4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– In making the statement in the Senate on 17th July, which gave a personal affront to Colonel Ryrie, I was incensed at the Hansard report of his speech of the 5th July, whichI consideredcontained a reflection on my personal honour. As members of my party Have assured me that Colonel Ryrie did not intend to reflect upon my personal honour, in these circumstances I unhesitatingly withdraw my offensive expression towards him.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear !
Senator PEARCE laid upon the table the following papers : -
Defence ; Extracts from the Annual Report of Major-General G. M. Kirkpatrick, C.B., Inspector-General of the Military Forces of the Commonwealth of Australia, dated 30th May, 1912.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 - Land acquired at Hobart, Tasmania - For Postal purposes.
– I have to lay upon the table the report of the President to the Standing Orders Committee, formulating and tabulating the decisions arrived at during the session of 191 1.
Has the Minister for Defence given instruc tions that corps at present wearing the Highland kilt in the Commonwealth shall cease to do so?
If so, on what date will such decision take effect?
If the Minister’s instructions are based upon reasons of economy, will he consider a proposal to allow such corps to provide the kilt at their own expense and continue to wear it?
– The answersto the honorable senator’s questions are - 1 and 2. No. The instructions issued are that members of corps at present wearing the Highland kilt, as well as members of other “ national “ regiments, will be permitted to wear their present uniform until the expiration of their period of enlistment or re-enlistment.
Under the territorial scheme “ national “ regiments have been allotted to definite battalion areas, but as voluntary enlistment, excepting in the case of Light Horse Regiments, has now ceased, their establishments will be maintained by the transfer of recruits from the Senior Cadets as they become liable for service in the Militia Forces. Although forming part of the battalion these recruits will be formed into separate companies, and will not be intermixed among the existing members of the “ national “ regiments.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice- -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
-Colonel Sir ALBERT
GOULD. - Arising out of the answer, can the Minister say whether the map referred to is identical with one which has recently been issued in three different numbers, I think by the State of New South Wales?
– They are probably sections of it.
– Will the map come out in sections ?
– It is being prepared in sections.
– Two or three weeks ago I saw a copy of a map of that character.
– I do not think that there has been any issue of the Commonwealth map 3’et.
Debate resumed from’ 1st August (vide page 1536), on motion by Senator Millen -
That the Ordinance No. 3 of 1912 (an Ordinance relating to Crown Lands, entitled CrownLands Ordinance, 1912), made in pursuance of the powers conferred by the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910 and the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910, be disallowed.
– I freely admit that it is within the right of any honorable senator to challenge any regulation or Ordinance which may be tabled here, and when that course is taken the rest of the business of the country must be set aside, so far as the Senate is concerned, till the challenge has been dealt with. Nearly the whole of yesterday’s sitting was occupied by a challenge of this description. Although I have no desire that the discussion on the Crown Lands Ordinance for the Northern Territory should be limited, yet I hope that it may be finished to-day, so as to allow the other business on the noticepaper to be proceeded with. I think that in challenging the Ordinance, Senator Millen was really more opposed to the leasing principle which has been adopted by the Government, and embodied in an Act of Parliament, than to the Ordinance itself. Some time ago we passed an Act for the administration of the Northern Territory. With the concurrence of both Houses of this Parliament, the leasehold principle in the Northern Territory was adopted in preference to the freehold system. I wish to point ‘0111 that when clause 11 of the Bill was under discussion in this Chamber, the Leader of the Opposition raised no objection to that principle, but seemed to agree with it just as did honorable senators upon this side of the chamber.
– That was a novelty.
– It was a novelty. It is true that in Committee Senators Gould and Walker, in their usually mild manner, entered a slight protest against the principle ; but their protest had no effect, and the leasehold principle was adopted by Parliament, and embodied in the Act. It is too late in the day now to challenge that principle.
– But is there not an election next year ?
– I do not know what influence a discussion of this kind can have on a future election, seeing that the leasehold principle has already been adopted. The only way in which that system could be altered would be by an amendment of the Act. I wish now to point out the conditions’ which obtain in connexion with the Ordinance made under the Act in respect of leasehold land. A great deal was said by Senator Millen in regard to the immense areas which may be held under lease in the Territory but he was particularly careful not to disclose the full facts in any reference which he made to that subject As a matter of fact, provision is made in the Act for the classification of the land into pastoral, grazing, and agricultural areas, or into grazing and mixed farming lands and agricultural lands. The pastoral areas are divided into three classes. From division1 to division 3 the area which may be held by a lessee is multiplied by six. In the first division of pastoral lands, a lessee may hold up to a maximum of 500 square miles. Of course, the Classification Board and the Director of Lands, in considering the allotment of leases of that description, need not grant an area up to 500 square miles ; but that is the limit to which they may go. Of second class pastoral lands a lessee may take up to a maximum of 1,000 square miles, so that these holdings may range between 500 and 1,000 square miles. In the third class of pastoral lands a lessee may hold under this Ordinance, and under the Act which authorizes it, a maximum of 3,000 square miles, or six times the lowest maximum. I have heard some honorable senators say that that is too much. I am not going to say whether it is too much or too little; but honorable senators must recognise that we have accepted the responsibility of administering an enormous territory - a territory which is practically unexplored up to the present time.
– One-third of it is held underlease
-We will talk about that at a later stage. The Leader of the Opposition, in his usual clever manner, attempted to make it appear that great danger is likely to arise out of the privi leges conferred upon lessees under this Ordinance; but, as a matter of fact, a very large portion of the Territory is not only unoccupied, but unexplored. What is 50,000 or 100,000 square miles out of an area of 500,000 square miles ? The honorable senator will see that, although there are large areas held under lease under the South Australian law, there is an enormous tract of country which is still unoccupied, and which is likely to be unoccupied for many years. If we look at the history of settlement of other parts of Australia, we shall find that, although all the States have been under some form of government for nearly 100 years, not one of them is occupied or developed up to its full extent. It is conceivable that circumstances may arise in connexion with the administration of the Northern Territory which may render it advisable to lease far-back portions of it in areas up to even 3,000 square miles if anybody can be found willing to take them. When we look at the vastness of that Territory, when we consider the short time that it has been under the control of the Commonwealth, and when we realize that this legislation is to a very great extent of an experimental character, we must admit that we should endeavour to do something to make its occupation possible in the near future, and to give the greatest latitude to those who are prepared to settle there, particularly to those who are willing to settle in remote portions which at the present time are inaccessible to ports at which the settlers could ship their produce. The Government have been careful to select men to administer the affairs of the Territory who are in sympathy with the leasehold principle which is laid down in that provision of the Act to which I have already referred. While I am on the matter of classification I may as well deal with the classification of agricultural land. Agricultural lands in subdivision A, cultivation farms, are divided into two classes. In the first class an area may go up to a maximum of 640 acres. That is to say, a lease may be given for any area up to that limit, which, in the opinion of the Classification Board, is sufficient to maintain a family or to reward those who may take up land. In the next class the maximum is four times 640 acres - that is to say, 2,560 acres. Land of that class can be held for agricultural purposes under agricultural conditions, and at an agricultural rental. Under subdivision B, mixed farming and grazing, the maximum in the first class is 12,800 acres. In the second class the maximum goes up to five times that area, namely, 64,000 acres. So that honorable senators will see that those who have, up to the present time, had the administration of the Territory, and who have been advising the Government, have submitted suggestions which have been embodied in this Ordinance. When we take into consideration the enormous area and the variety of classes of land, we must realize the advisableness of trusting the Classification Board and the Director of Lands to do a fair thing with respect to the development of the Territory.
– Do I understand that this Ordinance is founded upon the recommendations of the Director of Lands and the Administrator?
– To a very great extent.
– Then the Director of Lands must have advised the Government, before he had been in the Territory.
– There are principles on which advice can be given without examination on the spot. I will next refer to the subject of reclassification, which is dealt with in clause 8. As I have already stated, we are in an experimental stage, and it is necessary that the Classification Board should have the power of reclassification in the future. Senator Millen argued that there was an absurdity in providing for reclassification when neither rental nor area could be interfered with. We cannot interfere with area, because that will be specified in the lease, and we cannot interfere with the rental until the next appraisement, because that also will be specified in the lease. But when we can interfere with the conditions under which land is held, there should be reclassification. Land which ought to be regarded as a grazing and agriCultural area might be classified as a purely agricultural area. The lessee might hold up to 12,800 acres. That would be held under different conditions than would apply in connexion with an agricultural area. In the same way, if in the near future accommodation was provided by means of railways and other conveniences for those occupying pastoral lands, those lands might be reclassified by being brought into the class of agricultural and grazing lands.
– Does not that simply mean that you will lease a man land under One set of conditions, and take power to alter the conditions at will?
– We tell the lessees at the start what the conditions are. But all the conditions that a lessee has to abide by are contained in the lease, and neither the area nor the rental can be altered till the next appraisement. The intention is that land shall not be continuously held in enormous areas for purposes which the Almighty never intended. Land should not be held in enormous areas for pastoral purposes, when reclassification might show that it ought to be regarded as agricultural. In a new country like the Northern Territory it cannot be said that the principle of reclassification is wrong as long as the tenant knows in advance that reclassification can be effected. Suppose that a lessee holds 12,800 acres under a grazing and agricultural lease, and that in a few years that land is reclassified and brought under purely agricultural conditions. Although the authorities could not alter the rent, and could not affect the area till the next reappraisement, yet the conditions in connexion with fencing, stocking, cultivation, and all that kind of thing would be entirely different, and as soon as the reappraisement was made the rent would be put up in proportion to the true value of the land. That is simply safeguarding the interests of the community, while we are dealing with matters from an experimental point of view. We must all admit that whenever the Leader of the Opposition speaks on any subject he has the ability to put his case in the most favorable light, and from the most advantageous point of view. There is a possibility that by not revealing the whole truth about a matter he may, in some instances, mislead those who have not taken the same interest in it as he has done himself.
– Unfortunate people like me, for instance?
– Yes, people like Senator Gardiner, who are naturally innocent and unsophisticated, though I know some questions as to which it would be as difficult to deceive the honorable senator as any man in the Senate. Senator Millen raised a serious objection to the provision in clause16e for the limitation of use. Has the honorable senator ever considered the conditions imposed in private leases? I never saw a private lease in which there was not a condition as to limitation of use, and peremptory conditions as to improvements, maintenance, and a dozen other things. In limiting the use to which lands may be put under a lease, we wish to provide that, for instance, factories shall not be built upon agricultural land.
– Then the Government have not very much faith in the Classification Board.
– It is because we have faith in the Board that we give them these elastic powers. If we had no faith in them we should make this Ordinance so rigid that the Board could turn neither to the right nor the left, and would have to administer a hide-bound and cast-iron set of rules. As this is largely experimental, it is necessary that the Ordinance should be elastic. The object is to give the Classification Board and the Director of Lands an opportunity to determine whether lands granted under lease are being put to the best use, or to the use for which they were granted. Whenever, in their opinion, land may be put to a more profitable use, they have the power to reclassify it, and, while giving the lessee good conditions, which will enable him to make a good living, and, probably, an independence in the future, will be able to do something to protect the interests of the general public. That is the purpose which members of this Parliament will have in view in consenting to elastic provisions in an Ordinance of this description. Apart from the provisions for the limitation of use, the Leader of the Opposition took serious objection to the addi tional conditions provided for. He attempted to argue that, after a lease had been granted in the Northern Territory, new conditions never previously imagined by the lessee might be introduced into the lease.
– The honorable senator has admitted it.
– I have admitted it only in connexion with the reclassification of land.
– That is enough.
– There are many additional conditions which it may be found necessary to impose in future leases. When a lease is granted to an individual, it represents a contract with the Administration of the Northern Territory, and no one can alter the terms of that contract until the time for re-appraisement arrives, when it can be altered only in respect of the rent, or until the land is reclassified or resumed, and the lessee is already notified of these contingencies in the Ordinance. All these things are provided for. The additional conditions referred to in clause 31 have nothing to do with the conditions of a lease already granted, unless by mutual consent; and we know that where there is mutual consent, the terms of any agreement may be varied. There is, therefore, nothing in the honorable senator’s argument in opposition to the additional conditions,.
– The honorable senator has justified it. He has proved what I said to be correct, namely, that the Government claim the right to vary the conditions after a lease has been issued.
– No ; the conditions of a lease must be adhered to; but additional conditions may be imposed in future leases granted to other people, after greater experience has been gained by the Classification Board or the Director of Lands.
– What the honorable senator means is that a lessee is warned that his lands may be reclassified, and therefore there is no breaking of his lease. I admit that, but the Government may alter the conditions of his lease later on.
– Another very mild complaint was made with respect to miscellaneous leases. Senator Millen seems to imagine that some injustice may be done because provision is made for the issue of miscellaneous leases, not by the Classification Board or the Director of Lands, but by the Administrator of the Territory. It is necessary to remind the honorable senator that this provision is included in the Ordinance to enable leases to be granted for the removal of bark or timber, or for the erection of factories, and a number of other similar purposes. As these will involve matters of policy rather than of land administration, it has been thought by those who are responsible for the Ordinance that it is better that they should be left to the Administrator than to the Classification Board or the Director of Lands. Honorable senators will admit the wisdom of placing the issue of these miscellaneous leases under the control of the Administrator. The next objection of a serious character which Senator Millen has taken to this Ordinance is in connexion with the terms of resumption. Honorable senators on this side will be agreed that the terms of the resumption will prove a safeguard against the continuance of the occupation of great areas which it may be found necessary at the inauguration of settlement in the Territory to grant to individuals. When it is thought advisable to resume any area already granted under lease, the lessee will be placed in no worse position than that in which a freeholder has always been. The only difference will be that we set out in the Ordinance that the authorities of the Northern Territory have power to resume lands held under lease, and the lessees will know that before they take up their land.
– I have said nothing against the power of resumption. What I said was that it is a foolish thing to grant perpetual leases knowing that in the course of a few years it will be necessary to resume some of those leases.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator. Under a perpetual lease, the lessee will have a better guarantee of permanence of occupation than he could have under a terminable lease. Under a terminable lease he might not be able to secure his land again after re-appraisement or reclassification, but under a perpetual lease he will continue his right to occupy the land, under the new conditions decided upon. It may be some years before the necessity for a resumption may arise, for in such a large territory it will be rather tedious work of development to provide railways and communication of ‘that description. Under the terms of the Ordinance, no lessee will be able to claim compensation for the value which has been given to the lease by any expenditure incurred by the Commonwealth. All the compensation that a lessee will have the right to claim will be the value which he has given to the land he holds ‘apart from any work which has been done by the Commonwealth with the people’s money. Seeing that all this is clearly set forth in the Ordinance, a lessee will be in no worse a position than an ordinary freeholder has been in up to the present time. When an honorable senator bought land years ago, probably he had no idea at the time that a law would ever be passed enabling either a State or the Federal Government to resume freehold land under certain conditions of arbitration or agreement. If we object to the resumption of leasehold land we should also object to the resumption of freehold land, but we have freely assented to the resumption of freehold in the Lands Acquisition Act. Consequently, there is nothing serious in connexion with the terms of resumption which would place a lessee in the Northern Territory in a worse position than a freeholder in any other part of Australia. Seeing the favorable terms which they will get, no persons will, I feel sure, object to taking up leases in the
Northern Territory. Another objection raised by Senator Millen to the Ordinance was that the consent of the Director of Lands is required to the transfer of a lease. Is there anything unreasonable in that requirement ? I feel sure that any honorable senator will say that the consent of the Government should be obtained in a case of this kind. Have honorable senators ever known the same provision to be contained in leases granted by private enterprise? Nearly every lease of private land contains a condition that the lease shall not be transferred without the consent of the owner. How can such a condition in a Crown lease be objectionable when it is clearly in the public interest ? Suppose that there are a dozen applicants for a lease, and that the land is leased to what the Board considers the most suitable applicant. If the Ordinance did not contain this provision, the lessee could turn round and transfer the lease to a person who might be considered by the Board to be unworthy or unsuitable to get any land. Honorable senators will surely see, not only the advisableness, but the great necessity, for requiring the consent of the Director of Lands, or other authority, to the transfer of the lease to be obtained.
– But suppose that a lessee dies?
– If a lessee dies intestate, and has no heirs, the lease will lapse; but if he leaves any heirs they will make a claim, and, no doubt, it will be fairly adjudicated upon. I think it must be admitted that this provision for obtaining consent to a transfer will not put a lessee in a worse position than any person holding land under lease from Senator Fraser.
-Colonel Cameron. - Are you making provision for that case?
– Yes, and that is all we make provision for. The men whom we have appointed to administer the Northern Territory are supposed to be sensible men, who will deal with the tenants of the Crown in a reasonable way. If evidence can be shown that a transfer to a certain person is necessary or advisable, it will be granted at once, but if it is a case where the lessee is prepared to transfer the lease to Tom, Jack, or Harry, whether he is a suitable person of5 not, the Director of Lands, or the Board, ought to have the right to refuse the application. I feel sure that Senator Fraser would put the same condition in any lease of property belonging to himself.
-Colonel Cameron. - Will the heir step in to the lessee’s right, or will the Board have to give its sanction ?
– The Board will have to give its sanction to everything. The honorable senator will see that if a just claim is made by an heir it will be granted at once.
-Colonel Cameron. - Why should the Board interfere in the case of a perpetual lease? Why should not the ordinary right of heredity operate?
– The provision does not apply to a case of that kind. It applies to the case of a lessee who, because the climate or the conditions do not suit him, or for some family reason, finds some person to whom he can transfer his lease, very probably for a consideration. He will have to get the consent of the Director of Lands or the Board to a transfer. It is a wise provision, because those who will have to administer the land must see that the future occupier, or the person to whom the lease is to be transferred, will be as good or as satisfactory a tenant as the original lessee. There is nothing unfair in the requirement at all. In everyday life throughout the world, this condition is put in private leases. It may be objected by Senator Millen that the obtaining of this consent will not have the effect of preventing aggregation.
– But you could stop aggregation by a simple prohibition.
– Oh, yes ; but in my opening remarks I pointed out that the Ordinance was made elastic for the purpose of overcoming difficult situations which may arise in the experimental stage. There is no doubt that after we have had a little experience a Land Bill will be brought before this Parliament, probably dealing with all these subjects, and finally dealing with them so far as future leases are concerned. If any leases are granted before its enactment, they will be issued under the provisions of this Ordinance. I do not think that any human ingenuity could devise anything which would conduce more to the possibility of settlement than will this Ordinance at the present time. I think that those who have the interests of the leasing system at heart will admit that the Government have tried to get men whose sympathies are with the leasehold principle, and they, knowing the policy of the Government and their supporters with respect to land aggregation, will be very careful in dealing with the transfer of leases to see that no large estates or large interests are created.
– It would be very hard to get a better man than Dr. Gilruth.
– I am not dealing with the Administrator, as the Government have settled that question. We did our best to get the most competent men available - that is, men who have some belief in the leasehold principle, and no belief in the aggregation of large estates. Another objection raised tq the Ordinance was that it dealt with the manner of cultivation, and it was contended that there should be no supervision of the treatment of the land of the Crown. A leaseholder might desire to cultivate a description of grass or herb, which, in his opinion, would be all right, but which, in the opinion of the rest of the community, might be all wrong, and do great damage to the settlement in the neighbourhood. It is right ia contracts of this description to have a condition that the cultivation shall be carried out in the interests of, not a single individual, but the whole community.
– But you are taking more than the power of veto; you are taking the power to compel the lessee to do something.
