2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– During the debate on the case of Major Carroll, I mentioned the name of an officer who had not seen active service when I should have mentioned the name of another officer. I wish to state that Captain Dowse, whose name I mentioned, has the following record of war services : -
Dowse, R. South African War, 1899-1900. Relief of Kimberley. Operations in Orange Free State, February to May, 1900, including operations at Paardeberg. Actions at Poplar Grove, Dreifontein, 10th March, Vet River, 5th and 6th May. Operations in the Transvaal in May and June, 1900, including’, actions near Johannesburg, 29th May, and Pretoria, 4th June. Operations m Cape Colony, north of Orange River, 1899-1900. Operations in Cape Colony, 30th November to 13th December, 1900. Ad- jutant Cavalry and Artillery Depot, Maitland, November and December, 1900. Queen’s Medal with four clasps.
I express my regret that inadvertently I mentioned the officer’s name in that connexion.
– I wish to ask the Attorney-General, without notice, whether the Prime Minister will include in the subjects to be discussed at the Premiers’ Con ference, to meet in Hobart, the question of the compulsory military training of youths, seeing that the earnest co-operation of the States isrequired.
– I shall mention the matter to the Prime Minister, and inform my honorable and learned friend on some other occasion.
Debate resumed from 30th November (vide page 7617), on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– We all listened with very great pleasure, and I think with interest and profit, to the very able and informative speech made by the Attorney-General in introducing the Bill. The honorable and learned senator touched upon many aspects which arise in connexion with the government, control, and administration of British New Guinea, and upon which I should have liked to speak ; but I intend if possible to exercise a considerable degree of selfrestraint, and confine my remarks principally to some questions of immediate practical importance in connexion with the government, and more particularly the administration of the Possession. My desire is to outline a policy of development, which I think will be advantageous alike to both the native population and the white colonists, and will have the effect ultimately of reducing our financial obligations until the Possession will become self-supporting. The objects of the Bill are threefold. Firstly, to complete the transfer of British New Guinea from Great Britain to the Commonwealth ; secondly, to create a constitution for its government; and, thirdly, to enact, by Federal legislation, certain broad guiding principles of policy. It is admittedly : a Bill of great importance, and contains some vital provisions which are entitled to very careful and serious consideration. The Attorney-General said that this is the first time that the Parliament of the Commonwealth has been called upon to legislate for people outside the six States. But I think that we could go even further than that. We could say that this is the first time in the history of the British Empire that a selfgoverning Colony has had handed over to its control a large tropical territory, occupied by a numerous and virile people, whom we are called upon to govern as a purely subject race. Whether it was advisable or not for us to undertake that great responsibility does not now concern us. That matter was settled on the 20th February; 1902, when we carried joint resolutions that we were prepared to accept British New Guinea as a Territory of the Commonwealth. The problem we are now concerned with is the system of government we should adopt, and the methods pf administration that will be most suitable in the interests of the whole of the population there, and in the interests of ,the Commonwealth. This is a problem of considerable difficulty, because we have never really faced the question of the government of a tropical country. We have had no experience in that connexion, and our knowledge on these subjects must inevitably be very meagre. When about eighteen months ago, I visited British New Guinea, my object was to endeavour, as far as possible, to obtain, at first-hand, some information and knowledge which would be useful in considering laws for its government and control. It has been stated that I only called at Port Moresby and Samarai. As a matter of fact, I travelled from one end of the Territory to the other, and called in at every white settlement along the coast. I interviewed all the resident magistrates, Government officials,, surveyors, and others, and many of the missionaries, with the exception of those on the gold-fields, which I was unable to visit. I went inland at various places.
– How far inland?
– I went inland for three days at one place.
– What distance?
– I cannot say exactly ; but I think I got within twenty-five miles of Mount Yule. I had the advantage, not only of forming my own opinions, but of ascertaining the opinions of all the Government officials who have had large experience on the spot. I also had the advantage of receiving .two large deputations at Samarai, one from the miners, and the other from the traders, who placed before me very fully their views as to the alterations in the system of government and administration that they desired. I hope, at a later date, when we are in Committee, to be able to acquaint honorable senators with their views. It is true that I -was in the Territory only a month, but I was afforded special facilities for seeing it, because theQueensland Government very generously and courteously placed at my disposal a small yacht, in which I was enabled to visit places without delay. It was a very great compliment that the Queensland Government paid me, and it was also a compliment to the Senate. It was a ‘kindly act by a great State which is not too frequent in our present experience of Federal legislation. I am pleased to see that the system of government outlined corresponds in many respects with the recommendations I made, as the result of my trip, and which were published in pamphlet form. I do not suggest, for a moment, that the Government have adopted all my views, but I am pleased to find that in the majority of instances their views coincide with mine. I urged then that the system of local government should be maintained very much in its present condition, that they should have the largest possible powers of local selfgovernment j because, at this distance, it was impossible for us to understand the. local conditions, and laws which might be excellent for Australia would be. most prejudicial and injurious if enacted in British New Guinea. But I urged that there should be broad, guiding principles of government laid down by the Federal Parliament. I advocated that there should be no further alienation of land in fee-simple. I also advocated that, in regard to intoxicants, we should have either absolute prohibition, except for medicinal purposes, or, failing that, State control. I am glad to see that both of these principles are included in the Bill. I suggested that a regular subsidized line of steamers should’ run to the Territory, according to time-table, with fixed fares and freights, and I am glad to see on the Estimates a vote for the purpose. I made many minor recommendations with regard to matters of administration and subjects falling withinthe ambit of the local government. I did not make these recommendationsmerely as a result of my visit. I have for the last two years exhaustively studied the various systems of government in operation in tropical countries. I think I can say that I have made myself acquainted with the methods of government adopted in all tropical countries which are under the suzerainty or in the possession of European Powers, or of the United
States. It is with that knowledge that I made the recommendations to which I have referred. It must not be forgotten that while many systems of government differing from ours have been found admirably adapted for the countries in which they are in operation, they would be impossible in British New Guinea, owing to the fact that the natives of that territory are grouped into numerous disconnected tribes in a comparatively low stage of civilization. In dealing with this Bill we have to consider first of all the objects sought by Great Britain and the Commonwealth in the annexation of British New Guinea. We can then consider the system of government which should be adopted in order to give effect to those objects. It will be admitted by ail that we did not annex British New Guinea in order merely to acquire more territory, nor did we annex it for colonization purposes, or to open up trade and commerce.
– Why not trade and commerce ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.That might incidentally be an advantage gained by the annexation, but it was not the reason for it. We have ample scope for all our energies in these directions in the Commonwealth of Australia for the next 100 years.
– When did the honorable senator discover that?
– I have always held that view. We really annexed British New Guinea, because its annexation by a foreign power would be a continual menace to Australia. British New Guinea possesses magnificent harbors which would be suitable for the establishment of coaling and naval bases. Successive military and naval experts, such as Sir Peter Scratchley, and Admiral Bosenquet, have pointed out that if these harbors were in the hands of an enemy they would constitute a continual menace to the best interests of Australia.
– That was pointed out after British New Guinea was annexed.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITHIt was pointed out by Sir Peter Scratchley, who was Administrator before ‘the annexation took place, and while the Territory was merely a Protectorate. The assumption of suzerainty involves very serious obligations. Having annexed British New Guinea for purposes of defence, we were under an obligation to protect the lives and property, and the rights of the natives, and also of the white colonists who established themselves there. This policeing of New Guinea, as I may term it, entails an expenditure of £39,000 a year, of which £19,000 is now provided by local taxation. Having occupied British New Guinea for purposes of defence, the question arose whether we should merely police the Territory - put in .a caretaker - or should endeavour to develop its great natural resources, with a view to reducing the financial obligations of the Commonwealth, and gradually making the Territory self-supporting. Whether this can be done or not must depend very greatly upon the system of administration adopted. I do not propose at this stage to discuss the system of government, as that would take up a great- deal of time. I shall confine my remarks to the question of administration. Before I do so, however, I must say a word in defence of the past Administration of British New Guinea, because in some quarters it has been somewhat unfairly criticised. We have been told that it has been a system of stagnation. Since the acquisition of British New Guinea sixteen years ago, and bearing in mind the meagre subsidies granted the Possession, from ,£15,000 to £20,000 a year, it must be admitted that very good work, indeed, has been done. The enormous difficulties with which the pioneers have had to contend should not be forgotten. They have had to contend with the difficulties and dangers of exploration in a country covered with thick scrub, and with cane grass from 8 feet to 10 feet high. It will be admitted that it is an exceptionally difficult matter to carry on exploration work in such a country. Two expeditions that performed valuable exploratory work in British New Guinea were fitted out by the *Age and Argus newspapers in the year 1883. Those expeditions were successful in exploring a considerable portion of the Territory, and for their public spirit and energy the proprietors of She journals referred to were entitled to very great commendation, and were mentioned by Sir William Macgregor iri. very eulogistic terms. Various stations and1 centres of government have been established in the Territory, inter-tribal massacres have been stopped, roads and tracks have been cut, and vocabularies of the dialects of various tribes have been prepared. When I mention that along the coast of New Guinea there are at least 100 different tribes, speaking almost as many different dialects or languages, it must be admitted that in learning the language and preparing the vocabularies a very important work has been done. In this work the Government have been very largely assisted by the missionaries. Amongst tribes accustomed to a constant state of warfare, it was a very dimcult thing to establish stable government. Honorable senators will understand how difficult it must have been to convert these people, many of whom were cannibals and head-hunters, into peaceful, law-abiding^ citizens. The)’ formed the most unpromising material for the making of law-abiding citizens, and yet that has been accomplished, and from men who but a few years previously were a menace to the white population, an armed native constabulary has been formed1, that is now engaged in protecting the lives and property of the white population, as well as the interests of the natives. It would be difficult to find a finer body of men than the native constabulary, who show themselves amenable to discipline, exhibit great anxiety to carry out the wishes of the Government, and have on occasions displayed very great bravery. These Government stations were established along the whole coast of British New Guinea, by men who paid the penalty of their commendable exertions in a debilitated constitution caused by the climate, and bv malarial fever. In criticising the work done in British New Guinea, it is my duty, as one who has visited the Territory, to state my knowledge of the splendid work which has been done by the pioneers. It should be mentioned, also, that these men have received wretched pittances for their services ; many of the resident magistrates get no more than £200 a year, though they endanger their lives in the performance of their duties. They have not, I believe, engaged in this work solely for its emoluments, but because of a desire to advance the interests of our new Possession. If we compare the state of affairs in British New Guinea with that in Dutch or German New Guinea, thecomparison will be found to be infinitely to our credit. The Germans have done very little with the portion of New Guinea which they have annexed. They have employed a few Australian miners in prospecting, and they have about 18,000 acres of cocoanuts, many of the trees being planted before the Germans took possession of the country. When we come to consider the Bismarck Archipelago of which we have heard so much lately, it must be admitted that there are there immense plantations which are very valuable to the German people. But the principal plantation, that of Forsyth and Son, which contains 40,000 acres, was planted, and the trees in full bearing, before the Germans took possession of the Bismarck Archipelago and German New Guinea. They are, therefore, only reaping the fruit of seed sown by other people. The Dutch are making practically no progress in Dutch New Guinea. If we compare the revenue on which the neighbouring territories have had to depend, we shall find that the German Government voted £45,000 a year for German New Guinea, and has also subsidized a mail service to that Possession to the extent of £22,500 a year. I am unable to say what the Dutch have spent on all their settlements in New Guinea; but at Mereuke, which is close to Thursday Island, they spent in 1902 no less than £78,000.
