17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Census of Personnel
– Will the Minister for the Army inform the House whether the Department of the Army has initiated a census of the Australian Military Forces personnel, comprising 35 main questions and numerous sub-questions directed at ascertaining personal particulars of members of the forces and their occupation and educational background? What is this information required for? How long does the Minister think it will take for the return and tabulation of the particulars sought? Will the census in any way impede progress in the release of members’ of the forces who have had five years’ war service? What assistance is to be rendered to front-line soldiers in the completion of the census form, which I understand will be accompanied by a four-page list of instructions?
Mr.FORDE. - The form to which the honorable member has referred has been brought to my notice, and I draw his attention to the first paragraph which reads : “ Any information provided by your officers will help solve post-war problems “. I say definitely that this census will not impede the release of members of the forces who have rendered five years’ war service. Assistance will be given to members of the forces who are in camps to supply this information, which is considered necessary in solving post-war problems associated with the rehabilitation of servicemen.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General table the script which led to the banning of prominent radio artists so that honorable members may obtain a true appreciation of the situation?
– I shall conveythe honorable gentleman’s request to the Postmaster-General and ask him for a reply at an early date.
– In view of the appointment of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to the Ministry will the Prime Minister inform the House whether the Government intends to reconstitute the War Expenditure Committee? If it does, in view of the repeated disclosures by the Auditor-General of wasteful’ expenditure and inefficient accountancy methods employed by Commonwealth departments, especially service departments, will the Prime Minister, before reconstituting the committee, consider obtaining the services of independent outside accountants to assist the committee in its inquiries, and will he then direct the committee to make a searching investigation of expenditure by service departments, new war-time departments, boards, committees and the like?
– The Government intends to reconstitute the War Expenditure Committee, a vacancy on which has arisenbecause of the elevation of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to the Ministry. I should like an opportunity to’ examine the other matters to which the right honorable gentleman has referred, so that I may be able to give to him a more complete reply than I could furnish off-hand.
Mr.CONELAN.- Has the Prime Minister read the statement in the press that fifteen motor tractors of 61 horsepower and nine tractors of 38 horse-power have been lying idle in the Division of Import Procurement Stores since last December? If these machines are not needed for the services and could be converted into bulldozers, will he take steps to have them sold to local governing authorities who need them?
Mr.CHIFLEY. - I have read the statement mentioned, and have asked that inquiries be made to establish its accuracy or otherwise. If machinery that is necessary for essential civilian use can be released, the honorable member may rest assured that that will be done.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether arrangements have yet been finalized in connexion with the establishment of a new airport near West Beach, north of Glenelg, in the Adelaide area ? If not, in the event of this site being favorably considered, does he propose to acquire land for the purpose, thus anticipating its private purchase, which would cause difficulty to the Government later by reason of the necessity to negotiate for its acquisition?
– The matter of utilizing land at West Beach has been brought to my notice, and I have replied to those who made the representations that the site is considered quite suitable, but that whether or not it will be selected as the site for the main airport of Adelaide has not yet been decided. I “assure the honorable member that, in the event of the decision being to establish the airport on this site, steps will be taken early to acquire the necessary land, and thus avoid the possibility of its being privately purchased.
– The press to-day attributes to the Minister for Air the statement that the initial training school at Somers, and other Royal Australian Air Force training establishments, are to be closed. Will the Minister prevent the demolition of the buildings on such camps, in order that the amenities that they provide may become available to housing authorities for the housing of, particularly, service personnel who may be without homes?
– What will be done with Royal Australian Air Force camps after they have been vacated is a matter for consideration by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. Those which it is desired to retain will have to be placed on a care and maintenance basis. The honorable member may rest assured that the Government will release to the proper authorities buildings and other materials which may usefully be utilized to alleviate the housing shortage in some measure.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping whether the petrol allowance is to be increased as from the 1st August next. If so, what will be the percentage increase, and will it have general application ?
– The only knowledge that I have is that which I have gained from published statements made by the Minister for Supply and Shipping. I shall obtain the fullest information from him.
Passports - Answer to Question
– The Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs will recollect that during the last couple of months I have asked him questions concerning applications by members of the International Youth Committee for passages for advisers to visit a conference that is to be held in London. I have asked him to ascertain whether applications were made to any other department if there was no record of them in his department. No reply has been furnished. Has the honorable gentleman read the statement published in the Century of the 13th July, that Mr. H. Williams had been ableto leave Sydney by boat this week? If that is correct, how was authority obtained for this person to leave Australia? Is it fair to treat as the Minister has done questions that are asked in this House?
– I have not read the article, nor do I know anything of the circumstances of the case. On the last occasion the honorable member asked a question on this subject, I told him that the issue of passports was the concern of the Minister for the Interior, and I advised him to address his inquiries to that quarter. If he desired further information, he should have done as I suggested.
– The Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs promised on the 3rd July that he would endeavour to obtain information as to whether application had been made to the Department of the Interior, the Department of Trade and Customs or any other department for passports for representatives of Australia to the meeting in London of the International Youth Committee. He has informed me to-day that this information has already been supplied to me. I now ask him when it was supplied? If it was supplied in the House, why was I not given a copy of the answer to my question ?
– The answer was supplied, and in this House. The honorable gentleman will find it in Hansard, at page 4120. It reads -
In reply to a question asked ‘by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) on the. 3rd July, as to whether any applications had been made for passport facilities for representatives to attend a Youth Conference in London, I wish to state that no such applications have been received by the Department of External Affairs and, as the issue of passports is a matter for the Department of the Interior, any question in relation thereto should be addressed to the Minister in charge of that department. .
– I raise a matter of privilege. At page 4119, Hansard records that the House adjourned on the 5th July at 3.20 p.m. as a mark of respect to the memory of the late Prime Minister, and that the foregoing answer read by the Minister was included in a number of answers that are printed under the caption “ The following answers to questions were circulated “. I make the definite statement that my question was never answered in this House. Its appearance in Hansard. in the manner I have stated, proves that contention. I have not yet received a reply to my question. I move -
That an honorable member who has asked a question of a Minister should be supplied with the written answer before the answer ii circulated or .printed in Hansard.
– Early in this session, a similar point arose. I then undertook, and I asked Ministers to ensure, that answers to questions which became available on a day on which the House was not sitting should be published in Hansard at the earliest possible date. That practice has since been followed. Privilege is not involved, and the motion is out of order.
– Can the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction say when I may expect a reply to the representations which I made over four months ago, namely, on the 7th -March, when, speaking on the motion for the adjournment of the House, in regard to the alleged harsh action of the Prices Commissioner in regard to the price of electric stovettes, and the refusal of the Directorate of War Organization of Industry to allow stovettes to be manufactured? Does not the Minister think that it is time I received a reply?
– I regret that the information for which the honorable member asked has not been supplied to him. I shall look, into the matter immediately, and ensure that he receives a reply without delay.
– I ask the Prime Minister, in the absence of the Minister for Labour and National Service, whether, in the interests of primary and secondary industries, he will arrange for the release of sufficient labour to Rylands Proprietary Limited, of New castle, to enable them to proceed with the manufacture of galvanized wire and wire netting?
– I realize that this matter of the supply of galvanized wire and wire netting, as well as of galvanized iron, is important. The Minister for Munitions, whose direct concern it is, has been pressing strongly for the release of man-power to enable production to be undertaken. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, as Chairman of the “War Commitments Committee, is giving particular attention to this problem, particularly in regard to making available such man-power as it may be possible to release from the services.
Acquisition of Land
– Some weeks ago, I pointed out that the Housing Commission in Victoria was acquiring land belonging to servicemen, and I asked the Acting Attorney-General whether he had approved the waiving of the moratorium that protects service personnel from such action. Some of this land has been acquired at prices less than those for which the servicemen purchased it, and they had no redress. The regulations provide that the Attorney-General must agree, or the owner must consent, to the acquisition of the land, and the honorable gentleman promised that he would inquire into the matter. I should like to know whether he has completed his inquiries, and, if so, what is the result?
– It is true that power has been delegated to housing commissions within the States to acquire land. The regulations were drafted for a particular purpose. If a housing commission desired to acquire an area for an extensive building scheme, the regulations provided the necessary authority. But I doubt whether this power should be granted in its present form.
– Some of the owners are absent on active service, and are not able to protest against the acquisitions.
– That is so. For strong sentimental reasons, a man may desire to build a home on land that he had acquired before he joined the forces. In my opinion, this power of acquisition should be re-examined. Yesterday, I discussed the matter with the SolicitorGeneral, and when the Attorney-General returns next week end, appropriate action may be taken to rectifythe position.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for Information to the following cable that appeared in to-day’s issue of the Canberra Times: -
In a letter to The Times, Lord Hardinge of Penshurst says the method of the appointment of the new Australian Prime Minister raises interesting constitutional issues.
The Commonwealth choice was made by a party in power, the Crown representative merely swearing him in. In this country from the time of George IV., the choice of Prime Minister has always been recognized in the words “ a free and unbiased choice of the Crown itself “.
Will the honorable gentleman inform the Government of the United Kingdom that in Australia, even the tory party adopts the same method of selecting the Prime Minister? Will he ask the high and noble lord to keep his “ bib “ out of Australian constitutional soup?
– The honorable member has raised a matter of major importance. Although I am daring enough in some matters. I shall not presume to offer an opinion on this subject before the Cabinet has decided what its policy shall be.
– War damage insurance payments from property owners have provided an amount of approximately £12,000,000, and, fortunately, very little of it has been claimed in Australia to repair property damaged by enemy action. Will the Government consider allocating a liberal share of this large amount to local authorities, whose roads have been damaged by war equipment and service vehicles, and who have been deprived of their plant through war causes ? To date, they have not received reasonable compensation, if any at all. Will the Government concede that the repairing of war-damaged roads is an appropriate subject of expenditure from these funds and not entirely the responsibility of ratepayers?
– The honorable member speaks about war damage in Australia being small, but the fact is that damage done at Darwin and in New Guinea and Papua is also covered by the war-damage insurance fund. Although I am not aware of the final assessments in regard to Papua and New Guinea, I understand that fairly substantial sums will have to be found to cover war damage in that area. I also remind the honorable member that some time ago the regulations were extended in order to give assistance to certain classes of people who were affected, if not directly by enemy action, at least by events associated with the war. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) raised this matter on one occasion in another place and referred to looting at Darwin. That aspect of the problem of war damage was investigated, and the regulations were widened in order to provide for what is considered to be a fair use of a portion of the war damage fund. I shall have a more detailed statement prepared for the information of the honorable member as soon as possible. I suppose that the roads he mentioned are highways over which military traffic has passed from time to time in transporting soldiers or supplies.
– And roads near camps.
– T here are many claims of that kind, and I do not know where we should finish if we examined all of them. If the honorable member has some specific case, I shall investigate it in the light of the general situation.
– Do shipping companies engaged in transport to New Guinea obtain relief from this fund?
– I should not like to answer off-hand about shipping. I know of one or two applications by States for the payment of tolls in respect of military vehicles passing over toll bridges. I thought that they were lucky to have military forces to prevent the bridges from being blown down altogether. I shall have a look at the matter of shipping damage.
Restrictions on Primary Produce and Stock.
– Will the Minister for Transport ask the War Road Transport Committee, which will hold a meeting shortly, to consider lifting the regulation which prohibits primary producers from carrying their produce beyond a 25-mile radius from their properties? If this regulation cannot be lifted, will he ensure that the ban on taking produce and stock to country agricultural shows shall be lifted? Stud-breeders are severely restricted by their inability to transport their stock by road to such shows. The lifting of the ban would be of great assistance to primary producers.
– The problem of rubber conservation is involved in this question, and that is dealt with by the Minister for Supply and Shipping. However, there will be a meeting of the War Road Transport Committee on the 6th August, and I shall arrange for the matter to be listed for consideration. If it be impossible to eliminate the restriction altogether, I shall see whether it can be relaxed in some way, in view of the honorable gentleman’s request.
– It has been the practice in recent months for the Department of the Interior, when replying to inquiries made by honorable members and applications by persons wishing to migrate to Australia, to state merely that the applications were refused. No details are given as to the reasons for the refusal, nor is any indication given of Government policy on migration. I realize that the Minister for Immigration may find it difficult to indicate Government policy at the moment, but I ask him to see that, in the official replies to applications for permission to enter Australia, an intimation shall be given that the applicant’s name has been recorded and that, as soon as the Government is in a position to announce its policy, a notification to that effect will be forwarded to the applicant. In that way, I believe, we could retain the interest of many desirable migrants who have been discouraged by the nature of the official replies to their applications.
– I repeat what I said in reply to the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) yesterday, namely, that I hope to make a statement to this House next week on the Government’s policy in regard to migration. As to the question of whether notification could be sent to persons seeking information with regard to their prospects of migrating to Australia or in regard to any other matters affecting immigration, that their names have been recorded and suitable information will be sent to them at the earliest possible moment, I shall have the position examined. My first impression is that it is highly desirable that it should be done.
– Will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction state whether the committee appointed to review the National Security Regulations is still in operation, and if it is, whether it has submitted any further report recently? Can the Minister say whether unnecessary regulations and restrictions are to be lifted in the near future?
– It is true that I am chairman of a ministerial sub-committee dealing with the relaxation of controls. Action has been taken to obtain from different departments a list of the controls operated by them, with their comments as to whether they consider that the controls should continue. These lists have already come in from various departments, and a preliminary review shows that it will be possible to relax quite a number of controls in the near future. I hope to be able to make a further statement on the matter shortly.
Immobilization of Special Accounts
– Referring to the surplus funds of the trading banks which are deposited in special accounts with the Commonwealth Bank, will the Treasurer inform the House whether the immobilization of these funds renders the Commonwealth Bank liable to an interest payment of about £1,800,000 per annum? If these funds are immobilized in this way, thereby imposing a charge on the taxpayers, could not some other method be devised by which the funds might be restored, for example, to the trading banks, and immobilized there without cost to the Commonwealth?
– As the honorable member knows, the surplus investable funds of the trading banks held by the Commonwealth Bank in special accounts amount to about £240,000,000. These have been deposited with the Commonwealth Bank under the Banking Control Regulations, which, to a large degree, are embodied in the banking legislation which has been passed by this House, and is now being considered in the Senate. A considerable portion of that money would represent funds which the trading banks have received on current account. Those banks have been put to certain managerial and administrative expense in the handling of that money.
– The trading banks also have an interest charge in respect of the money. Much of it is held on fixed deposit.
– That would be true in respect of the money on which interest is payable, but I think that an examination will show that a large proportion represents current accounts on which interest is not payable by the private banks. That money is held by the Commonwealth Bank under the regulations, as it will be under the new banking legislation, in order to ensure that the private banks shall not engage in a secondary inflation. That carries further into the general advance policy of those banks now, and also in future under the banking legislation. I may say frankly that the handing of that money back to them to be allowed to run free could constitute a grave danger to the economic stability of the country. That does not imply that the money is frozen for all time. The Commonwealth Bank will have power under the banking legislation as it has under the existing regulations to release as much of that money as it thinks necessary in the general interest.
– Will the Minister for Defence state whether it is a fact that a considerable number of miners are continually retiring under the New South Wales scheme for pensions for mine workers? If that is so, does it not indicate that the mines will constantly be requiring more men ? As the Government is not prepared to release more men from the fighting services for work in the coal mines, will he consider repealing the regulations that require the man-power authority to allow the employment in the mines of youths who have not had previous mining experience?
– Perhaps the honorable member himself is better acquainted than I am with the regulations governing the safety of the employees in the coal mines and the conditions under which the recruitment ofmine workers is possible. I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for Labour and National Service.
– Two months ago,I mentioned to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs the case of a British soldier in the Australian Imperial Force, repatriated from Germany for over six months, who had been awaiting a permit which would enable him to return to Britain. I asked whether be could be granted a passage. Consideration of the matter was promised. I have received from the Minister to-day a letter in which he states that there has been no alteration of the position, and that the man in question has been advised that if he obtains his discharge from the Australian Imperial Force consideration will be given to his being granted a passage to Britain. Will the Minister accelerate the return of this man?
– I have not the power, as Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs or as the administrator of any other department, to facilitate the passage of any person. I suggest that the honorable gentleman should address his question to the appropriate Minister.
Release of Long-service Personnel.
– I have received from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely -
The continued employment in the armed forces of men with five years’ service, including service abroad.
I have carefully studied the statement recently made in this House by the Prime Minister (Mr.Chifley) in relation to releases from the armed forces. On the motion of the Deputy Leader of the
Opposition (Mr. Harrison), the debate on that statement was adjourned, and it became Order of the Day No. 10. In my opinion the proposed motion of the Leader of the Opposition would anticipate the discussion on that order of the day. Accordingly, I rule that it is not in order.
– I rise to a point of order. I quote from the statement made on the 1st June last by the then Acting Prime Minister -
The main decisions relate to -
The reduction of the man-power strength of the forces by at least 50,000 special releases from the Army and the Air Force by the end of this year. This is to provide for the discharge of men urgently required in the civil economy, and to enable certain members of the forces with long service, or who have been prisoners of war for extended periods, to be granted the option of discharge.
Subsequently, two further statements were made by the right honorable gentleman, with special reference to men who had had five years’ service and service overseas. I submit that the statement made on the 1st June did not relate to the matter with which the Leader of the Opposition proposes to deal specifically, namely, the continued employment in the armed forces of men with five years’ service, including service abroad. According to the two subsequent statements of the present Prime Minister, special action is proposed to be taken in relation to those with whom he then dealt.
– The main statement in regard to the release of men with five years’ service was embodied in the statement, debate on which will take place on Order of the Day No. 10, which is - “ Man-power - Ministerial Statement - Motion for Printing Paper “. Subsequent statements were supplementary to that main statement. The Leader of the Opposition desires to discuss the continued employment in the armed forces of men with five years’ service. I have not the least doubt that I have given a correct ruling, and that the matter may not now be discussed.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) proposed - That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the motion for the adjournment of the House being proceeded with.
– The Government cannot agree to the suspension of the Standing Orders. The most that I can promise is that an opportunity for the discussion of the matter willbe afforded when the time is appropriate. I shall consult with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr.Fadden) in regard to the (fixing of a date, but I cannot undertake that it will be during this week.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. j. S. Rosevear.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911-1943.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Mr. CHIFLEY (Macquarie- Prime
Minister and Treasurer) [3.20]. - by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill seeks to amend the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1915-1943, to provide for -
Opportunity is also being taken to cut out some dead wood from the principal act and to make some minor amendments which experience has shown to be necessary. Exemption from stamp duty is already given by section 52a of the act to documents relating to purchase, transfer, or transmission of Commonwealth securities, but documents relating to the conversion or redemption of securities are not accorded this protection. The amendment of this section on the lines proposed will remedy this omission. Provision is also made for documents, cheques and drafts relating to the payment of interest to be exempted from stamp duty. Where payment of interest is made by Commonwealth cheque, payment, of stamp duty does not arise, but, where Commonwealth securities are lodged with the trading banks for safe custody, arrangements are made for such banks to pay the interest on such securities on behalf of the Commonwealth. It is anomalous that drafts and other documents used by the banks in making such payments on our behalf should be liable for stamp duty, while similar instruments issued by the Commonwealth itself do not attract stamp duty. If this is not corrected, some holders of Commonwealth securities will pay stamp duty on their interest cheques, whilst others will not. This amendment of section 52a is necessary in order to give to Commonwealth securities the full exemption from stamp duty which it has always been intended they should have.