– In legislation, the practice is to take the widest powers, but it is not always found wise to exercise them .in an extreme manner. If, in the opinion of the Director of Lands, or those in authority in the Northern Territory, it would in any locality be better to cultivate certain articles than something else, they ought to have the power to direct that that should be done by the lessee. Thousands of persons will, I hope, go to the Northern Territory, many ot whom will have had very little experience of tropical cultivation. It is wise, therefore, to declare in an Ordinance of this description that something of that sort shall obtain. When the time arrives for a comprehensive Land Bill to be brought before the Senate, honorable senators will be afforded an opportunity of looking into the matter, with a view to insuring that no damage shall be done. As to fencing and other conditions appertaining to die different classes of leases, Senator Symon stated that settlers might be compelled to put up extraordinary kinds of fences every six months.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– He meant that the authorities might compel settlers to erect unnecessarily elaborate fences, and force them to alter or remove them at short intervals. But I would remind him that the conditions relating to fencing, so far as agricultural blocks are concerned, differ from the conditions relating to fencing in connexion with larger areas. Under the different classifications of land for which provision has been made, it is necessary to embody fencing conditions in the leases, and to administer those leases in a reasonable manner. In connexion with the smaller areas, conditions may be imposed rendering it obligatory on the part of lessees to fence them within a shorter period. But in respect of the larger areas no regulation has yet been framed for that purpose. When a regulation is framed in connexion with boundary fences, no doubt it will be submitted to Parliament, so that every honorable senator will have an opportunity of discussing it. From my point of view, the whole of the objections which were urged against this Ordinance were of a trifling character. I was sorry, indeed, for the Leader of the Opposition, because he always makes the very best of any subject which he takes in hand. However, on this occasion his premises were palpably weak, and, consequently, his arguments were of a very feeble character. The next objection which he raised had reference to the maintenance of the South Australian laws in the Territory. Now, before the Commonwealth took over the Territory, the South Australian laws were operative there. So far, we have passed only two Acts dealing with the Northern Territory, namely, the Northern Territory Acquisition Act and the Northern Territory Administration Act, under which this Ordinance has been framed. Do honorable senators imagine that it is possible, with our short experience of that country, to provide for every contingency that may arise there? We have merely declared - as has been declared in hundreds of Acts of Parliament passed by the States - that, where certain conditions have not been provided for by Statute, or Ordinance, or regulation, the South Australian law shall prevail. What did the States themselves do when they commenced to enact legislation? If a suspicion was entertained that that legislation was not complete, a clause was always inserted in it affirming that where that condition did obtain the common law of England should prevail. Senator Symon knows - and pro bably Senator Millen knows, too - that sometimes even the Statute law of England was made to prevail in the legislation enacted by some of the States.
– To the great profit of the lawyers.
– We merely provide that when our own Statute law does not cover any contingency which may arise, the South Australian laws shall prevail. What did this Parliament do in the earliest stage of its history? It had no Standing Orders, and, consequently, it adopted a resolution that the Standing Orders of another place should apply. These things have occurred hundreds of times in the past, and probably will occur thousands of times in the future. The next objection raised by Senator Millen had reference to the continuance of South Australian leases.
– I did not say a word against the continuance of South Australian leases. My objection was to the right which the Government give to lessees to apply to convert their leases into perpetual
– Did the honorable senator explain all the provisions in connexion with applications for perpetual leases? He did not. Of course, enormous areas have been granted by the South Australian Government in connexion with pastoral lands in the Northern Territory. They have granted areas of 10,000 and 20,000 squaremiles.
– One-third of the Territory is held under lease.
– Does not the honorable senator know that when any of these lease-holders apply to convert their holdings into perpetual leases they will have to comply with the conditions laid down by the Classification Board in the Northern Territory ? If they desire to obtain a perpetual pastoral lease in class I. country, they will be able to secure a maximum of only 500 square miles. Similarly, in class II. of pastoral country, they will be at liberty to take up a maximum of only 1,000 square miles, whilst in class III. they will be able to secure a maximum of only 3,000 square miles. So that if these lessees think they will be better off with a perpetual lease of from 500 to 3,000 square miles than they are with a terminable lease of 10,000 square miles under the South Australian law, that is their choice. Is there anything wrong in that ?
– Yes, the wrong of granting a perpetual lease instead of a ter minable lease.
– If Senator Millen wishes to substitute a terminable lease for a perpetual lease, he merely differs from the advisers of the Government. Under the powers of resumption to which I have referred, there can be no danger of the aggregation which has occurred in the different States, and which has rendered necessary the imposition .of a progressive land tax. It is with a view to making the conditions of the Territory as acceptable to its future inhabitants as possible that we are offering these liberal conditions. The next objection urged by Senator Millen had reference to the provision requiring an applicant to produce a medical certificate of physical fitness. I do not think there is anything very serious in that objection, because the strongest advocates of immigration in Australia are prepared to subject every intending immigrant to a medical examination before permitting him to come here. It will also be remembered that in our Immigration Restriction Act we .have laid down conditions with a view to preventing persons suffering ‘from certain complaints from gaining admission to the Commonwealth. We provide that they must be shown to be honest, healthy, and intelligent individuals before they are allowed to land here. In connexion with the Northern Territory, we must recollect that the Board who will have the selection of its settlers will never see them. The latter will probably make application from New South Wales, South Australia, India, England, and New Zealand. Surely the Board who will be responsible -for the settlement of this country should take some precautions to see that only wholesome, healthy citizens are settled in the Territory. There is no suggestion that that country is unsuitable for persons of weaker physical constitution.
– But it is not to be a dumping ground for derelicts.
– We do not want to make it a dumping ground for other than healthy, vigorous settlers.
– But the Government propose to make this restriction equally applicable to the citizens of the Commonwealth and to immigrants.
– Certainly. Although there is nothing in the climatic conditions of the Northern Territory calculated to impair the health of most people, yet a new country like that will be much more effectively developed by strong, healthy citizens who, before they go there, have been certified to be in good health, and to be possessed of sound constitutions, than it would be by weaklings. I wish honorable senators distinctly to understand, however, that the production of this certificate will be required only when asked for. When the Director of Lands or the Land Board consider it is necessary that the certificate should be produced, it will be asked lor. But when it was not considered necessary, it would not be asked for. It is in the interests of the development of the Territory that this regulation is made. Another condition objected to by the honorable senator relates to the obtaining of confidential information.
– Call it secret information.
– What is confidential information but secret information? I suppose the honorable senator is endeavouring to do the same thing in connexion with the leasehold principle as his friends used to do with the Labour party. We have always called ourselves a Labour party, but our opponents tried to make out that we were anarchists, nihilists, and I do not know what else. These epithets were applied as though we were persons to be dreaded. The same tactics are being resorted to in connexion with the system of administration that we are carrying on. It is sought to make it appear that there is something sinister and reprehensible in this policy - something that” ought not to be tolerated by the country. As I have said, the Board will have very little opportunity of coming into personal contact with many of the applicants. Consequently, it is necessary that information should be obtained about them. When that information is given, it is to be regarded as confidential. Naturally, the Board will endeavour to obtain information from people who have no interest in endeavouring either to exalt the virtues or exaggerate the vices of applicants. But the information is required so as to enable the Board to come to a conclusion as to the merits of intending settlers. There is nothing wrong in that. It would be a good thing if a system of the same kind were adopted in connexion with the allotment of land by Land Boards of States. Frequently, these Boards take evidence which is not given on oath, accepting the statements of individuals who have an interest in misrepresenting people and lying about them. Under that system, land has been allotted to persons who ought never to have got a foot of it, and who never intended to cultivate it.
– This Government are offering a premium for lying.
– No ; we are only making an honest attempt to obtain the best kind of settlers for the Territory. As the Administration and the Board cannot be expected to come down from the Territory and interview applicants personally, they have to do the next best thing. We have a right to protect those who give information to assist the Government in the selection of settlers for the Territory. The next objection raised by Senator Millen was in connexion with clause 20 of the Ordinance. It relates to the period of reappraisement. I do not think that Senator Millen would be intentionally unfair, but there was no justification for endeavouring to make the Senate believe that reappraisement would take place every month or so, or as often as a new building was put up in proximity to a holding.
– I say now that that is the case.
– I cannot say that the honorable senator knows his statement to be incorrect, but he knows that there is no probability of anything of the kind being done. Suppose that a lessee takes up a town block, which is subject to re-appraisement, in any case, every fourteen years. He gets the block at a certain rent. As Government money is spent, the value” of land is increased. The holding of a settler whose case I am supposing may be .’ increased in value from £100 to £1,000. Ought the occupier of the lease to be the only person to benefit from that expenditure of public money ? This clause gives an opportunity for re- appraisement in the event of the expenditure of public money increasing the value of holdings. But if nothing of the kind is done, there can be no re-appraisement for fourteen years.
– Then if the Government put up a public building every week, a holding can be re-appraised every week?
– Does the honorable senator think that, even in a city like Melbourne, a new Parliament House, a new Customs House, or a new Post Office could be erected, or that a new railway could be opened every week? Cannot the honorable senator see the absurdity of the position he is trying to establish?
– I think it is likely that the Government will be putting up new buildings every year for some years to come in a place like Port Darwin.
– Suppose the honorable senator took up a lease, and that the property was worth ,£100. Suppose that the Government spent a few hundreds of thousands of pounds in the neighbourhood, and his lease in consequence became worth £2,000. Ought the honorable senator to pocket the .£1,900 which he did not earn ?
– I say that the Government are making an impracticable proposal, and that no one will build under such terms.
– We hold that, when a block of land is increased in value by the expenditure of public money, the lessee of the block should be expected to pay more in consequence of the increase. If not, who should bear the cost? Should we down here do so? Should other citizens in the Northern Territory bear the whole expenditure on account of public works in Port Darwin? The principle of re- appraisement at other times than- the fourteen years’ period stipulated is a fair thing. The individual affected may not like it, but the rest of the community will think it fair; and we must have regard to the interests of the community as a whole. Another objection raised was in connexion with the forfeiture of leases when conditions are not observed. Under such circumstances, somebody ought to have the power to forfeit a lease. A similar condition applies in every private contract.
– But a private contract does not allow the landlord or agent to exercise the power of forfeiture. That power is exercised by the Law Courts.
– In this instance the Director of Lands is not the landlord. If a lease were made capable of forfeiture by the Land Board, it would entail the adoption of a rigid system worked on definite lines.
– With less room for favoritism.
– The honorable senator is so suspicious that I believe he thinks the Administrator is going to carry out the principle of preference to unionists in connexion with land regulations.
.- We should not put temptation in his way.
– This is not temptation, but a necessary provision. A Board would be much more cumbrous to move. This provision is elastic. If the lessee whose lease has been forfeited thinks he has been unfairly treated, he can appeal to the Administrator, and the Administrator may restore the lease. I am afraid that the honorable senator has been looking for mares’ nests in the Ordiance, but he has found no eggs yet. It is considered by the Government that it is better, in the interests of the individual whose lease may be ^forfeited, that he should appeal to the Administrator than that we should work through a Board. That is my opinion also. I do not know why the honorable senator should cast suspicion on the Administrator, and suggest that he would not hold the balance evenly.
– It is not a matter of casting suspicion. In New South Wales, years ago, we tried the one-man business, and it broke down.
– When there appears to be any danger of that in the Northern Territory, we can send up a new Administrator. That might alter things. I have already dealt with the objections of the honorable senator to perpetual leases for large areas. He says that it would be better to grant terminable leases, and ultimately freeholds or perpetual leases. . I do not know where he is.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator is not prepared to grant perpetual leases right away. He would first grant terminable leases, and after they had expired he would be prepared, according to his own statement, to grant the lands as freeholds or as perpetual leaseholds.
– I did not say anything of the kind. I defy the honorable senator to find that in Hansard.
– I shall find it.
– It is rather a mixed condition of things.
– It is perfectly and wilfully mixed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– No doubt, the honorable senator means that he would give a person looking for land the option to choose the terms he thought best. But we are not proposing anything of that kind. We submit to intending settlers in the Northern Territory certain definite conditions. They have been set down in the Act to which I have already referred, and are further developed by this Ordinance. I have already stated that this question, as dealt with by the Leader of the Opposition, is the question of leasehold versus freehold. The leasehold system has been adopted by this Parliament, and the honorable senator never questioned it when the matter was before the Senate. We are endeavouring to carry out the leasehold system in the. best manner that can be suggested by an efficient staff of officers, and the intelligent consideration of the members of the Government.
– It is obvious that none of the men who drew up this Ordinance have had any experience in connexion with land.
– If the honorable senator’s statement is of any value, he must know well how to draw up a land Ordinance, and if he can do it better than any one else, I shall recommend him to the Attorney-General for the work when it is necessary to issue another Ordinance of this kind. The honorable senator is not the only experienced land administrator in Australia. There are others who know a little-‘ about land, as well as the honorable senator. I am sorry that the position of Director of Lands is filled, because, from his own showing, and according to the opinion of some of his friends, the honorable senator would be an admirable person to fill that position. But he expresses so much suspicion of the officers who have already been’ appointed to deal with these matters in the Northern Territory, that I am afraid he might be -equally suspicious of applicants for agricultural, pastoral, or grazing leases, and would find very few settlers who could satisfy him. I have endeavoured, to the best of my abilities, to explain away the difficulties of the honorable senator. If I have not been successful I must, I suppose, admit that my experience has not been as extensive as that of the honorable gentleman ; but, seeing that I was digging potatoes from the time when I was ten years of age, I ought to know as much about land as some people. I have no wish to curtail the privileges of any honorable senator. I could not do so if I had, nor would I do so;but J hope that, in order that the rest of the business of the country may be proceeded with, the debate on this Ordinance will be reasonable, and will be terminated as soon as possible.
– I am in agreement with very much; that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has said. I was pleased to hear the effective answer he was able to give to the greater portion of the criticism of Sena- tor Millen. But, notwithstanding all that has been said, since we cannot deal with this Ordinance in detail, I shall vote against it, and chiefly on the ground of the enormous areas of land which may be leased under it. I am surprised that such proposals should have been made in connexion with a new territory, in which we might bring into existence ideal conditions, and in dealing with which we should be guided by the experience, and bitter experience, of the whole history, of settlement, not in one, but in every State of Australia. If there is one thing which, more than another, has retarded the development of this great Commonwealth, it has been the mistakes made in the early days by people who believed they were doing the right thing in granting land in huge areas. They entirely overlooked the interests and requirements of generations to follow. With all this experience before us, and a knowledge of the bitterness engendered in the fight which men who wanted land have had to make to secure it, because it had been granted in huge leases such as this Ordinance provides for, it is difficult to imagine the application of a worse system of land administration in the Northern Territory than is proposed by this Ordinance. I suppose it will be contended that, because the leasehold system is on the platform of the Labour party, we must accept it under any conditions. But, to my mind, there is very little difference between giving a man a freehold and giving him, as this Ordinance provides, a perpetual lease, not of a reasonably, but of an unreasonably, large area.
– The Northern Territory is a huge territory.
– That might be said of Australia years ago, when we first began making grants of land, and in the Bathurst district one man dedicated all the land to himself. I recognise that, in view of the hugeness of the territory, the fact that the land was unclassified, and the almost impossibility of handling it properly, there was some justification in the early days for the granting of land in large areas.
– But we provide that iri the Northern Territory we can resume land with compensation for improvements.
– Granting that that provision is contained in the Ordinance, it does not do away with my objection to allowing it to go forth as the opinion of the Senate that the officials charged with the administration of the land of the Northern Territory may grant as leases a maximum area of first class pastoral land of 500 square miles, or 320,000 acres; a maximum area of second class pastoral land of 1,000 square miles, or 640,000 acres; and a maximum area of third class pastoral land of 3,000 square miles, or 1,920,000 acres.
– That is outside the grazing classification altogether.
– I do not care what it is outside of. If the lands are so inferior that such areas are necessary to induce people to take them up, it would be a great deal better, in my opinion, to grant only areas of a reasonable size, and leave what is not taken up under those conditions as common lands in the hands of the Government, to meet the requirements of advancing settlement. It should not be forgotten that every man placed in the possession of a huge area of country is an enemy of closer settlement from the day on which he secures possession of it.
– They have seen that in America.
– It is a part of the history of land settlement everywhere. A man once in possession of a huge area of land becomes an enemy to closer settlement. I know that in New South Wales, where a big pastoral holding was divided, and the land thrown open under the improvement lease provisions, the pastoral lessee, who was a straightforward man, gave evidence on oath that the land would not produce wheat, and yet a man who had secured an improvement lease of some of the land swore that he had got twelve bushels an acre from it. The pastoralists honestly believed that the land they held was not suitable for farming.
– Has the honorable senator no confidence in the Classification Board when he talks like that?
– My experience of Classification Boards has not been such as to induce me to repose very much confidence in them. As late as. 1895 the New South Wales Government, in dealing with what were believed to be inferior lands, heavily timbered, and requiring the expenditure of large sums of money before they would be fit for farming purposes, threw them ©pen under improvement lease conditions. The result was that the country was immediately subdivided into huge areas under improvement leases. There was then an outcry about the huge areas that were being leased under leases for twenty-eight or forty years, and in less than ten years it was discovered that these areas included some of the best farming lands in New South Wales. I can refer to one of these leases, known as Wingadee, which came under the purview of a Royal Commission, and when it was thrown open to settlement 600 persons made application for the land in farming blocks of about 1,000 acres each. Ten years’ experience and knowledge had made it plain that the Parliament and people who consented to the granting of this land in large areas had made a mistake. I venture to say that if, in the Northern Territory, any effective remedy against the tick were discovered, the value of the lands there would be enhanced by many thousands of pounds. If it were found that cattle grazing could be carried on as successfully in the Northern Territory as in what are at present healthier parts of Australia, what would then become of the proposed third class grazing areas?
– They would be reclassified.
– That is too thin for me.
– What Government would be -there to do it?
– Just so. Senator Sayers might be in charge, and he could be trusted not to reclassify the land against the interests of his friends. The huge areas proposed to be granted under this Ordinance are to me entirely objectionable. I do not object to reasonable rewards in the shape of big areas of land being granted to the pioneers of a new country who are willing to undergo risks. But I do object to locking up land of which we know very little at the present time in the way proposed by this Ordinance. I admit that there is a provision for the resumption of land on the payment of improvements. I suppose that/ in the beginning, the land will be taken up chiefly by companies. 1 can go back to the Land Act of 1 86 1 of New South Wales, when Sir John Robertson made provision for free selection before survey upon land granted in areas such as are proposed in this Ordinance to men who received their grants before constitutional government was established in New South Wales.
– The” South Australian Government granted one company 20,000 square miles of land in the Northern Territory.
– On a terminable lease.
– Yes, for forty-two years. ‘
– Before constitutional government was established in New South Wales, land had been granted in huge areas, and I can remember the great change which took place when the old cry of free selection before survey was raised. There was then nearly a revolution in the State. We had on one side the landed classes, backed up with the money they had at their disposal, fighting the people who wanted to pioneer and develop the country in the proper way. Even when that Bill was passed, and the squatters found themselves beaten at the polls, what did they do? They simply put dummies on the land from one end of the State to the other, and still aggregated big estates. This Parliament was engaged a year or two ago in imposing a land tax to compel these landowners, if they would not sub-divide their holdings, at any rate to pay a fair share towards the government and defence of the Commonwealth. With ideal conditions obtaining in the Northern Territory, and with our eyes wide open to the bitter experience of a century of land settlement in Australia, the Government are proceeding along the same blundering lines as were followed in New South Wales. I do not care how democratic, good-hearted, intelligent, or straightforward the members of the Classification Board may be, if we lead the Board to believe that we think that an area of 1,920,000 acres of third class land is a reasonable pastoral lease, and some person shows that he has the necessary capital at his back to work that area, I do not see how they can refuse to grant a lease of that enormous area. In confirming this Ordinance, we are virtually saying to the Board, “ Handle this land to the best advantage to the Commonwealth. We know that you offer every inducement to men to come, but so far as leasing is concerned, do not give any one a lease of an area larger than 1,920,000 acres.”
– No; they can give to one man several leases.
– Could any one of us honestly find fault with the Classification Board, or the Administrator, for granting a lease up to the area which is set out in the Ordinance?
– What area would you be prepared to lease?
– I should be prepared to grant an area of a reasonable size. and also to allow the lessee the right to use other land for grazing purposes till it was taken up ; because no great revenue is likely to be derived from the leases. If the land is so inferior that nearly 2,000,000 acres are needed to make a holding, how much rent is the Government likely to get from a lease? I doubt if they will get enough to defray the cost of collection.
– The question of area has surely some relation to the term for which a lease is granted?
– I quite agree with the honorable senator. I recognise that there is means provided for taking the land back from a lessee if settlement and development should take place. If, for instance, gold were discovered on leased land, as was done in Western Australia, that would immediately make the land very valuable. Suppose that a man is pioneering, that gold is discovered on his leasehold, and that within a few months a town is established in the centre of a block, say, 55 miles square, for which he is paying a fraction of a penny per square mile, and has under lease for all time. What compensation is he going to get when this land is suddenly boomed from being worth a fraction of a penny to perhaps £100 a foot for street frontages ?