– They have soldiers there, have they not?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.They have Achinese soldiers there from Sumatra. In British New Guinea, the only money voted for the administration of the Territory has been from ,£15,000 to £20.000 a year, in addition to the local revenue. With an expenditure of not more than one-fourth of that of ‘ German New Guinea, we have been able to effect infinitely greater progress in stable government than have our neighbours. But I say that we should not be satisfied with having established law and order in British New Guinea. We should endeavour to develop our new Possession. A definition of good government is “order and progress.” In British New Guinea we have established order, and it rests with the Commonwealth to say whether we shall adopt a policy which will make for progress in the Territory. British New Guinea at present seems to me to be like a rich and valuable estate which is neglected, and placed in the hands of a caretaker. In my opinion, it would be a policy of true economy to spend a somewhat larger sum in an endeavour to develop the natural productions of the country, and its great agricultural and mineral resources. In that way, we should create a revenue which is at present unobtainable. British New Guinea possesses immense mineral resources, but unfortunately we have not yet been able to make a proper geological survey of the whole area. There are at the present time six proclaimed gold-fields in the Territory. On the islands to the east of New Guinea there are the Louislade and the Marua goldfields - the latter of which is better known as Woodlark Island. On the main lami between the Owen Stanley Range and the coast we have a succession of gold-fields. In the north, adjoining German territory, there is the Gira gold-field. Then we have the Yodda. Near Samarai we have the Milne Bay field; and on the southern coast, in the ranges, we have the Cloudy Bay gold-fields. Those gold-fields are yielding a large amount of wealth. It is impossible under the present system to say exactly what gold is produced in British New Guinea, but a very fair estimate would be from 15,000 to 20,000 ounces per year, or, say, from £60,000 to £80,000 in value. We must remember that two-thirds of the white population of British New Guinea are engaged in the gold-mining industry, and that this industry is more likely than others to attract colonists. There is a certain glamour and fascination about gold, which will lead people to go to places to which no other industry will attract them. We are aware that people poured into Australia in the fifties from all parts of the world to the gold-fields, and when the rich alluvial deposits had been worked out, they gradually settled on the land, and engaged in other industries. The same process is now going on in Western Australia. In the nineties the gold-fields of that State were rushed by crowds of people, many of whom are now taking up land in the agricultural districts. The very same result on a smaller scale will occur in British New Guinea. When the miners ‘have worked out the rich alluvial deposits, and after they have got acclimatized, many of them will gradually settle on the land. There seems to be a desire on the part of many people who go to British New Guinea to remain there, instead of coming down to the colder latitudes, which become unpleasant to them in the winter season. I believe that the miners will gradually drift off into other vocations, establish plantations, and so on, and become equally good and more stable colonists. What we should do in the gold- mining areas, is to grant proper facilities for the opening up and development of the Territory. We want to make the living conditions better. When I mention that on the Yodda gold-field the price of the commonest necessities of life, such as rice, flour, and potatoes, is from is. to is. 6d. per lb.; honorable senators can see that: though the miners get a considerable amount of gold, the expenses are so enormous that very few of them make any substantial profit. It should be our endeavour to so increase the facilities as to enable the cost pf living on these more remote gold-fields to be reduced by one-half. If we did that, I believe that the fields would1 support a very much larger population. At the present time many of the miners are disheartened by the almost insuperable difficulties which they are called upon to overcome. What I would suggest is that wherever possible we should cut tracks directly into the gold-fields from the nearest ports. I believe that if those tracks were kept open, so that the porterage would be less than it is at the present time, the cost of living would be enormously reduced. Coming to the question of the development of the natural products of British New Guinea, we are confronted by a very large and difficult problem. We must understand, before we can deal properly with a subject like this, the character of the country, the quality and fertility of the soil, and the climatic conditions; we must also understand the physique, character, and industrial capacity of the native races. In considering what kind of tropical products we shall endeavour to produce in British New Guinea, we must remember that the area of our territory is about 90,000 square miles, of which it may be said that one-half is hilly or mountainous country, and the other half alluvial and swampy. The land on the table-lands and the hills is, generally speaking, fertile, and capable of growing immense quantities of tea, coffee, and products of that kind. On the rich alluvial flats, covered principally by scrub and cane-grass, we can produce a large number of tropical economic plants, which would be of great commercial value. Amongst them I might mention copra, india-rubber, sugarcane, kapok, cinchona, tobacco, sago, arrowroot, cocoa, cotton, vanilla, and maize. The country is magnificently watered. Senator Symon has mentioned the tremendous rainfall in British New Guinea. We have there very large and majestic rivers. The principal river is the Fly, which may be called the Murray of British New Guinea. It has been navigated for hundreds of miles from its mouth by steam launches. The mouth of the Fly is forty or fifty miles in width, and to give honorable senators an idea of the large body of water which comes down, I may state that it has been calculated that if all the fresh water of the world suddenly disappeared with the exception of that in the Fly, that river would supply 1 20 gallons of water per day to every man, woman, and child in the world.
– Is there not a delta at the mouth?
– There are islands in its mouth. The fertility of the soil in British New Guinea is very great. I believe that the country is as fertile as that of Java, and in Java we have one of the greatest exhibitions of successful tropical agriculture in the world.
– What kind of labour is used?
-The native labour of the island. Java is a country about half the size of British New Guinea. It has an area of 50,000 square miles, and a population of 29,000,000. To show the success, from the commercial stand-point, of the culture system in Java, I may mention that in thirty-five years, besides paying the enormous expenses of government, including the salaries of large numbers of officials, there has been sent home to the Netherlands£40,000,000 sterling. Now, New Guinea, from the quality of its soil, and its other conditions, is at least capable of settling a population as large as that of Java, which is half its size.
– There is nothing more profitable than tropical production if it can be successfully carried but.
– Exactly. The soil is so fertile, and the heat and the moisture are so great, that a rotation of crops can be grown, and the fecundity of the plants is so wonderful, that I saw cocoanut trees planted eleven years ago, whose stems were about 60 feet in height. One of the most difficult problems in connexion with the government of British New Guinea is undoubtedly the land question. The. conditions obtaining in Australia afford us no guide or index whatever as to the conditions obtaining there. We found in Australia - and I use the past tense - tribes in the very dawn of civilization, nomadic hunters who had no individual property in land, but merely had their tribal boundaries. When we cross the Torres Straits to British New Guinea, we find people who have advanced a considerable way in the path of civilization, and who have attained to what is known as the agricultural stage. Speaking generally, the Papuans are agriculturists. Of course, there are exceptions. In the western division - in what is called the sago country - the Papuans do not cultivate the soil. They live on sago. And it is rather an interesting fact to remark that the natives who live almost exclusively on sago are amongst the strongest and most virile in the island, though they are less prepossessing in appearance than some others. Speaking generally, plots of land are owned by individuals, for the Papuans are individualistic to a degree that should commend them to Senator Walker.
– Most savages are.
– Most people are, if the truth were known.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.These plots of land are marked off by clearly-defined boundaries - it may be byrocks, or by stones, or by trees. They know exactly what each possesses. Their rights to that land are, and should be, just as indefeasible as if they had Crown grants, or perpetual leases.
– Are they tribal rights, or individual possessions?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.They are mostly individual possessions. Sometimes a tribe or family hold a piece of land, but generally the property is individual. Sometimes a tribe would hold, land, particularly for hunting purposes. One curious custom is, that though one man or one family may own a piece of land, the trees upon it may belong to another man. Unless we know the habits and custom of the people, very great injustice may be done in British New Guinea. The land to which I refer is cultivated, but there are immense tracks of cane-grass, and swamp country, which are lying idle, and useless at the present time. There is no reason why these areas should not be thrown open to the enterprise’ of Australian colonists who desire to go to British New Guinea. First of all, we should see that the natives are confirmed in their present holdings, and that proper provision is made for the expansion of the tribes; and further, we should see that certain areasof their hunt- ing grounds are maintained for them. The unused or unoccupied land, mentioned in the ordinances, present a difficult question, which will require for its settlement much local knowledge and care, if injustice is not to be done to the natives. If, as I suggest, the natives are confirmed in their holdings, there are other large areas which they can never use, and which might be thrown open for the white population. At the time of my visit the Government had resumed, or purchased from the natives at a nominal price, 750,000 acres, principally in anticipation of the advent of large land companies. Those areas were selected in different places, from Yule Island to Milne Bay, with .that object ; but the land was not subdivided. I find that no facilities whatever are afforded to the small bona fide planter who desires to obtain land.
– Can the honorable senator give any information as to the extent of the land which has been alienated iri Crown grants?
– I should say that 40,000 or 50,000 acres have been alienated out of a total of 90,000 square miles. In regard to the 750,000 acres which have been resumed, there are almost insuperable obstacles in the way of bond fide would-be settlers with small capital; and I may briefly sketch some of the difficulties which have to be faced. In the first place, there is the difficulty of transit. A planter may be told that land is available in the Mekeo district, or at Milne Bay, but he has no means of journeying to those places in order to make an. inspection. There are no wheeled vehicles in British New Guinea, and no horses’, except one or two at the Government stations, and, as the only roads are native tracks, a steamer or a sailing vessel has to be chartered. It will be seen that it is almost impossible for a man with small capital to inspect land under such circumstances. Then there is the further difficulty that there are no proper plans. A planter is shown a map of large areas which have been surveyed, but there is no information as to the kind of productions for which the land is particularly suited. If the land he requires is not a portion of the 750,000 acres reserved, an endeavour has to be made by the Government to purchase it from the natives. I absolutely approve of the principle of not allowing white men to directly buy land from the natives. More cruelty, hardship, and injustice are inflicted by the system of direct purchase than can well be imagined. White settlers who desire to purchase land go to the poor, ignorant native and dazzle him with sheath knives, tomahawks, beads, or other articles of trade, and he gladly takes these without really knowing what he is selling. When the land has been thus sold, and the native has made his mark, he still believes that he has not parted wilh the fee-simple, or, at any rate, that the white man has the right to turn him off country which may have been occupied by his ancestors for hundreds of years. The Government very wisely, therefore, provide that no purchase of land shall be made by white settlers direct from the natives. In any case, when the would-be planter has solved all the difficulties I have enumerated, and has bought a piece of land, with the approval of the Government, he cannot take a step further until a survey has been made. When I was in British New Guinea, I heard of cases in which men had had to wait for twelve or eighteen’ months before there was a survey. None of the land has been surveyed in anticipation, as it should have been ; and by the time the survey has been completed, the intending settler is probably insolvent, or has left the country in disgust. Another point is that the survey fees are extremely heavy ; indeed, in many instances, it costs almost as much for the. survey as to purchase the freehold. Unless those obstacles are removed, it is absolutely idle for us to talk about the development of the natural industries of New Guinea. We propose to vote a subsidy of about £2,000 a year for the extension of a steam-ship service, and I regard that idea as excellent ; but I contend that the subsidy will be absolutely wasted, unless we provide facilities for settlers, when they arrive, to obtain remunerative employment. At present they have to kick their heels until their little capital becomes low ; and then, as I have intimated, they probably clear out of the country. Those difficulties must be removed if we hope to develop our new Possession.
– Similar difficulties have all been removed in the Northern Territory in South. Australia for the last quarter of a century, and yet there is no settlement there.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.There are great differences between the Northern Territory and British New Guinea.
In the Northern Territory there is not such rich horticultural and agricultural land as is to be found in our new Possession.
– Is there not?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.In the Northern Territory, there may be a little of such land on the river banks, but there is not the coloured labour that is available in British New Guinea.
– There is a splendid rainfall in the Northern Territory.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.No doubt there is a good rainfall at Port Darwin.
– About 70 inches.
– As one step to the removal of the difficulties 1 have indicated, portions of the 750,000 acres, which have been resumed, should be surveyed into blocks of 50 acres, 100 acres, or 1,000 acres, and proper plans prepared. The fullest information should be made available as to the kind of crops best suited to the soil and the conditions of the country ; and the Government should afford bond fide settlers every facility for travel. If such a settler desires to inspect land, the Government should either carry him free, or provide means of conveyance at a very small cost.
– That means money.
-SMITH.- It does not mean money, because the boats are there, and it would be an easy matter for a Government official to take an intending settler to any place desired by means of a sailing vessel. In Western Australia, when a man desires to take up land, he is given a free railway pass, so that he may make an inspection ; and if that can be done where the difficulties of getting about are small, it could surely be done in British New Guinea, where the difficulties are stupendous. If some such step is not taken, the unfortunate intending colonists of New Guinea will have to charter vessels for themselves. In order to afford further facilities, the gardens which are to be found at each magisterial Residency should be expanded into a model farm or State nursery, where there should be grown all the economic plants, trees, and vegetables suitable for that district. Then, again, economic plants should be imported from other tropical countries, and the best methods of culture tested and ascertained.
– That has already been done at Port Darwin, without any result.
-In this respect there is absolutely no analogy between Port Darwin and British New Guinea.
– It is a tropical country in both places.
– Tropical products cannot- be grown as cheaply at Port Darwin as they can be grown in New Guinea. In this connexion we might well adopt the methods followed in Java, where there is a .special department to supervise the importation of various trees and plants of commercial value, and to assist the natives in cultivating valuable crops. In the gardens which I have suggested, could be exhibited the products most suitable for the country, and, what is just as important, instruction given in the methods of culture necessary to insure success. A would-be settler could go to one of the farms, and could receive just the class of information which would prove most valuable to him.
– What about cotton, growing ?
– The soil of New Guinea is suitable for the cultivation of cotton. Young plants could also be grown at these State nurseries and sold to planters who desire to make a start ; and this would also prove a source of considerable revenue to the Government. The planting of cocoanut trees, for instance, is a most remunerative undertaking, but the greatest difficulty which a private individual finds is that, when he has cleared his land at a cost of 30s. per acre, he has to wait for from seven’ to lien years, and during that time keep down the riot of vegetation, before he gets a single penny return. When the return does come, however, it is very handsome ; and if the Government were to plant cocoanut trees at the stations, the results would, as I say, be a considerable revenue. If the Government, for instance, planted 4,000 acres with cocoanut trees, 33 feet apart, which is the usual distance, or 50 to the acre, they would in eight or ten years receive, at the lowest computation, a revenue of something like £24,000 a year, or more than the subsidy which we at present vote to British New Guinea. Cocoanut trees could, at no cost whatever, be planted by the native .prisoners who are confined at the stations. At each of the Government stations I noticed there were from half-a-dozen to seventy native prisoners detained.
Some of these prisoners are employed in remunerative undertakings, but many of them are set to cut down cane grass with a sheath knife. If it were cut down with a scythe or sickle before it got too tall, their energies could be applied to profitable occupations. They could work in these gardens, and thus be a means of assisting to enormously develop the Territory. Being an agricultural population, they are specially suited for that description of work, which, indeed, they prefer to any other. If the native prisoners at each residency were employed at a model farm, they would not only be creating wealth in the products of their labour, but would furnish an object lesson as to what the districts would grow. From the cocoanut trees and other plants they would get a revenue equal to the subsidy . we vote.
– Are there very many native prisoners?
