2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the leader of the Senate, without notice, whether the Government has considered the question of the sufficiency of the guarantees given by public officers who have charge of public moneys?
– My special attention has never been called to the matter, but I have not the slightest doubt that it has been fully, considered!, I should imagine by the Public Service Commissioner
– I desire to ask the Minister for Defence, without notice, whether, if the Government business on the notice-paper be disposed of early next week, he will give private senators an opportunity of dealing with, the large amount of private business on the notice-paper, and of proceeding with it until it is disposed of ?
– Does the honorable senator mean in addition to the usual time which is allowed on Thursday ?
– No. What I am asking is whether Senator Playford will allow private business to be taken at the usual time on Thursday, and to be proceeded with until it is disposed of.
– I cannot now promise to give honorable senators an opportunity on Thursday evening to go on with private business until it is disposed of, but . if Government business has been dealt with, I shall be willing to allow the whole of the Thursday’s sitting to be devoted to the consideration of private business.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following papers : -
Transfers approved by the Governor-General under the Appropriation Act (dated 24th November).
Public Service Act 1902.- Addition of new Regulation 89A, and repeal of Provisional Regulation (Statutory Rules 1905, No. 41).- Statutory Rules 1905, No. 73.
Executive Council: Case of Mr. Richmond
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Arising out of the reply I desire to ask whether the Minister of Defence can tell the Senate why there was such delay in considering this matter, seeing that it was referred to the Board on the 26th September, and that no further action appears to have been taken until the 17 th November, when my questions were placed on the notice-paper ?
– I cannot inform the honorable senator. It is not in my Department, and therefore I had no knowledge of the subject until he asked his questions.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are ‘ as follow : -
– Am I to understand from the answer that no advertisements asking for tenders have yet been published ?
– I know that the Department is preparing the form of application, and that tenders will shortly be invited.
– May I remind the Minister that the object of the Senate in ratifying the contract in the form in which it did was to get tenders invited at once in order to give every one an opportunity of tendering?
– The Department has to prepare conditions. I understand that the matter is being pushed forward as expeditiously as possible.
– Seeing that the matter is a most important one, I think that in the interests of the Commonwealth
– The honorable senator ought not to argue the question.
– I do not wish to argue the question, but merely to state the reasons why I take this course. It is most important that tenders should be invited at the earliest possible moment, and I desire to ask whether the Minister of Defence can assure us that they will be invited before the session is ended.
– The Government recognise the necessity of calling for tenders at the earliest possible date. I understand from the Postmaster-General that he is pushing on with the matter as expeditiously as possible, and certainly no time will be lost.
– I should like, sir, with your, permission and the leave of the Senate, to make a personal explanation with regard to a statement I made last night as to my intention to move a motion for a return relating to the supply of stamps to the members of the Senate. I have looked into the matter, and I find that at present - I shall only say at present - it is rather difficult for me to move that a return be prepared if it is to be satisfactory and accurate. It is only for that reason that this morning I have not gone on with the matter. I do not intend to abandon my intention, but before taking any step I should prefer to confer, possibly with you, sir, as to the best means by which an accurate return could be provided. If I may be permitted, I shall explain one difficulty which I met with at once. The practice of honorable senators is to write as many letters as they please in, for instance, the club room, and place them in a basket, to be taken away bythe attendant and stamped. You will see, sir, that under these circumstances it is quite impossible for any one to say who has written letters and to whom the postage ought to be debited.
– I think that the honorable senator is mistaken. I consulted with the officer this morning, and he says that he can give a return, because every day the letters posted are entered up against the names of the writers.
– May I point out to you, sir, that it could only be done on the assumption that the attendant knew the handwriting of every honorable senator. That was one of the difficulties I met with.
– I do ‘ not think that the honorable senator ought to argue the question.
– I do not wish to argue the question, but to* explain why I have not given notice of a motion this morning, because I dislike giving my word to the Senate to take a course and not doing so. That is the only reason why I have not gone on with the matter.
– In the Library the officers used to say that they knew the handwriting of every member of Parliament.
– I only promised that I would inquire into the matter, and see if a return could be given. My officer tells me that it can be given ; perhaps not quite accurately. A great deal of the expenditure is in respect of quantities of stamps taken away at a time.
– I shall be glad to get a return with regard to those .stamps, and I intend to go on with the matter if I can.
– In the other case, in the Senate, although not in the other House, an officer enters up daily the number of letters, with the value of stamps placed thereon, sent in by each senator, so far as he can ascertain the particulars from the hand-writing.
– Perhaps without a motion being submitted,, sir, you might be good enough to lay upon the table a paper giving the required information ?
– I shall, though I believe it will take a week to prepare the paper.
– That will be the best way, because then we shall have the information from the proper source. We do not want a motion submitted.
– I would rather that the information be accurate. It would be unsatisfactory if it were not.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 23rd November, vide page 5684) :
Second Schedule -
External Affairs - New Guinea Administration : Case of Mr. Richmond - Pacific Islands Mail Services - Advertising Resources of Commonwealth - Tropical Diseases - Year-Book. of Australia.
Divisions 11 to 15 (Department of External Affairs), ^42,498.
– There has been little or no discussion on the official report which has been made on British New Guinea by the Secretary of External Affairs, and therefore I propose on the item of ,£20,000 for the Possession to shortly discuss its contents. I read the report with great care and pleasure. I think it will be generally admitted that it is a seasonable and valuable contribution to our knowledge of the conditions and the difficulties which surround us, in connexion with the Possession, and also the difficulties with regard to its development. I believe that if Mr. Hunt’s recommendations generally are carried out, we shall gradually inaugurate an era of prosperity. I was especially pleased that he insisted that the welfare of the natives should be our paramountcon.sideration. He contended that the natives should be confirmed in the ownership of all land which they occupy, or are likely to require. He strongly opposed the introduction of coloured aliens. He advocated a thorough reform in the land laws, the removal of “irritating delays,” “cumbrous procedure,” the “ reference of matters to head-quarters, and the re-reference of them, to the local authority.” He recommended a system of industrial development as regards mining and agriculture. He suggested the institution of Government experimental stations and State nurseries as an aid to the development of the Possession. Each and every one of these recommendations I have strenuously urged upon the Parliament for the last two years and a half. As the result of my visits to British New Guinea and other tropical parts, I believe that if such a system were carried out, it would be of great benefit to our Possession. The conclusions of Mr. Hunt coincide with mine in so many respects as to practically constitute an offi cial confirmation and vindication of what I have been urging for years. I have suggested to the Parliament a policy for the Possession, and, now that we have this official report, I hope that it will lay down a definite policy, and see that it is carried out. I shall not detain the Committee by pointing out in detail the many points, of agreement between Mr. Hunt and myself, but adopt the shorter expedient of briefly indicating the matters on which our opinions differ. I am strongly opposed to any direct taxation of the natives, at any rate while the present conditions are in existence. It is a great mistake to imagine that the natives of New Guinea are not taxed. They pay in indirect taxation three-fourths of the total revenue of the Possession. This is easily apparent to honorable senators when we remember that the only taxation in British New Guinea, with the exception of licences and fees, is paid through the Customs House. The amount of taxation last year was £14,800. If the whites had paid this taxation, it would have meant that they would have paid through the Customs £26 per head, and that on a lower Tariff, and with a larger free list than we have in the Commonwealth, where the revenue derived from Customs taxation amounts to £2 5s. 5d. per head. But, making a very large allowance for the fact that the white population of New Guinea consists almost entirely of adult males, it will be seen that my estimated apportionment of the taxationbetween the natives and the white people is under-estimated, if anything, on the side of the natives. We must bear in mind that the wages of the 4,000 odd indentured labourers in British New Guinea are paid principally in dutiable goods ; that the, imported foodstuffs that they consume are largely dutiable; and that the trade which is carried on with the natives throughout the coastal lands is also conducted in goods which are more or less dutiable. Therefore, it will be seen that the natives are the principal taxpayers in British New Guinea at the present time. As a matter of fact, the natives are called upon to pay every tax that the white people pay, provided, of course, that they engage in the same avocations. But whether they engage in the same avocations or not, they pay exactly the same rates of Customs duties, and are, in consequence, the chief source of local revenue.