An alteration is required in section 57a of the principal act which governs the acceptance of national savings stamps in payment for treasury bonds or stock. Under this section as it now stands, such stamps may be accepted in part payment of loan subscriptions if their face value is £2, or a multiple of £2. Since this provision was made, it has been decided to accept instalments in respect of subscriptions to loans at the rate of £1 per month, and an amendment of the act is necessary to enable these instalments to be made by means of national savings stamps.
Another proposed amendment relates to stock which forms part of the assets of a deceased estate. The act at present prorides that where a transmission of stock has to be effected in consequence of death, probate or letters of administration must be produced to the Registrar of Inscribed Stock. This condition may be waived where the face value of the stock does not exceed £100, but it happens from time to time that there is no will, and, although the estate may consist of more than £100 in stock, the total assets are so small as not to justify taking out letters of administration, or the estate is being administered by a public trustee or other such officer. The proposed amendment is for the purpose of enabling ‘ the Registrar, in such cases, to accept other evidence of authority to administer an estate, and thus make it more convenient to deal with stock held on account of small estates.
Division 4 of Part III. of the principal net relates to the issue of stock certificates to hearer. This division is redundant; it has never been used, as issue of this kind of security has not been found necessary. Flexibility in dealing with stock is achieved by the arrangement under which stock and treasury bonds, which are payable to bearer, are interchangeable. It is considered, there- fore, that this portion of the act should be repealed. Some other amendment? are included in the bill. These are of a minor character, and are either machinery or administrative provisions.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fadden) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill foi an act to amend the National Debt Sinking Fund Act 1023-1034.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill bc now read a second time.
When the Financial Agreement was implemented in 1927, Australian and sterling currencies were at par; that is to say, the Australian £1 was the equivalent of the £1 sterling, and it was only in 1931 that the Australian £1 suffered heavy depreciation. Substantial variations of the exchange rate between Australia and London and New York were never contemplated when the National Debt Sinking Fund Act or the Financial Agreement were brought into operation, and contributions to the National DebtSinking Fund on either Commonwealth or State debts have continued to be made on the basis of the mint par of exchange as existing prior to 1931. With, the amendment nf the Financial Agreement in December last, provision was made that the sinking fund contributions prescribed by that agreement shall be calculated on the basis of the mint par of exchange prevailing on the 1st July, 1927, the date from which the original agreement took effect. The National Debt Sinking Fund Act prescribes the contributions which shall be made to the National Debt Sinking Fund in respect of Commonwealth debt. It is now deemed desirable to bring the provision in that act in respect of contributions on overseas debts into line with the Financial Agreement.
As in the case of the like amendment to the Financial Agreement, the proposed amendment in clause 4 of this bill will validate the practice which has been followed for years of calculating sinking fund payments on ‘Commonwealth overseas debt in Australian currency.
Clause 3 of th© bill proposes to delete two sub-sections of section 9 of the original act of 19’23, which, require the payment to the National Debt Sinking Fund of one-half of the net profits derived by the Commonwealth Bank. These sub-sections are superfluous, as adequate provision in this respect has been included in the Commonwealth Bank Act for several years. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fadden) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the appointment to or employment in the Commonwealth Service of certain State employees, and for other purposes.
Motion (by Mr. LAZZARINI) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Superannuation Act 1922- 1843, as amended by the Superannuation Act 1045.
Bill presented, and read ‘a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The aim of this bill is to protect the superannuation rights of certain State employees, who will be appointed to the Commonwealth Public Service in connexion with the administration of the Commonwealth employment service established under the Re-establishment and Employment act. An employee who resigns from the Public Service of a State to join the Commonwealth Public Service, and who pays to the Commonwealth Superannuation Board the amount of refund of contributions received by him from the State superannuation fund, will be eligible to continue his contributions at the same rate as under the State scheme. These contributions will be in respect of rights to units of pension under the Commonwealth act, which are certified to be the equivalent of the rights under the State act, and will be based on the retiring age of 60 or 65 years, whichever is appropriate. Such an employee will not be required to submit to the usual medical examination in respect of those pension units, and the. Commonwealth will, for a period of five years from the date of appointment, relieve the superannuation fund of any liability due to the waiving of the medical test.
Provision is also made that, if at any time in the future it is necessary to increase the rates of contributions generally, the contributions payable by these employees in respect of the pension units brought over from the State will also be increased by similar amounts. On appointment to the Commonwealth service, a State employee may, if he so desires, retain the amount of refund received by him from the State fund, and not pay it to the Superannuation Board. In these circumstances, the employee will come under the Commonwealth scheme as a new contributor at rate for age next birthday, and will also be required to pass the usual medical examination.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Holt) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 18th July (vide page 4218), on motion by Mr. Ward -
That the hill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. White had moved by way of amendment -
That all the words after “That” be left out with. a. view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ the Bill be withdrawn and referred to a Select Committee for report as to whether the Bill meets the requirements of the Territories concerned, and to seek advice upon the best methods for restoring Civil Administration, for the welfare of the native population and for the economic development of Papua and New Guinea “.
– This is a rather extraordinary measure to emanate from, a Government that makes a parade of its belief in democratic institutions and methods. Honorable members must have some knowledge of the history 0f the two Territories before they can properly determine the real merits, if any, of the bill. I find them extremely difficult to discover, hut other people may be more successful than I have been. Until civil administration ceased in the Territory of Papua by the act of the Commonwealth Government, and in the Territory of New Guinea, largely by the act of the Japanese forces, the two Territories were governed by similar methods. An administrator was appointed, in accordance with the law, by the GovernorGeneral ; and, in practice, that meant the government of the day. In each of the two Territories a Legislative Council was created, consisting partly of nominated members and partly of members elected by the white residents. In the strict sense of the word, that was not a democratically constituted government, but it did have the rudiments of democracy within its make-up. Under that system, local opinion could find expression and could bring ite grievances to the notice of the administration. I have paid some attention to these Territories in the past, although I have never had the opportunity to vis-it them. I remember discussions that were held before the outbreak of this war, during my early membership of the Lyons Government, when the question of the appointment of certain senior officials was raised. I recall that I adduced arguments in favour of the establishment of what practically amounted to an Australian colonial service to look after the administration of not only the Territories of Papua and New .Guinea but also places like Nauru, Ocean Island, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island and, for that matter, the Northern Territory. As those Territories were then administered, each one was absolutely isolated from the others, administratively. Its only contact was with some department in Canberra. In the event of New Guinea .and Papua having any problems ‘to solve, which they considered ought not to be solved on the spot without reference to higher authority, there was no machinery for collaboration between Port Moresby and
Rabaul whereby they could settle any differences before coming to Canberra. There was no procedure for consultation between either of those head-quarters and other Pacific Territory administrations. The Northern Territory administration made contact at Canberra with a different department from that which dealt with the other Territories. Papua and New Guinea dealt largely with the Prime Minister’s Department. The Department of External Territories was formed only in 1941, and my colleague, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) was, for a brief period, ‘one of the first Ministers in charge of it. It has had very little to do for some time past, because the Japanese are still in occupation of Rabaul, the whole of New Ireland, and a great deal of Bougainville and other Territories, and they have not been expelled from the mainland of New Guinea. I shall not go into this matter deeply on this occasion, but the Government ought to provide an opportunity for Parliament to consider our general policy in . relation to Australian Territories. I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White). The bill ought to be referred to a parliamentary select committee in order that the best method of setting these Territories on their feet again may be found. This bill makes no attempt to do that. It does not even attempt to restore the Territories to the status which they occupied at the time when civil government was abolished by executive act; It simply re-appoints an administrator. These administrators are very peculiar beings, speaking of the genus and not of individuals. I have made many observations about them in recent years. One of the things that “ tickles me pink “ is to see official correspondence - and the Lord know3 how many man-hours are wasted annually on such correspondence - in which, whenever the administrator is mentioned, he is referred to by the rigmarole of “ His Honour the Administrator “. That is not even done in referring to the Prime Minister. He is sometimes mentioned as “ the Prime Minister “, and sometimes the abbreviation “ the P.M.” is U3ed. I am in favour of the flag being displayed at the residence of the administrator of a territory, but that flag ought to be the Australian Blue Ensign. I have known occasions when that was not the flag flown.
– What flag was displayed ?
– The Union Jack. I have no objection to the Union Jack ; in fact, I have a very great respect for it. However, the Union Jack is embodied in the Blue Ensign. An administrator is, in no sense of the word, a vice-regal personage. This is one point on which the Minister for External Territories and. the Minister for the Interior ought to have a private word with administrators. When all is said and done, they are only civil servants occupying special positions. I know that, in certain parts of Australia to-day, arguments are raging about the singing of the National Anthem. I have suggested that people who object to the singing of “ God Save the King “ ought to try “ The Watch on the Rhine “, “ See the Conquering Hero Comes”, “The Wedding March”, or “ The Dead March in Saul “. We must guard against the development of a sort of introspective self-worship in respect of an office. The job of an administrator is to carry out his oath of office, which is very different from the oath which a Commonwealth Minister takes, as reference to the schedule of the bill will show. So far as my recollection goes* - I have always made an affirmation myself - the oath taken by a Commonwealth Minister does not include those words about showing neither fear nor favour, affection nor ill-will. He simply swears allegiance to His Majesty. An administrator is a servant of the Commonwealth, not a representative of His Majesty the King. This matter requires consideration and some clarification by the Ministers to whom administrators are responsible. It is my considered opinion that the sooner this point is made clear the sooner will there be more harmonious working in certain quarters where there is now a great deal of creaking and squeaking for the want of proper lubrication.
In examining this bill, we must consider first tha relationship of New Guinea and the islands adjacent to it, as a unit, to the Commonwealth of Australia. The most important consideration is the strategic value of those islands. Their value in this connexion was virtually ignored by Parliament before the war. I have before me a copy of a speech made by the Minister in charge of External Territories (Mr. Ward) after this war broke out, on the Defence Bill (No. 2) 1939, when he declared a very different view in regard to the defence of New Guinea from that which he would no doubt declare to-day. Since that time the honorable gentleman has, by some means or other, become one of the great discoverers, geographically speaking, of human history and is entitled to rank with Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, and Dr. Livingstone. He is responsible for the discovery of that very elusive thing “ the Brisbane line “, and I am rather surprised that he takes any interest in anything to the north of it. We have had the very costly experience of learning what it means to the Commonwealth of Australia to be threatened through enemy occupation of New Guinea and the adjacent islands. From this lesion, we have gained knowledge which wc did not have before 1942. 1 hope that the importance of the lesson will not be lost upon the present Government.
I impress upon the Minister; if it be necessary to do so, that the first consideration in any approach to the problems of New Guinea is that of defence. Economic considerations should come next, but I am afraid that they are uppermost in the mind of the Minister. The military value of New Guinea has been amply demonstrated to certain honorable members who have had opportunities to visit the Territory in person. The economic value of New Guinea is an entirely different matter. That Territory is of a type that is unknown to the great majority of the people of Australia. They are not awa of the conditions prevailing there oi of the problems which the settlement oi the country presents. They are almost ignorant of its history. They have taken a real interest in it only since Japan came into the war; but I hope that arrangements will be made to enable members of both branches of the legislature to become acquainted with New Guinea and the adjoining islands which are under Australian control. Civil administration will be effective only if the problem is considered from all aspects, and for that reason I support the proposal of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) for the appointment of a select committee to investigate the problems of the administration of these Territories. This bill has arrived from almost nowhere. A pledge was given by the present Minister for ‘Defence (Mr. Beasley), when he was either VicePresident of the Executive Council or Minister for Supply and Shipping, in these words - . . I have been able to get from my Government approval of recommendations of the International Labour Office for improvement of the conditions of the native population, and also I atn able to say that indentured labour will be abolished in Commonwealth Territories u* soon as possible.”
He pointed out that these areas had been in the hands of the enemy and were still under military administration. The Allies must counter Japanese co-prosperity propaganda by declaring their intention to improve native living standards.
My first observation is that when that pledge was given, on the 28th April, 1944, no authority had been delegated by this Parliament to the Curtin Government, to give it. The matter had never been considered by this Parliament. My second observation relates to the -comment in the Minister’s statement that “the Allies must counter Japanese coprosperity propaganda by declaring their intention to improve native living standards”. I say with the greatest respect that the best counterpropaganda that could be given to that of the Japanese Government was provided by Japan’s occupying troops in New Guinea and the adjoining islands.
I do not think that even the natives of New Guinea would be anxious to remain in definitely under the conditions which have applied in those Territories since their occupation by Japanese forces.
The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) referred last night te Malaya in a speech for which I hope that, on reflection, he will be extremely sorry. Having been born in the British Isles, he should have displayed more appreciation of the work of Great Britain as a colonizing power. Ho must have made that speech without knowledge of the conditions prevailing in Malaya when Japan invaded that country.
– I made no reflection on the Government of Great Britain.
– I am satisfied that when the history of the fighting in Malaya is written, it will be found that many of the natives of that country played an important part in assisting the troops of Great Britain and its Dominions in the defence of that area. The honorable member for Wimmera was at some pains to laud the whole of the natives of New Guinea, but another story could be told about the activities of some of them. They were not 100 per cent, on our side. The natives of Malaya and the Dutch East Indies have reached a totally different state of development from that of the natives of New Guinea. Those countries have been handed over from one conqueror to another, and a long time has elapsed since they were not occupied by the British, the French or the Dutch. Nearly half a century has passed since the Spaniards were ousted from the Philippines by the United States of America. There has been German occupation of some of the islands to the north of Australia, but the German penetration did not go so deep as that of Australia during the short period the islands have been held by this country.
– Does the honorable member suggest that a considerable number of the natives of New Guinea have co-operated with the Japanese?
– I shall not discuss the proportion, but the history of the fighting in New Guinea and New Britain will eventually show notorious instances of co-operation between the natives and the Japanese forces, just as there have been equally notorious examples of co-operation between the natives of Malaya and Burma with the British forces.
It is difficult to know to what degree Australia has been committed by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) with regard to the care of the native population of Now Guinea and the adjoining islands. Some of us are even alarmed at the press statements that we have read on the subject of trusteeship and the discussions on that matter which occurred at the San Francisco conference. Some of us would be glad to know whether the Minister was voicing the views of the Government, because he had no authority from this Parliament to express the opinions attributed to him.
– “ Trusteeship “ may simply refer to mandates.
– There are three different classes of mandates. 1 believe firmly that the white man must bear a fairly heavy burden of responsibility towards the native races of our island Territories. Hearing the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) speaking on the subject last night, one would imagine that the honorable gentleman only needs to double the wages of the natives and abolish the indenture system in order to bring the native population to a state of civilization similar to our own. I have never believed that western civilization and western, ideas will fit comfortably upon the shoulders, or fit into the living conditions, of many of the natives to whom- the Government wishes to introduce them. Yet I know that western civilization has done much good for the native races. We have heard repeated reference to exploitation of the natives. Whilst. I regard the trader and planter a.s not having always been lily white, the history of the British race in these areas shows that trade sometimes precedes the flag, and the missionary influence has not been far behind. That influence has conferred definite benefit upon the natives. It has not always met with the approval of some of the white traders, planters and miners, and it has not met with approval in the ‘Commonwealth. We find a conflict of view between the squatter and miner on the one side and the missionary on the other as to what we should do with the Australian aborigines, who are in a backward state of development. The natives of New Guinea consist of many tribes which have reached varying stages of development, but generally they are in a more highly developed’ state than that to which the Australian aboriginal can even aspire. I hope that our approach to the problem of government of New Guinea and the adjoining islands is not that we shall regard ourselves as a Father Christmas to the native population. If we are to hold these islands for their main purpose for which this country needs them, namely, for defence reasons, and for the second purpose, which is an economic one, the natives will have an important part to play in the economic development of the Territories. I am opposed to the arming and training of the native population, whether in New Guinea or the Northern Territory of Australia. It would hot be in their own interests or in the interests of a sparse white population which must occupy these territories to do so, but it will be in our interests to ensure that the natives shall be cared for and that, so far as their natural limitations permit, they shall be brought to an improved standard of civilization. I do not consider that the flower of civilization is found in Martinplace or Collins-street. The miner, the planter and the coastal trader who have many matters to occupy their attention are much more of all-round human beings and much closer to earth and their Creator than are many of those seen in our city streets during the luncheon hour, and also seen marching like ants to their work in the mornings and in opposite directions in the evenings.
I do not want it to be understood that I consider that the future of these Territories lies in the superimposition upon the native of a state of so-called civilizaiton to which he does not aspire, and foi which he is not fitted and will not be fitted by any trading or missionizing influences. He ha.s certain rights, and for his own good obligations will have to be imposed on him.
I have referred previously to the suspension of the administration. It is rather peculiar to me that the Minister should now attempt to install what virtually amounts to a dictatorship in Now Guinea. There is to be no representation of the local people. Not even the natives are to be represented. I do not know how the Minister came to overlook them. Probably, he would prefer that they, rather than the white planters, the exploiting gold miners, and those terrible traders who may obtain coco-nuts too cheaply, should be fully represented. For the future guidance of the Minister, I shall quote from the report presented by Mr. J. V. Barry, K.C., who, at his instigation, was appointed a commissioner to inquire into the circumstances relating to the suspension of the civil administration of the Territory of Papua, in February, 1942. In paragraph 174, Mr. Barry said -
The Administration was staffed by conscientious officers, but the system was such that reference to Canberra was regarded as essential before any decision of real gravity was taken. Whether the true intention of section 12 of the Papua Act, under which the Administrator must exercise his powers and functions according to the tenor of his commission and according to such instructions as are given to him by the Governor-General (which means Che Governor-General with the advice of the Executive Council, Acts Interpretation Act l!)01-l!)37, section 17 (/)), required or ever, justified such a system need not be discussed, for even with this system of constant reference the importance of New Guinea and the obligations of the Commonwealth in respect of the Territories do not seem to have received proper recognition by the Commonwealth. The Department of External Territories was not created until June, 1941; previously the work proper to such a department had been entrusted to a section which over the years found itself attached to various departments, usually under an Assistant Minister. At the relevant period, although there was a Minister for External Territories and the separate department had been established, the secretaryship was held by the Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department, and many of the facilities of this latter department had still to be used 1 rv the new Department of External Territories and, in point of fact, arc still being so used. lt is no over-statement to say that until the geographical existence of .New Guinea was forced upon Australians by the grim possibility of imminent invasion, the Territories were considered as areas so remote from Australian life that they rarely entered into political consideration. In the circumstances the achievements of the Papuan Administration had been remarkable. The area of the Territory is 1)0,540 square miles, inhabited by about 350,000 natives. Superintendence of their a If airs and the discharge of the Commonwealth’s obligations to them, as well as the development of the territory, had to be performed by an administrative personnel of about 170. From a revenue which at its peak was less than f]»0,000, to which the Commonwealth contributed a meagre £42.500, all the expenses of the Territory had to be met. It is not a matter for wonderment if these straitened financial resources and the remoteness of the Territory from Australian affairs should have produced a limited outlook. The Administrator and the senior members of the Administration were men of high ideals and undoubted personal integrity but the years of apathy on the part of the Commonwealth and the pattern of life in the Territory inevitably had an effect which revealed itself when Port Moresby became the front line of Australian defence.