– At the various stations I visited the’ number ranged from half a dozen to seventy. I do not know the total number. If that labour were employed in useful and productive channels, it could carry out this work at practically no expense. When the facilities I have mentioned have been afforded, then a knowledge of the advantages and opportunities for settlement should be conveyed to ‘the people of Australia by means of a hand-book, setting out the price of .land and the various crops which could be produced. I do not wish to see a large migration from Australia to British New Guinea. But there are always in Australia a number of restless spirits who are continually swarming off to South Africa, Canada, and other places, and who, if diverted to British New Guinea, would cause a great increase in its prosperity. In 1892, Sir William Macgregor issued a hand-book to intending settlers, giving information as to the quality of the soil, and other matter?. Since that year, no hand-book has been issued, and the old one has practically fallen into disuse. If these facilities for settlement be given, then a hand-book on the mineral and agricultural resources, issued and distributed at various centres in Australia, would be of the greatest value. The question of native labour is another very difficult problem. When I was in the Territory there were 4,000 Papuans under indenture’. They were engaged at their own free will, and paid 10s. to £1 a month, with board and lodging, and it was a twelvemonths’ engagement.
– What were they doing ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.They were working principally on the goldfields, some as domestic servants, and others, assisting the traders and planters. They were also carrying up to the gold-fields. The men are distinctly benefited by the system of indenture. It is admitted on all sides that if treated properly they are finer men at the end of the term than they would have been if left to loaf about the villages, and get into all kinds of mischief. With the exception of these 4,000 men, there is a danger of the general population lapsing into a condition of sloth and idleness, and nothing is more detrimental to the physique, and to the mental and moral character of the natives. When the British first went there the natives were continually at war with each other. The men were principally warriors. They thought that other work was infra dig.; they left it to their wives and womenfolk. They employed a great deal of their time in making weapons and in war dances. The British stopped that internecine strife ; they deprived the natives of their weapons, and prevented them from making others. These modern Othellos have now lost their occupation, and there is a danger of them lapsing into a condition of sloth and indolence, which would deteriorate them. The question arises, what method can we adopt to stimulate their industry, without in any way bringing in veiled slavery, or any system of forced labour for other people? Many systems have been suggested of direct taxation, which means payment in products. If the natives do nor pay in products they are put in prison for a certain time, with hard labour, which is: practically a form of veiled slavery. The culture systems which, were adopted in Java,, and the corve, have been suggested’, but ali these are opposed to a Britisher’s view of justice, and if they are not unjust they are impracticable as applied to British New Guinea. It has been stated that the people of the Commonwealth are put to great expense in maintaining law and order, conserving the rights of the natives, and protecting them from hostile tribes, and yet the natives pay no taxation. That is absolutely incorrect. If we remember that the 4,000 natives, who are paid from 10s. to £1 per month, are paid, not in gold, but in goods, and that the only system of taxation is through the Customs House, we can see that they contribute a very large proportion of the Customs revenue. The natives who buy merchandise from the traders also contribute to the Customs revenue. It must be remembered too, that we went to British New Guinea and took certain tracts of land which the natives were not using, without practically any payment therefor. Therefore, I contend that the natives have contributed very considerably, not only in taxation, but in other ways, to the British since their occupation of the Territory. The fact, however, remains that the only people who pay taxation are those who voluntarily undertake to work for the white settlers for payment ; and the question is, what can we do without going in for any system of forced labour for the Europeans to create a more industrious rigime amongst the native population. In the native ordinances two regulations were passed which were in every way beneficial to the natives and to the whites, and which, if enforced, would have meant a large accretion in trade and revenue to the Possession. They were passed in 1894 by that prince of administrators, Sir William Macgregor, but neither of them has been fully enforced. The regulation with regard to the planting of cocoanuts is couched in the simplest language, so that it can be understood by the natives. It reads as follows : -
If that regulation had been enforced during the last ten years, a great portion of the coast would now be a waving mass of cocoanut palms, yielding an immense return, and involving increased exports, arid as a result increased imports, with, of course, a large additional revenue. The shiftless natives merely plant what they require for their immediate necessities, and when there is a shortage in crops there is a time of starvation for them. When I was in Port Moresby the Hanabada tribe were in great straits, and were being fed with sago obtained from the swamps in the western portion of the island. If they were forced to plant trees for their own use, it would be an immense advantage to them, and would increase the value of the commercial products of the Territory. This regulation is carried out in certain portions, but not to anything like the extent it should be. In a private letter I received only the other day from British New Guinea, although I did not mention the subject to my friend, he refers to the planting of cocoanut trees under that ordinance. He says -
I often think what a thousand pities it is that this most excellent , regulation, framed many years ago by Sir Wm. Macgregor, was never enforced as it should have been. How much better commercially the country would be to-day had this been done.
The writer has lived a long while in the Territory, and I know of no man more competent to speak on such a subject than he is.
– Have any men been imprisonedfor not planting cocoanut trees ?
– I do not know that they have, but the regulation is primarilyin the interests of the natives; and, secondarily, in the interests of the white people.
– Was an effort made to enforce it at the beginning?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Yes; but it has not been enforced as it should have been. I hope that it will be enforced in the future to the advantage of the Territory. There is a second regulation which does not immediately add to the revenue of the Possession, but which is of immense importance. It refers to the keeping clear of the roads and native tracks. In many places the villages are only a few miles apart, and the natives are called upon to keep the track to the next village clear, because in that climate the native tracks are covered with a perfect riot of vegetation in a few months, if it is not constantly kept back. If tracks were neglected the Territory would be absolutely impenetrable to a white man. He could not get inland, law and order could not be administered, and the difficulties of progress and commercial undertakings in the island would become almost insuperable. This regulation was passed by Sir William Macgregor in the same year as the other, and it insists upon the natives keeping their tracks open and in good condition. Unless the natives were forced to do that it would be absolutely impossible, even if we employed an army of 500 men to keep the tracks open.
– How would that regulation be administered?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Certain men are chosen to do the work, and if they refuse to do it they are imprisoned for, from three to seven days. If they continue their refusal they are imprisoned for a longer term, and are made to work on that road, or at a Government station.
– Who makes the selection.
– The selection is made from amongst the ablebodied men of the village by resident magistrates, or by the village constables, as their representatives. I admit that the roads are kept open in many places, but not sufficiently. If these arteries were kept open the white people would be enabled to go inland and develop the country. That would be of immense benefit to the Administration, and also to the natives themselves, as they would be enabled to travel about with greater ease. In this connexion, I should like to read an extract from an article by Mr. Alleyne Ireland, a great authority on tropical colonization, which appeared in the London Times of the11th September, 1903. He says -
The history of civilization has many lessons to offer to the student, and none more emphatic than this, that for an undeveloped country, and especially for a country of dense forests, the first great need is good roads, the second the utilization and improvement; ofexisting river communication.
There are practically no roads in British New Guinea. There is no wheel traffic, and very few horses or cattle. It is difficult to make and maintain roads in that country, but there are native tracks by which, if they were kept open, it would be possible for people to get inland, and to travel between the various . parts of the Possession. There is another matter in connexion with the government of British New Guinea, which requires to be most carefully attended to. Nothing is more open to abuse than the recruiting of coloured labour. That is the most easily abused traffic that could possibly be imagined. The most stringent regulations are made to control the people engaged in recruiting. Heavy penalties are provided for any violation of the law, and each recruit must sign on before a magistrate, who must be satisfied that he is willing to undertake the work for which he has been recruited.
– Who are allowed to recruit ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Certain licensed private individuals.
– For whom are they recruiting at the present time?
– For the gold-fields, principally.
– For Woodlark Island ?
– For Woodlark Island, Gira, Yodda, Milne Bay, and Cloudy Bay.
– Is the recruiting carried on in New Guinea proper, or in the adjacent islands?
– On the mainland, as well as in the islands, and some are brought round even from the Fly River. As I have said, the most stringent regulations are framed in order that it may be clear that the natives recruited understand the nature of the work for which they are engaged, and the term of their engagement. They are told that they are to go for twelve moons, or somethinglike that, to explain to them the time they will be away. But I say unhesitatingly that in spite of all these precautions, there is great liability to abuse. When a man is paid so much per head for the recruits he obtains, a commercial element enters into the transaction, and he is very liable to transgress the strict bounds of the law, and to do what will be unfair and unjust to the natives. He is liable to mislead them as to the nature of the work they will have to perform, or as to the terms for which they will be employed. I contend that the present system of licensing recruiters should be stopped. We should have Government officials in. charge of this work - men who will be paid a fixed salary, and who will gain no monetary advantage by securing a large number of recruits. It is only by eliminating the commercial and sordid element, to which I have referred, that we can be absolutely certain that the natives will be recruited in a proper manner. I would point out that the fees charged by licensed recruiters to the persons who employ the natives would be more than sufficient to pay Government officials for the work, because the occupation of the licensed recruiter is at present a fairly lucrative one. I must also refer to the question of the boundary between Queensland and British New Guinea. There has been a long unfulfilled promise by the Government of Queensland to adjust the boundary difference between that State and the Territory. The Queensland boundary extends right up to the coast of British New Guinea, and takes in all the islands. What the Queensland Government promised to do was to fix the boundary at about the centre of Torres Straits - the tenth parallel of south latitude. That would mean that the islands which naturally belong to British New Guinea would- be under the jurisdiction of that Territory. At present valuable fishing grounds adjacent to New Guinea are included in Queensland waters, and great necessity exists for the protection of New Guinea natives engaged in them. ‘ For instance, the island of Saibai, which is only a mile or two from the mainland of British New Guinea, is Queensland territory. It is unfortunately a fact that arms, ammunition, and drink have been sold to the natives of that island under Queensland laws, or in violation of them, and have then been taken across lo the mainland. The island is so close to the mainland that the natives visit it for fishing purposes for a few weeks, and then return to their plantations on the mainland. The Government of British New Guinea has in this matter experienced the greatest difficulty. They have had to apply Customs and quarantine regulations between Saibai and the mainland, in order to present the supply of drink and arms to the natives of the Territory. It is a gross injustice to the natives that they should not be allowed to travel to and from Saibai, except under the most strict supervision. There are 200 or 300 Papuans engaged in the pearl shelling industry of Torres Straits. Under existing conditions these men in the lying-up season, or when the water is muddy, go to Thursday Island, where, owing to the very lax administration of the law, they are allowed to get drink, and they contract various vices and diseases. The liquor laws . are so scandalously administered in Thursday Island that any coloured man can enter a bar in that place, and get drink whenever he pleases. The Papuans, who have worked on the pearling boats, have acquired a taste for liquor, and they now try to smuggle it into the western division of British New Guinea through the island of Saibai. I say that so long as existing conditions are maintained in Thursday Island there should be a stipulation that Papuans recruited for the pearl shelling industry should not be allowed to ‘call at Thursday Island. Their head station should be at Daru, where they sign on, and where 100 or 200 pearling boats are registered. The Government propose to subsidize a steamship service to New Guinea to the extent of £2,000 per year. . The subsidy is a very moderate one. From inquiries I made during my visit to the Territory, I was under the impression that the expense involved would be very much greater. The service is to start from Thursday Island, and to call at all the southern ports of British New Guinea. What is required is that the steamer shall on alternate trips go in opposite directions, or return by the same route, so that the people of British New Guinea may be able to go backwards and forwards between the various settlements. If the service is conducted in the old way, running round to the various stations, in the same order on every trip, they will not be able to do so. A very great advantage which would be derived from the adoption of the course I suggest would be that the Chief Justice would be able to hold his courts regularly. When I was at Samarai there was great complaint that the Chief Justice visited the settlement at irregular intervals, and persons interested could not be notified of his visit. There is, of course, no telegraphic communication, and there is sometimes no communication between Samarai and Moresby for a month at a time. When the Chief Justice visits Samarai to hold his court, and deal with prisoners waiting there, the necessary witnesses are in many cases at Woodlark Island or at Mambare. Those having Gases before the court are unable to get their witnesses to Samarai in time, and great injustice is often the result. With a subsidized line’ of steamers running alternately different ways, the Chief Justice would be enabled to frame a calendar, people would know when the courts would be held, the witnesses could be ready, and fair trials would be the result. In connexion with the subsidized service, I might say something about the Merrie England. That boat was presented or lent by Great
Britain to New Guinea in the time of Sir Peter Scratchley. It has been a Very expensive, boat, and in some respects a white elephant for the Possession. If this steamer service is carried out by alternate routes, as I suggest, the Merrie England might be practically superseded by the steamship engaged in the service. It would then be possible to lay up the Merrie England, or to sell her, and with the proceeds purchase steam launches, which are very much required in the Territory. The Merrie England at present costs the Possession £7,000 a year to maintain, which is one-third of the total revenue of the Territory from taxation. She is a boat of 120 tons, and draws 15 feet of water, which is altogether too much for a coasting boat in those waters, and she carries only 40 tons of cargo, as most of her space is taken up with cabins. If she were laid up, or sold, there would be a saving to the Possession of £7,000 per year.. The revenue received from taxation during last year increased by £2,000, and with the saving of £7,000, by laying up the Merrie England, the increase in revenue, and the subsidizing of a steam service, the Territory would have the increased financial stimulus which I have always urged should be granted to British New Guinea, in order to start the forward movement for the development of our new Possession. There is no reason why in time it should not become selfsupporting, and a very valuable Possession for the Commonwealth. There are other topics on which I might touch, but with which I shall not now deal.
