9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers .
Mr. GREGORY ,as chairman, brought up the report of the Public Works Committee together with minutes of evidence, relating to theproposed erection of the secretariat building at Canberra, Including provision for an automatic telephone exchangeand post office.
Ordered to be printed.
– I desire to make personal explanation. On Friday last, in a division upon an amendment moved by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony)upon the appropriation of £1,000,000 in the defence estimates, for the developmental programme, I inadvertently recorded my vote, although I was paired with the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey). There is a standing arrangement between the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition that, in the unavoidable absence of either, a pair is to be given. Unfortunately, I overlooked the fact that the Acting Leader of the Opposition was not present when the division to which I refer was taken, and I recorded my vote. I understand that it is possible, with the consent of the House, to have my name removed from the division list. I am sure that the Acting Leader of the Opposition will understand that I voted quite inadvertently. I regret the fact very much, and it would be very desirable, if possible, thatmy vote should not be recorded in the official proceedings of the committee.
– On former occasions, in view of explanations given by honorable members concerned, the House has agreed to the removal of names from division lists. If there is no objection, I shallsee that that course is followed in this case, and that the name of the right honorable gentleman does not appear in the published list.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
Rescue of White Women
– Has the Prime Minister any information to give the House with regard to the efforts being made to rescue the two white women who are supposed to be in the hands of the blacks in the Northern Territory? If not, will the right honorable gentleman takesteps to send a gun-boat, fitted with wireless, to the locality in order that the public may have information as to what is being done?
– No information on the subject has been received. Owing to the difficulties of communication along the coast of the Northern Territory, the Government is considering the advisability of taking steps to secure early information as soon as any developments take place.
– I ask the Prime Minister what is the exact position with regard to the proposed Commonwealth guarantee of the first payment for wheat for the comingseason ?
– I yesterday had a conference with representatives of the states of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. Unfortunately it was impossible for the representatives of Western Australia to get here in time for the conference. The letter which I recently wrote to the State Governments, and which has appeared in the press, was considered at the conference, but the state representatives did not see their way to fall in with the suggestions that had been put forward by the Commonwealth Government. This Government has made it quite clear that it is not prepared to go forward with its proposals for guaranteeing wheat pools year after year, unless some steps are taken by those engaged in the industry to place themselves, within a reasonable period, in a position in which they will be able to do their own financing. It was impossible to arrive at any agreement yesterday. The matter is now in the hands of the State Governments. I understand that they propose to proceed with the establishment of a pool, and the Commonwealth Government has undertaken to givo any assistance it can to secure the necessary financial accommodation to enable them to carry out their intentions.
– Has the Prime Minister had time to inquire into the arrival of immigrants from Armenia and other places, to whom I have previously directed attention, who, upon their arrival here, have had to depend upon the charity of the citizens.
– I assume that the honorable member refers to certain specific cases which he brought under my notice. I have notso far received a report upon them, although inquiries were undertaken as soon as the honorable member raised the question. I expect to receive a report on the subject within the next few days.
– It has been stated that it is the intention of the Government of the United Kingdom to call a conference. I am not sure what information the Prime Minister has given to the House on the matter,but, according to the newspapers, the function of this conference, which is to be held later in the year, is to prepare for the holding of another conference which, next year, will concern itself with the inter-imperial and foreign relations of the Empire. I ask the right honorable gentleman, if representation has been decided upon, whether he is in a position to inform the House who will represent Australia, and what are the instructions which will be given to our representative. Further, will the House have an opportunity to discuss the matter before Parliament is prorogued ?
– Some four months ago the British Government communicated with all the self-governing parts of the Empire, suggesting that a conference should take place at the end of the present year to consider if it is possible to lay down lines for the improvement of their existing procedure, particularly in connexion with foreign affairs. I also understand that it was considered that such a conference might well discuss generally the status of the self-governing parts of the Empire. To the cablegram dealing with the matter, I replied, on behalf of the Commonwealth, that, as these questions had been considered at the Imperial Conference, we could not see that any advantage would be gained by a conference of representatives who were not the heads of their respective Governments, and that Australia was not desirous of taking part in the proposed conference. The matter has not been advanced since, though I have seen in the press that the British Government is still desirous that a conference shall take place. This Government made it perfectly clear that Australia does not desire such a conference. We do not think that any advantage is to be gained by its being held, and until we know that all the other dominions desire that it shall be held, we do not propose to take any further action.
Australian Representation at Geneva.
– It is reported in the press in Sydney, and in New South Wales generally, that in the Assembly of the League of Nations at Geneva, the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Groom) made a statement, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, to the effect that a permanent resident official would have to be retained by Australia at Geneva. Will the Prime Minister inform me whether there is any foundation for the statement, and whether the Government intends to take action in the direction indicated?
– I have no information on the subject, beyond what I have read in the press, but I am quite sure that some misunderstanding has arisen with respect to what the Attorney-General is alleged to have said.
– Is the Prime Minister yet able to announce the personnel of the new board of directors of the Commonwealth Bank, and has he considered the special claims of Queensland to representation on the board?
– I am not in a position at the present time to make any announcement, but I can assure the honorable member that the fullest consideration has been given to the claims of his state.
– When will the Government introduce the proposed bill to deal with the export marketing of dairy produce ?
– The Governor-General’s message with respect to this measure will be brought down to-day.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) received any complaints from the users of corn sacks regarding the high price charged for them, and has he power, under any Customs law, to inquire into, and take action with respect to, the exorbitant charges made by the importers of cornsacks manufactured overseas by black labour and admitted duty free?
– I have had no complaints of the kind mentioned. The powers under the Customs Act are known by honorable members to be very wide, but I shall have inquiries made in the direction indicated.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the official announcement that the New South Wales Government has decided to proceed with the Meat Encouragement Bill ? Since that Government is waiting to see what action is to be taken by the Commonwealth authorities, what are the Prime Minister’s intentions in the matter?
– I have seen no such announcement in the press, but I understand that the New South Wales Government intends to proceed with the measure. The Commonwealth Government proposes to introduce legislation on similar lines. The bill will contain a proposal to constitute a board having authority throughout the Commonwealth, and the various states will need to pass measures for the purpose of giving effect to the underlying principles of the proposal.
– Has the Prime Minister received any definite information from the Premiers of New South Wales and Queensland as to the introduction of the bills necessary in connexion with the construction of the Kyogle to South Brisbane railway ? Since these measures are contingent upon a bill being brought down in this Parliament, is there any possibility of the Commonwealth bill being introduced before Parliament rises for the recess?
– The Governments of Queensland and New South Wales have both given their assent to the agreement between those states and the Commonwealth. The agreement was signed by myself last week, and by thePremier of New South Wales on Saturday. I believe it has now been signed by the Premier of Queensland. TheGovernment proposes to introduce a bill before the House rises, to authorize the agreement.
Report (No. 3) presented by Mr. Corser : read by the Clerk, and adopted.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow ? -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The intentions of the Government in regard to the war loans maturing in 1925 cannot be stated until the time for issuing a conversion loan approaches. The matter is, however, receiving careful consideration by the Government.
Mr.FORDE asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– Theanswers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Whetherhe will cause inquiries to be made as to the desirability of establishing a meteorological station at Browse Island (off the Kimberley coast, Western . Australia) similar to that at Willis Island, off the coast of Queensland, so as to act as a storm-warning station to pearlers in the waters in the vicinity of Broome and elsewhere?
– As a result of inquiries which he has already made, the Commonwealth Meteorologist is of opinion that Browse Island, which is only about 100 miles from the mainland, is so near the coast that the slight advantage to be derived from the establishment of a stormwarning station there would not justify the expenditure that would be involved. So far as the Commonwealth Meteorologist has been able to ascertain, there is no other island or reef off the north-west coast of Western Australia which would be suitable for the purposes of such a station.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice - l.What is the quantity, respectively, of macaroni and vermicelli manufactured in each state of the Commonwealth?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Round- Australia Flight
– On 3rd September, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde)asked the following questions : -
Where was the de Haviland machine used by Colonel Brinsmead, Controller of Civil Aviation,and Captain Jones, in their roundAustralia flight, manufactured, and what did the machine cost Australia? 2. (a) What was the cost of the flight per mile.
I arn now in a position to furnish the following replies: -
The following papers were presented: -
Audit Act - Transfers of Amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial year 1923-24 - Dated 10th September, 1924.
Customs Act - Proclamation (dated 27 th August, 1924) revoking Proclamation (issued 21st October, 1920) which prohibited the Exportation of Arms and Ammunition.
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1924 -
No. 30. - Seamen’s Compensation.
No. 31. - Licences (No. 2).
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 106, 107, 108, 131.
Messages recommending appropriations for the following bills reported : -
Income Tax Collection Bill.
Dairy Produce Export Control Bill.
Dried Fruits Export Control Bill.
Mr.LISTER. - I rise to make a personal explanation. On Friday, with the concurrence of the Government Whip, I absented myself from a sitting of the House and took part in the unveiling of an honour board at Melton, where, in the course of my remarks, I mentioned that I had just left the House after having participated in an all-night sitting. I have since received from a constituent an unsigned letter, couched in language more forcible than polite, and accompanied by the following paragraph from Saturday’s Argus : -
As the breakfast hour approached members’ tempers became frayed. The Opposition made an outburst when, at a quarter to 8 o’clock, Mr. Lister (V.), who had not attended the all-night sitting, complained of the drainage of a war service home.
Opposition members, in chorus. - Oh, shut up !
There are two inaccuracies in that extract. First, that my complaint was in regard to one war service home, when it related to 67; and, secondly, that I was not present during the all-night sitting. The correspondent desired to know why I informed a country gathering that I had been sitting in Parliament all night when a newspaper statement showed that I had not been. I am not in the habit of telling lies on the public platform, and I decline to be made by the Argus or anybody else to appear a liar.
The Quorum in Committee of the Whole shall consist of the same number of members, exclusive of the Chairman, as shall be requisite to form a Quorum of the House.
An explanatory footnote states that by section 39 of the Constitution a quorum is “at least one-third of the whole number of the members of the House of Representatives.” During the all-night sitting, on Thursday last, attention was called to the absence of a quorum in committee. The Temporary Chairman (Sir Neville Howse) counted the committee, and declared that a quorum was present. I pointed out that only 24 members, excluding the chairman, were present and I challenged his decision, but the Chairman adhered to his contention that 25 members, including himself, constituted a quorum. A little later attention was again called to the state ofthe committee, and the Temporary Chairman, finding that there were present only 24 members besides himself, ruled that a quorum was not present. The matter was reported to you, Mr. Speaker, and you ruled that according to section 39 of the Constitution, which I agree overrides any standing order, a quorum of the House, viz., one-third of the total number of the members of the House, was present A little later, in committee, the question whether a quorum was present was again raised, and the Temporary Chairman said, “ Relying upon the ruling given by the Speaker, I declare that a quorum is present.” There is an apparent contradiction between Standing Order 216 and section 39 of the Constitution.
– To which point does the honorable member refer? The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) submitted two points.
– My point is one of them, but I am not quite sure which. I was in the House at the uncanny hour of 5 o’clock on Friday morning, when I am not usually seen abroad. The question, What constitutes a quorum of the Committee of the Whole, was raised by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), but, having been called from the chamber for a moment by urgent public business, I do not know precisely what happened. I understand that the Temporary Chairman of Committees called for you to take the chair, and that you decided that, under the Constitution, which provides that one-third of the total number of members constitutes a quorum of the House, there was then a quorum present. You did not, so far asI am aware, decide the question, What constitutes a quorum of the committee? It is worth remarking that section 39 of the Constitution says, “ Until the Parliament otherwise provides,” and that the Parliament, through its Standing Orders, has otherwise provided so far as a quorum of the committee is concerned. Moreover, the Constitution is silent as to what is a quorum of the committee. A little later, in the discharge of my onerous public duties, I was in the chamber, and was not for the moment supported by the usual galaxy of honorable members who sit on this side, and I again raised the question, What constitutes a quorum of the committee? The honorable member for Calare (Sir Neville Howse) was again in the chair. He heard me most sympathetically, but, I am sorry to say, he gave a most unfavorable diagnosis of my case. He decided against me. Now I, with the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), ask you, Mr. Speaker, to resolve our difficulties and tell us where we stand regarding quorums of the committee. I should be very sorry for it to be suggested that I am taking any exception to the ruling of the Temporary Chairman other than to say that it is wrong.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton); referred, towards the conclusion of his remarks, to the status of the honorable member for the Northern Territory as affecting this question. I should be glad if he would leave that matter in abeyance at this stage, but later, after I have had an opportunity to consider it, I shall be prepared, if the House so desires, to rule upon it. The question raised by the honorable member is, what constitutes a quorum of the Committee of the Whole? There is no doubt as to what the Constitution says about the quorum of the House. Section 39 says explicitly that a quorum of the House is at least one-third of the members, and it has been ruled, correctly I think, that one-third of the members is 25. But Standing Order 216 says that -
The Quorum in Committee of the Whole shall consist of the same number of Members, exclusive of the Chairman, as shall be requisite to form a Quorum of the House.
The honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) correctly reminded the House, by interjection, that the standing order in question is a temporary one. In fact, all our Standing Orders are temporary, for, although the Parliament has been working under them for 23 years, it has not permanently adopted them. Had I been called upon to rule without reference to former rulings, I should have taken the view that it would be quite illogical, and in opposition to established practice here and elsewhere, to say that the quorum of the Committee of the Whole must be larger than the quorum of the House. As a matter of fact, in many Parliaments the contrary practice is followed, a larger quorum being insisted upon for the House than for the Committee of the Whole. But two memorable rulings on this point were given in 1906 by Mr. Speaker Holder. One related to the quorum of the House and the other to the quorum of the committee. On the 10th October, 1906, when Mr. Speaker Holder gave one of those decisions, conditions similar to those that existed in the committee last Friday morning prevailed. The Chairman left the chair to report to the House the absence of a quorum. The number of members present in committee, as revealed by a telling, was 24. . The Speaker ruled that as 24 members had voted on the division, and as the Chairman had been in the chair, a quorum, in accordance with the provision of the Constitution, had been present in the committee. THat has never been challenged, because, I believe, honorable members concur in the view that it is founded on the wholesome constitutional principle that the Constitution overrides Standing Orders and other enactments which are contrary to its provisions. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has suggested, one qualification. Section 39 of the Constitution in relation to a quorum is to operate “ until the Parliament otherwise provides,” and he implied, rather than -said, that the adoption of the Standing Order regulating our procedure in relation to the quorum of committee is such a provision as was contemplated by that section. I think that honorable members will agree, and that the jurists would confirm, that the only provision contemplated by the Constitution is a statutory enactment, and not the adoption of Standing or Sessional Orders, temporary or permanent. I, therefore, rule, supporting the decision of the first occupant of this chair, that a quorum of the House is 25 members, inclusive of the Speaker, and a quorum of the Committee of the Whole, 25 members, inclusive of the Chairman, thus giving full effect to section 39 of the Constitution as overriding Standing Order 216.
I have only this further observation to make : The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has made the very acceptable suggestion that, as there appears to be a conflict of rule in respect of what constitutes a quorum of the committee, the Standing Orders Committee should be requested to review the matter as early as possible, to remove the possibility of further misunderstanding.
– On the 27th August, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 3 -
Section 11 of the principal act is amended by inserting at the end thereof the following sub-sections : - “ (4.) Inquiries conducted by the board relating to : -
Senate’s amendment. - Sub-clause (4), leave out paragraph (c).
Mr. PRATTEN (Martin- Minister for
Trade and Customs) [3.44]. - I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The Government proposes to accept the amendment, for the reason that it intended, when the bill was originally introduced, to slightly alter the act by widening the scope of the inquiries that could be made by the board. This House decided to insert the words which the Senate proposes to omit, but, on consideration, the Government concluded that they were not really necessary, and were not quite consistent with the principles of the act which is being amended. The matters which may be inquired into by the Tariff Board are described in section 15 of the act, and it is felt that the amendment which paragraph c would make in section 11 of that measure could in no waylimit or extend the scope of the board’s investigations. For all practical purposes, paragraphs a and b of proposed new sub-section 4 of section 11 will achieve the objects which paragraph c was intended to achieve. Seeing that it is provided that all inquiries into matters relating to the tariff, or to the payment of bounties, are to be held in public, and that all evidence is to be given on oath, we do not see that there can be any objection to omitting paragraph c. The spirit of this legislation now is that the board’s inquiries shall be held in public, unless the matters being inquired into are of a confidential nature, and that evidence shall be given on oath.
– The board decides that.
.- I supposed that the Government had given careful consideration to this bill before it was introduced. It is remarkable, therefore, that we should be told now that this paragraph is unnecessary. It appears that the Government made up its mind what it wanted when it introduced the bill, told honorable members of this House that these provisions were necessary, and, later, when pressure was brought to bear on it by the members of another place, it suddenly awakened to the fact that something in the bill was not necessary.
– The paragraph is redundant.
– Then how is it that the Government has just become cognizant of the fact? It is well known that it only discovered it after pressure had been brought to bear on it by another place. Section 15 of the Tariff Board Act of 1921 defines the board’s powers. It reads -
The Minister shall refer to the board for inquiry, and report the following matters: -
The classification of goods under all Tariff Items which provide for classification under by-laws;
the determination of the value of goods for duty under section one hundred and sixty of the Customs Act 1901-1920;
any dispute arising out of the interpretation of any Customs Tariff or Excise Tariff, or the classification of articles in any Tariff, in which an appeal is made to the Minister from the decision of the ComptrollerGeneral;
the necessity for new, increased, or reduced duties; and the deferment of the existing or proposed deferred duties;
the necessity for granting bounties for the encouragement of any primary or secondary industry in Australia;
the effect of existingbounties, or of bounties subsequently granted;
any proposal for the application of the British Preferential Tariff, or the Intermediate Tariff to any part of the British Dominions, or any foreign country, together with any requests received from Australian producers or exporters in relation to the export of their goods to any such part or country;
any complaint that a manufacturer is taking undue advantage of the protection afforded him by the Tariff, and in particular in regard to his -
charging unnecessarily high prices for his goods; or
acting in restraint of trade to the detriment of the public ; or
acting in a manner which results in unnecessarily high prices being charged to the consumer for his goods.
We have had two years’ experience of the operations of the board, and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) a few days ago occupied quite a long time in giving us reasons for the amendments that he proposed to make in the act. He said, in particular, that it was necessary for the board to inquire into proposals for improving the condition of any primary or secondary industry. Their duties should extend beyond the investigation of matters relating to the tariff. When the bill was previously before us, the Minister accepted the view I put forward that the board should inquire into the position of every industry, and into the relations of one industry to another.
– But, subsequently, the Tariff Board’s functions were limited by the re-insertion of the words “ in relation to the tariff.”
– Because I happened to say a few words in commendation of the proposal, the Government evidently saw some possibility of danger arising from it, and arranged in another place to have paragraph c struck out. The Opposition will vote against the Government’s proposal to accept the Senate’s amendment.
. - I do not think that the position will be affected very much by the omission of paragraph c. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) and I fought very hard for the insertion of a drag-net provision to have all inquiries conducted by the Tariff Board held in public. The only support we got from honorable members opposite was that afforded by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb). I should be pleased if all inquiries by the board were conducted in public.
– I am surprised that the Government is desirous of striking out the words inserted in the bill on the amendment moved by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson). It was after midnight when that amendment was discussed. Surely there is not such need for haste that honorable members should be called upon to consider important legislation in the early hours of the morning. The honorable member for New England, whose words the Standing Orders will not permit me to quote, had a very definite purpose in view in seeking the inclusion of paragraph c, and practically every honorable member on the Ministerial side supported him. I was favorable to the proposal of the honorable members for Swan (Mr. Gregory) and Perth (Mr. Mann), that every investigation by the Tariff Board, except into matters in which trade secrets might be divulged, should be held in public.Unfortunately, very few honorable members of the Opposition were present when the decision was arrived at. However, it is only fair that the Tariff Board should be permitted to inquire into matters affecting the improvement of primary or secondary industries. Quite recently the board has made inquiries in regard to broom millet. It went into the country and held conversations withgrowers, and subsequently drew up a scheme which was placed before the Minister. I understand, also, that it has similarly investigated the hopgrowing industry.
– The honorable member should wait until the Minister explains the position.
– I thought he had done so. We, on this side of the chamber, are anxious to back up any languishing primary industry that investigation by the Tariff Board may show to be in need of tariff assistance. The honorable member for New England represents a very large body of primary producers, and as he was anxious to have this paragraph inserted in the bill, it seems to me that no harm can be done by allowing it to remain.
– The bill, as brought down by the Government, included in clause 3 a proposal to omit from section 15 of the principal act the words, “ in relation to the tariff.” Obviously, the omission of those words would have enlarged the scope of the Tariff Board. However, before clause 3 was reached, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) carried an amendment providing that open inquiries should be held in regard to any proposition for improving the condition of any primary or secondary industry. The committee afterwards deleted the original clause 3. The effect was to retain in section 15 of the principal act the words, “ in relation to the tariff,” thus limiting the future operations of the Tariff Board to matters relating to the tariff.
– Does the honorable member mean items already included in the tariff ?
– The board’s operations were restricted to matters directly, or indirectly, affecting the tariff. The amendment by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) was inserted in clause 2 of the original bill, and the original clause 3 was struck out, thus limiting the inquiries of the Tariff Board to matters in relation to the tariff. Further, this House carried the proposal of the Government that inquiries conducted by the board relating to any revision of the tariff, or to anyproposal for a bounty, should be made in public. Whether this deletion is agreed to, or not, the will of Parliament is that no inquiry shall be made by the Tariff Board unless it is in relation to the tariff. The amendment by the honorable member for New England is now largely inconsistent with what had been done. It is certainly redundant. For these reasons the Government favours the acceptance of the Senate’s amendment,
– Can the Minister give a definition of the words, “ in relation to the tariff “ ?
– The Tariff Board cannot legally inquire into any proposal for the improvement of the conditions applying to any primary or secondary industry unless it relates to the tariff, and, under the bill, any such inquiry must be held in public, and evidence taken on oath.
– What about bounties?
– That statement applies to bounties also.
-Honorable members opposite misunderstand the position if they consider that the inclusion of paragraph c of proposed new subsection 4, moved by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson), meant an extension of the powers of the Tariff Board. It did not increase the range of the board’s functions in any way. So far as matters which could be submitted to the board were concerned, the insertion of this paragraph made no alteration, but it, apparently, did add one additional item to those concerning which any inquiry must be held in public. Believing that we should make public as many inquiries as possible, this House accepted the amendment. Honorable members will remember that when it was introduced I raised a question concerning it, and stated that I did not desire its insertion. When we examine the principal act, we find that any inquiry by the Tariff Board, which it is considered might be dealt with by paragraph c, is already adequately met by paragraphs a andb. In connexion with any inquiry which the board may conduct in relation to any primary or secondary industry, it will be sufficient if such inquiry be held in public when it in any way relates to a revision of the tariff, or to a proposal for a bounty. The acceptance of the Senate’s amendment will not affect the inquiries which must be held in public, nor will it alter the range of the board’s duties. I, therefore, see no reason why this committee should reject it.
.- I have endeavoured to follow the reasoning of the Minister, and of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), but their statements appear to be at variance. I give the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) credit for knowing something about primary production. I know also that he did mot move his amendment for fun, but that before taking that action he consulted with others who also took an active interest in our primary production. I do not know why there should be any objection to his amendment, as we have not yet reached that high standard of intelligence that no inquiry is necessary to inform us on any subject. The Minister said that the inquiry must have some relation to the tariff. To seek information, and to deal with something already in the tariff, are entirely different matters. Our experience in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank Bill has led me to be somewhat suspicious of the actions of the Government. That measure, as it left this chamber, was emasculated by amendments which were moved in another place by supporters of the Government. The environment of the Prime Minister renders it impossible for him to view most subjects in the same light that I do. Certainly, it did not enable him to agree with my conception of the proper functions of the Commonwealth Bank. I am surprised that honorable gentlemen connected with our primary and secondary industries are not more cautious. The inquiry of the Tariff Board may be for the purpose of removing some anomaly or injustice which exists in connexion with primary or secondary production. The committee should reject the Senate’s amendment. After mature consideration, a majority of the committee decided that investigations should be made by the board into any proposal concerning the condition of any primary or secondary industry. The Minister (Mr. Pratten) should statewhy it is now proposed to delete a paragraph under which those engaged in primary and secondary production could be assisted. As I consider the paragraph necessary, I intend to support its retention.
