4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2 . 30 p.m., and readprayers.
Senator VARDON presented threepetitions from 45, 27, and 5 taxpayers of South Australia, praying the Senate to reject the Land Tax Assessment Bill.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
If the Government has considered, or, if not, will it consider, whether the proposal to introduce penny postage on 1st May next, the bookkeeping system terminating on 31st December, 1910, is not a violation of section 99 of the Constitution, seeing that from 1st January to 30th April five States will be charged twopence as against one penny charged in Victoriafor similar service ?
– The answer to thehonorable senator’s question is that the Government do not think that their action in connexion with the matter is a violation of the Constitution.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
With reference to his statement, made in the Senate on the20th inst, that there was a private railway in Queensland employing Chinese, will he name therailway referred to?
– The answer is, on the line from Ingham and Halifax to Lucinda Point.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Is it intended to hold an examination for junior instrument fitters at an early date?
– The Public Service Commissioner furnishes the following reply : -
Yes; an examination will be held, probably in January next.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That, during the remainder of the present Session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate or of a Committee of the whole Senate on sitting days be suspended from1 p.m. to 2.30 p.m., and from 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 21st September, vide page 3478):
Clause 5 -
The agreement is by this Act ratified and approved.
Upon which Senator Given s had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “agreement” the following words be inserted : - “ with the exception of paragraphs b, c, d, e, f, g, and k of clausei thereof.”
– When progress was reported last night,. I was about to give reasons in support of Senator Givens’ amendment. Much has been said as to the value attached by the people of South Australia to the Northern Territory. I have been studying certain speeches delivered in the South Australian Parliament in connexion with the proposed transfer to the Commonwealth. I may as well furnish the Committee with a few quotations from them forthwith. Mr. Travers, a member of the House of Assembly, as reported in the South Australian Hansard for 1907, vol. 2, page 744,said -
A question of routewas always difficultto decide, and he did not see why we shouldnot 1’eave it to the wisdom of die Australian Parlia ment.
That is what the supporters of the amendment desire. We do not want the Australian Parliament iti the future to be bound by any act of ours. Mr. Travers went on -
Even if the line cane through Queensland we should at least gain something in drawing the pastoral lands of that State towards Tort Augusta, which would, he believed, be a greater gain by the line than by any of the Queensland ports.
– Mr. Travers is not a member of the South Australian Parliament now.
– The honorable senator may not be a member “of this Parliament when a railway is built. His sneer does not touch the question.
Much has been said as to how we should suffer from Inter-State jealousy; but he thought we were as likely as not to have New South Wales or Victoria on our side in any dispute on account of the well-known jealousy existing between those two Stales.
If that is not counting on log-rolling, I do not know what is.
– Tell us something about the jealousy of Queensland.
– I will give the honorable senator all he wants about Queensland before I have finished. I shall next quote from a speech by Mr. Solomon, .who, I believe, had something to do with the Northern Territory. Speaking in the same debate, as reported on page 783, Mr. Solomon said -
It has been reiterated that South Australia had to pay for the Northern Territory; but, on the contrary, South Australia had dragged a very heavy payment from the Territory for malad- ministration.
There is a charge made by Mr. Solomon against the administration of the Territory by South Australia. I believe that his statement was perfectly correct. I will fortify that belief by relating a little bit of history, which will show that South Australia has simply exploited the Northern Territory, and now, when she has taken all she can out of it, wants the Commonwealth to take it over. I hold in my hand a book called Enterprise in Tropical Australia, by G. Windsor Earl, M.R.A.S. This writer went through the Territory in the neighbourhood of the Cobourg Peninsula - I believe to the east of Port Darwin. This is what this gentleman says concerning the timber of the country -
A considerable proportion of the timber trees that cover the face of the country are hollowed on: in the centre by the white ants; and pre vious to our ascertaining that certain, descriptions of timber were free from its ranges much labour was thrown away in felling trees that proved to be. unsound. The timber generally answers well for house building and aH domestic purposes, but whether it is adapted for the construction of ships we had no opportunity of judging. Some of the trees found in the jungles above mentioned will, I think, prove useful for these purposes; and on the south side of the peninsula Lieutenant Stewart and others who have penetrated in that direction, found groves of cedar trees, many of which were ten feet in circumference and 30 feet in length from the root to the lower branches.
– Good stuff.
– It would be if it were still there, but the difficulty is that, owing to concessions sold by the South Australian Government, not one of these trees exist to-day. We are often told that South Australia has spent a lot of money in the Northern Territory, but it would appear that by concession-mongering the South Australian Government have made a great- deal of money out of it ; and one result of the sale of concessions to exploiters has been that forests of cedar and pine have been destroyed. Now; what are the facts concerning the pearl-shelling industry in the Northern Territory?
– Order ! I remind the honorable senator that the question before the Committee is the amendment moved by Senator Givens on clause 5, to delete certain clauses of the agreement affecting the proposed railway. I must ask him to confine himself as closely as possible to’ the question.
– I have to admit that no pearls will be found on the proposed route of the railway. I should like to say that we are being asked to take over the Northern Territory on certain conditions; including the construction of the railway, and I think I should be at liberty to show that the natural resources of the Territory have been to some extent exploited. I wish to put this forward as a reason why the proposed railway should not be built, even if the Territory is taken, over.
– The pearl-shelling industry to which the honorable senator proposed to refer might more appropriately have been discussed on the second reading. The amendment which is now before the Committee deals particularly with the route of the proposed railway. I do not wish to restrict the honorable senator more than is necessary, but I would like him to adhere as closely as possible to the question before the Committee.
– Before the discussion proceeds, sir, I should like to know how far it is to be limited by your ruling? By clause 5 we are asked to approve the agreement. Senator Givens has moved an amendment to strike out clauses of the agreement which stipulate the conditions under which it is proposed that the Territory should be taken over by the Commonwealth. Senator Sayers is now trying to show that, because of the impoverishment of the Territory, it is not desirable that we should pay for taking it over at the price involved in those conditions. If that be so, it seems to me that it is competent for Senator Sayers, or any other member of the Committee, to deal exhaustively with the present condition of affairs in the Territory. I should like, sir, to understand the extent to which, under your ruling, honorable senators will be expected to confine their remarks to the mere question whether or not the clauses which Senator Givens’ amendment refers to should be struck out of the agreement.
– I asked Senator Sayers and other honorable senators to keep as closely as possible to the question before the Committee, which, as Senator Millen knows, is the amendment moved by Senator Givens, dealing with, particularly, the deletion of clauses of the agreement relating to railway construction.
– Unless there is a desire to cover up things, I do not see why I should not be permitted to give information concerning the condition of affairs in the Territory on the amendment now before the Committee. When we were discussing the second reading of the Bill I was possessed only of certain information on the subject; since then I have received a great deal more information from people outside this Parliament. If I am to be debarred from putting it before the Committee it is as well that people outside should know that if an honorable member is not supplied with complete information upon a measure before it is read a second time, he may be prevented from making use of it, as he will be strictly confined to what he has to say in Committee to the question immediately before the Chair. I shall, of course, sir, bow to your decision, that information is not to be given in Committee.
– Order ! I did not make use of any such remark, and I ask the honorable member to withdraw it.
– I did not accuse you, sir, of saying that information could not be given in Committee. But I expressed the opinion that that was the effect of the ruling you have given. If that ruling is in conformity with Parliamentary procedure I cannot help it.
– I asn: the honorable senator to proceed with his speech.
– I find at page 783 of the South Australian Hansard, to which I have previously referred, that when Mr. Solomon was speaking in the State Parliament on the subject of the railway, the Commissioner of Crown Lands, Mr. O ‘Loughlin, interjected-
All we want is to get rid of our liability.
They did not want any particular railway, but to get rid of a liability of ^£3,000,000.
– -Mr. O’Loughlin said more than that.
– Of course, he did, and Senator Findley is at liberty to tell the Committee what he said. The statement I have quoted was made in 1907, only three short years ago. All that South Australia wanted then was to get rid of the liability and hand over the Territory to the Commonwealth. The South Australian people did not then want the Commonwealth to build a railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. But as time has gone on their demands have increased. It was found that the Commonwealth authorities were pliable, that South Australia might secure a better bargain, and we now have one of the most monstrous proposals that was ever submitted in any Parliament. We are being asked now to build a railway from Oodnadatta to the northern boundary of South Australia, and to maintain it for all time for the benefit of that State. We are not to have control of the country through which it would run, or of the freights to be charged upon it. If the Commonwealth complained that it was losing on the line, and that the freight should be increased, South Australia would be in a position to say, “ No, you have made a bargain, and, like Shylock, I demand my pound of flesh.” I believe that when the people of Australia really understand what is proposed they will not consent to put up with it, even though this measure should be forced through this Parliament, as I believe it will be. A future Parliament may refuse to abide by what is likely to be done by this Parliament. The present Prime Minister opposed this proposal on a previous occasion, though he is now trying to force it through. I have.no doubt that the measure will be passed in the Senate, but if there were a dozen of honorable senators of my way of thinking it would not go through this session. The Government with their majority will be able to carry it, because there are not more than half-a-dozen honorable senators prepared to “stone-wall” the proposal. I can inform the Committee of what occurred in connexion with another so-called great national question submitted by a National party. A Queensland Government submitted a vote of 000,000 for unspecified railways, and, although there were only twenty-seven members in a House of seventy-two opposed to it, the proposal was “ stone- walled “ for a week in the Queensland Legislative Assembly. The galleries of the House were crowded night and day during the discussion of the matter, and public opinion was so awakened by the protest of the Opposition that the National party, with a majority of fifteen or six-, teen, was burst up within twelve months of the introduction of the proposal referred to. The people in most of the States are too far removed from this Parliament to know what is taking place here. But when they do learn the real nature of this proposal there will be a revulsion of feeling, and if the next Parliament is instructed to repeal this measure it will be justified in doing so. I have a great deal of matter here to which, under the ruling that has been given, I am unable to refer, and 1 think it is a pity that the ruling should be enforced too strictly. We are asked to take over the Northern Territory with all its liabilities. Amongst these we must include the control of the aboriginal natives. I have here reports from the Resident Commissioner which I do not intend to read, but which go to show that the South Australian Government have not cared for the aboriginal natives of the Territory as they might have done. From the best information I can get, the abuses in connexion with the natives are something terrible, and it is to be hoped that if the Territory is taken over, the Commonwealth will look after them better.
– That is a reason why the Territory should be taken over by the Commonwealth immediately.
– I say that in this matter the South Australian Government should have- done their duty. In view of all the talk which we have heard about what South Australia has done to keep this Territory white, I am surprised that it has treated the few native inhabitants there so badly. The other evening I stated that some years ago a great many Chinese were to be found in the Territory. That statement was contradicted by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, and upon looking up the matter I find that the earliest official record in this connexion only dates back to 1881, so that it is impossible for anybody to say how many Chinese were located there prior to that year. But I happen to know men . who were resident in the Northern Territory before 1881, and they have assured me that at that period there were as many Chinamen settled in Port Darwin as were to be found in Cooktown and on the Palmer gold-field, where they numbered 20,000. I fail to see how the VicePresident of the Executive Council is in a position to disprove my statement, seeing that he can produce no official record bearing on the subject.
– I can.
– I challenge the honorable gentleman to do so. The first record of the number of Chinese in the Northern Territory dates back to 188 1.
– There were 20,000 Chinese on the Palmer gold-field?
– I admit that.
– There were never 20,000 Chinese in Cooktown.
– The statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council may be correct, but apparently Senator Lynch does not agree with him. I repeat that there were 20,000 Chinese on the Palmer gold-field and in Cooktown at the time of which I speak. Of course the whole of them did not live in that township. They were scattered over the district. At various times the Government of South Australia has granted concessions to certain individuals - concessions which have depreciated the value of the Territory which the Commonwealth is now asked to take over. I have already said that one of these concessions related to certain kinds of timber. Not long since another concession was granted, under which the destruction of buffaloes was permitted. As a result these animals have been slaughtered wholesale. Originally there were thousands of them roaming through the Territory, and there is no doubt that they were a valuable asset. But certain persons were permitted to destroy them for their hides just as they were destroyed in America.
– There are thousands of buffalo in the Territory to-day, and they are a positive source of clanger, because they are wild.
– I think that they are very harmless. Cattle which have been reared in scrub country, and which, when they are aged, are placed upon plain country, aremuch more vicious than is any buffalo. The statement of the Honorary Minister is a very far-fetched one. As a matter of fact, one may travel hundreds of miles in the Northern Territory without seeing a solitary buffalo.
– The -majority of them are to be found upon an adjacent island.
– I believe that a concession was granted to certain persons to enable them to destroy these animals on Melville Island. This they promptly did, because buffalo hides have a commercial value. South Australia has merely acted as a step-mother to the Northern Territory. The Government of that State have appointed an officer to administer its affairs who is known as “ The Government Resident.”
– The South Australian Government have their own officers in the Territory.
– I am aware of that. If the Honorary Minister will take the trouble to read the reports of successive Government Residents, he will see that they have repeatedly complained that the South Australian Government have done nothing in respect of the development of the Territory. In this connexion, the late Mr. V. L. Solomon, who represented that district in the South Australian House of Assembly for many years, is thus reported in the South Australian Hansard -
When they were endeavouring to make a fair bargain he deprecated bad fish cries about the Territory. If honorable members, like the representatives of the Territory, made themselves acquainted with the possibilities of the country they would alter their tone, and the State would have a much better chance of. doing some good with the Territory, of getting a railway constructed, of being relieved of the debt of £3,000,000, and of becoming the most important State in the Commonwealth.
He affirmed that the Northern Territory has never cost the taxpayer of South Australia a single penny. All the works which have been undertaken there have been built out of borrowed money, which the Commonwealth will have to repay, with accrued interest. Another member of the South Australian Parliament has declared that South
Australia should never have taken over the Northern Territory, because it is so totally dissimilar from other portions of the continent. He a.vers that the Government of that State took it over because they thought they would make something out of it, and because they desired to show what a mere handful of people could do.
– They have done a lot, too.
-Yes. They built a railway from Port Darwin to Pine Creek with Chinese labour, and another line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta partly with Chinese labour. The Commissioner of Crown Lands for South Australia has said that the proposed transcontinental railway through the Northern Territory, if constructed, will attract Queensland trade to Port Augusta. If South Australia can secure that trade she is welcome to it. The statement has frequently been made in this Chamber that the representatives of Queensland oppose the projected line merely because they desire that it should pass through Queensland. But to show that there is not a tittle of evidence to support that affirmation, I propose to read the opinion which was expressed by Mr. Bowman. He said -
I have always favoured the linking up of our present main lines, believing that it will give greater facilities for getting stock in time of drought to places where they could be put on good grass and water.
He made that statement in connexion with the linking up of the line from Cloncurry, which runs within 200 miles of the Queensland border, with the line to Charleville. Queensland will undertake that connexion, irrespective of whether or not the proposed transcontinental line be constructed. Mr. Philp, another Queensland leader, favours it- because “ no-man’s land “ will be able to carry sheep and cattle.
The present Premier of the State from which I hail is thus reported in the Queensland Hansard for 1910, vol. 1, page 40 -
He will see - as I hope every member of the House will see - that there is a general purpose running through the Speech of His Excellency which may be discovered in two or three references - the reference to the grand trunk line across Western Queensland connecting up the three main trunk lines, and the reference to the necessity of doing something permanent in the matter of water supply. My own opinion is that if this House sanctions a sound broadminded policy in regard to those two matters it will have taken steps that will revolutionize Western Queensland within the next few years.