– Does Mr. Atlee Hunt propose to tax them specially?
– Either by forced labour, or by means of a hut tax. Why. should we specially single out one class or race for taxation that we do not impose on others? Why should we impose a tax on the coloured people that we do not impose upon the whites, seeing that the coloured people are paying the same taxes as the whites at the present time? We should never forget that while werecognise the native ownership of all the land in British New Guinea, we have acquired, and we shall acquire, all the land that is necessary for the use of the white people at a price which practically amounts to obtaining it for nothing. We take possession of any of their land that we want, provided that they do not require it for themselves. Further, we impose upon the natives a duty which we do not impose upon the white people. We insist upon them keeping open the tracks between the various villages”. Undoubtedly the keeping open of those tracks is principally in the interests of the natives, but if they were not kept open it would be practically impossible for us to develop the Territory, to control it, or to get about from one place to another. So that the natives have imposed upon them the forced labour - which I think is quite right - of keeping open the tracks for their own benefit, and, incidentally, for the benefit of the white people. Mr. Atlee Hunt quotes Java as an illustration in support of his argument for taxing the natives. We can learn more in respect of tropical cultivation from Java than probably from any other country. But the “culture system” of taxation which Mr. Atlee Hunt mentions has been gradually relaxed, and practically discontinued, since the year 187 1. That culture system by which the natives had to cultivate a certain portion of their plantations for the benefit of the Government was undoubtedly a success as is revealed by the fact that in thirty-five years not only did Java pay its own way, but contributed £40,000,000 to the Treasury of Holland. By the corvee system, which is a system of periodical forced labour, they covered Java with magnificent roads and fine public edifices, and contributed largely to the success of that Dutch possession. But both of those systems- the tropical culture system and the corvee system - are, even in the opinion of the Dutch people, intolerably oppressive. Therefore, they themselves have discontinued them. The system now in force in Java is a poll tax, and the verponding which is a tax on the value of house property and industrial plant. During the last twenty-five years the revenue of Java, and its possessions has not equalled the expenditure, and for the five years ending 1898, there has. been a deficit of no less an amount than ,£5,000,000. Mr. Atlee Hunt says in his report -
Perhaps the best method would be to require that each village should furnish annually a certain number of young men for plantation service, to be performed as a national duty, as military or naval service is in France and Germany, the Government deducting, if thought desirable, a certain proportion from their wages as the tax of their village.
This means the inauguration of a system of forced native labour. I do not think that that system is enforced or allowed in any part of the British Empire. It is true that Mr. Atlee Hunt suggests the payment of wages. But the object of the wages is principally to create wealth by which the tax can be paid, and therefore the differ: ence in essence is sma-11 between that and the corvee system, which is forced labour without payment. That corvee system, as I have explained!, has been universally condemned in every civilized country in the world. It is slavery, periodic instead of continual, with the State as the taskmaster. It was abolished in Java nearly 100 years ago, though there was a recrudescence of it for a certain period later on. It was abolished in Egypt when the British occupied that country. The corvee was .also one of the contributory causes of the great French Revolution. I do not for an instant intend^ to impute that Mr. Atlee Hunt had any such motive as to advocate a system of veiled slavery. I know personally that no one is more desirous than he of avoiding any such! practice. No one is more desirous of conserving the interests of the natives. In fact, the whole of Mr. Atlee Hunt’s report is eloquent testimony to that desire. His object is to benefit the natives, and to prevent them from lapsing into that sloth and lethargy which are undoubtedly deteriorating them mentally and physically. But I think that the true remedy is to compel the natives to plant 00- coanuts for their own benefit and for the use of their children. That was the reform that was inaugurated by Sir William McGre gor. Any special taxation upon the natives. - no matter how it may be applied and safeguarded - will undoubtedly mean veiled slavery, because the natives have no assets tolevy upon, and it is impossible to extort a tax from them when they have not assets of value to Europeans with which to pay the taxation. The result would simply bethat they would go to .gaol. They would, be given a certain term of imprisonment, with the result of being made for a certain time slaves simply because of their inability to pay the. taxation imposed. With regard to the suggested increased” subsidy for British New- Guinea, I have to say that I do not think it is necessary lo make the Possession a greater burden on the Commonwealth than it is at the present time. It must be remembered that the local revenue combined with the subsidy gives the administrators an annual sum of £42,000 to spend. Sir William McGregor carried .on the Government of the Possession for £15,000 a year. He stopped inter-tribal wars on the coast,, he established new stations, he built residences, he purchased vessels, and he inaugurated a magnificent system of development - certainly in its rudimentary stages- - -which has unfortunately not been pursued since he left. It is true that two or three fresh stations have been established, but the revenue at the present time is nearly three times the amount Sir WilliamMcGregor possessed when lie had all that difficulty and expensive initiatory, work tocarry out. Since he left there has practically been no development in British New Guinea. When we inquire the reason for the increased expenditure and the lessened results,, it is not difficult to find many avenuesin which a reduction of expenditure could be effected without injury to the Possession. There are many directions in which . expenditure could reasonably be curtailed. I will take one instance. The Merrie England cost’s us ,£7,317 a year in working expenses, and we have spent something like £2,000 in repairs lately. What would any sensible man or any honorable senator think of a Possession with a local revenue of ,£22,000 a year spending £8,000 a year on an obsolete steam-ship, which eatsup one-third of the revenue of the Possession. Last year the Merrie England steamed 10,000 knots - practically six weeks continuous sailing. So that for the whole twelve months the vessel was only sailing continuously for about six weeks. Yet she costs about one-third of the revenue of the Possession, and £2,000 in addition for repairs. 1 do not think anything more absurd than the retention of that vessel could possibly be imagined. I do not intend to make any detailed statement as to the. economies that are possible, but in my opinion, that is a glaring case. We could, obtain a smaller, more serviceable boat, with a lighter draught. The Merrie England draws fifteen feet of water, and from that point of view alone is totally unsuitable for British New Guinea. We could obtain a vessel which could be maintained at a quarter of the present cost, and the saving thus made would largely assist in a proper policy of development.
– The Merrie England was necessary at one time, but may not be so necessary now that we have a subsidized’ mail service.
– I think the vessel was necessary at one time. But as I stated in my first pamphlet on British New Guinea, one advantage of a subsidised mail steam-ship service is the saving that could be made in respect of the Merrie England. I do not think that this Commonwealth will counsel a proposal to lend British New Guinea £300,000. It would be a poor way of celebrating our adoption of this daughter of, the tropics to put round her neck at the very inception of our rule a load of debt which certainly would not tend to advance her interests. We ought tb try to keep this Dependency, the revenue of which is three times what it was under Sir William McGregor, free from debt, and out of pawn. If the proposal of Mr. Atlee. Hunt were carried out, the increased subsidy, the subsidized steam-ship service, the local revenue,, and the proposed loan paid in instalments of £15,000 a year, would mean an income of £62,000 a year, which, I am afraid’, would lead to rash experiments. No work is more difficult than that of tropical development - no work requires to be carried out with greater care and greater “knowledge - and such a revenue would, in my opinion, lead to extravagance. Mr. Atlee Hunt urges the advisableness of encouraging mining, and suggests that a good means would be to establish a prospecting vote. That is a mode of encouragement [ have strongly advocated, and, if the money were judiciously expended, it would greatly assist in the development of the gold-fields, which have not received that consideration they are entitled to by reason of the fact that they are practically responsible for the whole revenue of the Possession. Mr. Atlee Hunt says that the miners are a fairly rough lot, but that, on the whol’e, they are law-abiding. I admit at once that the miners in British New Guinea are not like polished, high-bred city men. But if it were not for “those miners and others who draw the wealth from the soil, who have pushed their way out into the wilderness, and transformed it into a valuable country for white people, there would be no high-bred city men. In my opinion, therefore, the miners who have developed the country, are entitled to the chief consideration. Mr. Atlee Hunt advocates that the prospecting vote shall be raised by an export tax on gold; he proposes to tax the mining industry, in order to provide the desired assistance for miners. That seems to me very much like cutting off the bottom of a garment, and adding it to the top, in order to make the garment longer. I warn the Committee that such a tax might result in the closing up of every mine on Woodlark Island, and thus throw 120 white men out of employment. These mines, at the present time, are barely earning expenses ; and on the mainland, ‘ where there are four alluvial gold-fields, I can say from my own knowledge that half the miners are making no more than “ tucker.” As mining is responsible for nearly the whole of the revenue, directly or indirectly - as it employs twothirds of the white people directly or indirectly, and three-fourths of the indentured labour - surely the prospecting vote might . be provided out of general revenue, and not by means of an extra tax on the mining community. Mr. Atlee Hunt says -
The majority of those I met were unanimous in expressing their belief that the inability to obtain a freehold tenure would act as a serious hindrance to the opening up of the Territory.
