announced guardian of the beauty of Canberra, and enforces strict building regulations on residents, Canberra already has its slums.
They are hidden behind the trees at the foot of Mount Ainslie. It is the Russell Hill Settlement.
Here workers of the Commission live with their wives and families in hessian and board shanties that would bc a disgrace to the smallest bush town.
– I can scarcely conceive that even a journalist would publish that if it were not founded on truth. Many of us have large constituencies to care for, and do not wish to add to our responsibilities, but, having read that paragraph, I intend to look into the matter, and, whether the Government commission, or both, are responsible for that condition of affairs, I shall endeavour to have it rectified. These workers are the builders of this great city, and have the right to be properly housed and cared for. It may be urged that many men engaged in railway construction in Victoria are less well cared for, but they have not their womenfolk with them. Although the workmen are willing to put up with all sorts of inconvenience themselves, they are not willing to permit their wives and families to do so. Many of these folk have been in Canberra for a long time, and they expect to be here for an even longer time. In the circumstances, it is the bounden duty of the commission to see that they are properly housed. If, upon investigation, I find that the allegations to which I have referred are justified, I shall take other opportunities to bring the matter under the notice of the Government, and to do all that I can to have the complaints remedied.
I wish now to refer to the unhappy position of certain public servants who. have been transferred to Canberra. As an introduction to these remarks, may I say that it will be impossible to govern Australia as cheaply from Canberra as from Melbourne, or any other established city. The cost of living and the rentals charged for houses are higher here than elsewhere, and already public servants residing here have found that their salaries are insufficient to cover the extra expenses which they have to meet. Every honorable member knows that a contented Public Service is the foundation upon which good government rests, and without it all our efforts to govern this country well must fail. “We may have a genius as Prime Minister, and he may have associated, with him Ministers blessed with all the wisdom of a Solomon, and all the eloquence of a Demosthenes; but unless our Public Service is contented and happy they will fail to govern the country properly. There are only two ways to make the public servants in Canberra satisfied with their lot. We must reduce the cost of living or increase the salaries that are being paid to them.
I regret that the Public Service Board has not been more liberal in dealing with public servants who have been transferred to this city. In my opinion, they have done some things which can only be described as niggardly, and they have certainly interfered with the rights of a number of officers.
The Prime Minister seems to have developed an unfortunate habit of calling upon certain public servants to discharge duties which are entirely outside those for which they were employed. For instance, Sir Brudenell White, the Chairman of the Public Service Board, was called upon to plan and organize the tour that Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York recently* made through Australia. Was there no other person in Australia capable of doing that work? Sir Brudenell White’s first duty is that of Chairman of the Public Service Board. I understand, also, that certain members of the Federal Capital Commission have been requested to undertake work apart from that connected with the commission. That is not as it should be.
I shall take other opportunities of calling attention to these matters ; but in the meantime I pay my respects to the Public Service of this country, and assure the Government that I shall do everything in my power to see that the grievances from which public servants are suffering are redressed. Throughout my public life I have counted it an honour to do all I could to remove obstacles that are placed in the path of public servants and other wage earners.
.- I endorse the remarks that the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) made respecting the fur factory that has been established in Hobart. I have not visited it, but I have heard very complimentary remarks made about its work.
– What is the name of the firm?
– I am sorry that I cannot give the Minister that information’; but I know a good deal about the operations of the firm. I am informed that it is absolutely necessary that it should use certain. German dyes in treating the pelts which it handles. The British dyes that are available for the purpose colour only a portion of the fur, whereas the German dyes go to the root of every hair. I trust that the Minister will he able to find a way to make the German dyes available to the firm at a considerably lower duty than that which is being charged at present.
No doubt honorable members have heard something about the Angora rabbits that are being bred in England for their furs. These animals, which are considerably larger than the Australian rabbit, are shorn regularly. Certain persons interested in the business in Australia have endeavoured to obtain permission to breed them here, but their application has not been granted.
– If the State law prohibits the breeding of them, what can the Commonwealth Government do?
– If the Commonwealth would lend a sympathetic ear to the representations that have been made on the matter it is possible that the State authorities would amend their laws. I merely ask the Minister to consider first what the Commonwealth can do. If that is done I may be able to give to these people some of the information they require.
I also plead with him to try to induce the Government to deal early with the Tariff Board’s report on timber. The timber industry is languishing and soon will be dead if something is not done to protect it. We are using foreign timbers, although we have in our own country better material for the purposes for which the imports are bought. Those engaged in the industry have been waiting a “long time for an announcement of the Government’s decision and they are losing heart. If the Government is not prepared to recommend the imposition of an adequate duty, it is well that the timbergetters should know the worst as early as possible.