– Then he cannot have the land; it will become a different class of land - town land.
– I do not care how inferior the land is; my argument is that the proposed area of a pastoral lease is unreasonably large.
– If the area were smaller, the position would be the same if gold were discovered on a leasehold.
– I am almost inclined to argue no farther, for the simple reason that I recognise that there is quite a number of methods by which land can be taken back from a lessee. I admit that to the utmost of their foresight the Government have made provision in that regard; but I object to land being leased in these huge blocks. 1 venture to say that the greater portion of the Territory is third class pastoral land. How many individuals will it need to form themselves into an exploring and prospecting company to take up pretty well the whole of the available land? What will happen if ten men come together and take up pastoral leases ?
– What will the Director of Lands be doing? He will not be asleep. They will have to apply with other applicants.
– I think that the Director of Land will conduct the business as a sane man. If I owned all the land inthe Northern Territory, and I wired1 an instruction to my agent, “ Lease land under these conditions, but take care, in the case of third class land, you do not give leases of more than 1,920,000 acres,” I take it that, as an intelligent man, he would believe that his instruction was that if a suitable man came along he was to give him a lease of that area of land. I admit that the greater portion of the land in the Northern Territory will be classified as third class land. On the well-watered rivers and the lowlying country you may have rich farming land, and also cane land. Then we get the different belts. We have only to look at the bulletin issued by the Department of External Affairs as to an exploration party which covered many miles of the country to see the daily record of individuals who are on the spot. We have to face this fact: that the greater part of the Northern Territory is third class pastoral land, and that, as such, it may be taken up in areas which should stagger the community. I shall not submit to .this provision without a protest. No doubt, the Vice-President of the Executive Council will say that I have been misled by the sophistries of the other side. I have tried to watch the development and settlement of land with a degree of fairness. Whenever a few years’ experience has brought about altered conditions, I have not been one to say that things have been done in a dishonest way. We should not only look at matters as they are to-day, but should be guided by the experience of the past. We should try to put ourselves in the place of those who went before us in the State, fifty, or twenty, or ten years ago, and in the light of their experience to make better conditions for land settlement than they did.
– Will you give us some idea of what you consider a fair maximum ?
– I do not think that it would improve the position a bit if I did.
– Yes, it would.
– My idea would be altogether out of touch with the area allowed in the Ordinance, so far as regards land which is fit for settlement and likely to bring people to the Territory. So far as farm land is concerned, the area proposed is not only a fair, but a liberal one. The idea of a grazing block 55 miles square, speaking roughly, is ludicrous. Why, a lessee would have to ride 220 miles to go round his boundary. If the land is of such poor quality that a grazing block 55 miles square is considered a living area, what is the use of trying to secure settlement on land of that character under any conditions?
– We are not likely to get much settlement unless we offer good inducements to people.
– That is the old story. I am anxious to save the Commonwealth from scandals such as have arisen in New South Wales. Within 10 miles of the Carcoar and Millthorpe railway stations a huge area was granted under an improvement lease. It was inferior land, being only fit for grazing, and could not be used for farming except after a large expenditure. Within ten years from the issue of the lease a portion - 10,000 acres - was divided, and the biggest area which they offered to the farmers was a 900-acre block.
– But that was owing to rotten administration.
– It was due to want of foresight on the part of those who passed the legislation. I plead guilty that I was one of those who were then prepared to pass the legislation, but I do not knowingly make two mistakes in my life.
– You should give us an idea of what, in your opinion, would be a fair area.
– The honorable senator is very clever in trying to tie me down to an expression of opinion. A man with his eyes open to-day may believe that a certain area is barely sufficient for a living area, but, ten years hence, he may find that he was mistaken. Does the honorable senator want me to make that sort of mistake?
– In twentyoneyears, you can correct that mistake. You could not do that in New South Wales.
– It could be done. . If there is no reasonable chance of the Government altering the Ordinance and providing a reasonable area for a pastoral lease-
– How can we do that when you will not tell us what a rea sonable area is? If we made an alteration, you might say that the new area was too’ small, or too large, and vote against it.
– This is a matter for consideration by experts who know the country.
– That is just what it is.
– If the experts advise that an area of 1,920,000 acres of third class pastoral land is a reasonable area, the best thing the Government can do is to say, “ So far as that class of country is concerned, we will leave it open to every man to graze his stock on, as people did centuries ago.”
– There is nothing compelling them to lease the land to anybody, lt merely says that if the land be leased, the condition will apply.
– That is the condition which is laid down for the guidance of those who will administer the Act. I have endeavoured to confine my objection to the enormous areas comprised in the leases which the Government are prepared to grant. “ I venture to say that a Committee of this Parliament, with the evidence which is at their disposal in our public Departments, would be able to produce an Ordinance which would provide for the taking up of land by leaseholders in such areas that very little objection could be urged to them. I shall vote against the Government upon this question, but not from any fiendish desire to thwart them. Only last night I was compelled to vote against them, and, as a loyal supporter, 1 protest against continually being placed in the position of having either to vote against them or to register a vote for which I should be sorry all my life.
– There are one or two points in connexion with this Ordinance on which I desire to say a few words. Speaking off-hand, the maximum area for which provision is made in Class I. of Division 1, would, in my opinion, be ample as the maximum area for Class III. Without being able to determine what is a living area in the Northern Territory-
– A man wants more than a living area in a new country.
– When I speak of a “ living area,” 1 mean an area which will enable a lessee to acquire a competence before old age overtakes him. I believe that the large areas set out in this Ordinance are bad for the Commonwealth, inasmuch as they will delay rather than accelerate the development of the Territory, and bad for the individual. If there is one thing which has injured the occupying class of Australia more than another, it is the fact that they have hitherto held more land than they could manage to the best advantage. Even in the district in which I reside at present - a fruit-growing district - there are men who could do well on 10 acres, but who are trying to become possessed of 40 acres. In the wheat-growing areas, too, individuals who could make a good living upon 300 or 400 acres are anxious to procure not less than 1,500 acres. Here we are asked to perpetrate a similar evil, because I cannot conceive of any individual requiring close upon 2,000.000 acres to make any effective use of it. What will be the consequence if such huge areas are taken up? A lessee, if he makes any improvements at all, will be tempted to spread them over a large tract of country, whereas be would probably obtain better results if he confined them to a smaller area. lt seems to me inconceivable that land which is worth occupying requires to be taken up in areas of 2,000,000 acres to satisfy the wants of one individual. The only answer made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council to criticism of this sort is that the power of resumption will enable these lands to be reclassified, and the areas to be reduced, as settlement advances. I have looked carefully through the resumption clauses, which certainly provide that in assessing compensation for dispossessing an owner, the latter should receive no consideration in respect of improvements effected by public expenditure, or by proposed public expenditure. But no provision whatever is made in respect of the improved value which will arise from settlement and private expenditure.
– Or from such an instance as was cited by Senator Gardiner when he spoke of the discovery of a gold mine.
– A re-appraisement is provided for.
– Every twenty-one years.
– That re-appraisement will not affect resumption if the Government wish to resume in the middle of a twentyone year period.
– Exactly. The VicePresident of the Executive Council stated that we do not know what are the potentialities of the Territory.
– The Land Board will classify the land.
– But it will not constitute itself an exploration party, and travel over the country.
– It will have to do so before it grants these leases.
– Then it will require to be possessed of angels’ wings before it has finished its job. If we are going to justify the leasehold system, we must do so under sensible conditions. While I do not share the view expressed by Senator Millen that there is any special virtue in a terminable lease as against a lease in perpetuity, because a terminable lease may be for twentyone years, and during that period increments in value may arise-
– The amount of the compensation to be paid to a lessee on resumption would be less in the case of a terminable lease than in the case of a perpetual lease.
– In the case of a terminable lease the Government would have an opportunity of reviewing the whole of the circumstances.
– The same resolution in another place was directed against the leasehold system in its entirety.
– I have not read what was said in another place, and would no* be influenced much by it, anyhow. I intend to support the perpetual leasing system as against the freehold system, but not because I believe that the last word has been said upon it. We shall have land used to the best advantage only when we adopts a system which more closely approaches to communal ownership.
– The State Labour party’s programme in New South Wales, as outlined by Mr. Holman, is exactly upon these lines - a re-appraisement every twenty years.
– It is not Mr. Holman who can decide these matters, but the Labour movement as a whole.
– That is the Labour movement’s policy as it is interpreted by the State Labour party.
– I do not wish the Minister of Defence to misunderstand me, nor do I desire to misunderstand him. I am not finding fault with the period of reappraisement. I recognise that settlers in a new country should not be disturbed very frequently in regard to the land which they hold. It would not be fair to subject them to short periods of reappraisement. Such conditions would militate very seriously against the taking up of the landa of the Territory. In a new country we must offer much more liberal conditions than are offered in older and more settled Countries. I do not wish to adhere to doctrinaire theories in regard to matters of that kind. But when we offer these Liberal conditions we should not offer lessees such enormous areas. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has emphasized the fact that we have intelligent men charged with the administration of the Act - men who will not grant these large areas unless they see it is advisable to do so. But as Senator Gardiner has pointed out, whenever they can obtain a suitable applicant under this Ordinance, they will have power to grant him up to the maximum area in the various classes. If the Leader of the Government in this Chamber is prepared to say that in no instance will such large areas be granted, it is clear that there is no necessity to permit them to be granted.
– How in the name of Heaven can I know that? I have not travelled over the country. For all I know to the contrary there may be a block of 3,000,000 acres, which would not be too much to grant to a lessee.
– If the argument of the Vice-President of the Executive Council be sound, we should remove the restriction as to area altogether. Why should we impose a limitation of 3,000 square miles in connexion with Class III. of Division 1 country if we know nothing whatever about the land?
– Because those who know more about it than I do, and more than the honorable senator knows, recommend it.
– What can any living man know about land which has not been explored ?
– A lot of it may be agricultural land.
– Exactly. But the officers in the Territory cannot know what unexplored land is like. I cannot conceive of any land being so valueless that 2,000,000 acres are required to enable a man to make a competence. Any lessee would be very much better off with a far less area than he would with such a principality.
– If I had time 1 could take the honorable senator to land where he could not make a living on 2,000,000 acres.
– A man is foolish to think that he can garner wealth from ex ceedingly large areas, no matter how poor in quality they may be. I do not think that we should minister to that mentallydiseased state. It seems to me that by placing the maximum, area which a lessee may hold so high, we are attempting to discredit the leasehold system. In my opinion there is no land, however bad, that 500 square miles of it, which is the maximum area provided for under Class I. of this division, would not be sufficient as the maximum area under Class III. The powers of resumption do not meet the case. Suppose that the Land Board finds it impossible to personally acquaint itself with the character of every square mile of land which it has to administer. Suppose that after one of these huge areas has been divided up, and is carrying a big population, gold or other minerals are discovered. One can easily imagine that areas which are . now practically wildernesses would become the centre of considerable townships.
– Then they will be reclassified.
– Not until the twenty-one years’ period is up. You cannot take the land from the person who holds it until that time without paying compensation, except for public improvements. Sometimes, however, huge values are given to land purely by private improvements.
– They would only be improvements made by the holder himself.
– The clause does not say so. It says -
Provided that no compensation shall be allowed in respect of any increased value arising from the construction of any public works or from any proposal to construct any public works.
– A reduction of railway freights would add to the value of land, and would not allow the Crown to claim anything.
– Just so. There is a fanciful business about this. Every day in this country lands are being increased in value in districts which some years ago were practically wildernesses. That is being done by the mere aggregation of population, whilst-, of course, public improvements, more or less, add to the process. If you could separate the value that is given to land by public improvements on the one hand, and the added value that may be attributable to private improvements and settlement on the other hand, I have little doubt that in many, instances the im- provements not due in any way to public improvements would far exceed those which could be attributed to such agencies. If this Ordinance could be amended in two respects, many of the other matters alluded to by Senator Millen might be regarded as of minor importance. If we could make the resumption clause include, not merely the added value given by public expenditure, but the added value given from all other causes as well, except the individual’s own improvements; and if also the area could be reduced in such a way that in no case would the area permitted, even in class 3, exceed the maximum proposed in class 1, it would be an improvement, although I should say that even such areas would err on the side of being too large, rather than too small.
– A man who takes land for pastoral purposes under this Ordinance cannot divert it to mining purposes. He cannot cultivate any more than he requires for his own use.
– I should like to hear Senator Rae on that point.
– That knocks all to pieces the argument that the lessee is going to get more than he ought from mining, and so forth.
– Can an individual be disturbed if improvements on land round about his holding increase its value? I know of a man in New South Wales who obtained an ordinary conditional-purchase selection of 90 acres. He was very sore at the time on account of his ill-luck, because some of the other allotments were much larger. A village had been laid out adjacent to the land which he obtained. But he was a very shrewd man, and he managed, practically, to constitute his 90 acres the village. Thereby this individual was able to prevent settlement taking place on the adjacent reserve, and to induce it to take place on his area. The result was that he made a fortune out of a block which he took up as farming land.
– Under this Ordinance, an individual could not do that.
– What the Vice-President of the Executive Council does not realize is this : Just as it is said that a coachandfour can be driven through any Act of Parliament, so you will find that astute land-owners can discover innumerable ways of evading the technical provisions of enactments which are intended to limit their enterprise. The combined cleverness of a number of land-holders can generally out wit any Board I ever heard of. I feel sure that if this Ordinance had been going through the Senate as an ordinary Bill, instead of coming before us in the way it does, the Vice-President of the Executive Council would never have been able to justify the enormous areas proposed to be permitted; nor would he have been able to justify the resumption proposals submitted here. There seems to be too much of the trail of the professional man over this Ordinance, and not enough of the work of the practical man.
– Not of the professional man, but of the theorizer.
– I mean that there is too much of the official, and not enough of the work of men of practical knowledge. It seems to me to be a great pity that we cannot have such an important Ordinance, which is really a Land Bill, passed through Committee in the Senate, and considered in detail. Then it could be framed in accordance with our views. In the multitude of councillors there is more wisdom than in the work of two or three individuals. I feel sure that some of the more objectionable features of this Ordinance would not be tolerated by a democratic House of Parliament if they came before it in the form of a Bill. Unfortunately, a Government feels impelled to regard an Ordinance of this kind as though it were a sort of gospel, something so perfect as to be incapable of improvement.
– We do not think anything of the kind. If the Ordinance can be shown to be capable of improvement, I hope we are not so narrow-minded as to be unwilling to alter it.
– Then I hope that the Government will alter the Ordinance by reducing these maximum areas. It will be nothing less than a public scandal if we allow a condition of things to come about by which one individual can, under an Ordinance passed by a Labour Parliament, led by a Labour Government, be allowed to occupy close upon 2,000,000 acres of land in one block. There is no limitation under this Ordinance to the quantity of land that one person can control. I am credibly informed by some of those who have been in the Northern Territory that under the South Australian administration of it some clever individuals have obtained leases which have been so selected, north, south, east, and west, as to enclose and include art enormous area of land, for which they pay nothing. That process was resorted to in my native country, New Zealand, under the regime of the late Sir John Hall. There was a regulation in force at one time that not more than a certain area of land could be purchased in freehold. But certain persons got the best of the surveyors in some way, and had areas of land surveyed in alternate blocks just below the amount that could be purchased in freehold. They then bought the other blocks, and had the use of the blocks which were not purchasable, because no one else could get them. That process was known as “ gridironing.” In some Australian States large areas were obtained by dummying without any regulation being actually broken at al l. By their ingenuity these men were able to get the better of the regulations made for the control of land settlement. No doubt, the men who drew up the land Ordinances and regulations under which these things took place were clever clerical men, but they were outwitted by the landholders. This Ordinance is vitally defective in what it omits, as well as in what it includes. I do not expect that anything I can say will influence the Government to alter it; but I enter my protest in the most emphatic way I can against granting lands in such enormous areas under a system which takes no note whatever of the immense values which may accrue from other than public improvements, whilst imposing no limit to the number of separate holdings which a person may have and still comply with the Ordinance.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.50].- This debate has indicated that- honorable senators are not satisfied to deal with the Ordinance under consideration in the manner in which we are called upon to consider it. Even the Minister, to a certain extent, apologized for the way in which the subject comes before us. He told us that in the course of a few months, after gaining experience, the Government will probably be able to come to Parliament with a Land Bill.
– I did not say “ in the course of a few months.” I said “in the course of time.”
– The note I made of the honorable senator’s remarks was “ after some experience the Government may come down with a Land Bill.” Consequently, this is ian experimental Ordinance, intended to work until the Government gain experience to enable them to pass legislation-^ which may be more suitable for the leasing of land in the Northern Territory. But it must be remembered that under the Ordinance we shall be giving vested rights to a large number of settlers.
– The honorable senator’s party would give vested rights for alE time, and give the community no rights.
– When these rights have been given by an Act of Parliament, we may find it necessary to make drastic alterations in the system.
– I never said anything like that.
.- But I say it.
– The honorable senator is wrong in saying it.
– It is absurd to suppose that the Government will not have to make drastic changes after experience has been gained.. We shall be gaining experience at the cost of giving to many people vested interests, and we shall have to pay them if we wish to disturb, and intend to act honestly towards them.
– If their leases are granted to them under certain conditions,, that cannot be so.
.- The legislation afterwards passed may make alterations which will render the Commonwealth liable to pay settlers large compensation. Senator Millenpointed out the limited number of farms or grazing areas that might be taken up under this Ordinance, and still occupy the whole of the Territory. He pointed out what areas had been taken up under the South Australian administration, and said that the average holding was 270,000 acres in extent. Taking that as a basis, hesaid that if that were the average, it would mean that the Northern Territory would provide for only 1,237 holdings. The honorable senator further said -
Let us take not the maximum area but the mean area of 1,000 square miles - if perpetual leases are offered of holdings of 1,000- square miles, it will be possible to have in the Northern Territory only 523 such holdings. Suppose that the average at present existing, 270,000 acres, is maintained. There will then be provision in the Territory for only 1,237 such holdings.
Honorable members opposite may laugh,, and say that it is not likely that such a. state of affairs will exist.
– The honorable senator knows that it is piffle.
– The proposals of the Government may be piffle, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council may be quite right -as to that. Senator Millen has shown what might occur under those proposals.
– If the land is all of the worst class!
– If one-third of the area, which we may presume is not the worst, is already occupied by 250 or 260 people.