I admit that practically the whole of the official c’ass is opposed to the leasehold system. While the opinion of the officials may be perfectly honest - and I believe it is - I regard it as being more due to prejudice than the result of actual knowledge and investigation. An impartial study of the history of tropical colonization reveals the fact that the leasehold system is the better. F shall cite the case of Java, which Mr. Atlee Hunt approvingly quotes. There the leasehold system is universal, except in regard to a small area that was alienated in the early days.
– Does the honorable senator know how often rents are reappraised in Java?
– In Java the leases, I believe, run for sixty years.
– Without reappraisement ?
– I think the rents are not re-appraised. Mr. Henry Scott Boys, late of the Bengal Civil Sendee, and a trained and experienced administrator under the British Government, in his book entitled Some Notes on Java and its Administration by the Dutch, says: -
He was startled to find that the great mass of agriculturists in Java were manifestly in a far better material condition than our own ryots. This is unquestionably the case, and the fact undoubtedly proves that our treatment of the great questions relating to land tenures which 100 years ago were partly similar to those which have from time to time arisen in Java, have not been dealt with in a manner best calculated to secure the happiness of the people. The denationalization of the land, which from the time of Lord Cornwallis till the present day, has been more and more completely effected, has resulted in the aggrandizement of a class of wealthy landlords and middlemen at the expense of the cultivator of the soil.
I could quote many other instances, where, in tropical countries, the leasehold system is in operation, but I think that Java affords sufficient illustration. It is well known that Sir William McGregor favoured the leasehold system. Samarai, the commercial capital of New Guinea, and the most flourishing town, is entirely leasehold, there is not a square foot of freehold land in the place. The system has not militiated in any way against the prosperity of the town; in fact, I believe) the result has been quite the opposite. Sir William McGregor instituted a system of long leases for cocoanut land, under which a peppercorn rental had to be paid until the trees began to bear, when an annual rental was imposed; and though he made freehold permissive, he did not encourage that tenure. Of course, New Guinea was a British possession’ ; and the general policy of the British Government is to grant freehold, though the policy of other nations is, in many cases, to grant leasehold. We ought’ to give the planters a perpetual lease, subject to revaluation, at stated periods, on the unimproved or scrub value. The rental -would be small, but it would enable the Government, for all time, to have control over the planters - a con trol impossible with a freehold tenure - -and. would enable us to see that they not only improved their holdings, but maintained i.hem in proper condition. I had interviews with only ona or two of the planters and others who” were applying for land, but those I saw informed me that they would be satisfied with a perpetual lease. Under the circumstances I do not regard the opinion of the official class as a true indication of the general feeling in regard to the leasehold system. However, if the official class are convinced that leasehold will not be efficacious - well, probably it will not be efficacious. Section 50 of the Papua Act was introduced at the instance of Mr. Mahon in another place, and is, in my opinion, a very desirable provision, 1 Under that section 10 per cent, of the total land revenue is devoted to the support of infi irm and destitute natives. It is an unfortunate fact that in the eastern division venereal diseases are spreading very rapidly; and the best way to counteract them is to establish lock hospitals in various places, so as to segregate the sufferers. By this, means we should be able to stamp out, or reduce to a minimum, the hideous wrong which some white people have perpetrated on the natives, and there is no reason why a portion of the money should not be used for the purpose I have indicated, because the word “ infirm “ is descriptive of any person who is s.ick or suffering. Speaking generally, I regard Mr. Atlee Hunt’s report as excellent. In stating the points on which I disagree with that gentleman’s conclusion, I do not claim for one moment that I am necessarily right, and that he is wrong. If Mr. Hunt had had more time at his disposal, and greater opportunities for inquiry, I am certain that he would- have modified his opinion in regard to the matters with which I have dealt.
– In a new country ought not capital to be invested wisely at the beginning in order to give, the place a s.tart ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Undoubtedly we should encourage the investment of capital in New Guinea, but with the stipulation that all land taken up should be improved. That is the system followed on the Solomon Islands, and it has been most successful in German New Guinea. In the both Possessions any land, may be taken up provided that it is. not required by the natives, and that it is improved by the holder. It is most undesirable that land should be taken up and allowed to lie idle, to the hindrance of progress and development. I should mow like to say a few words about the development of British New Guinea. Since Sir William McGregor left the Possession, eight years ago, there has practically been no industrial expansion of any kind; the energy of the Government has been exclusively employed in maintaining law and order, and extending their jurisdiction over the natives. In that department of government, the authorities have undoubtedly done well, and deserve great credit. I am particularly pleased to observe that the natives have been treated with great kindness and consideration ; and for this, much praise is due to the Acting Administrator, Mr. Barton, the magistrates, the miners, and the traders, without whose co-operation this happy result could not have been achieved. Gold-mining is practically the one industry in British New Guinea.
– Is there any. gold there ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.There is plenty of gold; but there are not so many white miners there, now as there were in the time of Sir William McGregor. Certainly the Gira and Aikora field have been opened up since, but they have been developed by the pluck and pertinacity of the miners in the face of the most terrible disabilities; little assistance has been given by the Government except in -the maintenance of law and order. Sir William McGregor, with his long experience of tropical development, rightly appreciated the great value of cocoanut growing, and endeavoured to develop that industry in every possible way. He passed an ordinance compelling the natives along the coast to plant cocoanuts wherever the land was suitable; and if that magnificent law had been carried into effect, and continued, the greater part of the coast today would have been waving with cocoanut palms, and the exports would probably have been doubled. The natives would not suffer from those periodical famines to which thev are now liable if that ordinance had been insisted on. Cocoanut growing provides useful work for the natives, and prevents them from sinking into a state of sloth and lethargy. If thev had to plant each year so many cocoanuts, and keep them “ clean,” as the ex pression is, they would be provided with continuous light work. They could sell the copra, as the Solomon Islanders do, to the traders, and would thus be enabled to promote their own prosperity, and purchase many comforts. Mr. Campbell, the Resident Magistrate in the Eastern Division, has, since last January, given orders for the planting of cocoanut trees by the natives living around Samarai. Sir Wm. McGregor also issued instructions that the large amount of prison labour should be utilized on State plantations. The use o£ prison labour is always a difficult question to deal with ; but there can be no objection to its use on these State plantations, where it does not dome into competition with any other labour. He started several State plantations, but since he left not a single tree has been planted, and some of the plantations have been allowed to become overgrown with weeds. He encouraged planters to take up land by offering them easy conditions and quick possession. He off erred sixty years’ leases at a very low rental. That Ordinance has never been annulled, but it has been strangled by redtape circumlocution and absurd centralization. I could mention instances where men have had to wait for from twelve to fifteen months from the time they have applied for land before they have been able to get a title. No man can live in a tropical country like that and wait so long for >a title for land. I had a letter onlylast mail from a well-known man in British New Guinea, who states that he ap-‘ plied for land in 1898, and has not got his title yet. Mr. Atlee Hunt says -
So far as expansion is concerned, the Possession is now at a standstill.