There is nothing in any of these speeches which suggests that Queensland desires the proposed line through the Northern Territory to pass through that State. Indeed, I very much .doubt if the Queensland Government would grant the Commonwealth the necessary land to enable such a line to be built through its territory. The people of that State are content to open up their own country by means of railways. Last night Senator Rae said it was. very significant that Labour and Liberal members in the Senate had combined to resist the passing of this Bill. He quite omitted to mention that it is equally significant that the Labour representatives of South Australia and Western Australia are unanimous in their endeavour to force the measure through Parliament. I give them ‘credit if they can delude the representatives of other States into doing so, but I hope that if the Bill should pass here it will be thrown out. elsewhere. I also hope that if it should be passed by both Houses, the next Parliament will repudiate a measure of this monstrous character. Physically and numerically we are not able to prevent the passage of the. Bill here, and therefore we shall have to accept the inevitable. I intend to discuss every amendment, and resist the passage of the measure at every stage.
– I do not know that anything which can be said at present, especially when the benches are empty, can alter the fate of the measure. At the same time, the occasion is so important, and the interests involved are so tremendous, that I think that all the information which can be given to the public should be furnished. If it cannot be used here, or if if is of no effect in stopping the progress of the Bill, at any rate it may be useful in another place, and will show the public what really underlies this project. During the debate it has been alleged that honorable senators have been actuated by State selfishness in supporting or opposing the Bill. That cannot be laid to my charge, because if there is any State which is only remotely interested it is Victoria. In supporting the amendment and opposing the agreement to the extent of the railway provisions, I cannot, be charged with doing it. out of opposition to the Government, because when a previous Government was in office I voted in the same way as I propose to do to-day. It is somewhat curious that no South Australian senators, except two on this side, have risen to support the measure ; in fact, with the exception of Senator McGregor, there ?re only two honorable senators on the other side who have said a word in its favour, and even they, Senators McDougall and Rae, do not seem to be very strongly in its favour. Last night we were told- by Senator Lynch of the dire results which will happen to Australia from the rejection of the measure. If that is to be the case, surely it ought to be a question of a little give and take on each side. The Commonwealth is asked to give everything, but South Australia is not prepared to give anything. Shylock-like, she demands her pound of flesh. Surely, if it is of sufficient importance, she might be prepared to give and take a little, instead of standing to the letter of the bond. We are told that South Australia is looking for an ‘ exhibition of patriotism on the part of the Commonwealth. It does not seem to me that there is much patriotism in that State, seeing that she is taking advantage of the desire of the public, of almost the necessity, to take over the Territory, to drive a hard bargain. We have had a good make-believe of nationalism imported into the discussion ; but I find that those who prate most about nationalism are generally men who go in more for class legislation and the interests of their States only than do those who say perhaps, very much less. We are asked to take over a territory of 523,620 square miles, or 335,116,800 acres, with 1,300 miles of coastline, and several islands. It is north of the twenty-sixth parallel of latitude, and, therefore, it is practically a tropical country, and cannot be compared with any other part of Australia, except regions which are occupied by Western Australia and Queensland. One feature of the debate is the ignorance which has bee« manifested by some honorable senators. We have all sorts of statements made to us, but not a bit of proof is furnished. There is no honorable senator who can contribute materially to our information ; and we a,re going into this enormous transaction almost blindly, because we have little genuine information as to the nature of the country.
– Nearly one-half of the members of the Senate have been there.
– To only one part of the Northern Territory. Not one honorable senator has been as fax north as Alice Springs, or the MacDonnell Ranges. If there was one honorable senator who could give us information at first hand it would command great weight, but we are getting ou» information at third or fourth hand. Yet it is given by honorable senators with “cocksureness” - as if they were absolutely certain of the facts which they were bringing forward. Every one is agreed that the Northern Territory should be transferred to the Commonwealth. Its transfer is required to promote defence, to settle people on the soil, and to relieve South Australia of that which, we believe, has become a burden to her. She has expressed herself as not being anxious to part with it ; but she is doing her very best to get the Commonwealth to take possession of it. I do not think that the press or the general public realize what is involved in this transaction, nor do I think that honorable senators do; but, if they do, then they do not seem to rare much about the future of this country. To my mind, it is the most important proposition which has yet come before the Senate. We cannot ever have a similar proposal of this character put before us. It is a big proposition, and, therefore, it is surrounded with a certain glamour which makes persons inclined to rush it without going to bedrock, and seeing what is involved. There is also a sort of sentimental feeling for South Australia which, it is said, has borne the heat and burden for the last twenty or thirty years. Certainly she has spent money, but it was not raised by taxation, and the borrowed money, together with accrued interest, will have to be recouped by the Commonwealth. She has skimmed the cream, and is leaving to the Commonwealth something very much like skim milk. We are here to do business. We do not represent mere States, but the whole of the Commonwealth. We do not wish to saddle the smaller States with an enormous debt simply because other honorable senators are carried away by a glamour. The main proposition is approved, but it is burdened with conditions which, in my opinion, no ordinary business man can for a moment accept. The conditions are unpatriotic, huckstering, and selfish, and,- if accepted, they will belittle the Commonwealth. A week or two ago we heard a good deal about the Commonwealth being trailed at the heels of New South Wales, but there has been no such trailing at the heels of a State as there has been in regard to this measure. We have heard about the dignity of the Commonwealth. Our dignity is, I am afraid, being trailed in the dust. The conditions under which the Northern Territory is offered to us may be described as financial and railway conditions, but they are so interwoven that it is impossible to separate them. What is the financial liability which we are asked to shoulder ? On the Northern Territory there is a public debt of ,£2,800,000 and a deficiency of £700,000, making a total of .£3,500,000, on which the annual interest is £122,500. On the Oodnadatta line there is a debt of £T2>244j342, on which the annual interest is £79,000. Then there is a proposal to construct 1,100 miles of railway, which, I am sure, will cost ,£5,000,000. In the agreement the cost is estimated at £,4,500,000, but I have never known a railway estimate which has not been exceeded very largely. We shall get a very cheap line constructed so far from centres of population if it is constructed for £5,000,000, on which the annual interest will be ,£172,000. The present debt on the Northern Territory, the cost of the Oodnadatta line, and the cost of the proposed line, involve a sum of £10,741,342, on which the annual interest will be £373>O0°- The existing railway is over twenty-five years old. In this country the life of a sleeper is very seldom more than twenty years. We have no statement as to the condition of this railway. I travelled over it last year, and, so far as I could judge, its condition seemed to be fairly good. But that does not give one an idea of what the actual condition is. We have no authoritative statement from an outside engineer as to whether it is in a fit state for working, or as to how long the sleepers and other appurtenances will last. The line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta is 480 miles long. I am afraid that “ if the Northern Territory is taken over a demand will be made at once for the improvement of the line. Indeed, that is almost certain.
– It will be good business to make it a better line.
– New South Wales will have to pay a large share of the cost of that work. Then it will be necessary to establish a Railway Department. I do not know whether the sleepers on this line have been renewed. In some parts of Australia sleepers last for only nine or ten years, and in other parts for fifteen years, or, perhaps, a little longer. In the Northern Territory, where the white ants are bad, we do not know what the position is as regards the sleepers.
– There are no white ants between Quorn and Oodnadatta.
– A point that was first raised by Senator Rae was this : The public of Australia are discussing whether we should not have a universal railway gauge in Victoria. Proposals have been made for years past to unify the gauge between New South Wales and Victoria. That reform will have to come some day or other. One wonders why in the past the States in Australia have been so shortsighted or so determined to keep each other at arms’ length, that they have permitted four different railway gauges to remain. In America things are. managed much better. There is but one railway gauge throughout the United States. Of course, it will be of no use to construct a line in the Northern Territory with a 4 ft. 81/2 in., gauge, leaving the constructed length with a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge. We shall probably have to renew the 480 miles of line already built, and make the gauge 4 ft. 81/2 in. We cannot do that for less than £2,000 a mile. We shall have to build new rolling-stock, supply fresh sleepers, and erect wider bridges. The total cost will be at least£964,000. Adding that to the amount which we shall have to pay for the Territory, the capital liability is brought up to £11,704,342, the interest on which will be £407,000 a year. We have also to take over the main telegraph line, nearly1,600 miles in length. The cost of telegraph lines runs from . £30 to £35per mile. As soon as we take it over we shall have to pay the interest and maintenance. The maintenance of telegraph lines costs about 5 per cent. on the cost of construction. At that rate, the maintenance of this line will amount to at least . £3,270 a year, which has to be added on to the interest and other expenses. Still other heavy obligations are thrown upon us in connexion with this measure. Under paragraphf of clause 1 of the agreement, we have to- give and continue to give to the State and its citizens equal facilities, at least in transport of goods and passengers, on the Port Augusta railway to those provided by the State Government at the present time, and at rates not exceeding those at present in force.
Would any sane or sensible man think of binding the Commonwealth to carry out such a condition in perpetuity without knowing what the future will bring forth in regard to railway construction? We cannot, under any circumstances, shut up the line or suspend its working. Competitive lines may be built which may take away all the traffic from this line, but we shall have still to keep it going. It is a condition which the High Court can enforce. Under paragraph g the Commonwealth also has to allow South Australia- to connect any new railway hereafter constructed by the State in South Australia proper with any railways acquired or constructed by the Commonwealth in South Australia proper.
Furthermore, we have to allow South Australia - reasonable running powers and rights on such conditions as may be agreed upon, or in default of agreement as may be determined by arbitration on all railways acquired or constructed by the Commonwealth in South Australia proper, and (without limitation of the scope of such powers and rights) the use on such conditions as aforesaid of the stations, yards, buildings, and other accessories at Quorn and Port Augusta, and at the wharf at Port Augusta used in connexion with the working of the said railway, but not so as to interfere with the proper control, working, and maintenance of the railways of the Commonwealth.
What will that be worth to South Australia ? It will be worth an enormous amount, and will hamper the Commonwealth for all time. I do not know what future generations will think of men who passed an agreement imposing such conditions upon them. Their opinion of us cannot be very lofty. This Territory is said to be wanted for two purposes - for defence and for settlement. Yet no information has been furnished to us as to whether the proposed line is the best one for defence purposes. We have no information either as to whether it is the best line to promote settlement. Personally, I do not think that it is the best for defence purposes. It will involve going right round Australia to get men into the Northern Territory, and in case of a rupture of peace we do not know what would happen before they got there. We do not know what the nature of the country is. Undoubtedly before settlement can take place in the Northern Territory the line will have to be built. We shall not get people to go there unless there is a railway; and if it is built through poor country, as must be the case for 250 miles or more north of Oodnadatta, it will traverse an area absolutely impossible from a. settlement point of view. It is very doubtful indeed whether we shall be able to secure any settlement in the Northern Territory for many years to come. Even if the line ran through fairly good country we should find it difficult to secure setttlement. If we draw a line from Rockhampton to Perth we shall find that north of it there are only about 100,000 persons out of the total population in Australia of about 4,500,000. When people will not go to parts of Western Australia, where conditions are fairly good, and when they will not go to the north of Rockhampton where they are still better, how shall we be able to induce them to go to live in the Northern Territory, in face of all the drawbacks which they will have to face there? In the United States the practice is to build railways ahead of settlement, but there the lines run through lands which are owned or controlled by the railway corporations, which look to land grants to recoup them for their outlay. The States of America have given the railway corporations land grants in return for the construction of railways, because they knew that they would actively promote land settlement. I do not agree with privatelyowned railways. I think that we must stick to our present system of Government control. But we shall not find that the Government will be able to secure settlement as promptly or as good in kind as private organizations can. Whatever may be said as to the deplorable conditions that have surrounded railway extension and control in America, we cannot deny that those extensions have developed that country. The railway corporations have also developed Canada. Neither of those two great countries would have been in anything like the condition they are today but for the operation of the railway and transportation companies. -We shall have 1,580 miles of railway line to construct, and shall have to pay interest and maintenance charges thereon. We find that the best land in the area traversed is already leased. There are 129,623 square miles of land in the hands of ninety-one leaseholders. It is true that the total area is 560^00 square miles, but it has to be remembered that these leaseholders have picked the eyes out of the country. If we want to settle people there we shall have to resume much of that land and pay the leaseholders. I am glad that Senator Millen has circulated an amendment the object of which is to stop the piling up of the cost of that land. I hope that the Senate will pass die amendment without a dissentient voice. It provides that the land should be taken over by the Commonwealth at its value this year, and not at the increased value which a railway will give to it. If we construct that line we shall put up the value of these lands enormously. Talk of unearned increment !
The unearned increment that these leaseholders will get unless we pass Senator Millen’s amendment will be something unheard of in Australia. The rents paid at present range from 6d. to 3s. 6d. per square mile. The bulk of the land pays from is. to is. 6d. per square mile. Out of all this vast territory there are only twenty-four leases, covering an area of 7,063 square miles, which will expire before 1920. The rest of the leases expire during the period from 1930 up to 1943 and 1944. What a prospect this Commonwealth has before it, with all the best lands taken and locked up, and the leaseholders having claims to compensation if we wish to disturb them. What will the maintenance of the line cost? The maintenance of a railway largely depends upon the rainfall. The heavier the rainfall the heavier the cost of maintenance. The cost in country where the rainfall is under 60 inches per annum amounts to £85 per mile per year. Only in the extreme north have we country with a rainfall above that limit. Where the rainfall is under 25 inches per annum the maintenance of a railway cost £63 per mile per annum, and where there is a rainfall under 10 inches maintenance costs £50 per mile per annum. It is plainly seen, therefore, how enormous the cost of maintenance of this line will be after we have spent millions on its construction. And it has to be remembered that under the bond we shall have to keep it in order and keep the trains running. Honorable senators, therefore, see the enormous liability that is being entailed upon this Commonwealth. It is quite possible that other railways may be built that will take the traffic from us; but, nevertheless, we shall have to keep this line working. With regard to the character of the land, we have heard various accounts. There is no doubt that some of the Territory is good. But the latest accounts, judging from the memorandum issued last year, are not too cheerful. We may take it that the best of the land has been taken up by leaseholders, and if we are going to leave it in their hands there will be no settlement in the Territory. From reading the reports of Governor Le Hunte, one concludes that it will be very difficult indeed to get people to settle there and work the land as it ought to be worked. We have to remember that production is always gauged by rainfall. The map issued by Mr. Hunt shows that at Charlotte
Waters the annual rainfall is only 3.8 inches. Further north, at Alice Springs, it is 9.2 inches. That is about as low a rainfall as production can be expected from, arid it is only very skilful farming that could be successful under such conditions.
– I thought the honorable senator told us that good results are obtained with a 7-inch rainfall in America ?
– No; I did not mention a 7-inch rainfall. North of Alice Springs there is an area with an annual -rainfall of 10 inches, and only very skilful farming would be successful there. North of this again the annual rainfall is 20 inches, further north still 30 inches and 40 inches, until we reach the extreme north with a rainfall of 50 inches a year. I believe there is good land in the Northern Territory, and there is no one in the Chamber more optimistic than I with regard to what can be done with land by scientific farming. But we cannot expect . people accustomed to farming in Australia or other lands under ordinary conditions to take up farming in arid regions. We shall first of all require to establish experimental farms to show how farming may be made a success under such conditions.
– Is it not nearly time we started that work?
– Yes; under reasonable conditions. We should not be under the heel of South Australia when we take’ up the work. The land in the Northern Territory upon which we are to settle people is held under leases which have from twenty-live to thirty-four years to run. What are we to pay for this land? Who is to pay for the expense connected with the development of the Territory? In my opinion, it is most unjust to propose that this expense should be borne by the people of the various States, who have quite enough to do to develop their own territory. I am satisfied that trie people of the different States will cheerfully bear their share of the expense, so far as regards the defence of the Northern Territory, because they will know that in defending the Northern Territory they will be defending themselves. I think, however, that the cost of the railway construction, development, and settlement in the Territory should be a charge upon the Territory itself-
– It will be ultimately.