Question - That the Senate’s amendment be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senate’s amendment agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment. - Insert the following sub-section after sub-section 6 : - “ 7. Evidence taken by the board in connexion with any inquiry under the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act 1921-22 shall be on oath, and shall be reduced to writing and filed with the documents relating to the inquiry.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The Government intend to accept the proposed new sub-section. It will be noted that the evidence taken by the board on matters relating to the Industries Preservation Act shall be on oath. I have already taken steps, in connexion with the administration of the department, to ensure that all parties directly affected by the imposition of dumping duties shall have every opportunity to give evidence before the board prior to any decision being arrived at to make goods liable to the dumping duty. The Senate’s amendment makes this course a statutory obligation, and, in addition, it provides that the evidence shall be taken on oath.
Mr.G ABB (Angas) [4.21].-I want to be quite clear about this amendment. Do I understand the Minister to say that, when the board is considering the imposition of a dumping duty under the Industries Preservation Act, every opportunity will be given to all the interests concerned to place evidence before that body?
– I said that all parties directly affected would be given every opportunity to tender evidence.
– Suppose a line of cement is being imported and a request is made for the imposition of the dumping duty. Would importers as well as manufacturers be given the opportunity to place evidence before the board ?
– Both sides would be heard.
– I am wondering why evidence in connexion with such requests should not be taken in public, in the same way as evidence dealing with requests for the revision of the tariff. Under clause 3 of the amending bill there is provision that all such inquiries shall be held in public. Why should not inquiries under this proposed new subsection 7 of section 11 also be held in public? I feel inclined to move an amendment in that direction, but I should like first to hear what the Minister has to say, and if there is any sound reason why the inquiries should not be open to the public.
– I am pleased to hear from the Minister that, for the future, all the parties interested in applications for the imposition of dumping duties will have an opportunity to place their position before the board. That is a very great advantage on the practice hitherto, but I want to impress upon the committee that we are practically giving to members of the Tariff Board power to increase taxation. I have correspondence stating that a dumping duty of £10 per mile had been imposed on wire netting, and the day before yesterday I received a telegram advising me that the board had imposed a dumping duty of £4 per ton on angle iron. Honorable members will surely realize that the exercise of this enormous power by the board makes it possible for that body, by the imposition of dumping duties, to destroy secondary industries. The Minister should amend the proposed new section by providing that evidence taken by the board in connexion with any application, not simply any inquiry, shall be taken on oath, and in public, as moved by me when the bill was previously before us. I suggest this because many inquiries in which the public generally are concerned are made by the board. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), who proposes to move to amend this clause, referred to the importation of cement. In connexion with that commodity there may be many subsequent inquiries by the board, and possibly no occasion for them to be held in public. But whenever it is a question of bringing importations within the provisions of the Industries Preservation Act, the inquiry should be held in public. I shall be glad if. as has been suggested, the Minister would agree to have all such inquiries held in public, and the evidence taken on oath. There is already provision in the Act that, if in the opinion of the board, it is not in the public interest to hold an inquiry in public because possibly of disclosure of trade secrets, it may be held in camera. But certain matters should undoubtedly be made public; such as, for example, the statement made at a recent deputation to the Minister that one firm of agricultural implement makers, on a capital of £40,000, had made a profit of £89,000 within two years.
– Over a period of fifteen years that company made no profit.
– That makes no difference. Evidence taken by the Taxation Royal Commission disclosed that over a period of seven years one pastoral company had paid more in taxation than its actual profits had been, big profits and huge losses alternating in that term of the company’s operations. Why should manufacturers be placed in a different position from, say, a pastoral company? These are facts that should be made known,_but we need not discuss them now. I agree that the Tariff Board should have discretionary power, but when an application is made to bring certain classes of goods within .the provisions of the anti-dumping sections of the Industries Preservation Act, the evidence should be heard in public, because the decision of the board may do a lasting injury, not only to consumers and primary producers, but also to a number of smaller secondary industries. If, as in the case of angle iron, the cost of the raw material to small manufacturers is increased by 50 per cent, or 70 per cent., as the result of the imposition of the dumping duty, it will be impossible for many of our secondary industries to carry on. We should be exceedingly careful before increasing duties in connexion with important key industries.
– Does the honorable member propose to move an amendment?
– The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) has indicated that he will do so, and I shall support him; but I shall, if the honorable member for Angas does not do so. Very great difficulties have arisen owing to the fact that importers in some instances do not know where they stand. I admit that the present Minister for Trade and Customs has altered the working of the department considerably, and the position to-day is much better; but I emphasize that all inquiries under the Dumping Act should, if possible, be held in public. The Tariff Board itself would then bear a better name, and the position of traders would be improved. 1 have no desire to destroy the work of the board, but I object to inordinate power being given to that body. This Parliament has agreed to the anti-dumping provisions of the act, but the Tariff Board in carrying them out may impose huge charges upon the people of this country. In the circumstances, these inquiries should be as public as possible.
– If any inquiry is held in connexion with the imposition of anti-dumping duties, it is right that the evidence of importers and manufacturers should be taken on oath. But there might be collusion between the two parties, and in that case the public should have the right to intervene. There are a few persons who import cement into this country, and there are also a few manufacturers of the article here. Suppose the importers go to the manufacturers, and say, “If you apply for a higher duty on cement, we will support you.” The inquiry into the subject by the Tariff Board would not be open to the public, and the users of cement, the persons most interested, would have no say in the matter. I would not expect the public to be informed of trade secrets or the financial position of importers or manufacturers.
– The board has the power to take such evidence in private.
– What I am afraid of is that the evidence taken in private may be convincing to the board, but it might alter its mind if the inquiry were held in public, and members of the public were also allowed to give evidence. It is possible for employees in an industry to say to their employers, “If you will agree to increase our wages, we shall offer no objection to an increase in the price of the goods you manufacture.” Honorable members are aware that very often at market sales, buyers agree not to compete against each other, and the primary producer is then in their hands. I am aware that the members of the board are public servants, and are supposed to represent the public, but these inquiries should be open to the public. Those engaged in the strawboard industry claim that a higher duty should be imposed upon strawboard, but on the other hand manufacturers of cardboard boxes claim that the price of strawboard is so high that their industry is injured, and people use paper-bags when otherwise they would use cardboard boxes. It would be a great protection if these inquiries were open to the public, who may suffer if they are conducted in private.
– I was hoping that the Minister, in speaking to the Senate’s amendment, would say something about the publicity of these inquiries. There is a good deal to be said in favour of the contention of the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) that they should be held in public, except in so far as, at the discretion of the board, the public may be excluded when matters affecting trade secrets or other confidential matters relating to the affairs of parties are under discussion. As the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) has pointed out, the interests of the public are of the greatest importance, and should be considered in connexion with all these inquiries. The consumer has to bear the additional cost which may be involved in any increase of tariff duties, or the imposition of anti-dumping duties. The honorable member for South Sydney referred to the strawboard industry, and the effect of its prices upon the manufacturers of cardboard boxes. I received by this afternoon’s mail a letter from a local firm of boxmakers, and paper and twine merchants of Sydney, in which they say that the amendment which was carried in the Senate is practically worthless. They add -
We are all bitterly disappointed with the ineffective way in which the Senate dealt with the inquiries of the Tariff Board under the Industries Preservation Act. May I emphasize two points. (1) The principal work of the Tariff Board consists of inquiries under the Industries Preservation Act. (2) The most outrageous decisions of the Tariff Board have been given under the Industries Preservation Act, and therefore it is absolutely vital that all inquiries made by the Tariff Board under the Industries Preservation Act should be in public, the evidence given in public, on oath, and subject to cross-examination by interested parties.
– Who signs that letter?
– It is from P. J. Firth Limited, of Codrington - street, Redfern. Subject to the limita tion already indicated, it appears to me that the suggestion that these inquiries should be open to the public is one deserving the consideration of the Minister. I am strongly in favour, so far as possible, of publicity being given to inquiries by the Tariff Board, in order that there may be no ground for suspicion in the public mind of unfair concessions being made on ex parte representations. This implies no reflection on the board.
.- I should like te support the representations made to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) on this amendment. When the bill was under consideration in this House, we endeavoured to secure the insertion of some such provision as the Senate has proposed. I am glad to find that, on further consideration, honorable members are beginning to think that there is a good deal of force in the arguments we put forward. The amendment proposed by the Senate would certainly be an improvement of the bill, but it is inadequate, and under it inquiries by the Tariff Board would in many cases be rather futile. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) has pointed out that the parties to an inquiry may be examined by the Tariff Board independently, and separately. The representative of one party may make a statement to the board which could only be contravened by the representatives of the other party. An importer may bo one party, and a manufacturer another party to an inquiry. One may make a statement which the other could show to be unreliable. This can only be done if the inquiry is open to the public, or if the parties are examined ‘in the presence of each other. If the parties are examined separately, they will not know the evidence which each has given, and, as a result, the board may be led to make an entirely erroneous decision. It would be fairer to> the board to have these inquiries open to the public. We do not ask a judge to decide an important case without getting counsel on each side to present every aspect of it and weigh the evidence. Under the proposal made, the evidence of each party may be taken privately and separately, and no opportunity will be afforded for the presentation of evidence in rebuttal. It is essential that the grounds on which the board proceeds to give its decisions should be made public. There is an instance, to which I have already referred, of the adoption of the standard of the Australian selling price in connexion with the imposition of anti-dumping duties. I have pointed out on moire than one occasion that there is only one section of the Industries Preservation Act under which the Australian selling price can be applied. It is one of the methods employed in trying to arrive at what is known as the equalization of costs. The whole subject is most interesting and intricate, and to understand it thoroughly honorable members would require to study American tariffs and American inquiries into such matters. I should very strongly oppose any attempt to extensively apply the principle here. It has been applied in one case, and in one case only, under the Industries Preservation Act. It is applied only in cases where goods are imported from countries with depreciated currencies. I have to-day received a communication from a man who says he is a Swiss. He wanted to import some German scissors. He imported some goods valued at £67. The normal duty on these goods would amount to £19. With anti-dumping duties he was charged £68. Under the section of the Industries Preservation Act to which I have referred, where the Australian selling price is taken into account, this importer asks how this provision can be legitimately applied, in view of the fact that his invoices were made out in gold marks and pounds sterling ; and, as a matter of fact, so far from the renten marks being depreciated currency, they were appreciated in relation to sterling. Yet this was a case in which this provision, which is applicable only to imports from a country with a depreciated currency, was applied. Whatever political views an honorable member may hold, he should strongly resent the board going beyond the legislation enacted by Parliament. The interpretation given to the act is improper, and, I even suggest, illegal. I had a case before me some time ago, in which the board contended that the currency of Germany had depreciated, and, in proof, it quoted so many million marks to the pound. In this case, however, the new renten mark currency, that has a gold basis and is quoted above par, applied. I told my client that it was no use my going to the Tariff Board. I said he had better refer the matter to his own banker and obtain evidence as to whether or not it was a case in which the currency of the country of origin had depreciated. Unless inquiries by the board are held in public, the evidence even of bankers and currency authorities cannot be taken, and the board can be a law to itself on such questions as whether or not currency has depreciated. It is evident that the Minister is determined to endeavour to introduce a new system and spirit in the administration of. the department, and I sincerely welcome the change. Whether honorable members are the most rabid freetraders or the most ardent protectionists, they must realize that inquiries ought to be held in public. If a person is afraid of a challenge from a competitor, there is probably something wrong with his case. I move -
That the Senate’s amendment be amended by inserting after the word “ be,” first occurring, the words “ taken in public.”