As I have shown, it has been at a standstill for the last eight years. The exports of copra from British New Guinea last year were valued at £1,700, and the total exports of the Possession, exclusive of gold, were valued at £5,500. In the case of the Solomon Islands, which are only oneeighth the size of British New Guinea, and which have been a British Protectorate only for the last ten years, the export of copra last year was valued at £40,000, -whilst the cost of government was a little over £2,000 a year.
– How many people are there there?
– There are from 100 to 150 whites at the
Solomon Islands. The exports from British New Guinea, to which I have referred, confirm my statement that gold-mining is practically the only white man’s industry in the Territory. The only agricultural industries in which any success has been achieved are the planting of cocoanuts and rubber. There is in New Guinea a very valuable indigenous rubber plant, the Ficus Rigo. Our object should be to encourage these industries in every way. There are undoubtedly very many economic plants which can be grown profitably in New Guinea. In regard to these it would be foolish to indulge in blind experiment. If we were to induce planters to embark on untried industries which would result in disaster, we should have them coming back to Australia, discrediting the Territory, and so retarding its development for a very long time. Very great care is necessary in dealing with this question. We must consider the character and industry of the natives, the fertility of the soil, and the climatic conditions. It is not necessary that we should learn, as the result of repeated failures, what crops can be successfully grown in British New Guinea. We need not learn wisdom by the practice of folly, because every one of these tropical industries has been the subject of exhaustive experiment in other countries, and all Ave have to do is to avail ourselves of the advantage of their experience. We have magnificent object-lessons in tropical cultivation all around our territory, and if we desire to develop the Possession we * should ascertain what economic plaints have been grown successfully in places like Ceylon, the Straits Settlement, Cochin China, the Philippines, Java, and Polynesia.
– Will not almost all tropical’ fruits grow in New Guinea?
Sentaor Playford. - There is no market for them.
Senator ‘ STANIFORTH SMITH.We must consider the temperament and disposition of the people, as well as the rainfall and general climatic conditions, and quality of soil of the country, in order that we may establish in British New Guinea some of the industries which are being successfully pursued in Java, Sumatra, and such other tropical countries.
– Is not New Guinea suitable for bananas?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Yes; but the banana would not be a payable crop there. We should study the industries of tropical countries where progress and development are evident. To show how able management can convert failure into success, I may give an illustration from the experience in Cochin China. In eight years, between 1877 to 1895, France had to make up deficits in connexion with that country amounting to 40,000,000 francs. In the last thirtyfive years, during which France has been in occupation of the country, it has cost her £30,000,000. Under M. Paul Doumer, who was appointed GovernorGeneral of Cochin China in 1896, radical changes in the system of government weremade. Progress and development have followed, and in the last five years the Government in that Colony has not only paid its own expenses, but has contributed 40,000,000 francs as a military contribution to the mother country, France. The energy and enterprise of the people of the United States are proverbial, and they have recently appointed two Commissions to travel through the East and study tropical development and agriculture, that they may be enabled to inaugurate an enlightened system for the development of the tropical Possessions they have lately obtained. The report presented by Professor Jenks, one of the commissioners is a very valuable ‘one. The Dutch Government has assisted its people greatly in Java, not only by the creation of new industries, but in the establishment of a special Government Department for procuring machinery for mills, giving advice and instruction to planters, and obtaining the best books which have been written om the subject of tropical agriculture. In this respect the State experimental stations and nurseries I have advocated would be invaluable. One of these should be situate/:! in the highlands, because there are certain economic plants which cannot be grown successfully on the low coastal lands of the Territory. We should also obtain an expert in tropical agriculture, preferably from Ceylon, - the Straits Settlement, or Java, who could supervise the experimental stations and nurseries, supply planters with economic plants, and give advice and instruction in regard to their cultivation. We should import, and plant at the experimental stations, and nurseries, such economic plants as have led to the establishment of successful industries in contiguous tropical countries whose climate and soil are similar to those of New Guinea. We should especially devote our attention to the establishment of industries which do not require skilled labour. That is a very important consideration. In the Philippines the growth, and export of hemp has developed into a great industry. The export of hemp comprises 60 per cent, of the total exports of the Philippine Islands, and amounts in value to no less than £4,500,000 annually. Hemp is of the same botanical genus as the banana or plantain, the botanical name being Musa Textilis. It can be grown by unskilled labour, and is therefore not in. the same category as tobacco and sugar, which are also exports from those islands. In Ceylon, they grow successfully cinchona, from which quinine is produced, cocoa, and tea plants. In the Malay States, rice, rubber, pepper, liberian coffee, nutmegs and fibre plants are grown ; and in Java, indigo and other products. We should obtain economic journals published in. the English language in American and British Colonies, and should keep ourselves in touch with the latest developments and successes in all tropical countries. In the tropical centres I have visited, I have specially studied on the spot the growth of cocoanuts, rubber, cocoa, nutmegs, vanilla, kapock, cloves^ cotton, tobacco, and coffee. Some of these will undoubtedly be successfully grown in New Guinea, though others will not. The growth of tobacco has been an absolute failure in German New Guinea, and has been practically discontinued. The reason I assign is the lack of the skilled labour necessary, not only in the cultivation, but in the preparation of the tobacco leaf. Mr. Rochford, a very enterprising resident of British New Guinea, wrote to the British Cotton-growers’ Association with regard to cotton -grow ing in the Territory. He sent a detailed statement of the rainfall, and the secretary of the association wrote back to say that the continuous rainfall would militate somewhat against the successful growth of cotton, as it required three months of comparatively dry weather to produce the best results. In German New Guinea, I saw cotton-fields, and found that in some cases the plants had died. This was attributed to the belief that they had been attacked by some insect or disease. In the circumstances, it is necessary that we should experiment very carefully with cotton before any attempt is made to induce people- to embark in cotton- growing in New Guinea. We should have the fullest knowledge of the various economic plants to which I have referred, before we induce planters to undertake their cultivation in New Guinea. Whilst we should pay great attention to the production of exotic plants of economic value, we should by no means neglect the veryvaluable indigenous plants of the country, The sago-palm covers an immense area of British New Guinea, chiefly in low-lying and swampy grounds, and there is undoubtedly enough sago growing there to supply the whole of Australia. Then there is the pandanus tree, which grows in millions in New Guinea, and produces a veryvaluable fibre which, I have no doubt, would be found excellent for rope-making. The pandanus fibre appears to me to be very much like the hemp fibre we get from Manilla. I submit a sample of it for the inspection of honorable senators, and they will, I am sure agree that it ought to make a very excellent rope. No doubt if a proper botanical examination nf the country were made other valuable indigenous plants would be found. In the development of its industries great care, time, and knowledge are required in order to insure success.
– And some capital.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Undoubtedly. It is of no use to ask men 10 embark in an industry unless we can practically assure them it will not be a failure, otherwise we shall discredit the whole Possession. This requires care, lime, and knowledge, and as the onlyproved industries are the cocoanut and rubber industries, which take from live to seven years to develop, we should get planters who have already planted these trees to utilize comparatively small areas in the cultivation of these other products, and let them gradually ascertain whether they can be grown, not only successfully, but profitably. I make no apology for taking up the valuable time of the Committee in -going somewhat fully into the economical development of the Possession, because it is a matter of the greatest importance. The success or failure of the Possession rests absolutely upon its economical development. I have given considerable attention to the subject. I have studied the conditions in. all tropical countries which are controlled by European powers or the United States, both as regards systems of government, methods of administration, and modes of development. I have spent some months in New Guinea and other tropical parts in order to inform myself better on those subjects. A question of great importance in connexion with the development of the Possession is the provision of good roads. This is a matter of the greatest urgency. Mr. Alleyne Ireland, a great authority on tropical development, has expressed his views on the importance of roads in these words -
The reduction of India to a state of peace and order unknown in its pre-British history, the suppression of dacoity (highway robbery) and the immense development of industrial prosperity in Burma, the astounding growth of the Federated Malay States, the great commerce of Java, the recent improvement in French Indo-China, may be attributed more to the influence of good roads than to any other single agency.