That is a statement of which considerable stock ought to be taken, not only by the Government but also by every member of this House. I have referred previously to what I believe to be the prime necessity; that is, something in the nature of a colonial administration for this Territory. I do not consider that any officer should be left for an indefinite period in Papua, New Guinea, the Northern Territory, Nauru or anywhere else. The tendency is for bini to become too isolated from the general conditions of the world, and change would be a good thing. Periodically, officers should be moved round. I recall that in 1938 a question arose in relation to the judiciary in, I think, New Guinea. There was a judge in Papua who could not have enough to do for more than about one month in the year. There was another in Rabaul. No more is necessary than that a competent judge should go from one Territory to another on circuit from time to time on judicial business. I cannot imagine a white population so small as that of the old Territory of Papua or the old Territory of New Guinea requiring a resident full-time judge to adjudicate upon disputes which might happen to reach the court. If this was necessary, the residents of the Territories must have been the most notorious litigants on earth. Paragraph 182 of the Barry report reads -
I have mentioned the lacie of particularity in the communications from the authorities in Australia which both the Administrator and the Commandant were receiving. Expressions such a3 “essential services” and “civic activities “ may have an ascertainable meaning in Australia, but they were ambiguous phrases of obscure application to conditions in Papua and Port Moresby.
Paragraph 184 reads -
To state the matter compendiously, I consider Hie Administrator was, if I may use the phrase, the prisoner of circumstances, and those circumstances were of a kind so overwhelm]ing and so foreign to anything with which his experience and training had made him familiar and the powers he had been accustomed to exercise enabled him to deal that it would be exacting an unreasonably high standard to ascribe the necessity to make the military authority supreme to any censurable failure on his part. It was the impact of events upon an administrative machine incapable of withstanding their force that brought about that result.
Those paragraphs deal with matters which ought to be taken into consideration by the whole House, and be submitted for investigation by a select committee. The degree to which New Guinea is to act as a military shield on behalf of Australia, should be properly considered by the Chiefs of Staff who should state their case to a select committee of this Parliament. The economic future of New Guinea ought to be investigated by honorable members who are competent to undertake such a task. Matters needing investigation are mining, and the development of certain tropical products. Rubber-growing has been established. I am not an authority on such matters, and cannot assess the possibilities, but I do know that, because of New Guinea’s geographical features, it must possess one of the widest ranges of climate of any tropical country in the world. The country rises from sea level to 10,000 or 12,000 feet, and in some parts even higher. To what degree tropical products such as tea, coffee, cloves and spices, nutmegs and the like may be grown, I do not know. But I can say that if the Commonwealth is to obtain the best results from the Territory there should not be a haphazard re-establishment of a civil administration of a mongrel type, such as is provided for in the bill. There should be proper consideration of future possibilities, and the re-establishment of a government with some local authority, responsibility and representation. This would enable the Territory to be placed on its feet economically. The passage of this measure will lead to reversion to a system which, according to the judgment of Mr. -Barry, K.C., was found wanting.
There is another important point; I made reference to it in this House before the outbreak of war. It is, the political relationship which these Territories are to bear to the Commonwealth of Australia. I have said that, in my opinion, there ought to he in this Parliament at least one representative of these Territories, on conditions similar to those that apply to the representation of the Northern Territory. Otherwise, the
Commonwealth Parliament will learn only from Ministerial statements what the position actually is in New Guinea and the other Territories. If we had in this House a member elected by the white people of New Guinea and Papua, any important matter affecting the interests of his constituents would be placed before honorable members fairly promptly. The Minister, when making a statement, probably relies upon departmental sources for his information. A member for the Territories would be guided wholely by personal knowledge. That would be a good thing for the Territories. Arguments in relation to constitutional procedure may be urged against the proposal. It may be said that it savours much more of the French than of the British colonial system. I agree that it does. But I do not concede that that warrants its condemnation. The interests of the Northern Territory have derived inestimable benefit by reason of the fact that they have been able to have their views expressed in this chamber; certainly under difficulties at the present time, but those will be cleared up eventually. I see no reason why a similar course should not be adopted in regard to our external territories. In my opinion, there ought to be a more thorough investigation of every aspect of this subject than has yet been given to it by .the Minister. He certainly has been to New Guinea. He has been face to face with the “ fuzzy wuzzies “, but whether or not he has been, admitted to the brotherhood of some of the tribes I do not know. Some of us would say that he is well qualified for admittance. I repeat that a select parliamentary committee should be appointed to inquire into this subject. The Minister for External Territories could’ preside over it if that were thought to be necessary.
.- The amendment moved by the honorable member foi Balaclava (Mr. White) is quite unnecessary, and if it were agreed to, would merely result in delaying the passage of the bill. This is intended to be only a temporary provision to cover the change-over from military to civil administration in New Guinea. Therefore, there is no need to refer the matter to a select committee, which might take many months to investigate conditions. Let the hill be passed, and then Parliament -can, if it thinks fit, appoint a select .committee. The Minister might give consideration to that proposal after this legislation is passed. I believe that honorable members should obtain firsthand information about conditions in New Guinea. The Minister has tried to inform himself by a visit to New Guinea, and he has had the benefit of the advice of Mr. Barry, K.C., and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who has also visited the northern areas. I hope that when military considerations permit, and when transport facilities are available, private members of Parliament will be able to visit New Guinea and study conditions for themselves.
There is no justification for the charge laid by the honorable member for Balaclava and others that this bill provides for the excessive centralization of administration. In point of fact, the kind of administration proposed in this bill is the only suitable one in the circumstances. The natives have not yet evolved to the stage where they can govern themselves, and the white planters and settlers are not numerous enough to justify the setting up of a locally controlled administration. Therefore, New Guinea can be administered only by the delegation of authority by this Parliament. Let it be remembered that the Commonwealth Parliament is responsible under a mandate from the League of Nations for the administration of New Guinea. It cannot evade that responsibility, although it can delegate its powers to individuals, such as the Administrator whom it is proposed’ to appoint. There will be a measure of local control, inasmuch as the Administrator will be resident in New Guinea. He will be empowered to issue ordinances for the peace, order and good government of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea. At the same time, he must give effect to the instructions of the Minister for External Territories.
The suggestion of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) that New Guinea should be given repre sentation in this Parliament is one which might well be considered in the future. Perhaps there will eventually he a sufficiently large population in the various Territories, including the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, to justify direct representation in Parliament by a member with a vote. I am sure that the administration of Papua and New Guinea will be in capable hands, because the Minister can be relied upon to appoint some one in whom he has confidence, and. who will be qualified for the position. The Minister has amply demonstrated his. interest in the welfare of the population, of the Territories, both white and native. We owe the natives much for the help they- have given us during the war. They stood between us and invasion by the Japanese. Credit must also be given to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) for his longsightedness in insisting that the mandate for the control of New Guinea should be given to Australia, although at the peace conference after the last war there was a move to give it to Japan. We should be profoundly grateful that that move was defeated. I desire to pay a tribute, also, to the missionaries who have done so much to improve the living conditions of the natives, and who have laboured to acquaint them with the tenets of Christianity. Indeed, so successful, have they been in this regard that I have heard that some of the converted head-hunters from New Guinea have offered to come to Australia in order to convert the population here.
.- I support the amendment of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), that a select committee be appointed to inquire into all matters associated with the administration of Papua and New Guinea, and that this should be done before the present bill is passed. For the last two years I, and other honorable members, have been urging that a committee of this Parliament representing all parties should visit, not only the freed areas of New Guinea, but also the whole. of the northern battlefront, so as to gain a firsthand -impression of conditions, and to form a judgment on the spot from their own observation, and from discussion with others who might be expected to know something of what is required. Probably this amendment will not. be agreed to; whether it is or not, I intend to move that an all-party committee be sent to New Guinea to inquire, not only into administrative matters, but also into our military effort, and into charges that the lives of men are being wasted in a campaign which might be conducted differently to the great advantage of Australia.
This bill provides for the inauguration of a new system of administration of liberated areas in New Guinea. It abolishes or suspends the previous civil administration and the previous Legislative Council of New Guinea, and I take it that it also abolishes the organization known as “ Angau “. In their place a new administration is to be set up. I do not think that the Governmentshould proceed with the making of such revolutionary changes without consulting authorities who are familiar with conditions in New Guinea. It is difficult for members of Parliament to do justice to this subject without themselves having first-hand knowledge, or without knowing that the Government has had the benefit of informed advice. “We have not been told whether the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward), in promulgating his decree for a working week of 44 hours for natives in New Guinea, and for a 50 per cent, increase of wages, acted on his own judgment, or on advice of some one else. He told us that the existing wage was 10s a month, and that it was proposed to- increase this to 15s. a month. I do not know how much extra is represented by the value of the food ration. I am not so much concerned with what wages should be. I do not know what they ought to be, nor, I think, does the Minister. He cannot have a personal knowledge of such matters. His fleeting visit to New Guinea could not have qualified him to pronounce arbitrary judgment on such matters, and to decide what is best to be done in the interest of Australia. It must be remembered that the interests of Australia are intimately bound up with what is done in New Guinea.
– Have the natives no interests?
– They have, and we have the great interest of selfprotection. As a matter of fact, New Guinea has been to Australia more of a liability than an asset in an economic sense. It has cost us more than it has returned in revenue. Of course, we must try to make the place self-supporting. We do not do it all for fun, but our principal reason for holding New Guinea is that it is a bulwark against aggression from, the north - against a powerful enemy like the Japanese establishing a base there from which to attack the mainland. That is and must always be the principal value of New Guinea to this continent. At all times, the primary consideration must be the defence of Australia. Therefore, any legislation or administrative acts that will cause discontent amongst the native population, or weld them into a social force, must be examined with the greatest care. At. present because their standards are so primitive the natives of New Guinea cannot amalgamate with the Japanese or Malays. But if they become an educated force, they may one day join our enemies. Consequently, the Government, in introducing this legislation, is embarking on a very risky experiment that may ultimately threaten the security of Australia.
The native psychology and mentality are entirely different from those of the European. The respect which they accord to their superiors is determined by conduct different from our own. One prominent person, who visited New Guinea recently, was under the impression that the natives should be placed on an equal footing with the white man. He refused to allow himself to be carried ashore on the shoulders of a native, because he considered that the practice was derogatory to the dignity of the native. So he removed his shoes and socks, rolled up the legs of his trousers, and waded ashore, very satisfied with his display of humanitarianism. But the result was the opposite from what he had expected. The natives, on seeing him, “ zoomed “ into the bush, and declared that he did not measure up to the standard that they expected of a white man.
– Does the honorable member believe that the natives can be educated in a day?
– I am telling this story, not against that particular person, but to indicate how the native regards any attempt to treat him on an equal footing with a European. “What we may regard as a gesture of goodwill, they interpret as loss of “face”.
– The honorable member must think that the native is a bigger fool than he is.
– I do not know how much the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) knows about native conditions, or the employment of natives. Speaking last night, he expressed the hope that the standard of education of the natives would be vastly improved. Is he aware that many of these men, particularly those living in the interior of New Guinea, are still head hunters? If he tried to operate >a rubber or copra plantation while giving effect to his views, he would quickly go bankrupt. This bill should not be regarded as a party measure. No honorable member will gain any votes from it. But by the wisdom of the action that is taken now the security of Australia in the future can be ensured. For that reason, whatever is done in New Guinea and Papua should be treated in a nonparty spirit, not only for the benefit of the natives, but also for the future security of Australia. I do not suggest that the natives should be exploited.
– Not much! The honorable member would like to employ natives on his banana plantation.
– I do not advocate that the natives should be employed on any banana plantation, or in any part of Australia. I want them to remain in their own country, and not to constitute a threat to the security of Australia in the future.
– Does the honorable member believe that the natives of New Guinea will ultimately threaten Australia?
– The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Mountjoy) believes that natives can be educated, and still remain contented. He would not expect them to ally themselves with the Japanese or another eastern race.
Obviously, he knows nothing about native psychology. The Minister must know, from his explorations in New Guinea, that the Japanese have convinced many natives with their propaganda. All the natives are not co-operating with Australians. Those who happen to be in Japanese-occupied territory are cooperating as effectively with the Japanese as the natives in Australianoccupied territory are co-operating with us.
– They may have learnt about collaboration from some of the white races.
– What I have stated is the truth. The Japanese say that they are “ all the same one talk with the native”. According to stories which have been told to me by numerous officers and soldiers, the Japanese have told the natives that at one time they were all brothers. Then the Japanese went to another island where they learned the civilized, arts. Now, they have returned for the purpose of teaching the natives how to improve their standards.
– Is this a bedtime story?
– Whenever a matter affecting the security of Australia, or relating to international affairs is under discussion in this chamber, the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) makes the most inane remarks. Coming from a Minister, they are disgraceful.
I fail to understand why the Minister for External Territories proposes to introduce a 44-hour working week at this juncture, because this legislation will cease to operate six months after the termination of hostilities. Why, then, have the hours of labour been reduced from 55 to 44 a week? Why, also, have wages been increased from 10s. to 15s. a month? Of what advantage will these innovations be? Has the military .administration paid to native carriers los. a month, or has it adopted the rates that were prescribed by the previous civil administration? I believe that the military administration has paid to native carriers 10s. a week, the rate which operated at the time of the Japanese attack on New Guinea. For no reason at all, the Minister has increased the remuneration. One can only surmise, because honorable members have been denied the opportunity to visit New Guinea for the purpose of ascertaining the true position. I am prepared to go to New Guinea at my own expense if transport facilities are provided.
– We have to protect the natives, you know.
– This bill will not protect Australia and may result in the destruction of the natives. Their wellbeing will not be improved by the Minister going to Papua and littering Domain platitudes to them.
It is generally recognized that “ Angau “ has functioned satisfactorily, and the Minister, as a gesture of appreciation, should have referred in his second-reading speech to its work. The only reference that he made to the organization was that “Angau” had been formed as a part of the Australian Military Forces, and had commenced operations in Papua. I should like to know whether the Government proposes to absorb the administrative staff of “Angau”, all of whom have had long experience in the administrative services of New Guinea and Papua. In fairness, these men should be told whether their services will be retained in the new administration that will be created by the bill. It appears inevitable that they must be retained, because they have a specialized knowledge of the natives and of conditions generally in New Guinea.
By his own act the Minister decided to increase the minimum age at which a native may be employed from fourteen to sixteen years. Whether that proposal i3 wise, I do not know. But the matter should be investigated by a select committee of this House. We know that the physical development of the native is more rapid than that of Australian adolescents. That is certainly true of females. I am not in a position to say whether this applies in respect of males. Therefore, I cannot express a worthwhile opinion as to whether the alteration proposed in the bill is warranted. However, in the light of such knowledge as I have been able to obtain from men who have had experience of the Territory, I believe that the male native, at fourteen years of agc, is developed to the same degree of physical maturity as an Australian lad of eighteen years of age. We may do grievous harm in respect of the New Guinea labour situation if we agree to this bill without” appreciating its real significance. Therefore, I strongly support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White). I ask the Minister, when making decisions regarding labour conditions in New Guinea, which will have effects long after the war has ended, to seek the guidance of men who have had long experience, and therefore have acquired great knowledge of the Territory. I also ask him to inform the House as to who has advised him in connexion with this bill. We should like to know what authorities have recommended the proposed changes. As far as we know, -they might have been decided upon by the Minister himself, or by the Government party, without expert advice.
.- Whilst I realize that we owe a debt to certain sections of the New Guinea population, it is nevertheless true that many New Guinea natives are not on our side in this war, and that even those who are with us will remain with us only so long as wo feed them. They are a primitive people, and if we do not feed them they will go over to the men who will do so. I agree with the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) that it is our duty, having been entrusted with the future of these native races, to do our utmost to improve their conditions. However, that is not our only responsibility in those Territories. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that many plantations in New Guinea are held by returned soldiers of the 1914-18 Avar. I was astounded to hear the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) attack them and say that they were the greatest exploiters of the native population. I know that the natives have been exploited by the Germans and by a number of big. transport companies, but nobody can say truthfully that the returned soldiers have been great exploiters of the native races. As a matter of fact, they have had a very hard struggle to make ends meet. A lot of sentiment, much of it false, can be invoked in considering the betterment of the conditions of the natives. I have a number of friends amongst the returned soldier planters in New Guinea, as also’ has the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles), who is unable to be here to-day to speak on their behalf. Some of them write to me fairly regularly to express their views on local problems. Copra production is the main industry in New Guinea. During the period from 1930 to 1939, copra prices were low and fell to £8 12s. 6d a ton, in April, 1934. The peak price, which was obtained only during the months of January and February, 1937, was £22 a ton. The average price over the whole period was between £10 and £14 a ton. On a well-conducted plantation-, the cost of production is approximately £6 a ton, and the cost of transport to Rabaul, where most copra is shipped, amounts to an additional £4 a ton. Therefore, it is obvious that these returned soldier planters face ruin unless the Government 13 prepared to improve their conditions along with those of the natives. It could assist the copra industry as the sugar industry in Queensland was assisted. Labour costs represent two-thirds of the cost of production of copra in New Guinea, and if the Government persists with this proposal to improve wages and conditions for native workers it must also subsidize the industry in order to safeguard those white people who are acting as a bulwark to Australia. They are the people to whom we must look in the future in the event of an attack being launched against this country. They will form a buffer between us and any aggressive power. Nearly all of the plantation owners operating under the Expropriation Board scheme are hopelessly in debt, either to the board or to the trading companies. I have no brief for the trading companies, which have their avaricious grasp on many of the plantations which were taken over by returned soldiers. ‘ They have, in fact, obtained complete possession of some plantations. Their power ought to be curtailed. If necessary, the Commonwealth could arrange its own shipping facilities in order to save the planters by competing with these companies.