– Is there any scope for growing cotton in New Guinea?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.There is in New Guinea excellent land for the growth of cotton. I have a letter which I can show the honorable and learned senator, from a gentleman who states the results of cotton-growing in British New Guinea.
– Has the honorable senator considered the advisability of offering a large .tract of land to an English company for the growth of cotton?
– I should be prepared to support a proposal to give a large tract of land upon a long lease, at a low rental, to persons who would undertake to utilize the land, but we should not give land to a company that would hold it for sale to other persons. That has been the experience with land concessions in British New Guinea to companies like the SomersVine syndicate. I have dealt with topics which are, I think, of immediate importance in considering the position of British New Guinea, but I might also refer to such questions as that of education, the establishment of a Department of Agriculture and Mining, and the establishment of a bank. Great difficulties are at present experienced in British New Guinea, owing to the fact that there is no bank established there, and also to the lack of telegraphic and telephonic communication. All these are matters for the future, and must come up for consideration as the development of the Territory proceeds.
– Is there no education provided for native youths?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.There is only that provided by the missionaries.
– Does the honorable senator believe that the missionaries are capable of taking up the whole matter?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.For the present, I think they are. They have a college at Vatarata At Kwato there is an industrial mission, with a great number of scholars.
– Can the missionaries undertake all the education required in British New Guinea ?
– No. They only undertake a small proportion of it. There are also the questions of appointing a native protector, of rewards for the discoveries of gold-fields, and similar matters upon which I have not touched. I have taken up a great amount of time, but I hope that I have not wearied the Senate.
– No; the honorable senator’s speech has been very interesting.
– I have given a great deal of consideration to this subject, and I believe that if- the suggestions which I have outlined are carried out there will be a new era of prosperity in British New Guinea. We have done excellently well in establishing law and order throughout the Possession, or, at any rate, in the coastal districts. We now need to take another step. The establishment of stable government has paved the way for an era of progress, and I believe that, without any extra expense, if the suggestions I have ventured to make are carried out, we shall in time have a revenue .sufficient to meet all the requirements of government. The underpaid civil servants will then have better conditions afforded to them, and the native races themselves will be benefited, instead of injured, by the fact of the white people having come amongst them and ‘ established industries.
– I believe that 1 voice the feeling of the Senate when I say that we have had two splendid speeches upon this subject from the Attorney-General and Senator Smith. They have been most educative speeches. I have listened to them with great pleasure, and have obtained from them considerable knowledge which I did not previously possess. The Attorney-General referred in very gratifying terms to the history of this great island. He alluded to it as a Dependency of the Commonwealth, and mentioned that the irregularity of communication was one great drawback to the progress of British New Guinea. He. also referred to the necessity for elasticity in the land laws and to the necessity of legislation regarding the importation and sale of intoxicants. When we come to deal with the Bill in detail we shall find that probably the principal difference of opinion will be with respect to clauses 20 to 23, which refer to the power to grant land, and to the restrictions on the sale of intoxicating liquor. I do not know whether honorable senators have read the very excellent and interesting parliamentary paper on New Guinea, No. 47. It contains an immense amount of information, both with regard to the land question and the liquor restrictions. I was particularly struck by the evidence of the missionaries. One missionary, the Rev. Dr. W. G. Lawes, who has been in British New Guinea for about thirty years, gives some valuable information on page 25. The missionaries are not generally supposed to be sympathetic to the sale of liquor. But, nevertheless, Dr. Lawes speaks of the present law as a good one, and adds that he does not think that liquor is sold to the natives under it. Other missionaries bear similar testimony. We shall have to give grave consideration to this subject before we remove “from the local governing bodies the power to control the liquor traffic. Senator Smith made some very good points. He pointed out that what we have to consider are three matters - first, the transfer of the Territory to the Commonwealth ; second, the, framing of a Constitution; and third, the enactment of .Federal laws. I was surprised that he did not refer particularly to so debatable a question as the liquor traffic.
– That will be a matter for discussion in Committee.
– The honorable senator made a very good point in alluding to the necessity for opening up the country by means of roads. Certainly the making of good roads is a very important step in. extending civilization to a country. The Highlands of Scotland were to a large extent brought under civilization by the making of roads.
– The Highlands were civilized long before that time.
– Perhaps Senator Symon will say that by the making of these roads the Highlands were enabled to civilize the rest of the world !
– It was an unsuccessful attempt to subjugate them.
– It is nevertheless certain that the making of roads and the opening of Fort William and Fort George did a great deal to bring the. Highlands into contact with the rest of the civilized world. Senator Smith is quite right in saying that there should be more surveying in British New Guinea. We made a great mistake in New South Wales in having selection before survey. We should have had survey before selection, in order to prevent the buying up of large areas by comparatively few people. We are very fortunate in having had excellent Administrators in British New Guinea. Sir Peter Scratchley, Sir William MacGregor, and Sir George Le Hunte were splendid officers. But the evidence of Captain Barton shows that we shall take a great responsibility on ourselves if we make a departure from the present practice in regard to the liquor traffic. I like the idea of having a good handbook prepared. British New Guinea is a place which many of us would like to see ; but, unfortunately, the climate seems to be most unhealthy in many places. We know that Captain Barton suffers a great deal from the effects of intermittent fever.
– Smith. - It is only the swampy places like Woodlark Island and Mambare, that are unhealthy.
– Port Moresby seems to be one of the healthiest portions of British New Guinea, though there is some fever there; whilst in one of the districts I believe that four resident magis- trates died one after the other in rapid succession. We certainly have in Java an object lesson as to what can be done with a tropical country by the employment of large bodies of native labour. But I am afraid that the idea of employing native labour in British New Guinea would not give pleasure to our friends of the Labour Party. With regard to the pearlshelling industry, there is a great deal of force in the suggestion that we should have a better system of enforcing the law on the islands in Torres Straits. What Senator Smith has said is quite true, that some of the islands which are near to British New Guinea are administered under Queensland laws. The blacks have to some extent been demoralized by lax administration in regard to strong drink. It is not so much the New Guinea law as the Queensland law and its administration that have been at fault. It may not ‘be generally known by honorable senators that British New Guinea extends to the fifth degree of south latitude. Most of the Possession is, of course, further south than that; but still, when territory extends up to the fifth degree, we must recognise that the conditions must be very different from what they are in Australia. For this reason we ought to give a great deal of latitude to the officers intrusted with the administration of the local government. We should trust in their wisdom. We, living so far south, are not competent to legislate for the Territory as well as are those upon the spot. I have put certain questions on the noticepaper for next Wednesday, and I _ hope that as a result of them some information will be given to the Senate which we do not at present possess. I rather fear that if we prevent the alienation of land, the result will be that enterprising persons who desire to go to British New Guinea will prefer to take up land in Dutch and German territory rather than in our Possession. It must be remembered that British New Guinea was annexed largely at the request of the Queensland Government. I was in Queensland at the time, and I know the feeling that prevailed. Sir Thomas Mcllwraith sent up a party to take possession in the name of the British. Government. His action was disallowed, but if effect- had been given to it the Germans would never have obtained a footing in the island. We must not forget that if we make our liquor laws too’ restrictive there will be a considerable danger of smuggling on the gold fields, particularly the Gira and Yodda goldfields, which are near to German territory. Captain Barton points out how difficult it will be to suppress this smuggling, if we disallow the use of alcoholic liquors except for medicinal purposes. In regard to the means of communication, I think it is a very good idea that any vessel which is subsidized should make alternate trips in opposite directions, or go and’ return the same way. Perhaps the latter course would be the better. If the vessel started from Thursday Island, and came back on the same route, visitors to British New Guinea would be able to get from place to place much more easily and in less time than at present.
– Yes, that would, perhaps, be better still, if it be done in a month’s trip.
– It is said that many British subjects would not care to go to Dutch or German New Guinea, because they would have to become naturalized citizens under those Powers. But the strongest opponent we have had in the islands is a British subject named Higg.inson, who has become a naturalized Frenchman. It was this person who obtained the support of the French Government, and the subsidy to the French New Hebrides Company. It may be that there are British subjects who have such a love of the “ bawbee “ as to give up their nationality, but I hope that such Britishers are few and far between. We must, however, recognise the facts, and our desire is to see British New Guinea become a valuable British Dependency. I presume that it is also recognised that the revenue will be considerably curtailed if we do not allow the importation of alcoholic or spirituous liquors. The revenue derived from that source is now, I believe, £3,000 or £4,000 per annum, and that, of course, will probably increase with the population. If New Guinea has to be self-supporting, and there is no importation of alcohol, the other duties will have to be raised to a considerable extent ; and, in addition, the outlay by the Commonwealth on this Possession must be increased. I admit, on the other hand, that financial reasons ought not to outweigh moral considerations; but of course there is a legitimate as well as an illegitimate use of stimulants.
– I should have preferred to see the consideration of this measure delayed until members of the Senate had had an opportunity to visit. New
Guinea and acquire local information on the spot. It is just as necessary for us to inspect New Guinea as it was for members of the Federal Parliament to inspect the proposed Federal Capital sites before coming to a conclusion. I suppose, however, that honorable senators desire to see this Bill passed. I must express my regret once more that we have ever had anything to do with New Guinea. It is only a’ kind of national earth-hunger which makes us endeavour to get possession of such places. I can sympathize with nations like France or Germany-
– Or Russia?
– Or Belgium?
– I can sympathize with such nations, which have limited territory and many millions of people, in the endeavours they make to acquire new territory for the settlement of their surplus populations. But I have no sympathy whatever with honorable senators like Mr. Smith, who wish to annex all the islands of the Pacific for so-called strategic and other reasons.
– My policy is defence, not defiance.
– The honorable senator’s policy is not defence, but a policy of simple grab. We in Australia have, I suppose, a unique opportunity as a nation of 4,000,000 of people ; there are none so fortunately situated as ourselves in that respect.
– I think I was about the only honorable senator who opposed the annexation of New Guinea.
– I believe the honorable senator did oppose the annexation, but now that he has not succeeded he wishes to go further, and annex the whole of the islands of the Pacific.
– The honorable senator desires to make up for lost time.
– The various Governments of the States of Australia are at the present time endeavouring to find ways and means to attract people to the Commonwealth. Immigration is what we require - nearly every one is calling out that we want more population. But the legislation at present under discussion is being passed with a view to induce people to leave Australia for New Guinea.
– No; the legislation is with a view to direct into a proper channel those who are leaving.
– I often wonder what is our duty with regard to coloured peoples - how far we can, as a civilized people, segregate ourselves from the coloured races of the earth. It appears to me to be a bit of a problem whether we should leave these shores for New Guinea, or send our representatives to such places, with a view to settling the lands and civilizing the natives. I wonder whether we shall be able to save the natives of New Guinea from the unhappy fate which has befallen the aboriginal natives of Tasmania, and which is rapidly overtaking the aboriginal natives of Queensland, and, I believe, of Western Australia.
– That depends on whether honorable senators vote for prohibition.
– I have consulted missionaries who have spent many years in New Guinea, and I must say that I do not discern on their part any spirit of hopefulness for the future of the natives. Some of those missionaries tell us of the good work which has been done - of the reformation which has taken place amongst the natives who are brought within their sphere of influence. But when one puts the question as to whether the natives can ever be civilized, the reply is, to my mind, not very satisfactory. The majority of missionaries who go to New Guinea are able to stay there only for a few years. Every now and then a missionary has to obtain leave of absence for twelve months’, in order to recruit his health, or has to leave the Possession on account of the health of his wife and children. It appears to be very difficult to rear white children in New Guinea.
– It is difficult to rear white children in some parts of Australia.
– That is a question with which I am not just now dealing. Children in New Guinea become ænemic and have to be brought away if their lives are to be saved. It must be borne in mind that, although the missionaries have a hard time compared with those who do similar work on the mainland, they are in a far better position than those engaged in pioneer work in mining and similar occupations. I do not think that we shall be able to do much for the natives in New Guinea unless the Commonwealth legislation is of such a character, and is administered in such a manner that certain portions of the revenue ere set apart for the purpose of educating them and maintaining them in their old age. Senator Smith observed that we shall save the natives if we adopt the prohibition clause.
– Discuss that matter later on in Committee.
– But it is one of the main features of the Bill, for the reason that Senator Smith and others wish to impose restrictions upon the white settlers of New Guinea which they are not prepared to impose on themselves in Victoria, where there are all the comforts of civilization. I agree with Senator Smith that we should endeavour, by all the means in our power, to keep alcoholic stimulants away from the natives.
– The ordinances successfully do that already.
– -From all the conversations I have had with New Guinea residents, I do not think we shall be able to keep liquor away from the natives, even if we legislate for prohibition.
– Hear, hear ! There will be smuggling.
– The islands . about New Guinea are so numerous and there is so much trading going on amongst them, that it will be almost impossible to stop the importation of alcohol.
– The natives will soon be destroyed if alcohol is allowed in New Guinea.
– That remark bears out my fear that we shall not be able to save the New Guinea natives from the unfortunate fate which has overtaken the natives of the mainland. They will get drink, and also opium, and the latter is likely to create greater ravages than will alcohol.
– Disease kills more natives than all the other causes put together.
– By whom was the disease taken to New Guinea ? By white people, who are not satisfied with the enormous territory we possess on this continent.
– There ought to. be applied to them the same quarantine regulations as apply to cattle.