In the Malay federated States there are 1,000 miles of metalled road over which a motor car can be ‘run. Honorable sena..tors may be surprised to hear that the Government have also built 300 miles of railway out of revenue. When a loan was offered by the British Government for the purpose of constructing the railway, they replied that they could build it out of revenue. They have no debt of any kind. For the last ten years their net revenue has been £1,400,000. While, of course, the mining and export of tin is a large factor, (here are many things that we can. learn from such countries which would be of immense value in developing British New Guinea. At Herbertsöhe, in New Britain, there are* scores of miles of well-made roads on which vehicles can be employed, and persons can travel on horseback. In British New Guinea, however, there are no roads. There are no tracks which are good enough for pack-horses or pack-mules except between Port Moresby and the coffee plantations at Sugeri and the Loloki River. I admit that it is a most difficult thing to establish roads for vehicular traffic. But there is no reason why tracks should not be made to the mining- fields so that packmules could carrY up the stores. We have an enormous area of rich auriferous country stretching from the source of the Fly River to the Mambare and Gira rivers.
– Is there no sign of coal ?
– I do not know that a coal seam of an important nature has been found. . .The miners have to contend with the greatest possible difficulties and obstacles. The rich alluvial fields which are known are hardly payable. On the Yodda field we have less than forty white men, whereas, if reasonable facilities were afforded, we could have a prosperous field with perhaps 400 men working there. I complain that on the gold-fields there is a want of sympathetic treatment on behalf of the Government. Everything has to be carried to the fields for a distance of seventy miles on the backs of natives, and the expense to the miners who employ several native labourers is about £40 a month. I am told on the best authority, both official and unofficial, that a track could have been made from Buna Bay to the Yodda field, a distance of seventy miles, for about £300. I advocated this work two and a half years ago, but nothing has been done. Whitton Bros., the storekeepers, have offered to put on pack mules if the track be made. It would reduce the price of provisions by about one half, and convert a “ tucker “ field into a prosperous gold-field. It would give a greater variety of food, bring better conditions to white and coloured people, and lead to less sickness. It could be accomplished for about £300. Although it has been advocated locally, and by myself, still the work has never been put in hand.
– How is the total revenue spent?
– I gave the expenditure on the Merrie England . as an example. From the Mambare River to the Aikora field it is possible to . discover a new track upon which pack mules could also be put, although I am fain to admit that the present track, over portion of which I have travelled, is too rough even for pack mules. There is another advantage in regard to mule transport. The native porterage is the hardest, most disagreeable, and monotonous work which the natives are called upon to do. Mr. Atlee Hunt mentions that desertions occur chiefly from the Northern division, where the carrying is principally done. When the natives tire of their burdens, they throw them down in the bush and escape, sometimes into hostile tribes, and fall a prey to their enemies, or if thev are caught they are fined to the value of the pack. thrown down. That punishment is necessary, otherwise the. natives would be more careless than they are. In mv opinion, the conditions could be improved to a considerable extent. We could not do away with human porterage, at any rate for a long’ time. But the weight of a load and a distance of a day’s journey could be regulated, and proper resting houses could be established by ‘the Government at distances of, say, twelve or fifteen, miles, which would be dry and comfortable for the natives, and would tend largely to reduce the present alarming death-rate in the Northern gold-field. According to the last report, it was 19.14 per cent., or, at any rate, 191 per thousand annually. Besides that twenty-seven natives are missing and unaccounted for, possibly killed by hostile tribes, when they have been endeavouring to escape. If mv suggestions were adopted, the conditions would be so alleviated that there would not be anything like the present number of porters trying to escape, or anything like the same number of loads thrown away- I do not intend to deal with the system of government, because I dealt with it fully in an article in the Review of Reviews of last June. In Sarawak, which is under the control of Rajah Brooke, the Government have made wonderful progress, and are working together splendidly. He has instituted a General Council, which meets every third year, and is composed of the chief officers of the Possession, “who come from all parts of the Protectorate. Their functions are purely advisory. They are constituted for the purpose of keeping the central Government informed as to the general condition of public opinion, and with regard to any important change proposed to be made in general policy. I think that great good would result if a similar meeting of officials were held annually in Papua. They could discuss the methods of administration, the rate of progress, and the plans for the future. I believe that it would infuse a spirit of friendly rivalry, and induce more strenuous efforts than are now put forth. I anticipate that it would establish an esprit de corps, and a patriotism which’ would tend to promote the development of the Possession very much, and make each official feel that he was to a certain extent responsible for the general welfare. And the collective views of these experts would be available for the Government in framing their ordinances. Before I conclude, I wish to touch upon the question of the British New Guinea museum. It may be in the knowledge of honorable senators that Sir William McGregor recognised the great importance, from a scientific point of view, of forming.: a collection of curios and such matters - connected with the Possession. TheQueensland Government generously agreed!! to place a hall in its museum at.” the disposal of British New Guinea for the display of its curios. Many valuable, curios, representing the arts, ceremonies, customs, and weapons of the people, and the fauna, flora, and geology of the Territory,, were placed there by Sir William McGregor. Owing to the natives stopping the manufacture of weapons, some of these curios could not now be replaced. The collection belongs to the Possession, and* probably it will eventually find a place in the Federal Capital. It is most unfortunate that it has been absolutely neglected since Sir William McGregor departed. Collections of weapons, dresses, and curios have been scattered over Europe, in public and private collections, over the United States, and in various places, and there is now no truly representative aggregation of Papuan curios which would enable scientists ito obtain most valuable information with regard to theethnology and characteristics of the natives, and possibly of tracing their origin or descent. Honorable senators will have learned from the annual report that last year some ancient pottery and human remains were found four feet below the ground on the site of an old village. It is stated that they evidently belonged to a pre-existing race. The pottery was much superior to anything which is to be seen in Papua to-day ; yet, on the volition of the Resident Magistrate, to whom it was given, it was sent to the British Museum, where probably it will be put away and absolutely forgotten. That is only one of other incidents of a like nature. The miners on the Yodda gold-field some time ago found a pestle and mortar. The natives could give no explanation as to its origin, and did not understand the workmanship. The curiosity was handed over to the Resident Magistrate, who sent it on to the British Museum. It was a very interesting find, and gave evidence of a higher! and older civilisation in British New Guinea than exists to-day. We ought to pass an Ordinance providing that the Government should have the first claim upon all finds of this description. They, should be put in the Brisbane Museum until we are able to establish a Commonwealth museum in which to display them.
As it is, they are scattered about the world in a. way that makes it impossible for scientific men to study them. Although I have taken up a good deal of the time of the Committee I hope I shall be excused in view of the importance of the subject. What I feel is, that as we have taken over the government of British New Guinea, it rests with us whether we shall make a success of it or not. I have endeavoured to address myself principally to the question of how we should develop our great Possession. That development, in my opinion, should take place not in the direction of costly experiments, but in the direction of establishing and developing proved industries. We should carefully study the conditions surrounding tropical countries, study the methods of development, and ascertain what economic plants have enabled successful industries to be established in similar countries. We should have experimental farms and State nurseries. We should have an expert on tropical agriculture to superintend those establishments, and to give advice and instructions to planters who wish to cultivate. We should follow the methods which have been so successful in Java and in the Malay Settlements. I believe that if we are ready and anxious to learn from what has been done elsewhere we can make British New Guinea - not for some years, perhaps, but in time - absolutely self-supporting., as are some contiguous tropical countries. If we succeed in that, we shall have done something which will relieve Australia from its present financial burden. At the same time, we should regard it as our principal obligation to see that the rights of the natives are not interfered with. The native people of British New Guinea are entitled to recognition of their rights in the land which they have occupied from time immemorial. They should be protected in the occupation of any land that they can utilize. I sincerely hope that in the control of British New Guinea by Australia, we will not remain the laughing-stock of surrounding countries. There is no reason why the Australian people should not inaugurate a system of development at any rate equal to that of our neighbours ; and in so doing we shall make our new Possession a prosperous country.