The Minister said that it is proposed to raise the minimum wage for native labour to 15s. a month, to increase the standard of rations, to reduce working hours from 55 to 44 weekly, and to enforce the compulsory return of natives to their home villages for three months upon the completion of twelve months’ work. Up to the present, indentured labourers have been signed on for three-year periods, and many of them have signed on for additional one-year or two-year periods. Some of them are taken as far as 1,000 miles from their homes, and the shipping expense involved in sending them home for three months after one year of service would increase production costs tremendously. This increase, plus the increase resulting from the improved ration standard and wage levels, would raise the daily cost of a native labourer from ls. 3d. to approximately 2s. 6d., which would increase the cost of production of copra at the plantation by at least £4 a ton, so that, for the planters to make a decent living, they would have to receive at least £16 a ton at Rabaul. We must realize that prices will return to normal after the war, even though the return may be spread over two or three years. If the Government wants to be sentimental find to give to the native races conditions which they have never previously had, it should not do so at the expense of a small section of white men who are not represented in this House. I favour the raising of the conditions of native workers, but the expense of this improvement should be shared by everybody in the Commonwealth. Even though the Government’s conscience may prick it with regard to the treatment of the natives in the past, it is not entitled to penalize men who have struggled for the last 25 years to make ends meet and who are almost hopelessly in debt to the Expropriation Board and the trading companies. The Government ought to realize the .-justice of my claim. These planters have no representation in this chamber, and the only ways in which they can have their views expressed are through friends in this House or men like the late Sir Hubert Murray, who was possibly the greatest man ever to work in New Guinea. He had a well-balanced mind, find wa? capable of advancing the interests of the natives as well as of the planters. All that the planters seek is a fair deal. Australia owes a great deal to them. They fought for the nation in the last war, and many of them were wounded in battle. They have worked under conditions which none of us would care to endure, and most of them have treated the natives well. There may b-j odd cases of returned soldier planters ill-treating their labourers, but, in every section of the community, there are people who treat their employees unfairly. On the whole, the ex-soldiers have given the natives a fair deal, certainly much better than was ever given to them by the Germans. The administrators of the Territory insured that the natives had fair treatment, and “ Angau “ has done likewise. The Government should watch the interests of these planters and ensure that they obtain a payable price for their copra. It could adopt a system similar to that which has been so successful in the sugar industry in Queensland. Even we from the southern parts of Australia, who have to subsidize Queenslanders, agree that the making of the sugar agreement was one of the best things ever done in the interests of Australia. Great credit is due to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who was Prime Minister, at the time, and to Mr. McCormack, the then Premier of Queensland, on that account. A similar arrangement ought to be made in. the interests of New Guinea copra producers.
Another problem which ought to be considered is that of small companies operating on the New Guinea goldfields. The Minister for External Territories says that he has little time for large combines, and therefore he might be interested in investigating the activities of the big companies in New Guinea. Many small companies and individual miners have been trying to return to their mines on the various islands of the archipeligo, but they have been prevented from doing so. They claim that they are being hampered by “ Angau “ and the influence of the big mining companies, which operate mainly in the Edie Creek district. I have in my possession information relating to these allegations which I am prepared to supply to the Minister. I have letters from a man who served in three wars, and who proved a mine which has developed into one of the richest shows ever discovered in that area. He has been prevented from returning to it. Nevertheless, the big mining companies operating around Edie Creek returned a considerable time ago. These small men believe that an attempt is being made to force them out of the country which they helped to explore and develop, at great personal risk from hostile natives and tropical diseases. Conscience demands that we should ensure that the natives shall receive reasonable treatment, but we should not be sentimental and hand out favours to the natives at the expense of white settlers who have fought for their country. Although they pay taxes, they have no representation in this Parliament. The people of Australia should pay for this sentiment, as they are responsible for the welfare of the native races.
.- We should: adopt a realistic attitude to this bill. We should be humane, and take steps to ensure that justice shall be done to all concerned. The proposals generally meet with the approval of honorable members. In considering the requirements of the native population we should remember first that, although the inhabitants of these Territories are black and uneducated, they are nevertheless human beings, and. that we are responsible for their proper care. For years the natives have been indentured to planters, miners and others, and profit has been made as the result of their labour. But my chief consideration is not the amount of profit which the white planters and others can make out of the labour of the native races. I desire to ensure that the natives shall receive proper consideration from the Government. Therefore, I favour the proposal in the bill to increase the rate of remuneration to natives employed by white men, to reduce their hours of labour, and to ensure proper conditions in respect of such matters as nutrition, living quarters, and medical attention. For hundreds of years the dark-skinned races have been exploited by white people. The conditions have improved since the days of the slave trade, but certain honorable members of the Opposition seem to think that because a nian is black and uneducated we are entitled to exploit him. That idea must be banished, from our minds. Pleas have been advanced that men who served in the last war have taken up plantations in New Guinea and adjoining islands, and that some of them have had a hard struggle to make a living; therefore, we are told that we should not improve the working conditions of the natives. But that argument does 11ot carry any weight with me. I am surprised that any honorable member should advance such a contention.
– Many of the planters have lost everything.
– Many people in this country who have gone into business without the assistance of cheap black labour have lost money. Business is always a gamble. Many of the planters in the Territories with which the bill deals have not failed. Most of the shipping companies are making huge profits. They have traded to these islands because of the profits they have been able to make. The average businessman trades where he can make profits. I am not prepared to support white men in New Guinea, whether they be exsoldiers or not, making large profits by means of slave labour. We have a great responsibility to the native races which have been placed under our protection, and those who are employed by white people must be given proper living and working conditions and reasonable payment for their labour.
– Does the honorable member think that they should also have a voice in this matter?
– Until they are in a position to speak for themselves I shall do my best to ensure that they shall receive reasonable and just treatment. The suggestion has been made that the white settlers in these Territories are acting as a buffer’ between Australia and potential enemies. That argument should not have been introduced, because the statement is incorrect. When the Japanese attacked the islands to the north of Australia, the only fight that was put up there was by our soldiers.
– That is a lie.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark. Interjections of that kind are made all too frequently.
– In deference to you, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw it, but-
– The remark must be withdrawn without reservation.
– I do that.
– When the Japanese invaded New Guinea, the white settlers left as quickly as they could.
– :That is very unfair.
-We have also heard of the valourous conduct of certain black troop* in New Guinea and also black carriers. We receive much help from them, and, as I appreciate their assistance, I am prepared to speak in support of them. Their labour should not be exploited by people who go to New Guinea for the sole purpose of making profits at the expense of the natives.
– That is a rotten statement.
– It is true. This measure has been introduced for the purpose of improving the lot of the natives, and I have great pleasure in supporting it.
– The honorable member indulges in sentimental talk at the expense of ex-servicemen who have suffered considerable loss.
– There is no sentiment about it. We have heard sentimental references to the “ poor soldier planters “ who settled in New Guinea, but they went there for one purpose only. The average man who undertakes a job does so for the profit that he can make out of it. As I said at the outset, we must take a realistic view of this matter. The former residents of New Guinea set out to exploit the country and make as much profit as possible for themselves.
– They are pioneers. Why not give them credit for it?
– I give them credit for that, but while they are exploiting the resources of the Territory there i? no reason why they should employ slave labour.
– Every contract is examined on behalf of the Government.
– If a native cannot leave a plantation for three years, and if his pay amounts to 5s. a month, he is working under conditions which are not far removed from those of slavery. It is unnecessary that the natives of New Guinea should work for the white planters for years almost as slaves. Therefore, we must ensure that those who are called upon to work in the’ plantations shall he granted reasonable conditions of employment. The bill proposes that the conditions of the natives shall be improved. Opposition to the measure is actuated chiefly by the fact that those who have previously exploited the country will not be able to make such large profits in future. Similar arguments were advanced many years ago, during the campaign for the abolition of the employment of indentured kanakas in the cane-fields of Queensland. It was contended that sugar-cane could not be grown without the use of cheap black labour, which in effect was slave labour. The people of Australia decided that such labour should not he employed. Yet those cane-fields have continued to provide Australia with all the sugar it has needed, and a surplus for export. The cane has been grown ,by white labour, and we have been able to compete with sugar grown by black labour in other countries. We must assure fair treatment for the natives of these Territories. If the exploiters cannot make a profit they will not be obliged to remain, and if they leave the country the natives will be happier for their going.
I commend the bill. It represents a great step forward in humane legislation. I hope that it will be passed unaltered, and that the day is not far distant when, under this humanitarian legislation, the native races of the Territories will receive better treatment than they have had for many years,
– I strongly support the amendment of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White). Like many other honorable members, I am not well acquainted with the conditions in Papua and New Guinea. If the great work done in Papua under the administration of Sir William Macgregor and Sir Hubert Murray, ably continued by Mr. Leonard Murray during his short term of 0111 ce, is to be perpetuated, this Parliament will need to do more than pass this legislation, the good or bad effects of which on the Territories we cannot assess.
The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) discoursed expansively on the exploitation of the native populations: of Papua and New Guinea. The introduction of such a tone in the debate is deeply to be regretted. The duty of this Parliament is to pass legislation that will best promote the development of the Territories, and improve the conditions of the native and white races in them. The most successful intermingling of a native race with a. white conquering race that has ever occurred in the world has been that of the Maori race and their white conquerors in New Zealand. The standard of living of the Maoris has been raised, and they have not succumbed to the diseases of the white race but actually have increased their numbers. No good purpose is served by the statements ot Government members that white people are the exploiters of native races, and are doing everything they can to tread them into the mire and rivet on them the shackles of slavery. That is cheap talk, and makes no contribution to a solution of the problem. Nor can it be argued that shipping companies and other big concerns have only benevolent intentions when they trade in the Territories. The Minister and the Government will run a very grave risk if they depart from the character of the work that was done for the development of Papua by Sir Hubert Murray and his predecessor, Sir William Macgregor. Anthropologists throughout the world have paid very high tributes to Sir Hubert’s achievements. The whole of Mr. Barry’s report contains high praise of the Administration. Mr. Leonard Murray had been in office for only about eight months when he had to meet the impact of war. Certain occurrences probably were regrettable, and possibly would have been avoided had he had longer administrative experience. Nevertheless, he has been adjudged to have stood up very well to circumstances and conditions, the rapid transitions of which neither he nor the Government could have envisaged.
The bill sets out to abolish the Legislative Council, and practically to centralize all administration ‘in the hands of the Minister and a department thousands of miles from the Territories. I put it to the honorable member for Bourke, who is so ready to talk about slavery and the rights of the native population, that the curse of this world, including Australia, has been the centralization of administration in the hands of people unacquainted with the needs of native races and the conditions of far-distant territories, and possibly swayed by sectional interests. Trusted administrators on the spot, like Sir Hubert Murray and. Sir William Macgregor, with the assistance of an advisory council, are better able to judge what is needed than is a highly centralized government, such as that which even refused to afford guidance to an administrator in circumstances such as had never been encountered previously. The honorable member for Bourke asserted that, in the view of the Opposition, the conditions of the natives should not be improved, I do not know how that idea originated in his mind. The Opposition is just as keen as anybody else to improve the working conditions of the natives. But it demands that the scales of justice shall be held evenly between the natives and the members of the white race who have gone to Papua lo assist in its development. Even though profit may be the principal motive of white settlers, the Administrator can prevent any exploitation of the natives. I should imagine that, if a Gallup poll could be taken, it would show the desire of the natives to. be that the white people should leave Papua and allow them to develop the country in their own way. But if that were done, Papua would probably fall like a ripe plum into the lap of a future tyrant from the East, and we should be confronted by a savage foe instead of our own people in what is now a bastion of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Bourke also said that white men should not make big profits out of the slavery of the natives. Such statements are easily made, but facts in support of them are not produced. I should like the honorable member to consider what has been the position of the planters since the cessation of hostilities after the .last war. I remind him that many men who had served in that conflict took up plantations under the
Crown when the price of copra was as high as £47 a ton. Subsequently, it dropped to as low as £3 a ton. I understand that just before the war it was about £6 a ton, and that to-day it is about £20 a ton. It would be utterly impossible for any planter who took up a plantation when the staple product had reached the peak price of £47 a ton, to make the profits alleged by Government member.*. “Whatever else may be done, there rn u:t be a revision of contracts already made by planters with the Commonwealth, so that these men may not be overwhelmed by the payments that they ha ve to make.
I understand that plantation owners and business people have been endeavouring to secure representation on committees that have been advising as to the policy that should be pursued in relation to New Guinea, and that their requests have been consistently refused. This applies also to the Production Control Board. These people are a part of the body and soul of New Guinea, and they should be enabled to place their views before the government of the day.
The bill proposes that there shall be an arbitrary increase of wages and reduction of working hours. I do not know whether plantations will be able to operate under the additional cost, but from what I have been told by planters I surmise that that is very doubtful. If the price of copra were to return to the immediate pre-war figure of £6 a ton, it would be impossible for plantations to carry on with a 44-hour week, and an increase of wages - in one case 50 per cent, and in the other case 200 per cent. The point that I particularly make is, that the people of Australia would not stand for the fixation of wages in this country by the Parliament. Consequently, there ought to he a proper judicial body for these Territories, consisting of a judge or a barrister of some years’ standing, before which the planters could state their case. The honorable member for Bourke made a slanderous reflection on the courage of the white planters of New Guinea and the white population generally. He said that the planters in New Guinea and Papua left as hurriedly as possible, and fled to the mainland.
– And so they did.
– The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) may repeat that statement until he is blue in the face, but he will not convince me of its truth. The report of Mr. Barry, K.C., does not bear it out. Some of the elderly men may have left, but a great many settlers fought gallantly in the New Guinea Rifles, and others served as guides to the Australian troops when they arrived. The honorable member for Adelaide may have in mind a particular individual of which he knows, but I. say that, by and large, the investigation of Mr. Barry, which was a very thorough one conducted in all parts of the area concerned, does not support what the honorable member for Bourke said. It was a slanderous and cruel statement to make about men who have suffered greatly. The honorable member for Bourke also said that the natives had been exploited.
– So they have.
– The honorable member rushed in with the valour of ignorance, lie has decided opinions, hut he lacks the knowledge to support them. His statement is a slur upon two great colonial ^administrators, Sir “William Macgregor and Sir Hubert Murray. I believe that if members of the Labour party were not bound by caucus decisions they would agree that this bill should be withdrawn, and the whole matter investigated hy a select committee, in accordance with the amendment moved by the honorable member for Balaclava. The committee should investigate whether this is a good bill, and whether amendments are necessary in order to make of it a workable piece of legislation which would operate for the benefit of both the native and the white races.
.- It would appear that the whole of the opposition to the bill arises out of the fact that it provides for an improvement of the conditions of the native peoples of New Guinea and Papua. I have listened to practically the whole of the debate, and it is quite clear that the antagonism to the measure is due to the fact that it stipulates that the wages of natives shall be increased, and that the number of their working hours shall be reduced.
– The main objection ii that there is to be no local control.
– There has been local control in Papua for about 50 years, but it did not achieve much to improve the conditions of the natives. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) said yesterday that he agreed that the conditions of the natives should be improved, but he said that it should be a slow and steady process. Surely,, half a century was a long enough period in which to have made some progress in improving conditions, but what is the position of the New Guinea natives, and particularly those of Papua? They suffered shockingly al the hands of those who employed them prior to the outbreak of this war. i visited New Guinea in 1929, and was in Rabaul. I was in Papua shortly before Japan s-truck. When I arrived there, the natives were being employed under peace-time conditions, some of them in the British New. Guinea stores, and other in the Burns Philp stores. The rubber planters and the copra growers also were employing natives under peacetime conditions, and I could see very little improvement in their conditions then as compared with 1929. Honorable members opposite say that there is no slavery to-day. I agree that the New Guinea natives are not in chains, but I cannot approve of the conditions under which they were forced to work before the Japanese invasion. I saw natives forced to carry loads which a. draughthorse in Australia would not carry.
– One man?
– Yes, one man was doing the work of a horse. The average life of the natives of New Guinea is about 40 years, largely because they -are forced to live under conditions in which they suffer malnutrition. Not until the Army occupied New Guinea were health services provided for the natives.
– There was a health service in Rabaul prior to the war.
– If there was, the natives were not getting the benefit of it.
– I personally saw it in operation.
– .The honorable member must admit that the natives suffered from malnutrition, and a great many of them died at an early age.
– Now the honorable member is shifting his ground. He said that there were no medical services for the natives.
– I repeat that if there was a medical service, the natives were not being treated. When the Army went there the value of the New Guinea natives was realized. We in Australia will never know just what a magnificent service was rendered by the natives, and how much it contributed to keeping Australia free. For that, if for no other reason, I compliment the Government and the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) upon bringing in this bill, which will do something to perpetuate the memory of those natives who did so much in the service of Australia. One honorable member said that when the history of the war was written it would be found that the Papuan natives gave their services to the Japanese. A few may have done so, but that is not true of a great majority of them. If honorable members inquire of any Australian soldier who has returned from New Guinea, they will be told that in almost every instance the natives of Papua gave their services freely and willingly to assist the Australian fighting forces. They saved the lives of many of our soldiers. Indeed, many servicemen would not be back in Australia to-day but for the help which they received from the natives. I have a great admiration for them. I saw them under peace conditions, and I saw them during the war. Therefore, I regret that an honorable member should rise in his place in this House, as did the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), and declare that it would kill industry in New Guinea if, as is proposed, the wages of native workers were to be raised by 50 per cent. He did not tell us what the 50 per cent, represented. He did not say th at the natives who worked in Burns Philp’s stores, who trod the road between Moresby andKoitaki and other plantations, received the magnificent sum of 10s. a month, or 2s. 6d. a week. And still honorable members say that there is no slavery! If industry in New Guinea is dependent upon the payment of slave wages at the rate of 2s. 6d. a week, it would be preferable to close down industry. The New Guinea natives are human beings just as we are, and I saw natives working in the stores at Port Moresby who, for intelligence, would compare favorably with any Australian. If they were given the same opportunities they would be able to measure up to Australians. Now it is proposed to pay the native workers 15s. a month instead of 10s.
– The wage was only 5s. a month in New Guinea.
– And their keep.
– And what does, their keep amount to?
– Now the Government is to give them 7s. 6d. a week, and thinks that it is doing something.
– We are trying to show our appreciation of what the natives have done. If the honorable member agrees with us in this, he should vote for the bill so that something may be done for those who have done so much for us.
– We are asking for an investigation.
– Investigations could have been conducted in Papua at any time during the last 50 years, but very little was done for the natives. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, said that the minimum age at which natives might be employed was to be fixed at sixteen years. It is a dreadful thing that we should have to provide by law that children are not to be employed under the age of sixteen. On one occasion I visited a plantation in Koitaki owned by Mr. Sefton. I make no apology for mentioning his name. After having taken a fortune out of Papua, he was one of the first persons to try to return to Australia when Japan struck in the Pacific. At dinner, a little child, who could hardly reach the table, waited on us.I was informed that she was aged six and a half years.