– In common with other honorable senators, I suppose, I have received communications from various temperance organizations, whose opinions are entitled to the very greatest respect. We have also, however, received communications from residents of New Guinea, and from gentlemen of the high character of Bishop Stone Wigg and others, who declare that it will be a great mistake to prohibit the introduction, manufacture, and sale of alcoholic liquors in the Possession. Therefore, I shall be prepared, in Committee, to support any amendment to permit the people of New Guinea to say whether or not liquor shall be prohibited. Of course, I shall support any provision to prohibit the supply of liquor to natives by any white settlers ; and I should even go so far as to favour a proposal to punish any white settler, so offending, by having him deported from the Possession, if any place can be found where he may live the life of a respectable citizen. I am quite in favour of the proposals dealing with the question of the alienation of land. I support those proposals with all their disadvantages; and it must be admitted that there are disadvantages in connexion with the land system. The longer I am in political life the more I see that Crown tenants frequently band themselves together in strong organizations, and bring pressure on the Government in order to obtain large remissions of rent.
– That is done in South Australia, where such tenants even apply for the fee-simple after they have taken up land on lease conditions.
– Under such circumstances the public do not get a fair return from their landed estate. The members of the Government and the Parliament are, of course, open to a certain amount of pressure, caused by the public opinion, which the Crown tenants create very often. In Queensland, where about 18,000,000 acres out of hundreds of millions have been alienated, whenever a drought comes along, or a pest arises, a meeting of the Crown tenants is held, and they approach the Government, with a view to getting a remission of rent, or some other concession. The public in the towns have every sympathy with them, and the press speaks in their favour, with the result that they get a remission of rent, and the State does not receive a farthing per acre per annum for millions of acres of land. Some stricter system will have to be adopted in British New Guinea if the Government are to get a fair return from those who will rent the lands under the proposed system. There is a great defect in the Bill, I think, and that is that we, who prize so much our system of local government, and are so much attached to adult suffrage, are not giving the residents of the Territory any elective representation in the Legislative Council. An article in to-day’s newspaper about the Eureka Stockade, reminds us how necessary it is to give the pioneers, especially the miners in any country, some elective representation in its Legislature. I hope that an amendment will be proposed to provide that the white settlers shall have some elective representation in the Legislative Council. It will be a fatal defect if that is not done. Having,- I regret to say, taken over the Possession, we must try to govern it well. A very fair attempt, has been made by its framers and by another place, to produce a comprehensive and good Bill, and I hope that it will be improved by the Senate, in the direction which has been suggested.
– It is the duty of each member of the Senate to take a deep interest in this enormous Territory. But I cannot quite agree with some of the suggestions made by Senator Higgs. To grant the suffrage to the white settlers, two-thirds of whom are miners, who may be here to-day and gone tomorrow, and who are not quite pioneers in the ordinary sense of that term - that is, men who take their capital and settle down on the land for life - is a risky thing. The time will come when there may be a young democracy! in this Territory, but that time is not yet. I rose chiefly to congratulate Senator Smith upon having made a most useful and interesting speech, and to ask the Attorney-General whether we ought not to make some practical use of it. Copies of the Hansard report of the speech ought to be sent to the Administrator of the Government to report thereon, and to see whether some of the suggestions which my honorable friend has made, after personal visits and considerable thought and research, cannot be carried out for the good of the inhabitants. It is of no use to waste a morning over a most important matter, and to listen to a great quantity of good in- formation and honest and intelligent criticism, unless the powers that be are to take some notice of it. I am rather in doubt as to the land policy, which is laid down in the Bill. I was not at all surprised to hear the Attorney-General express some doubt as to whether the clauses are not too elastic. We have to face the competition of Canada’, Argentina. and other great countries, which have enormous tracts of land, and which offer great facilities to intending settlers, and, I ask, can’ any one cite a country where a system of leasehold only has been . a . success in helping to develop a new and large territory, and in attracting colonists to it? If Canada and other countries, in which land is available, adopt the feesimple system, we ought to be satisfied in our minds, that there is not such a grave objection to the leasehold system as would prevent our colonizing this Territory by that means. A few years ago New Zealand was held up as affording a striking example of the success of the leasing system. But we all know now that there are many persons there - according to a newspaper, a majority - who desire to revert to the fee-simple system.
– The fault is that the two systems exist side by side.
– There are objections to the leasing system. If a man is asked to become a pioneer or a permanent settler, he expects, as a matter of course, not a lease with a periodical increase of rent, but a grant in fee-simple. That is only a natural expectation. Will the men, on whom we shall have to depend for developing Papua put up with the leasing system? If they find that it is very disadvantageous to them, as compared with the Canadian and other systems, shall we not lose a large number of the very type of immigrants we wish to attract to the Territory? That is a very complicated question, on which I have no very fixed views, because the opinions I had about the leasing system are being weakened. I desire to say a few words about the liquor traffic. According to a paper, which the AttorneyGeneral placed at my disposal,, the licensing system in the Territory is to some extent being abused, and is not quite as perfect as the Bishops and missionaries would have us believe. In this document the Administrator says -
I am, I regret to say, not yet in possession of the result of the Government Secretary’s inquiries as to the number of licences in force, &c. They are granted by the Resident Magistrate in each division, and no general record of them has been kept at head-quarters. However, from my own knowledge, I think, in the main, I can supply the information sought.
In a community of 500 white persons and half-a-million natives, the Administrator says that no record of the number of licences is kept.
– The goldfields in the eastern portion of the territory have no communication with Port Moresby except perhaps once in three or six months. Their only communication is with Samarai, which is not a Government station. If there is a rush of diggers, action must be taken at once, without waiting for six months; therefore the resident magistrates are clothed with power to grant these licences.
– My honorable friend has perhaps given an excuse, but it does not get over the statement of the Administrator that no record of the licences has been kept.
– They know all the licences which have been granted, except at the gold-fields. Senator DOBSON. - When a magistrate grants a licence, a fee has to be paid. Surely it is his duty to advise the Administrator or somebody else of its issue at the earliest .possible moment? Nothing can justify what the Administrator has written here. It shows that there has been carelessness. He goes on to mention that twelve licences have been granted to stores, and about seven licences to hotels. In all, about nineteen licences have been granted. In other words, there is one licence to every twenty-five of the white residents.
– The wonder is that there is such perfect immunity from mischievous results. That is what we ought to direct our attention to.
– With our experience of the liquor traffic in a civilized community, it is absolutely wrong to grant one licence for every twenty-five of the European community in the Territory. The AttorneyGeneral will be carrying out the wishes of thousands of persons if he will make the most .stringent inquiries on this point from the Administrator. I can quite understand that the excuse may be offered that small settlements of miners are numerous, .and therefore justify the issue of a larger number of licences than is usual.
– Some licences are granted to stores for the sale of goods.
– A bottle of whisky can be bought at a store. A licence only entitles a hotel-keeper to sell not less than can be contained in a quart bottle, but as a matter of fact, a bar trade is carried. on as the Administrator points out -
All applications for licence at this station were rejected, but, in a report from Mr. Jiear, which I saw for the first time yesterday, he states that, in view of the requirements of the place, the Lieutenant-Governor on his last visit, having, withdrawn the veto, he (Mr. Jiear) had accordingly granted a licence to an applicant.
There is also a packet licence issued to Messrs.Whitten Bros.’ steamer President, and there may bc one or two other packet licences issued at Samarai. »
Your Excellency will have observed that section 4 of “ The Liquor Ordinance of 1891 “ does not authorize what is generally known as a “bar trade,” but such a trade seems to have been permitted,, and the hotels at Port Moresby and Samarai, and the stores in the more remote places, sell liquor by the glass under tlie licence granted them.
There is other evidence which goes to show that just the same orgies occur at some of the .licensed houses as take place in the slums of our cities.
– There is far less danger of the natives getting liquor.
– I place very little reliance upon that, because if liquor is obtainable, sooner or later the natives will get a supply in spite of the penalties which may be threatened. The Attorney-General said it was a miracle to think that the natives ‘had hitherto obtained so little intoxicating liquor, and that there had been so few prosecutions on that score. It most certainly is a miracle.
– I meant that it was a miracle of good government.
– When we find that licences are issued to an enormous extent, that a bar trade is carried on at the hotels contrary to the law, and that there are two islands which facilitate this traffic, and in which the natives are acquiring a taste for drink, it is impossible to believe that this miracle is likely to continue. We are not living in an age of miracles. We are all aware that in many communities liquor has got amongst the natives, and practically, ruined them by thousands. I shall be very pleased to hear the arguments which may be used for or against the liquor traffic. but it appears to me that the proposal to” put this traffic under the control of the Government is well worthy of our consideration. It may be said that I am now advocating Socialism, but if there is ever to be a case in which a good opportunity will be afforded for trying the system of Government control, it surely must be in British New Guinea, where there are only 500’ whites. It appears to me that the liquor traffic should be placed under Government control. That might be done for a time, and if it were found to be successful it could be continued.
– Why not follow the example of Western Australia, and have State hotels, which have been proved to be a distinct success?
– Control by the Government might be held to be almost the same thing, but I was going to suggest the adoption of Lord Grey’s system, under which the Government license respectable men, who receive a fixed salary and a generous commission for everything they provide in the way of beds and meals, and everything except intoxicating liquors. Under Lord Grey’s system the licensee might sell hogsheads of whisky and rivers of beer, but he would not get a farthing for it.
– The State hotels in Western Australia are no longer experimental.
– I am not very much in love with a State hotel, but I should be glad to have information on the subject, and to be guided by the experience of Western Australia. I think that the system advocated by Lord Grey, absolutely elimi nating as it does all desire to sell drink, and encouraging the sale of everything else for which an hotel is provided, is an exceedingly good one. I wish to impress upon the Attorney-General that some use should be made of the very informative speech which we have heard from Senator Smith.
– I join with other senators in expressing appreciation of Senator Smith’s speech. We expected such a speech from the honorable senator, and we have not been disappointed. I may tell Senator Dobson that the people concerned in the administration of New Guinea regularly receive the exhilarating literature which is contained in the Federal Hansard.
– I think that attention should be specially directed to Senator Smith’s speech.
– We shall take care to direct special attention to the honorable senator’s remarks. Senator Dobson’s references to the liquor question were addressed rather to matters of present administration in New Guinea, and the effects of existing ordinances, than to the effect of the Bill now before us. The Bill, I remind the honorable senator, is concerned with the system of government itself.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
This Act may be cited as the Papua Act 1904.
– It will perhaps be found convenient if I intimate to honorable senators that I propose to go through the machinery clauses of the Bill at this stage, but I shall be prepared to postpone the consideration of clauses 20 and 21, which involve controversial matters, and also, if honorable senators should desire it, clause 24, about which some question has, I think, been raised by Senator Higgs.
– I thought the AttorneyGeneral intended to postpone the further consideration of this measure after the second reading had been dealt with. With respect to this clause, I should like to know what are the reasons for calling British New Guinea “ Papua.”
– I explained that on the second reading.
– The matter was certainly mentioned, but I think we have had no satisfactory explanation. The whole island is called “ Papua ‘’ or “New Guinea.” It seems to me that to call a quarter of the island “Papua” is analogous to the absurd proposition made by the late Sir Henry Parkes, that New South Wales should be called “Australia.” I think the Attorney-General is mistaken in saying that the Dutch call their portion of the island1 “ New Guinea.” It will be found, on reference to Dutch official documents and publications, that the Dutch portion of the island is called “ Netherlands New Guinea.” We might just as well adopt the name “ New Guinea “ as the name “ Papua.” I do not know what virtue there is in the name “ Papua.”
– Is it not a native name?
-It is not a native name ; it is a Malay name, and it means “ frizzled.” When the Portuguese arrived in New Guinea they called the place Papua, because of the frizzled hair of the natives. It is. in my opinion, absurd to designate a fourth of the island by the name which the whole island has borne for hundreds of years. If we have the right to do that, we have an equal right to call our portion of the island “ New Guinea,” without any qualifying word.
– Does the honorable senator really think it is worth while to make any alteration in the name ?
– I think there is something in a name. I remind honorable senators that the three territories of Guiana in the north of South America are called respectively Dutch Guiana, English Guiana, and French Guiana. This territory will always be known as British New Guinea. The Germans have called their portion of the island1 Kaiser Wilhelms Land, but it will always be known as German New Guinea ; and in just the same way the Dutch possession will always be called Dutch New Guinea. I think it would be far more reasonable if we were to call this territory Australian New Guinea. It has been called British New Guinea up to the present, but as it has now been transferred to the Commonwealth I think it is better that it should be called Australian New Guinea.
– What is the real native name for it?
– The natives have names only for different districts. I hope that the Attorney-General will accept my suggestion. I am doubtful whether, if the nairne Papua is used in an Act, it will not be held to include the whole of the island of New Guinea. We might pass laws applying to Papua, and might find that they would be held to apply to German New Guinea and Dutch New Guinea.
– I have listened to the exceedingly critical and ingenious arguments of my honorable friend.
– Perhaps I am a little weak on the law point.
– I think the honorable senator is. This is not a Bill affecting the whole of New Guinea, but is strictly limited to what is described as the Territory of Papua, which is delineated in the Bill. My honorable friend’s apprehensions with regard1 to the application of laws for Papua, in a way which might be resented by the Dutch and :he Germans, are not well founded.
– Is not “ frizzled “ an undesirable name for the Territory ?