– The speech of Senator Smith has been a valuable contribution to the debate on the government of British New Guinea. The honorable senator has devoted special study to the Possession, and his remarks with regard to it are always received by the Senate with the attention and respect that they deserve. I most heartily agree with the greater part of what he has said, and think that his criticism should be taken into serious consideration by the Government. This Commonwealth has undertaken a great obligation in assuming the government of British New Guinea. That obligation should not be shirked by us in any way whatever. We should determine to do our duty by the natives of the country, as well as by the white inhabitants. We should be resolute to see that the interests of the natives are in no way sacrificed or jeopardized. It is not possible to get actual statistics as to their number, but it is generally supposed that they amount to about half-a-million. In other words, roughly speaking, the native population is about equal to that of the population of the State of Queensland. It must be remembered that these natives are not absolute barbarians, such as the aboriginals of Australia were. They live in village communities. They cultivate the soil, and they are capable in some respects of a remarkable degree of development. I think, for my own part, that it is highly important they should be encouraged to progress on their own lines if those lines are apparently the best for their own circumstances and character. We ought not to endeavour to impose our civilization upon them hurriedly or in a haphazard fashion. If we do, it is possible that we shall simply accomplish the same end as we have done in the case of the aboriginals of Australia - that is to say, we shall practically conduce to the extermination of the race. I agree with Senator Smith, that whatever our policy is, it should be pursued with a view to preserve the rights of the natives ; because, undoubtedly, a people who have advanced to the stage that they have are capable of advancing to very much higher stages. It should be our earnest desire, our worthy aim and’ object, to enable them to do so by every means in our power. As to theadministration of British New Guinea generally, it must be remembered that Australia is contributing a subsidyof £20,000 per annum in addition to the revenue which is raised by Customs taxation and licence-fees, which amounts to a similar sum. In all, the government of British New Guinea is costing something over £40,000 per annum. I should like to know - I wish some one would get up and tell me - what we have to show for that large expenditure. I believe that it is almost all wasted - I use the word advisedly, because we have nothing to show for it - in payments to officials. Senator Smith has pointed out strongly and feelingly, from his own personal observation, the difficulties of the men who are doing more to open up the country than any other class. I refer to the miners. He has spoken of the almost total absence of any roads or tracks. It seems to me that a considerable portion of the revenue ought to be expended in such works as that. But, as I have said, nearly the whole of the revenue is swallowed up in payments to officials. If a track is required to be made in order to facilitate the labours of ‘those who are doing so much to develop the country, there is no money available. That is not the proper way to carry on the business of the Territory. In my opinion, fully onehalf of the revenue should be spent in opening up the country. What are we paying those officials for? It appears to me that a close reserve has been established amongst them. A well-known writer, who recently visited the Possession, Mr. Randolph Bedford, has said that the place reeks with bureaucracy, and that corruption is rampant. Judging from letters received by me from reliable men in British New Guinea whom I know personally, I am satisfied that the utmost dissatisfaction exists amongst the white people at the manner in which the Government is conducted. For my own part, I believe that most of these officers were not appointed on account of any special fitness, but simply for political reasons. I know of one case in which a man whom I personally knew very well - and I have no fault to find with him in his ordinary capacity as a citizen - was appointed a resident magistrate in the Possession for no other reason than that he happened to be related to a person in a very high place. I say that that man was in no way fitted by his attainments or his private or personal life and character for the position to which he was appointed. The Public Service in British New Guinea should not be regarded as an avenue by means of which the ne’er’-do-well friends and hangers-on of men occupying high places may be able to get a living. It should not be regarded as a place to which such persons may be sent, in order that they may not bother their highly-placed relatives any more.
– Would it not be as well for the honorable senator to name the man, in order that an injustice may not be done to others?
– I refer to a brotherihlaw of Lord Hopetoun, the first Governor-General of Australia. I have no hesitation in mentioning the name. He was, a brother of Lady Hopetoun - Mr. De Moleyns. I have nothing to say against him in his capacity as a private citizen; but, from my personal knowledge of him, I say that he is totally unfitted for the position of a police magistrate in that country. It is high time that the present system of conducting the business of the Possession was made the subject of strong criticism. We have been told that corruption is rampant, and that the service is a little close corporation. If incompetent men are appointed to responsible positions, it is easy to see that such results must occur. Since Sir William McGregor left the Territory, I have never heard any one who has returned from it speak well of the Administration. While Sir William McGregor was at the head of affairs, every one who returned from British New Guinea had a good word to say for the Administration. I think that we should appoint some strong, public man in Australia to go to the Possession and organize the Administration. He should be intrusted with ample powers to carry out a system of reform. Until something of that kind is done, I am afraid that there will be very little hope of securing anything like satisfactory government in British New Guinea. Take the case which is now * sub* judice - that of the suspension of Mr. Richmond. That gentleman was formerly at the head of the Lands Department of British New Guinea. You, Mr. Chairman, in your capacity as a senator, asked some questions about his case a day or two ago. The only information that we have is that Mr. Richmond made certain charges against the head of the Administration, Captain Barton. Rightly or wrongly, he was suspended. I have no quarrel about that. But he desires to visit Australia while under suspension. What has happened ? He has been refused leave. Why ? Simply in order that - this is obvious on the face of it- the circumstances of the case shall not be ventilated in Australia.
If there is nothing wrong, and nothing to conceal, why is not Mr. Richmond, during his suspension, allowed to go where he pleases ?
– Who refused him leave?
– The Executive Council or the Administrator. The reply of the Minister to Senator Higgs on this point was that the application by Mr. Richmond for leave to visit Australia was refused by the Administrator! - the very man against whom the original charge was made. That is altogether a wrong course to take in regard to Mr. Richmond. A man under suspension is not a criminal, and should be at liberty to go where he pleases.
– Was he suspended for any definite term?
– I do not know. The information given in reply to the questions by Senator Higgs is very meagre, though we are promised full information in the “sweet by-and-by.”
– Is Mr. Richmond practically a prisoner ; cannot he- get away ?
– I have told the honorable senator all I know about the matter. The point I wish to emphasize is that Mr. Richmond has been refused permission to visit Australia by the Administrator, against whom he brought a charge which, if true, is exceedingly serious. Mr. Richmond occupied a very high position as a member of the Executive Council, and the head of the Lands Department, and the charge he made was that the Administrator had destroyed certain public documents. Why were those documents destroyed? The only possible reason can be that ..those documents referred to matters which certain persons did not wish to have made puBlic; and an official who calls attention to such an occurrence performs a public duty. The close coterie of officials, with their policy of standing by each other, proceeded to inflict every hardship on this gentleman, and prevent him from ventilating the case; and some very drastic action should be taken to insure that this objectionable state of affairs shall not be allowed to continue. Although an Act has been passed for the government of the Possession. we cannot relieve ourselves from our responsibility for its proper administration, and I shall do everything I possibly can to insure that that administration is as clean and pure as every honorable senator would desire. We are told, as I say, that we shall have all information in the “sweet by-and-by” ; but what will be the good of information after the Estimates have been passed, and there have been twelve months of forgetfulness ? This matter has been hanging over since September last, and I enter my emphatic protest against such a method of doing business.
– It would be equally fair to tell the Government that the Estimates will be passed in the “sweet byandby.”
– Unless some tangible reason is afforded for not supplying us with the information, I am quite prepared to go the full length suggested by Senator Clemons, and tell the Government that, so far as I am concerned, they shall have the Estimates passed in the “sweet by-,and-by.” The representative of the Government in this Chamber should not tell us that, because these or other matters are not in his Department, he therefore knows nothing about them; he ought to come armed with full information on every item on which information mav be desired. Strange as itmay appear. I find that even in regard to the affairs of his own Department, the information possessed by the Minister of Defence is not very full. There are one or two other remarks I should like to make in reference to New Guinea. I have in my hand a report by Mr. Atlee Hunt, the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs. That gentleman paid a flying visit to the Territory a little while ago, and on his return, prepared- this voluminous report as a result of his observations and the information he gathered. I do not desire to minimize the value of the report unduly, but, considering that this was a flying visit, and that Mr. Atlee Hunt was necessarily in the hands of the close coterie of officials nearly all the time he was there - that the information he gathered, and the opportunities he had for observation, were so very limited - -the report cannot be accepted as absolutely reliable. Perhaps, so far as Mr. Atlee Hunt had opportunities for personal observation and obtaining correct information, the report mav be very good ; but a report, based on such a short visit, and on such tainted sources of information, should not be valued very highly by this Chamber. But apart from all that, I disagree in toto with some of the conclusions arrived at by Mr. Atlee Hunt. In fact, he goes out of his way, on more than one occasion, to tell the Australian Parliament that it is doing something which it ought not to do. There are some of the most cheeky observations in the report that I have seen for some time. A public official ought to be loyal to the Parliament, and not go out of his way to say that it has done wrong.