– It is a very serious proposal to grant the lands of the Northern Territory in such large areas. Honorable senators opposite are professedly anxious that the Territory should be settled as closely as possible, having regard to the climate and other conditions. We have professed to regard the Northern Territory in its unoccupied condition as a menace to the safety of Australia. It has been contended -that, for this reason, we should settle there as large a population as we can. To do so we must be very careful with regard to the situation and extent of the areas we throw open to pastoral occupation. I admit that there will be small holdings in the townships and villages and for agricultural purposes, as well as for mixed grazing and -agriculture; but we have a right to consider the possibilities under this Ordinance. We have before us the experience of all the States of Australia in connexion with land legislation for the last half-century. No man who has followed the history of land legislation in New South Wales since 1861, when free selection before survey was introduced, can overlook the serious troubles and difficulties that had to be faced to keep up with the progress of settlement, and 10 check the attempts made by people from time to time to frustrate the intentions ot Parliament in passing progressive land legislation. The Government appear to have been blind to all this experience. Probably it is because it has been too close to them that they have been unable to take advantage of it. Senator McGregor attempted to belittle the arguments of Senator Millen, and challenged his knowledge of the land laws of Australia. I believe that Senator Millen has a more intimate knowledge of our land laws than has any -other member of the Senate. If there are -other honorable senators who think that, in saying that, I do them an injustice, and who can claim an equal knowledge, we are fortunate in being able to command their advice. I admit that I have not half the knowledge of land legislation in New South Wales that Senator Millen possesses, though I have been a resident of that State during the whole of the time it has been dealt with. Supporters of the Government condemn the huge areas provided for, and other provisions of this Ordinance, and, although the Government may be able to carry it through, it will, I think, be very much battered before it is finally dealt with by this Parliament. Whether the freehold or leasehold system be adopted, it will be necessary, in order to settle the Northern Territory, to offer attractions to settlers, while having due regard to the interests of the community at large. Many attempts have been made to settle which up to the present time have been without success. It was a source of enormous expense to South. Australia during the many years she had control of it. There was no year in which South Australia was able to show a credit balance in the administration of the Territory. We cannot doubt that South Australian Governments did their best to make the administration a success, but it had to be recognised that the work was too great for an individual State, and, consequently, the Commonwealth has taken the Territory in hand. I am not one of those who believe that it is valueless, though it may not be as valuable as are certain other parts of Australia. I would ask honorable senators to say whether they believe that the provisions of this Ordinance will be considered attractive by the smaller settler. Pastoral lessees will be able under it to secure enormous areas in perpetuity at a low rent, subject to periodic appraisement. There will probably not be a sufficient revenue realized from the rents of these pastoral holdings to meet the cost of their administration, and the policing of that portion of the Territory in which they will be situated. That may continue for years, unless some great movement of population takes place, and then I admit that, under the Ordinance, the Government will have th« power to resume the pastoral leases, but they must pay for that resumption. We are told that conditions may be determined upon which do not appear in this Ordinance; but if such conditions are imposed, those who take up the land under the provisions of this Ordinance will be entitled to compensation for any loss they may sustain from, the imposition of new conditions. It has been pointed out that a gold-field might be discovered upon a pastoral holding. While it is true, as the Vice-President of the Executive Council has said, that the lessee would be unable to work his land for minerals, since minerals will be reserved under the lease, he would, in my opinion, be entitled to receive the material benefit which would arise from the fact that, by the discovery of a gold-field, he would have a market close at hand for stock. If he is to be treated honestly, he should receive this benefit, and if his land is resumed, he should receive adequate compensation. In addition to the instance referred to by Senator Rae, I might quote the case of the Wyalong gold-field. It was discovered on the selection of some people named Neild. The place, instead . of being an ordinary free selection held for grazing purposes, became at once a valuable property, on which a town was established. All the neighbouring pastoralists participated in the benefits accruing from the establishment of the Wyalong gold-field. If we are to adopt the leasehold system in the Northern Territory, it would, in my opinion, be better to provide for terminable leases for a reasonable period. The South Australian Government considered a fortytwo years’ lease a reasonable period, but we might consider that the lease should be for twenty or twenty-one years, and that such a lease would induce settlement. The great thing in inducing settlement is to let the intending settler know that he will have security of tenure and conditions for a fixed period. In my opinion, it would be much better to give a settler security of tenure and conditions for a limited period than to offer him a perpetual lease with varying conditions. At the close of a terminable lease the land would revert to the Crown. The probability is that steps would be taken a few years before the termination of a number of leases to formulate a scheme for dealing with the land when those leases had expired. The new conditions being made known, it is possible that the existing tenants would agree to continue the occupation of their holdings for another period. Where freeholds are granted, of course, the value of the land is received in the first instance by the Grown, but if- terminable leases are granted, the Crown will secure the improved value of the land at the close of the lease. In any case, a man would not care to take up land under the apprehension that he might be interfered with in some material way before his lease expired. We have determined for the present to grant lands inthe Northern Territory only upon a leasehold tenure. That may be wise in dealingwith a new territory the future of which is,, to a certain extent, obscure ; but we mustall recognise that the desire for a freehold1’ is inborn in men. There is scarcely any man who does not desire to have a home of his own, and to be able to say, “ No one cannow interfere with me ; I am absolutely protected.” Of course, the holder of a freehold must pay taxation, but he is tied to the country, and may be looked to for its defence, and to do what he can to advance its. prosperity.
– Order ! I point out to the honorable senator that the question is not one as to the merits of the leasehold as against the freehold principle, but of allowing or disallowing a particular Ordinance based upon a law passed by this Par:liament.
– I recognise your ruling, sir, and have no desire to transgress it. As I am. prevented from pointing out the value of a freehold to an individual, I say that, whiledealing with small holdings on the leasehold principle, we might charge a peppercorn rent, and give a lease for 999 years.. That would be equivalent to a freehold. Individuals who took up land under such conditions would be able to regard it as theirs for a thousand years, and” a holder could then say that when he passed away his son would come along and the property would remain in hisfamily, unless the Government should consider it necessary to terminate the lease in the interests of the public at large, when,, of course, they would have to pay reasonable compensation.” Every argument which can be urged in favour of a freehold tenure can be equally urged for a tenure of 999 years under the conditions mentioned by me. Under our Act it is within the power of a Government to propose that, instead of giving leases in perpetuity, subject to periodical reappraisements, they shall be given for a fixedterm.
– Do yousay that this Ordinance does not permit the granting of a lease for 999 years?
– Under the Ordinance, the Government could not grant a 999 years’’ lease, though they could grant a lease in? perpetuity.
– I take it that it is the periodical re-appraisement of <the land to which the honorable senator objects ?
– Yes, because it will interfere materially with the use of the land. My argument is that security of tenure and security of conditions are primary inducements to people to settle in the Territory. A man would sooner take up land for twenty-one years, provided that he had security of tenure and security of conditions, than he would take up land in perpetuity which was subject to re-appraisement, not only at the end of twenty-one years, but whenever the Government might make public improvements which would be considered as having added to its value. With regard to agricultural lands and lands to be used for mixed farming purposes, there is the power to re-appraise at the end of fourteen years, and also at any time when improvements are effected in a locality which have enhanced the value of the properties. Therefore, a man who takes a lease of this land can have no security or certainty in regard to the conditions under which he is going to live. There is a further condition which, I think, is rather a mistake, in view of the peculiar conditions which prevail in the Territory, and that is that a man shall reside on his leased land. An agricultural lease must contain -
A covenant by the lessee that he will establish a home on the land within two years after the commencement of the lease, and, subject -to any exemption granted by the Classification Board for cause shown, that he will thereafter reside on the leased land for a period of six months in each year in the case of land for cultivation, and four months in each year in the case of land for mixed farming and grazing.
The Government will probably attempt to defend that condition on the ground that they want men to settle, and not to take up land for speculative purposes. The condition in regard to improvements I do not take exception to. A man should be -under a condition that he shall effect certain improvements and do -certain work on the land ; but these conditions should not be made too onerous. As regards the condition of residence, it : should be borne in mind that the Territory has not yet attracted the people whom we want to go there. None of the people in the settled districts of the Commonwealth nave shown any disposition to reside in the Territory for the purpose either of farming or mixed farming and grazing. -The reason for this reluctance is very evident. There are so many more attractions in the more settled portions of Australia that, naturally, these persons are not likely to go to another place where they will be tied up in this way. If the Government would give men an opportunity to occupy the lands of the Northern Territory, and bring them into cultivation, and promote settlement without imposing too restrictive and onerous conditions, they would be much more likely to attract population from the settled districts than under the condition of residence. In New South Wales, not long ago, a. system of homestead selection, with perpetual residence, was adopted ; but it was whittled so far down that men were able to apply to convert their selections into conditional purchases, which only] entailed residence for a limited period.’ These men said, “ We want, not merely the right to hold a lease subject to periodical re-appraisement, but also the right to convert the property into a selection, arid ultimately into a freehold.” A little while ago the present Government proposed to repeal the legislation which was enacted at the instance of Mr. Wade, to enable the conversion to take place. In the first instance, no power of conversion was given ; but when the opposition of the people to perpetual residence and periodical reappraisement and the other conditions was disclosed, the provision in the law was changed. When the McGowen Government took office, Mr. Nielsen, the Minister of Lands, thought that the power to convert should be taken away. This led to a great outcry, and the Government said that they would not interfere with any persons who chose to make an application to convert the holding within twelve months after the passage of the law. The result of the agitation, however, was that Mr. Nielsen left the! Government, and they found themselves obliged to accept the law as it then was. If the Commonwealth Government had provided in this Ordinance that perpetual leases could be converted into leases for 999 years, they would have found that the same feeling would operate in the Northern Territory as did operate in New South Wales. Let me direct honorable senators’ attention to what is now happening. The other day I had the privilege, with some other honorable senators, of going to Yanco and seeing Mr. Griffith turn on the water on the irrigation settlement established there.
One of the conditions of a lease there is that the lessee shall reside on the land, and shall be subject to periodical reappraisements, which are to be made at rather distant periods. I do not believe that there is a provision that, apart from such re-appraisements, a re-appraisement shall be made when the Government effect valuable improvements. The Government have laid out villages on the property, and, of course, imposed conditions with regard to rentals.
– Is the time for reappraisement specified?
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT
GOULD. - Yes, times are specified in the law. Mr. Griffith has intimated lately that when there are lands available whichhave not been applied for under the conditions attaching to land at the present time, he will be prepared to allow those lands to go on freehold terms. Victoria is bringing out settlers from America, and so is New South Wales, in order to create irrigation settlements. I do not know whether the settlements in Victoria are subject to periodical re-appraisements. We have to learn not only by the mistakes, but also by the successes of our neighbours, what is the best field for us to occupy; and I think that we should limit the leases of pastoral, agricultural and mixed lands in the Northern Territory to - twenty-one years, if you like, but we should give security of tenure and security of conditions, and perhaps require a premium before a man could take up a lease. The Government have recognised that, to a certain extent, there will be some difficulty in getting persons to take up land, because the Ordinance contains this provision - ln the case ofthe first five thousand blocks of agricultural lands taken up on perpetual lease after the commencement of this Ordinance, no rent shall be payable for the period of the applicant’s life, or for a period of twenty-one years from the commencement of the lease, whichever period is the longer.
It is perfectly clear, from that provision, that the Government apprehend some difficulty in getting people to take up the agricultural land. The inducement held out to them is the use of the land for a period of twenty-one years without the payment of any rent whatever. But after the first 5,000 blocks have been taken up, these lands will be subject to the ordinary conditions of rental and periodical re-appraisement.
– The honorable senator does not object to a twenty-one years’ re- appraisement ?
– The Government have themselves recognised the difficulty of inducing persons to take up these leases-
– It is the difficult condition? of the country which we have recognised.
– The Ordinance provides that before a lessee can be settled in the Territory he must obtain a medical certificate of physical fitness. Probably the reply of the Government will be that they do not. want men to go there and lose their lives as the result of bad climatic conditions. To my mind we should do much better in the matter of securing the settlement of the Territory if we were to offer settlers security of tenure. There are a number of conditions set out in the Ordinance with which I do not propose to deal. They have been elaborated by Senator Millen who, I think, urged very material objections to them. If the Government had adopted a different course of procedure - I admit that it would have taken time - by submitting for our consideration a Bill setting out the whole of the conditions relating to land tenure in the Northern Territory, it would have been very much more satisfactory. I know that there are many honorable senators who support the Government who would like to see the Ordinance substantially altered, but who do not feel themselves justified in voting for its rejection. To my mind, however, it would be far better to disallow it, because the Government must have derived benefit from this discussion, and as a result would be able to frame an Ordinance which would tend more to the settlement of the Territory than would all the experimental legislations that may be introduced from time to time. It is acknowledged that we have to learn a great deal before we can lay down permanent lines for its settlement. In my opinion it would have been much better to have submitted a tentative measure.
– This is really a tentative measure.
– But while it is called a tentative measure the Government are creating certain vested interests which will have to be paid for.
– A perpetual lease does not look much like tentative legislation.
– No doubt Senator Gould would be prepared to sell some of the land.
.- I would.
– He would be prepared to sell the whole of it.
.- No. I would lease the land for limited periods with security of tenure. In towns and villages I would be prepared to let it either upon a 999 years’ lease or upon a perpetual lease, but not subject to all the harassing conditions which are imposed under this Ordinance.
– With no reappraisement?
– I would allow a man to pay for his land or to pay a certain sum of money for his lease. If it became necessary to obtain revenue from it the Government would still have reserved to them the power to levy a land tax.
– Then we should have to fight to secure the land tax.
– Unless there was some legitimate necessity for its imposition. However, I am not now discussing the merits of the freehold as against the leasehold system. I have merely pointed out the advantages attaching to a lease of 999 years without harassing conditions, as against a perpetual lease which is subject to improvement conditions and to periodical reappraisements.
.- The Senate is indebted to Senator Millen for having brought this question forward. I quite agree with Senator Gardiner that we have not any reason to be proud of the land legislation of Victoria or of some of the other States. That legislation has always been of a tentative character, just as this legislation will be. Senator Gardiner was at some pains to stress the fact that it is not wise to allow persons to get a grip upon large areas. We have seen the evils of that policy in Victoria. At one time, the Mallee was regarded as being unsuitable for settlement, and large areas were therefore let at peppercorn rentals for a period of twenty years. I was not in the Victorian Parliament at the time, but my father was, and he fought strenuously against the adoption of that course. What happened? Before the leases had expired, it was found that the land was valuable. The lessees were able to sublet to persons who paid them from 5s. to 10s. an acre. In another instance, in Victoria, there were large areas of country which could not be utilized, and these were sublet under section 32 of the Land Act. I was in office just before those leases expired, and it was my intention, upon their expiry, to throw them open for settlement. But when they fell in I was not in office. As a result, those who had held them secured practically every one of the blocks. I am afraid that with the large areas which can be taken up under this Ordinance, and under the South Australian law, the same sort of thing will happen again. I recognise that the taking over of the Northern Territory was the most momentous step which this Parliament will be called upon to take for scores of years. Consequently, we require to act with the utmost caution. In assuming control of this enormous Territory of 523,000 square miles, we have loaded ourselves with a very heavy liability. The public debt upon it is £2,748,062; the deficit is £779,734; the cost of the existing railway is £2,242,343 ; so that, altogether, we have taken over a burden of £5,770,139. The railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, which will have to be constructed at an early date, will cost £4, 500,000. In other words, we are shouldering a liability of £10,270,139, and the annual cost to the Commonwealth will be more than , £500, 000. These facts are important. The Territory is being specially favoured in that it must be developed by the rest of Australia. The other States have had to find the money for their own developmental purposes, but the Northern Territory will be developed at the expense of the Commonwealth, and, therefore, it is our duty to be exceedingly careful in all that we do. How are we to meet this liability ? By peopling this immense tract of country. The peopling of it was the one great reason which induced us to take it over. It was regarded as the danger zone of Australia. It was recognised that unless we filled its mighty spaces, it would be open to an enemy to gain admission to our shores there, and to work great disaster. Now, the only way in which we can people the Territory is by popularizing land settlement. Section 11 of the Act of 1910 reads -
No Crown lands in the Territory shall be sold or disposed of for any estateof freehold, except in pursuance of some contract entered into before the commencement of this Act.
Any fight as regards land tenure should have taken place upon that measure, and should notbe revived upon the present occasion. Personally, I recognise that under the leasehold system what has happened in other countries will happen in the Territory after the lapse of a certain time. In other words’, when the settlers there are strong enough, they will secure the freehold of their lands, just as the settlers have done in New Zealand. Consequently, I am just as well content to see its lands taken up in the first instance upon the leasehold principle. Every step that we take to popularize land settlement in the Territory is of importance, and especially so is our first step. I do not approach, the consideration of this matter in any party spirit. Honorable senators upon both sides of the Chamber should be desirous of doing the best that they can to settle this Territory. To my mind, it is a pity that the Government have discarded the services of men who have known it for many years. I refer to such men as Mr. David Lindsay and Captain Barclay, who have travelled all over it. I say that the Ministry would have acted wisely if they had retained their services to the Commonwealth. These men would probably have helped us to overcome very many difficulties. Personally, I think that it will never prove satisfactory to manage this Territory from one central office. The Territories of the United States have never been managed from Washington. A Governor and Secretary were first appointed, and then the Central Government allowed the people of the Territories to have one-chamber Houses, by means of which they practically managed their own affairs, whilst, also, they were allowed to have one representative in Congress. The bureaucratic management of the Northern Territory by officials will break down. The Minister of External Affairs, with the enormous matters with which he has to deal, will never be able, to give much attention to the Territory, and within a comparatively short time we shall find ourselves in the position of having to give a measure of local government to the people. The Government have no reason to complain of the speech made by Senator Millen. He has indicated a great many defects in the Ordinance; which, although it may be carried at the present time, will, I am satisfied, have to be altered in the near future. I join with others in expressing regret that a proper Land .Bill was not introduced. This Ordinance is really a Land Bill, and we ought to have been able to discuss it clause by clause in Committee, so that the wisdom and experience of honorable sena- tors generally might be invoked to make it as perfect as possible. We find that the pastoral areas allowed are to have a minimum of 320,000 acres, and a maximum of nearly 2,000,000 acres; agricultural areas,. 640 acres to 2,560 acres; farming and grazing areas, from 12,800 acres to 64,000 acres. The great blemish with regard to the Ordinance is. the insecurity of conditions imposed by it. There is power to be for ever altering the terms and condi-tions during the operation of the lease. We ought to allow a lease to run for a time prescribed - fourteen or twenty-one years - and “should not interfere with the conditions during that time, unless some extraordinary circumstances should arise. A man should know in what position he stands, and not be subjected, at the whim or caprice of any official or Board, to have his conditions of tenure altered- We are told that the land will be subject to reclassification. That is an unfair provision,, and imposes another element of uncertainty that will be very hard on settlers. Moreover, it will tend to deter investors from going into the Territory. The Minister of External Affairs has said that he does not: expect rich men to go there. He wants to> attract poor men. But I point out that it is .only those who have a backing whowill be able to face that country. No poor man could possibly go there and expect toearn a living. If the Minister does not expect rich men to go to the Territory, he will find that none at all will go. I agree with Senator Millen that giving grazing, holdings under perpetual leases is a veryunwise step. We shall find that nearlythe whole of the country will be mopped’ up in large areas, and the very object which we have in endeavouring to people the Territory - because we recognise that itis our danger zone - will fail to be accomplished. In my opinion, when people goout into the back-blocks, and face the hard’ conditions that prevail there - face flood,, drought, and bad seasons - special consideration ought to be given to them. I have represented pioneers for many years,, and know what their troubles are. If the whole of the unearned increment is to betaken away from rr-op’e who are willing to undergo special risks, it will tend to discourage settlement. Those who go toa country of this kind first, and tear the greater part of the hardship entailed in pioneering, ought to be treated in a liberal manner in regard to the unearned increment.
– Does the honorable senator say that the Government propose to take all the unearned increment away from them?
– That is what the Ordinance proposes, and Senator Rae even advocated that we should go further. The question of compensation is extremely important. If people find that they are only going to get the bare value of their work, and that when public works have created improvements in values those values will be taken away from them, the effect will, be to deter people from settling the Territory. They will not be content to go to a country which is hundreds of miles away from civilization to obtain merely the bare result of their labour, when they could obtain greater advantages under more comfortable conditions. The present time is very favorable for inducing land settlement in the Northern Territory, if suitable attractions are held out. The land at the disposition of the United States Government is nearly all taken up. It is only a question of a very few years when there will be no Government land available in that country. Settlers will then have to buy land either from private owners or from railway companies. Therefore, the time is opportune for the development of a liberal land settlement policy whereby we might attract cultivators who have been used to dry districts to settle in the Northern Territory. In the United States of America, settlers have been able to get 360 acres - in some cases smaller areas - absolutely free, and without being subjected to the restrictions that this Ordinance sets out.
– Does the honorable senator think that the leasehold system is inherently bad?
– I do not say that. I rather welcome this experiment. I recognise that it is a tentative system, and that it is only a matter of time when the leaseholds will be converted into freeholds. Another important matter is that an enormous area is locked up under leases granted by the South Australian Government while it had charge of the Territory. The dates of unexpired leases run from 1935 to 1945, and until those periods expire we cannot interfere with the lands so held, except by paying heavy compensation. I understand that 82,687,920 acres are held in this way. That is an enormous area. We may be sure that the holdings do not represent the worst part of the country. We shall find that the eyes have been picked out, and that the best land will not be available for settlement. These areas are held at rentals running from 6d. to is. per square mile, or about id. for each fiftythree acres. The revenue will not by any means cover the cost of government, and these conditions will act as a drawback to settlement for many years to come. I think it is absurd to put in regulations as to the examination of settlers to prevent diseased persons going to the Territory. A man would not be likely to want to go there unless he was in good health. A person with a serious complaint would not be likely to take a wife and family there. The provision is a cruel one, and should be struck out. I think the clause regarding the obtaining of confidential information is a mistake, and should be eliminated. I believe in all inquiries of the kind being conducted in open court by a Board. A person should not be allowed to make a statement to the detriment of an applicant for land unless the statement is made in public, so that the press can report it, and the person affected can hear ft. I hope that this provision will be reconsidered. Moreover, I am of opinion that the government of the Territory should not be concentrated in the hands of a few officials. The people ought to be allowed to govern themselves in their local affairs. I realize that a matter of this kind ought to be considered without party bias. If the Ordinance were rejected, it would not be a stab to the Government, because no party issue is involved. It should be rejected in order that a more satisfactory condition of affairs may be established.