– It may be a weakness of mine, tout I confess to a liking for euphony. Papua is an exceedingly euphonious word, which runs trippingly from the tongue. It has rather an Italian sound. I admit that I was previously quite unaware that it could be trans lated as frizzled. Senator Smith has shocked roy poetic sense a little, but I shall endeavour to forget the word frizzled and remember the word Papua.
– Has not the sound of Guinea any charm for the honorable and learned senator?
– Yes, it has distinctly. If Senator Smith could be induced to drop the word Australian, and also the word British, the Committee might seriously consider the use of the word Guinea. My information does not correspond with that given by Senator Smith in regard to the name given to the Dutch portion of- the island, which is rather more than one-third of the whole area, while the German portion is about one-third. In official documents connected with the Dutch portion of the island the name used is Nieuw Guinea. The Germans call their portion of the island Kaiser Wilhelms Land, but as the Dutch call theirs by the name of the whole island, we cannot be charged with an inordinate desire to grab if we appropriate the use of the word Papua for our Territory. I quite appreciate Senator Smith’s patriotic sentiment in desiring that the Territory should be known as Australian New Guinea, but I think that would be too long a title.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia). - I would ask the AttorneyGeneral to allow this clause to be postponed. He stated when the Bill went into Committee that he would postpone any clause to which exception was taken. If it is not postponed, there will be considerable discussion, and a division must be taken. There is no reason to make an alteration in the name of the Possession. If we call the area Papua, it will merely be an official name which no person except the officials will ever use. This Bill merely confirms the transfer of the Possession to Australia ; and as it has been called British New Guinea up, to the present, the inference is that it ought to be called Australian New Guinea now that it- is transferred to us as a portion of the Empire. Although the Germans have been in possession of their portion of the island for sixteen years, and have officially named it Kaiser Wilhelms Land, and although it is so named on certain maps, with the exception of the officials no one calls it by any other name than German New Guinea. It is an act of international discourtesy to appropriate to our portion of the island, a name which for centuries has belonged to the whole country. The Attorney -General has given no reason for the change, except that the name Papua has an euphonious sound, and is short. The shortness is no advantage because the name will never be used.
– It will be shorter still if we call it “Pap.”
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.That is the stuff which the honorable senator gives us so often ! It is objectionable to use a name officially, which will never be used in common speech, and in ordinary commercial life. Why not call it Australian New Guinea?
– So we can if we choose, in spite of the Bill.
– The children will learn to call it Papua at school.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.I move
That the word “ Papua “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “Australian New Guinea.”
Question - That the word proposed to be left out, be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 2 to 10 agreed to.
The Lieutenant-Governor shjall be appointed by the Governor-General by commission under the seal of the Commonwealth, and shall hold office during the pleasure of the GovernorGeneral.
– This clause practically provides for the appointment of the Lieutenant-Governor of the Possession for life, unless there be some reason for removing him. It is an unusual provision. Governors in other Possessions and Colonies are appointed for a fixed term, though they may be re-appointed. It is inadvisable to appoint the Lieutenant-Governor of a place with a climate like British New Guinea for life. The climate is very debilitating, and is apt to sap, to a very great extent, the vital energies of people who live in it. If the appointment be for life we may have a person who, owing to climatic influences, will become so lethargic and enervated that he will not display that initiative which is so vitally necessary in the government of a tropical Colony.
– There will be nothing to’ prevent a Lieutenant-Governor from resigning.
– Or from being removed the next day after his appointment.
– A man appointed during the pleasure of the Governor- General is practically appointed for life, unless there be action on his part of so extraordinary a character as to necessitate his being asked to resign.
– The honorable senator is really thinking of an appointment made during good behaviour, which is quite a different matter. An appointment during pleasure merely means until the Governor-General signifies his pleasure to the contrary.
– It would be an insult if a LieutenantGovernor, after a certain period of office, were told that his services were no longer required. It is usual in all cases of the kind to fix a certain term, which, if the occupant of the office be a useful man, may be renewed. It would be most unusual to remove a Lieutenant-Governor appointed under such a provision. That is a point of importance, which I think the Committee ought to discuss, harving regard to the fact that a long appointment might prove exceedingly dangerous in such a climate.
– Governors of States, as well as the Governor-General of the Commonwealth, are appointed for fixed terms, and I see no reason to depart from that rule in the present case. It is a very serious matter to remove a Governor or any official who occupies a very high position. We know that rather than take such an extreme step many abuses are permitted to pass unnoticed. It is quite unnecessary to recall circumstances which have been recently before the Senate. If the gentleman in the case to which I refer had not been in such a high position I daresay his actions would have been challenged much oftener. When we knew that a representative of the King is appointed for life, as would practically be the case under this clause, it would be more difficult to offer criticism than if we knew that at the end of a> certain period he would vacate the position. It would be better from all points of view to fix a period.
– There is no doubt a great deal of force in the remarks of the two previous speakers, and with a .view to meet the difficulty I suggest to the Attorney-General that the clause should be amended so as to fix the term of office at five years. The climate of New Guinea is such that a LieutenantGovernor might not care to continue to act for a longer period. I know of a Government official in New Guinea who leaves his family in Queensland on account of the climatic conditions which he has to face; and I am quite certain that it is not the intention of the present representative of the Government there to remain, for longer than the period I have mentioned.
– I am opposed to any limit being fixed to the term of office. If the Lieutenant-Governor be a good man, why remove him?
– He may be reappointed.
– Why should there be the necessity for a re-appointment if the Lieutenant-Governor is a good man for the position? If, on the other hand, the LieutenantGovernor is not a good man, it may prove rather awkward to remove him in the absence of any specific charges. It might be desirable to remove him on general grounds - on grounds in relation to which specific charges sufficiently strong could not be formulated.
– But the clause, if amended as .suggested, would provide for a period of five years and during the pleasure of the Governor-General.
– No one can listen to the remarks which have been made in favour of the suggested amendment without appreciating the object in view. But Senator Smith’s remarks are based on an entire misapprehension. The suggested amendment is, in my opinion - and I say this with the greatest respect - an absurdity. It has been contended that the clause means practically an appointment for life. It means nothing of the kind; indeed, the only criticism which could be directed against the clause is that the term may prove too short. The appointment provided for is the very best that could be made under the circumstances.
– The term could not be too short if it were probable that there would be a desire to remove a LieutenantGovernor.
– But the appointment is during the pleasure of the Governor-General.
-Col. Neild. - That is better than a fixed term.
– The suggested amendment would -fix the term for five years, and, at the same time, make it terminable at a moment’s notice. Such a proposal cannot be entertained for a moment. What Senator Smith has in his mind is an appointment during good behaviour ; this is, during -life. Our Judges are appointed on those terms; but those are the very opposite of the appointment now proposed, which may be made to-day, and, if the occupant of the position misconduct himself, cancelled to-morrow. If, on the other hand, as Senator Styles has suggested, the Lieutenant-Governor who is appointed, is ten or twelve years hence doing good work, and wishes to remain, why should he not continue to hold .the office? There could not be a more elastic or constitutional method1 of appointment than that proposed in the clause. In a democracy like ours, we ought to keep control of the governing powers of a Dependency such as this. “ Governor-General “ means the “Governor-General in Council.” and, as there is responsibility to Parliament, the real meaning is that the appointment shall be during the pleasure of Parliament. If a Lieutenant-Governor misconducts himself, why should he continue to officiate for five years ? The amendment does not mean an appointment for five years only, but an appointment for that term, plus the pleasure of the Governor-General.
– The maximum is five years
– That is not so, because, according to the amendment, the Governor-General may extend the term.
– A LieutenantGovernor may be re-appointed.
– Then, where is the advantage of fixing a period of five years?
– There is a very great advantage; it is the system adopted in the appointment of the Governors of the Australian States.
– Such appointments are very different from that which we are now discussing.
– The appointments are analogous.
– They are entirely different. Governors of Crown Colonies are appointed during pleasure.
– Not in all cases.
- Senator Drake has just called my attention to the fact that Governors of States are also appointed during pleasure, but that it is usual to name a period of six years from their assumption of duty.
– In those cases a maximum is fixed.
– There is no maximum at all.
– Well, a term is fixed.
– There is simply an understanding; and, of course, there will be an understanding in the case of New Guinea. Had the Imperial procedure been otherwise, I should have disregarded it, because, in my opinion, we ought to have control as direct and complete as possible, in the case of a Dependency like this.
– I hope the clause will be allowed to pass as it stands. We have to consider, not only the rights of the Government of Austialia, but also the rights and convenience of the individual who may be appointed to the position. The legislation on which we are engaged is of an experimental character, dealing with what may be called colonization, or government apart from the government of Australia itself. Is it not far better that the Lieutenant-Governor should be under the absolute control of the Government or Parliament of Australia? If we were to fix five years, or any other term, what would be our position, if at the end of twelve months, or so, we found that the Lieutenant-Governor was devoting more study to his own interests, or those of his friends, than to the interests of Australia?
– There would be power under the suggested amendment to remove him.
– It is ridiculous to suppose that we can have both Government control and a fixed term. So long as a Lieutenant-Governor administers the Dependency in the interests of the people there, and of the people of the Commonwealth, no fault can be found.
– No fault can be found, so long as the LieutenantGovernor administers the Dependency to the satisfaction of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
– And to the satisfaction of the residents’ of British New Guinea. So long as such a LieutenantGovernor finds it convenient to remain, he is the best possible man for the position. If he desires to leave the Dependency, he will be at liberty to send in his resignation. We had far better accept the clause than endeavour to impose conditions which might hamper the administration of the Possession.
– At first I felt inclined to support the suggested amendment, but it appears to me that the appoinment cannot be regarded as an equivalent to an ordinary appointment to the Civil Service in Australia.
– It is practically equivalent.
– There is a great deal of difference between the two classes of appointment.
– It would be a great insult to a Lieutenant-Governor to be removed under this clause.
– The LieutenantGovernor appears to be a mixture of a civil servant and a Governor of a Colony.
– And a King.
– Yes; the official seems to be a sort of mixture of. Governor and King. It does not appear to me to follow from the clause that this appointment is for life.
– If it were for life, the period would not be long in New Guinea.
– Some missionaries have lived there for thirty years, and are still hale and hearty. I do not think that the acceptance of the clause will be attended with any danger, since the Lieutenant-Governor will not be a Governor over the Parliament, but its creature.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia). - The Attornev-General led us to infer from his remarks that we should lose control if such an alteration as that suggested were made in the clause. That is the very antithesis of what its effect would be. If the Lieutenant-Governor were appointed to hold office during the pleasure of the GovernorGeneral, it’ would be aft appointment for life, unless he gave dissatisfaction. In that climate it would be impossible for a LieutenantGovernor to maintain his energy and power of initiative for a long term. But although a man’s health had become somewhat debilitated, and we needed a man who could be the eyes and ears of the Possession, we could not dispense with his services without offering an insult to him, because he would hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General. If it be provided that the Lieutenant-Governor shall hold office for a term of four or five years, or during the pleasure of the GovernorGeneral, and he gave dissatisfaction,’ he could be removed, but if he gave satisfaction, his appointment could be renewed for another period of five years. If he be appointed practically for life, unless he gave dissatisfaction to the Government and Parliament, it would be an insult to him to dispense with his services, simply because dissatisfaction had been given to some persons, not through his fault, but merely through loss of energy and vitality.
– For what term is the Governor-General appointed ?
– The Governor-General, like every State Governor, is appointed for a certain term.
– No; all Governors are appointed during His Majesty’s pleasure, but there is an understanding as to the term for which they are appointed.
Senator STANIFORTH .SMITH.Every State Governor comes out for a certain term. We should be able to maintain a far better control of the LieutenantGovernor, if we were in a position to say to him “ Your term of appointment will be for five years, but if you give satisfaction it can be’ renewed.” Would he not be more likely to use his best endeavours to give satisfaction when there was a prospect of being reappointed to the position? When a civil servant is sent to a tropical part it is generally stipulated in a regulation that the appointment is for so many years.
– That is not done with the Government Resident at Port Darwin.
– No, and it is a very great mistake that it is not done. In a Crown Colony, too, the Governor is appointed for a term. In one case we should have to consider every five years whether the appointment should be renewed ; but in the other case we should have to dismiss the occupant of the office at some lime during his career, if it were found that he had not sufficient energy to carry out his duties properly. Is it better to dismiss him or at the end of five years to appoint somebody else?
Senator STYLES (Victoria).- It would be a one-sided bargain to appoint the LieutenantGovernor for a term, because he could resign at any time, and if his services were dispensed with, he could appeal to either House of the Parliament for a Select Committee to inquire into the cause of his dismissal. If *the Lieutenant-Governor were appointed during the GovernorGeneral’s pleasure, and it were thought desirable to dispense with his services at any time, that course could be taken, and the occupant of the office would understand that the Commonwealth Government were not compelled to give a reason for their action, when the matter would end. If, however, the Lieutenant-Governor were appointed for five years, and his services were dispensed with, he would naturally say, “ Why do you dispense with my services before my term of office has expired? I am dissatisfied with your decision, and I shall appeal to the Parliament for redress.” If the appointment were made for a fixed term, the Lieutenant-Governor could resign at any time, but he could not be got rid of easily at any time. I think that the clause as it stands covers the whole ground. Why should any term be fixed for this appointment?- I understand that any civil servant can be dispensed with at any time. The Lieutenant-Governor is in substance a civil servant, and why should he not be dealt with in exactly the same way as the head of a Commonwealth Department? I shall vote for the clause as it stands.