– I do not intend’ to oppose the amendment, since it is on all-fours with one drafted by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb). At the same time, it is desirable to retain at the end of the clause the proviso that if any witness objects to giving evidence in public, which the board thinks is of a confidential nature, it may hear such evidence in private if it thinks it desirable to do so. In’ many cases, it is of the utmost importance to a trader, especially an importer, that secrets of trade and other business matters shall not be disclosed to a competitor. Some industries are in jeopardy at the present time, and they may be forced to close down. I cannot support the amendment if it is desired to delay decisions by the board to such a serious extent that in the meantime such industries may die. The name of a particular firm has been mentioned this afternoon, a firm that is favorably disposed to the purchasing of Dutch and Japanese strawboard in preference to the Australianmade article. To such firms I would not extend very favorable consideration. As a strong protectionist, and as a keen supporter of the new protection, I am in favour of the board having, the discretionary power to take certain evidence in private, but, if such power is to be used to enable a firm’s business secrets to be disclosed to its rivals, it will be an intolerable state of affairs. The Minister should have power to step in and protect an Australian industry, where the preliminary public inquiries threatened to be of such a protracted nature as to spell ruin to the industry. If it were found, subsequently, that dumping duties had been wrongly imposed, the money could be re*funded. Last week, I asked the Minister what he was prepared to do to preserve the life of the strawboard and cardboard box industries, which are subject to Japanese and Dutch competition, against which they are unable to continue.
– We have the Antidumping Act.
– If the honorable member thinks that we should wait for a decision after a long-drawn-out inquiry, before applying a remedy, I am entirely opposed to him.
– Nothing of the sort is in my mind.
– The cardboard box manufacturers need protection, and yet some of them are prepared to import lowpriced German and Dutch material.
– Everybody desires to buy in thi cheapest market.
– I call such persons one-industry protectionists. They have a poor idea of patriotism. This country produces an abundance of raw material, which it should aim to convert into manufactures. The production of strawboard, for instance, is essentially a native industry. Without it, straw is, except in periods of drought, a more or less waste product. The establishment of the strawboard industry is of benefit to the farmers by creating a market for an otherwise waste product, to the railways by providing more freight, and to the community generally by giving employment in factories to a large number of men and women. Whilst I am favorable to open inquiries, so long as the trade secrets of local manufacturers are protected, I am entirely opposed to prolonged “ stonewall “ inquiries for the purpose of enabling local industries to be extinguished by cheap importations.
– I do not understand why the Minister is resisting an open inquiry over the whole area covered by the operations of the Tariff Board. In my opinion, open inquiries would expedite rather than delay the settlement of applications for the operation of the anti-dumping laws. Nothing will- do more harm to the policy of protection than the creation in the public mind of a suspicion that open in quiries are refused in the interests of manufacturers. In the operations of the Customs Department trade secrets are always protected, and, subject to the continuance of that safeguard, all investigations should be clear and above-board. If the past inquiries by the board had been open to the public, there would not have been any of those stupid decisions that have so disgusted everybody.
– The amendment sent to us by the Senate represents a compromise between two conflicting sets of opinion in that chamber regarding fiscalism generally, and tariff administration in particular. When the bill was before the House earlier, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) moved an amendment similar to that which has been submitted this afternoon by the honorable member for Perth, but it was rejected on the- voices. The administration of the Industries Preservation Act is peculiarly difficult because of the many conflicting conditions that must be con: sidered. There are seven or eight different sections in accordance with which, after inquiry by the Tariff Board, a dumping duty may be imposed by the Minister if he is satisfied that it is necessary to prevent detriment to an Australian industry. The proposal before the committee is that the whole of the inquiries that must precede any action under that act must be held in public, and the evidence taken on oath. The administration of the act involves practically only the determination of questions of fact, as disclosed by invoices, prices, foreign currencies, and importations. I have been pressed exceedingly hard by the representatives of the Chambers of Commerce or importing interests throughout the Commonwealth to accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Perth. In other words, those interests see clearly that, if they can arrest the operations of the department and make confidential inquiries exceedingly difficult, they will do much to kill the spirit of the Industries Preservation Act, and the intention of Parliament to preserve Australian industries against dumping and depreciated currencies will be made exceedingly difficult of realization. The amendment, I repeat, is a fair compromise between two conflicting opinions.
– Will not the Minister admit that there are three parties interested, one being the community?
– The Industries Preservation Act specifically provides that, upon certain tilings occurring, certain other things may be done. On the one hand we have representations from the Chambers of Manufactures that any undue publicity will prevent the operation of this legislation, and on the other hand the representatives of the Chambers of Commerce are pressing for the greatest possible publicity, knowing that if it be conceded, the board will be arrested in carrying out the duties with which it is charged by Parliament. I shall not stand idly by and see a reputable Australian manufacturer charged almost like a prisoner at the bar before he can get the benefit of the act placed on the statutebook for the protection of himself and his industry.
– If his case is good, what harm will be done by publicity?
– Honorable members opposite know very well that industry after industry is complaining that it is being menaced by foreign importations. For instance, the straw board industry is not very healthy, and Parliament has given it a right to complain to the Tariff Board that it is being injured by importations, and to ask for investigation by the board in regard thereto. If confidential papers disclose that a local industry is being prejudiced by such importations, the Minister may impose the dumping duties set up by Parliament. It is generally realized by honorable members, that before I was appointed to the control of the Customs Department, the administration of the Industries Preservation Act had become complicated, and I made a pronouncement, that was generally applauded, in favour of greater simplicity, and the abolition of pinpricks such as would bring the great policy of protection into derision. Even the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce on the 11th of this month said, “Although the bill does not contain all the safeguards which the Chambers of Commerce consider desirable to protect the public interests, yet we recognize that it is an improvement on existing legislation.”
– That is generally admitted.
– It is not the duty of this Parliament to provide all the safeguards which the Chambers of Commerce consider desirable to protect the public interests. It is our duty to safeguard the whole community.
– Why should the manufacturers have all the say?
– The Chambers of Manufactures are protesting just as strongly in one direction as the Chambers of Commerce are protesting in the other.
– Why not give the community a chance.
– The Industries Preservation Act does not mention the community. The Senate’s amendment is a fair compromise between two conflicting opinions. I remind the committee, too, that the Tariff Board is a seasoned body. It is composed of experienced business men. It is not in its swaddling clothes, and is out of the perambulator. The amendment goes farther than is reasonable or justified, and I express the deliberate opinion that if the committee passes it, the board will be harassed and hamstrung in discharging its duties, and the committee will live to regret its action.
.- I regret that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) has dragged in the issue of freetrade versus protection. This is not a question of freetrade or protection, but of light or darkness, publicity or secrecy. I hope that the protectionist members of this House, whom the Minister has tried to rally, will not be bluffed. I hope that honorable members will vote for the amendment which, had not the honorable member for Perth forestalled me, I should have moved myself.
Question put. Division called for and bells rung, but there being no “ Noes “ -
– The question is resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– I rise to a point of order. I am left in doubt as to what happened as a result of the recent division.
– The amendment of the honorable member for Perth was carried.
– A division was called for, and it is usual for the person who called for it to state whether he persists in it. Did an honorable member call off the division?
– I understand that the Minister did so.
– If it is quite clear that the Minister who called for the division also called it off, I am satisfied.
Amendment (by Mr. Mann) agreed to-
That the following words be added to proposed new sub-section 7: - “subject to clause 3 sub-clauses 5 and 6 of this act “.
Senate’s amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Resolutions reported and adopted.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Papua Act, which was passed in 1905, has worked very smoothly, but experience has shown the need for certain amend’ments. The bill makes several amendments of that act, but does not strike seriously at any of the principles hitherto applied in the administration of the Territory. The Government has been informed by officers of the Administration that amendments of the act in the directions proposed will assist the administration considerably. One proposal is to amend the form of government. Hitherto there has been an Executive Council and a Legislative Council. There are three non-official members of the Legislative Council, and the bill proposes to increase that number to five.
– Will they be elected?
– -No. The original act provided that the Executive Council should consist of not more than six members. It is now proposed to increase the number to nine. Hitherto the Executive
Council has consisted entirely of Government officials, but it is now proposed to add a non-official member. The bill also deals with the salaries payable to the senior officers in Papua with the object of making them equal to the salaries paid for similar work in New Guinea. The Administrator in New Guinea receives £1,800 per annum, but the salary of the Lieutenant-Governor of Papua is only £1,250 per annum. He has, however, been given an entertainment allowance, and some other allowances, which have brought the amount paid to him up to £1,S00 per annum. It is now proposed to make his salary £1,S00 per annum instead of £1,250 per annum. No increased expenditure is involved.
– Will he still receive his other allowances?
– The purpose of the bill is to make the salaries of the Administrator of New Guinea and the Lieutenant-Governor of Papua equal. There is reference in the original act to “ the Chief Judicial Officer “ and the “Deputy Chief Judicial Officer.” The use of those terms, which are applied to the two judges, one of whom is the LieutenantGovernor, is to be discontinued, and, in future, the judicial officers will be referred to as judges. It is proposed that the salary of the second judge shall be £1,200 per annum instead of £1,000, as at present. Some of the clauses in the bill are designed to remedy anomalies in the act. The Administrator, Mr. Staniforth Smith, among other duties, acts for the Lieutenant-Governor when lie is absent or incapacitated through illness. It is now proposed that the term “ Administrator,” which has caused a good deal of confusion, shall be discontinued when Mr. Staniforth Smith’s services terminate, and that the senior official member of the Executive Council shall act as the deputy of the Lieutenant-Governor, when that gentleman is absent from the Territory, or indisposed. The bill also makes a rather important alteration in the land laws. Hitherto the Lieutenant Governor has been able to buy land from the natives, but has not been able either to exchange land with, or to transfer it to them. If, for instance, land which was purchased from a native for a particular purpose has not been used for that purpose, or if the need for so using it has ceased, it has not been possible to return the land to the native. Power to do so is given in clause 4 of the bill. This case arose in Papua: Certain land held by the natives became submerged and is now practically a swamp. The Lieutenant-Governor was not able to give them any other land in exchange for it. The amendments in this bill will enable him to deal with such cases. As honorable members know, the leasehold system of land tenure obtains in Papua.
– And it is a very good system.
– I am not complaining about that. No one except the Lieutenant-Governor can buy land from the natives. Several minor alterations are made to the existing law, and I will .describe these to honorable members in committee if they wish for any further explanation than is conveyed by the clauses themselves.
.- The principal difference between this bill and a similar one which was introduced last year and withdrawn, is that provision is now made to enlarge the Executive Council of Papua. It is time, in my opinion, that residents in our outside territories were given the full rights of citizenship. We are proud of our democratic institutions, and we should give to the people who are under our control the privileges of self-government which we are proud to enjoy. The conditions under which members of the Papuan Legislative Council are to be elected surely cannot be approved by this House. All the non-official members, including one who is to represent the interests of the Christian missions in the Territory, are to be nominated by the Lieutenant-Governor and appointed by the Governor-General. That is nothing more, nor less than government by the Lieutenant-Governor, which, I submit, is inconsistent with the basic principles of our own form of government. The Lieutenant-Governor should not be given such great power. The non-official members of the council should be elected by the people whom they will be expected to represent. It may be said that the population of Papua does not warrant extending to it the right to elect its own government, but this territory is growing in importance, and if we are to develop within its people a sense of respon sibility, we must give them the right to elect their own representatives. I can quite understand why the Minister did not dwell at any length upon the proposed alterations in the land laws. That touches upon a very vital principle. The bill proposes to permit of the transfer of Crown land to natives, and to authorize the LieutenantGovernor to accept transfers from natives in exchange for any land transferred to them. The Northern Territory Crown Lands Bill, which was recently considered in this chamber, set out in detail the qualifications required . of any person to whom a lease of land is granted. No such provision is made in the bill before us to-day. There is no mention in it of a residential qualification on the part of a person to whom land may be transferred. Nor is there anything to prevent a native from retransferring to a white resident land transferred to him. It is just possible that under this most indefinite form of legislation opportunity will be afforded for an extensive form of dummying in Papuan land.
– The bill does not deal with such matters. What the honorable member refers to will be covered by ordinances issued by the LieutenantGovernor, just as the Northern Territory land provisions referred to by the honorable member were covered by an ordinance.
– The Northern Territory Crown Lands Bill, which was considered by this Parliament, contained restrictions safeguarding the interests of the Commonwealth in leasing land. Legislation dealing with Papua should contain similar safeguards.
– The two cases are not analogous.
– It is particularly essential that the conditions under which Papuan land may be transferred should be fixed by this Parliament. The Executive Council of Papua, being a nominated body, may promulgate ordinances to suit its own interests.