– We have no right to ask Tasmania, straitened as she is, to find money for this purpose.
– The expenditure referred to will surely be a charge on the Territory ultimately ?
– Not unless we float a loan for the purpose on the security of the Territory. South Australia has floated loans which we are being asked to take over, and if we are to develop the country the cost must be borne by the Northern Territory itself.
– We are asked to lake over the Territory, because it is unable to float a loan itself.
– The Commonwealth can float a loan for its development. 1 do not propose to continue the debate further. I believe that, at any rate for a generation or two, this proposal will be found to work out badly, and those who will vote for this agreement, without the elimination of the clauses to which Senator Givens takes exception, will be held up in the future as traitors to the Commonwealth, and men of no business capacity at all.
– - I c’° not propose to indulge in any high falutin statements about the Northern Territory. We have known all along that there is good land and bad land there. All I am concerned about is whether we are going to ratify the agreement that has been made. I believe that its terms are fair to both parties, and on that ground alone I am supporting it. But I should like to say that, in dealing with the .question from one side or the other, we ought not to be guilty of misrepresentation. It is possible by extracting a sentence here and there from a man’s speech to give an entirely incorrect impression of his views. I complain that that is what Senator Sayers did in making the extract he quoted from the speech of the Honorable Richard Butler, in the South Australian Parliament.
– I did not quote from, his speech at all.
– I thought the honorable senator made a quotation from a speech by Mr. Buller with the idea of suggesting that he may be quoted as giving reasons why the Commonwealth should refuse to take over the Territory. As a matter of fact, he cannot be quoted in any such way. He is a friend of mine. I held office with him in South Australia, and am able to say that he is a straightforward politician. What he had to say on the subject was this-
– I hope the honorable senator will read the whole speech,and not commit the sin he has blamed others for.
– I do not intend to read the whole of the speech, but the honorable senator may read it if he pleases, and will then be able to say whether my quotation does not give a fair idea of what he said -
The Honorable R. Butler recognised that this important question should be lifted above party politics. What impressed him most when listening to the Commissioner of Crown Lands’ speech was that if his account of that enormous area of country was correct - and they had no reason to doubt the correctness of the opinions quoted - why should South Australia give the country away? The only reason he admitted was that the administration of the Territory by South Australia had not been a success, because they had built a short piece of railway at the northern end, and had failed to make a through connexion. It was want of accessibility and want of communication that had prevented the country from being profitably occupied. The Territory was not a desert. For the first 250 or 300 miles from the northern end there was a rainfall of about 50 inches over a country from 300 to 500 miles wide. For the next 300 miles there was a rainfall of from 20 to 40 inches, and so on down to Alice Springs, where the rainfall was about 11 inches. There was a strip of country near Charlotte Waters where the rainfall was only 5 inches ; but it could be said that five-sixths of the Territory was blessed with a rainfall even better than that which the best parts of South Australia proper enjoyed. There was no need for panic legislation, and the country should not be given away unless they were satisfied that the terms were fair to the taxpayers of this State.
That is the position which Mr. Butler took up. He said later -
It would be better to retain the 250,000,000 acres of land in the Territory and give the balance of 70,000,000 acres away for a railway as was proposed ; but that suggestion was treated almost in a disgraceful manner. Since Federation was established Queensland had received almost£ 1, 500,000 in sugar bounties, while the people of South Australia had to pay more for their sugar than hitherto.
– The question of what Queensland ‘ received in the way of sugar bounties has nothing to do with the question before the Committee.
– Mr. Butler was showing why there should be no objection to the Territory being taken over by the Commonwealth on the terms suggested in this agreement. He went on to say -
If Mr. Deakin was prepared to give Queensland this sum merely for growing sugar with white labour, it is not too much to ask that South Australia should be paid the actual cost of improvements and the total debt on the Territory - probably between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000. Within five years Queensland will have received more money than the amount for which South Australia was asking the Federal Government to take over the Territory, and yet at the time to which he referred every objection was raised to the acceptance of the terms as laid down by Mr. Solomon. South Australia was then offeringabout 350,000,000 acres of land for a paltry £3,500,000, and the greater portion of the land was as good as anything in Queensland.
That is the position he took up.
– There is nothing “ dismal” about that.
– The honorable senator refers to an epithet which was applied to Mr. Butler by a political enemy. He had the misfortune to be in office during years of drought, when he had a difficult task to perform, and sometimes had a very dreary financial tale to tell. That is how he got the name. I am not going to discuss the merits or demerits of the Territory. They are known to every member of the Committee, and if I talked for an hour on the subject I should not influence a vote. I wish to see the agreement ratified or rejected. We should take over the Territory or let South Australia continue to control it, and do the best she can with it. Personally, I think that the terms of the agreement are none too good so far as the interests of South Australia are concerned. I wish to see an amendment made in clause 14, which will make the purpose of the Bill quite clear. If that amendment is not made I shall be indifferent as to whether the agreement is accepted or rejected.
– The more this agreement is examined the more evident it becomes that a bigger political’ gold brick was never presented to the people for acceptance than that which is presented to the Commonwealth Parliament in this proposal. The only reason which one can assign for its possible acceptance is the fact that there has been a union between the representatives of two States for the purpose of getting something out of it.
– That isa reflection upon the dignity of Parliament. The honorable senator should remember that we had a discussion on that subject before.
– I think I am fairly entitled to use these terms. The history of the discussion of this question and the agreement, involving the construction of a certain railway to which another railway is subsidiary, shows that, at last, and by perseverance, the representatives of two States have been brought together. That is why this huge political gold brick is now before us.
– The two States were never apart.
– I shall not go very much into that question, but we know what took place when we were., discussing the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, and what we had to do to insure that South Australia would give facilities for that survey. I shall not detain the Committee very long. Last night when I quoted the opinion which had been expressed by Sir George Le Hunte, late Governor of South Australia, in regard to the development of the Northern Territory
– I think that we might have a quorum. [Quorum formed.)
– I hope that the development of the Northern Territory will never be undertaken by coloured labour. I do not desire to see that evil inflicted upon the Commonwealth. But I wish to show how anxious the great patriots of South Australia were a few years ago to keep the Northern Territory white, because the insinuation is constantly being thrown out that the opponents of this measure are merely agents for boodleiers*, and that indirectly they wish to see coloured labour introduced into the Territory.
– Does the honorable senator think that the question of coloured labour has any connexion with the question which is before the Chair?
– I do. If the back of the proposed agreement be not broken in the way that Senator Givens wishes to break it, I fear that we shall have coloured labour inflicted upon us in the Northern Territory. As a matter of fact, the South Australian Government built the line from Port- Darwin to Pine Creek with coloured labour.
– There is nothing in the clause under consideration which has reference to coloured labour.
– My contention is that if the back of the agreement be not broken by the amendment of Senator Givens we shall have coloured labour forced upon us in the Northern Territory.
– The honorable senator knows that that has nothing to do with the question.
– I have allowed the honorable senator a good deal of latitude, but I do not think that the employment of coloured labour- is connected with the clause which is under consideration.
– Very well, I shall submit to your ruling.
– I think that we ought to have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– Only a few years ago South Australia desired to have the proposed transcontinental railway constructed with coloured labour, and she wished to develop the Northern Territory with that class of labour. In order to show the stand-point from which the Territory was then regarded by South Australians themselves, I intend to quote the utterances of several members of the Parliament of that State. Upon 16th October, 1902, when a proposal to construct the transcontinental railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek was under consideration in the House of Assembly, Mr. Darling said -
The Holder Government had offered the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth Government on the terms of the latter recouping South Australia for her expenditure, and that offer was confirmed by the Jenkins Government. Their demand had grown since then.
Upon the same day Mr. Coombe said -
It was quite as true now as it was then that there was no probability of any sensible man running the risk of building the railway. No sensible man would do it.
Nobody can explain away Mr. Coombe’s last sentence. He distinctly said that no sensible man would dream of building that railway, and he used that statement as an argument why it would be unfair to ask a land syndicate to undertake its construction.
– Upon the land-grant principle.
– Exactly. The reason which he advanced why a land-grant syndicate ought not to be asked to undertake the work was that no sensible man would build the railway.
– Under the conditions which it was proposed to impose.
– The South Australian representatives are not amenable to reason upon this question. Mr. Coombe further says - as will be seen by reference to the South Australian Hansard, page 699-
The Government would not be justified in building the railway at present, and it was wrong to ask a company to build it when the Government knew the work would not be successful. It was clear that if the capitalists went into this undertaking they would be staking their all upon a belt of unprospected mineral country. In the case of America, Canada, New Zealand, and Western Australia the lines passed through country fit for agriculture. The prospects of agricultural settlement are a negligible quantity in this case.
– The Queensland railways are not built through agricultural country.
– I am glad that the quorum bell was rung a few moments ago, because, whilst they remain in the chamber, and this question is under consideration, honorable senators opposite cannot contain themselves. They give themselves away by their interjections.. As Senator Guthrie has admitted that the Territory is not fit for agriculture, will he be good enough to tell me what it is fit for ?
– I did not admit anything of the kind.I said that the Queensland railways were not constructed through agricultural country.
– Many of them are, and many of them are not. There is not the remotest possibility of agricultural operations being carried on in the Northern Territory, except by means of coloured labour.
– Will the honorable senator tell me whether agriculture has ever been carried on there? In speaking in the South Australian House of Assembly on 28th October, 1902 - as will be seen by reference to the South Australian Hansard for that year, page 787 - Mr. Mitchell, the present Government Resident of the Northern Territory, expressed himself as being opposed to the transfer of that Territory to the Commonwealth.
– Because its transfer would have deprived him of his seat in Parliament.
– Mr. Mitchell is not here to defend himself, and I do not think that any honorable senator has a right to impute motives to him. On the occasion to which I refer that gentleman pointed out that very little development could be undertaken in the Northern Territory ; whereas in Queensland and Western Australia there were large areas which were quite capable of being developed. It appears, therefore, that, so far from having a Bonanza, South Australia has a most difficult proposition to handle. If the projected transcontinental line should succeed, then the line on which we are asked to spend millions must be more or less scrap-iron. It is quite clear that the Commonwealth cannot support two transcontinental railways ; either one or the other must be useless. If our line does not succeed the other cannot succeed ; if our line does not kill its rival on the west, then for economical or developmental purposes the latter must be rendered almost useless.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Givens’ amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 10 agreed to.
– Honorable senators are familiar with the terms of the new clause which I want to introduce after clause 10. Since it was circulated it has been pointed out to me by the Parliamentary Draftsman that if it were adopted in that form it would be a distinct handicap on landowners, should they make any improvements after the 1st July of this year. It is not likely that any land-owners would improve their properties if they were liable to resumption without compensation for improvements. I, therefore, propose to take as a starting point the unimproved value on the 1st July of this year, and add the value of any improvements which may be found to exist on the land at the date of resumption. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has already intimated to me that the Government do not see their way to accept my proposal. I must express a considerable amount of regret at that resolve, because with the majority at their back it undoubtedly puts in jeopardy a. principle to which the Parliament has frequently committed itself. The principle is that when a territory is taken over by the Commonwealth, with a view to carry out a considerable amount of developmental work at the public expense, private individuals shall not be id lowed to annex the increment which will undoubtedly accrue. In a Bill dealing with the Federal Territory, the Parliament, I think, without a murmur, certainly without any opposition, assented to the principle, and included such a provision as I am about to submit. It decided not to allow private individuals to walk off, if I may use the expression, with that increment of value which will come from the mere knowledge that the Commonwealth is taking over a territory, and is prepared to develop it. It is known that differences of opinion exist among honorable senators as to the question of land taxation, but no one, I think, dissents from the view that a large portion of the land value is the result of State effort and State undertakings. We have here a clear case where, without any injustice to the lessees or land-owners in the Northern Territory, we can say that as the public will, by its collective effort, and the expenditure of public moneys, be adding to the value of those lands, they shall not be penalized should they require any of those lands for public purposes. Knowing that the members of the Government believe in that principle, it was a. bit of a surprise to me to find that there could he any hesitancy on their part in accepting the proposal. But, in spite of that. I. ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to pee whether it is not possible to refrain from opposing it. Apart from Ministers altogether, I appeal to honorable senators. No party question is involved. I. am quite willing to hand over the amendment to Ministers if they think there is any disability in accepting it when moved from this side of the Chamber. I am not concerned as to who moves or fathers the proposal, but I am concerned to see that the principle of it is set out in the Bill. These lands are held from the South Australian Government, with the right of resumption. The clause which we have passed secures to the lessees all the rights they possess under the State laws of South
Australia. But if we do not pass this amendment, let us see the position in which we land ourselves, if, later on, we seek to enact such a proposal. To do it now, in taking over the Territory, is a perfectly fair, frank, and honest thing. But if we allow the transfer to take place, and some two or three years later attempt to enact such a provision, it may reasonably be contended that we have not acted fairly and honestly to the lessees.
– They will charge us with repudiation.
– They may do that. If we attempt to make .laws for the purpose of securing the unearned increment after the transfer, a great deal of damage may be done. The moment the transfer is completed, from that very moment there will be an increment in the land values in the Northern Territory. The mere knowledge that the control of the Territory has passed from a State which was not competent to develop it, to an authority which is not only competent, but determined, to develop it, will create an increment of value; and that value, derived entirely from the expenditure of public money, will be used against the public when the public is seeking to carry out the very thing which creates the value.
– If we are to have settlement in the Northern Territory we must resume lands.
– Quite so; and I dare say that honorable senators know sufficient of the Northern Territory to be aware that if there is to be any settlement outside the tropical area we shall have te resume some of these leasehold properties. There can be no settlement otherwise, unless we are to do as has been done too often in Australia in the past - send out the smaller men into the more remote portions of the country. Let me draw attention to how the matter will work out. The transfer completed, the Commonwealth will proceed to construct a railway. That railway will create an increment of value. Yet that increment of value, being created by the act of transfer, will be used to make the operations of the Commonwealth more difficult and more costly. The moment you transfer the Territory the incremental value commences to grow ; and, as it grows, it makes the task of the Commonwealth all the greater, because land-holders will ask a higher price than they would think of asking at present. There is no proposal to take over an increment which accrues in any other way, but we do say that where we want land for public purposes - as, for example, the construction of a railway - we should not allow the fact that we have taken over the Territory, and are coming along with millions belonging to the Australian public to develop it, to enable individual land-holders to say, “ We are going to take toll from the Commonwealth for doing the very thing which we want it to do.”
– The honorable senator will recollect that there is no time limit in regard to the construction of the railway.
– No; it might be constructed in fifteen years’ time, but we are not likely to resume enormous areas of country so far ahead of railway construction.
– If the Commonwealth resumes fifteen years hence, it would hardly be fair to take properties resumed at present-day valuations.
– My honorable friend means that there would be an uncertainty affecting purchasers?
– Senator Vardon means that if, in a hundred years’ time, the Commonwealth wants to take a piece of land, it ought not to have the power to acquire it at present-day values.
– I admit at once that it is extremely undesirable that a vendor should be handicapped by a state of uncertainty, lt is also true that an increment of value might accrue from other causes than Commonwealth action.
– From the exertions of the land-holder.
– No; that would be an improvement value. An increment of value might accrue from a general rise in the price of land throughout Australia, due to high prices derived from products of the land.
– There will be a sudden fall directly.
– No doubt there will be, though I do not wish to see it, because I shall have to suffer in common with others who have interests in land.