– It must be remembered that the Papua Act had not been passed when the report was prepared.
– But the Act had been passed when the report was put into our hands.
– But not when the report was written.
– The date of the report is the 25th October, of this year. The leasing principle was embodied in the Papua Act after very full and mature consideration; and Mr. Atlee Hunt, in the report, goes out of his way to suggest, sometimes under cover of saying that somebody told him so, that that is altogether a wrong principle on which Parliament should not have acted. It is the duty of a public official like Mr. Atlee Hunt, who is very generously treated by Parliament, to loyally carry out the wishes and behests of Parliament, and not to proceed to throw cold water on its legislation. If Mr. Atlee Hunt is of opinion that he could manage the parliamentary affairs of the Commonwealth much better than they are being managed now - if he is dissatisfied with his duty to carry out the wishes of Parliament, because they are not in accord with his susceptible conscience - he has his remedy. If Mr. Atlee Hunt is of opinion that Parliament is not good enough to be his employer, and that he is asked to do something of which he disapproves, he can refuse to continue in his present position. That would be a perfectly legitimate remedy ; but, so long as he is the head of an important Department, he ought to be loyal to Parliament, and not try to discredit our proceedings.
– What did he say?
– On page 17 of the report there are four or five long paragraphs, which honorable senators may read for themselves. Mr. Atlee Hunt at first shelters himself with these words -
The majority of those I met were unanimous in expressing their belief that the inability to obtain a freehold tenure would act as a serious hindrance to the opening up of the Territory.
He goes on in that strain for some time, and then winds up with the words -
I would respectfully submit that if the Bill be passed in its present form -
That is afterhe has cited all the objections he can think of - no objection should be raised to the local Administration offering land on long leases, even up to 100 years, and either rent free or at very low rents for the earlier years. If, after a fair trial, such liberal terms fail to attract settlers, it will be, I think, a proof that, whatever may be the case in other places, the policy of nonalienation is unsuitable to New Guinea. On the other hand, if it is found that these leases are readily being taken up, it may be found possible to shorten the terms and increase the rents.
In view of these expressions of opinion, people who desire to invest in enterprises, the basis of which is possession of land, will conclude that they have Mr. Atlee Hunt on their side, and will feel that it will be only necessary to do nothing for a year or two in order to induce the Government to abrogate the leasehold tenure in favour of freehold. What would be the result? The same result that has followed a similar policy in Australia. I venture to say that if lands are sold in New Guinea the rights of the natives will be altogether overlooked. Greedy landgrabbers will take care to secure all the choice lands, whether or not they be required by the natives ; all the desirable lands, with easy access to market, will be monopolized within the next twenty-five years.
– Endeavours in that direction have been made already.
– I have the personal observation of Senator Smith to support my opinion. Here we have Mr. Atlee Hunt going outside his proper functions, and criticising the proposals of the Commonwealth Parliament. IT is no part of Mr. Hunt’s duty to say what shall or shall not be done in the matter of land legislation for New Guinea ; and he exceeds his duty when he recommends that a principle, which is not material to the question, shall be engrafted on the Constitution of the Possession. We ought to remember that this land belongs primarily to the native population, and that if they are unjustly deprived of it under a freehold tenure there can be no remedy in the future. On the other hand, if the land be only leased, it may. if considered desirable or necessary, be subsequently restored to the natives. Notwithstanding Mr. Hunt’s opinion. I thinkthat the leasehold system is the best for New Guinea. That gentleman also, in the report, goes out of his way to object to the proposals made by this Parliament to have the liquor traffic of the Possession placed under Government control.
– But Mr. Atlee Hunt was asked to report - to give his opinion.
– He was asked to report on the general administration of New Guinea.
– If Mr. Atlee Hunt had been circumscribed by what Parliament had done, his report would have been greatly limited.
– He could not have given a fair report unless he had been at full liberty to express his own opinions.
– This is not a report of what is good for New Guinea, but a concise statement of Mr. Hunt’s political opinions and principles, which he suggests shall be applied, notwithstanding our better judgment. With regard to the liquor traffic, Mr. Atlee Hunt, after pointing out that prohibition would not be acceptable to the people, says on page 18 -
To the suggested alternative of Government control not much opposition would be offered by the residents, as, provided they can get what they want, they do not much mind through what channel it comes.
It will be seen that he does not base his objection on the ground that the people of New Guinea object to the system, or that it is not good for New Guinea, but on entirely other grounds. He suggests that a Government agent would have to be appointed for the sale of liquor, or that the present hotelkeepers should be appointed agents. There is no necessity for doing anything of the kind. He also expresses the opinion that the Government would not be able to establish public-houses - that there would be no possible chance of (fitting proper hotel accommodation in the way of board and lodging, if there were not private public-houses. There is no difficulty of the kind.
– He has a perfect right to express his opinions; he was asked to do so.
– Then I have the right to criticise his expressions of opinion ?
– Undoubted! v.
– And I shall exercise the right.
– The honorable senator ought not to say that Mr. Atlee Hunt had no business to do what he has done.
- Mr. Atlee Hunt has no business to impose his political convictions on us.
– He was asked to report and advise.
– Why does he endeavour to place in our way difficulties which do not exist? The Minister seems to think that I desire to criticise the report unfairly, and that being so, I shall .read the whole of this part of the report, so that honorable senators and the country may know the truth. On page 18, Mr. Atlee Hunt says -
To the suggested alternative of Government control, not much opposition would be offered by the residents, as, provided they can get what they want, they do not much mind through what channel it comes.
That is not the point of view of the residents, who have not objected to State control of the liquor traffic.
But there are very grave difficulties in putting any such system into force while the white population is so small and so scattered as it is at present. Only at Samarai and Port Moresby are there any hotels.. These being distributing ports for passengers, as well as cargo, have always some floating population, who use these hotels as boarding houses. If the proprietors are compelled to forego the profits hitherto made from the sale of liquor, they must either go out of business, or substantially increase their charges for board and residence. Either course would be productive of great inconvience, and would provoke resentment.
Where would be the inconvenience or the ground for resentment? Could not the Government do exactly as the hotel-keepers are doing? If they had control of the liquor traffic could they not establish public houses giving every facility for board and residence to travellers, in just the s,ame way as private hotelkeepers do, and as is done at the present time in the State hotel at Gawler in Western Australia? It is ridiculous for Mr. Hunt to try to manufacture difficulties of this kind, which could not exist under any proper system of administration. Mr. Hunt goes, out of his way to discredit State control of the liquor traffic, as he has done to discredit other suggestions made in this Parliament, and it is, not a proper thing for him to do. If such conditions existed, he would have a right to bring them under the notice of Parliament; but no such conditions could exist under a proper administration, though if Mr. Hunt were Administrator of New Guinea, holding the opinions he does., such difficulties would exist if the Commonwealth took over the control of the liquor traffic, because this gentleman would probably manufacture them. He goes on to say -
At other places, e.g., on the gold-fields, liquor is sold at the general stores ; the storekeepers would be faced with similar alternatives, with the result that the cost of living, already extremely high, would be materially advanced. ‘
Why? Because liquor was sold by the Government instead of by an hotel-keeper? On the contrary, I am inclined to think that the cost of living would be materially reduced, and the public would have a Government guarantee that they would get nothing but sound, wholesome liquor. Mr. Hunt says further -
The only way to prevent these difficulties from arising would be for” the Government to appoint the persons now engaged in the business as its agents, and pay them at a rate equivalent to the profits of which they would be deprived by the change of system. This would mean that Government control resolves itself into a mere question of the supervision of accounts.