– I have already explained that leasehold is the only land system in operation in Papua. In section 20 of the principal act, which is to be widened by this bill, provision is already made for a great deal of what the honorable member is talking about.
– I can understand the Minister being desirous of making his case as good as possible, and trying to make it appear that there is little or no merit in my argument, but I maintain that, as this Parliament is responsible for the administration of Papua, it should realize the necessity for making provision in its legislation to safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth in transfers of land in Papua, as well as in the Northern Territory. The Executive Council, which will be limited to nine persons, should be given some guidance by this House in regard to the essentials that should control transfers of land to the natives, as well as to white residents. I am not satisfied that there are sufficient safeguards to prevent that very serious form of land jobbery known as “ dummying,” and unless I am given some further assurance from the Minister that he is prepared to amend the bill in order to prevent the possibility of dummying in Papuan lands, I shall vote against the second reading. The amendments it contains relating to land transfers are most ambiguous, to say the least of them. In the past, the Legislative Council has consisted of six persons, two of whom, with the LieutenantGovernor, formed a quorum. With an increase in the number to nine, the quorum will consist of three members with the Lieutenant-Governor. There is no excuse for withholding from the people of Papua the right to have a voice in the administration of their own affairs. I have visited the Territory, and I know that its people are ambitious of having a form of government that will truly represent their interests. They want an administrative body which they feel confident will promulgate regulations and ordinances in accordance with their views. I have a great admiration for the present members of the Legislative Council of Papua, but, because of the methods now employed, there is always the possibility of a miscarriage of justice, and of a situation arising which may cause the people of the Territory to have a serious grievance against the administration. Therefore, I feel that the people themselves should have some share in the responsibility for the administration of their affairs. They should be given a voice in the selection of those in whose custody for the time being the Territory is placed.
-hughes. - The honorable member is speaking of the white residents only.
– Yes. At the moment it would be quite impossible to establish an elective system among the native population. The white residents of Papua are deprived of the right to a voice in the administration of the affairs, not only of the Commonwealth, but also of their own territory. I am sure that is not in accordance with the wishes of the people of Australia. In my opinion, not only the white residents of Papua, but also those who are undertaking the task of developing and administering the Mandated Territories, should have the right to a voice in the administration of their own affairs, and also the right, in coordination with the people of the Northern Territory, to direct representation in the Commonwealth Parliament. That the bill now before us does not give to the people in Papua an effective voice in the administration of the affairs of the nation of which they form part is much to be regretted, more particularly when it is realized that these people are compelled to live under conditions prescribed by the legislation passed by this Parliament. I appreciate the excellent way in which Judge Murray, LieutenantGovernor of Papua, Mr. Staniforth Smith, Administrator, and Mr. Len Murray, Secretary to the Administration, have carried out the responsibilities entrusted to them. There is no doubt they are most experienced in native affairs. They are most sympathetic and kindly disposed in their efforts to advance the welfare of the natives. I have nothing but the highest praise and commendation for the very valuable services they are rendering not only to the Commonwealth, but also to the people of Papua. It is unfortunate that their services were not made use of in the administration of our Mandated Territories. A greater measure of success would have attended the efforts of Australia in the administration of those Territories if we had transferred to the Mandated Territorial Service, if only for a little time, a man with the great experience of Mr. Staniforth Smith, or even Judge Murray himself. I hope that, in the future, the work and services of these men will find fitting recognition. I was favorably impressed with their consideration for the natives, whom they regarded as human beings worthy of improved conditions. They recognized that, in their own country, the natives had some rights. That attitude on the part of the officials was worthy of the best traditions of the race, and a credit to Australia. Very different was my experience in another place. When I pointed out to the Administrator a certain circumstance of marriage affecting native women, and urged that greater consideration should be shown ‘ them, in being afforded protection from being required to accept a position so undesirable and repulsive, he replied, “ Makin, you don’t think sufficiently black.” To the credit of Judge Murray, Mr. Staniforth Smith and others who are associated with the Papuan Administration, there was never any suggestion of anything of that kind. They felt that, so far as it was possible for us to give it, and to the extent that the natives were willing to receive it, the benefits of our civilization should be extended to them. I hope that the Government will recognize the need for providing for an elective Legislative Council for the non-official residents of that Territory, and also for more definite control of the granting and transfer of land to the natives, in order to safeguard the interests, not only of the natives, but those of the Commonwealth also, against any land jobbery or land dummying on the part of shrewd and unscrupulous persons, whether plantation owners or persons otherwise interested in the exploitation of Papua. I shall oppose the second reading unless the Minister will give me some assurance along the lines that I have suggested.
.- As one who has visited the Mandated Territories and Papua, I am very interested in their administration. Like the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), I should like the Minister to have gone further and provided for a more democratic government of Papua. It is, I think, generally known that the Legislative Council and the Executive Council are nominated by the LieutenantGovernor, and are not elected by the people. If that Territory had been controlled by Australia for six or seven years only, one could understand such a state of affairs existing, but that is not the case. In 18S3, the then Premier of Queensland, fearing its occupation by a foreign power, annexed the present Commonwealth Territory of Papua, and hoisted the Union Jack over it. The British Government repudiated that action; but, in 1884, the Union Jack was again hoisted in that Territory, and since then Papua has been under the control of either Great Britain or :,he Commonwealth. The British Government retained control until 1906, butsince that year the Territory has been under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. In a report which he submitted to the Government, Colonel Ainsworth recommended a more democratic form of government for the people of the Mandated Territory and Papua. To say, as Senator Pearce has done, that the residents there are satisfied with the existing state of affairs, is to say something which is incorrect. They fear to express their views, because if they displease the LieutenantGovernor they fear victimization. They ask for an elective Legislative Council. Surely that is only a reasonable request for them to make. As they are not given that, this bill should contain some provision for their representation in this Federal Parliament. The five proposed representatives to represent nonofficial interests should be elected by the white population. It, however, contains no such provision. I agree with the honorable member for Hindmarsh, that the Minister should make some definite statement relating to the powers to transfer land to natives, and the acceptance of land from them which are proposed to be conferred on the Lieutenant-Governor. While Judge Murray, who is eminently fitted for the post, and who has been there for twenty years, remains as Lieutenant-Governor, things may be all right, but there is no guarantee that he will continue in office. He is a highly qualified man. The natives have certain rights which should be conserved to them. I trust that the Minister will be able to give us some further information and some assurance along the lines already indicated which will be sufficient to gain our support to the second reading of the bill. It has been stated that all the land in the territory is leasehold, but that is not correct.
– That is the system the Government favours.
– It is a good system. In the Commonwealth Year-Book, the following statement, referring to land tenure in Papua, appears: -
The broad principles upon which the land laws of Papua are based are -
No land can be alienated in fee-simple;
the rental of the landleased is assessed on the unimproved value of the land, and is subject to reassessment at fixed periods.
On the 30th June, 1922, the land held by natives in Papua totalled 56,938,923 acres. Crown land comprised 764,411 acres ; freehold land, 23,085 acres; while 219,181 acres were held under lease. The total area of the territory is 57,945,600 acres. It would be a good thing for Australia if the same proportion of land were held under the leasehold system here. The trouble which farmers and others in Australia are experiencing to-day is largely due to the high prices they have paid for their land. The Minister referred to the salaries of some of the more highly-paid officials, and stated that the bill provided for an increase of salary from £1,200 to £1,800 for the Lieutenant-Governor to bring his salary up to that of the Administrator of the mandated territories. An increase of salary is provided also for the second judicial officer, Judge Herbert, whose salary is to be increased from £1,000 to £1,200. To that I offer no objection, but I should like to have heard some reference to a proposed reclassification of the Public Service of Papua. I have received communications from officers regarding this matter, and they will want to know why the LieutenantGovernor and other highly-placed officers have been singled out for increases of salary when no mention is made of a general reclassification of the service. The communications I have received state that discrepancies exist between the salaries paid to officers in the Mandated Territory and those of officers in Papua. There is no justification whatever for such differences in the salaries paid for similar work. The principal medical officer in Rabaul receives £1,200 a year, but in Papua the salary for the same duties ranges from £800 to £900. The difference between the maximum salaries is therefore £300 per annum. In
Rabaul the medical officers each receive £1,000 a year, as against from £675 to £800 in Papua. In their case the difference between the maximum salaries is £200 per annum. The salary for the Crown law officer in Rabaul ranges from £804 to £900, whereas £800 only is paid to the Crown law officer in Papua. In the case of the district officers, or resident magistrates, the position is much the same. Officers in charge of first-class stations in Rabaul receive from £708 to £780, as against from £575 to £700 for similar duties in Papua, the difference between the maximum salaries being £80 per annum. In the case of officers in charge of second-class stations the difference is £120. while in respect to thirdclass stations it is £101 per annum. The Collector of Customs at Rabaul receives from £732 to £804, whereas the salary of the officer at Port Moresby doing similar work . is from £450 to £525. Honorable members will, therefore, see that the maximum salary of Collector of Customs in one Territory is £279 greater than that in the other. Other instances could be quoted to show that the differences in salary between the two Territories affects the lower-paid officers as well. A meeting of public servants was held in Papua recently, in which it was urged that this matter should he brought before Parliament. They asked that a definite date, say, six months, should be fixed for the reclassification of the Service. I have here a resume of the negotiations that have taken place in this connexion since before 1920, from the date of the first reclassification, to the present time. Ministers have approved of the reclassification, but have stated that no one has been available for this work. When the public servants asked that Mr. Clemens should be allowed to undertake it, the Minister said that the matter would receive consideration. Then it was stated that Mr. Clemens could not be spared. The same state of affairs has, however, been allowed to continue, with the result that to-day many public servants in Papua are receiving £200 per annum less than those occupying similar positions in the Mandated Territory. Some time ago the administration at New Guinea found it necessary to borrow the services of some magisterial officers from Papua because of their greater experience. Those officials are now receiving salaries greatly in excess of their Papuan salaries. Because of this difference between the salaries of men doing similar work there is dissatisfaction and discontent in Papua, and rightly so, too. Any one who has been in the islands knows that already there are sufficient forces at work to break down the morale of the service, and to undermine the character of the young men there, without additional causes for discontent being added to them. As a solace for their miserable conditions, numbers of men, unfortunately, indulge in drinking and other vices. Under the present administration, officials in Papua are experiencing disabilities, and are subjected to many pinpricks, not through the fault of the LieutenantGovernor, but because of the apathy of this Government.
– Are the officers in Papua under the same department?
– Yes; under the Department of Home and Territories. Reclassification has been granted in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, but similar consideration has not been shown to officers in Papua, although the Public Service Board has been asked to reclassify the Service. The long delay cannot be justified. As the people in that Territory have not a representative in this Parliament, the officials can only endeavour to obtain redress by communicating with members of Parliament. In these circumstances, I trust the Government will take action in the direction indicated.
– In view of what the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has said, it would appear that some improvement should be made in the bill. Apparently the administration of Papua is under the control of the LieutenantGovernor and the Executive Council appointed by the Governor-General, presumably on the recommendation of the LieutenantGovernor. Under clause 8 of the bill, the Legislative Council consists of these and of five non-official members who are to be nominated by the LieutenantGovernor and appointed by the GovernorGeneral, which means that although it may appear to be a semi-democratic form of government, the thirteen nominated members will support the LieutenantGovernor. The Lieutenant-Governor is, of course, a distinguished public official, but I have some doubt as to whether it is advisable to have a form of government under which that officeris able to select thirteen nominees to support him. Some action should be taken to give the white residents of Papua an opportunity to elect several representatives to the Legislative Council. Ample safeguards are already provided, as under section 28 of the principal act the Lieutenant-Governor may act in opposition to the advice and decision of the Executive Council. It is also provided that the Governor-General - I assume, again, on the advice of the LieutenantGovernor - may disallow any ordinance passed by the Legislative Council. The Government should, I think, provide that two or three members of the Legislative Council shall be elected by the white Residents who have lived in Papua for a specified time.
– It is quite refreshing to hear the honorable member make such an admission.