.- On previous occasions I have mentioned in the House a grave injustice suffered by one class of old age pensioners. When they reach the age at which they are no longer able to care for themselves, and they therefore take up residence with a son, daughter, or other relative, and let the home which they have made their own after years of sacrifice and self-denial, the department reduces their pension in proportion to the rental value of the property. Thus those who have struggled to provide a home for themselves are penalized and are at a disadvantage in comparison, with others who have not exercised such thrift. If the finances of the country are in such a buoyant state as the Treasurer has boasted, the time is opportune to provide more generously for the old-age pensioners, and surely those who have had the foresight and industry to provide a home for themselves should be entitled to enjoy the income from their property for the remainder of their lives. The Treasurer proposes a reduction of income tax in order to relieve persons of substantial means. I suggest to him that there is more justification for giving sympathetic consideration to those poorer folk who in the evening of their lives require every penny they can get, and I again appeal to him to treat this request favourably.
– I listened with pleasure to the plea of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) that some representation should be given to the Federal Capital Territory so that its residents may have somebody to voice their grievances. I brought this matter forward in Melbourne some months ago, but since the removal of the . Seat of Government to Canberra, the need for the representation of the population here has become more urgent. To-day I have spent at least three hours in listening to the grievances of Canberra residents, and I have not been present at one debate since the House assembled three weeks ago when some messenger has not called me from the chamber to hear some local complaint. I am not the representative of Canberra, although that is a title one might be proud to have; I represent an adjoining constituency which is large and important enough to keep me fully employed; yet at least 75 per cent, of my time is devoted to matters relating to the Federal Capital Territory. The population of the Territory is approximately 7,500 in all, my own electors number 40,000, yet 75 per cent, of the work I do in Canberra is for the smaller population. Whether representation can be given to a population of 7,500 when honorable members represent on an average 40.000 . electors, whether a representative could be elected to ventilate grievances without having the right to vote, are questions for this Parliament to decide. I am prepared at all times to help any individual in Canberra, or elsewhere; but the people of the Federal Capital Territory are not fairly treated while they are not represented by some one who will be directly responsible to them at election time.
The Postal and Telegraph Clerks’ Association has a grievance concerning the position of clerks engaged at the Canberra post office. They receive no special allowance for residing here, although they have been transferred from Sydney and other places where good board and lodging can be obtained at a reasonable rate. They are decent young fellows who have come from good homes, and they are required’ to dine at the Capitol Hill mess, where the meals are served in a rough and ready manner. The tables are uncovered, and there are none of the refinements to which they have been accustomed. There is no special lounge accommodation, and in tlie evenings they must retire to their cubicles, each of which accommodates two persons. In addition they are required to supply their own beds, bedding, and towels, and to clean up their cubicles. Those conditions are not in keeping with the status of civil servants throughout New South Wales. The association has appealed to the Postal Department; but this grievance has not been, remedied. I ventilate it now in the hope that the Minister will give to it his personal attention, because, as the honorable member for Maribyrnong said, a contented civil service is essential.
Some of the typists employed in this building are inadequately paid. Nearly all their remuneration is paid away in board and lodging. These girls have to maintain a good appearance, and that will be impossible unless their allowance is increased. In most of the departments some allowance is paid; but it is inadequate. The Postal Department pay’s no allowance to seniors, but juniors receive in excess of the costs of their accommodation £45 a year, with a. maximum of £165. In most cases this works out at about 17s. 6d. a week after they have paid their board. Out of the 17s. 6d. they have to pay for washing and keep themselves in clothes, Asc. Discontent mustresult if this unsatisfactory state of affairs is not altered. The honorable member for Maribyrnong referred also to the hessian buildings. I visited them some months ago, and no complaint was made to me; in fact, I understood that they had been erected at the request of those who occupied them; but I shall read to the House the following letter which I received a few days ago: -
I have .read with much interest in the daily press the announcement where it is tlie intention of the Federal Treasurer, when the House meets next week in Canberra, that one of the first matters to be dealt with will be the Federal housing scheme to assist home-seekers to purchase or build their own homes in Canberra. This, he states, will be done on somewhat similar lines to those given through the State Savings Bank by State ..Ministers. This, no doubt, will be a boon to people wanting to make their homes at Canberra, as at present there is really no avenue by which people without great means can enter Canberra. The moneyed people and the speculators have tlie whole situation in hand at the present time.