– A fall would not hurt the honorable senator, unless he wished to sell.
– If wool drops today from its price of 9d. or lod. to 6d. shall I not feel it? It is true that an increment of value might accrue apart from any efforts of the Commonwealth; and I admit at once that it is not fair to say to land-holders, “ We will place difficulties in the way of your selling your properties because of an uncertainty as to whether the incoming tenant will have to submit to have a portion of the estate resumed.”
– It would not be an uncertainty ; it would be a certainty. Under this amendment, a* man selling in ten years’ time would only receive what his land was worth to-day.
– There are many ways of getting over that difficulty. I do not care in what form this principle is adopted, but it . ought to be adopted in some form. All those who advocate land taxation on the ground that the value of land arises largely from the growth of population, and from public expenditure, ought to see to it that the Commonwealth is not made to pay such enormous sums as Governments have had to pay in some parts of Australia. I quite recognise the importance of the point raised by Senator Vardon; but all that I am asking for is that the value accruing from the transfer of the Territory to the Commonwealth, and from the expenditure of public money upon it, shall not be used to run up values enormously against the Commonwealth - to that extent making the task of the Commonwealth all the harder to perform because of the heavy increment of value which it creates. I should like to add that I am not aware that any one raised Senator Vardon’s point when we were discussing this very subject in connexion with the Federal Capital site question.
– The two things are quite different.
– The difference is one of geography. If the amendment which I am submitting in any way touched the agreement, and therefore involved referring the agreement back to South Australia, I might hold my hand. But the amendment touches the Bill itself, and in no way affects the agreement to which South Australia has put her hand. It will not necessitate going back to the South Australian Parliament at all. We have virtually assented to the agreement by rejecting Senator Givens’ amendment ; and after doing that we have a right to legislate for what is our own. That is all that T am asking the Committee to do. I therefore move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 10a. The amount of compensation to be paid by the Commonwealth for any land to be acquired or for any leases resumed by the Commonwealth within the Northern Territory shall not exceed the unimproved value of the land or lease on the ist day of July, 1910, together with the value of the improvements thereon.”
– I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition will admit that the members of the Government are quite in sympathy with the amendment that he has moved. The Government would have no objection to it were it not that if any such addition were made, although it would not affect the agreement itself, yet, for political reasons, it might create a possibility of the alteration being made use of in South Australia. At the present time the Legislative Council of that State is to a very considerable extent opposed to the Bill now before the Senate.
– Has not South Australia assented to this agreement by legislative enactment?
– Yes ; but if we begin to tinker with the agreement in the way that an amendment of this character would do, it may afford an occasion for a revision of what has been done by the South Australian Parliament, and we do not want anything of that kind to occur.
– Was South Australia asked to impose conditions outside the agreement ?
– In the opinion of the Government there is a possibility that if this amendment be made political consequences may follow which we wish if we can to avoid. I may also state that in the very near future it will be necessary for the Commonwealth Parliament to pass an Act making provision for the control and management of the Northern Territory. There will be no objection to embodying the principle of Senator Millen’s amendment in a Bill for that purpose. In fact, there will be no objection to taking separate action so as to secure that the unearned increment in the Northern Territory shall pertain to the people of Australia. A good deal of stress has been laid by the Leader of the Opposition upon a similar provision in the Act relating to the Federal Capital site. But if the Bill relating to the Northern Territory became an Act to-morrow, we should still be able to exercise our powers under the Lands Acquisition Act. If the honorable senator will look up the definition section of that Act, he will find, I think, that it contains a special provision exempting the lands in the Federal Capital. Consequently it was absolutely necessary to put something in the Act relating to the Federal Territory dealing with the unearned increment. But in this case it is unnecessary, because we have power under the Lands Acquisition Act to resume land if we wish to do so. I am aware that the honorable senator wishes to protect the interests of the Commonwealth in the unearned increment in the Territory. But when this Bill is passed into law, and the Territory is acquired, it will be the duty of the Commonwealth Government to bring down a policy with respect to it, and I am sure honorable senators will be satisfied when they realize that that principle must be embodied in any policy submitted by a Labour Government’ in this Parliament. I hope, therefore, that,. in order not to endanger the Bill, and to prevent possible objection to it by either House of the Parliament of South Australia, honorable senators will, in the interests of the Northern Territory and of the Commonwealth, refuse to support the amendment. They must know that a very early opportunity will be given, quite apart from this Bill, to deal with the phase of the question dealt with in the amendment.
– -I regret exceedingly to hear that the Leader of the Government in the Senate is unable to accept the amendment. He has told us that he is in entire sympathy with it, that it is in accordance with the policy of the Government and the party supporting them, but yet he cannot accept it because something or other might happen. If I am in favour of a certain principle, I am prepared to take advantage of every opportunity to give effect to it. We are told by the Vice-President of the Executive Council that this principle will be given effect to in future legislation. If it is to be applied in future legislation, why should we not apply it in this Bill. Senator McGregor is well aware that, as was pointed out by Senator Millen, the amendment will not in any way endanger the Bill. The agreement has been assented to by the Parliament of South Australia, and if it is not altered it will be unnecessary to refer it again to that Parliament. The attitude the Government are adopting in connexion with this amendment can only mean that if we do not give up our rights, and do not legislate with respect to the Northern Territory in accordance with the desires of the South Australian Parliament, it will repudiate what it has already done. If we are to secure for the people of the Commonwealth the unearned increment on the lands of the Northern Territory, we must do it now. If we were, to attempt to do it later, we should be charged with repudiation. Senator Millen has very properly pointed out that the mere passage of this Bill, and the anticipation of developmental works being undertaken by the Commonwealth, will give an added value to all the lands of the Northern Territory. I fail to see any difference between the taking over of the Territory and the taking over of the Federal Territory for the establishment of the Federal Capital.
– The principle is the same.
– It is absolutely the same. The only difference is that of geographical situation and the difference in area. But if it is proper to apply this principle to an area of 900 square miles, it is equally proper to apply it to an area of 900,000 square miles. If we are to do anything with the Northern Territory during the next half century, it will be necessary for us to resume lands there. Most of the land in the Territory is held under leases which have from twenty to forty years to run. Two hundred thousand square miles of land, including the whole of the Barklay tableland, which is the best portion of ‘the country from a pastoral point of view, are occupied under these long leases, and are we to wait for from twenty to forty years before we are .to have any settlement there? If we are, it is a farce to bother about taking over the Territory at all. If we are to have settlement in the near future, we shall be bound to resume many of these leases, and the question is, on what terms are we to resume them? It is eminently fair and just that if these properties are required for public purposes, we should be able to resume them at the value they would have if this Bill never became law.
– It might be necessary to resume only a portion of the leases.
-That does not affect my argument. We should resume as much land as is necessary for the proper occupation and development of the country. If we could get a sufficient number of people to occupy the 200,000 square miles to which I have referred, we should not hesitate to resume that area. If we require for purposes of settlement only 20,000 square miles, we need only resume that area. It is useless to talk of what will happen 100 years hence, because the longest of these leases will have expired within the next forty years.
– The amendment covers freehold, as well as leasehold, land.
– The quantity of freehold land in the Territory is exceedingly limited.
– It represents hundreds of thousands of acres.
– If it represented a million acres, it would still be limited. I am free to admit that it may be necessary to resume freehold lands, but if the principle is good in one case, it is good in the other. If we are to resume any land, now is the time to provide for the terms on which we shall resume it. It is of no use for any one to tell me that he is in sympathy with a certain principle if he will not take advantage of every opportunity to give it effect. The amendment embodies a principle which is a part of the Labour party’s political creed, namely, that the value created- by the public should belong to the public. When we can do so without repudiation, I fail to see why we should not provide, so far as the future is concerned, that any value created by the action of the Commonwealth Parliament in passing this Bill, or in undertaking developmental works in the Northern Territory, shall be secured for the people of the Commonwealth, and that when we require to resume lands for public purposes we shall not have to pay an extortionate price for them.
– I am not objecting to that, but only to the way in which honorable senators want to provide for it.
– I have always been faced with that difficulty. I can find thousands of people who say that they are in favour of certain things ; but every time they are asked to do them, they say (hat it is the wrong time, or that they are asked to do them in a wrong way. If this is a right thing to do, every time is the right time to do it, and it should be done in any way. If we do not accept this amendment, the Commonwealth, in resuming lands in the Northern Territory in the future, will have to pay for them the enhanced value which will be given them by the passing of this Act, and by the developmental work undertaken by the Commonwealth.
– What the Minister proposes is to lock the door of the stable after the horse is stolen.
– That describes the situation exactly. Who will be penalized as a result of the increased value added to the lands of the Northern Territory? It. will not be honorable senators who are making this law, but the settlers who will take up the land resumed for the purposes of the Commonwealth. We are going to encourage settlement in the Northern Territory by penalizing the people who will settle there. It does not matter to me from which side this amendment is proposed ; it is in accordance with the principles which have always been professed by the members of the party to which I belong. The Vice-President of the Executive Council admits that that is so, and that it has his utmost sympathy. That being so, I hope that honorable senators will see that it is embodied in the provisions of this Bill. It will not add a comma to the agreement; and, that being so, no one can say that by its acceptance the Bill would be endangered in any way whatever. I hope the Committee will take advantage of this opportunity to enact a principle which has already been enacted by this Parliament in <i. measure of a similar character, and which i.; just as necessary in this measure as in the law in which it has already been given effect.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [4.48]. - I have been exceedingly glad to hear that the Vice-President of the Executive Council, on behalf of the Government, has definitely decided .that this amendment is to be opposed. I think that Senator Millen, in proposing it, and Senator Givens, in his vehement advocacy of it, have been under a misapprehension. In the first place, the amendment is entirely out of place in a Bill of this character.
– Is the previous clause out of place?
– No, it is not.
– This follows on it naturally.
– That just shows how misguided my honorable friend is. The very existence of the previous clause should convince Senator Givens that to introduce this amendment would render it necessary that the proposal should lie revised by South Australia. The clause to which Senator Millen has referred is one which provides that -
All estates and interests held by any person from the Slate of South Australia within the Northern Territory at the time of the acceptance, shall continue to be held by the Common wealth on the same terms and conditions as they were held from the Stale.
Amongst these estates and interests are the leases which have been specially singled out as likely to be the subjects of early resumption, and to which this principle should apply. I happen to know that all these leases contain contractual provisions in regard to the basis and method of resumption, and also to the compensation to which the lessees are entitled. But if we agree to the new clause which has been proposed, we shall, by Statute, alter the contracts into which these lessees have entered with the State of South Australia. Thus we may inflict injustice upon them. Certainly we shall be altering their contracts, and we may be depreciating the leases into which they have entered with the South Australian Government, and subject to which we wish to take over the Territory. It is only necessary to consider this aspect of the question for a moment to realize that the adoption of the proposed new clause would signally alter the basis upon which the provisional agreement was entered into between the Commonwealth and South Australia. No honest Parliament, and no honest Government, could assent to such a provision, certainly in reference to existing leases.
– Does the honorable senator think that an honest Parliament could assent to the application of the provision to freeholds?
– I wish to deal with one thing at a time. By his proposal, Senator Millen seeks to introduce into the contracts of lessees in the Northern Territory a new term without their consent and without the consent of South Australia, with a view to depriving them of any problematical value to which, under their contracts, they may or may not be entitled. I am surprised at him bringing forward a proposal of this kind in relation to leaseholds, especially in view of the new clause to which we have just assented. All these estates are to be held from the Commonwealth under the same conditions as they are held from South Australia.
– Why should the lessees pocket the unearned increment?
– This is the first occasion upon which I have known the honorable senator to come forward as a vehement upholder of a scheme for confiscating all the unearned increment.
Still, we have to live and learn. Personally, I do not intend to assist the adoption of a policy of that kind without knowing exactly where it may lead. After having listened for days to vituperation, in which some honorable senators have indulged at the expense of the Northern Territory, after having heard them condemn that country root and branch-
– Who did that?
– My honorable friend’s allies in this matter. I am sure that they have done it in the best of good faith. But if the Northern Territory be such an abandoned derelict part of the earth’s surface as it has been represented to be, we need not be very keen about what is to become of the increase in the value of its lands.
– According to that argument, no harm can result from agreeing to the clause which I have proposed.
– I was replying to an interjection. Senator Millen first makes one statement and then another. It is as difficult to nail him down to anything definite as it is to find the proverbial pea under the thimble. I entirely agree with the view of the Government that the insertion of the proposed new clause would have the effect of altering the basis of existing leases in the Northern Territory. If we agreed to this proposal the arrangement with South Australia would certainly have to be revised by the Parliament of that State. As a matter of fact, the people of South Australia would have a good deal to say upon the subject. But there is a second reason why am perfectly satisfied that the matter will have to be subjected to such revision. I hold in my hand a copy of the correspondence which resulted in the arrangement that has been embodied in the agreement we are now asked to ratify. From that correspondence I learn that this very point was fully discussed by the late Premier of South Australia, Mr. Price, and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, Mr. Deakin. In that correspondence the question was raised whether, when public works were undertaken in the Northern Territory, the laws of South Australia should prevail, or whether new laws should be enacted by the Commonwealth in respect of compensation to be paid for the acquisition of land. As a result all reference to the acquisition of land for public purposes within the Territory was omitted from the agree- ment. Objection was raised by Mr. Deakin to the provision which the South Australian Government, for the protection of its citizens, had sought to insert in this agreement, and his objection was upheld by Mr. Price. Consequently, the provisions which will apply in respect of compensation to lessees for land resumed by the Commonwealth in the Northern Territory will re-, main in abeyance until such time as a Bill authorizing the construction of public works is passed by Parliament. I should not be sorry to see this agreement again referred to the South Australian Parliament. That it will have to be remitted to that Parliament is fairly certain, for the reasons which have been advanced by the Vice-President of the Executive Council -political reasons, he called them - and for the other reasons - not political - which I have taken the liberty of mentioning. Senator Millen has stated that a provision, similar to that which he proposes, was inserted in the Seat of Government Act. That is a totally different matter. This is a -Bill under which it is proposed to cede a great territory - a new State - to the Commonwealth ; a territory embracing an area of between 500,000 and 600,000 square miles, or 335,000,000 acres. It is a territory which is two and a-half times the size of France, four and a-half times the size of Great Britain, and one-fifth the size of New South Wales and Victoria put together.
– Is the size of it everything ?
– My honorable friend knows perfectly well that no sane Parliament would dream of inserting a provision such as he proposes in a Bill relating to country which had been acquired by conquest. Why, then, should we insert it in a measure dealing with country which is to be acquired by cession ? The Seat of Government Bill is just as much a measure for the carrying out of a public work as would be a Bill authorizing the construction of a line of railway from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta. But the measure which is now under consideration does not contemplate the carrying out of a public work such as the building of the Federal Capital city. It contemplates the cession of a new country, so to speak. Territories may be acquired either by cession or by conquest. In this case it is proposed to cede a Territory in accordance with the terms of our Constitution. Honorable senators must see how utterly inapplicable would be a provision such as Senator Millen proposes to a Bill of this kind. He suggests that for all time land may be acquired in the Northern Territory by the Commonwealth at its present value.
– The agreement contains no time limit, either.
– What agreement ?
– The agreement to work the transcontinental railway for ever in the interests of South Australia.