– They were just amusing the youngster. Shecame to see the honorable member.
– This is not a matter to be treated flippantly. I would not make such a statement if it were not true.
– I have visited the same plantation, and know better than the honorable member.
– I have seen these things, and have the honesty and courage to refer to them in this chamber. The bill provides that the remuneration payable to the natives shall be increased, that their hours of labour shall be reduced, and that small children shall not be exploited. By so doing, the Labour Government is paying a tribute to the natives of New Guinea and Papua who assisted Australian soldiers in our dire peril.
– in reply - The Government cannot accept the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White). Members of the Opposition, who have continually pro.tested against the delay in restoring the civil administration in New Guinea and Papua, now desire to cause further delay by having the Government’s proposals referred to a select committee for investigation and report. One of the charges which have been levelled at me, is that I am making decisions without having consulted the proper authorities, or those who have had experience of conditions in the Territories. If a select committee of this House were appointed, not many honorable gentlemen could qualify for membership on the ground that they had had actual experience of New Guinea and Papua. The honorable member for Balaclava stated that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Beasley), when attending the International Labour Conference in Philadelphia last year, made a declaration on behalf of Australia without authority from the Commonwealth Government to do so. That charge is not true. The Minister consulted the Department of External Territories and myself, as Minister for External Territories, and on the Government’s advice forwarded by me, he made the declaration at Philadelphia. This Government need not be ashamed of its decision.
– The Minister for Defence declared that indentured labour would be abolished.
– Yes, as soon as practicable. We believe that it will be a great advertisement for Australia, among the nations of the world, to show that we are prepared now to act in accordance with that declaration. At the recent conference in San Francisco, the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) led the way in urging acceptance of the policy of trusteeship. Australia can set an example to the world in its treatment of dependent peoples, and that is exactly what we should do. Let us examine some of the arguments, if they can be termed arguments, that have been advanced against the provisions of the bill. Honorable members emphasized the importance of New Guinea to the defence of Australia, and then proceeded to complain that the Government, under this legislation, would treat planters and private companies very harshly. That charge we deny. Planters and companies operated in the Territories in pre-war days ostensibly in their own interests, and were not there particularly in the interests of Australia ot the natives. They went to the Territories because they thought that lucrative investments awaited them there. I do not deny that the planters and others have, in many instances - not in) all cases - been able to do things, which have redounded to the credit of Australia, in the treatment of natives and in their approach to matters of general policy in the Territories. But the honorable member for Balaclava said, “ Let us get back to pre-war conditions”. Evidently, he has forgotten all that has been spoken and written about the “ fuzzy-wuzzy angels” who assisted Australian troops, and helped to protect this country against the Japanese invaders.
Members of the Opposition have dished out a good deal of “boloney” in their second-reading speeches. The honorable member for Balaclava urged that the local authorities should fix the remuneration of the natives. I ask: who are the local authorities? Obviously, they would consist of the planters and the mine managers - the employers of labour. Where, in any system of arbitration in the world,, do the employers of labour determine the wages of their employees? The honorable member declared also that the original ordinance provided ample protection for the natives, and that, in fact, the natives had not been exploited.
Has the honorable member read the Blakeley report on the Territories? Mr. Arthur Blakeley, who was formerly a -member of this House, proceeded to New Guinea a few years ago to investigate on behalf of the Government an industrial dispute and other matters. He told me of conditions that existed in regard to the employment of native labour that if made known to the world, would shock -every decent citizen. Why did not the honorable member for Balaclava say that under the old system a native could be away from his village and his womenfolk for periods up to six or seven years? “ When the men were working on the plantations, what happened to the native economy? And is it not a well-known fact that in the places where the natives were housed, sodomy frequently occurred, and the natives were known to fight for the possession of young hoys who had been put into the compounds? Honorable members opposite have not said one word about those conditions in the Territories. This Government desires to put an end to such things. In tackling the problem, we tlo not consider that the obligation rests upon the Government to find all the labour required by commercial interests. Reversing the procedure, we contend that our first function, as a Government acting as a trustee for the natives, is to ensure that they shall be properly cared for and treated. The Government proposes to make a survey of the native villages for the purpose of estimating what labour can be spared from the native economy. The labour required to preserve the native culture and economy will be the first consideration.
Working conditions also must be improved. Do honorable members opposite know that natives employed in the gold mines of New Guinea, made fortunes for non-residents of the Territory, people who had never visited it and knew nothing about it. When the natives became “ dusted “ because of the unsatisfactory nature of their working conditions underground, they were thrown out by their “ humane “ employers, and no compensation was paid in respect of their illness or death. Provision will be made for the payment of compensation to natives who are injured in industry, just as we provide for our workers in this country. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) declared emphatically that we must not improve the standards of the natives, but must always keep them a backward race; B!e prophesied that if we raise their educational standards and improve their social conditions, they are likely to co-operate with a potential enemy. What a peculiar, defeatist, and distorted view of the problem! We must win the friendship of these people, and when we have won it, we must retain it by treating them as human beings. All the talk about the prestige of the white man is nonsense. The honorable member for Richmond recalled that when I visited the Territories recently, I refused to allow the natives, many of whom were suffering from malnutrition, to carry me from my boat to the shore. The honorable member stated that my action injured the prestige of the white man. 1 believe that if we have to depend on that form of prestige to enable us to hold New Guinea and Papua, the sooner we get out of those Territories, the better it will be. We shall increase the prestige of the white man in the Territories by treating the natives as human beings.
So much has been published about the assistance that the natives have rendered to the Australian troops that the Opposition realizes that it is unpopular politically to say that one is not in favour of doing anything for them. I have spoken to Australians who have returned from the Territories, and I know that they value highly the aid that the natives rendered to them. Those Australians are anxious that the Commonwealth Government shall improve the standards of the natives. The honorable member for Balaclava said that he was in favour of a gradual improvement and advancement of the conditions of the natives. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) made it perfectly clear that honorable members opposite are in favour of a “ very gradual “ improvement. At what point did the gradual improvement commence? At present, the native labourers in New Guinea are receiving 5s. a month. They have been employed by white men, both German and Australian, for approximately 50 years. If it took 50 years, by a gradual process of advancement, for them to be paid 5s. a month, I should like to know at what sum their remuneration began.
The honorable member, for New England (Mr. Abbott) complained that the Government was fixing wages and working conditions arbitrarily, and advocated the institution of arbitration machinery for the purpose. The Government proposes to send to the Territories a competent officer to make an exhaustive inquiry for the purpose of determining a fair rate of remuneration for the natives. The Government then proposes to apply that rate in the Territories. Hearing honorable members opposite complain because the Government has temporarily fixed the rate at 15s. a month, one would almost believe that we had done something for which we should apologize. But if honorable members will examine the cost of native stores to-day compared with the pre-war figures, they will find that the purchasing power of 15s. at the present time is only equivalent to the purchasing power of 10s. before the outbreak of war. Because of the increase of the prices of native stores, the Government considered that it was necessary immediately to increase the rate of remuneration. But I did not take that action on my own initiative. I was only the instrument. Honorable members opposite asked me why I did not consult competent authorities before I acted. I did. First, I conferred with missionaries who had had many years’ experience in the Territories. It is quite true that there was a difference of opinion among them regarding indentured labour. They could not agree upon the recommendation that they should make to the Government. A verbatim report was taken of their views, and their opinions were examined. Later, another conference was held in Canberra. It was attended by experienced officers from the New Guinea and Papuan Civil Administrations and representatives of the Department of A liny Research. Mr. Leonard Murray, who, according to honorable members opposite, is the outstanding authority on conditions in the Territories, was present.
I am not decrying his capabilities or experience ; I mentioned his name merely to show that he was consulted on these particular matters. The labour conditions that the Government has now prescribed for the natives represent the views of those conferences-.
– Will the Minister say something about the promise to abolish indentured labour?
– The object of the Government was to abolish indentured labour at the earliest practicable moment, and we have sought the views of various authorities as to when this should be done. Some authorities consider that the abolition should be effected immediately, whilst others believe that it cannot be clone for generations. As the result of our deliberations and our consideration of the views that have been expressed on the subject, we decided to take immediate steps towards the abolition of indentured labour. In the past, there has been too much talk about the necessity for the abolition of the indentured labour system but no practical steps were being taken to that end.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– As evidence of the Government’s good faith, it is proposed that, where native labour is required for administrative purposes, only free labour shall be engaged. No indentured labour will be used by the civil administration. We are confident that it is practicable to abolish the indentured labour system. If we can demonstrate that this can be done in the civil ad-ministration, then no argument can be advanced that indentured labour is necessary for the development of the Territory. Whilst we have laid down that the indentured labour system shall be completely abolished in five years, or less, as determined by the Government, we have also taken steps to remove immediately certain objectionable features of the system as it has existed up to the present. The professional recruiter -will be abolished. Although the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) may object to the use of the term “ slavery “, the Labour movement regards professional recruiters as being, in some sense, akin to the “ blackbirders “ who previously impressed native labour in otter parts of the world. The bill provides that the employer shall engage his own labour direct, or through a paid agent on his pay-roll, and that the practice of using bribes in order to persuade natives to enter into contracts shall be discontinued. There is ample evidence that, on occasions, special attractions have been offered by professional recruiters to induce natives to indenture themselves. In spite of all this, honorable members opposite persist in saying that labour is recruited on. a voluntary basis, There are often serious doubts whether natives understand exactly the nature of the contracts into which they enter. I do not cast any reflection on the previous civil administration. The men who comprised it did a remarkably good job, considering the fact that the Territories were financially starved by the Commonwealth Parliament, and that the administration was understaffed and had an enormous task to perform in trying to police all of the provisions of the native labour ordinances. We propose to do away with the old procedure, and, to this end, we shall eliminate the professional recruiter and ensure that the engagement of labour shall be under strict supervision. It will also be compulsory to arrange for men to be returned to their home villages. There will be a native labour department, whose particular responsibility will be to ensure that the terms of contracts are observed. We discovered that labour contracts provided penalties for all sorts of offences which were in no way related to the natives’ work, but which ought to have been dealt with by the normal civil procedure. We shall limit the operation of such penal sanctions to the provision that a native shall complete his contract and shall not engage in service with another employer while the contract exists. Furthermore, we shall reduce the penalties so that they will have some relation to the earning capacity of the native.
Some of the penalties previously provided were so ridiculous and out of proportion to the native rates of pay as to be tantamount to condemning culprits to terms of imprisonment without .the option of a fine, for what I regarded, in many cases, as being minor offences. When investigating the penalties provided for native offences in New Guinea, I discovered that some of them amounted to £5, or imprisonment for six months. A native earning 5s. a month would have no chance of paying a fine of £5, and such a penalty would be equivalent to sentencing him to imprisonment for sis months. The penalty for running away from an employer was three months’ imprisonment, without the option of a fineSuch penalties are far too harsh and disproportionate to the offences. We propose to comb out these provisions and make the penalties commensurate with the offences and the natives’ ability to pay-
I refer now to the matter of hours of labour. Some honorable members tried to ridicule the fact that the bill provides for a 44-hour week for natives working under tropical conditions. I should like to know how many white planters work 44 hours a week under such conditions. Those hours were not determined by inexperienced men with no knowledge of the Territories; they were determined by men with many years of experience in the Territories. This provision will be supervised in order to see that it is not evaded by employers making the natives work excessive overtime. The planters obtain their labour so cheaply that, if they were permitted to work their men overtime, they would be able to defeat the purpose of the provision. Overtime may be worked only in cases of absolute emergency arising from a breakdown of machinery or, where necessary, to save material from destruction. The employer must report the working of al! overtime to the Department of Native Labour, which must be satisfied that an emergency actually existed. The honorable member for Balaclava has peculiar ideas as to how we ought to uplift the natives. When we talked about reducing the hours of labour, he asked, “ Why reduce the hours of labour and spoil the natives?” Spoil them for whom? Foi the unscrupulous employer, who merely regards them as units of production, and wants to grind from them the last ounce of profit? No doubt the honorable member would advocate the same thing for Australian workers. He would say, “ Give them longer hours. Why spoil them for those who want to exploit them ? “
The honorable gentleman also took exception to the proposed dietary scale’. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) raised the point that the dietary scale provided by “ Angau “ was of a higher food value than that provided by the Production Control Board. That is perfectly true. However, we have decided to give the natives a better dietary scale than is provided for by either the Army or the Production Control Board. We engaged a food expert and fixed a dietary scale superior to any which has previously existed in the Territories. Some honorable members opposite have said that the natives would rather have their own food than eat what is provided on. the dietary scale. Every anthropologist or medical man who has been through the Territories has remarked on the low physical standard of the natives. That low standard is due entirely to food deficiencies. The natives have not been provided with the proteins necessary for proper development, because of the scarcity of meat. Honorable members object to the Government providing that these people shall be paid a little more for their work and given better food than they have had in the past. The pay of the natives is made up of cash, rations, and quarters. The Government believes that, because food represents a part of their wages, it should ensure that they obtain full value in the ration scale. It alao believes that native agriculture can be greatly improved, and it intends, by engaging skilled agriculturalists, to .advise and train the natives so a3 to improve the standard of their crops and their methods of production, not only for their own consumption but also for marketing. It would be wrong to encourage the production in the Territories of goods which would be competitive with commodities produced in Australia. There is no need for that to be done. It has been proved that many things can he produced successfully in the Territories which would not be competitive with Australian primary industries. Therefore, we propose to develop the production of such commodities and give the natives an opportunity to build up their own industries and have an interest in the affairs of their own country. We hope that, by training them first in the management of their own village affairs, we shall eventually develop them to a stage at which they can take an intelligent and effective interest in the government of their own country. That is the best service that we can give to them. We have a policy for a White Australia, and it will prove greatly to our advantage to see that we deal fairly with dependent peoples who come under our control.
Honorable members opposite have said that this bill makes no provision for white settlers. The Government has not claimed that the bill represents its final act on behalf of these Territories. It has many plans in mind, which include schemes for the benefit of white settlers. However, I emphasize that the Government regards the care of the natives of the country as being the primary consideration, just as it regards the welfare of our own people in Australia as .being of major importance. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) asked, “Why should the white planters be taxed without representation?” Apparently the honorable gentleman is just as well informed on this subject as he has been, on every other subject which he has discussed in this House in recent months. He is concrete from the shoulders up. He does not know that Commonwealth taxes are not levied in the Territories. Honorable members opposite have said that this bill provides for dictatorship by a Minister exercising remote control from Canberra. They object to the wiping out of the legislative bodies that previously existed. The Government does not intend to remove those organizations permanently. It hopes to restore them at least in their previous form, but preferably in a vastly improved form. However, at this stage, when a great majority of the planters and the rest of the white population have been evacuated from the Territories, it would he absolutely ridiculous to attempt to establish any form of legislative machinery there. To do so would be to hand overcontrol to a mere handful of mining interests and planters. Later, when the residents of the territory return to their homes, they will be given proper legislative machinery. In the meantime, control will be in the bands of the administrator, who will be given directions in regard to policy from time to time by the Government. There will be no interference with the local organization in connexion with direct administration. Some honorable gentlemen believe that we owe a great debt to big commercial interests for their development of the Territories and for making it possible to raise some measure of defence against the Japanese forces when they moved south. Let us consider the activities of some of these great commercial interests. Take the Bulolo Gold Dredging Company, for instance. I do not know whether many honorable gentlemen have travelled along the Bulolo Valley, but, judging from its surroundings, I consider that it must have been a very fertile valley in the past. However, owing to the operations of the dredging company, it has become a desert. The company has thrown the spoil from its operations back onto the ground and covered over the rich top soil, thus destroying the productivity of the country. . The Government will not permit such things to continue. It is wrong for commercial interests to despoil the countryside and destroy its productivity merely for the sake of gaining some immediate advantage for themselves.
The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) referred to the Government’s proposals as to the freedom of the missionaries. Neither the Government nor the Administration will interfere with the activities of the missionaries. We recognize the value of the work that they have done in the past, particularly in the educational field, and we hope that what they have done with their limited resources will he continued in co-operation with the Government. We do not intend to eliminate the missionaries from the field of education, but hope that they will work in co-operation with the Government.
Reference to remote control of these Territories was made by the honorable member for Balaclava and other honorable members, who foolishly quoted from the report of Mr. Barry, K.C. I am pleased that they referred to that report in their effort to show that there had been government muddling, with the result that New Guinea had been left in a defenceless condition. Mr. Barry inquired into the conditions prevailing there on the cessation of the civil administration in February, 1942. As the Labour Government did not come into office until October, 1941, all of the government muddling that had left the Territories defenceless was the fault of anti-Labour administrations. Mr. Barry is an eminent and able King’s Counsellor. He successfully represented me on ona occasion before a royal commission. His report shows that New Guinea was left in a defenceless state, and that the troops stationed there were practically untrained. That was because the Government which the Curtin Ministry succeeded had denuded the country of its trained troops by sending them overseas. New Guinea will never again be left in an undefended condition, provided the present Government remains in office for a sufficiently long period to enable it to develop Papua and New Guinea as it desires.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) also expressed opposition to what he described as remote control. Some of the things he said were humorous and others were not so humorous. After advocating increased local autonomy for New Guinea, he said that the Territory should have a member in this Parliament. That, I point out, would result in control from Canberra, and would not provide for an extension of local autonomy. When the white population of the Territory is large enough to warrant the granting to it of parliamentary representation 1 shall have no objection to it, but, at present, owing to the sparseness of the population, the existing arrangement is preferable. The one helpful suggestion from the Opposition came from the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) . I do not often agree with him, but on this occasion he said that it would be wise to eliminate private shipping companies from New Guinea. I thank him for that suggestion, which I look upon as a very good one. I intend to adopt it, and make a recommendation to the Government accordingly. I hope that that proposal will have his support when a measure to give effect to it is brought before the Parliament.
As I have already stated this measure is only a first instalment of the Government’s plan for the development of these Territories. We have indicated our proposals for the control of native affairs and of native labour conditions. We thought it was a good gesture on our part to make those matters our major and first consideration. As we go on with our plans for the improvement of the conditions in Papua and New Guinea generally we will make these Territories a means of real defence for the continent of Australia. We hope to he able to set an example to the world by the conditions we establish there, and by the manner in which we develop the Territories. When the system of trusteeship begins to operate fully, Australia will have no need to be ashamed of what has been accomplished by a Labour Government in caring for its dependent Territories, and particularly for the needs of the inhabitants.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Mr. White’s amendment) stand part of the ( question.
The House divided. (Ma. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.;
Question so resolved in the affirmative..
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Suspension of certain provisions of the Papua Act 1905-1940 and the New Guinea Act 1920-1935).