– It is as well that this discussion should have taken place, because, although the subject of the debate is called an Ordinance, it is really a law ; and this is the first Federal law affecting the Northern Territory with which we have had an opportunity of dealing. In this matter we have had to be guided by the experience of the different States. Although “ the conditions of the Territory and of the States are not exactly similar, there are portions of some of the States where the conditions approximate to those existing in the Northern Terr tory. It would be foolish to say that this Ordinance should stand for all time. No doubt the conditions in the Northern Territory will change. The very success of this Ordinance, if it is a success, will give rise to changes which will necessitate alterations of the law from time to time. Many different methods of dealing with the question might be suggested, but he would be a very rash man who would dogmatize upon any one of them. We must all admit that in the Northern Territory we shall be, to a great extent, experimenting.
SenatorFraser. - And we should, therefore, proceed on safe lines.
– That is so, and to determine what are safe lines we must have recourse to the experience of the various States in dealing with what were considered waste lands.
– Have we any State experience of perpetual leases of waste lands ?
– I refer to State experience of the settlement of waste lands. I have not yet come to the question of perpetual leases. There are, in all the larger States, at any rate, areas of land which, notwithstanding all our advance in scientific discovery, are to-day, comparatively speaking, worthless. There are areas bordering upon these which are of some commercial value for pastoral purposes ; only there is in connexion with them an element of risk, in the shape of drought and other causes. As we approach the rainfall belt the areas increase in productive value and in certainty of production. It has always been the case for a Government dealing with such varying conditions to grade the land, in order to induce settlement. It is recognised that where settlement is more risky, and the promise of return less, very large areas should be allowed, to encourage people to take up land which would otherwise remain entirely unproductive.
– Can the honorable senator dissociate the area from the tenure under which it is held?
– I am not doing so; but 1 intend to say what I have to say in my own way, and not in the way in which Senator Millen desires I should say it. What I have said applies to New South Wales, Queensland. Western Australia, and South Australia. I can remember the time, in my early days in South Australia, when vast areas of land were taken up which, apparently, promised adequate, returns, and to-day much of that land is abandoned. There was a time when greater areas were abandoned, and in recent years some of that land has again been taken up. It is idle to say that we should apply to all lands the same condition as to the area to be granted. It follows, therefore, that we must classify our land; and this Ordinance provides for classification. It provides for the classification of pastoral lands into practically five grades - two of mixed farming and grazing, and three of purely pastoral lands. The areas proposed range from 20 square miles - which is the maximum, it should be understood: - for class I., mixed farming and grazing, up to 3,000 square miles, the maximum of class III. pastoral lands. It must be obvious that the land classified as class 111. pastoral lands must be the very worst land in the Territory. A Land Board has been appointed, which, the Government contend, consists of men who not only have a knowledge of the quality and capacity of land, but who are in sympathy with the desire of the Government to have closer settlement in the Northern Territory to the greatest extent possible. To this Land Board is committed the problem - and it is a serious problem - of going through the country and classifying the lands, always having in view the securing of the greatest amount of settlement possible, with a successful use of the land. Honorable senators have criticised this Ordinance as if practically the whole of the pastoral lands of the Northern Territory were to be let out in large blocks of 3,000 square miles each. That is not a reasonable construction to put upon the Ordinance. That would mean that all the pastoral land of the Northern Territory would be graded as of the very worst quality. I have not visited the Territory myself, but from what I have read of it, and especially of the Barklay Tableland, I think there is good reason to believe that a considerable area may be classified as mixed pastoral and grazing.
– A very great deal may be classified as first class pastoral.
– A great deal of it is held under pastoral leases in areas of about 250,000 acres.
– Not under this Ordinance, but under the laws of South Australia ; and, as Senator Findley has pointed out, the leases referred to can be terminated. Mr. David Lindsay, the explorer, who was in the Survey Department of South Australia, and lived for several years in the Northern Territory, traversed the whole of the Barklay Tableland in various directions, and he has told me that it is possible to run a ploughthere for100 miles without touching a tree or a stone. and turning up, over the whole distance, a beautiful rich soil. There is also a good rainfall there.
– At the wrong time of the year.
– I was coming to that. Mr. Lindsay says that, judging by our experience in the southern districts, the rain does not fall on the Barklay Tableland at the right time of the year for wheat production; but he adds that that has never yet been tested. He says that he has passed over old tracks of horses, and beside those tracks has seen wheat 5 feet high in full head, and the heads ripening. That, so far, is the only test of the capacity of the land for the production of wheat.
– I have seen the same thing in the western division of New South Wales, but no one thinks of growing wheat there.
– I have seen the same kind of thing on the Western Australian gold-fields. The only reason why the gold-fields of Western Australia are not today the greatest wheat belt on the continent is that the rainfall there is deficient, and not that it does not fall at the right time of the year. Mr. Lindsay said that a few experimental blocks and experimental sowings of wheat throughout the year would demonstrate whether the Barklay Tableland country is not capable of being put under cultivation.
– Why conduct agriculture in unfavorable places whilst there is so much good land in favorable places still uncultivated ?
– I do not know that there is very much good Government land still uncultivated. If the honorable senator were to set out to-morrow to look for land in this State in the hands of the Government, and suitable for farming, I think he would have some difficulty in finding it.
– That may be so, but there is still plenty of land in the most favoured regions of Australia which has not yet been cultivated.
– We are not charged with the duty of settling people in those favoured regions, but with the duty of settling people in the Northern Territory, and this Ordinance has been drafted for that purpose. If Mr. Lindsay’s description of the Barklay Tableland be correct, it would be very rash for any honorable senator to say that the whole of that laud will >be classified as third class pastoral land. The probability is that the bulk of the Barklay Tableland will be classified as mixed farming and grazing land, or, at least, as first class pastoral land, and the maximum area of such land which can be taken up by any person under this Ordinance is 500 square miles.
– No settler could cultivate in that district until some means of communication are provided.
– That is another problem. I am not at liberty to discuss now what the Government propose to do in that direction, but the Estimates and the Budget speech of the Treasurer disclose the fact that we have already begun to take action to improve the means of communication in the Territory. It is singular that during this discussion we have had honorable senators expressing conflicting ideas, and yet supporting each other. Honorable senators opposite are, of course, against this Ordinance because it embodies the leasehold principle, but Senators Gardiner and Rae support the leasehold principle.
– It is not correct to say that we are opposed to leaseholds, because I have throughout advocated terminable leaseholds.
– I was not referring to Senator Millen particularly, and if he says that he is in favour of. leaseholds I accept his statement. I was referring to the attitude of the party with which he is associated on the question of leaseholds against freeholds, and to the fact that, in submitting a motion similar to this in another place, an honorable member who -is of the same party as Senator Millen confined his remarks almost entirely to a denunciation of leaseholds.
– No one advocates freeholds for big pastoral holdings.
– I admit that my honorable friends opposite do not go to that extreme. Senators Gould and McColl condemn this Ordinance because of what they call the insecurity of the proposed leaseholds. Senators Rae and Gardiner, on the: other hand, condemn it because of the rigidity of the conditions. Honorable senators opposite tell us that no one will take up these leases because we attach so many conditions to them. They say that a settler will never know when his rent will be re-appraised, or his land be taken away from him. Senators Rae and Gardiner have said that they are opposed to the
Ordinance because it will never be possible to take these leases away from people once they are given to them.
– Both statements are correct as applied to different classes of land.
– I do not think so. I agree with Senators Gould and McColl that these leases are not rigid. I consider that one of their virtues. The statements which have been made about the Barklay Tableland show how careful we ought to be not to injure, under either a leasehold or a freehold system, the prospects of the development of that country.
– Perpetual leasehold as against a limited leasehold.
– Perpetual leasehold can be made, so far as locking up country is concerned, equivalent to a freehold.
– I am glad to hear the Minister say that.
– I have always held the opinion that, while for that purpose a perpetual lease can be made as bad as a freehold, from the community point of view it can be made as good as a short lease. That is all determined by the conditions which are attached to the resumption of the lease. First it has to be remembered that pastoral leases will be granted for specific purposes, as set out in the Ordinance, and that is for pastoral purposes only. An honorable senator, I do not remember on which side of the Chamber he sits, argued as if pastoral leases conveyed the whole freehold and the right to the lessees to do as one can do with a freehold, but they do nothing of the kind. All minerals are reserved. Even the right to cut timber is reserved. The Crown reserves the right to allow a person to go on the land and cut the timber, and also the right to go on the land and mine for minerals. There is a prohibition upon the tenant to use the lease for any other purpose than that for which it is granted, that is, for either pastoral purposes or for mixed farming, or for agriculture. Senators Gardiner and Rae, who were alarmed at the rigidity of the conditions, referred to the possibility of a. gold-field being opened up. But they overlooked the fact that the Ordinance itself contains a provision to meet that case. If a gold-field should be opened up on land held under lease, the Government will have the right to proclaim a town site. These honorable senators spoke as if the holder of the lease would get the benefit of the increased value which might arise from the town site being proclaimed.
– Where is the right to proclaim a town site given in an existing lease ?
– Paragraph c of clause 17 reads -
In any lease under this Ordinance -
a reservation of a power of resumption shall be read as a power to resume the whole or any portion of the land as prescribed by this or any other Ordinance or the regulations;
– Exactly - on payment of compensation.
– The Crown must give two years’ notice.
– No ; the honorable senator is wrong there. On page 10 of the Ordinance he will find this provision -
– If the Crown wants to resume a lease for a gold or mineral field, what will be the position?
– The honorable senator loses sight of the fact that it will not be necessary to resume land for that purpose, because the Crown will have the right to issue miners’ rights straight away. The mineral rights are reserved by the Ordinance to the Crown, and the lessee has no right in them. The right of resumption is clearly given there, on payment of compensation. Now the question arises, What have we to pay for when we resume the land? The question is argued as if we had to pay for the increased value of the land, but that is not correct. All that we shall have to pay for, in addition to the improvements, is the increased value of the lease as a pastoral lease. Now what is the increased value of a lease as a pastoral lease from the fact of a town site being proclaimed on the lease?
– It may be a great deal indeed.
– According to the size of the township, the pastoral lessee may be provided with a market alongside his door; but what is the value of an ordinary township, with 150 inhabitants, to a pastoral lessee ? The value of the meat which the townspeople will eat during a year will be insignificant compared with the quantity of meat which will have to be grown on the leasehold before it can be made a payable proposition. The compensation to tie paid to the holder of a pastoral lease is not the community-created value, nor is it the added value given by public works.
– The latter is excluded, but the former is not; there is a difference between the two.
– The value given to the land by the construction of public works is excluded, and the other is limited. The honorable senator will admit that.
– I do not.
– Then I shall read clause 23 of the ‘Ordinance, but, before doing that, I wish to quote a provision in clause 16- -
Leases under this Ordinance (other than miscellaneous leases) shall contain reservations, covenants, conditions, and provisions as follows : -
a covenant by the lessee that he will use the land only for the purposes for which it is leased.
That is the only right which the lessee has in the land. Then follow the various rights of the Crown in connexion with the lease. Under the head of “ Pastoral leases,” we find this provision -
In addition to the matters provided for in Division I., pastoral leases shall contain reservations, covenants, conditions, and provisions as follows : -
a reservation of a power of resumption ;
Next, clause 23 says -
A pastoral lease under this Ordinance shall authorize the lessee to utilize the land for pastoral purposes.
In clause 35, we find this provision -
The same clause contains this provision -
The right of the lessee to the land is the right to use it ; he has no right to the communitygiven value, but only a right to its value as a pastoral lease pure and simple. In compensating a pastoral lessee, we shall compensate him for that value, and that a.lone.
– For what you take from him?
– And what we take’ from him is ‘the lease as a pastoral lease, and the loss he suffers is the extent of his property in the lease. Otherwise, he has no right, other than the Crown has granted him. He can have no other legal claim against the Crown. I think that in this Ordinance we have made a good start on safe lines. I admit that the Ordinance, of itself, will not settle the Northern Territory. We all recognise that pioneering will have to be done in other ways. We have to create an interest in the country, to attract people there, to assist them to get on to the land, and help to keep them there. That is, perhaps, more important than the issue of the Ordinance. Still, the Ordinance, I contend, contains nothing which will check settlement, but everything which will tend to promote it.
– I do not pretend to be able to follow, and I have not followed, the discussion in detail with regard to this important Ordinance as to land administration. I recognise the long and valuable experience which the Leader of the Opposition has had with regard to land tenures of every description in New South Wales. That he was perfectly competent to deal with this Ordinance is admitted on both sides of the Chamber. In his characteristic way, the Minister of Defence dwelt upon some points which arise out of the Ordinance and have no direct relation to the criticism of Senator Millen. He has delivered, as he frequently has had to deliver, a lecture to some of his own supporters with regard “to the misrepresentations which they have got hold of with regard to one aspect of land settlement, and that is the grant of perpetual leases. That fact, in itself, is a sufficient reason why from time to time, and more often than we have done in the past, land administration in the Northern Territory should be carefully considered here. There are two or three honorable senators, including Senator Millen, who are thoroughly familiar with every form of land administration. Recently, a Labour Government came into power in New South Wales. Notwithstanding that the members of that Government had for years proclaimed that they would establish the leasehold system, the moment they came into power they abandoned it. That is a matter of political history. I emphasize the point because it leads up to a matter of grave principle, to which I desire to direct attention. The Vice-President of the Executive Council cannot, by argument or joke or by any other means, dispute the fact that although in New South Wales the leasehold principle formed a plank in. the platform of the State Labour party, the moment that party came into power it abandoned it.
– I would point out that, ever since this debate commenced, I have ruled that this is not an occasion upon which the question of leasehold versus freehold can be debated. The question before, the Chair is that of the disallowance of an Ordinance.
– I think I should be in order in moving an amendment upon ihe motion, inasmuch as it does not permit of the establishment of the freehold system.
– The honorable senator must recognise that this is an Ordinance made under an Act which was passed by this Parliament, and which provides for the principle of leasehold. The honorable senator is quite at liberty to discuss any reasons for allowing or disallowing the Ordinance.
– I bow to your ruling, sir ; but I shall deal with another aspect of the question. In framing an Ordinance of this kind for the Northern Territory, we have to recollect the history of settlement in Australia. I do not believe it will be found that any such legislation has been seriously entertained as an aid to settlement in Queensland, which is contiguous to the Northern Territory.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to S p.m.
– Under your ruling, sir, I cannot refer to the distinction which exists between the freehold and leasehold systems of tenure. But I am at liberty to refer to the perpetual lease which is mentioned in this Ordinance, lt is the bastard offspring of freehold tenure with all the vices and none of the virtues of its parents. I take it that the Ordinance, in its application to the Northern Territory, has received the closest scrutiny at the hands of honorable senators opposite. Consequently, when I attack it, I am attacking the essential point of the most important portion of the administration of the Territory. Section 15 of the Ordinance reads -
Leases under this Ordinance shall be granted by the Administrator in the name of the King, and, except as regards miscellaneous leases, shall be in perpetuity but subject to the reappraisement of rent at the period provided by this Ordinance, or, in special cases, at a period prescribed by the regulations or provided for in the lease.
Now I turn at once - as anybody with ordinary intelligence would - to the phrase “ reappraisement of rent.” I wish to know what that means. I have a professional? knowledge of what it means in my ownState. But there is nothing in this Ordinance which enables me to arrive at itsmeaning. To my mind, however, it must mean either a lowering or a raising of the rent.
– Not necessarily.
– My honorable friend, when he interjects, is giving me the. strongest reason why we should view the system of perpetual leases with suspicion. He suggests that there may be circumstances under which the rents of lessees would belowered.
– The honorable senator was wrong when he said that the reappraisement of rent must mean either thelowering or the raising of it.
– In reply tothis finicking logician, I did omit to mention that it was quite possible that, under a. system of re-appraisement, the rent wouldnot be altered. But, in many instances, weknow that a re-appraisement would mean, increasing the rent. That has been the case in Queensland, which, in many respects, isvery analogous to the Northern Territory. Senator Givens has pointed out, by way of interjection, that frequently the reappraisement of values by the Land Courts has been followed by a reduction of the: original rent.
– Surely that is not anobjection to this Ordinance?
– I am dealing with some of the difficulties which surround perpetual leases, and in this connexion I have a right to call upon my personal knowledge as to what has been the course of legislation in regard to settlement in Queensland. I bow for a moment to the finicking acumen of Senator Givens.
– I wanted to make the honorable senator accurate, if such a thing were possible.
– If there is any objection to the word “ finicking,” I shall withdraw it, and say that Senator Givens must know that in our Queensland legislation and administration the question of the appraisement of rent for leasehold land has time and again exercised the attention of Parliament. The Queensland land laws - and, I think, the land laws of other States - have not left it to the discretion of officials to determine the principles on which the appraisement of rent shall be settled. Legislation has been passed to guide them in detail. It , may be my fault-
– It is.
– If I am entirely wrong, I leave myself “ naked and unashamed to mine enemies.”
– The honorable senator could not feel ashamed.
– Probably I differ from my honorable friend in this respect - that I have nothing to be ashamed of. Section 15 of the Act under which this Ordinance is made provides, with regard to the appraisement of rent, that provision may be made for “ any special case at the periods prescribed by the regulations, or provided for in the lease.” I turn to the regulations on that point. The only provision I can find bearing upon it is headed “ Application for a perpetual lease of town lands.” This clause provides that the applicant shall undertake “ to perform- the covenants and conditions “ of the lease. But 1 find nothing to guide me as to what is meant by “ special case “ in section 15 of the Act. If I turn to the provision with regard to improvements and their effect upon appraisements, I find nothing there. It provides for what the incoming tenant is to pay to the outgoing tenant, but the principles upon which even that is to be determined are vague. The part of the Ordinance dealing with perpetual leases contains the important words “ appraisement of rent “ ; but I cannot find anything to guide a tribunal in determining what that term means. A big principle is involved, because the perpetual lease is being offered by Socialists and Labour parties throughout the world as something better than an equivalent for a freehold. . In order to do justice both to the man who wants to use a piece of land, and the community, it is said that side by side wilh the grant of a perpetual lease you must have machinery for the appraisement of rent. But when you come to inquire what “ appraisement of rent “ means, you can wander through the whole of this Ordinance and find no satisfactory definition.
– The honorable senator has been wandering a bit.
– If I were gifted with the gigantic intellect of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, this difficulty might not trouble me. His interjection reminds me of a remark made by Lord Melbourne with regard to
Macaulay, who was continually finding fault with the Ministry of the day. Lord Melbourne said, “ If I could only be as cocksure of anything as Tom Macaulay is of everything, I should find the position of Prime Minister quite an easy one to hold.” Using very small names in place of very big ones, I find myself in the same relation to the Vice-President of the Executive Council as Lord Melbourne did to Macaulay. But the term “ appraisement of rent “ is a vital one in this relation, and I want to know what it means, and the conditions under which it is to be applied. The occupant of a piece of land governed by this Ordinance has a right to know definitely, clearly and accurately, how the appraisement is to be determined ; what is its incidence, and how it will affect him. He will want to know what the Government are going to take from him under cover of this term. The Honorary Minister talks of taking the community value. From whom? From the occupant of the land. Surely the occupant wants to know what is to be taken. I therefore ask for a clear and distinct statement from the Government as to what these terms mean, and must request them to come out of the clouds and cease using phrases which they cannot define. It is the duty of the Government to put the intention clearly and definitely before the people. Possibly the Vice-President of the Executive Council may be able to blow my argument to pieces. Let it be blown to pieces- if I am wrong; but let us get away from cloudy generalities. I find two grave difficulties in connexion with the first point with which I deal, and those difficulties are simply intensified by the interjections which have come from the opposite benches.. It is the duty of the Government to come down to practical business in relation to the settlement of the Northern Territory. I turn to the question of re-appraisement in regard to other cases. Rightly or wrongly, I hold that the greatest inducement to agricultural settlement is a freehold tenure. It may be assumed from this Ordinance that it is the intention of the Government to substitute for a freehold tenure a perpetual lease as a means of attracting agricultural settlers to the Northern Territory. . Intending settlers, whether in Austraia or outside of it, will no doubt discuss the advantages and attractions offered for settlement in the Territory. Their first question will probably be, “What land can we get, and how are we to go about getting it?” If they consult this Ordinance, they will find that from the point of view of the Government, a perpetual lease is put forward as something as good as, and possibly better, than a freehold, as a means of attracting settlers. They will discover that if they desire to apply for land in the Northern Territory, they will have to sign an application form in these terms -
I hereby apply for a perpetual lease under the above Ordinance of the following town land -
The intending agricultural settler will not desire to obtain town land. More important considerations to him than proximity to a town will be the quality of the soil, and the means of communication.