– It would be a pity fo allow two or three remarks which Senator Smith has made to g,o forth as if .they had the assent of honorable senators. One is his reiteration of the statement that this clause involves an appointment for life. It is the exact opposite. It is an appointment for the shortest term for which a man gives good service, and no more. I wish to correct another error, so that we shall not be accused of not knowing our own Constitution. My honorable friend, in his zeal for this alteration, which I am sure, on consideration, he will think is unnecessary, stated that the Governor-General is appointed for a term, and that therefore the Lieutenant-Governor of this Possession ought to be appointed for a term. The provision in our Constitution is exactly the same as this clause.
– Was not Sir William Macgregor appointed for a term of five years, and was not his appointment renewed for another term of five years ?
– I have said over and over again that a Governor is appointed during His Majesty’s pleasure, but there is an understanding that so long as he is not debilitated by the climate he willnot be interfered with, and will be allowed to occupy the office for so many years. It will be perfectly competent for the Governor-General to institute a rule of that kind, so that a Lieutenant-Governor could make his arrangements and establish his house for three years, or whatever term might be adopted. This is a Constitution we are framing for the Possession.
– And it is very necessary to fix the term of the appointment.
– My honorable friend has forgotten the Constitution under which we sit here when he declares that the Governor-General is appointed for a term. The constitutional power in our Constitution is in substance, and almost in language, the same as that in this clause. In fact, the essence of the provision in this Bill is really taken from our Constitution to some extent. Section 2 reads -
A Governor-General appointed by the Queen shall be Her Majesty’s representative in the Commonwealth, and shall have and may exercise in the Commonwealth during the Queen’s pleasure, but subject to this Constitution, such powers and functions of the Queen as Her Majesty may be pleased to assign to him.
Consistently with that provision, of course, there may be an understanding as to the term of the appointment. The constitutional power is exactly the same to the GovernorGeneral as it will be in regard to the Lieutenant-Governor of Papua. They will bothbe appointed during the pleasure of the Crown.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 12 and 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 (Power to authorize LieutenantGovernor to appoint deputies).
– Will it not be sufficient if authority be given to appoint the senior magistrate, or a magistrate in the district, to exercise the functions of Lieutenant-Governor? The magistrates would be the best persons to perform the duty. The clause leaves the LieutenantGovernor absolutely free. I do not know that there is any advantage in that, and it seems to me that it would be better to appoint the magistrates to carry out these functions.
– The honorable and learned senator has answered hisown criticism by showing that it is very desirable that this provision should be elastic. The officer appointed LieutenantGovernor of a Dependency such as this can surely be trusted to appoint his own deputies. I think it would be undesirable to create by statute a magistrate a Deputy Governor.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 15 and 16 agreed to.
Clause 17 (Appointment of officers).
Senator STYLES (Victoria).- Under this clause the necessary officers of the Territory are to be appointed by the LieutenantGovernor in the name of the GovernorGeneral, but it is also provided that every such appointment shall be temporary until approved by the Governor-General. Are we to understand that after approval by the Governor-General the officer appointed will be a permanent officer.
– No ; only during pleasure. The honorable senator will find those words used in the clause.
– Will they come under the Commonwealth Public Service Act?
– No. It is expressly provided in an earlier clause that the Commonwealth law shall apply to the Territory only where that is specially directed.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 18 agreed to.
Clause 19 (Transfer of officers to Public Service of the Commonwealth).
Senator WALKER (New South Wales). - I wish to ask the Attorney-General whether, after his term of office has expired, a Lieutenant-Governor will be eligible for transfer to the Public Service of the Commonwealth.
– I think not; the Lieutenant-Governor is not a public servant, within the ordinary meaning of that term.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia). - It appears to me that under this clause there is provision made for dual control by the Executive, and by the Public ServiceCommissioner. I do not think that such a system will be found to work harmoniously.
– The honorable senator will see, on reference to the clause that the matter dealt with is not left in the hands of the Public Service Commissioner, except to the extent that he makes a recommendation and gives a certificate, and the decision is left to the GovernorGeneral. Action under the clause will really be taken by the GovernorGeneral in Council - the Executive of the day - under the control of Parliament.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania).- I should like to ask if the converse of this clause will apply? The clause provides for the transfer of officers in the service of the Territory to the Public Service of the Commonwealth. Will it be possible under this clause to transfer an officer from the Commonwealth Public Service to that of the Territory ? If such a thing were proposed would the officer be in a position to say, “No; my engagement is to serve in the Commonwealth, and I shall not go outside of it.”
– The converse which the honorable and learned senator suggests cannot apply because the Commonwealth Public Service Act does not apply to New Guinea.
Clause agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That clauses 20 and 21 be postponed.
Senator PEARCE (WesternAustralia). - I wish to notify the Committee that when the consideration of clause 21 is resumed, I shall move an amendment to provide, in the first instance, for the taking of a poll of the white inhabitants of the Territory, and, in the second place, in the event of it’s being decided, as a result of the poll, that liquor shall be allowed to be imported, it shall be imported only by the Lieutenant-Governor, Or officials authorized by him, and under his direct control. That is to say, I propose to provide, in the first place, for a local option of the white population, and in the second place, for the sale of liquor by
Government officers only. I have placed my amendments in the hands of the printer, and will move them when the consideration of the clause is resumed.
Motion agreed to ; clauses postponed.
Clause 22(Prohibition against supply of intoxicants or. opium to natives).
Senator WALKER (New South Wales). - I should like to understand whether, in the event of a doctor thinking it necessary that a native should have some stimulant, he would be prohibited under this clause from giving it? It seems to me monstrous that, in such circumstances, a doctor should not be able to give a man a stimulant merely because he is a black-fellow.I know that one of the missionaries has mentioned the fact that they have often found it very useful to be able to give intoxicating liquors to natives as stimulants.
– Clause 21 deals with the prohibition of liquor “ except for medicinal purposes,” and this clause deals with prohibition except under the provisions of the Bill, and will, therefore, cover what the honorable senator suggests.
SenatorPearce. - In the event of clause 21 being struck out, it will be necessary to alter this clause.
– I shall give an opportunity for the reconsideration of this clause if that should be found necessary.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 23 agreed to.
Clause 24 postponed.
Clauses 25 to 30 agreed to.
Clause 31 postponed.
Clause 32 agreed to.
Clause 33. (Seniority of members of Legislative Council).
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia).I should like some explanation from the AttorneyGeneral as to what is meant by seniority, as used in this clause? I should like to know whether it refers to the date of retirement, in the same way as it might be used to refer to honorable senators who retire at different periods, or whether it affects their standing in any other regard ?
– I am obliged to the honorable member for asking the question. I should have dealt with it in submitting clauses which have been postponed. The clause will not affect the date of retirement in any way. It does not deal with tenure.
– The LieutenantGovernor gives the seniority.
– Seniority has nothing to do with the tenure of ‘office.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 34 to 38 agreed to.
Clause 39 -
The Legislative Council shall not by any ordinance impose higher duties upon the importation into the Territory of any goods produced or manufactured in or imported from Australia than are imposed on the importation into the Territory of the like goods produced or manufactured in or imported from- other countries.
– Surely this is a most extraordinary clause, considering that one object for which Australia federated was that commerce between States should be free. We have accepted this Territory under section 122 of the Constitution, and it is now under our jurisdiction. It is illogical to enable the Government of the Territory to impose a Tariff against our products, when the object of Federation was to establish freetrade between all parts of the Commonwealth. This Territory is equally a part of the Commonwealth.
– It is not equally a part of the Commonwealth. It has no representation in this Parliament.
– It is extraordinary that we should own a Territory, and should allow it to impose duties against us.
– We impose duties against it.
– I think this is a great constitutional question, and in order to test it, I move -
That the word “ higher,” line 2, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “any.”
– My high respect for Senator Matheson induces me to say a word on this point. How is New Guinea to get any revenue, unless the Government is allowed to impose Customs taxation? Is it suggested that there shall be an income tax or a land tax in Papua, or is there to toe a tax on the Sunday clothes of the natives ? There can be no Customs revenue if we prevent the Government from levying duties against the only country from which there are likely to be any imports. My honorable friend is mistaken in his view that the constitutional provision for Inter-State free-trade has anything to do with a Possession or a Dependency. Certainly Inter-State free-trade was one object of union; but it has no application to a Territory acquired by the Commonwealth. Neither the section of the Constitution nor its intention covers this Possession.
– Apart from the question of revenue, might not the section very well apply to the Possession?
– That is a high question of policy, and when we come to revise our Constitution, we may say that free-trade shall prevail between it and the Commonwealth, as well as between States.
The Parliament of man, the federation of the world, is a great ideal, and I hope that it will soon be realized. But in the meantime, we must not prevent the Territory from raising revenue.
– The Attorney-General has not much chance of realizing that grand ideal to which he has referred, while he keeps his present political company. This clause does not impose a Tariff in Papua; but it gives the Papuan Government power to impose a Tariff if they so desire. We have imposed a Tariff which operates against the Possession.
– That was absolutely disgraceful, and I voted against it.
– If we desire, to set the Papuan people a good example, we should start by amending our own Customs Tariff. But as in fact we have imposed a Tariff against them, we should give them power to retaliate against us to a certain extent. That is what this clause does.
– I dissent from Senator Pearce and Senator Matheson as to their views on this clause, though I shall not vote against it. We are giving the Possession home rule within certain limits. We give it the right to make laws; but at the same time, we take from it a right which we ourselves would not permit the Home Government to take from us - that is to say, the power to frame its own Customs Tariff in accordance with the fiscal principles of its people. In Australia we can impose any Tariff we like, even against the Home Government ; but we are preventing a portion of the British Empire from doing the same thing against us Instead of limiting the Papuan Government in this way, I am inclined to think that we ought to give them full power to fix whatever Tariff they please to suit their own requirements. If the clause provided that, it would be far more in conformity with common sense than it is now.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - In view of what Senator Pearce has pointed out, namely, that this clause gives the Papuan Government the right to retaliate against the Commonwealth, and in the hope that they will exercise this power to such an extent that we shall be forced to abrogate existing duties against their products, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 40 agreed to.
Clause 41 -
Within six months from the LieutenantGovernor’s assent to any ordinance the GovernorGeneral may disallow the ordinance, and the disallowance, on being published by the LieuteiiantGovernor within the Territory, shall annul the ordinance from the date of such publication.
– Under section 59 of the Constitution the King has power during one year to disallow any law of the Commonwealth ; and upon notice the Governor-General is instructed to proclaim the disallowance. Under this clause we give the GovernorGeneral six months within which to disallow an ordinance. I take it that an ordinance is practically the same as a law to all intents and purposes ; as on reference to clause 38 of the Bill, we find almost the same terms used in respect to ordinances as are used in section 52 of the Constitution with respect to Federal laws. I suggest that the proper plan would be to make the term twelve months, so that it may be equivalent to the term allowed under the Constitution.
– For this reason : The Governor-General has only six months in which to disallow an ordinance, but the King has a year in which to disallow a Commonwealth law. An ordinance of the New Guinea Legislative Council would become a law in six months in the absence of the Governor-General’s disallowance. But. in the course of another six months, owing to some action taken at home, the King can disallow the action of the inferior body.
– He cannot do anything of the kind - the King has nothing to do with Papua.
– It is a most extraordinary proposition that the Government of the Possession can do what the
Parliament of the Commonwealth cannot do. The Government of Papua can pass a law which the King might object to, but would have no power to disallow.
– The King has nothing to do with it. The Imperial Parliament and the Crown have given to us this Dependency to govern, and we have the right to say whether a law shall be allowed or not.
– It is a most extraordinary thing that the highest power in the Empire has no right to use the veto with regard to a law of a Dependency.
– The King has a right to delegate his power, which in this instance has been handed over to us.
– But, all the same, in the Constitution the King reserves the power to disallow within twelve months any Act of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– But not to disallow a New Guinea ordinance.
– So long as attention has been called to the matter, and Che Attorney-General’s opinion has gone into Hansard, I am satisfied ;but the posision certainly appears to me to be ridiculous.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 42 agreed to.
Clause 43 (Assent to certain ordinances).
– This clause provides that the Lieutenant-Governor shall not assent to any ordinance relating to certain matters which are set out, unless the ordinance contains a clause suspending its operation until the signification of the GovernorGeneral’s pleasure. Amongst the ordinances mentioned is one for proceedings in divorce, but no reference is made to any ordinance for marriage. I presume that the Legislative Council will be able to pass an ordinance relating to marriage ; but it would appear, from this clause, that we propose to allow the Council to exercise one power and not the other. Unless the object be to permit ordinances for the regulation of native marriages, the position seems rather inconsistent.
– Surely the Legislative Council will not interfere with tribal laws ?
– I should think that the Council would not be permitted to interfere in that way.
– But divorce is a somewhat different matter.
– Apparently the Legislative Council are to be permitted to make an ordinance relating to divorce amongst white people. Why should not the Commonwealth law be adopted ?
– But the GovernorGeneral must assent to any ordinance which is made.