The financial situation and the Federated Master Builders’ Association are the two main factors operating against the man with small means. They have established a strong fortification around Canberra, and have made it absolutely impossible for the working class, or even people with small means, entering Canberra. Those two obstacles have up to the present time just throttled that young city and have brought about moneyed class distinction, and of the two troubles the Federated Master Builders’ Association is by far the worst. It has consummated a reform for the builders, and now no person, no matter how capable or qualified he may be, is permitted to erect a building in Canberra for himself or his friend, without first obtaining registration from the commission. Those registration qualifications are so hard that they prevent first-class tradesmen from operating in Canberra. This, of course, plays right into the hands of the Master Builders’ Association, and enables the registered contractors to put on their own prices, &c. and in some cases they are not fit themselves to drive a nail, and have in turn to employ the first-class tradesmen referred to, who cannot get registered. This just shows the position the Master Builders’ Association have placed themselves in, and can just charge what they like, so as to make their profit large. Canberra is the only place in Australia to-day where such an association exists, and there is no doubt about it, we sorely want an alteration from this cast-iron rule, and to enable any man to build his own home in Canberra just the same as people can do in any other part of the Commonwealth. So long as a man can guarantee that he would build his home with competent and qualified tradesmen, then he should be the sole contractor of his own home, at any rate, and on a £1,500 present-day price home in Canberra, make a saving of at least between £400 or £500. This would enable people with limited means to build their own homes and make this great saving, and when finished would be an asset to the owner, with some increment coming about, instead of the registered builder taking for his own profit what should be the owner’s increment. There is no reason why every man who wished to do so should not be allowed to build his own home in Canberra. There can be nothing unsightly erected by what the master builders term “ the jerry builders,” when the commission has strict supervision over ti,e whole of the building operations in Canberra, which occupies the time of about five different inspectors from the foundation to the finished article. I am writing this in the hope that you will be good enough to place those facts before the Federal Ministry when they are going into their housing scheme at Canberra, and see if it is not possible to have an alteration brought about which will enable men with limited means, who are not able to stand up to a registered contractor’s huge profits, to build their own homes, and after doing so have an asset with an increment coming about straight away, which would be an inducement for any financial institution to advance against, instead of, as at present, going to the other fellow in profits. However,
I hope you will succeed in having an amendment brought about which will enable any man to build his own home in the way as set out above.
I have not made a practice of bringing every matter that comes before me under the notice of the House. Some of the grievances are of long standing; in fact, one of my constituents has been waiting since 1913 in the hope of placing her request before Ministers personally. I think that I have shown that the Federal Territory should have a separate representative.
.- Some time ago I brought under the notice of the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) the fact that criminals and other depraved persons were carrying firearms to the danger of the public. Apparently the Minister thought that I was endeavouring to obtain cheap legal advice, contrary to the regulations of the union to which he belongs; but the Minister misunderstood me. Yesterday I submitted a question, upon notice, about two Italian migrants who had apparently fallen out with one another. They were engaged in box-making under the pernicious system of piece work, and one of them, in order to maintain his mother who lived in Italy, regularly worked at night and annoyed his fellow countryman, who shot him dead. The accused was brought up for trial, and the jury directed the notice of Judge Gordon to the free use of firearms, and the ease with which migrants could bring them into Australia. The Attorney-General stated in reply that the Government had power under the Customs Act to prohibit migrants from landing in Australia with firearms, but he would make inquiries into this particular case. Only this evening I read in a Sydney newspaper that a resident of Manly, who had motored to the Blue Mountains, had been found with three bullet holes through his body. Wo good reason can be advanced why any private individual should be permitted to carry deadly weapons. Not many years ago the police in N’ew South Wales were not allowed to carry firearms in the course of their duty. The reason why they were armed was that scoundrels from one of the other States shot two policemen in Macquariestreet, Sydney. Then Sir George Dibbs permitted the police to be armed in order to prevent them from being made the targets of law-breakers. Australians are the most law-abiding people on the face of the earth. Firearms should not be carried by any persons other than members of the naval and military forces. Hardly a week goes by without some shooting case occurring. In some cases men have tried to force their company on our womenfolk, and those not reciprocating have been shot. I am informed that the Government has power under the Defence Act to call in all firearms; but I am not in a position to say whether that could be done in a time of peace. We could do it with the . permission of . the State Governments. On common-sense grounds, however, I feel quite justified in taking steps to prevent the use of firearms. I would not handle a pistol for a pound, except to throw it into the sea. When I was a child my mother taught me the commandment, “ Thou shalt not kill.” Here is a fine opportunity for our Christian Church to preach this doctrine. If the Government took a determined stand in this matter it would have the support of the whole community, as it is the general opinion that the indiscriminate use of firearms should no longer b& tolerated. An exception could be made in the case of members of the defence and naval forces who may require firearms for training purposes ; but the supply should be limited, as there is always a possibility of firearms getting into the possession of persons who do not realise the danger of handling them, Many foreigners think that they must possess firearms when living in Australia; but the citizens of the Commonwealth are so peace-loving that they ‘ can settle their little differences without the use of weapons. When travelling to the Blue Mountains last summer, I had the unfortunate experience to share a compartment on the train with an intoxicated man who was in possession of a revolver, which he probably would have used had an argument arisen. At the first stop I changed to another compartment. A man was tried at Darlinghurst the other day for illegally using firearms; but the sentence was reduced when the counsel for the defence explained that he was mentally agitated at the time owing to the hard work which he had- been doing under the abominable piecework system. I trust the Government will act in the direction I have suggested, so that it will be practically impossible for undesirable persons to obtain firearms.