.- Under this clause, which is quite undemocratic, the Legislative ‘Councils of Papua and New Guinea are to be abolished. Listening to the Minister (Mr. Ward), one might think that a new era is about to be opened up for these Territories. This is what the Minister said on the 2nd November, 1938-
It is amusing to hear people say that w* shall not give up New Guinea. To those people I would say that if it should become necessary to defend our Mandated Territory, they should defend it themselves. As far atI am concerned, all I can judge about the necessity for retaining New Guinea is that a handful of exploiters have got hold of the country, some interested in aerial transport, some in gold mining, and some in the search for oil, which, according to reliable reports, has already been found. These people want to retain New Guinea in order to preserve their own commercial interests. But what happen-* to the unfortunate natives? The honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr), when dealing with some criticism of conditions prevailing in New Guinea, said that the natives are so satisfied that, when their employers offer them their wages at the end of the week, they put their hands behind their backs and refuse to take the money.
That was the view which the Minister, when a private member, took of New
Guinea in those days, and I submit that be has not altered his opinion. He did his best to prevent Australians from going to New Guinea.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).The honorable member must confine his remarks to the clause.
– I submit that I am entitled to refer to those matters, as the clause provides for the suspension of certain provisions of the Papua Act and the New Guinea Act. When speaking about New Guinea affairs in 1938, I -aid -
The matter of defence lias been exercising the minds of honorable members this week, but 1 point out that no defence of Australia is complete without the defence of Australia’s territorial outposts. Yet we have the immense and fertile Territory of New Guinea, with its gold, copper, rubber, and tropical production, as well’ as its untapped resources of raw metals, absolutely undefended, a small number of native police being the only organized force. We all know that under the term? of pur Mandate, New Guinea cannot bo fortified., but definitely, wo ran fortify and defend Papua. [ pointed out that any plans for the defence of Australia should include the defence of New Guinea, and said that I had never seen any evidence of such provision. That typified the attitude of the then Government, and it also typifies the attitude of the present Government as it is represented, by the Minister for External Territories. All the talk of a new order for the natives is mere nonsense. The natives have received the greatest care. What has been done in that regard has been an example to the world. Sir Hubert Murray, an outstanding anthropologist, a humanitarian and a lawyer, demonstrated the application of the best British ideas. I wonder how many honorable members opposite have read any of the ordinances of the two Territories, or know the form of government that they have had. I should say that there are not half a dozen. The honorable member for Parkes (M’r. Haylen) made last night, a mealy mouthed and mean speech, in which he did not pay any tribute to the servicemen but merely spoke about the “ fuzzy-wuzzy angels “. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) set a new standard of behaviour for a guest. He had a meal with a planter, whose name he mentioned.
– I was not his guest.
– The honorable member dined at his place. I dined at the same place. The honorable member said : “ I was actually waited upon by a child of six and a half “.
– That is a fact.
– Even an Arab with whom one has broken bread or eaten salt will not betray one.
– The honorable member dined there in peace-time. He is not acquainted with present-day facts.
– The honorable member’s hosts probably went to great trouble to secure the services of those who waited on him. Should he again visit that place, he will be told to wait on himself. The Minister made a lot of the fact that when he went to the Territory he did not ride on the back of a native to be carried from the boat to the shore. That was his method of demonstrating that the natives were his equals, and that he had nothing but brotherly love for them. When about to make the return journey, however, he rode on the back of a native. He was then a little more tired than he had been at the commencement of his visit, a.nd had seen a little more of the Territory.
The bill is described as one for the setting up of an administration in the two Territories, yet- it does not contain any reference to the planters, who are mostly ex-servicemen. In 1933, the Lyons Government set up a new form of administration in Nen- Guinea. There had been an Executive Council of nine members, eight of whom were officials, including the Government Secretary and the Government Treasurer. The honorable mem her for Adelaide asserted that every one had left the different districts when the Japanese arrived. I point out to him that, those two men are to-day prisoners of the Japanese. I should like them, to have heard what he said.- The other members of the Executive Council were the officials in charge of native affairs and district services, a public health officer, a representative who looked after agriculture in the Territory, the Crown law officer, the Collector of Customs, and the Secretary of the Department of Lands and
Mines. They were advisers to the Administrator. As they lived in the Territory they were competent to give valuable advice. That was the procedure until 1933, when the Lyons Government set up also a Legislative Council, on which were three planters, a mine manager, a solicitor, and two representatives of commercial interests, in addition to the official members. It was that Legislative Council which made the ordinances. I am quite fair when I ask whether honorable members consider that justice can be given to the whites or the natives under ordinances made in Canberra, equal to that given under ordinances made by a body such as I have described, operating in the country itself. This is a negation of democracy. An advance was made, and now the proposal is to revert to the conditions that operated prior to 1933, when the Territory had not been ;:o greatly developed. I wonder how many honorable members are interested in the writings of Lord Lugard, a world authority on colonial affairs. A condensation of the thought that he expressed in The Dual Mandate of British Tropical Africa is -
There are, in my estimation, two vital principles which characterize the growth of a wise administration; they are decentralization and continuity.
In this measure, the Government is aiming at centralization; the administration is to be removed from New Guinea and Papua, and is to be established in Canberra. Can it be a success? Even Sydney and Melbourne resent the fiats and ordinances that arc churned out by the bureaucrats of Canberra. How, then, oan the Government expect to manage successfully by that means a . Territory that is so far away as New Guinea - the second largest island in the world, and probably the least explored? 1 concede that the Minister has the best of intentions, and do not criticize his desire to do what he regards as the right thing. But he cannot administer such a territory fairly and honestly, studying the welfare of the natives and giving proper attention to development, from aspot so far remote as Canberra. Development does not necessarily imply exploitation, although it did 50 or 100 years ago. Honorable members have in- weighed against indentured labour asthough it were slavery. The honorablemember for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) and. others have so described it. They do not know the meaning of the term.
– The honorable memberdoes not seem to know much about it.
– I shall read somethingfor the honorable member’s edification.. A governmental inquiry was held into* the labour conditions of the two Territories, and minority and majority reports were presented. All those who counted for anything were invited to give evidence. This is what the minority report said -
It would appear that the indenture system is essential to industry in a country like New Guinea, where the labour is not only comparatively backward, but few in number. The fact that the population is so sparse, viz., nine per square mile compared to G4 per square mile in Malaya, 210 per square mile in Ceylon and 500 in Bali means conversely t hat there is no economic urge to produce in order to live . . .
This is a passage from the majority report -
New Guinea is one of the most primitive countries in the world and our knowledge of the conditions peculiar to it leads us to the conclusion that the indenture system -with it» penal sanctions preserving equitable relations between employer and labourer is the only onesuitable at the present stage of the development of the native and is moreover, the only one that suits his mentality.
Those passages summarize the opinion* of residents of the Territories who were invited to give evidence. This legislation is the result of an unwise promise whichan Australian Minister made at theInternational Labour Office at Philadelphia. Like another Minister w.ho is just returning from San Francisco, he had to say something startling so that notice would be taken of him. The promise was: “We will abolish theindenture system “. He cabled back to* his Government, and obtained, its permission to give that undertaking. 1 quote his words from a report which appeared in the Melbourne Argus of Friday, the 2Sth April, 1944-
I have been able to get from my Government approval of recommendations of theInternational Labour Office for improvement of the conditions of native population and also. I am able to say that indentured labour will be abolished in Commonwealth territories as> soon as practicable.
Similarly, the other Minister to whom 1 have referred read Britain a lesson on trusteeship and how it should run its colonies. Some stupid things have been done in this Parliament, but this legislation is the height of folly. Some progress has been made in Now Guinea, but it has not been sufficient. Both native welfare and the development of the country should have been further advanced.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I was amazed to hear the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) criticize the Minister who introduced this measure (Mr. Ward). My main concern is the abolition of indentured labour -among the natives. In 1932, a Supreme Court judge went from Australia to New Guinea to try one of the “ poor plantation owners “ whom the honorable member has sought to defend to-night. The charge was that he had murdered an unfortunate native who was in the employ of another plantation owner, but had brought to him a launch that had been repaired. The planter to whom he was not indentured told him that he was to do certain work. The native replied, “ You are not my boss “. The planter regarded that as gross insolence. He struck the native, and the native struck back. Then the planter had him seized by other natives, spreadeagled on the ground and flogged. When the natives who were doing the flogging were exhausted, the planter himself continued to beat the man. The native lost consciousness, and was then carried to the compound. His wounds were flyblown, and eventually he died. The planter who was responsible for all this was tried on a charge of murder. His excuse was that the native had been insolent. Let it be remembered that the native was not even indentured to him, but even if he had been, nothing could have justified such unmerciful treatment. The planter was sentenced to only ten years’ imprisonment, and .after four years he was released so that he might go back and beat more natives. Let us try to understand what this system of indentured labour involves. Recruiters go to the villages, and entice unfortunate natives to follow them back to the settled areas. There they go through a ceremony which is called “ making paper “, in the course of which the native puts his thumb print on a document by which he contracts- to work so many years for the generous sum of 5s. a month. By virtue of the contract the native becomes a human chattel, the virtual property of the plantation owner to whom the recruiter has sold him for £1 or 30s. I can see no difference between that and the system of slavery under which African natives were carried to America, and even to England. It took a civil war to abolish slavery in the United States of America, and thousands of lives were lost in the course of it. The great champion of abolition was that stalwart of democracy, Abraham Lincoln, a man to whom our own Prime Minister would bear a considerable resemblance if he were to grow a beard. The Leader of the Opposition asked what would happen to the poor plantation owners if this legislation were agreed to. I am more concerned about the unfortunate natives who have been exploited. I have been advocating for the last eleven years that something should be done to protect the natives. I remember that the name of the native who was beaten to death by a planter was Sam-bung, and I wish I could turn up the words of the trial judge when the case was heard. I remember that some natives who stole their master’s beer were sentenced to gaol for five years, and they ali served the full term. A native sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for assault has to serve his ten years, but the planter who murdered a native by having him beaten to death served only four years. Evidently, the Leader of the Opposition and his party stand for the perpetuation of slave conditions in New Guinea.
The other night, I listened with interest to the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) advocating the education of the New Guinea natives. It is certainly time that we did something in that direction. Since the abolition of slavery in the United States of America, a great deal has been done in that country for the benefit of the coloured people. They receive the full protection of American law, and educational facilities are provided for them right up to university standard. They have reason to feel that the white man is their friend and not their enemy.
– In particular, they have been given the full benefit, of lynch law.
– I know nothing about that. We are sending delegates to the International Labour Conference in Paris shortly, and when this hill is passed our representatives will be able to appear at the conference with clear consciences. They will be able to report that a Labour Government in Australia has brought in legislation to abolish the system of indentured labour, which is nothing more or less than slavery. When they “ make paper “, and commit themselves to work for an employer for five or seven years, they have no idea of the contract into which they are entering, but they are held to it by the courts. The Administration of New Guinea has upheld the system under which a native, by putting his thumb print on a, piece of paper which he cannot read, commits himself to a contract which he cannot possibly understand. I compliment the Minister upon having introduced this bill, and I trust that it will have a speedy passage through Parliament. It is a further step towards the provision of proper living conditions for all men, whether black, white or brindle.
– This clause proposes to suspend the operation of sections 10 to 15 of the Papua Act 1905-1940, and sections 17-18 of the same act, which deal with the appointment of officers: also sections 22-43, which deal with the Executive Council, the Legislative Council, and appeals to the High Court; also sections 46 and 47, which deal with financial provisions for Papua, and section 50 which provides for the granting of money by this Parliament to Papua. If this hill Ls passed in its present form, by what authority will the House of Representatives vote money for the Administration of Papua ? Section 50 of the Papua Act -states that there shall be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue of the Commonwealth for the maintenance of govern ment in Papua such sums as are appropriated for that purpose. If this clause is passed, how can that be done? It if also proposed to suspend sections 6 to 34 of the New Guinea Act 1920-1935, which deal with the Administrator, the Executive Council, the Legislative Council and the appointment of officers. However, it is not proposed to repeal sections 35 and 36 of the act. Section 36 prohibit? the slave trade in the Territory of New Guinea, and provides that no forced labour shall be permitted. It deals with the traffic in arms and ammunition, the supply of intoxicating liquors, and further provides - (5.) There shall be no military training o? natives of the Territory other than for local defence and native police. (G.) No military or naval base shall blesttablished, or fortification erected in the Territory.
It amazes me that the Minister should bring down a bill of this kind without any explanation on this point. What need was there to suspend the Papuan Administration? No part of Papua is now occupied by the Japanese, and, indeed, a great deal of New Guinea also has been liberated. I can understand why the Minister should ask for the temporary suspension of the New Guinea Act, but I cannot understand why he should want to keep on the statute-hook section 36 of that act, which was responsible for New Guinea being not properly defended by previous governments. Australia war committed to that provision by the Brussels Convention and the Geneva Convention. The Minister referred glibly to the failure of previous governments to make adequate preparation* for the defence of New Guinea, and 1 was pleased when the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) read some of the interesting statements made by the honorable gentleman on that subject both before and after the outbreak of this war. Under the Convention of the League of Nations, to which this Commonwealth was a party and to which the Australian Labour party has always insisted on belonging, except when trouble doomed in Abyssinia and honorable members opposite had a few frights, no Australian government, until Japan entered this war, was entitled to prepare any defences in New Guinea, or in such islands as New Britain and New Ireland. That answers the statements made by the Minister. This clause will not repeal the section of the act that provides that New Guinea shall not be defended. I propose to read a statement made by the Minister on the 20th September, 1939, nearly a fortnight after the outbreak of the present war. Speaking on the Defence Bill (No. 2), he said-
V would say to honorable members of the Government that their opinion in relation to the existing obligation of the citizens of this country to serve outside Australia is not generally shared by the community.
I t is interesting to note that the honorable gentleman was a Minister in the government which, amended the Defence Act, making it lawful for Australians to serve outside the Commonwealth. I told him in May, 1939, that if war broke out, the only course open to the Labour party would be to adopt conscription or split. The Labour party adopted conscription for industrial as well as for military purposes. The honorable gentleman’s speech on the Defence Bill (No. 2) proceeded -
Every member of this Parliament recognizes that there is an obligation upon every citizen of this country to serve in case of the actual invasion of our shores. At the same time, the Opposition will not concede to the Government that that, obligation should be extended to provide that Australian troops should be compelled to go overseas to defend territories acquired by the Commonwealth.
That amazing statement, I repeat, was made on the 20th September, 1939. The Minister must know what the law prescribed in regard to defending New Guinea. Having abused members of the Opposition for their failure to fortify the Territories, he now proposes that we should retain the section of the act which prevented the Commonwealth Government, before the outbreak of this war, from defending New Guinea. The Minister has something to answer. Under those conditions, all talk about the restoration of the civil administration in New Guinea and Papua is so much “ eyewash “. When we deal with the next clause, I shall have pleasure in telling the Minister what f think are his real motives. I believe that he has not yet disclosed: them to the committee. He is one of the most astute gentlemen in this chamber.
Machiavelli would have been, made to look like a fool if the Minister had lived in his time.
I come now to the consideration of what sort of government will be restored to New Guinea if this clause is passed in its present form. An administrator is to be appointed. This afternoon, I made some remarks on the general subject of administrators. The Administrator of New Guinea will not be empowered to appoint officers, because that power is suspended by clause 5. Who, then, will appoint officers, and from what ranks of society will they be selected? There will be no executive council. The Administrator, apparently, will be placed in the same position as is the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank. He is to carry out the will of the Minister for External Territories. Now that the Commonwealth Bank Bill has been passed, the Minister doubtless considers that a precedent has been created, and if he gets into difficulties he can retain Mr. J. V. Barry, K.C, to plead parliamentary privilege for him. There will not be a legislative council. The local community, neither officially nor by the selection of the Administrator, is to have any voice in tendering advice to him, unless- as private individuals. I had some experience of that lately, when the former Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) stated that the Northern Territory Development League should not make any representations to him officially, but that he would meet them as private individuals. Will that rule apply in Papua and New Guinea?
Then again, no appeal will be allowed from the Supreme Courts of the Territories to the High Court of Australia. [ am not one who has very much concern for the legal profession, but I admit . that occasions arise when it is necessary for a litigant to have certain rights. I should like the Minister to inform me why he proposes to deprive the residents of New Guinea of the right to appeal to the High Court, which is the highest legal, tribunal in the Commonwealth. The residents of New Guinea will be deprived of that right at a time when litigation may arise over a thousand and one matters. Who is to say what litigation will arise out of the administration of the War Damage Commission or regarding the gold leases? The parties concerned may desire to appeal to the High Court. Clause 16 deals with the establishment of a supreme court, and provides for the appointment of a number of justices. I do not know what the honorable gentleman will do with a bench of justices in New Guinea, unless he expects a good deal of litigation. If he does, I ask him to explain why the citizens of New Guinea and Papua are to be denied the right to appeal to the High Court. This clause is most extraordinary.
I come now to the financial provisions. Two sections of the Papua Act deal with this matter. One Minister stated that no taxes were levied in the1 Territories, but section 46 provides -
The revenues of the Territory shall be available for defraying the expenditure thereof, and the Governor-General may make such regulations as he deems necessary for the receipt, expenditure, control, and audit of revenues and moneys of the Territory.
That is to be suspended.
– What is the meaning of “suspended”?
– Suspended? This afternoon, the honorable gentleman voted against a motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders, so I assume that he must know the meaning of the word.
– I assumed that the honorable member knew everything about the bill.
– No; 1 did not draft this legislation. I am only stating my fears, and asking for information. Section 47 of the act provides -
No revenues or moneys of the Territory shall be issued or expended except under appropriation made by law, and except by warrant under the hand of- the Lieutenant-Governor.
This bill will repeal that section. In those circumstances, how can we make an appropriation of revenue - legally, at any rate ? If this clause be passed, the Administrator will not have power to make an appropriation, or to issue a warrant. He must have money with which to carry on the administration of the Territory. How will he get it? Will the Minister go to the Territories and sign the cheques personally? Or will the Minister intro duce his education system immediately, and have a team of “ fuzzy-wuzzies “ to sign the cheques on his behalf?
– Order ! The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- Supporters of the Government have made many statements which slander previous administrations, and particularly men and women who pioneered the development of New Guinea and Papua. Therefore, I desire to explain at this stage how wo acquired a mandate over New Guinea, and how we have discharged our obligations. This story could well be told by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who, as Prime Minister, represented Australia at the Peace Conference in 1919. Earlier, an agreement had been entered into with Great Britain by Australia, New Zealand and South Africa that in the event of the defeat of Germany, New Guinea was to be added to the territories of Australia without any mandate whatever. New Zealand was to receive Samoa, and South Africa certain portions of German South-West Africa as additions to their Territories. When the United States of America entered the war, President Wilson enunciated his Fourteen Points, and the distribution of the German territories had to be submitted to the Peace Conference for decision.