– The honorable member does not know me very well or he would not be so surprised. It may be said that there will be difficulty in conducting an election, but as section 21 of the principal act provides that a poll may be taken once a year on the question of whether the number of licences for the sale of intoxicating liquor shall be reduced, and, if so, to what extent, there should be no obstacle in that respect. It is obvious that in a territory such as Papua every one cannot be satisfied with the Administration. I am well aware that in some places and times it may be necessary for affairs to be controlled by an Administrator, but if the Council is to have legislative powers it would appear rather a travesty if it is to consist solely of members appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor, regardless of the opinions of the people. It is possible, of course, that some of the elected representatives would not be the best available, but there must be quite a number of suitable persons who could speak with authority on behalf of the people. If the measure were amended in this direction something in the nature of a safety valve would be provided. As there are approximately 1,100 white people at present in Papua, I trust the Government will see if some means cannot be provided whereby the settlers may have direct representation in the Legislative Council.
Mr.FENTON (Maribyrnong) [6.23]. - The request submitted by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. DuncanHughes) is a very fair one, and, although the Assistant Minister (Mr. Atkinson) cannot reply at this juncture without closing the debate, I think he could at least state if it is the intention of the Government to favorably consider some of the suggestions that have been made. I understand the Lieutenant-Governor has authority to nominate five members of the Legislative Council.
– Do they represent different portions of the Territory?
– No; they are to represent different interests.
– I do not suggest that the Lieutenant-Governor would nominate other than desirable representatives, but the power which he possesses is altogether too great. Surely there can be no objection to planters or traders electing their own representatives. There would be no difficulty in conducting an election.
– I understand that is the trouble.
– If the white residents in Papua were allowed to elect their own representatives there would, I think, be little cause for complaint, and I believe the Lieu tenant-Governor would be glad to be relieved of the responsibility. He would be free from that criticism which is always launched against an official possessing such extensive powers. I support the suggestion of the honorable member for Boothby, and trust the Government will so amend the bill that a limited number of the members of the Legislative Council may be elected by the white residents of Papua.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I understand that the bill proposes to increase the number of members of the Executive Council from six to nine, and that the appointments will be made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Lieutenant-Governor of Papua. With several other members of the Commonwealth Parliament, I visited
Papua and the Territory of New Guinea some time ago, and came in touch with a considerable number of the residents. It is their wish that they should have representation on the Executive Council. Unfortunately not many of the members of the Public Service, or indeed employees on plantations, remain there for very long. For health reasons they have to leave after a year or two, so it is difficult for them to take an interest in the work of the Executive Council. The natives of Papua have the utmost confidence in the Lieutenant-Governor, Judge Murray, but he is not so much in favour with a number of the planters, who would like permission to recruit native labour under any circumstances aud conditions of work. Judge Murray will not allow them to do that. He is determined to protect the interests of the native population, and he is succeeding admirably. The Government is to be complimented on his appointment, because the Territory is progressingvery favorably under his administration. If he and his staff could be transferred to the Territory of New Guinea, and if the Government could get rid of the military men there, I believe good results would follow. The administration of New Guinea under General Wisdom has a distinctly military flavour. Whenever General Wisdom leaves his residency he is saluted by the military guard, composed of natives, who have to present arms as if they were in the army. That is not needed now. Judge Murray is a different type of man. He gets out amongst the natives. He knows all their requirements and has their utmost respect. I doubt if it would be wise to allow the whole of the appointments to the Executive Council to be decided by the bulk of the white population; but the Government might see its way clear to have three elective representatives of the white population in Samarai and Port Moresby, where the majority of the white people are located. In my opinion the Government should retain control of the Executive Council, and in that way safeguard the interests of the natives in the land. If the Executive Council became representative of the planters only, it would be difficult to say what might happen. I hope that every encouragement will be given Judge Murray to continue his good work in the interests of the natives of Papua.
.- Although it has been suggested, in the course of the debate, that there is no freehold land in Papua it is possible for any settler, by treating with the Administration, to secure land which he thinks may suit him. I believe, however, that Australia is endeavouring in Papua to do something that has been rarely attempted by any other white people excepting, of course, the people of Great Britain, with regard to the coloured brethren of the human family. But Britain, in her administration of native colonies, made certain mistakes which we are now trying to avoid. In the Malay States and also in Fiji, when the natives refused to do the work required of them by their white masters, other coloured races were introduced. As Mr. Staniforth Smith pointed out in his fine report, published by the Government some years ago, the Malay retreated into the fastness of the forests, and the developmental work which the natives .should have done is now being carried out by Hindoos, Tamils, and Klings, much to the detriment of the native population. We are trying to avoid that difficulty in Papua. It is a lofty1 ideal. No one understands the difficulties better than Judge Murray and Mr. Staniforth Smith. I believe that the temper of Australia is such that the Government would not be allowed to adopt the methods of the Dutch in Java, where the natives were not more inclined to work than was the native in Papua when first the British took over control. The Dutch administration at the beginning of the last century adopted what was known as the corvee system. Each native headman nominally responsible for his district was required to produce so much coffee for the Dutch East-India Company at a price which, we may be sure, was payable to the company. As the result, the population of Java has increased from about 4,000,000 at the beginning of last century to about 30,000,000 at the present time. The policy also established habits of industry among the natives, which are, I suppose, as prosperous as the population of any native country in the world. Since it is obvious that the Australian people would not sanction the adoption of Dutch methods, we have to rely upon the system of signing-on of native recruits for plantation work. It is true that a head tax is imposed to induce the natives to work ; but, according to available statistics, out of a population of 200,000, in. 1914, only about 10,000 native boys signed on in that year, and of that number only a few more than 6,000 worked upon the plantations. Large numbers were employed as carriers for goldmining prospectors, and others. I trust that the Government will safeguard the interests of the natives in the land, and that huge capitalistic concerns, such as were allowed in the Territory of New Guinea under German rule, will not be permitted to exploit the country, but that progress will be along lines that are in accord with Australian sentiment. I agree with other honorable members that some efforts should be made to establish a system of representative government in the Territory. We have in Hong Kong an example of what may be done. The Legislative Council of that Crown colony has on it two representatives of the native population. It should not be beyond the range of possibility for native Papuans, if they showed marked intelligence, to secure a seat on the Legislative Council, and thus represent the native interests. One member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council is nominated by the Chamber of Commerce, and one by the justices of the peace. In Papua we could try the experiment of providing for a certain number of members of the Legislative Council to be elected by the vote of the white residents. It should not be more difficult to prepare an electoral roll for Papua than it is for some of the more sparsely settled areas of Australia. This policy would be in conformity with Australian democratic ideals, and the experiment, I believe, would be well worth trying.
– If I reply now to some questions that were asked during the debate, it will probably expedite the passage of the bill. A sweeping amendment was foreshadowed to provide that the non-official members of the Legislative Council should be elected by the white population of Papua. As representing the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), I was not prepared, when the suggestion was made, to say that such an amendment would be accepted. I have had an opportunity during the dinner-hour to discuss the proposal with him, and I find that he is opposed to any such amendment. If honorable members will consider the matter thoroughly, they will agree that this opposition is due, not to any desire to curtail the privileges of the white residents of Papua, but to the practical difficulties in the way of establishing and operating an electoral system there at the present time. Some years ago a Minister of the Crown visited Papua, and at that time the desire for an elective Council was stronger than it is to-day. When the matter was gone into, it was found that if the Territory were cut up into divisions for electoral purposes, it would entail a great deal of work, expense, and difficulty, and that some of the divisions would contain not more than five or six electors. The proposal would place the electoral power in the hands of the people living at Samarai, Port Moresby, and other centres of settlement. According to the Year-Book for 1923. the white population of Papua in 1922 was 1,104. It was made up of 132 official employees, 150 following commercial pursuits, 124 engaged in shipping pursuits, 266 in tropical agriculture, 144 engaged in missionary work, and 159 in mining. The Lieutenant-Governor of Papua advises that the time is not yet ripe for the introduction of the electoral system. He suggests that it would be better to continue as at present, leaving the nomination of non-official members of the Council to the Lieutenant-Governor and their appointment to the GovernorGeneral. He says that the people of the Territory are satisfied with the proposal to increase the number of non-official members from three to five, and make them representative of the various interests. One would represent agriculture, another commercial interests, a third general industries, a fourth missions, and the fifth, mining. Honorable members will agree that Judge Murray, or anybody administering the Territory as any good Australian would administer it, would see that the men selected to represent the different interests, would be persons acceptable to the interests concerned. In view of these facts, coupled with the difficulty and expense of establishing a complete electoral system for a community of 1,104 whites in a Territory larger than Victoria, which contains about 87,000 square miles, it will be agreed that the time is not ripe for the establishment of such a system in Papua. I hope the time will soon come when it will be practicable to establish such a system. With respect to land dealings, they are all conducted through the Lieutenant-Governor. No other person can buy land from the natives, transfer land to them, or deal with them in any way in connexion with land. The land ordinance which the Lieutenant-Governor has issued provides for this; and if honorable members will look at section 20 of the Papua Act they will find that it provides in paragraphb that the LieutenantGovernor may make and execute grants and dispositions of any land within the Territory which may be lawfully granted or disposed of in the name of the King, but so that -
The rental of all such land rented, or disposed of by way of lease, shall be assessed on the unimproved value of the land, and shall be subject to re-assessment at such periods and in such modes as are fixed by ordinance. The periods and modes may be different for different classes of land and for different classes of lease.
That, I think, should meet the objections raised by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin). The details to which he referred are dealt with in the Papua land ordinance, and section 20 of the act from which I have quoted roughly outlines the limits within which the ordinance may be drawn. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr.Forde) complained of the disparity between the salaries of public servants in Papua and those in the adjoining Mandated Territory of New Guinea. He attributed this disparity to the fact that Mr. Clemens, of the Commonwealth Public Service, has visited New Guinea to classify the public servants there. I believe that Mr. Clemens is at present busily engaged with the reclassification of the Commonwealth Public Service, but the Minister has approved of Mr. Clemens or some other capable officer visiting Papua for a similar purpose as soon as circumstances will permit.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section 4 of the principal act is amended by omitting therefrom the definition of “ The Minister “.
.- The act is administered by the Minister for Home and Territories, and the reference to “ The Minister “ is unnecessary, because section 17 of the Acts Interpretation Act provides that “ The Minister “ means the Minister for the time being administering the act
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Native lands).
.- The Minister has endeavoured to allay any fears that might be felt concerning illicit dealing in lands in Papua by stating that the lands ordinance of the Territory is framed by the Legislative Council and Executive Council of Papua, contains ample, safeguards against such practices, and is consistent with the provisions of the Papua Act. I have suggested that persons might use the natives for what is commonly known as dummying. I trust that the authorities at Port Moresby will take heed of the debate which took place on the second reading of this bill, and will see that every precaution is taken to prevent the natives being used for the purpose of dummying. If we were dealing with the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, I should not feel satisfied to leave the matter here, but I have great confidence in the sterling worth of the administrative officials of Papua. I am prepared to accept the clause, trusting that my confidence will be justified and that any land ordinances framed for the Territory will duly safeguard the interests of the natives.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 7 agreed to.
Clause S (Legislative Council).
.- In replying to the debate on the second reading of the bill, the Vice President of the Executive Council (Mr. Atkinson) endeavoured to convey the impression, that it is quite impracticable to establish an electoral system in Papua. Those who are familiar with the Territory will scarcely accept the Minister’s statement as in accordance with the facts. It is regrettable that honorable members generally, and especially Ministers, do not make it their business to visit Papua and other territories of the Common wealth, for it is highly desirable that those responsible for the laws applying to the islands should have a first-hand knowledge of those localities, and be familiar with, the customs and conditions of the people. I see no great obstacle in the way of granting an electoral system to the residents of Papua. The two principal localities, Samarai and Port Moresby, should each have a representative in the Legislative Council of Papua, and we might extend the same privilege to the people of Woodlark Island. It is absurd for the Minister to suggest that the Territory might be subdivided in such a way that there might be only two or three persons in a subdivision.
– I said five or six.
– The districts should not be determined according to area, irrespective of population. I realize that an electoral system cannot yet be obtained for the residents of Papua, since the Minister has received his instructions from the Government, and Ministers are bound by the decision of their party. I shall have to be content to wait until a more worthy Government is returned to power.