– -For the information of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook), who spoke about the desired exportation of indigenous Australian animals by the Hobart Zoological Society, and for the information of the society I may explain < that it is the custom of the department to watch carefully the exportation of Australian animals and birds. I am sure that the House is unanimously agreed that we should preserve our unique fauna as far as possible. It is the custom of the department to allow any free exportation of fauna only through societies such as zoological societies that do not trade for profit. I have not yet heard of any difficulty being put in the way of zoological societies throughout Australia exchanging our fauna for that of other countries. I have told the honorable member for Franklin that the proper procedure is to make application to the local Collector of Customs. In all cases of doubt I obtain the advice of the local zoological society or scientists who are interested in Australian fauna. I shall keep a very tight rein upon the exportation of our indigenous fauna by dealers for profit alone. In several cases raids have .been made upon outgoing steamers, and some of our rare birds have been found on board. Prosecutions have thereupon been instituted, and fines inflicted.
I shall have further inquiries made respecting the installation of wireless at Tasman Island, but the honorable member for Franklin is not quite sure whether the plant there at present is private property. If it is we cannot expect those on the lighthouse steamers to be under the obligation of effecting repairs to it. Several wireless plant’s have already been installed at lighthouses, and others will be installed later, but there is not always sufficient technical ability among lighthouse-keepers to enable them to work the sets. That is one of the difficulties with which the department is faced. Regarding the isolation of lighthousekeepers, it is generally known that we are doing our best for them, and that they accept their positions with a full knowledge of the isolation that they must suffer.
Respecting furs and dyes, I freely admit that the administration of the importation of dyes has been one of the most difficult minor problems that the department has been called upon to handle. It will be remembered that during the war the British Government expended millions of pounds in establishing the dye industry, which is a key industry, so that Great Britain should not be dependent upon foreign dyes for many of its vital industries. In 1919 or 1920 the British Government asked the then Australian Government to help it to foster this industry, and if possible to follow its administration. This was agreed to, and as a result a proclamation was issued prohibiting the importation of dyes other than British except with the permission or consent of the . Minister for Trade and Customs. Since then we have adopted the policy of refusing to allow foreign dyes to be imported here if there is available a British dye of a similar quality. The enforcement of this policy has been very difficult, because agents want to do business and manufacturers want to buy at low prices. All sorts of reasons have been given why this and that foreign, dye should be admitted to the Commonwealth, even to the prejudice of the British industry. “When in Loudon I endeavoured to .simplify the administration and to obviate complaints, that I think were wrongly made, to the effect that we were refusing to admit into the Commonwealth foreign dyes that were admitted into Britain. I established a liaison with the British Board of Trade, and now, before any permit is given for the importation of a foreign dye into Australia, the Board of Trade will be advised, and if it prohibits the importation of that dye into Britain, then Australia will follow its example. I am glad indeed that the fur industry has been established in Tasmania. We have the necessary skins, and it is a big economic loss to us to export skins in the raw and then to import the finished articles from foreign countries at perhaps twenty times the price that was originally paid. I am not aware that any application has been made by the company mentioned by the honorable member for Franklin for the importation of foreign dyes. Many important people have seen this industry in Tasmania and have returned to the mainland filled with enthusiasm respecting its future. As far as my department is concerned, no unnecessary obstruction will be placed in the way of that industry getting the very best possible dyes in order to assist its operations.