– The honorable senator has a bee in his bonnet in regard to the construction of that railway. When a Bill authorizing its construction is introduced, that will be the proper time to prevent land-holders from pocketing the unearned increment by providing that the value of the lands resumed shall be their value six months before the passing of that measure.’ That is a perfectly legitimate course to adopt, because in that case a specific public work is about to be undertaken which must enhance the value of the land through which it passes. In such circumstances the principle for which Senator Millen is contending may be applied perfectly, and the time within which the railway must be constructed is usually limited. If it be not constructed within that period, it is a case of “As you were.” But if it be constructed the amount of compensation which should be paid to individuals whose land has been resumed, can be easily gauged. Suppose that a hundred years hence, or even ten or twenty years hence, the Commonwealth should want to acquire a bit of land in a remote corner of the Territory. It would only have to pay then, under the honorable senator’s amendment, what it was worth now. Of course, it is only by putting an extreme case that the absurdity of a proposal of this kind is shown, and that is shown when it is said, “ Do not take ten years, but take one hundred years.”
Senator- Millen. - You can introduce a time limit, which I have admitted is a reasonable thing to do.
– What possible time limit could my honorable friend introduce to remedy this thing, which, like a colander, is fairly riddled with holes of difficulty and impossibility. If he put in the words “acquired by the Government for public purposes within ten years,” what would be the result? If in twenty years time, when the unearned increment was a great deal more, the Government wanted to acquire a bit of land, the provision would not apply.
– Meanwhile, on the authority of the Government, we shall have had a general Bill.
– Letus wait for the general Bill to be passed.
– In the meanwhile the value will have gone up.
– Yes, but a Bill can be passed next week. All that it- is necessary to do is to- agree to pass a Bill next year, and to date the amount of compensation back to the present time. It is a common provision that the compensation shall be ascertained, having regard to the value of the land six months before the passing of the Act authorizing its acquisition.
– The class of measures to which the honorable senator is referring are generally beaten in New South Wales by such arguments as he is using.
– Has not New South Wales a law of that sort?
– No, we have tried te» get a Bill through dozens of times, but have failed.
– A Bill will not be got through by the kind of arguments which my honorable friend has used here. I can only examine now the suggested correction of the proposed new clause. -That it stands in need of correction every one must admit. My honorable friend says, “Put in a time limit.” If you put in a limit of time, then a gentleman whose land has not been taken within that time will have a good lot of compensation to get, and it will not be restricted by this provision. My honorable friend’s answer to that is that, before then the Government will have introduced a special measure. Let us wait until they do, and then they can either ante-date the time for ascertaining the compensation-
– Which the honorable senator called repudiation.
– The honorable senator said that the insertion of this amendment would be repudiation.
– I was then talking about leases, and I am not now. My honorable friend’s suggested amendment of his proposal would not meet the case. Then there is another thing which is omitted, though, of course, it might be rectified. The words “ public purpose “ are not in this provision, but I dare say that they could be put in. So far as my parliamentary experience and knowledge go, the Bill which authorizes the execution of the public purpose contains a provision of this character. My honorable friend said, and very properly said, that if a railway were constructed, any additional value given to the land through which it passed, or for the land taken along the route - because that is all it would apply to - should be subject to a provision of this sort. I quite agree with him, and when we have decided, which we have not done yet, where the railway is to run within a range of 560 miles from east to west, I presume that the Government will have to bring down a Railway Construction Bill. This measure, if it is passed to-night or to-morrow, will not authorize the construction of the railway. If a Railway Construction Bill is brought down next year, then will be the time to prevent land-owners, and lessees from claiming more than the fair value of the land before the public work was contemplated.-
– That would only secure the unearned increment arising from that particular work.
– Of course.
– I am looking at the unearned increment which will accrue from the mere transfer of the Territory.
– That is a very lofty idea. Who ever heard of such a thing?
– It is time that the hon.orable senator did.
– It will create the greatest astonishment everywhere to hear that when you take over a country you are immediately to put a lock and key on the value of the land to prevent the people who are there or those who may come there from gaining anything by the fact that it was brought under a more civilized or more effective government. The difference between us is that my honorable friend does not seem to see that this is not a Bill to carry out some public purpose, but a measure ratifying a cession for a political purpose - the government of a great territory, just as it might be of a State which was no part of Australia. The same thing might apply to any other country, to any of the islands round Australia which were acquired by cession from a foreign Power. It would be just as absurd,
I think, to introduce a doctrine of that kind into what might be high international politics, and affecting the basis on which a country was to be governed. It must be left to the governing authority after the Territory is taken over to make the laws which will fit the case. Australia has not yet taken over the Northern Territory, and it is premature for this Parliament to attempt to legislate in this way with regard to the private rights of citizens therein. It may do that later. At present all that it is entitled to do is what it agreed to do with the people of South Australia - to take the land, to recognise the legal obligations which now exist, and to leave the people in the possession of their just rights, subject to such subsequent laws as this. Parliament may see fit to pass.
– I understand that the object which Senator Millen has in view is to preserve the Commonwealth from being bled in the time to come with regard to the increment which may attach to the lands taken over. 1 think that this amendment is too sweeping in its character, not merely because there is no time limit provided, but because it applies to the whole of the Territory, and practically for all time. New South Wales, for instance, might pass a law to-day that, in future, for any land which they might take, they would pay only its value at this particular date. I do not think that we ought to enact a provision of that kind. The general rule when a State proposes to construct a public work is to fix a date, and provide that the value of any land required for that work shall be fixed as on that date. That is, I think, perfectly fair, but even then the provision wants to be well safeguarded. Next year we might pass a Bill to authorize the construction of a railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, and no work might be done. Twenty yearslater we might want to construct a railway in some other direction, and it would not be fair to say then that the value of the land required for such railway should be its value on the 1st July of this year. My opposition to the proposed new clause is influenced by the fact that only lately we had
– I am rather surprised at the Government for having expressed its opposition to the proposed new clause. It is one which is intended - first, to serve the interests, of the Commonwealth ; and, secondly, to serve the interests of such persons as may take up land in the Territory in the near future. Honorable senators ought to look at the circumstances which surround the matter. Here we have a territory being taken over by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is under a distinct obligation to spend millions of money in its development. What will be the immediate effect ? People will -know that this money must be spent. The immediate consequence will be to stimulate speculation in Northern Territory lands. When the Government needs land, it will find that it will have to pay ransom.
– The Government can pass an Act of Parliament afterwards.
– In my opinion, this is the time to intimate to these leaseholders that the community-created value produced by the expenditure of Commonwealth money in the Territory must not go to the people from whom lands are resumed.
– All that we say is that the increment shall not apply against the body that creates it.
– That is the position. The added value produced by the expenditure of Commonwealth money will, unless some amendment of this kind be made, be used against the Commonwealth, which, on resuming land, will have to pay for value created by itself. The objection to taking this step now is that it may lead to some difficulty in the South Australian Parliament. As far as I can see, the matter has nothing to do with the South Australian Parliament. South Australia has secured everything she wanted under the agreement. This is merely a matter between the people who are now living in the Northern Territory and the people of the Commonwealth, as a whole. The position taken up by the Government is wholly untenable. The Vice-President of the Executive Council tells us that this is not the time to do what Senator Millen proposes.
– No ; this is not the place.
– That means that in the dim and distant future something will be done after values have been created by the very step which the Commonwealth is now taking. Those who support Senator Millen’s amendment are anxious that any added value created after the passing of this measure shall go to the Commonwealth itself. That is a principle which the Labour party has been advocating ever since I became a member of it. I suppose that it has been advocated from the very foundation of the labour movement. Here we have a most excellent opportunity of putting the principle into operation at once, and the Government refuse. There seems to me to be something extraordinary in their attitude.
– Including the amendment at this stage may lead to the rejection of the arrangement with South Australia.
– The amendment does not affect the arrangement. What we have to remember is that the very moment we pass this Bill speculation in the Northern Territory will begin. Values will begin to rise. In fact, to-day I believe there is increased speculation in that part of Australia.
– Can there be any increase of value to this awful desert?
– No one ever said it was an awful desert. I do not know anything about it myself. I did say that the country between Port Augusta and Oodnadatta was a desert, and I stick to that statement. It is a desert, and will never be anything else under existing circumstances. Wherever it is proposed to spend public money, speculation becomes active. More especially is that the case when the expenditure of millions is talked about. Speculators will immediately enter the field. But the passing of Senator Millen’s amendment will put a stop to that sort of thing and will be carrying out the principles which the Labour party have been advocating for a couple of decades. It will be taking advantage of an opportunity that has never presented itself to the Labour party before, and possibly may not present itself again.
– Did I not give an assurance that long before anything of that kind takes place we would take steps to prevent it?
– Why not take time by the forelock?
– Because this is the wrong place to do it.
– I hope that the right thing will be done now. This is the dme.
– The honorable senator wants to wreck the Bill.
– Why should the introduction of this amendment wreck the Bill? Of course, if I could wreck the Bill, 1 undoubtedly would do so. I “ make no bones “ about that. But we have given South Australia everything she asked for. Not only, however, has she laid down the lines of development, but we are now asked to enable her to say that we shall not take any portion of the communitycreated increment after the Territory has been transferred to the Commonwealth.
– Kidman and Company must keep their hands on the Territory for all time.
– That is what it means. I think that every Labour senator ought to take this opportunity of giving a clear and distinct intimation that land speculation is not to take place in the Northern Territory.
– Hear, hear.
– We do not know how long this Government will remain in office. They may be there for six months or twelve months. We cannot tell what is going to happen. My principle in politics is always to seize an opportunity when it presents itself. Here is an opportunity. I do not believe for a moment that there is any strength in the argument that the South Australian Parliament would recede from the agreement if this amendment were inserted in the Bill. It does not affect South Australia. She cannot ask for anything more than has been given to her. I trust that the members of the Government will not go back upon their professions regarding this matter, and put off performing that which is necessary until some dim and distant time in the future.
– I thought that my amendment would have been received more cordially by honorable senators professing principles which have been espoused by the supporters of this Government. I wish to point out that if we cannot do what I propose now we cannot with perfect candour and honesty do it a little later on.
– I do not think that we can do this at all.
– I am very much obliged to the honorable senator for his interjection. Let us see where we are going. If we reject this amendment we are face to face with clause 10 of the Bill, which secures to the lessees in the Northern Territory their rights under the State laws of South Australia. Say that after the passage of this Bill we spend a million of money in the Territory. What position shall we be in a little later on if we seek to take the increment created by our expenditure for the Commonwealth? The leaseholders whose lands are resumed will at once be in a position to say, “ We are entitled to the benefits of the State law which enabled us to take the increments even against the State itself.” A charge of repudiation will at once lie against the Commonwealth .
– The State law makes provision for taking the increment.
– As far as I am aware, there is no provision in the South Australian law dealing with the increment created on these leased lands. Laws dealing with resumption of land for specific public works may contain such a provision. But there is no South Australian law under which, if the State desires to resume these leases, it would be free from the obligation to pay any increment of value that had accrued.
– There is a provision as to the compensation which would have to be paid.
– That is based, after all, upon the market value.
– The honorable senator wishes to alter the contract.
– I do not. The lessees and land-owners of the Northern Territory under existing conditions will retain any increment of value added to their lands if we do not pass this Bill.
– The honorable senator might just as well say that we could not impose a land tax on the lessees.
– I do not say anything of the kind. I believe that my honorable friend is capable of doing anything, after his action this afternoon, because no man has more stoutly advocated the adoption of this principle.
– I am prepared to do so still.
– At the proper time.
– Senator Stewart was perfectly right when he stated that the moment the transfer of this Territory to the Commonwealth takes place there will be a movement, small, perhaps, at first, but increasing gradually, in the settlement of the Territory. I do not refer to small settlement such as we understand it here, but to the fact that the pastoralists of Australia will give the Territory more attention from the moment that this Bill is assented to.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Government will wait for years before they bring down a policy for the management of the Northern Territory ?
-I say that if we pass this Bill now, including clause 10, securing to the lessees and owners of land in the Northern Territory alltheir rights under the State legislation of South Australia, and if, later on, when an increment of value has accrued, we bring down a Bill enacting this principle, and, following the suggestion of Senator Symon, ante-date the measure, we shall lay ourselves open to a charge of repudiation.
– Does the honorable senator believe that there will be an increase in land values in the Northern Territory prior to the expenditure of public money by the Commonwealth?
– I honestly believe that the mere transfer of the “Territory to the Commonwealth, the mere publication abroad that it has passed from the hands of an inefficient authority, if I may say so without offence, to those of an efficient one, will create an added interest in the Territory.
-An added interest, but not an added capital.
– The interest usually follows the capital, but curiously enough in this case the capital will follow the interest. I believe that subject to good seasons, which largely influence waves of settlement, we shall, in a very short space of time after the transfer of the Territory to the Commonwealth, hear of greater activity in pastoral enterprise in the Northern Territory. That will be due to the fact that people will assume that the new authority controlling the Territory will be in a position to do something for its development.
– If the honorable senator thinksthat this principle cannot be validly enacted later on, how does he contend that it can be validly enacted side by side with clause 10?
– Under clause 10 we secure to land-holders in the Northern Territory the full rights they enjoy under the laws of the State, and, in the absence of such a provision as I suggest, they would be entitled to retain the increment accruing from the action taken by the Commonwealth. I am not speaking of the validity of the matter in a legalsense, but I say that it would be honest and frank now to pass clause 10 with the addition of the provision I suggest, and that if the Bill were passed without such a provision, and later on a measure were introduced to give it effect as from the1st July last, that might fairly be regarded as repudiation. It will be probably two or three years after the Territory is transferred to the Commonwealth before we shall undertake serious developmental work. The very knowledge of the transfer of the Territory to the Commonwealth will create an increment of value, and if two or three years later we seek to resume land at its value when the Territory was taken over in 1910 the owners may say, “ We bought the land at its value in 1911, or in 1912.” It would be more fair and just ‘that people should be made acquainted now with the terms on which they will deal in land in the Northern Territory. They will not then be able to stand between the public at large as users of land and in their capacity as the State. Nearly every honorable senator on the other side, and a majority on this side, are in favour of the principle I propose to lay down. I have not much faith in those who profess a doctrine and yet decline to carry it out when an opportunity presents itself. The argument advanced with respect to the objection of South Australia is too ridiculous for contemplation. What will the people of South Australia have to say in the matter when the Territory is once taken over? The Territory will be taken over the moment our assent is given to this agreement.
– No, it will not.
– This is a new feature. Does the honorable senator mean to say that if we assent to the agreement that will not bind the bargain? Does he mean to say that South Australia later will come along with some other proposal? If that is the position of affairs, the Committee should know it. We know that the State Legislature of South Australia has adopted the agreement, and the bargain will be completed when this Bill is assented to. To suggest that South Australia can come along afterwards with some other proposal is to suggest something so novel, and, at the same time, so absurd, that I do not think the Committee will attach any credence to the statement. It is only a little more of my honorable friend’s political bluff. He wishes to raise the bogy of objection by the Legislative Council of South Australia. No man who knows anything of the real position will, for a moment, suppose that the people of South Australia will do anything else but thank God when the Commonwealth Parliament has passed this Bill. It is rather curious that such strenuous efforts should have been made by representatives of South Australia to secure the passage of this Bill, whilst they have professed to be extremely independent about the matter. I have no doubt as to what the South Australian Legislature will do if this Bill is passed ; their opportunity to raise any objection, if they desired to do so, will have passed, unless they wish to repudiate their agreement. I do not believe any one would say that they would do that. I feel that I am fighting a losing battle, and I can only say, in conclusion, that we have an opportunity here which was never previously afforded to any Parliament in Australia, because there were grants of lands issued in Australia prior to the establishment of any Australian Parliament. We have an opportunity now of laying down for the Northern Territory a principle in which we all profess to believe, that where public action creates value, the Commonwealth should not be called upon to pay for that value if the land is at any time required for public purposes.
– I can assure the honorable senator that that will be looked after.