The then Prime Minister of Australia made a valiant effort to secure for this country a mandate over New Guinea, and some of the objections which he had to counter aros( from an abysmal ignorance of conditions in that Territory - an ignorance similar to that displayed by honorable members opposite. When the right honorable gentleman argued that Australia should have New Guinea, President Wilson opposed the suggestion completely. Eventually, he was outvoted by France, Italy and Great Britain. Then discussion took place regarding what kind of a mandate Australia should be granted over New Guinea. Three forms of mandate were being granted. The “ A “ class mandate applied to countries like Palestine which were well developed but could not defend themselves against an aggressor. The “ B “ class mandates were over peoples who were not, so civilized, but who were not uncivilized. The “ C “ class mandates were over uncivilized countries. When the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth asked for a “ C “ class mandate over New Guinea, President Wilson suggested that a plebiscite should be taken of the natives to determine whether they desired to come under the jurisdiction of Australia. Our Prime Minister replied, “ But, sir, these people eat one another “, much to the astonishment of President Wilson and the other members of the conference. Lloyd George then asked Mr. Hughes whether he would agree, if a “ C “ class mandate were granted, that the missionaries should have access to the natives or that the natives should have access to the missionaries, and the right honorable gentleman replied that he would be very pleased to allow the natives to have access to the missionaries because they frequently ran out of foodstuffs. Pour important conditions were attached to the mandate granted to Australia. The first was that there should be no traffic in drink or firearms. We have honoured that. The second was that there should be no fortification of the mandated area. Unfortunately, perhaps, Ave honoured that. The. third was that there should be no forced or slave labour in the Territory. We have honoured that. Finally, Australia was required to report each year to the constituted authority. We did that regularly until the outbreak of war. No nation has given better treatment to people under its charge than has the Commonwealth of Australia. Honorable gentlemen opposite have uttered slanderous statements both against previous governments of the Commonwealth and against the men and women who have held New Guinea for us. Those men and women may have gone there for their own benefit, but who is not motivated by a desire for advancement? Because there are opportunities for advancement in New Guinea, people have worked in its tropical climate year after year, although many of them, to my certain knowledge, have lost money instead of making profits from the alleged exploitation of the natives. Many Australian soldiers who have served in New Guinea and Papua want to settle there after the war, but they will be prevented from doing so if the conditions laid down in the bill make it impossible for them to earn a decent living.
– The honorable member is not suggesting that the bill lays down impossible conditions?
– I am stating definitely that, so far as I can ascertain from the Minister, the conditions which are to be imposed on the people of New Guinea in respect of the employment of labour have been formulated without prior consultation with any authority in order to ascertain whether the planters will be able to carry on economically under them. If they can carry on under those conditions, I shall be satisfied. However, we do not know on what grounds the Minister bases all these proposed alterations. He has dispensed with the only authority which could properly advise him, namely, the Legislative Council. Whilst giving lip service to democracy, he is depriving the whits citizens of New Guinea of any voice in their own affairs and of the .right to appeal against his decisions. At the first available opportunity, he seizes the powers of a dictator. That is virtually what this bill does for him. It abolishes democratic principles more completely than any Fascist country ever did.
– It abolishes, slavery mainly.
– That story was told by Hitler and by everybody who has tried to destroy the fundamentals of democracy. Such people claim that they are acting only for the benefit, of the people. It is a plausible story, but the fact remains that this bill will abolish at one fell stroke every authority through which the- people of New Guinea would be enabled to exercise their rights as residents of that Territory. The Minister has not told us yet, and I do not think that he can, on what authority he proposes to make these very drastic changes in the lives of the people of New Guinea. Government supporters have said that the bill will abolish slavery. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers), who served for a time in the Australian Imperial Force as a dentist, and who now sets himself up as an authority on everything pertaining to war, said that he visited a planter’s home in New Guinea where a girl six and a half years of age was employed. Any intelligent person would know that, when a man can be employed for 30s. a month-
– I rise to order. The matter which the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) is now discussing has reference to a debate which took place at an earlier hour to-day on the motion for the second reading of the bill. As this is the second time that the story has been told, I submit that it has been told at least once, if not twice, too often, and is out of order.
– The honorable ‘ member for Richmond will be out of order if he refers in committee to something that has taken place during the second-reading debate.
– Very well, I shall not proceed with that particular case. It has already been dealt with, and I know that the subject is unpalatable to honorable members opposite. They realize just what a fool the honorable member for Adelaide made of himself in referring to it. When we listen to criticism by Government supporters of the manner in which Australia has discharged its responsibilities to the people of New Guinea, and when we recall the manner in which we acquired control of the Territory, it is worth recording what the Minister now in charge of that Territory had to say on a memorable occasion a few years ago. About twelve months prior to the outbreak of war-
– We have heard this before.
– And the honorable member will hear it again. It is worth hearing. The Minister said, in November, 1938-
It is amusing to hear people say that we shall not give up New Guinea. To those people I would say that, if it should become necessary to defend our Mandated Territory, they should defend it themselves.
It is ironical that the honorable gentleman should now be. in charge of the affairs of New Guinea. Before going ahead with the drastic reforms proposed in this bill he should consult the people who have, over many years, acquired a thorough knowledge of the Territory and the best methods of dealing with native problems. I do not claim that, their advice should be accepted in their entirety, but they are wise as the result of their long experience. This bill does not indicate that their advice has been sought. I hope that not only this clause but also the rest of the bill will be revised.
.- I take the opportunity presented by this clause, which seems to be regarded as a justification for the making of second-reading speeches, to congratulate the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) on the introduction of the measure and on the fact that its underlying principle, which will, in due course, become law, is the betterment of the conditions of the native populations of New Guinea and Papua.
– It means bureaucratic control from Canberra.
– The Parliament of the Commonwealth appears, by common consent, to be the proper body to legislate in respect of external territories. A very competent Minister has been sworn in for the purpose of administering the laws. Referring to clause 5, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), in a forceful hut, appertaining to such laws, not quite logical speech, called attention to certain sections of other acts, which he said, incorrectly, would be repealed. In fact they will he suspended.
– “ Suspended “, not “ repeal “, was the word about which the honorable member and I had an argument.
– Yes, that was the word used, but not recognized. In discussing clause 5, the honorable member said that certain sections of other acts would be repealed. I said that they would not be repealed. As he seemed to have a comprehensive knowledge of everything connected with the bill, I ventured to ask his view of the meaning of the word “ suspended “, because those sections will be suspended. Since this is a temporary measure, the probable meaning of the word “ suspended “, as distinct from “ repeal “, is that the sections of the acts referred to in the clause will he held in abeyance, or remain inoperative, as long as this measure lasts. It will remain in operation for the duration of the war and six months thereafter. The honorable member for Barker asked whether there are means of raising the money necessary for administering these Territories, since it is obvious that money will be required for that purpose. If we study the bill a little further, clause by clause, we shall find that power is taken to make ordinances “ for the peace, order and good government of the Territory “. I have no dou’bt that by means of these ordinances, or by some other method provided in the bill, we shall find that provision is made for raising the funds needed for administering the measure. I have some lingering doubts, however, about the propriety of using the word “ suspended “. I hope that the view that I have stated as to its proper meaning is the correct one. I have no recollection of having seen the word previously in a bill or an act. One naturally asks for what period the suspension is to last, and between which dates it is to continue suspended. If suspended means “ suspended during the operation of the act”, the whole act being in its nature temporary, my objection to the use of that somewhat unusual word is met.
– One of the effects is to suspend the operation of the local legislature.
– The suspension is of specified sections of certain acts. I do not anticipate any trouble arising from the points made by the honorable member for Barker. I think that the draftsmanship of the Crown Law Department will be found equal to the situation. Nor do I express any opinion of the views advanced by the Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Ward), when he was a private member, as compared with those which he now expresses as a Minister. All I say is that probably the views expressed by him as a private member account for his rapid graduation to his present position.
– The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has directed most of his remarks to a speculation as to the real purpose of this clause. The necessity for speculation is due to the fact that no word of explanation has been given by the Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Ward). Listening to the contribution by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), one would think that the clause deals with the withdrawal of the power in respect of indentured labour, but it has a much wider implication than that. Indeed the clause suspends the operation of 32 sections of the Papua Act and 29 sections of the New Guinea Act. In those sections are some of the most important features of Territory legislation, including the Executive Council, the Legislative Council, and certain judicial procedure. It would be fair to this committee if the Minister, from information which is much more readily available to him than to any other honorable member, would inform us as to the real import of the clause, and give at least an epitome of the important sections of the two acts which will be suspended. Then it will not be necessary for any other honorable member to follow the lead of the honorable member for Batman in speculating as to the term of the suspension. He suggested that it might be expected to be for the duration of the war and six months thereafter, but the bill has nothing to say about that. The Minister might inform the committee, on the matter immediately, in order to prevent further speculation about it.
.- In company with many other honorable members, I refrained from offering my views at the second-reading stage, because I have no personal knowledge of the conditions in the Territories concerned. But two important issues have been raised in the discussion on this clause. The first is that referred to by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), who made what I can only regard as a regrettable reference to the attitude of honorable members of the Opposition with regard to the equitable and even enforcement of the laws of the Territory against men, irrespective of their colour. I challenge the honorable member to produce any proof of partial administration of the law. Early in anymem.bership of this Parliament a keen debate took place in this chamber on the issue of the imposition of capital punishment on a white man in the Territory, who had been sentenced to death according to the laws of the Territory, and after a fair trial, for having murdered four natives by shooting them in the back as they were running away. On that occasion the party with which the honorable member is associated was attacking the party of which I was a member, and which was then in power, for its decision to impose capital punishment on the murderer in that instance. It is unfortunate, and it is a matter to be condemned that such charges should be levelled against one party or another.
– Opposition to capital punishment rests on other grounds.
– I shall not deal with the merits of the debate which took place at that time. I have looked up some of the speeches in Hansard, and I vividly recall the occasion. It is unwarranted to allege that members on this side displayed partiality towards members of the white race, in the administration of the laws, as compared with the treatment of members of coloured races. Our consideration of this clause is perhaps obscured to some degree because it refers only to the suspension of certain sections of the principal acts. Honorable members who have already spoken have pointed out that one of the consequences is the suspension of the functions of the Administrator. The second is the suspension of the operation of the local legislature and the third the suspension of section 50 of the principal act, which is the section under which there is to he paid out of the Consolidated Revenue fund of the Commonwealth towards the revenues of the Territory in each financial year such sum, if any, as the Parliament appropriates for that purpose.
The committee is entitled to a full explanation from the Minister of the steps which the Government proposes to take in suspending the operation of the local legislature. The Minister has given a brief explanation, in his reply to the second-reading debate, and as I understood his comment it was that the normal civilian life has been disturbed, that there is no substantial body of white people engaged in civilian activity in the Territory, and that it is not practicable to conduct the affairs of the Territory as one would expect them to be conducted through the operation of a local legislature. That explanation is understandable. If the Minister were then to proceed to an indication as to how soon it is hoped that white settlers will return to the Territory, and resume normal civilian life there, we should be better informed than we now are. But we are merely told that the operation of the local legislature is to be suspended. It is not difficult for the executive of even a democratic country to find specious reasons for suspending democratic institutions. Our memory is not so short that we cannot recall Hitler’s abolition of the Reichstag, on the ground that internal conditions in Germany would not permit the continuance of parliamentary government. I am not satisfied with the statement of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that a time limit is placed on the operation of this legislation. It is true that clause 17 states, that the act shall continue in operation until a date to be fixed by proclamation, which is not to be longer than six months after His Majesty ceases to be engaged in war. But that may be a very considerable time, proba’bly some years; certainly, some years after there has been a substantial restoration of civil activity in this Territory. Honorable members will be aware that the Government has justified much of its present military policy in these areas by its desire to clear them of the Japanese in order that there may be an. early resumption of civil activity as well as development and production by the white settlers who were there previously and others who now wish to engage in production. The committee is entitled to a much more lucid explanation than it has received, before agreeing to suspend indefinitely a democratically elected legislature in this Territory. So far as I am aware, there has ‘been no explanation of the reason for suspending the operation of section 50 of the principal act. I have already said that that section provides for the payment out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of such sums as the Parliament appropriates for the purpose. It may be that henceforth the Government intends to bring down legislation for that purpose annually. If so, I shall be glad to hear the Minister say so. He should also say why a variation of the previous practice has been found necessary. The committee should not blindly accept a proposal to abolish indefinitely the functioning of the Legislative Council, and apparently deprive this Parliament of its right to determine each financial year the sum that shall be appropriated for (the purposes of the Territory.
.- I am pleased that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has asked me to produce proof of my allegation in regard to the administration which this clause proposes to suspend. I refer him to Hansard, volume 136, covering the debates of the Thirteenth Parliament from the 13th October, to the 15th November, 1932, during which period his party constituted the Government. In a debate on the New Guinea Bill on the 2nd November, 1932, I made a quotation from the summing up of Judge Wanliss, in a murder trial as published in the Rabaul Times of the 4th December, 1931. 1. then asked that the case as printed in the Rabaul Times be incorporated in Hansard, but the House would not accord that privilege. Those who objected did not want to have the matter exposed. I now have an opportunity to expose it. In the Rabaul Times, Judge Wanliss was reported to have said -
The cause of death was the flogging. The shock, gangrene, &c, are all attributable to the flogging, and nothing else, and if ever a native was flogged to death, this one was. Now, I have stated that, in my opinion, the first assault or the first fight was the fault of the accused. The boy may have been, as he says, cheeky. That is quite possible, although he had only the accused’s word for it. There is a possibility that the boy was the attacker in that case, and as it is a possibility I am going to give the accused the benefit of that, but that is no excuse for what happened afterwards.
The flogging, unfortunately, was a considered act, done after the heat of the struggle, after the other party to the struggle had gone and after Sambung had been brought hack for reasons of revenge and punishment.
– Order! The honorable member will not be in order in pro ceeding further along those lines. I have allowed him to proceed far enough to make his point. He must now connect his remarks with the clause.
– It is proposed to abolish sections of the act which permit indentured labour to be employed. I am showing what His Honour said in regard to an indentured native. He continued -
The act is one which is a disgrace to the white race.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Hunter has claimed that he is in order in quoting extensive references to the case, on the ground that this clause abolishes the provision for indentured labour. That is not my interpretation of the provision, and I invite a ruling from the Chair.
– I have already ruled that the honorable member for Hunter will not be in order in proceeding further along the lines he has been following. He must now connect his remarks with clause 5.
– His Honour concluded by saying that the aci was a disgrace to the white race, and would do more harm that anything else to the colonization efforts of the governing authority. I have been challenged to substantiate a statement which I made when the Chairman was presiding over our deliberations, yet the Temporary Chairman will not allow me to do so. Nothing short of slavery has been practised in that Territory, and the bill proposes to abolish it That alone would be sufficient to commend the bill to the committee. The present honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) holds the same view in regard to the exploitation of natives as was held by his predecessor in this Parliament. I shall now proceed to quote from the evidence of Dr. Lambert, the Assistant Medical Officer.
– Order ! The honorable member will not be in order in proceeding further along those lines.
– I was asked to furnish proof of the correctness of what I had said; yet you, sir, will not allow me to do so.
– I have allowed the honorable member to quote an extensive extract from Hansard in order that he might meet the challenge which he claims to have received.
– But I was prevented from proceeding when I had reached the most important part!
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I do not propose to argue the matter. The honorable member will now address himself to the clause.
– As I have been prevented from replying fully, I may as well resume my seat.
– This clause, which has been subjected to a good deal of misrepresentation, can be very simply explained. The proposal is to set up a provisional administration, which obviously must be of a temporary character and necessarily must involve the suspension of certain of the provisions of the Papua Act and the New Guinea Act, the terms of which are not identical. The sections that will not be necessary, and will become inoperative, deal with the appointment of an Administrator for both Territories, the powers and functions of the Administrator, the appointment of an Acting Administrator to act during the absence of the Administrator, the power of the Administrator to appoint deputies, oath or affirmation to be taken, and the administrative power to appoint officers to the Papuan service, &c.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) mentioned section 17. It is proposed that the officers of both services shall remain suspended, and that they shall be offered an opportunity to become members of the provisional organization until the Government is in a position to determine what the permanent arrangement shall be in both Territories.
– Oan the Minister point to the provision in the bill for a provisional organization? There is no such provision.
– That is nonsense. With his disordered mind, the honorable member is accustomed to thinking up all sorts of ridiculous arguments. The terms of this measure were determined by the Government, and the phraseology was left to the Government’s legal advisers, whose interpretation of what it provides I prefer to accept rather than that of the honorable member. All the provisions mentioned are absolutely unnecessary for the carrying on of a provisional administration, and for that reason their suspension is proposed.
The honorable member for Barker made particular reference to section 47 of the Papua Act. There is not a similar provision in the New Guinea Act. Obviously, if the provisions in relation to a provisional administration are to be uniform, it is necessary to suspend that section of the Papua Act. Similar provision will be made by means of an ordinance, and will be applied not to Papua alone but to the whole of the two Territories that will come under the provisional administration. The honorable member is worrying about how we are to finance the administration. Provision was made for this in section 50 of the Papua Act, but there was no similar provision in the New Guinea Act. In future, we propose to include in the annual estimates an amount to cover administrative costs, and this will be appropriated by Parliament in the ordinary way. It is clear that the honorable member for Barker either did not understand the bill - and he frequently does not understand the legislation he talks about - or he was seeking deliberately to misrepresent the position. He may rest assured that the Government is fully aware of what the bill provides.
Both the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) and the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) declared that the Government was proposing to abolish representative government, or local control, in Papua and New Guinea by the suspension of the provision for a Legislative Council. That is quite true. At the moment, there are very few white settlers there: Most of the planters and others are no longer in New Guinea. However, as soon as they return, and their return will be expedited when the Government puts into operation its developmental plans, a Legislative Council, either in its previous form, or in. an improved form, will be reestablished.
– In order to do that will it be necessary to pass another act of Parliament, or can it be done by ordinance ?
– When the occasion arises, the matter will be examined, and legislation will be introduced if necessary. The honorable member for Balaclava returned to his pet subject of indentured labour. One of his arguments was that the indentured labour system was necessary in New Guinea, because of the sparse native population. He pointed out that the density of population in New Guinea was much less than in Malaya, for instance, but he did not tell us that one of the reasons for this sparse population in New Guinea is that the system of indentured labour has partly depopulated the native villages, and resulted in a serious decline of the birth rate. Therefore, the honorable member actually advanced an argument in favour of the Government’s proposal to abolish the system of indentured labour entirely as soon as possible.
– What about the right of appeal to the High Court?