.- Having visited Papua, I take a special interest in its welfare. Members of the National Parliament, unfortunately, seldom go beyond their own doorsteps. When a Labour Government came into power in 1910, arrangements were made for honorable members to visit the Northern Territory and Papua. If Australians who have the means to travel abroad journeyed to the island dependencies of the Commonwealth, it would be just as interesting as visiting Paris and other continental cities. I cannot accept the statement that it is impracticable to grant an electoral system to the people of Papua. If the Minister is willing to hold the bill over, I am prepared to visit the Territory, and draw up a scheme that will give satisfaction to the people. I was delighted with my experience when I visited the missions conducted there by the London Missionary Society and the Roman Catholic Church. Their noble work in training and educating the natives is to be warmly commended. I saw natives engaged in boat building and timber cutting in preparation for the building of houses, and some of them were experts in carpentry work. In the near future the Papuans, who are naturally intelligent, will be able to take an active part in the administrative work of the place. I am not very anxious for the residents of Papua to be given a vote at the present time, because, on the occasion of my visit I formed the impression that they lacked a sense of patriotism. Their main interests were entirely commercial, and they had no particular love for Papua. The parliamentary party, of which I was a member, received four or five deputations from persons who wished us to advance their interests by securing changes, which we found subsequently would be against the best interests of the natives. One firm has very wide interests there, and has a large number of persons in its employ. There is another section interested in the plantations. The persons who represent those interests are opposed to the Executive Council, which it is thought studies the welfare of the Papuans rather than the interests of the mercenary gentlemen, whose one desire is to accumulate wealth. After all, the land belongs to the Papuans, and the natives are quite satisfied with the present Administration. When we visited the Territory we were asked to try to get permission for the planters to import Chinese and Japanese to compete against the native Papuans. The natives have no love for the Asiatic, and they have a sort of trade union amongst themselves, so that if a settler does not treat them well they will not work on his plantation. Any member who does accept employment from such a planter is regarded as a blackleg, a term which no Papuan cares to have applied to him. Those honorable members who have not visited Papua and the other territories in the Pacific should do so. A trip from Sydney to Port Moresby, Samarai and Woodlark Island unfolds some of the most picturesque scenery to be seen in any part of the world.
– What is the reason for the provision that the non-official members of the Legislative Council shall be nominated by the Lieutenant-Governor and appointed by the Governor-General ?
– The chief reason for adopting the nominee system is the practical difficulty of apply ing electoral methods in a country like Papua.
– The people who say that know nothing about the subject.
-That is the opinion of the Minister and the Home and Territories Department. It is intended that one of the five non-official members to be nominated by the Lieutenant-Governor shall be a representative of the missions, and it may be expected that the administrator will choose a man acceptable to them. The Lieutenant-Governor hasreported that the desire for electoral representation is not as strong amongst the white population as it was, and this clause is framed in accordance with his recommendation as to what is best in the present circumstances.
– Is it likely that the Lieutenant- Governor would suggest any system which would take away power from himself ?
– I understood the honorable member to say that the LieutenantGovernor is a man of exceptional capacity, and deals humanely with the natives.
– Hear, hear !
– Surely an honest man may be trusted to do what is best for the country he administers. The better the men he nominates for appointment to the Legislative Council the better for himself and the Territory.
.- The Minister has resurrected the old argument that was used in. opposition to the introduction of adult suffrage in Australia. The opponents of a universal franchise in this country said that the expense of conducting elections would be so costly that the system would break down, and that the difficulties of controlling votes and insuring the purity of the ballot would be practically insuperable. It is remarkable that a Minister in a democratic country should tell us that the people of Papua cannot be trusted to elect their own representatives to the Legislature.
– The time is not ripe for an elective chamber.
– That was said 60 years ago, when the people of Australia demanded adult suffrage. When will the time be ripe for the people of Papua to exercise a vote in the choice of their parliamentary representatives? Only when they are prepared to compel the authorities to concede that right. I am strongly opposed to allowing the LieutenantGovernor to nominate the five non-official members of the Legislative Council. I understand that he is a very capable and conscientious officer, but no democrat will consent to one individual deciding the vital question of parliamentary representation. That right belongs to the people, and should be exercised by them alone. It is only because the people of Papua have not a vote for the election of members of this Parliament that such a proposal has been embodied in the bill. Another provision to which I object is that one of the non-official members shall be nominated by the Lieutenant-Governor as representing the interests of the Christian missions. How can the LieutenantGovernor judge who is the best person to represent the missions? That selection can be made only by the members of the missions.
– They will practically make the selection.
– If that is so, let us amend the bill to place beyond doubt their right to nominate their representative. What guarantee have we that the LieutenantGovernor is in sympathy with the Christian missions ?
– He specially asked that this provision should be inserted.
– That is all the more reason whyI should not give it to him. If the Christian missions in the Territory had asked for it, I might have been prepared to concede it. The LieutenantGovernor probably has an ulterior motive in asking for it. Obstacles are often placed in the way of the advancement of Christian missions, and I am not prepared to give to any one the right to say who shall represent the Christian missions in any Commonwealth territory.
– Would the honorable member give the natives of Papua a vote ?
– I would give the people of that Territory a vote. The arguments advanced in. favour of this clause have been advanced in the past against the granting of universal suffrage. Mr. W. E. Gladstone once said -
Liberalism stands for “trust the people, tempered by prudence”; conservatism stands for “ mistrust the people, tempered by fear.”
The Government’s proposal stands for mistrust the people tempered by the fear that those whom the Government wants to see appointed will not be appointed if the people are given freedom of choice.
.- It is somewhat surprising to hear in the year 1924 a debate of this character in the Australian House of Representatives - a debate wherein it is contended by one section of the committee that certain people ought to be given something approaching the right to select their representatives on the council that governs them. It is, perhaps, impracticable to introduce a full system of responsible government in Papua, but we ought, at least, to go as far as we can towards satisfying the demand that arises in the mind and heart of every Britisher for a voice in the making of the laws under which he lives. Surely, if there is one people in the world that ought to grant that right, it is the people of Australia, and particularly those Australians who live in the State of Victoria. We know the struggle that took place in the British dominions to secure the right of selfgovernment. We know how that struggle went on year after year, until the great goal was finally won. We know how the agitation was continued in Australia for years, until it could be no longer resisted, and the precious privilege of selfgovernment was given to the people of this country. Those persons who have read the history of those days have, no doubt, thought that the people on the other side of the world were very short-sighted and mean in refusing to grant these precious rights to the Australian people. When the system of government that is now proposed for the people of Papua was given to the people of Victoria, there was great dissatisfaction with it. When we first emerged from a primitive type of Crown colony, there was a system of government in New South Wales approaching that proposed in the bill, and it gave little satisfaction. We had a government and a nominee council, the members of which were appointed by the government of the day. I do not know that Governors were any more incapable in those days than they are to-day, and in saying that I do not wish to be construed as saying anything against the present Lieutenant-Governor of Papua, whose administration, I believe, gives thegreatest possible satisfaction. But we know that, although Governors and LieutenantGovernors come and go, the provisions of the bill will remain in force for a long time. There has been an agitation in Papua for representation of the people on the Legislative Council.
– The agitation is not so strong now as it was formerly.
Mr.F. McDONALD.- That may be so, but there is nothing to show that it will not become stronger in the future. The people of Papua may in the future become very dissatisfied. There is no doubt that they are looking for representation on the council, and that the representation provided in the bill will not satisfy them.
– The members of the council will represent different interests.
Mr.F. McDONALD.- Mining, planting, shipping, and, I suppose, business interests, will be represented. One would have expected a business government to give elective representation to business interests.
– Although direct representation is not given to the people of the Territory, they are stilltaxed.
– It is another instance of the old evil of taxation without elective representation. I am pleased to say that the ordinary Britisher, and particularly the ordinary Australian, can be satisfied with nothing less than the right to select representatives. Surely when Australia is governing what may be called one of its colonies, it cannot deny to the people it governs that which it clamoured for and finally obtained for itself in the past. Instead of looking for obstacles, Ministers should say, “ No matter what the obstacles are, we shall find a way to overcome them, so that these people can select their representatives.” So far from saying that, the Government magnifies the obstacles. I cannot see that there would be any insuperable difficulty in applying the Electoral Act to Papua. Surely the Government is not unable to devise practical means by which these people can elect representatives. If they were scattered thousands of miles apart I could understand the difficulty; but they are not. If they were unfit to govern themselves, I could understand it; but even the Minister cannot contend that they are unfit to select representatives who will be capable of acting in the best interests of Papua.
– Certainly not, and the Government hopes that the time is not far distant when it will be able to provide a system of representative Government for them.
– As the Government entertains the pious hope that the time is not far distant when it will be able to give the people of Papua representative, if not responsible, government, why cannot it do it now? There are no difficulties except those which exist in the imaginations of ministers. I implore them to reconsider the facts and devise a means - which should not be difficult - of allowing these people to elect their representatives on the council. That would lead to more satisfaction. We know that, no matter how badly we may be governed - and we must agree that at times we are badly governed - if we select our representatives, wecan always lay the soothing balm to our souls that, after all, they are our representatives, placed in authority by our own act, perhaps by our own folly. The people of Papua will always have the added grievance that those who represent them have been placed in office by the nomination of the Lieutenant-Governor. No matter how good, wise, and just the present administrator may be, his successor may fall very far short of his high standard. That being so, the Government would make no mistake in giving to the people of Papua part, at least, of the right that they enjoyed before they left Australia to go there - a right which, we contend, is the inherited, and ought to bethe established, right of every Australian, whether he lives in this country or in the Territories governed by the Commonwealth Government.
Question - That the clause be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . .8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 to 11 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill, byleave, read a third time.
Debate resumed from 29th June, 1923 (vide volume 103, page 541), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I am glad to have the opportunity to speak in support of this bill, which, I believe, has the approbation of both sides of the House. I do not think there is anything contentious in it. It seeks to protect certain emblems, designs and badges to which the work of the Boy Scouts Association has given great value. I should have been more pleased had the Government introduced a bill to confer on kindred associations the favours which are being conferred on the Boy Scouts Association, so that they would have been able to use their distinctive signs and badges with similar authority. Action of that nature was taken in the British House of Commons when the Chartered Associations Bill was introduced and passed. However, I must say that I am wholly in agreement with this bill as far as it goes. The splendid work that has been done by the Boy Scouts Association merits this measure of recognition. The provisions of this bill will protect not only the Boy Scouts Association, but also (he public. I know a good deal about the work that the association is doing, for I have been brought into close contact with a great number of boys who were associated with the boy scout movement, and I can bear witness that the training which they received is highly valuable to them, and most creditable to the movement. The association guides the activities of the lads into very wholesome channels, and, giving them a practical education in many things, supplements the purely academic instruction given in our schools. During the time I followed my profession as a school teacher, I was frequently brought into contact with parties of 60 or 70 scouts who were being trained almost individually by scout leaders in such useful things as, for instance, first aid. The ethical and moral code of the boy scout movement is not only honoured in the letter by the boy scouts, but is put into practice. I should like to think that we came as near to the full realization of the ideals that we profess as the boy scouts come to attaining the ideals of their movement. Their ideals are no mere profession of words, and I say this after having lived in close contact with many scouts. The association trains the lads to exercise such excellent qualities as self-reliance, initiative, and resource, which, however valuable they may be in the years of boyhood, are of much greater value in after years. Some honorable members may think that there is a military flavour about the Boy Scouts Association, but whatever outward appearance there may be of that, I can assure them that militarism is foreign to the principles of the movement. Although the movement was founded by a soldier, Sir Robert Baden-Powell, my experience has been that the boys who pass through it have no stronger military tendencies in their mature years than those who were never associated with it. Honorable members need not be afraid of militarism being encouraged in the slightest degree by the boy scout movement, although I must say that the qualities of character which the movement develops in the boys who are connected with it, would be very useful to the young men of Australia if they were ever called upon to defend their country. Not only are resource and initiative inculcated, but the great quality of leadership is developed. Another very pleasing feature of the work of the Scouts Association is that it takes the lads out of the cities into the country. Many boys who grow up in our cities see little or nothing of the grandeur of nature, but if they join a boy scout troop, it is part of their training to go into the country and study nature. May I revert to the military aspect of the subject for a moment to observe that I believe that if those in charge of our senior cadet training adopted the methods of the boy scout movement to a greater degree, making, of course, the necessary changes to suit the increasing age of the trainees, the compulsory training of cadets would be much more popular than it is, and a much greater respect for competent authority would be developed in the trainees than they have to-day. A pronounced trait .in the boy scout character is respect for competent authority, but I do not think that that can be said of our senior cadets under the compulsory train-, ing scheme. Because the boy. scout movement has been so successful, it has been traded upon by bogus imitators. In New South Wales, not so long ago, a man who set up to be an authority enlisted a number of lads, and owing to his failure, perhaps,’ to exercise proper supervision over them, on one occasion, when they were out for training, a fatality occurred. At present, there is nothing to prevent any one representing himself to be a’ boy scout leader, however .incompetent he. may be. One of the objects of this bill is to prevent that from being done, so that the measure will not only be a protection to the scout movement, but will also prevent the public from being deceived. Another organization which’ is doing a very fine work, and which is in no way a rival organization, is the Life-saving Scouts of the Salvation Army. This organization,- is doing splendid work all over the world on lines similar to those followed by- the Boy Scouts Association. In Australia it enters fields which the Boy Scouts’ cannot very well enter. The success of the work of the Boy Scouts Association iri any district de pends, to a certain extent, on the amount of money that oan be raised in that district, and for that reason the movement does not flourish in the poorer localities. The Salvation Army, however, can. enter the poorer districts, and it. is carrying on splendid work among the lads there. The social welfare work done by the Salvation Army in this and other directions is too well known to need any words of praise from me. It is’ feared, however, by the Salvation Army that the very wide power given by the bill, not only to the head-quarters of the Boy Scouts Association, but even to local branches, to apply for the exclusive use of any design, emblem, badge, or uniform used either in’ the past or at some future time, may . interfere with their good work. The same fear was expressed by General Bramwell Booth when a bill on similar lines was introduced into the House of Lords. He got into touch with General Baden Powell, and arrived at an agreement with him.. I should like the Prime Minister to follow the example set by the House of Lords, and make provision in this bill bo that the splendid work which is done by the Life-saving Scouts of the Salvation Army mav not be hampered. The following extracts from the official report of the House of Lords will show what transpired upon the agreement between General Bramwell Booth and General Sir Robert Baden Powell: -
On the motion for the third reading of the bill; Viscount Burnham said that in pursuance of a suggestion made during the secondrending debate, he had put down an amendment on the paper which had secured the general assent and approval of those who were concerned in this measure. He was glad to . say that a complete agreement had been arrived at, which would, he hoped, facilitate the passage of the measure in another place.’ The principal organization, which considered that its interests might be in danger and sought relief in some amendment of the bill, the Salvation Army, now professed itself completely satisfied. A meeting -took place between General Bramwell Booth and General Sir Baden Powell, the Chief Scout, and articles of agreement were drawn up between them.