– But when? The honorable senator tells us that he will come along with a very big padlock and lock the stable door securely - after the horse has gone. If my anticipation is borne out, and ar. increment of value does take place as a result of the transfer of the Territory, and the Government come along after with an ante-dated proposal to give effect to this principle, they will be open to a charge of repudiation, for the simple reason that, in the meantime, men may have bought and sold property in the Territory on the basis of the higher value that will have accrued. There is a very great difference between settling the matter now, and telling people beforehand what we intend to do, and coming along afterwards, under another law, to take from them that which they have legally gained. I leave the amendment now in the hands of the Committee, and express my great disappointment that it has not been received, as I thought it would be, cordially.
Senator SAYERS (Queensland) [5-561 - I believe I shall be doing what is right in supporting the amendment. I should have expected that it would be accepted with pleasure by every honorable senator on the other side, in view of what they are constantly telling the people. We know that the moment this Bill is passed, the value of all lands in the Northern Territory will be enhanced, because it will be known that in connexion with the construction of the proposed railway a large amount of Commonwealth money will be spent in the Territory.
– The honorable senator agrees that the railway should go through the Territory ?
– I believe that it will; but I still object to it. We know that if a Government decide to proclaim a township, the knowledge that Government money will be spent in the place is sufficient to make land worth £x an acre go up in value to £10, £15, or £100 an acre.
– Let us hope it will be so in this case.
– The value of lands in the Northern Territory may not be enhanced to such a degree, but the principle will apply there.
– The honorable senator need not be alarmed ; we shall look after the enhanced value.
– I think I have reason to be alarmed at anything which the Vice-President of the Executive Council might propose to do. I have heard him before now express himself in favour of the principle -which he now declines to accept.
– When we propose to enact it, the honorable senator will be found opposing it.
– The Government may desire to do something unfair and unjust; but when they have the opportunity to enact this principle at the right time, they decline to take advantage of it. As Senator Millen has said, in a few years’ time land in the Northern Territory may have changed hands at an increased value, and to enact such a provision then would be to penalize people who had paid the increased value for the lands.
– Will the honorable senator support such a provision if we bring it down this session?
– I will. The honorable senator has my word for that. We know what clause 10 provides, and I shall be satisfied with an assurance from the Vice-President of the Executive Council that a Bill will be brought down this session to provide that land resumed by the Commonwealth in the Northern Territory will be .resumed at its value at the present time. That course was followed in connexion with the Seat of Government Bill; and if it is followed in this case, no one will be misled. Buyers of land in the Northern Territory will know the conditions under which they are buying. If we permit traffic in land after leaseholds and freeholds have been enhanced in value as a result of the action taken by the Commonwealth, we cannot then expect to resume those lands at their value before there was any expenditure of public money in the Territory. If the Government bring down a measure in accordance with the principles they have advocated, to provide that lands may be resumed by the Commonwealth in the Northern Territory at their present value, no member of the Senate will be found objecting to it. He will have almost a unanimous support. But apparently on this occasion the Government are strong enough to act in opposition to their professed principles, even though by so doing they place some of their supporters in . a very awkward dilemma.
– Senator Sayers has remarked that the action of the Government will have the effect of placing some of their followers in a very awkward position. Personally, I do not feel that I am placed in an embarrassing position. The more I hear this Bill discussed, the more am I disposed to support the whole agreement as it stands.
– The clause which I have proposed does not touch the agreement.
– I am delighted to note that the Opposition recognise that there is such a thing as the unearned increment.
– The Land Tax Assessment Bill ought to be carried unanimously in view of the acknowledgments of honorable senators opposite.
– I am delighted to find that members of the Opposition have at last recognised that an unearned increment may be created by the expenditure of public money. The admission of some of those who oppose the Bill, that the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth will increase land values there, ought to be the strongest argument in favour of expediting that transfer. But I do not think that the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth will enhance land values there by per cent. I would also remind honorable senators that, owing to the action of Senator Findley some years ago, we obtained a guarantee that no further lands would be alienated in that Territory. I hope that the Government will note the desire of the Opposition to preserve the unearned increment to the Commonwealth, and give them an early opportunity of translating that desire into deeds.
Question - That the new clause proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Clauses n to 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 -
The Commonwealth, in consideration of the surrender of the Northern Territory and property of the State of South Australia therein, and the grant of the rights in the Agreement mentioned to acquire and to construct railways in South Australia proper, shall -
construct or cause to be constructed a railway line from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper (which railway with a railway from a point on the Port Augusta Railway to connect therewith is hereinafter referred to as The Transcontinental Railway)…..
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [6.13]. - I move -
That after the word “ constructed “ in paragraphb the words “ in the Northern Territory “ be inserted.
My object in submitting this amendment is to afford honorable senators an opportunity of knowing exactly what they are voting for or against. The sole question at issue is whether the proposed railway shall run through a restricted area, or through an unrestricted area. I experience a great difficulty in ascertaining the policy of the Government in this matter.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 -p.m.
At the time of such surrender authorize by legislation the Commonwealth …. to construct or cause to be constructed a railway in South Australia proper from any point on the Port Augusta railway to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper to connect with that part of the Transcontinental Railway to be built in the Northern Territory.
I think that no sensible man - except perhaps an Attorney-General - could doubt for a moment that the northern part of the transcontinental railway is, under this bargain with South Australia, to be built within the Northern Territory.
It goes on to give legislative authority to the Commonwealth to fulfil its obligations under the agreement. The provisions to that effect are contained in clause 14, with which we are dealing. Under paragraph b of the clause, the Commonwealth is given legislative authority “to construct, or cause to be constructed.” But the words “in the Northern Territory” are not there. The terms used are - construct or cause to be constructed a railway line from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper.
Bill as it stands, the railway must be constructed within the Northern Territory, but a doubt on the subject has been created, and is it not very much better that we should put in this Bill a statement in plain language of what we intend?
Some time ago you expressed a wish for some information about this part of the world, I presume, from a pastoralist’s, as well as a miner’s, point of view. The mineral belt can be traced, more or less, from Cloncurry, Queensland, in a general north-west direction to Port Darwin, roughly, a distance of 1,000 miles, and then, with a slight break, can be traced for another 500 miles to Kimberley, Western Australia. .
I just interpolate here, with respect to the facilities for the’ transport of troops to Port Darwin, that the distance from Cloncurry to Port Darwin is given as 1,000 miles, whilst the distance from Oodnadatta is only 1,060 miles.
Included in this run is Tanami. Some twenty years ago 1 was out with a prospecting party from Hall’s Creek, Kimberley, and travelled in a north-west direction towards Camden Harbor, on the north-west coast. This is still to a great extent unexplored, and I think something good will be found from Cloncurry right out. The mineral belt is about an average of roo miles back from the sea. Between the range and the sea is, 1 suppose, the finest watered country in Australia, and I believe it will grow anything. Most of it is similar land to the Queensland coastal sugar lands. It is also very fine country for timber, and most of the rivers are navigable for a fair distance. It is too rich and rank ever to be good stock country. This is, of course, all north and east of the range or the mineral belt. On the south side nf the range, after you get through the mineral belt about 150 miles from Cloncurry, you are out in the open downs country, the Barklay tablelands.
You know the country, from Hughenden to Cloncurry. Well, it is exactly the same for 500 miles by road to the overland telegraph line, and hence to the Katherine River, 300 miles north, being fair grazing country for cattle.
Newcastle Waters, on the overland telegraph line, is about the end of the downs country. This long stretch is all first class sheep country, and the healthiest stock country in Australia. North-west from Newcastle Waters there is fine cattle and horse country right out to the Western Australian coast. Should a railway ever be built from Oodnadatta, South Australia, the northern-most railway point, to Pine Creek, it would touch the western boundary of these downs, and a railway run from Newcastle Waters to Camooweal (to connect with Queensland) would run right through the centre of the Barklay tablelands. There would be no more engineering difficulties than there are between Hughenden and Cloncurry. Say a branch were run from the main trunk line (Oodnadatta to Pine Creek) from either Newcastle Waters or Katherine River, to . either Wyndham or Derby, in Western Australia, all this fine pastoral, mineral, and agricultural country would be made available.
I have seen most of the articles in the papers advocating different routes for railways, but I have spent thirty years in this country, and I do not think any one knows it better as a whole than I do. The three lines I have suggested would open all the country, would be least expensive to build, and would, I firmly believe, be the best for the future of Australia. And that is what I suppose most of us have at heart.
That letter speaks eloquently for itself. I do not intend to again discuss the merits of the direct route. My honorable friend, Senator Gould, has referred to the map which is hanging in the chamber, and about which a good many things may have been said.
– Of all the speeches which Senator Symon has delivered in this chamber. I venture to say that the one to which we have just listened is the most plausible - and I do not use the word in an offensive sense - to which he has ever given utterance. He was good enough to say that no sensible man, other than the Attorney-General-
– I said “ except an Attorney-General.”
– Then my hearing must be defective. I understood the honorable senator to say that no sensible man other than the Attorney-General would have given the opinion which the AttorneyGeneral has given.
– I said “ except -an Attorney-General.”
– Only one AttorneyGeneral has given an opinion on this question, and, therefore, the honorable senator’s remark must have been directed at the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Mr. Hughes. I resent his statement in that connexion, because whatever opinions we may entertain as to the calibre of that gentleman, honorable senators upon both sides of the chamber know sufficient of him to respect him for his possession of common sense. The statement that he is not a sensible man is one which ought not to come from the honorable senator. I have already said that Senator Symon has been guilty of plausibility. I say so because, as a legal gentleman, he ought to know that he has been - I will not say purposely - confusing the issue. He has endeavoured to confuse the Committee with two entirely separate and distinct things. In this Bill there are two covenants. Under it one obligation is laid upon the Commonwealth, and another upon the State of South Australia; and the honorable senator has been dealing with the covenant which is laid upon South Australia as if it were the covenant which is laid upon the Commonwealth. If honorable senators will look at the Bill and the agreement, they will see that the covenant into which the Commonwealth has entered under this Bill is con tained in Part I. of the agreement, and not in Part if., and that the Commonwealth Parliament, when it comes to legislate, cannot lay any obligation on the State of South Australia. When we pass an Act of Parliament we legislate for the Commonwealth, and therefore in clause 14 we shall legislate to give effect to the covenant into which this Parliament has entered. When the South Australian Parliament legislated, it did so to give effect to the covenant which is contained in clause 2. Yet the honorable senator has turned round and accused us of not carrying out in clause 14 the covenant into which we have entered. I say that that clause is an exact reproduction of clause 1 of the agreement.
– I said so.
– But the honorable senator also implied that, because we have not inserted the conditions of clause 2 in clause 14, we have failed to carry out our covenant. His amendment is an attempt te bring into clause 14 part of the covenant into which the South Australian Parliament has entered, and upon which we have no need to legislate. The obligations of that State are laid down in clause 2 of the agreement. If honorable senators will read that clause, they will find that there is not a single matter in it with which we have power to deal legislatively. Yet Senator Symon almost hinted that we had been guilty of duplicity, because we had omitted from clause 14 something which is contained in clause 2.
– I said that the omission was an inadvertence.
– I checked the honorable senator when he made the statement, and told him that the omission was an intentional one, and was designed to give effect to the obligation into which the Commonwealth had entered in clause 1 of the agreement. Do not honorable senators see that clause 14, being an exact reproduction of clause 1 of the agreement, will give legislative effect to the agreement into which we have entered? I hold in my hand the South Australian Act, section 1.0 of which reads -
Subject to the provisions of this Act, and the Agreement, and of the Acts incorporated with this Act, the Commonwealth -
For the purpose of carrying out, in accordance with the Agreement, its undertaking to construct or cause to be constructed the Transcontinental Railway line from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the Port Augusta railway, may construct, or cause to be constructed, as part of such Transcontinental Railway, a railway in South Australia proper from a point on the Port Augusta railway, to connect at a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper with the part of such Transcontinental Railway to be constructed from Port Darwin southwards to such point, with all proper stations, approaches, works, and conveniences connected therewith and necessary therefor, and may maintain and work such railway when constructed, ti. May construct, or authorize the construction of, or cause to be constructed, a railway westerly from any point on the Port Augusta railway through South Australia proper to any point on the western boundary line of South Australia proper, by a route to’ be determined by the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
That refers to the Western Australian railway. The remaining sections empower the Commonwealth to do all that is necessary in the way of surveying the land and constructing the railway; in other words, to do everything that is necessary to carry out the covenant entered into in clause 1 of the agreement. If honorable senators turn to clause 2 of the agreement they will see clearly that it deals with matters with which we cannot deal. It reads -
The State in consideration of the covenants and agreements by the Commonwealth herein contained shall -
Not that the Commonwealth, but that the State, shall do certain things, and the various paragraphs of that clause deal with matters with which the State has to do. Let me epitomize what I have said. Clause 2 of the agreement deals with the authorization of the Commonwealth to build a railway in South Australia proper. lt does not profess to deal with, nor does it deal with, any part of the railway in the Northern Territory. When Senator Symon quotes paragraph b of clause 2, he quotes a paragraph which has nothing to do with the Northern Territory, and which was designedly intended to deal only with the railway in South Australia proper.
– What ! Paragraph c?
– Paragraphs b and c of clause 2 of the agreement authorize us to construct the railway in South Australia proper, and empower us, as the State Parliament has done by Statute, to do all things necessary for the purpose.
– It also recites what the Commonwealth has to do in the Territory.
– It recites where the railway has to be constructed.
– I appeal to the honorable senator not to be led away by plausible arguments - to read the clauses with the common-sense of a layman, and not to be influenced by any legal subtleties.
– If he does he will see that the railway has to be built within the Territory.
– Senator Guthrie will find that what I have stated cannot be explained away by any sophistries. He will see that clause 1 of the agreement contains the obligations on the Commonwealth, and clause 2 the obligations on the State. Clause 14 of the Bill repeats our obligations absolutely word for word, and the State Act, not in the terms used in this agreement, but in express terms, deals with all the matters which are mentioned in clause 2 of the agreement.
– Does the honorable senator say that the State Act differs in phraseology from the second portion of the agreement?
– The agreement does not differ, but the section empowering us to enter on the land to survey and to construct the line does differ. For one thing it is shorter, containing only three sub-sections.
– It may be discovered later on that there is a conflict between the Act and the agreement.
– No, because the Act incorporates the agreement. The covering words of the section are, “ Subject to the provisions of this Act and the Agreement.” And clause 2 of the agreement reads -
The State in consideration of the covenants and agreements by the Commonwealth herein contained shall -
Then follow the various covenants which the Commonwealth undertakes to carry out. I contend that, by the use of legal sophistries and subtleties, and by cloaking up the real intention of these two clauses of the agreement, Senator Symon has been endeavouring - first, to make it appear that the Commonwealth Government are seeking to get out of some portion of the Commonwealth’s obligations and covenants with the State; and, secondly, to bring in what I regard, even if it were not provided for in the agreement, as an unnecessary hampering provision as regards both the Commonwealth and the State. It is not an obligation which the State has asked us to undertake. It certainly is not an obligation which, under the agreement, is laid upon the Commonwealth. In that case, why should honorable senators accept this hampering provision in the interests of the Territory, or of the State, or of the Commonwealth? It will be seen that the agreement leaves this Parliament free to determine the route, subject to only two conditions - that the railway shall connect with the railway at Pine Creek, and that it shall proceed southwards, and enter the Territory of South Australia at some point on its northern boundary.
– Then the honorable senator is far more confident on the point than is Mr. Mitchell?
– I am not giving an opinion, but stating what the agreement lays down.
– That is an opinion.