– That is already provided for in another part of the bill. The honorable member for Richmond the honorable member for- Balaclava and the honorable member for Barker quoted from the report of a speech which I made in November, 1938. If they had quoted some more of it they would have found that very little objection could be taken to what I then said. In that speech, I said that there were certain interests engaged in exploiting the resources of New Guinea, and also the natives, for their own profit. I expressed the opinion that those who were benefiting financially from New Guinea should be the first to offer themselves in its defence. But what happened ? Many of those who were benefiting were absentees. When danger threatened they did not go into the front line to defend their property. No, our unemployed youth from the cities and countryside of Australia were sent to New Guinea to defend those people’s property, and to clear the Territory of the enemy, so that the process of exploitation might be resumed. Many of those who were not absentees left New Guinea as soon as possible when danger threatened. That does not apply to all of them. Many planters remained and entered the services. Some of them became members of “Angau”. They rendered valuable service, but the absentees ran no risks.
.- Had the Minister given his explanation about the setting up of a Legislative Council in New Guinea when he was invited to do so during his second-reading speech, or even when he was speaking on this clause, it would have saved a good deal of debate. However, the position is not yet entirely clear. He said that, at some time, presumably when he or the Government or caucus thinks fit, local autonomy will be restored, but why is that not stated in the bill? Do those honorable members who have been shouting about slavery realize that New Guinea and Papua are now being administered under national security regulations? Of course, we are enmeshed in those regulations in Australia, so that every phase of our life is controlled almost as rigidly as were the people of Germany, but at least we have this Parliament. In New Guinea, however, there is no such protection. Do honorable members know that there is a Production Control Board which controls every phase of production in New Guinea and that the board is controlled from Canberra? It runs the plantations of the settlers, including those of returned soldiers who took over expropriated German properties after the last war. Do honorable members realize that these properties are not being run efficiently, and that the owners, who are not allowed to return to them, are being charged for the excessive cost of inefficient administration? These costs will be a charge against their war-damage assessments, and many of the settlers thus overcharged will not be able to make their properties pay. Papua has been practically free of the enemy for the last two years, and why has not the Government .allowed the settlers to return before this? If the Government were to restore the civil administration and allow all the planters and others to return, development would be facilitated and the rehabilitation of the natives would be effected much more quickly. Moreover, many ex-servicemen could be settled on suitable areas. When I was abroad, I heard a discussion in the House of Commons committeeroom on the subject of India, a country that is as much misunderstood as is New Guinea. Two representatives of India, one a Madrasee and the other a native prince, both pointed out that there was a lot of talk about the differences between the Moslems and the Hindus, and between Ghandi and Jinnab, but there was never any mention of the native princes, who ruled over millions of people. Their rule, in many instances, was very enlightened, and they were the friends of Britain, yet were so often forgotten. In the same way there is a tendency among honorable members here to forget the white settlers in New Guinea. We have heard no praise here of the deeds of members of the New Guinea Rifles. I Lave a relative who served in this corps, and then, becoming impatient at the lack of action in New Guinea before Japan entered the war, returned to Australia and, like many others from the Territories, went overseas with the Australian Imperial Force. There has been a good deal of muddling in connexion with New Guinea, and it must be recognized that muddling is inevitable when it is sought to administer everything from Canberra. In such circumstances, efficiency is impossible. The Minister referred to indentured labour. To those who may still believe that indentured labour is a form of slavery, let me point out that, under the ordinances which govern the matter, all labour in the Territories must be voluntary. The parties enter into a written contract, which is subject to official approval. The relations between employer and employee are governed by regulations, and breaches by either side are subject to penalties. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) referred to a case in which a planter was tried for the murder of a native and was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment. I point out that a German who offended was condemned to death, although the Labour party protested, and it is a fact that white men who break the law are punished much more severely than are natives found guilty of similar offences. The regulations also govern conditions of work, food, medicines and repatriation. A lot of nonsense has been talked about the onerous conditions imposed upon natives. During the last 25 years in New Guinea, and the last 50 years in Papua, very substantial advances have been made. The opinion was expressed by a member of the legislature of Papua that the first consideration was the welfare of the natives, and that the economic development of the Territory was effected with, full regard to the preservation of the rights of the native owners. He said that, in the relations between the whites and the natives, confidence had been created, and a sense of fairness established in the minds of the natives, who preferred a contract of service to non-indentured labour. Indicating their desire to serve, numbers of them signed on again and again. It is regrettable that in the National Parliament,’ the position should be so misrepresented. Any honorable members who have not visited the Territories should seize the first opportunity to do so. There, they will meet some of these people who have endeavoured to make a living in those areas. Honorable members will then discover for themselves .whether those people are profiteers, or, as I believe, worthy citizens, of whom we should be proud. I was sorry to hear the slighting references made by certain honorable members, whose consciences, I hope, will prick them when they learn the truth. The Pacific Islands Year-Booh contains an interesting reference to the hardships of the pioneers. It reads -
The hardships suffered by those early men on Edie Creek are difficult to realize. It is a bitterly cold place, of everlasting rain and mist, covered with dense jungle, and with scarcely a square yard of flat ground. The men who made fortunes there earned every penny they took out of the country.
Not many of the pioneers made fortunes. Only a few “ diggers “, between 1922 and 1927, received returns commensurate with their labour. Many died of malaria long before ordered government was established in the Territories. The Government has done a great injustice to the white settlers who have been exiled from Papua and New Guinea for so long. They have protested to the Minister, and asked to be permitted to sit on advisory boards. I hope that the honorable gentleman will permit them all to return. Regardless of the administration that he may set up, those settlers should be permitted to repatriate themselves, and an opportunity should be given to others to settle in the Territories.
Mr. HASTENS (Herbert) [10.17 J.Having listened to the “ winge “ of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), I inform him that I, too, have some knowledge of conditions in New Guinea and Papua. Vicious exploitation, to which reference has been made, has occurred there. Some of my friends in Sydney have informed me that numbers of white settlers have returned to various parts of the Territories, including towns as far north as Madang. In fact, they are going back as quickly as the dictates of safety permit. The honorable member for Balaclava deplored conditions that have existed in the Territories for the last 25 years. Why did not successive anti-Labour governments improve them? They had ample opportunity i-1 do so. The Labour Government took control in war-time, when it was not possible to leave white settlers in New Guinea and Papua. For their own protection, they were brought to the mainland. The honorable member is well aware why they have not been permitted to return. The military authorities will not allow them to repatriate themselves until it is safe for them to do so. Some of my friends after having waited for a considerable period for permission returned to the Territories during the last three weeks. In their disappointment at the delay, they did not “ whinge “, but realized that the authorities would allow them to go back to New Guinea or Papua when the Japanese menace was removed.
– As Alice in Wonderland might have observed, the explanations of the Minister (Mr. Ward) become “ curiouser and curiouser “. He said that it was necessary to suspend a section of one act, because another act did not contain a similar provision. Subsequently, he explained that it was necessary to suspend the right of appeal to the High Court, provided in section 43 of the Papua Act, because a similar provision is not contained in the New Guinea Act. Thus, the Minister is “ robbing Peter to pay Paul “. And that is not the end of the story. This bill does not authorize any one to expend money, and was not accompanied by an appropriation message from the Governor-General under section 56 of the Constitution. The Minister apparently will introduce new methods of administration. He explained that these matters will be attended to in the Appropriation Bill. I remind him that it is customary to attend to such matters when the relevant bill is being considered. I am amazed that it should be necessary to suspend sections 47 and 48 of the Papua Act which empowered the Administrator to expend money. The Minister explained that section 43, dealing with appeals to the High Court, was suspended because no similar provision was contained in the New Guinea Act. He made a similar reference to section 50 of the Papua Act, which provides for a grant to the Territory from the Commonwealth Consolidated Revenue Fund.- I invite him to find in the New Guinea Act sections similar to sections 47 and 48 of the Papua Act. The farther we go, the funnier this blessed bill becomes. It is like Joseph’s coat of many colours; bits and pieces of material have been assembled1 and called a’ garment.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 and 7 agreed to.
Clause- 8 - (1.) Subject to this Act, the GovernorGeneral shall have power to make Ordinances for the peace, order and good government of the Territory.
.- This clause means that the Government in Canberra will make ordinances for the peace, order and good government of the territory. The clause provides that the Governor-General shall have that power, but it is only a formality to express it in those words. In my opinion, that authority, in the interim period, should be vested in the Administrator. He should be responsible for making ordiances in the territory, to deal with native labour and welfare, and the development of the territory. I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.). the word “ Governor-General “ be left out with a view to insert in lien thereof the word “ Administrator “.
– The amendment is not acceptable to the Government.
– I arn not particular as to whether the amendment is accepted, but I am concerned regarding the power that the Minister will exercise under the regulations. Apart from whether the Governor-General or the Administrator shall have power to make ordinances, the real point i.s that the regulations will express the views of the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward). Whatever the regulations may be, the Minister proposes to effect by regulation a virtual revolution in the economy and social conditions in the Territory of Papua and those parts of New Guinea that come under his control. Consequently, I am opposed to the clause. Obviously, the Minister proposes ro set up, by regulation, those authorities which will deal with the native question in the way which h© explained to honorable members. Hi3 authority for the supervision of native labour will he conferred by regulation. The Native Labour Department will be restored. I understand that a Native Labour Department existed in the Territory before the suspension of the civil Administration, and I do not know that any objections were taken to it. But apparently new times bring new ideas, and new masters bring new methods. The Minister referred to penalties. On the administrative record of this Government, itwould not matter whether the penalty provided in the regulations were severe, because it would not be imposed in any case. Another ordinance under this provision will deal with the introduction of the 44-hour working week. I should like the Minister to confirm that opinion. He is as silent as the Sphinx.
I have never been able to understand the contention that native labour is cheap. I have not had any experience of island labour, but I have seen native labour on the mainland, and have always believed that the so-called cheap native labour was the dearest labour in the market, The Minister referred also to the encouragement of certain crops. Will that be done by regulation? Education will certainly be governed by regulation, and by education, the Minister, through his satellites, will establish a really new New Guinea which will blossom before long. What the natives are to grow, 1 cannot say. The Minister has not told us. The only assurance that he has given to the committee is that whatever the natives grow, it must not compete with industries on the mainland. Again, we create a curious position. The benefits of education and western civilization generally will be extended lavishly to the natives of New Guinea, but in the process, certain interests must not be endangered.
Clause 8 is the dangerous part of this bill. It will not allow the Parliament of the Commonwealth to exercise much supervision over the administration of the Territories. The method, which is prescribed for the disallowance of regulations, contains some novel features. I always understood that the Standing Orders provided that when one regulation in a Statutory Rule was disallowed, all the regulations in that rule were automatically void. In other words, the House either accepted or condemned them in toto.
– The House may retain some regulations, and disallow others.
– J always held the contrary view. If I were allowed a few minutes for research, I could cite instances where, by arrangement, in order to prevent all the regulations from being disallowed, a government has agreed to withdraw a regulation and to substitute another for it. The reason is that when a regulation is disallowed, a similar regulation may not be presented to the Parliament within the next six months. I should like to know whether this question has been investigated to see whether there -is statutory authority for Parliament to disallow a part of a regulation. I recall occasions during the eleven years in which I have been a member of this Parliament when we have been prevented from disallowing parts of regulations. I shall be pleased to hear whether there is any explanation of this curious state of affairs. This is the really dangerous clause of the bill, because, under it, the Minister will put into force, without further reference to Parliament, his own ideas for conducting the affairs of New Guinea. With all due respect to the honorable gentleman, he is no better qualified to lay down rules for the administration of New Guinea than I am. His sojourn in that Territory was brief and, I hope, interesting, but it did not qualify him to be the Lord High Panjandrum of New Guinea. He has many fanciful ideas about wages and indenture methods and about every planter keeping his own Gestapo agent on the pay-roll. The bill provides that every planter who recruits native labour must keep his own recruiting agent. Presumably, these men will not be engaged on recruiting work throughout the year. Perhaps they will chase New Guinea spiders or hunt birds of paradise in t.beir spare time. Under this clause, the Minister will be able to do things which will completely alter the economic structure of New Guinea within i two years or less. He has protested that this is a temporary measure, but I say that such actions as he may take will have permanent effects. They will leave ineradicable marks on the economy of the Territories ; no man succeeding him in office will be able to heal those permanent injuries. These acts will be committed by means of ordinances which, no doubt, will be laid on the table of the House, like regulations made under the National Security Act, as if they are turned out of a machine like sausages. He will be a good man who can read them all, and he will be a better man who can understand them. I am opposed to clause 8 from start to finish.
– I rise once again to correct the many inaccuracies in the statements of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). On an earlier occasion he said that section 49 of the Papua Act still remained in existence. I have discovered that this section was repealed in 1940, so that, evidently, the honorable member is not so well informed as, he would have us believe. He is trying to mislead the House by claim ing that this clause is a new provision. As a matter of fact, these Territories have been governed by ordinance for years, and all sorts of activities have been controlled by ordinance. The chief objection seems to be that the ordinances will be made by the Government instead of the Administrator. I say to the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) that, whoever will he appointed as Administrator of the provisional government of the Territories will have the confidence of this Government and will be in constant touch with the appropriate Minister. Therefore, his views will be fully known to the Government, and there need be no fear regarding the operations of this provision.
– The Legislative Council made the ordinances before. As the Administrator will be the substitute for the council, the Government might well leave the making of ordinances to him.
M.v. WARD. - This matter has been well debated already, and the Government has indicated that it is impracticable at present to re-establish the Legislative Council. That will be done as soon as possible. As the viewpoint of the Administrator . will be known to the Government there is no reason to entertain fears regarding the making of ordinances by the Government. The honorable member for Barker said that sub-clause 9 referred to the disallowance of parts of ordinances, and that he had not previously heard of such action being taken. I am advised1 by the Government’s legal officers that, although the Parliament cannot disallow a part of a regulation, it can disallow a part of a statutory rule, which may contain many regulations. The provisions of sub-clause 9 as to the disallowance of parts of ordinances is in .line with the provision of the Acts Interpretation Act regarding the disallowance of regulations. I suggest that the honorable member consult the Government’s legal advisers if he wants further confirmation of that point.
.- The Minister has stated that the Government will enact further legislation in relation to Papua and New Guinea. Will he now indicate to the committee whether the Government has considered doing anything to assist those people. whose economic affairs- will be upset by this bill through, the drastic alteration of labour conditions? These people are facing utter ruin.
– The Government considered every aspect of the matter before making its decisions.
– Is the Government prepared to make some concessions to these people in order to enable them to carry on the industry in which they have worked for many years and which is- of value in the development of the Territories ?
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 to 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 (Oath to be taken by Administrator, &c).
.- This clause provides that the Administrator shall make an oath or affirmation before the Minister or a person authorized by him as his deputy. It is unusual for an Administrator to take an oath in this way. Why has the Government departed from the practice of having the oath administered by the GovernorGeneral or a Justice of the High Court? The form of oath prescribed in the bill provides that the Administrator shall do right to all manner of people”. It is questionable whether he can do so under this legislation. I take this opportunity also to say that this legislation could be consummated by the election to this Parliament of a representative of the Territories concerned. In these days of progress, with aviation at an advanced stage, it would be possible for a representative of the Territories to fly to Canberra in a day. It is just as important for Papua and New Guinea to be represented! here as it is for the Northern Territory to have a parliamentary representative. I ask the Minister to put this suggestion before the Government. If carried into effect, it would bring about a better understanding of the problems of Papua and New Guinea.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 15 agreed to.
Clause 16- (9.) The High Court shall have jurisdiction, with such exceptions and subject to such conditions as are prescribed by Ordinance, to hear and determine appeals from all judg ments, decrees, orders and sentences of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, and the decision of the High Court on any such appeal shall be final and conclusive.
.-^1 am indebted to the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) for pointing out the existence of subclause 9 of this clause, which confirms my earlier suspicions. It provides that the High Court shall have jurisdiction, with such exceptions and subject to such conditions as are prescribed by the ordinances of Papua and New Guinea, to determine appeals from decisions of the Supreme Court of the Territory. This authorizes the Government to rule by ordinance, that no person in the Territories shall be entitled to appeal to the High Court. These people are Australian citizens, and this proposal seems to me to be in the nature of inverting the pyramid.
– I say to the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) that the provision in clause .14 to which he referred earlier has been included for the sake of convenience. If the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) will refer to the Papua Act, he will find that section 43 contains exactly the same provision as is contained in sub-clause 9 of this clause, to which he has taken objection. It provides that the High Court shall have jurisdiction to deal with appeals, with such exceptions and subject to such regulations as are prescribed by ordinance. - The provision in this bill has merely been transplanted from the Papua Act. It involves no change of procedure.
– If that explanation is not farcical, I should like to know what is. To suspend the operation of section 43 of the Papua Act merely to include it in this clause is one of the funniest things that I have ever known in my eighteen years of parliamentary experience.
– The’ honorable member is the funniest man in Parliament.
– Well, I am not the biggest tragedy in Parliament,
I hope. In any case, section 43 of the Papua, Act was enacted before I became a member of this Parliament. To provide that the right of a citizen to appeal to the High Court may be limited by the ordinance of any territory is to invert the pyramid completely. Any limitation should be by statute only. Therefore, I object to sub-clause 9.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 17 agreed to.
Schedule and Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment:
.- I move -
That thebill be now recommitted to a committee of the whole House for the recon- cideration of clause 14.
I should like a better explanation than the Minister has given as to why the Administrator should not be sworn in before the Governor-General or the Chief Justice of the High Court.
.- The Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Ward) has given an explanation in respect of this matter which was so short as to bo valueless. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has asked why the normal practice is not to be followed. The Minister said that the Administrator is to be sworn in before a Minister for the sake of convenience. Does that mean that in order to provide for the convenience of the Administrator the Minister is to go to the Territory, or is the Administrator to come to Australia in order to be sworn in before the Minister? It can be no more convenient for the Administrator, if he isto come to Australia, to be sworn in before the Minister, than it would he forhim to be sworn in before the Governor-General or the Chief Justice of the High Court. It is a queer way of providing for the convenience of the Administrator, if it becomes necessary for the Minister to proceed to the Territory in order to administer the oath. In the absence of more detailed information I can only see in this procedure some expression of the Minister’s known dislike for what he would perhaps describe as the trappings of royalty or vice-royalty.. We should be given more convincing information as to why the usual practice should not be followed in this instance.
Question resolved in the negative.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Excise Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No.103.
Lands Acquisition Act - Landacquired for -
Commonwealth purposes -
Rathmines, New South Wales.
St. Mary’s, New South Wales.
Postal purposes - Werribee, Victoria.
House adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
r asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
What steps, if any, are being taken, to ensure that German industrial, scientific, and other patents now being investigated and taken over by the Allied forces in Germany willbe made available to Australian industry?
– The Science Liaison Office attached to Australia House in London isacting in close co-operation with the United Kingdom authorities on the question of investigating German industrial, scientific, and other patents for use by Australian industry.
Wives of Australian and American Servicemen.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made into certain aspects of the question, and’ a reply will be furnished to the honorable member as early as possible.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 July 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450719_reps_17_184/>.