With regard to the timber industry, I can only reply to the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) that I have received the reports of the Tariff Board. Speaking from memory they consist of some 150 pages, and there is probably 2,000 pages of evidence. It is receiving the consideration of the Government, and will be laid upon the table of the House as soon as possible.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) referred to the carrying of firearms. . I admire the enthusiasm and the humane instincts that underlie his persistence in this matter, but I would remind him that to prohibit the importation of firearms will not rectify the present position in Australia, because there are too many firearms about and too many carried. I am glad that the States generally have licensed and registered the ownership of firearms. They should prohibit the carrying of firearms unless under special circumstances, and this, I think, would help the cause so eloquently advocated by the honorable member. The Customs Department tries to carry out its administration in a broadminded and sensible way, and if any concerted request is made by the States to restrict the carrying of firearms, it will receive the careful consideration of the Government. It may be interesting to know that we have seized several consignments of dangerous articles from abroad. A few months ago a so-called pen-knife consisting of a couple of blades had on the top of it a narrow barrel for the firing of lethal cartridges, which I believe were capable of stupefying a man for a few minutes and enabling him to be robbed by the owner of the weapon. Those articles were of continental manufacture and were seized by the Customs Department in the interests of the public. I hope that I have fully covered all the points raised in the course of this debate.
Question resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That tlie House do now adjourn.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) to-day referred to the motor omnibus service in Canberra. I am now in a position to supply him with information that has been prepared by the Federal Capital Commission. In August, 1927, the commission invited applications from persons or companies desirous of conducting motor omnibus and hire car services in Canberra and the Territory. Besides the conditions laid down in section 30 of the Motor Traffic Ordinance as to routes, charges, types of vehicles and speeds of motor omnibuses, evidence as to financial capacity and the capital it was proposed to invest in the service was required. It was laid down that applicants should be prepared to take over the transport of children proceeding to schools in Canberra and quote special mileage rates for their conveyance. Special weekly and monthly rates for public servants and others were also to be quoted. The successful tenderer was also to be notified that it would be necessary to insure for an amount to be approved by the commission, in respect of each omnibus, against claims through death, injury, fire and accident and against third party risk, and such insurance should be effected with an insurance company approved by the commission, the policies to be lodged with the commission. The commission advertised, in calling for the tenders, that the successful applicant would be given the right to run an omnibus service over certain specified routes and for a specified period. Only one tender was received. As a result of negotiations with this tenderer, the offer was brought down to a reasonable figure, viz., to cover routes between North Ainslie, Blandfordia and Eastlake with two sections at 3d. each and through fare of 6d., with provision for’ weekly tickets . at a concession rate. Fares for any extension of existing rates were to be approved by the commission The weekly tickets’ to be available to Parliamentary staff, commission employees, public servants and workmen were to be at 4s. 6d., for 22 single trips, irrespective of distance. The experience of the commission during the period which it had been running a service was that it has been operated at a loss of 6.57d. per omnibus mile. It was estimated, however, that in view of the increasing, population, this loss would be reduced slightly now and in the future. The commission, therefore, proposed to pay a subsidy monthly, based on the actual running of ihe omnibuses in the service of the successful tenderer to an approved time-table within the Canberra and city area. For the first year the subsidy would be at the rate of 4d. per mile, the second year 3d. per mile, third year 2d. per mile and fourth year Id. per mile. The successful tenderer agrees to provide an ominbus service to be operated and maintained in a manner satisfactory to the commission and to provide a service sufficient to cope adequately with the traffic at peak periods and during the slack periods to run approximately at half-hour intervals. The commission has agreed to grant to the successful, tenderer a licence to conduct a motor omnibus service under the conditions described in the Motor Traffic Ordinance 1926-27, and the right to conduct a. motor omnibus service for a period up to ten years. Under the agreement to be made with the tenderer, it will be laid down that there must be a reduction of fares to a figure, which will limit the cumulative dividend of the proposed company to 10 per cent, per annum during the sixth to the tenth year, if, during the period, after meeting all operating and overhead cost, including reasonable provision for depreciation and renewal at a rate to be agreed upon, a profit is made which will permit payment of a cumulative dividend exceeding 10 per cent, per annum. Arrangements have also been made by which the contractor will put into service an approved number of taxicabs and hire cars for general use at unproved rates.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.36 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 October 1927, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1927/19271013_reps_10_116/>.