I do not think the bill introduced by the Government aims at interfering with the work of the Salvation Army. I think it is simply a measure to protect, not only the Boy Scouts Association, but also the public, from bogus imitators. That view was also taken by Sir Robert Baden Powell of the British legislation, as will be seen from the following communication he sent to General Bramwell Booth: -
My dear General,
In reply to yours of the 31st, I gladly confirm what I said to you in conversation on the 31st. March, viz., that in seeking the protection for our name, uniform, and badges, the Boy Scout movement only wants the power to suppress unauthorized imitators whose motives are questionable. We know the aims and methods of the Salvation Army as being above question, and we have no intention, therefore, of taking any steps against your organization. Quite the contrary, we are anxious to work in friendlyco-operation, and only hope that as we get to know each other better local branches will work side by side in the most friendly spirit, more especially as the Boy Scout movement like the Salvation Army is now established in every civilized country in the world.
Robert Baden Powell
I think it would be well if the Prime Minister stated specifically in the bill that there is no intention to interfere with the work of the Salvation Army, as it is at present constituted. We know how transient all things are. No one knows better than do members of Parliament how transient official lives are. We are here to-day; we may not be here to-morrow, lt is not sufficient to rely simply upon an understanding or a promise that the work done by the Salvation Armyis not to be hampered. Promises have been made in the past, and sometimes it is difficult to interpret them.
– Will not the Salvation Army be sufficiently protected by clause 51
Mr.F. McDONALD.- I do not think so. Clause 5 simply says that no prosecution shall be instituted unless with the consent of the Attorney-General. That is certainly a fair protection, but even an Attorney-General might err - he might not know the circumstances under which this bill had been agreed to. I should like the Prime Minister to add a new clause to the bill, as follows : -
Nothing in this act shall be deemed to apply to the Life-Saving Scouts of the Salvation Army as at present constituted.
– What amendment was passed by the House of Lords?
– The billbefore the House of Lords aimed at giving every association or organization which had certain emblems or badges of particular value to it the right to register them and to have exclusive use of them. It was a general bill covering all cases, and it was necessary to submit several amendments, one of which was as follows: -
Nothing in this act or in any order made under this act shall prevent the use of the name, “ The Life-Saving Scouts and Guards of the World “ in connexion with the organization established under that name by the Salvation Army, or prohibit the members of the said organization from using the special names or designations, wearing the uniform, or wearing or using the badges and distinctive marks prescribed by the Orders and Regulations for Young People issued, and for the time being in force under the authority of the General of the Salvation Army.
The amendment I have suggested is much simpler. I hope the Prime Minister will accept it.
– The bill was designed to meet the point raised by the honorable member for Barton (Mr.F. McDonald). The Boy Scouts Association has no desire, I understand, to interfere in any way with the Life-Saving Scouts of the Salvation Army. As a matter of fact, the matter, as the honorable member has indicated, was the subject of a mutual agreement arrived at by General Bramwell Booth and General Sir Robert Baden Powell. The two movements recognize each other’s merits, and each is desirous of working in co-operation with the other. Both organizations are striving to attain the same object. It was felt that clause 5, under which no prosecution can take place unless the assent of the AttorneyGeneral has first been obtained, would be sufficient to safeguard the position of the Life-Saving Scouts, but I have no objection to the insertion of the new clause suggested by the honorable member.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to-
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ (6) Nothing in this act shall be deemed to apply to the Life-Saving Scouts of the Salvation Army as at present constituted.”
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report, by leave, adopted.
Bill, by leave, read a third time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This very short bill provides for two small amendments of the Service and Execution of Process Act. The purpose of the principal act is to enable the civil and criminal processes of the courts of any state to be served, outside the jurisdiction of those courts, in any of the other states, and also to authorize the enforcement of judgments of state courts throughout the whole of the states of the Commonwealth. The original act also provides for the enforcement of judgments and the serving of processes between the states and the territories of the Commonwealth, but it does not provide for service or enforcement between the different territories. Under the first amendment the same position will prevail, as between the different territories, as exists at present between the states and territories. The second amendment gives certain powers in regard to the enforcement of. orders in favour of deserted wives and children, and for the protection of individuals generally. Under the present law, there ia power to serve a process on a deserting husband in another state. There is also power to obtain a judgment against him; but if he fails to comply with any order, there is no power to proceed further against him. This second amendment is to give that power in the case of deserting husbands who have gone to other states. I am sure that this amending measure will commend itself to the House.
.- This is a machinery bill, designed to make more effective a very useful act of this Parliament. In the first instance, it represents the exercise of the power given by the Constitution, and its operation tends to have the long arm of the law lengthened, and the strong arm of the law strengthened, by giving it free play throughout the Commonwealth, especially with regard to the execution of processes. It must be admitted by mere man with due humility that thislaw has operated in no more useful direction than in pursuing defaulting husbands and fugitive fathers. The general provisions tf the act as originally passed by this
Parliament were extended in 1918 by giving an Australian application to an act of the state of Victoria, which, it is only fair to say, is a most useful and benevolent measure, mainly attributable to thelarge-heartedness of the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney). That measure, as originally passed in the State of Victoria, and as made operative throughout Australia by the legislation of this Parliament, secures the payment, in advance, of maternity expenses by putative fathers. The same act gave reciprocal powers of service and execution between the territories and other parts of the Commonwealth. Its operation was extended by Act No. 27, of 1922 to the Mandated Territories. This bill, so far as what, in my view, is its principal part, is concerned, strengthens the act of 1918, and provides the machinery for making it more effective. The means already existed for making orders, but we had not the completed machinery to make them effective. For that reason, I welcome this bill. It need hardly be said that it is not in any sense a party measure. This legislation was foreshadowed in the. Constitution as originally framed, and was accepted by its makers as a necessary part of the work of the Parliament that was to be. Everything which our experience has taught us will strengthen the present legislation, and make it more flexible and easily effective is to be welcomed. I do not think that the Government need fear any captious opposition or criticism from honorable members on this side regarding this measure. In that same spirit of benevolent helpfulness with which we have regarded any useful legislation which, either by accident or design, the Government has. brought before us, we shall regard this bill. For my part, I give it my individual blessing.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Navalre serve, Middle Head: Lease of Land to Mosman Golf Club.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adourn.
.- I wish to. bring under the notice of the Minister for Defence the leasing of certainlands in the naval reserve at Middle Headto the Mosman Golf Club. This matter was broughtupin the House some time ago by the honorablemember for Cook(Mr. G. Riley), andwithhis concurrence, and also at the request of a number of Mosmanresidents, who have since interviewed me in this connexion, I am raising the question now. In reply to a question by thehonorablemember for Cook on the3rdSeptember, the Minister forDefence said that an area of 60 acres at Middle Head had beenleased to the Mosman GolfClub for a term of 21 years at a rental of £200 per annum. The GovernmentGazette, No. 11, of the 14th February, 1924, sets out, however, that under a navallease, land, comprising 59 acres, wasleased for a period of two years from the 1st July, 1923, and thereafter from month to month, atarental of £200 per annum. Idirectattention tothe conflictingstatements. The Gazette states that the lease is for a periodof two yearsonly, whereas the Minister’sreply suggested that it wasfor a term of 21 years. That discrepancy requires some explanation. Either anotheragreement has beencompletedbythe department and has not been gazetted,or the information given by the Minister was inaccurate and misleading. I wish also to protestagainst the action of the Defence Department inleasing park lands whichare not required for defence purposesto private bodies, such as this golf club. The Mosman residents, who interviewed me, pointed out that a portion of the naval reservation had been leased to the Mosman Council, but that the best portion had been leased to the golf club. My informants stated also that the golf club had warned trespassers off the property, which it was fencing off. That will mean that residents will be unable to have ready access to the beaches. This is a serious matter, as there is a general demand everywhere for parklands in congested residential areas. The Government should not lease breathing spaces, such as this is, to private bodies like the Mosman Golf Club without the unanimous consent of local residents. If the agreement for 21 years has not been completed, I hope that the Minister will recognize that there is a very genuine complaint by the people of Mosman,against the exclusive right to use thisland being given to a small and privileged sectionof the community. I ask the Minister to ascertain theactual teems upon which thisland has beenleased by theMosman Golf Club, and to heed the pronounced agitation among the residents of Mosman. I am also informed that the Mosman Council asked for the permissive occupancy of the land that has been given to the golf club, but its request was refused. This is a matter which not only affects Mosman, but may, at any time, apply to other parts of the Commonwealth.If this precedent, that naval reserves are to be given togolf clubs, or other private clubs, is to beestablished, the practice will soon spread throughout Australia.It is, therefore, not in the public interests that this action of the Defence Departmentshould gounchallenged.
– The arrangements set forth in theanswerto the question which I gave in this House on the 3rd September, are the conditions upon which the lease was agreed to by my predecessor, and subsequently ratified by me. The amount of £200 per annum, payable as rental by the Mosman Golf Club, is a considerable contribution to the coffersof the Treasury. The leasecontains the necessary provisions to enable the department to immediatelyresume the area if at anytime it should be required for defence purposes, and in the meantime the Government are receiving revenue to the extent I have indicated. I simply carried out the agreement entered into by my predecessor with the trustees of the golf club, and which had proceeded too far to permit of its rescission even if that were considered desirable.
– Can the Ministerexplain the notification in the Gazette?
– I cannot, but I shall have inquiries made. The Mosman Council has been granted permissive occupancy of another portion of thearea, containing approximately114 acres, not immediately required for defence purposes, andhas the right to construct a drive around the foreshore of that very beautiful portion of the harbour. I do not think anything can be doneto set aside the lease, as the tenants are in occupation and have spent a considerable sum upon the links. The Government are. receiving a handsome revenue from barren land which was not being utilized.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at10.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 September 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240916_reps_9_109/>.