– If he wants an agricultural farm, he will not apply for a lease of town land.
– If that is so, I shall be glad to be corrected. I do not pretend to any profound knowledge of this matter.
– The honorable senator is a Collins-street farmer.
– It is of no use for members of the Government to talk about Collins-street farmers.
– Has the honorable senator not realized yet that the Ordinance deals with town and country lands?
– That is the pitfall into which Ministers have fallen. They have spread the same Ordinance over both.
– That is just my point. The intending settler may be desirous to secure agricultural land, and in this Ordinance the Government have confused the two things. By a reference to this Ordinance an intending settler will find that it will be possible for him to obtain a perpetual lease of town land. It may be that “ town land “ as used here does not bear the ordinary meaning of the term, and may cover land, comparatively remote from a settlement. It is to be regretted that the Ordinance should be so unfortunately worded, and I fear that it will defeat for some time the object we all have in view, to promote as speedily as possible closer settlement the Northern Territory. The Ordinance embodies a principle to which I ani absolutely and irrevocably opposed. As under your ruling, sir, I have been unable to deal with the merits of the freehold principle as opposed to the leasehold principle, I have contented myself with references to the provisions of this Ordinance for perpetual leases, which I consider dis close grave defects, and will be likely to retard the settlement of the Northern Territory by our own kith and kin.
– I shall not take up the time of the Senate in replying to the babble to which we have listened for the last half-hour from Senator St. Ledger, and which had no bearing on the matter under consideration.
– Does the honorable senator think that that will assist the debate?
– Senator Millen is at liberty to take a point of order if he pleases, but it would be the grossest misuse of the English language to describe the honorable senator’s remarks in any other way.
– Why misuse the English language for that purpose?
– I say it would b« the grossest misuse of the English language to describe the honorable senator’s speech in any other way. I shall not discuss it any further. To come to the matter before the Senate, I wish, first of all, to say that this appears to me to be the most unsatisfactory method which could be adopted for dealing with a matter of this kind, and for this reason : Honorable senators must agree with the Ordinance as a whale, or turn it down as a whole. With the main principle of the Ordinance, in common with every other honorable senator on this side, I am in perfect agreement, but there are some things in it with which I am not in accord. I am obliged, under the procedure adopted, either to vote against the whole Ordinance, and so do violence to my conscience by voting against an important principle in which I believe, and against the Government of my own party, or I must vote for the Ordinance as a whole, and thus approve of some things in which I do not believe. No matter what vote I give upon the motion, I am compelled, by this method of procedure, to do violence to my conscience. I wish, in my criticism, to dissociate myself altogether from the main reason which has actuated the party opposite in their opposition to the Ordinance. Their chief reason for opposing it is that it gives legislative effect to the system of leasehold as opposed to the system of freehold.
– That is not correct, so tar as I am concerned.
– I acquit Senator Millen of the main portion of that charge, but I understand that he is in favour of the leasehold system as applied to pastoral areas only. I believe that he does not approve of the application of the principle to agricultural areas or town lands. If he will assure me that he does, I shall be most happy to give him credit for it. From listening to many of the honorable senator’s speeches on the subject, I have come to the conclusion that he is in favour of leaseholds only for pastoral areas. If honorable senators opposite were sincere in their advocacy of freeholds as opposed to leaseholds, they would be in favour of freeholds all the time. But it is only when they find that the people are the landlord that they are in favour of freeholds. When a private individual is the landlord, they have not a single word to say against his leasing his land and fleecing his tenants of the last farthing.’
– We have not been permitted to say what we think of freeholds during this debate.
– I intend to show what is the objection of honorable senators opposite to the leasehold system. _ It is because it will not allow a private individual to get at the whole of the people of the country.
– That is their objection to it. If they were so bitterly opposed to the leasehold system as they profess to be, they would oppose the infamous system of private landlordism which is becoming rampant in Australia.
– I rise to a point of order. .1 have no desire to curtail the remarks which Senator Givens is making on this subject, but I direct your attention, sir, to the fact that when I ventured to touch upon even the fringe of the question of leasehold versus freehold, you informed me that I was going beyond the motion submitted to the Chair. If Senator Givens is entitled to make these remarks, I presume that 1 shall be entitled, later on, to deal with the same aspect of the question.
– I did not understand Senator Givens to be discussing the question of leaseholds versus freeholds. To do so would he distinctly out of order. I understood him to say that, in his opinion, the senators of whom he was speaking are opposed to the system of leaseholds for some particular reason.
– I assume that T shall be in order, later on, in discussing the reasons why honorable senators opposite favour leaseholds rather than freeholds. .
– In every instance in which I have intervened it has been to prevent discussion of the merits of freehold versus leasehold, as that question was decided by the Parliament in the Act under which this Ordinance was made.
– With all due respect to honorable senators opposite, who have tried to take a point of order on my remarks, I was not discussing the merits of freehold versus leasehold, or vice versa, nor do I propose to do so. I was merely pointing out their attitude when the question of leasehold comes up for discussion. I was remarking that they are only ire favour of freehold when the people of Australia are the landlord ; that when a private individual is the landlord, they have not a word to say against leasehold, but are in favour of it all the time, so that a private individual may get the last farthing of profit out of an unfortunate tenant. Where the whole people are the landlord, and may be relied upon, through the Parliament, to give the fullest possible measure of justice,, and treat their tenants with generosity* then honorable senators opposite are opposed to leasehold all the time.
– That is a gratuitousmisrepresentation.
– It is nothing of thesort. Everybody knows that it is only when the State is the landlord that honorable senators opposite are continually up iti, arms against the principle of leasehold. We have never yet, in the halls of any Legislature, heard a word from any one of them against the system of leasehold when a. private individual is the landlord. I want to get right down vo my principal objection to this Ordinance, because I have a very decided objection to some of its provisions. T may say, at the outset, that the balance in favour of the Ordinance is so overwhelming that I shall be compelled to vote with the Government if a division is called for, and that is why I am complaining of the unsatisfactory way that we have of dealing, with the’ matter. , ‘
– Perhaps they will withdraw the Ordinance.
– I hope that the criticism which has come from both sides of the Chamber may have the effect of inducing the Government to modify the law at the earliest possible opportunity. The system of perpetual leases - the basic policy on which the Ordinance is framed - is very good for certain descriptions of land ; but to go on the supposition that it is good for all descriptions of land is one of the most indiscreet acts which any Government could have been guilty of. I think that it must have been entered into without due consideration. Why do we adopt a land policy for the Northern Territory ? It is to get the lands occupied, and to get them occupied as closely as we can, so as to turn the Territory to profitable use. If that is so, we should only give a perpetual lease where it will not interfere with the future occupation of the country.
– How can it interfere when we shall have the power to resume the land?
– I shall come to that matter directly, if the Minister will give me a little time. A perpetual lease in a town is all right, Because a man will only get as much land there as he can legitimately use. It is all right, too, in agricultural areas, because a man will only get a lease of what may be called a living area - that is, an area which he can reasonably use to make a living for himself and his family. A perpetual lease in these , cases cannot, and will not, block settlement, and, therefore, there can be no objection to it. But when we come to a perpetual lease of an enormous area of pastoral land, we are right up against a proposition which will be the most * effectual block to the future closer settlement of that country. It is useless to talk to me, or to any man who understands the pastoral conditions in Australia, about it being essential that a man should have 3,000 square miles of country. There is no one who has any idea or knowledge of the full possibilities of Australia. I know of country in Queensland, which, though described and regarded as desert country for many years, was found by the squatters in the 1902 drought to be splendid relief country, and was utilized by them for the saving of stock in the most disastrous drought that we ever had in Australia. That country, which, at one time, was looked upon as a desert, has become most useful country in a time of disaster. It is useless for anybody to tell me what the possibilities of this great country of ours are, because no one can really know. Again, much of the country in Australia, which, in former years, was unavailable because of the distance which cattle had to travel for water, is now first class pastoral country, through the discovery of artesian water.
– It is impossible to tell the possibilities of Australia.
– The honorable senator is quite right. Through the discovery of artesian water, country which was formerly regarded as of very little value has become some of our best and most useful pastoral country. To give a perpetual lease of so enormous an area as 3,000 square miles of country, which may at the present moment be regarded as comparatively valueless, is a suicidal policy, because no one can tell me how that land may be regarded in forty years. Further, I would like to point out that land which will not now pay for occupation in any form, simply because of the almost impossibility of getting access or communication, may, if the Commonwealth pursues a proper railway policy, become very valuable, because then it will be accessible ; and, instead of many pastoralists being compelled to lose cattle through having no means of shifting them, they may be able to do as the pastoralists in New South Wales and Queensland can do - get cheap fares on railways to carry cattle to relief country. In that way this country would become valuable. When we look ahead more than forty years, we are doing something which no persons of our limited intelligence should be given any warrant to do in the way of giving a perpetual lease, because, be it remembered that is a lease for all time. The Honorary Minister interjected a little while ago that we have the power of resumption. That power is reserved in the Ordinance, but it will always carry the right of compensation. A system could be pursued which would give the authorities the right to resume land when it was required for settlement without having to pay compensation for that resumption to which the pastoralist is not, and should not be, entitled.
– He should be compensated for his improvements.
– The pastoralist is given in the Ordinance the right to get compensation for other things than the improvements.
– Only as it would affect the land for pastoral purposes.
– As I have pointed out, the value of a lease may increase enormously as years roll by, and then we are going to give the pastoralist compensation to which he is not entitled. The system which I think should have been adopted is to fix a limited period to leases of very large areas ; in fact, to all pastoral leases. My suggestion is that at the utmost forty years is all the tenure that should be given, even for land which is now regarded as of little value. In 1884 the Queensland Government of which Sir Samuel Walker Griffith was the Premier, and in which Mr. Dutton was Minister for Lands, introduced and passed what, to my mind, was the best Land Bill that has ever been passed in any country in the world.
– It landed us into a lot of trouble.
– The trouble into which we were landed was that every succeeding Ministry did their best to discount and discredit the Act by bad administration. Interested persons laid themselves out to amend the Act in their own favour in every direction, and it was never given a decent show. It provided a means by which land could always be available for occupation as it was wanted, and that is a great defect in this Ordinance. Under the Act the pastoralist was given a full title to his leasehold for a limited period - forty years, I think. At the expiration of the lease, the run had to be divided. One-half was to be retained by the squatter, and the other to revert to the Crown, and to be known as the resumed half. The squatter had a definite title for the portion which he held, and was given an occupation licence from year to year for the resumed half. The Act also provided that, as the land became more accessible, and a demand arose, that area should be available for grazing farms, comprising from 5,000 to 20,000 acres. That was a good policy. It is infinitely better for a country to have fifty grazing farms on an area of land rather than one big squatter, because the country will be more productive, and carry a far larger population. The people will live close together, and there will be a sufficient number of children to justify the building of schools. Social conditions will be created, and that will certainly be better than living in the wilderness, with one person here and another 50 miles away. That is the sort of settlement we want in Australia. The Queensland Act provided a reasonable means by which the land would be ready for occupation when it was wanted, but this Ordinance does not provide anything of the kind. The Minister says that the land can be resumed. Of course, I know that ; but it can only be resumed by the Crown by paying to the pastoral tenant compensation to which he has no right, were it not for the fact that the State gave him something at the commencement which he had no right to receive.
– This Ordinance does not say anything of the kind.
– It says that if the Crown resumes land it must pay compensation.
– For the improvements effected.
– And for the value of the land as pastoral country.
– For the land which has been taken away from the tenant.
– There is no use in the Minister trying to misstate the facts. It is best to state them fairly. If the land is required for settlement, and it is resumed and compensation is paid by the Government, what will be the result? In order to recoup themselves, they would have to exact from the incoming tenant, be he a grazing farmer or a pastoralist of any other description, a sufficiency in the way of rent to recoup the Government for the compensation paid ; and he will be handicapped, because he will have had to pay compensation for a thing which represents no value to him. In that way, we shall do something which will handicap and block settlement. I know as well as anybody else that the figures which are given here areonly the maxumum areas. It .is well known that when we make a maximum of that kind, every person will apply for the maximum.
– But they will not get it every time.
– I am tired of being told that such-and-such a thing “will never happen under legislation. That might be all right if the honorable senator, or this Government, were in power all the time; but we have no guarantee that the party with whom the squatters will be dominant will not get into power at some time.
– Then they can change the legislation.
– They can point to us as having given them the right to dothese things. They will point to our action as their justification for the most extreme course which they may adopt. No injustice would be done to the squatter if he” were assured of a lease for a fixed period of forty years. If a provision were inserted in the Ordinance declaring that, at the end of forty years, which is the full length of a generation - and none of us is entitled to look further ahead than that - he should be compelled to surrender one-half of his run, and be granted an occupation licence over the other half, we should have land ready for occupation at all times. If the Government do their duty, the Territory, in the near future, will have railways running through it ; it will be a more pleasant place to live in ; so that, by-and-by, there may be a rush to it of persons anxious to take up grazing farms ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 acres. That is the policy which we want to encourage; but if this Ordinance be carried, we shall not have land available for settlers when settlers are available for it. For that reason, I have a decided objection to the Ordinance. However, I am placed in the position of being obliged to assist in giving effect to a pernicious system or of turning down a principle which I believe to be good, and of voting against the Government which I support. It is grossly unfair that I should be put in that position. The Ordinance, I contend, will prove a block rather than an encouragement to settlement. We were told by the Minister of Defence that it was not an experiment - that we had the experience of all the States to guide us in this matter. That is quite true; but my contention is that the Government have not profited by that experience. In the 1884 Land Act of Queensland a policy was laid down, which, with a few modifications, would have been admirably suited to the needs of the Northern Territory. I do not propose to weary the Senate by dealing with the objections which have been urged to the regulations under this Ordinance. I know that there are other speakers to” follow me, and I understand that it is the desire of the Government that we should arrive at a decision upon this question to-night. The only matter which I have to consider is the Ordinance itself, and not any regulations which may, or may not be made under it. If the law itself is based on a pernicious principle, any regulation which may not be bad, cannot remedy the position. I am opposed to the Ordinance in so far as it permit’s of the granting of perpetual leases to big pas- toralists over enormous areas. I do not object to perpetual leases being granted in the case of agricultural lands.
– Does the honorable senator think that a perpetual lease should be granted in the case of a block of 64,000 acres?
– No; I do not call that an agricultural farm. I would not grant a perpetual lease to a block of land of more than 20,000 acres, except in a purely grazing area. There is a happy medium in this matter, by which the Government should have been guided. If, instead of seeking for blessed uniformity by making the one law applicable to every class of land in the Territory, they had acted on a different principle, they would have been wise. The town lands require different treatment from the pastoral lands, and the pastoral lands require different treatment from the agricultural lands. I am sorry that, upon this occasion, I am compelled to vote for something in which I decidedly do not believe.
– I would like to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether the Government will agree to an adjournment of the debate?
– Certainly not.
– I know that Senator Symon was very anxious to speak upon this motion, but, unfortunately, he had to leave Melbourne this afternoon. I merely wished to ascertain whether it was possible to give him an opportunity of addressing himself to it. Section n of the Northern Territory (Administration) Act of 1910 reads -
N.o Crown lands in the Territory shall be sold or disposed of for any estate of freehold, except in pursuance of some contract entered into before the commencement of this Act.
– That is merely carrying out the old Mosaic law.
– I admit that that provision settles the question of whether the freehold or the leasehold system should be established in the Northern Territory. Although I do not believe in universal leasehold, I take it that this is not the time to argue that matter. I do not blame the Government for the action which they have taken, but I do blame them for the way in which they have dealt with this leasehold question. I believe that much of the land in the Territory for many years to come will be best managed by the adoption of the leasehold principle. There are other parts of that huge Territory where, I think, the freehold system might very well be allowed. I do not condemn the Government for endeavouring to give effect to the Act which we passed last year.
– They could not do anything else.
– That is so. But 1 do object to the way in which that has been done. I do not think that it ought to have been done by means of this Ordinance. It ought to have been done by submitting a Bill to Parliament, so that every honorable senator would have been afforded an opportunity of discussing its details, and of endeavouring to modify them. As it is, we have either to swallow this Ordinance in globo or to reject it entirely. If we could discuss it clause by clause, and modify it in any way, the position would be very different. I repeat that a Bill should ha.ve been introduced setting out the whole of the details of the leasehold system. The Government themselves would then have been in a better position than they are, because there are some of their own supporters who believe m that system, but who disagree with this Ordinance. Both Senators Givens and Gardiner object to the size of the pastoral leases which it is proposed to grant under it. If We had .been afforded an opportunity of discussing a measure clause by clause, they might have succeeded in obtaining some modification of those areas, which would have made the Government proposals acceptable to them, instead of which they have now to swallow something which they do not like, so as to avoid throwing out the Ordinance altogether. Honorable senators ought not to be placed in that position. We ought to have had an opportunity of agreeing with the provisions in which we believe, and of disagreeing with those in which we do not believe. Personally, I do not believe in perpetual leases. They may become an evil, because people can traffic in them just as much as they can in freeholds.
– May dummy?
– The lessee, under a perpetual lease, may, subject to the assent of the Administrator, assign and transfer. That is where the evil may come in.
– The honorable senator Would not prevent him from having that right ?
– If he has that right, he. has practically the right of a freeholder. The Government are going to put lessees in perpetual occupation of large tracts of land, and are going to say to them, “ You may assign or transfer if you wish to do so.”
A lessee may hold some dry country upon which water may be discovered, and that circumstance may place a value upon his lease, thereby enabling him to sell and to make a little fortune out of it. The Minister of Defence stated that these perpetual leases could be so conditioned that they would be just as good as short leases. If that be so, why not adopt short leases straight away? I take it that if the Northern Territory is going to be developed, a great number of people will find their waythere, so that in time it will become a State of the Commonwealth. When that day arrives, I think that the residents of the Territory should enjoy just as much liberty to manage their own State as do the residents of any other State of the Commonwealth.
– Certainly ! Why not ?
– The Government are going to limit them in that connexion, because the citizens of the Territory will be face to face with the fact that a great portion of the country will be held underperpetual lease.
– The reappraisement of the rent is the key to the whole position.
– How often does reappraisement occur? Only once every fourteen and twenty-one years. A manmay be in possession of a block for a coupleof years, and then something may happen which may put a value upon it. As a result, another man may be willing to come in just for the twelve years’ use of it.
– He cannot get it without the consent of the Minister.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council must know that not much difficulty has been experienced in securing transfers of perpetual leases.
– A tremendous lot of difficulty has been experienced in the case of working men’s blocks, in South Australia.
– The owner of a working man’s block in that State has a right to obtain the freehold.
– At one time.
– They have it now.
– At one time they had not.
– These people who were, at one time, in favour of the leasehold system, clamoured to Parliament to get freeholds, and a good number of them have freeholds to-day.
– The land agents and the mortgagees have a good deal of the land.
– I could give the honorable senator the names of some men who have done exceedingly well. How many men who have paid for land in the ordinary way are in the hands of mortgagees? It is quite a common thing for a man who wants money to mortgage his land.
– This Ordinance allows a man to mortgage his lease.