– No. I ask honorable senators what reason can be advanced for tying up the Commonwealth to the eastern and western boundaries of the Northern Territory? Suppose that history should repeat itself again, and that it should be found that the Tanami Gold-field is only on the outskirt of a great goldfield which extends into Western Australia. If this amendment were made, would not the Commonwealth have tied its hands in a needlessly hampering way when it was prevented from taking the railway across the Western Australian boundary in order to tap that gold-field, not in the interest of that State, but in the interest of Port Darwin itself? By the construction of the railway from Pine Creek in a south-westerly direction to tap the gold-field, we could secure its trade to Port Darwin. Surely we have only to think of the possibilities in that direction to see how foolish it would lie, especially when the obligation is not laid upon us, when it is not a condition of the agreement, to tie our hands in that way.
– The honorable senator is arguing now that it ought not to be put in the agreement.
– I am arguing that it ought not to be put in the Bill. I have conclusively shown that the position is not as was stated by the honorable senator. In passing the clause intact we shall be honouring the agreement in its entirety, but if we adopt the amendment we shall be breaking the agreement.
– If we alter clause 14 we shall be open to the charge, and a legitimate charge, that we have broken the agreement.
– They would not say so.
– I am not sure that they would not. At any rate, we would be open to that charge.” At the present time the Government are adhering to the agreement, and I therefore ask the Committee to reject the amendment.
– - After the explanation of the Minister of Defence, which has cleared up a good many things, it is clear that he has given an opinion which, in some respects, conflicts very materially with that which has been mentioned here. He has pleaded for freedom to carry out the intention of the agreement which has been expressed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. The clause as it stands is ambiguous from both points of view, even so far as it expresses the covenants on the part of the Commonwealth. Will the Minister in charge of the Bill now accept an amendment f& clear up that ambiguity - in other words to make clearer and firmer the intention of the Government on behalf of the Commonwealth to carry out its covenants? The ambiguity in the covenant stands clear, otherwise how could there be this conflict between eminent counsel as to its meaning?
– I have not risen to offer a legal opinion, but to say that the Bill does carry out, in the very’ words in which it is printed, the agreement. I can quite understand the attitude of Senator Symon and Senator Pearce. If there is anything wrong the error is contained in the agreement and not in the Bill. Through the error of somebody the Commonwealth does not, in the Bill, enter into an obligation which corresponds precisely with the obligation entered into by the State. In her covenants the State undertook to do everything to enable a line going north and south to be constructed in the Territory, but when we look to the covenants into which the Commonwealth has entered we find that it did not covenant to construct the railway within the Territory. There is the whole position. Surely Senator Symon agrees with me?
– No, I do not.
– - I am not dealing with the interpretation which counsel might put on the whole of the agreement, but trying to point out that on the very words themselves the covenants are not equal. That is to say, they do not correspond. In the agreement, which was entered into between the two parties, there was evidently a blunder and a mistake.
– May it not have been intentional ?
– I am not going to impute any motive.
– May it not have been done with an object?
– It could not be intentional that one party should understand that the railway should be built within the Territory, and that the other should not.
– That South Australia should not covenant to allow the railway to be built in Queensland, for instance?
– Perhaps it was in the minds of those who prepared the agreement that the line should be constructed in the Territory. But when they looked into the other part of the agreement they were not sufficiently careful to throw that obligation on the Commonwealth. That agreement does not do it. I can understand quite plainly the attitude of the Ministry. They simply say, “ There is the agreement which the Commonwealth has entered into with South Australia ; we are going to incorporate it with the Bill in exactly the same words,” and, in my opinion, they have done so. There are some honorable senators who think it is desirable that the Commonwealth shall be tied down to construct the line within the Territory. There are others, including the Ministers, who think it is desirable that the Common- wealth shall have a free hand. .
– In section 10 of the South Australian Act the words “in the Northern Territory “ do not appear. It simply refers to “a railway.” It says, “ cause to be constructed the transcontinental railway line from Port Darwin, southwards to a point on the Port Augusta railway,” and then it goes on to say, “ may construct . . a railway.”
– It amazes me to hear that. The inherent fault in this matter is in the agreement itself. It has been suggested that we should amend it. I can hardly agree to that. I think we shall have to stand by the agreement as it was originally entered into, and incorporate it in the Bill precisely as it stands. At first I was inclined to support Senator Symon, because I desire clear legislation to be enacted, even though it is against my own inclination to limit the railway to the Northern Territory. Purely in :the interests of clear legislation, and apart from the merits of the question, I was inclined to support the amendment. But on considering the matter further I can hardly do so. I do not see that we have any right now to correct an agreement which has been formally entered into.
.- I find myself in rather a peculiar position in regard to this question. The attitude that I have taken up all along has been in opposition to any proposition that would tie down the Commonwealth Parliament. I wished Parliament to be left as free as possible to develop the Northern Territory after taking it over. But I agree with Senator Symon that if there is anything in the Bill that is ambiguous, the intention should be made clear. I find myself both in agreement and disagreement with the Minister of Defence, who, I think, while taking up a very strong view with regard to the obligations of the Commonwealth, forgot the obligations placed upon the State of South Australia which have a great deal to do with the obligations upon the Commonwealth. The position is that if we _ consent to this agreement and give it legislative sanction, and if we take over the Northern Territory, South Australia might refuse to allow us to build a fraction of the railway within her territory. That view is in accordance with the plain reading of clause 2, paragraph c, of the agreement, which says that South Australia shall-
At the time of such surrender authorize by legislation the Commonwealth to do all that is necessary to enable the Commonwealth to make surveys, acquire the necessary lands, and to construct, or cause to be constructed, a railway in South Australia proper from any point on the Port Augusta railway to a point on the northern boundary line of South Australia proper to connect with that part of the Transcontinental Railway to be built in the Northern Territory.
– “That part to be built in the Northern Territory.”
– But suppose that part of the railway is taken within the State of Queensland. South Australia then is absolutely free from the obligation which we impose upon her here. If the railway did take a bend into Queensland, it would have to come back into the Northern Territory, making a figure like the letter S, before we should be able to compel South Australia to fulfil her obligations and allow us to complete the transcontinental line. That is the position in which we find ourselves. I have a good deal of sympathy with those who desire to remove any ambiguity from the Bill.
– The ambiguity is not in the Bill, but in the agreement.
– No, it is in the Bill.
– After the Bill becomes an Act the agreement will be a part of that Act, because we are giving legislative effect to it. But I am not able to support Senator Symon’s amendment.
– Does not the map hanging in the chamber show that the contracting parties understood what was intended ?
– The Parliament that has hereafter to legislate to carry out the agreement will have nothing whatever to do with the intentions of the contracting parties, or with what was contemplated. They will only have to do with what is contained in the Act. That is what we are bound by; not by contemplations or intentions.
– Does not the honorable senator think that if South Australia had thought of keeping the railway entirely within the Territory she would have provided for that in her own Act?
– Possibly, but people are not infallible. We are all liable to err.
– We have here the South Australian Act, which shows that her Legislature did not enact that the railway must be entirely within the Northern Territory.
– But the agreement provides that it must be. The main cause of my anxiety is that I look with alarm on the prospect that faces Australia if the transcontinental line is to be built down the middle of the Northern Territory. I will give my reasons. Any transcontinental line to be of use for the development or defence of Australia must be linked up with other lines leading to the Eastern coast. There are five lines which must be linked with the transcontinental line if we are to derive the full benefit from it. They are, the railway from Sydney to Cobar, and thence on to Wilcannia ; that from Sydney to Bourke westward ; that from Brisbane to Charleville; that from Rockhampton to Longreach ; and that from Townsville to Cloncurry. Those five lines ought to be linked up with the Commonwealth transcontinental railway, and I hope will be linked with it in future. But if our transcontinental railway is to run through the middle of the Northern Territory, as shown on the map, the only line running to the eastern coast with which it can connect is the Townsville to Cloncurry line. That line, if extended to connect with the transcontinental line within the Northern Territory, would go through good country, but is the only one of the five that would. Every ohe of the other four, in order to be linked up with the transcontinental line, would have to traverse from 150 to 200 miles of desert. That is an awful prospect for Australia to be faced with. I am not advocating that the transcontinental line should be brought into Queensland. From the point of view of Queensland interests, it would, perhaps, be just as well if the line were brought over to the good country; but kept in the Northern Territory proper, I do not think that that would do any injury to Queensland. But I am convinced that the Commonwealth should be free to build the line where Parliament thinks it ought to be built. At present there is no living man in Australia who can say where it ought to be built. Why should we go to enormous expense in building a line in country which, for the next century, will be unfit for settlement, while we have enormous tracts of good country awaiting development by railway? It is, I say again, an awful prospect, and we should hesitate before giving effect to it. My attention has been directed by the Minister of Defence to the Act passed by the South Australian Parliament in 1907, giving effect to this agreement. The Minister has quoted a section from the Act, which shows that the view that he has put before the Committee as to the attitude of the South Australian Legislature is as he stated it to be. I shall not enter into any legal argument as to whether that view would hold good if we became involved in a lawsuit on the matter. I leave that for the legal gentlemen to decide. My own view’ is that we should be bound by the Act passed by this Parliament. Possibly South Australia could claim that all we had a right to exact from her was that which was enacted in our own Act. But I shall not argue that point. All that I know is that if we carry Senator Symon’s amendment, we shall further restrict and hamper the Commonwealth ; and, as I have been opposed to all hampering, I am compelled to vote against it.
– Senator Pearce has quoted, and Senator Givens has commented upon, paragraph 1 of section 10 of the South Australian Act of 1907. I am sorry that attention has not been directed to the second paragraph of that Act, which provides that-
The Commonwealth …. may construct or authorize the construction of, or cause to be constructed, a railway westerly from any point on the Port Augusta railway through South Australia proper to any point on the western boundary line of South Australia proper by a route to be determined by the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
Under that provision the route of the railway going to Western Australia is left open. The whole matter is left absolutely to the discretion of the Commonwealth Parliament. But as far as this Northern Territory railway is concerned, paragraph c of clause 2 of the agreement distinctly provides that the railway is to be built “ in the Northern Territory.” Does the Minister of Defence contend that the first part of the agreement, which deals with the obligations of the Commonwealth, is in conflict with the second part, which deals with the obligations of South Australia ?
– I do not say that.
– Then what I have said must be so. By this agreement, South Australia has distinctly stipulated that the railway is to be constructed wholly within the Northern Territory. There is no getting away from that. No one can read the agreement throughout without coming to that decision. It is clear from the opinion of Mr. E. F. Mitchell, K.C.. which I quoted the other day. He says -
The line, therefore, in my opinion, must be made from Port Darwin southwards, wholly in the Northern Territory, to some point on’ the border of South Australia proper ; but so long as it is made substantially southwards I do not think it must take substantially the more direct route to connect with the more northerly end of the existing Port Augusta railway : the fact that the southerly half may be made from any point on the Port Augusta railway negatives that idea. I think the line may be- made in the Northern Territory with any reasonable deviation which the Commonwealth may in its discretion determine on, so long as its route is always substantially southwards, a route substantially east and then substantially south would not, I think, be in accordance with the agreement.
That is the view held by the South Australian legislators when they approved of the agreement. It does not say that the line shall be taken right through the centre of the Northern Territory. I believe that the direct central route is the best route, and I am supported in that opinion by the views of men who have travelled through the country over and over again. Mr. David Lindsay, Mr. Simpson Newland,, and others, who have gone over the country, declared that the route taken by the Overland Telegraph Line is substantially the best route that could be adopted for the railway. They say also that there is a gap in the MacDonnell Ranges which seems to have been made for the purpose of permitting a line to be taken through there. The central line is very evidently the best line that could possibly be adopted. The South Australian Legislature, knowing that, determined, according to their agreement, that the line should be built in the Northern Territory, from Pine Creek to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper. I admit that the clause under discussion follows the first part of the agreement word for word, but if there is a conflict of opinion, which may lead to a lawsuit, would it not be better to accept the amendment proposed by Senator Symon, and make the matter absolutely clear ?
– That would be altering our part of the agreement.
– I venture to say that there would be no objection on the part of South Australia.
– There would be an ambiguity then because the clause would not be identical with the wording of our part of the agreement.
– It would be identical with the obligations of the agreement.
– The amendment would make clear the obligations of the Commonwealth under the agreement with South Australia, and that agreement is the essence of this Bill. I do not think that Ministers will deny that it was in the minds of the South Australian legislators when they passed their Bill, that the route of the railway was to be confined within the Northern Territory. There is a strip of country 560 miles wide from east to west, and the line may be taken anywhere within that area. According to the agreement, that is absolutely where the line ought to go. If Ministers are honest i». their intention to carry out the terms of their agreement, they will accept the amendment. I have been told that the Bill may be endangered, if not here, somewhere else, if we interfere with it in any way. That is to me an indication that some people do believe that it would be possible under this Bill to deviate the line east or west outside of the Northern Territory. I do not think we should leave the matter in that position. We should make it so plain that when the line conies to be constructed, there will be no doubt as to where it should go. I believe that Senator Givens was right just now when he said that if we passed the Bill in this way, and the line is taken into Queensland territory, South Australia may refuse to allow the line to go through her territory.
– Undoubtedly, under the agreement, she could do so.
– Senator Givens is opposed to the amendment, because he is opposed to the whole Bill.
– The honorable senator is not entitled to say that, because I voted for the second reading of the Bill.
– I should qualify my statement. The honorable senator is opposed to the whole of the conditions imposed with regard to railway construction. He will vote against the amendment on that account. But the honorable senator will admit that if the Committee accept the amendment, it will make it absolutely clear where the line is to go.
– That is so.
– The honorable senator has from first to last stated that he will have nothing to do with the railway.
– I say that the Commonwealth Parliament must not be bound in the matter.
– That is a straightforward position to take up, and I do not at all object to it. If it were not for the peculiar relationship of South Australia to the Northern Territory, and for what she has already done for the Territory, I should be disposed to agree with the honorable senator, but in the circumstances which really exist, I believe that South Australia is not asking anything out of the way in demanding that this railway should be constructed through the Territory. She has made that clear in the agreement, and it is our duty to make our legislation as clear and definite as we can, so that there may be no question as to what we intend.
– When I was before the electors of South Australia a few months ago, I pledged myself to do my best to see that the proposed transcontinental railway should be carried in a straight line from sea to sea. I shall endeavour to carry out my promise. I admit that the clause as it stands is in keeping with what the Com.monwealth promises to do under the first part of the agreement. From the wording of die second part of the agreement, it is clear that .it must have been in the minds of those who drafted it that it would be well to emphasize the route to be adopted for the railway. They evidently thought it well to recite it, and they have done so in the agreement. The Commonwealth accepted that as the route when Mr. Deakin put his signature to the agreement. I am satisfied that the promise to which I pledged myself before the electors is embodied in the agreement. I am borne out in that opinion by Senator Symon, Mr. Mitchell, K.C., and Mr. Dashwood, the Crown Solicitor of South Australia. What more do I want?
– It is riot the opinion of Mr. Hughes.
– I do not care; the weight of legal opinion is against Mr. Hughes in the matter.
– It is not the opinion of the Government.
– I take it that Mr. Hughes is advising the Government. If I prefer to accept the advice of three gentlemen as eminent as legal advisers as is Mr. Hughes, that is my business. In the circumstances, I am prepared to vote for the Bill as it stands.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [9.25]. - Senator Clemons appealed to me to say whether I did not agree with the view he was submitting to the Committee, that if there was a defect at all it was a defect in the agreement. I said that I did not agree with the honorable senator, and I certainly do not. I think the agreement is absolutely clear.
– Then why worry any more about it?