– I am obliged to Senator Pearce for calling attention to the matter. This clause does not take away from the Lieutenant-Governor the power to withhold consent, or to reserve for the Governor-General’s pleasure, as exercised in the case of other measures with respect to laws relating to marriage. The object of the clause is simply to prohibit the Lieutenant-Governor from assenting to this particular set of laws. It would be a serious matter to leave divorce to the discretion of the Administrator. There will be the fullest power to legislate, but all ordinances dealing with the matters referred to in this clause must be suspended until the pleasure of the Governor-General is signified.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral not think that marriage is of equal importance with divorce?
– I shall consider the point which has been raised. At present, however, I think the ground is sufficiently covered by the powers given by clause 40. I should like to consider why all such matters are not left entirely to the operation of that clause, and if I find that there is any further explanation, I shall inform the honorable senator when we deal with the postponed clauses.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 44 to 47 agreed to.
Clause 48 (Public revenues and moneys).
– Should not the ac counts of the Territory be subject to inspection by the Auditor-General of the Commonwealth? So far as I can see, the clause simply provides that the audit shall be under the control of the LieutenantGovernor; but, as theCommonwealth is liable for any deficit, I think the accounts ought to be subject to the Auditor-General. The clause seems to contemplate some other method than that ordinarily adopted.
– That is so. According to clause 7, the Commonwealth laws have no application to British New Guinea, unless so specially directed, and the Auditor-General of the Commonwealth, of course, has no jurisdiction over the accounts of the Dependency. Just as the Governor-General appoints an AuditorGeneral under the Audit Act, so the LieutenantGovernor will make provision, under the regulation drawn up by the GovernorGeneral, in respect of an audit. As I said before, “ Governor-General “ means “ The Governor-General in Council,” and the latter, as we all know, literally means the Parliament, which will have the control of an effective system of audit.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I would impress on the Government the necessity for bringing these accounts under the control of the Auditor-General, even if it be only by means of a delegated authority. It would be easy for the AuditorGeneral to depute an officer to visit New Guinea periodically in order to inspect and audit the accounts. That would be better than leaving the matter in the hands of the Lieutenant-Governor.
– The suggestion made is very valuable, and I shall make a note of the point. It is the GovernorGeneral, and not the LieutenantGovernor, who will have the control of matters relating to the audit. Whether it will be possible to carry out the suggestion made I do not know, but, at any rate, it is a matter for consideration whether the Auditor-General, in the final resort, should not have some control.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 49 agreed to.
Clause 50. (Appropriation for infirm or destitute aboriginal natives).
– This clause seems to depend on what may be done with postponed clause 20. We have not yet decided whether land shall be leased or the fee-simple granted. As the10 per cent, reserved for the purposes of this clause depends on the proceeds from Crown leases, it would be as well to postpone the consideration of this clause.
– If it happens that one clause is affected by the other, I undertake to consent to the reconsideration of the clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 51 agreed to.
Clause 52 (Grant from the Consolidated Revenue Fund).
– I suggest that this clause ought to be postponed. If we determine that there shall be no importation of alcoholic liquors, the revenue will be affected to the extent of ,£3,000 or £4,000 per annum, and we may find it necessary to suggest to the other House that the grant be increased.
– I undertake to have this clause reconsidered, if that course should become necessary, although that would be of little use, as we cannot increase the amount. It would, moreover, be very difficult, I think, to persuade Parliament to increase the grant of £20,000, whatever may happen to the prohibition clause.
– If the prohibition clause be retained, it will mean a loss of probably £3,000 per annum in revenue, which New Guinea is not in a position to bear. Officials, who are now underpaid, would have their salaries further reduced, or be dismissed. As I pointed out when referring to the Merrie England, I do not see how the expenditure on New Guinea can possibly be reduced. Some of tha assistant magistrates, who have most onerous duties - who have to live in places where they do not see a white man for months - are actually paid £200 a year, with no extras. That is a scandalous salary ; and if the prohibition clause be retained, and the grant is not increased, some of those poor fellows, who have worked so well and faithfully, will have to take still less remuneration.
– But could the Merrie England be got rid of, and £7,000 per annum saved ?
– I think so. There are several small schooners which could be used, instead of the Merrie England, and a good deal of the work could be done by the subsidized mail-ships. I ask the Attorney-General whether he will allow this clause to be recommitted?
– With the intention of increasing the amount?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Yes.
– We cannot suggest an increase. We can only suggest a. reduction in the amount, or its omission.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.We can suggest that the words “ twenty thousand “ be omitted, with a view to add other words.
– My honorable friends will understand that I quite appreciate what has been said, and, as I intimated to Senator Walker, when we are dealing with other clauses, we can re-discuss 12 n 2 this point. It would have no effect as far as the Senate or the Parliament is con,cerned, because we’ cannot request an increase in the amount. We can only request a reduction in the amount ; we cannot increase the burdens on the people.
Clause agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
– I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next.
There is a general feeling, I think, that we have got through the work very well this week, and that it will not be necessary to sit on Tuesday.
– We really ought to make an effort to bring our work to a close. We all know that we are approaching the end of the session. I suppose there is an understanding that it shall end> at some time or other. We are within a few weeks of Christmas, and a number of very important measures have not yet been finally dealt with. We have on the notice-paper business with which we could proceed on. Tuesday ; indeed, we have sufficient business to occupy our attention on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
– I do not think that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will be returned by Wednesday.
– The Defence Bill has to be considered in Committee. The second reading of the Transcontinental Railway Survey Bill has not yet been moved. The Appropriation Bill has yet to be dealt with. Any amendments which the other House may make in the Trade Marks Bill and the Sea Carriage of Goods Bill will have to be considered. If we intend to give reasonable consideration to those measures, it is necessary to meet on Tuesday next. No doubt the old excuse will be repeated, that we should consider the convenience of the representatives of South Australia and New South Wales. From time to time we have been asked to consider their convenience. We have been very considerate indeed, because this session we have not yet met on a Tuesday, although the other House, has met regularly on that day. Many honorable senators on this side have refrained from speaking at great length this week in order to hasten the transaction of business; but, after all, we have not made such great progress as we anticipated. Seeing that there is so much business on the notice-paper, I hope that the Attorney-General will recognise the propriety of asking the Senate to meet on Tuesday.
– The complaint has often been made that the Senate is not treated with due respect in regard to financial matters, but what is going to happen this session? During the last few days of the session the Appropriation Bill will be brought down. If we were to sit on Tuesday next it would enable us ,to clear the notice-paper before that measure was received. Otherwise we shall have two or three very important measures under consideration when it is brought in, and the Government will say, “ If you want those Bills passed you must rush the Estimates through the Senate.” I, in common with other representatives of Western Australia, have been in Melbourne all this year, and we wish to get back to our own State by Christmas.
– The honorable senator has not been here a day more than any of us.
– Yes; I have been here every week-end, when my honorable friend has been in his own State.
– I have been here every day the Senate has met.
– The honorable senator can go to his State at the week-end, but I. can only go to my State at the year-end. If the business of the session be not transacted within two weeks, I shall not be able to get home before Christmas.
– We are bound to finish our work the week after next.
– We are bound to finish our work, but we can only do so on the condition that we give up our right to criticise the Estimates of expenditure. Three very important Bills have reached a stage here at which a large amount of discussion must take place. There will be considerable discussion on the Defence Bill in Committee, because I understand that Senator Matheson intends to move important amendments. We have four important principles to debate in the Papua Bill, and the discussion will occupy more than one day. The second reading of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill has not yet been moved.
– That ought to go through in half-an-hour.
– The eloquent AttorneyGeneral can put in a very useful half-hour on that Bill, I am sure.
– I think that less than that will do to convince my honorable friends.
– It ought, I am sure. The consideration of those three Bills will occupy more than Wednesday and Thursday, and- on Friday we ought to receive the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill from the other House. In that case we shall have only three days in the following week to deal with that measure, the Appropriation Bill, and perhaps any alteration of our amendments in the Defence Bill and the Papua Bill. How will it be possible in that time to deal with those measures ? It will be absolutely impossible. I do not like to interfere with the arrangements of the Government. In this matter we ought to receive some consideration, and unless the Attorney-General can give us an assurance that he will substitute Tuesday for Wed- ‘nesday f shall vote against the motion. I ask the Senate to reject the motion, because I think it is time that it claimed an effective voice in regard to the Estimates, and protested against .their submission during the last three days of the session. I admit that the Government are not altogether to blame for the position which has arisen. At the same time, Ave should be in a position to deal fully with the Estimates when they are submitted to us. I remind honorable senators that the Estimates have been before the other House for over a month, and yet, when they are brought up to the Senate, it is expected that they will be passed in three days. This is nothing new, because the same kind of thing has been tried on every session. I look upon it is an attempt to belittle the importance of the Senate in dealing with financial matters. I ask the Attorney-General to withdraw his motion, and let us meet on Tuesday. No one will attempt to take advantage of the absence of honorable senators who cannot be here, because pairs can be given them. We ‘have time and again given certain honorable senators an opportunity to visit their States at the week end, and it is not unreasonable that we should now ask them to have some consideration for honorable senators from Western Australia, in order that they may be able to get back to their States for- Christmas holidays.
– I am afraid that the difficulty is that some honor - I able senators, noticing the progress which the Senate has recently made with its business, have already left for other. States, in the belief that the Senate will adjourn until Wednesday next. The Estimates and the Appropriation Bill have been hung up in another place, as honorable senators are no doubt aware, awaiting developments in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– For good reason.
– That Bill may not be considered by the House of Representatives for some time, and judging by the progress which the Senate has recently made, we shall be able to deal with the measures now before us in a very short time.
– What time shall we have for the consideration of the Estimates ?
– We shall, unfortunately; have too little time to consider the Estimates. We have been very badly treated in connexion with financial measures. The Estimates, as has been the case since the Senate first met, will again be rushed through in this Chamber, because of the desire which honorable senators have to get away, and it is probable that, as in previous sessions, some honorable senators will have to leave before they are finally dealt with.
– Senator de Largie seemed to hint that, as usual, honorable senators from New South Wales are to blame in this matter. I can assure the honorable senator that other New South Wales representatives and I would be willing to attend on Tuesday, but I shall not vote against the motion, as I believe the matter is one which should be left in the hands of the leader of the Senate. Many honorable senators from New South Wales, at great inconvenience, make a point of being present in the Senate regularly, and it will be admitted that I am myself one of those who attend most regularly in this Chamber.
– I am as anxious as any honorable senator can be that we should sit on Tuesday. I can appreciate the desire of honorable senators from distant States to have the business of the Senate finished before Christmas, but it we meet on Tuesday, I do not know that we shall have ‘any business to do.
– We shall have three Bills in Committee, and the second reading of a fourth.
– If that difficulty is got over, another remains, because at least three honorable senators from one State have just left, to return to that Slate under the impression that the Senate will not sit on Tuesday, and it is impossible for them to be back here before Wednesday. If there is business to be done, I think it is a pity that the Attorney-General did not previously decide to ask the Senate to sit on Tuesday, because, on the honorable senator’s motion, we have already decided to do that if the state of business should necessitate it. In the circumstances, however, I do not feel disposed to vote against the motion to adjourn until Wednesday.
– This matter is entirely in the hands of the Senate. My. sole desire is to consult the convenience of honorable senators whilst giving the fullest opportunity for the transaction of public business. As has been pointed out, a number of honorable senators have gone away under the impression that the Senate would adjourn until Wednesday next. They have noticed the progress which we have recently made, and ‘they believe, as I believe myself, that there is not likely to be any amendment moved on the Defence Bill which is likely to take up much time in discussion. Some honorable senators who have gone away, and who cannot be here until Wednesday, wish not only to record their votes on the postponed clauses of the Papua Bill, but also to debate those clauses. I am as anxious as any honorable senator can be to have our business brought to a close as soon as possible, but I shall take care, so far as I am concerned, that a satisfactory opportunity shall be given to discuss the Estimates when .they come before us. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that although the discussion of the Estimates last session took place in October, it occupied only a portion of three days, and there was no suggestion that sufficient time was not given.
– For the reason that every one desired to get away for the elections.
– That must always be the result under existing arrangements - which I hope we may have an opportunity to reconsider - when the Estimates do not come before us until the close of the session. I know that when I sat on the other side, it is probable that I did not offer the same criticism upon the Estimates as I should have done if they had been submitted to us at an earlier period of the session. I can assure honorable senators that I shall give ample opportunity for the discussion of the Estimates this session. Personally, I apprehend that we shall find no difficulty in getting through our business. We are now in the position that a number of honorable senators have gone away in the belief that we would not sit on Tuesday.
– How did the idea get about that we would not sit on Tuesday ?
– I am most anxious to do everything I can to facilitate honorable senators, and to begin with, if I have the co-operation of my honorable friends opposite, I shall propose to sit on Thursday morning.
– Some of us are members of Commissions and Committees, which have arranged to sit on that day.
– I will do what I can in regard to pairs.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority….. : … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I wish to direct attention to standing order 169, which says -
When a division has been called for, senators shall take scats on the side of the Senate on which they intend to vote, and shall not move therefrom after tellers have been appointed until the result of the division has been declared.
The standing order, I admit, has not been strictly observed heretofore, but I call attention to it in order to intimate that it ought to be observed in future.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South
Australia - Attorney-General). - In moving
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I wish to repeat what I said just now, that I shall be very glad if my honorable friends are in a position to assist me to sit on Thursday morning, in order that we may dispose of business.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 December 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19041202_senate_2_24/>.