– I know some mortgagees who are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
– Whilst I think that a great deal of this land would be better leased than sold, I do not believe in perpetual leases; and even where, in some parts of the country, I should like to see men get freeholds, if they want them, 1 point out that the Government would still have control over any alienated land by means of taxation, especially if they adopted a proper system, so that there would be no harm done. With regard to the matter of resumption, I find that, under clause 35 of the Ordinance, the lessee is entitled to be paid compensation for improvements; and improvements are denned as meaning “ improvements of a permanent nature reasonably adapted to the use of the leased lands for the purposes of the lease.” This applies to town lands, as well as to other lands. Suppose that a man had a block of town land, in which he had invested his capital, and had built up a business upon it. The Government could come in and say, “ We want this land i<«r public purposes, and will give you simply and solely the value of the improvements, and nothing more.” The man may have spent half a lifetime in building up his business, and yet not a. penny-piece would the Government give him for the goodwill.
– That is done every day in connexion with freeholds.
– I am not discussing the ethical part of the proposition as to whether we have any right to deal with a man in that way. Personally,” I do not think we have. If a man has business premises, on which he has spent a great amount of time and money, and the Government turn him out, he has a right to compensation for the labour and capital he has put into his enterprise.
– He will get it, too.
– Not under this Ordinance. There is another peculiar thing with regard to the matter of regulations. Usually a regulation which is made under an Act has to come before Parliament, and may be allowed or disallowed before it has the force of law. But under clause 42 of this Ordinance the Administrator is given power to make regulations, which must be notified in the Gazette, a copy of which is to be forwarded to the Minister. The Minister may then, by notice in the Gazette, disallow any regulation, and it shall thereupon cease to have any effect. So that it is within the power, not of the Executive, but of the Minister alone, to allow or disallow a regulation made by the Administrator. These regulations ought to be in the same position as any other regulations made under an Act of Parliament. Why should they not be laid upon the table of the Senate, in order that we may have an opportunity of saying whether we think they should be enforced? Why put the whole power in the hands of the Minister, who may do as he pleases? Inasmuch as Parliament has decided to adopt the leasehold system, there are some things in this Ordinance for which I should be prepared to vote, believing them to be right. But there are other things in it which I should desire to strike out. But I cannot do that, because the Ordinance is not submitted to< us in the form of a Bill, as it ought to have been. We should have been given an opportunity of going through the Ordinance clause by clause. Because I do not believe in some of the clauses in it, I shall vote against the whole Ordinance.
– I wish to give a general support to the Ordinance, whilst, at the same time, I have to say, incidentally, that it brings before us a difficulty which I have mentioned previously. I hope the day is not far distant when we shall legislate directly for the important Territory which we have in the north, and the development of which is of great importance, not only to Australia, but to the Empire. I hope, also, that we shall have a Minister appointed to administer the Territory who will spend a fair proportion of his time there, and be responsible for legislation submitted to Parliament for its purposes.
– We want a Minister for Papua, too.
– We have quite enough to do with the Northern Territory at present. The reason why I give a general support to the Ordinance is that I believe .it represents a genuine attempt on the part of the Government to deal with probably the largest problem facing Australia to-day. Though there seems to be a contradiction in terms in using the words “ perpetual lease,” still we have the same difficulty with regard to freehold.
– - The alternative is a terminable lease.
– I admit that. The limitations of the term are clear; but a man in possession of a freehold, so-called, may find that his propertyis compulsorily resumed by a State for public purposes. The term may not be quite correct technically, but it is, nevertheless, expressive of the underlying intention of the Ordinance, that a perpetual lease may be given, subject to certain modifications. It might be correct to describe what is intended in such terms as those, but they would be rather cumbersome. Senator Givens has expressed a fear that under the Ordinance the Territory will be secured in very large sections by a few individuals.
– One-third of the Territory is now in the hands of 256 people.
– I admit that ; but those people secured their holdings before a Labour Government came into power.
– Does the honorable senator want to add to that state of things ?
– No, I do not. If I thought that the Ordinance would add to that difficulty, I would not support it. Senator Givens was fearful lest the old difficulty of permitting a few individuals to secure rights over a very large portion of the Territory would be increased.
– Senator Givens knows a good deal about the subject.
– I am glad that Senator Fraser has so far modified his views that he now recognises Senator Givens as his leader. I congratulate Senator Givens on the conversion he has made, and wish well to his new party. I take it that the purpose of the Government is not to object to one person using a large area of land. Personally, I have no objection to that.
– It is better for twenty men to hold a large area than one man.
– Certainly ; but can we get twenty men to go’ upon country which is held by one man in that Territory to-day ? The object of the Government is to apply the lands of the Northern Territory to the fullest possible use, and to have it occupied by the largest population they can induce to go there ; but it is evident that for some years we shall have only a small population there. If the community does not want to use the land that is available, what objection can there be to a few individuals using a large proportion of it until such time as it is wanted by a larger number?
– Can the honorable senator say that the community will not want it in a few years’ time?
– I have looked through the Ordinance to see whether there is any justification for the fears of Senator Givens, and I fail to see that there is. It seems to me that the resumption provisions are all right, as long as they are honestly administered. We are trying to induce settlers to go to the Territory. Suppose that a man takes up land there, and becomes a cattle king. Suppose that there is an important mineral development in the middle of his run. A second Broken Hill might be discovered. A large portion of his land would be immediately required for township purposes. A city might grow up. It would then be the duty of the Government to resume the area. It might be necessary to compensate the man and to get rid of his stock at once. It would be possible to get rid of him on giving two years’ notice.
– For a town site we could give three months’ notice.
– I take the requirement as to giving notice to be a guarantee that the lessee will get an honest deal. That brings me to the matter of resumption. It seems to me that there is full power to resume at any time.
– The question comes to this : Why grant to-day what you may have to resume later on, and for which you will then have to pay ?
– A block of land may be gold-bearing.
– Let me suggest a more normal position. A block of land may be occupied to-day in a large area for pastoral purposes, and may be required for pastoral purposes in smaller areas in forty years’ time.
– Under the Ordinance two years’ notice and compensation are provided for. I should say it would have been a glorious thing for Victoria, and no doubt for all the other States, if in the past the different State Governments had had power to resume pastoral areas on such conditions as are here provided for.
– We have the power, but we have to pay for it.
– Certainly. We, as a party, in assenting to this Ordinance, guarantee reasonable compensation, but we do not propose to pay for improvements made by the public “or for any enhancement of value due to public expenditure in the construction of railways and other public works. We propose to pay compensation for all improvements made by the lessee himself.
– The Ordinance provides for more than that.
– As a party we have always stood for honest compensation, but we have been accused, not only iri this Parliament, but on every public platform in every town and hamlet in Australia, of desiring to confiscate property.
– To show that they are honest, the Government propose to give away to-day what they have no right to give away, in order that they may buy it back again later.
– Surely the Leader of the Opposition is sitting on the wrong side of the Chamber?
– Quite right; I should be on the other side.
– The only reason why the honorable senator is not on the other side is that when he was given a trial he was found wanting by the public. Senator Rae. - If we give more than fair compensation, we must take it away again, and that will be considered confiscation.
– Hear, Hear !
– Here we have Senator Fraser cheering a statement by Senator Rae. Certainly no one ever suspected Senator Fraser of desiring to rob a man of his land and the improvements he may have put upon it. The honorable senator has always been associated with a party who, whenever they resumed land for public purposes, not only gave the holders fair compensation, but robbed the public purse to give them more than they were entitled to. In this State we have had Ministers hounded down because they would not grant certain people the compensation they claimed.
– That should be a warning to the honorable senator. He is proposing to grant now what should not be granted, and he may be hounded down.
– What is it that we are granting under this Ordinance?
– We are granting, in addition to compensation for improvements, compensation for increased value due to public expenditure.
– I have always suspected Senator Rae of a desire to keep a close grip upon compensation, and I prefer to learn from Senator Millen, who is inclined to be more generous in such matters, exactly what it is that we propose to give away under this Ordinance.
– It is proposed to give a perpetual lease, with the certain knowledge that sooner, or later some of the land which is leased in that way will have to be resumed.
– Certainly, and I am prepared to do that. If I understood Senator Millen rightly, he quarrelled with the use of the term “perpetual lease” in this Ordinance, because provision is made for certain modifications of the terms of the lease. I have described it as a perpetual lease, subject to certain modifications. If Senator Millen does not believe that this Ordinance contains a provision for perpetual leaseholds
– My objection is that it does contain such a provision. Is not that plain enough?
– I understood the honorable senator to say that what was proposed was not a perpetual lease, because of the provisions for resumption and variation of terms.
– I object to the granting of perpetual leases of land which will have to be resumed at the public expense later on.
– The problem before us is to make the Northern Territory sufficiently attractive to induce a large population to settle there.
– Forty-two years’ leases have been sufficiently attractive to secure the occupation of one-third of the Territory.
– The honorable senator will not contend that the area to which he refers is occupied in the sense we desire.
– It is as effectively occupied as it will be under this Ordinance.
– I might refer to a remarkable thing in favour of the leasehold principle. The South Australian Government tried to bring about settlement in the Northern Territory by every possible means
– Including perpetual leases, let me remind the honorable senator.
– By every possible method, even that of giving land away. The result has been that some 473,000 acres have been alienated at about 7s. per acre.
– Out of how many million acres?
– On the other hand, the leasehold system has been so approved in the Northern Territory by some of the keenest men engaged in the cattle-raising business that they have taken up land under that principle to the extent of 103,000,000 acres.
– If terminable leases have been sufficiently attractive for these keen men to induce them to occupy so large an area, why should they not be sufficiently attractive to induce other men to take up the balance of the Territory?
– Men will not take up land merely because it is land. Accessibility to a market, permanence of water supply, and other things have to be considered.
– It would be better to make the country accessible than to give perpetual leases for huge areas of it.
– If Senator Givens had a perpetual lease of a property and woke up to-morrow morning to learn that his landlord, whether a private individual or a State, was giving him two years’ notice of his intention to resume, and would be prepared to pay him for the improvements he had made in the planting of a few flowers or cabbages, he would be one of the first to claim more compensation, and to say that he was not getting a fair deal. Yet those are exactly the conditions provided for in this Ordinance.
– No; the Government propose to pay for more than the cabbages.
– Let the honorable senator read sub-clause 9 of clause 35.
– It reads as follows-
The lessee shall also be entitled to be paid compensation for any depreciation in the value of the lease by reason of any resumption, such compensation to be determined in the same manner as compensation for improvements.
What is there unfair about that?
– Does the honorable senator justify the settlement of the Territory by giving 2,000,000 acres of land to one man?
– I am prepared, on the resumption of a freehold or a leasehold, to pay the holder compensation for all improvements he has himself placed upon the land. I take it that, under this Ordinance, he would not get any compensation because of any increase added to the value of the land by public expenditure.
– Let the honorable senator show the prohibition against it.
– I cannot put my finger on the provision at the moment, but I will affirm that there are certain limitations to compensation provided for in this Ordinance.
– There is one.
– The principal one is that compensation shall not be paid for any enhancement of the value of the lease by the expenditure of public money.
– No; but other communitycreated values are to be allowed for.
– It is strange to find Senators Millen, Givens, and Rae in agreement. Are they fearful that the Government will dip their hands into the public purse to compensate lessees on too generous a scale?
– I am trying to point out the absurdity of paying any compensation at all. We should not grant leases to-day which we may have to resume tomorrow.
– We might just as well grant freeholds if we are to pay compensation on resumption in the way proposed.
– Senator Millen might be asked for the same reason why he would grant a lease of forty-two years?
- Senator Millen may have been guilty of remissness in the past, but I hope that in future, when any member of the party accuses the Labour party of being confiscators, he will call him to order for making a statement which is unfair and untrue.
– It is possible to confiscate in certain instances, and to act foolishly in others, as the honorable senator is doing in this case.
– I do not think I can be said to be the only one who is acting foolishly in this case. We want population for the Northern Territory.
– By giving one man 2,000,000 acres of land, we shall get a lot.
– We need to offer incentives to people to go to the Northern Territory. I hope and believe that the inducements offered under this Ordinance will be sufficient to attract a large population to the Territory, and that there will be a land scramble in the anxiety which people will display to establish homes there. We shall preserve the right of the community to the unearned increment of land there, and the people will be the gainers thereby. I do not know whether I shall be in order under your ruling, sir, but I wish -to indicate the possibilities of the leasehold system through the expenditure of public money and the settlement of a large population. To do so, I propose to quote the unimproved land values of New South Wales. Taking the municipal valuations, so far as they have gone, I find that the total unimproved value of land in New South Wales is ^156, 000,000. In Sydney, the unimproved value of land per head is .£158 ; in the suburbs of Sydney, ^49; and in the metropolis, as a whole, ^72 per head. In the country municipalities it is ^43 per head; in the shires, ^148 per head ; in the Western Division, the valuation, which I understand is only an estimate, is put down at ^492 per head. Now as to the valuation per acre. The unimproved value of land in Sydney is ^6,002 per acre; in the suburbs, ^225 per acre, which I consider a very low valuation ; and for the metropolis as a whole, .£456 per acre. Under this Ordinance there is more than a reasonable hope that this unearned increment, instead “of going into the pockets of the private land speculator, will go into the coffers of the Commonwealth Treasury.
– Only a small portion of it. Let the honorable senator read the Ordinance, and see for himself.
– It is a question of interpretation. However, I am more particular ‘about securing the rights in the town blocks or mining centres, which I hope to see developed in the back country, because I realize that population is the cause of the unearned increment. In the country municipalities in New South Wales it is ;£io 17s. 4d. per acre, in shires 14s.. 4d., and in the western division 2s. 6d. That is an indication that the unearned increment in that State has grown far and away beyond the dreams of any of the earlier settlers. As we are about to settle the Northern Territory on a different basis, namely, that the unearned increment shall go directly to the coffers of the State, it is a big experiment. However we may differ as to details, 1 think that at this stage we can congratulate the Government upon having had the courage to put into operation a system which I believe will operate to the great advantage of the Commonwealth in the future, and also promote settlement.
– This experiment has been tried thousands of times in history and has failed.
– 1 ask the honorable senator to mention a clear case, more particularly in modern times, where a whole State has gone in for a system of leasehold as the Commonwealth has done in this Ordinance.
– I would take up your challenge, if I could.
– I hope that as we ale entering upon an experiment, which is almost equivalent to the nationalization of the land in the Northern Territory, the administration will be sympathetic. I do not think that the Commonwealth, or its people, desire to do an injustice to any man. I hope that the individual case will be considered whatever may be the development ot the Territory, and that the whole idea at the back of die administration will be to attract population, to get the land settled, to do justice to every settler, and, at the same- time, to preserve the right of the Commonwealth to the unearned increment which the community, and the community alone, creates.
– I must admit somewhat to a feeling of disappointment at the course of this debate. I had hoped that there would have been a more genuine inclination to take part in the discussion, and that the invitation which, to the best of my ability, I extended both to the Government and to their supporters, to regard my motion as entirely free from any party significance, would have been responded to a little more generously than has been the case. In view of the defects which are admitted to exist in the Ordinance, I felt bound to bring the matter under the notice of the Senate, lt is not my fault that these proposals are embodied in an Ordinance, nor is it my fault that under our rules I am not able to submit the Ordinance so that it could be dealt with as the Senate would deal with an ordinary Bill. If that course had been open to me, I should have welcomed it, because I approached the matter with the sincere desire to prevent the Northern Territory being committed to what I regard as a very grave mistake, involving very serious consequences. I took the only course which was open to me. I brought the matter forward with a frank declaration that I was merely concerned to amend the Ordinance, and not in any way to make the position difficult for the Government. I had hoped that the Vice-President of the Executive Council would have recognised the statement which I then made, and left it easier than he did for honorable senators on his side, who are disinclined to indorse the Ordinance, to join with me and others who wish to see it amended. 1 get one cause of satisfaction out of the debate. 1 do not believe that to-day there is -a member of the Senate but who is prepared to frankly admit that he regards legislation by Ordinance as a most undesirable and imperfect method of procedure. The debate has done at least this good - that it has brought before honorable senators the fact that by means of an Ordinance, and behind the back of Parliament, legislation, for which I venture to say there is no general approval in the Chamber, can be placed upon the statute-book, and it will be as effective there1 as if it had been passed by the two Houses.
I should like now to summarize, as far as I am able to do, the conclusions which one is entitled to draw from the remarks made during the debate. I am pleased to find that, at any rate, on some of the matters there need not, in future, be any difference of opinion as to what the Ordinance means. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has practically admitted, that, first of all, with regard to clause 8, dealing with classification. In introducing this matter, I pointed out that the clause was the subject of two limitations, and my honorable friend has stated plainly what it means. It is well that those who are to be invited to go to the Northern Territory should understand the terms and conditions under which they will take up their land. I specially direct the attention of Senator E. J. Russell to clause 8, seeing that he concluded his remarks ‘by expressing the hope that it would, not be long before, under the generous terms of the Ordinance, streams of settlers would be going there. I invite him, whenever he is on the platform, directing the attention of land-seekers to the Northern Territory, to draw their attention to the fact that, although they can take up land under one set of conditions, as set out in the Ordinance to-day, under clause 8 it will be competent for the administrators to shift their land out of that set of conditions and put it under’ another set whenever it suits them. That is the position which should be stated if we want to deal honestly with people who are thinking of going to the Northern Territory. We ought to tell them that, although they may take up a pastoral, or grazing, or farming lease, it will be within the competence of the Classification Board to say to them later, “ Although you acquired the land under these terms and conditions, we can now., by the exercise of our power under clause 8, reclassify the land, and put you under an entirely different set of conditions.”
– Suppose that good agricultural land is used for grazing purposes, and that a railway makes the land available for agriculture, would there be any harm in reclassifying it?
– If my honorable friend put in the best years of his life in the Northern Territory, and spent all the capital he had on the good faith of a lease obtained from the Government, and they claimed the right, under clause 8, to reclassify the land and put him under an entirely different set of conditions, what would he think ?
– Will there be any harm in reclassifying grazing land when it is made available for agricultural purposes by a railway?
– Suppose that a. young man who is qualified by past experience to carry on the occupation of a grazier, and knows nothing of agriculture, acquires a block as a pastoral lease, puts his money into it, and spends the best years of his life on it, and that then, because of something for which he is not responsible, the officials come along and say to him, “ Although you have grown old in pursuing the occupation which you came out here to follow, although you are too old to learn farming, yet, under clause 8, we shall bring the land under a farming classification, and you will have either to accept the new classification or to get out.”
– No; not until the time for a re.-appraisement of the rent arrives.
– I do not say anything about the time when the reclassification is to take place. I say that it can be done.
– You have dealt with the individual.
– The clause will apply to a number of individuals.
– When a man takes up a lease he will know that it will be liable to a re-appraisement.
– I want the Government to tell every man who is thinking of taking up a lease, not about the reappraisement, but about the reclassification.
– The Ordinance will tell him that.
– It probably will not tell every one. It is the duty of the Government, and of every one who wants to deal honestly with men who are asked to go to the Northern Territory, to tell them that they will go there with a lease which, while professing to be perpetual, is nothing of the kind.
– It will tell men that.
– I want to direct attention to another admission, or, if the Minister objects to that word, to his agreement with my interpretation of the clause under which power is taken by the officials to direct the manner in which a man shall cultivate his land. The honorable senator said that it was right and proper - and he defended the provision - that the Crown should have the power to tell the lessee, not merely what he should not plant on his lease, but what he should plant. These are admissions which came from the Minister.
– That is to protect the common interest.
– All right. Honestly, we ought to tell every man who is thinking of going to the Northern Territory that he will be liable to receive an order from the Director of Lands, telling him that he must immediately proceed to plant a certain grass or herb, to use the Minister’s language
– No; I never suggested anything of the kind.
– If the Minister will give me his word of honour that he will not touch the Hansard proof before I see it, we shall find that he used those words in his speech this afternoon. He claimed that it was a right and proper thing that the Crown should have the right - and here I agree with him - to prevent a leaseholder from planting something which he might think would be an advantage, but which might prove a public pest.
– That is exactly what I said.
– Yes, but the honorable senator went on to say, “ and also to direct him to plant a certain grass or herb.” I immediately interjected there, “ That is more than using the power of veto.” There need be no argument about the matter. First of all, there is the Ordinance, which states that the Crown reserves to itself the right to direct the maimer of cultivation, and. not merely the area of land to be cultivated - the right, not merely to give a general direction that a man is to cultivate and put under agriculture a certain percentage of his holding, which would be a fair and proper thing to do, but also to direct the manner of his cultivation.