– It will be an eye-opener to the people of South Australia to find that the Government of the Commonwealth have turned their backs upon them.
– The Commonwealth need not carry the railway straight down; that is evident enough.
– The Government have turned their backs upon what the people of South Australia believed to be their policy and the policy underlying the agreement. I am not saying whether they are justified or not.
– The honorable senator should vote against the Bill.
- Senator Stewart will see what I shall do later on. I speak now, not with a view of vindicating myself in any way, because I do not require vindication; but in order to make perfectly clear what the position is. As Senator Clemons appealed to me, I think it is only courteous that I should say a word to show how mistaken I regret to think he is in this matter. The agreement is perfectly plain. The first part sets out the obligation that is imposed upon the Commonwealth, and the second part the correlative obligation imposed upon South Australia. Does the Minister of Defence mean to tell me that the obligation upon South Australia to do something in relation to a railway in the Northern Territory becomes altogether different when we come to read the obligation of the Commonwealth to construct that very railway ? Is it to be said that in part of the agreement South Australia is to give facilities for the construction of a railway to be built in the Northern Territory, and when we come to the other part of the same ‘agreement, under which the Commonwealth is to construct the railway, the Commonwealth may construct it anywhere outside the Territory.
– The honorable senator is again wrong, because the subclause to which he is referring does not refer to the construction of the line in the Northern Territory, but to the construction of a line from a point on the Port Augusta railway to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper, to connect with the line in the Territory.
– My honorable friend has either not read, or has not understood, the agreement. The paragraph to which I refer is the one which, as Senator Guthrie very properly said, recites where the railway is to be built, and says that it is to be in the Northern Territory.
– It refers to the railway to be built from a point on the Port Augusta line.
– It refers to the obligations of South Australia to give facilities to the Commonwealth to construct a railway in South Australia to connect with the railway to be built “ in the Northern Territory “ by the Commonwealth. The Minister of Defence says that the first part of the agreement, which imposes an obligation upon the Commonwealth,” may be differently read, and that under it the Commonwealth will not be bound to construct the railway within the Northern Territory. I am not speaking in this matter as a lawyer at all. This is not the place to discuss the matter from that point of view. I have always said that if a legal opinion is required, honorable senators should be guided by that of a disinterested counsel like Mr. Mitchell. I do not put my opinion forward as a legal opinion ; but I say that, Attorney-General or no Attorney-General, no man possessed of an atom of common sense can read the agreement from beginning to end without coming to the conclusion that the railway is to be constructed within the Northern Territory. If that be so there is no ambiguity in the agreement at all. If the Bill merely adopted the agreement there would be no necessity for my amendment. But the Minister of Defence has inaccurately presented my views to the Committee, and upon that inaccurate presentation of them has proceeded to-, what he calls, answer them. I have never said that clause 14 does not propose to enact the words which are contained in the first part of the agreement. But that provision need not have followed the language of the agreement so long as it enacted its substance. ‘For instance, in clauses 15 and 16 other language is used. Nor did I say that clause 2 does not impose obligations on South Australia.
– The honorable senator argued that way.
– I did not. I never put forward any contention so ridiculous. What I argued was that the second part of the agreement supplies us with the means of interpreting the first part, or, as Senator Guthrie has said, of emphasizing that the railway to be built by the Commonwealth is to be confined to the Northern Territory. But the argument of my honorable friends opposite plainly shows that that ambiguity ought to be cleared up. If they are of that opinion - and I do not question their sincerity for a moment - if they wish to make it clear that the agreement means that the railway may make a detour into other States, it is their duty to say so in the Bill. South Australia will then know exactly where she stands, which at present she does not. If, on the other hand, I think that the railway is to be. wholly constructed within the Northern Territory, it is roy duty to make the position clear. I am willing to waive my amendment if the Government will come forward with a proposal of their own. But we ought to have a distinct policy in this matter, and from that stand-point South Australia has great cause for complaint at the treatment which she is receiving at the hands of the Government. Rightly or wrongly, her people believed up till yesterday that she had properly stipulated that the railway was to run between the eastern and western boundaries of the Northern Territory. She is being undeceived now, and it will be an eye-opener to her people to learn that after all this debate she is being unfairly treated in the house of those who ought to be her friends.
– Only on the opinion of the Attorney-General.
– If it be only on the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral the substance of that opinion ought to be placed in this Bill. Do not let us have things floating about outside the Bill to deceive people. Either let us insert in the measure a proviso that the railway may run through Queensland under the terms of the agreement, or let us distinctly declare that it may run only through the Northern Territory. If we do neither one thing nor the other we shall open up a whole avenue of litigation and trouble in other directions. I do not envy those who may be concerned in it, but I will not be a party to placing on the statute-book a measure which may have the consequences which I have depicted. I am availing myself of this opportunity - the Minister of Defence says I am doing so mistakenly and Senator Clemons appears to entertain the same view - to set myself right and to make clear the basis upon which this Bill ought either to be supported or opposed.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) 19-37]- - Assuming that effect be given to the intention of the agreement so far as South Australia is concerned, will the Government consent to the insertion in the Bill of words which will . make it perfectly clear that they have the power to carry out that intention? Ministers have declined to answer the question previously. I agree with Senator Symon that it is desirable that we should clear up the ambiguity in the Bill, though I intend to vote against his amend ment. The Government say that they propose to carry out the agreement, and the people of South Australia must have intended that they should have that freedom. We shall not be tampering with the agreement if we make its essential terms so clear that he who runs may read. Before we go to a division, I again ask the Minister of Defence whether he will consent to a verbal amendment in the clause, which will make it plain that the Government will have the power to give effect to the intention of the South Australian Parliament in regard to the agreement?
– The Bill is clear enough as it stands.
.- In speaking on the motion for the second reading of this Bill, I expressed myself as being strongly opposed to the provisions in it which relate to railway construction. I desire that the Commonwealth should have a perfectly free hand in that matter - that it shall be at liberty to run the proposed line along whatever route it may think fit. To my mind, it was the evident intention of the contracting parties to the provisional agreement which has been entered into that the line should be run to the South Australian boundary of the Northern Territory from Pine Creek, and that it should not be diverted into any other State. Last year, I visited South Australia, where I conversed with many persons upon this matter. I must confess that I have always been under the impression that the proposed line could not be diverted into any other State. It has been a revelation to me that a contrary opinion can have gained ground. In all our legislation we ought to be honest. We ought to put in it nothing upon which lawsuits may afterwards be founded. If the Government think that they have the power to divert the line from the Northern Territory into Queensland, or into Western Australia, let them plainly say so in the Bill. On the other hand, if they think that the agreement binds them to the construction of a line within the Northern Territory itself, let them say so. I shall vote for the amendment in the interests of honest legislation.
– I cannot allow the amendment to be pressed to a division without expressing my amusement at the situation which has arisen. For days past I have been ransacking the dictionary for fitting terms in which to rebuke South Australia for endeavouring to drive a hard bargain with the Commonwealth, while all the time the Government have been attempting - to put the position into plain vernacular - to “ diddle “ South Australia. It is a pure game of “ beggar my neighbour.” South Australia wishes to overreach the Commonwealth, and the Government desire by a side wind to get at South Australia. Well, they can have it any way they like for my part.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Symon’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Does Senator Symon propose to proceed with the other amendments of which he gave notice ?
– No, sir, because they were consequential amendments.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 15 to 19 agreed to.
– Under paragraph d of clause 2 of the agreement, it is provided that South Australia, in consideration of the covenants and agreements by the Commonwealth therein contained, shall -
At thetimeof such surrender authorize by legislation the Commonwealth, in the same way and to the same extent as in the last preceding sub-clause mentioned to do all that is necessary to enable the Commonwealth to construct or cause to be constructed a railway westerly from any point on the Port Augusta railway through South Australia proper to any point on the western boundary line of South Australia proper by a route to be determined by the Parliament of the Commonwealth and to maintain and work such railway when constructed.
What on earth has that provision to do with the Northern Territory?
– The honorable senator passed it in the Bill.
– The details of the. Bill may have been passed by the Committee, so far as we have got, but a great many of those details were not passed with my vote; and while the Bill remains in Committee I have a right to try to improve it from my point of view if I can. What on earth, I repeat, has this provision to do with the talcing over of the Northern Territory? The two things are entirely separate and distinct from each other. I have as much objection to the Commonwealth trying to force the hands of South Australia as I have to that State trying to force the hands of the Commonwealth. We have no more right to impose our will on South Australia in this matter than she has to impose her will upon us in Commonwealth matters.
– But what if she is willing that it shall be done?
– South Australia is only willing that it shall be done when a bargain is effected with her. Why should this spirit of huckstering and bargaining go on ? Why should not each of these two questions be decided on its merits? Why should not South Australia be free to either give or refuse her consent just as she thought fit, apart from any considerations with regard to the Northern Territory?
– This is the Commonwealth railway policy in one Bill.
– No; we have never had a Commonwealth railway policy laid down. Nobody knows what it is. I have the authority of such an eminent gentleman as Senator Symon for stating that the South Australians are not unanimous that this consent should be given.
SenatorSir Josiah Symon. - By no means.
– The honorable senator is quite candid enough to say so, and every one who has been here for any length of time knows that a great many South Australians do not think that that State should be coerced in this matter. Let me read from vol. 27 of Hansard, page 1839, what took place on a Supply Bill so long ago as the 14th August, 1907 -
– I think that the Northern Territory will have to be connected with the south, but we can leave the question of the route of the railway aside for the moment.
– I am glad to have that admission from the honorable senator. I agree with him as to one part of the document, to which he will find me in unalterable opposition, and that is, the condition that the
Northern Territory shall not be taken over by the Commonwealth until South Australia gives her consent to the construction of the Western Australian railway. That condition should not find a place in the agreement.
That is plain, honest, and emphatic. That being so, and knowing that the people of South Australia are not at all unanimous on this point, we have every reason to believe that the State Government would have refused their consent.
– But Senator Symon has strength enough to change his mind.
– We have the best of evidence that the State, until she was coerced into it in order to get this agreement to take the Territory off her hands, would not give her consent.- The only voice which can speak with authority for the State in this matter is her Parliament. Whether it is unanimous or not, we have to take its voice as the voice of South Australia.
– We have the voice in the Bill before us.
– How, and why? Because it was put in as an extraneous provision.
– It was to kill two birds with one stone.
– We have it on the authority of Senator Symon that this condition should not find a place in the Bill, because the two matters are entirely separate and distinct. I move -
That paragraph d be left out of clause 2 of the agreement.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [9.57]. - I simply rise to point out to Senator Givens that in adopting this course he does not seem to me to be exercising his usual wisdom. He will see that with this paragraph we have nothing to do. Why should he interfere with the Premier of South Australia, on behalf of that State, agreeing to what he likes?
– I have no objection to that. The only thing I object to is that the Commonwealth should try to force his hands.
– I do not think it is. If her Premier chooses to say ‘ that South Australia is to do something she need not do so; it is perfectly open to her to do so or not, as she pleases. That will depend upon her own Legislature.
– Not if they give their consent to this provision.
– Our adoption of this provision in the schedule will not make the State agree to what is proposed. All we do here is to say, “ All right, the Premier has taken this obligation upon himself, but with that’ we have nothing to do.” I do not see what we have to do with it. But a time will come when my honorable friend will have an opportunity of giving effect to his views on this question. I am not bound in the slightest degree by what the Premier of South Australia has said in this document. My honorable friend will have the same opportunity as I shall have to express his views. There are two opportunities to set the position of South Australia right in regard to this railway and its route. One is that which’ I have already taken unsuccessfully, and, of course, I bow to the decision of the Committee. The other will be when the time comes to which I have referred, and then I shall endeavour to take care that the construction of a railway to Western Australia is not authorized until some provision is made for a railway to run through the Northern Territory, and to settle the question of the area within which it shall be restricted.
, - So far from objecting to this provision in the agreement, I am glad to see it. It seems to me that we are not called upon to place any obstacle in the way of carrying the railway on from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment ; report adopted.
Bill returned from House of Representatives with the following message -
Message No. 16.
The House of Representatives returns to the Senate the Bill intituled “ A Bill for an Act to grant and apply a sum out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the service of the year ending the thirtieth day of June One thousand nine hundred and eleven for the purposes of Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c,” and acquaints the Senate that the House of Representatives insists on its disagreement to the amendment made and insisted on by the Senate, but, as a consequential amendment, has in place thereof omitted the Item amended, as shown by the annexed Schedule, and made the necessary alterations in the totals in the Bill.
The House of Representatives desires the reconsideration by the Senate of the Bill in respect of the amendment referred to, and requests its concurrence in the consequential amendment and the alterations necessary thereby now made by the House. charles mcdonald,
House of Representatives,
Melbourne, 22nd September,1910.
Schedule of an Amendment insisted on by the Senate to which the House of Representatives has insisted on disagreeing, but has instead, as a Consequential Amendment, omitted the Item Amended.
Page 5, Division No. 3, Subdivision No. 6, leave out the words “at Triffitt’s Point.”
Disagreement to Amendment to omit words insisted on, but in place thereof the following consequential amendment made : -
Omit Subdivision No. 6 of Division No. 3
Alterations necessary thereby made in the totals in the Schedule and in Clause2.
Clerk ofthe House of Representatives. 22nd September,1910.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That the message be taken into consideration in Committee of the whole forthwith.
– Another place has been unableto agree with the Senate as to the wording of this vote, and has, therefore, struck it out of the schedule. I can only say that while the Government regret that this course has had to be taken, the necessity for dealing with the subject in some other way will not be lost sight of. A further opportunity will be given to the Senate at a suitable time to deal with the question of quarantine accommodation for Tasmania. I move -
That the Committee no longer insists on its amendment disagreed to by the House of Representatives and agrees to the consequential amendment omitting subdivision No. 6, of division No. 3. The Committee also agrees to the further necessary alterations made in the totals in the Bill.
– I am glad to receive an assurance from the Minister of Defence that, although the item in question has been omitted from the schedule, the matter will not be lost sight of, but that further provision will be made for a quarantine station in Tasmania. It has already been pointed out that provision was made for quarantine accommodation in all the other States in identical terms, but Tasmania was singled out as the State as to which a particular locality was specified. It has to be remembered that the item not merely covered the acquisition of land, but also provided generally for the establishment of quarantine stations. I take it, from the assurance of the Minister, that the provision made by the Government will apply, not merely to the particular station which was proposed to be established at Triffitt’s Point, but to any other station that the necessities of Tasmania may demand.
– I understand that while the Senate is asked to agree to the amendment made by the House of Representatives, an assurance is given that the establishment of this quarantine station in Tasmania will not be jeopardized in any way?
– That is so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I should like to draw attention - with a view of placing the point on record - that the wording of the message of the House of Representatives is somewhat peculiar. It is stated in the message that the amendment that has been made in the schedule is “consequential’’ upon the amendment made by the Senate. But what has been done is to suggest an alternative proposal, not to make a consequential amendment. I do not desire to ask the Senate to undo what has been done, but in other circumstances a point might be raised as to whether the amendment was really consequential or an alternative. The message uses the term, “ as a consequential amendment:” whereas, in reality, another place has omitted the whole item. The omission of an item isnot consequential upon an amendment of that item. Whilst on the present occasion no harm seems to have arisen, I can conceive of circumstances in which the use of the word “ consequential “ might have attached to it an entirely different meaning from that which pertains to it now.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator PEARCE laid upon the table the following paper -
Defence Acts 1903-1904. - Financialand Allowance Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth. - Cancellation of Regulation 63, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof ; amendment of Regulation 77; and new Regulation 159A. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 84.
Senate adjourned at 10.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 September 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19100922_senate_4_57/>.