– In Victoria at one time they tried to grow rabbits.
– I am now stating what is admitted to be the correct interpretation of this Ordinance, and I am doing it because I want to be perfectly fair, honest, and open with men who are invited to go to the Northern Territory.
– Do you not believe in trying to prevent a man from growing a pest?
– The power of veto is one thing, but the power of directing a leaseholder to carry on an experiment is another thing. If these experiments are to be carried on for the public good, let them be carried on at the public expense. But do not allow the Director of Lands to order some farmer to put in a certain crop at a certain time of the year.
– Reasonable men administer an Act in a reasonable manner.
– Only to-day I have heard suggestions which I do not regard as reasonable. It is entirely a matter of opinion. The Minister of Defence referred to the possibility of growing wheat in a district in which he admitted that the rain does not fall in what is ordinarily regarded as the wheat-growing period. Now suppose that some enterprising official entertained the view that it might be possible to discover a wheat which would grow in that district under the conditions which obtain there, and that he instructed the lessees to carry out certain experiments with that end in view. Suppose, for example, that he ordered one farmer to sow wheat in January, another to sow it in February, and a third to sow it in March. Those experiments would be very proper and desirable ; but as they would be for the public good, obviously they ought to be carried out at the public expense. It ought not to be within the competency of the Director of Lands to order lessees to carry out experiments at their own expense. I am glad that the Minister agrees with my reading that the Director of Lands under this Ordinance has a right, for what he regards as a breach of the conditions, to forfeit a lessee’s holding; but the Minister and I differ when he asserts, as he did to-day, that a right of appeal is provided. I say that there is no right of appeal. It is true that the Administrator may, if he thinks fit, review the position ; but there is no machinery by which a lessee can prosecute an appeal. What the provision means is that if the Director of Lands chooses to consider that there has been a breach of the conditions, he may direct the forfeiture of a lessee’s holding; and the Administrator may, if he likes, reverse that forfeiture. But there is no machinery by which a lessee, if he feels aggrieved, can call in question” and submit to cross-examination, the statements of those upon whose word the Director of Lands has probably acted.
– Is not that the position which obtains in some of the States?
– I know the land laws of three States fairly well, and I say that in those States a man’s home cannot be taken from him without a public inquiry.
– In Western Australia, I think, the Minister may forfeit his holding.
– I do not know the conditions which obtain in Western Australia, but I do know those which obtain in three of the States. I say that if a lessee’s property is involved, he should be afforded a reasonable opportunity in some Court of making his case clear; but under this Ordinance the matter is left to one individual acting behind the closed doors of his office. The Minister of Defence spoke of the Government having had the advantage of the experience of the other States; but, as Senator Givens reminded him, they have not profited by it. We tried this oneman business in. New South Wales, and what happened ? From the force of a painful experience not infrequently associated with scandals, the public of that State were gradually driven to recognise the great value of a Court of public inquiry in dealing with these matters. Not long ago we know that trouble was experienced over land matters there. In every one of those cases, the trouble arose out of particular leases being dealt with behind the closed doors of the Minister’s office. All the things which were called scandals were done in his office. But we may search the records of that State as closely as we choose, and we shall find1 that where lessees have had the protection of an open inquiry there has never been the slightest suggestion of any impropriety.
I come now to the matter of the re-appraisement of town blocks. The Vice-President of the Executive Council this afternoon seized upon a remark which I made to the effect that under the Ordinance not merely was a reappraisement provided for every ‘ fourteen years, but there could be a re-appraisement every fourteen weeks.
– The honorable senator said that there might be one every week.
– If one can imagine a public work being completed, or even proposed, once a week, it would be competent to have a re- appraisement once a. week. But the Vice-President of the Executive Council knew perfectly well that I was speaking figuratively. Although the Ordinance professes to give the lessee of a town block a perpetual lease with a reappraisement every fourteen years, there is in the lease itself a provision by which the authorities can come along and call for a reappraisement of it as often as any public building is erected which is likely to influence the value of the block. Take the case of Port Darwin. Let us suppose that as the result of the advent of the Commonwealth, applications are put in for a number of town blocks there by persons who desire to erect business premises thereon. Is it unreasonable to suppose that during the next fourteen years fourteen public buildings will be erected there. I can mention almost fourteen buildings which will have to be erected.
– Would the erection of a building improve the value of the land ?
– I think so. I can suggest one building the erection of which would have that effect - I refer to freezing works in connexion with the export trade.
– Who has a right to the increased value?
– The community.
– Not the lessee?
– No; but in this matter my honorable friends cannot refine their theories down too closely. If we nominally grant a man a lease of fourteen years, subject to a re-appraisement at the end of that term, and yet claim the right with every expenditure of public money to re-appraise his block, we put him in an extremely embarrassing position. If I desired to erect a business establishment in a town like Port Darwin, I would not be anxious to put up a galvanized-iron shanty costing, perhaps, £50. I would want to put up substantial premises. But what security would I have under this Ordinance ? None at all. I would be liable to have my lease re-appraised every year.
– If a man accepts a lease for fourteen years, he must recognise that he will get his full value out of it by the end of that time.
– But he will not get a lease for fourteen years. The Ordinance states that the lease of town lands shall be in perpetuity, subject to a reappraisement every fourteen years. But the lease itself contains a proviso that the Crown may at any time, if it has reason to think that any work which has been carried out by the expenditure of public money has added to the value of the town blocks, subject them to a re-appraisement. We shall not get business men to put £3,000 or £4,000 into store premises unless they have fixed terms for a reasonable period of years.
– Does not the honorable senator think that a lessee would recognise that as his rent went up his business would increase?
– Whenever a private landlord has attempted to increase his rent, gentlemen like the honorable senator have referred to him as a “ blood-sucking “ landlord.
– Should not the Crown always reserve that right to itself ?
– I am not arguing that question now. Would my honorable friends be prepared to spend £3,000 or £4,000 in business premises without knowing the fixed terms upon which they held their land?
– How can we be prepared to spend that amount of money when we have not got it?
– I thought I was appealing to capitalists. Let me give an instance. In Sydney quite recently our municipality resumed a considerable area of land. It is retaining the ownership of it and leasing it. It is offering that land upon leases of fifty years at a fixed rent.
– That condition would not apply to Port Darwin.
– If it be necessary to lay down that condition in Sydney, it will be much more necessary to lay it down in Port Darwin.
– Take the case of Kalgoorlie. Look at the increase which has taken place in the value of land there in fourteen years.
– The right claimed by the Crown under this Ordinance to step in at any time and alter the terms and conditions of leases will frighten any man who otherwise might be inclined to put his money into business premises at Port Darwin. Let me suppose that I desired to rent a house, and that the landlord asked me £2 weekly for it. I might say to him, “ I will have my furniture and my carpets fitted to the rooms’ of the house, and, therefore, I want to know that the rent will be fixed for a reasonable period.” If he then informed me that he must have the right to come along and re-assess my rent every month, what would I think?
– Many landlords have that right.
– Of course there is always a difference between my case and that of Commonwealth lessees in that if one landlord does not suit me I can look for another. But in the Northern Territory, lessees will have only one landlord to deal with.
I wish now to turn to the painstaking effort which was made by the VicePresident of the Executive Council and the Minister of Defence to justify the areas which are provided for in this Ordinance. They pointed out that in other parts of Australia there are very large areas of lower grazing capacity.. But the question of area is not the only matter for our consideration. When he was speaking, I asked the Minister of Defence how he could dissociate the question of area from that of tenure. He replied, in that lofty tone which he can assume at times, that Ee would deal with the matter in his own way. But he conveniently forgot to touch upon it. I would have no objection to leasing for six months to-morrow the whole of the unoccupied portions of the Northern Territory to a single individual if I could get rent for them. But that is a very different matter from granting a perpetual lease over those portions of the Territory. If the Minister of Defence will look at the history of our land legislation, imperfect as it has been, he will find that the larger the areas which have been leased, the less permanent has been the tenure. In that respect we have always differentiated, which is just what this Ordinance fails to do. An effort has always been made in our State legislation to differentiate between holdings which were permanent and those which were temporary. In all these big pastoral holdings in Queensland, South Australia, and also in the Northern Territory itself, there has been this sharp distinction: that, where lands were held for pastoral purposes in big blocks, they were held on, comparatively speaking, short leases.
– Wherever the land was any good, the holders got it as freehold.
– I am trying to sa.ve the Northern Territory from the mistakes into which the States have allowed themselves to fall, and one of the chief of these is the mistake of allowing big aggregations to go on. The States have made the mistake, which this Ordinance seeks to perpetrate, of applying the same tenure to small permanent homes as to large temporary holdings. This perpetual leasehold principle, which may be an extremely valuable system when applied to small residential farms, becomes quite a different thing when applied to big pastoral holdings. My fundamental objection to this Ordinance is that it does propose to grant these big pastoral holdings under perpetual leases. Senator Russell, and others who have spoken, seem to overlook the fact that if the Northern Territory is to be half as valuable as they think it will be, it will not be very long before some of the land which is now leased will have to be resumed - and it will not be very long after that before the land which will be leased under this Ordinance will also be required for subdivision. Senator Russell goes a long way round the compass in speculating about gold-fields being opened up. There is no need to suppose that such, things will happen. We need only point to what has occurred in some of the States to show that land that is held to-day in holdings of 500,000 acres for pastoral purposes will be required, not for agricultural or mining purposes, but for pastoral purposes in small areas. That has been the experience of Queensland, and is the experience of my own State - certainly of that large portion of New South Wales of which you, Mr. President, have some knowledge, namely, the Western Division, embracing, roughly speaking, a third of the State. Ten or twelve years ago, owing to a series of bad years, and also to some faulty legislation, that division of New South Wales became practically bankrupt. With the desire to prevent the abandonment of a large portion of it, legislation was passed which was extremely liberal in its character. It gave forty-two years’ leases for holdings in that Western Division. But, although only a. few years have passed since that was done, there has been a. general demand for resumption, not for agricultural or mining purposes, but for the purpose of smaller pastoral areas than were provided for by the existing law. No one pretends that it is farming land. The land is wanted purely for pastoral purposes - fordiminutive squattages, if honorable sena..tors like to use that term. The same is going to happen in the Northern Territory. Senator Russell has made a claim for honesty on the part of his party. I do not want to question it now. But where is the common sense of granting to-day leases in these large areas, with the practical certainty that the land will have to be resumed for subdivision within a few years? Let us proceed on the reasonable assumption that the average areas for the holdings already taken up give us some idea of what the average areas will be when the remaining area is taken up.
– It is not what a man applies for, but what he will get, that matters.
– It is not that. The Government are not in a position to compel people to take up land in the Northern Territory. You have to consider what people want, and what they will expect to get, when you invite them to go there with their lives and their money to develop the Territory. It is not altogether what this Parliament wants. Parliaments have adopted that policy before, and, in consequence, have continually had to alter their land legislation. What we may assume is that to-day the best pastoral country in the Northern Territory is occupied in areas which average a quarter of a million acres in extent. There are 256 holdings embracing something like 103,000,000 acres, an average of 270.000 acres. We may assume that that represents the best land. If that be so, we can clearly see that the land which lies behind these holdings, in a country less generously treated in the matter of rainfall, will not be held in smaller blocks on the average. Is that position going to continue for ever? If that is so, it means that 700 or 800 people will occupy all the purely pastoral country in the Northern Territory. We may be quite sure, however, that there will be a demand for the subdivision of these large holdings. People will say that the time has gone by when they should be allowed to continue, and that the time has come when younger men should have an opportunity of making a start for themselves, as their forefathers had. It appears to me to be monstrously foolish to give any one a title to occupy large areas on perpetual lease. It is nonsense to say that you cannot get the Northern Territory occupied otherwise. All experience shows that you can get it occupied under a terminable leasing system. A third of it is now occupied under laws passed by the Parliament of South Australia. It is evident that if it was possible to secure the occupation of so much of the country while it was under South Australian administration, we shall have no difficulty in securing occupation when the Commonwealth administers it. The Commonwealth, as shown by the policy which it has initiated, is determined to help forward the Territory and to develop it. But surely we are not going to try to settle it on terms less favorable to its permanent development than those granted by South Australia. Hitherto the leases granted have been for twenty-one, thirty, and forty-two years, the latter being the longest term allowed anywhere in Australia for pastoral country. Those terms have proved sufficient to attract enough people to take up a third of the Territory. The Commonwealth has now come along, and is prepared to spend money to build railways and to facilitate settlement. But although a term of fortytwo years has been effective in a short space of time in securing settlement, we are asked to believe that we can only settle the remaining portion of the area by adopting the perpetual leasing system. In regard even to so long a term as fortytwo years, there comes a time when a lease falls in, and when land again comes into the hands of the Crown. The Crown can then do as it likes with it. If the Crown desires to resume before the forty-two years’ period is up, it has to pay so much according to the value of the term that has still to run. . But with interminable leases the only way in which the Crown could resume would be by compensating the leaseholder on the basis of perpetual holding. We are told that the Government have had the benefit of the experience of the several States. If that be so, I wonder who has been advising them, in this matter, because it seems to me that the experience of the States has been completely ignored. The statement has been made that it does not matter about granting perpetual leases, because we can resume at any time. It is quite true that we can, but I am trying to point out that under this Ordinance that resumption would cost a good deal of money. Senator Russell, Senator Findley, and others have tried to suggest that we should only have to pay for the improvements. If Senator Russell thinks a little he will see that that would be a monstrously unfair thing to do. In fact, the Ordinance does not propose to do it. A man who goes into a concern of this kind has to devote a few years to developing it before he gets any return. It certainly would not be a fair thing simply to pay him the value of his improvements alone and turn him out. Under the laws of all our States the mere fact of forcible, dispossession entitles a man to compensation. But let us look at what the Ordinance does.
– The lessee would not get compensation for communitycreated value.
– He would under this Ordinance. The only thing that is barred to him under it is the value which springs from the construction of public works. But there is a community-created value quite apart from’ that. Take a pastoral holding in an agricultural district. The run itself may be regarded as outside the agricultural zone. But by degrees settlement commences to flow -on until it laps up to the boundary of the holding. Has not that added a value to the holding? Of course, it has; and the holder would be entitled to collect that increased value. In Part IV. of this Ordinance, -dealing with resumptions, it says that the lessee shall be entitled to the value of his improvements, and then it goes on to provide that - the lessee shall also be entitled to be paid compensation for any depreciation in the value of the lease by reason of any resumption, such compensation to be determined in the same manner as compensation for improvements.
The words, “ the lessee shall also be entitled to be paid compensation,” mean that lie is to be paid some compensation more than that for improvements. The word “ also “ indicates that clearly enough.
– Does not that get over the honorable senator’s objection to there «ot being a stated period for resumption?
– I am not objecting to this from the stand-point of the injustice to the lessee, but am contending that it is foolish in the interests of the community to give away a perpetual lease to-day with a certainty that you will have to pay to resume to-morrow.
– The honorable senator wants to give it away for forty-two years.
– I do not say so, tout I do say that forty-two years has been the longest that has been found necessary hitherto.
– The honorable senator’s argument is that it should not be given away at all.
– I have no time to argue with those who cannot see the difference between a terminable lease under which, by effluxion of time, the land reverts to the Crown, and a perpetual lease under which the land can only come back to the Crown when the Crown pays for it.
– Does the honorable senator say that sub-clause 9 of clause 35 of the Ordinance modifies subclause 6?
– Sub-clause 9 shows that, in addition to being paid for improvments, the lessee shall be paid compensation for. depreciation by reason of resumption.
– The same estate cannot increase and decrease in value at the same time.
– That is not the point. I have just sketched a case where settlement gradually running up to the boundaries of a man’s block increases its value. The honorable senator admitted that.
– The honorable senator was playing upon the word “ also.”
– What does “ also ‘’ mean, except “in addition to”? The Ordinance, first of all, provides for compensation for improvements, and goes on then to say that the lessee shall “ also “ be paid something else. What is that something else ? It is of no use for Ministers to say that it does not mean the communitycreated value. The only thing barred to the lessee by way of compensation is that special portion of the community-created value which springs from the construction of a public work.
– Suppose there is a nice running creek of good water on a block, and, by a development of mining, sludge and silt are driven into the creek, would not that depreciate the value of the block?
– It might, or might not ; it would all depend on circumstances
– The drinking water would not be so good.
– Stock in Australia are not very particular about drinking water. If the honorable senator will come out with me to the back country in drought time, I shall be able to show him some water which he would not care to drink. I have given a complete answer to those who say that there is no provision in this Ordinance for the payment of compensation for anything but improvements.
– The honorable senator would contend that, no matter how much a lease was improved, the lessee should be given no compensation ?
– Senator Findley knows very well that that is not my attitude. My attitude has been made sufficiently plain. I am protesting against the granting under perpetual leases of these large squattages, which will inevitably, in the course of time, have to be taken back by the Government under the resumption clause of this Ordinance providing tor the payment of compensation. If we are going to grant a perpetual lease, we should grant compensation if the land is resumed; but I say that it is entirely foolish to make grants of large squattages under perpetual leases when we know that sooner or later we shall require the land for public purposes.
– Then why grant a lease for forty-two years?
– Because that is a terminable period. If the honorable senator thinks that forty-two years is too long a period, let him contend that it should be twenty-one years. I am not saying that any land should be leased for forty-two years, but I do say that there is a reasonable mean between a lease for a day and a perpetual lease.
– The contingencies which the honorable senator suggests would arise under a perpetual lease would also arise under a lease of forty-two years.
– They must inevitably arise under a perpetual lease, but a terminable lease may have expired before the land is required. Senator Pearce admitted that in the Northern Territory we are starting an experiment. If we are, we should certainly go slowly. We should not tie up the lands of the Territory in these big areas in perpetuity. The honorable senator admits that we should feel our way in this matter with great caution. I am not only surprised, but extremely disappointed, that there has not been, from both sides, a strong protest against the granting in this blindfold fashion of big squattages under perpetual leases. I should have thought that honorable senators would have welcomed an opportunity to give perpetual leases for residence areas, and, it may be, for the smaller blocks, but that with respect to the big grazing areas, under which a great portion of the Territory must be held for many years to come, they would have insisted upon fixing a definite period for the lease,* so that the lands might come back to the Crown, when required for closer settlement, free from all the complications and expense of compensation to the lessee.
– There might be difficulty arising from the Territory developing more quickly than is anticipated.
– In that case, the perpetual lease would be found to be still more harassing.
– If land is let under a terminable lease, there may be twenty years of the lease to run when the land is required, and, under the Ordinance, there might not be more than two years.
– Under the Ordinance, whether a lessee lives for twenty years or a hundred years, he will still hold a perpetual lease.
– Then what is it?
– It is subject to modification.
– Whilst a very great deal of injury may be done under this Ordinance in the locking up of lands for an interminable period in a few hands, I am quite confident that not many years will’ have gone over our heads before we shall find it necessary to revise this Ordinance.
– That is quite likely.
– But a great deal of damage will then have been done, and we shall have to go through the experience that has had to be faced by every State in the Commonwealth.. They have all, by subsequent legislation, been compelled to try to minimize or remedy the mistakes made in the past.. Those mistakes are being repeated here today in making provision for a perpetual right of occupancy of large areas of country in the Northern Territory. The one cry which the Labour party raised a few years ago was that Australia was suffering from land monopoly. They are trying now to bring about another kind of land monopoly. I admit that it will not be as dangerous as a freehold monopoly, because the amount involved in resumption will not be so great ; but the principle is just the same.
– There cannot be a land monopoly if the land belongs to the people.
– That is rather a. novel statement. The honorable senator asks how there can be a monopoly if the land belongs to the people. How was it that there was a land monopoly in Victoria when the land belonged to the people ? The reason why it was a monopoly is the reason why it will be a monopoly in the Northern Territory, and that is that the land will belong to so few people. If there were no other means of settling the pastoral areas of the Northern Territory except by granting perpetual leases, I should say grant them, because the first business is to secure the occupation of the land. But when we may secure the occupation of the Territory under leases which every day will become shorter, and may thus leave a future generation and a future Parliament free to deal with the lands in the light of the experience which will then have been gained, I say it is not merely foolish, but it becomes a national crime if we attempt by means of this Ordinance to lock up the lands of the Territory in the way proposed.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senate adjourned at 10.37p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 August 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19120808_senate_4_65/>.