That is a most unworthy sneer from a public officer. He says it would be a mere question of the supervision of accounts. Nothing of the kind. We could establish our own hotels, and appoint public officers to look after them, and conduct them properly, as is done in the case of the State hotel in Western Australia. There are many other paragraphs in the same strain which I might criticise as trenchantly, but I do not wish to .unduly take up time. At page 24 of his, report, Mr. Hunt makes the most astounding proposal which could come from any public official who was at all in touch with Australian public sentiment. He points out that development cannot succeed without a constant supply of suitable labour. I do not quarrel with that statement, but, taking that as his, basis, he proceeds to argue as to what is the best method of obtaining this suitable labour, and what remedy do honorable senators suppose he recommends ? It is a system of ‘ forced labour, by which the natives of New Guinea shall be practically turned into slaves., and compelled to work, whether they desire to do so or not. In considering the best way in which to make the nigger work, Mr. Hunt says : -
One means is to tax him. . I do not put this proposal forward only as a means towards adding to the revenues of the Possession, though in that respect it is- justifiable. Civilization has given the native absolute security ; he no longer lives the prey to constant alarm, the fear that the end of any day may find his limbs in the cooking pot of his enemy has gone for ever, and it seems but fair that he should be asked to contribute some thing towards the expenses of maintaining the system that confers this inestimable benefit on him.
Senator Smith has clearly shown that the native contributes very considerably already. Mr. Hunt conceives another object for taxing him besides the raising of revenue, and he says -
I advocate taxation just as rauch in the interests of the natives themselves. Expression has already been given to my opinion that idleness will produce degeneracy and ultimate extinction, and it is to .save him from these that I urge that he be made to work, and I know of no other way of making him work than to tax him.
All in the interests of the poor natives, never of course in the interests of the man who wants to get labour at the cheapest and most grinding price at which he can possibly get it. In the interests of the poor native, Mr. Hunt advocates that he should be taxed and! compelled to work, but he forgets altogether that lie started out with the argument that a constant supply of reliable labour is necessary to provide for the development of the country. Its proper development, in Mr. Hunt’s estimation, would appear to be that there should be in New Guinea a few big, nabobs, having the right to call upon the unfortunate natives to work and grind out profits for them. I believe that some proper system should be established under which natives who do engage in work can be assured that they will not be improperly worked, and will not be flogged by their masters, as natives have been flogged in Australia by their employers. They should receive a proper rate of wages for their work, and they should not be forced to work under conditions derogatory to their health or general well-being. Mr. Hunt explains’ that his idea as to taxing the natives is not definite. He says -
No final suggestion is made at present as to what form the tax should take - whether it should be a land tax as in India, the culture system as to-day in Java, a poll tax as in Fiji, a’ hut tax as in central Africa and Nigeria, or the village tax, which is apparently most suitable to the local conditions of life.
– The culture system has been abolished in Java for the last” thirty-four years.
– Mr. Hunt seems to think the village tax the most suitable. Let me point out that the hut tax, a system of taxation which Mr. Hunt thinks might be adopted, was imposed in South Africa bv the big mining magnates, the greedy moneyhungering crowd of Jews from all parts of
Europe, in order to compel the natives to work for them at any wage they choose to offer them. This is a system of taxation which Mr. Hunt calmly recommends that the democratic Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia should seriously consider. It is a most unworthy suggestion that this democratic Parliament should be asked to tax any man for the mere purpose of compelling him to work whether he desires to do so or not. Mr. Hunt suggests, as a further idea, that a certain number of young men should be taken out of their village communes and compelled to work. That is a dastardly suggestion. These natives are happy and contented in the communes they have established, and why should they be taken from them and compelled to work? A man is under no obligation to work, unless in order to make a living, and if these men can make a living in their own way, and are happy and comfortable in doing so, why should they be compelled to undertake grinding toil for any employer who may choose to demand that they shall work for him? It is astounding that a public official in democratic Australia should advocate a reactionary course which would, perhaps, have been more appropriate 200 years ago than it is to-day. The natives of New Guinea are presumably happy and contented in their village life. They cultivate the soil and provide themselves with all the necessaries, and with some of the luxuries of life from their point of view, by their own toil, and yet Mr. Hunt calmly suggests that they should be compelled to work for employers, in order to aid in the development of the country by the people who may engage in new enterprises in New Guinea. I hope that no such suggestion will be entertained for a moment by this Parliament. As long as I remain a member of it I shall be found bitterly opposed to such a proposal. It is practically going back to the old system of slavery. If men are compelled to work when they are content to live in their own way, such a system of forced labour is little better than slavery, and I have been astounded to find it advocated in Australia in the beginning of the twentieth century. Mr. Hunt has another wonderful specific for the well-being of the people of New Guinea which he has apparently discovered “all on his own.” His idea of the best plan by which to make New Guinea prosperous is the old idea adopted by the Aus tralian States when they thought they could become prosperous by going to “ Uncle Cohen,” and borrowing money wholesale.
At page 28 of his report, Mr. Hunt says : -
The development of the Australian States is largely due to the loan money that has been expended to so vast an extent in making available the opportunities of wealth that nature has provided.
That statement is entirely incorrect. With the exception, perhaps, of Western Australia, there is not a single State in the Commonwealth that has not paid far more in interest than the total amount of its loans. If we had been content to go along in moderate fashion, building our public works out of revenue as we found the need for them, we should have had more railways and other public works now than we have been able to secure under the system of borrowing money. No one would consider such a system sound in connexion with a private business, and how. can it be sound in connexion with public business? The borrowing of the Australian States has left the people with an enormous load of indebtedness that hangs round their necks like a mill-stone. It has benefited only the private owners of land, whilst a majority of the people have a harder task to make a living in Australia now than they had before these public works constructed by loan money were undertaken. In North Queensland some twenty-three years, ago in districts where very few facilities were provided, where there was wild bush, and not even a made road, it was easier for a man to make a living than it is now. Men got double the wages there then that they get now. and the cost of living was not very much higher. I know that from my own experience. How have I benefited by the expenditure of loan money on public works ? I have not benefited at all, whilst the private land-owners have reaped the whole of the benefit. Exactly the same results will follow the adoption of a similar course in New Guinea. We should bear in mind, also the wasteful and improvident habits which the wholesale borrowing of money has fastened upon the Commonwealth. I should say that not more than 40 per cent. of the total amount borrowed has been expended on works of a reproductive nature. What has been done with the other 60 per cent.? It has been absolutely wasted in the building of palatial structures which we could very well have done without. The Parliament House in which we are sitting has cost about £1, 000,000, and it is not completed yet. If our people had been asked to undertake these works out of their own money they would have seen that it was not extravagantly squandered. A system of public borrowing encourages governmental demoralization, and should not be initiated in Papua, as Mr. Hunt has advocated. I do not intend to say any more on this subject at the present moment, but I desire to re-echo the words of Senator Smith that, now that the Possession has been taken over, we have incurred a very serious responsibility. Posterity will expect that our treatment of the natives shall have been commensurate with our responsibility. Posterity has a right to expect that we shall have properly discharged our obligations to the natives. I do not think that the proper way to discharge those obligations is to compel the natives to work, whether they like it or not, as has been suggested by Mr. Hunt. I consider that in order to get good government, it is essential to reorganize the present bureau officials. From all accounts, Papua is almost a hot-bed of corruption, and something should be done in order to get rid of that objectionable state of affairs. I think that a prominent public man in Australia, who has demonstrated his fitness for the position, who is thoroughly Australian in sentiment and .feeling, and could be relied upon to properly administer the Possession,, should be given, the task of reorganizing its Public Service. Until that is done, I am afraid that the Public Service will not give satisfaction, even to the people of the Commonwealth, or to the residents of the Possess:on. I hope that the Commonwealth Government will be seized of their responsibilities, and do something of which this Parliament can thoroughly approve, to make the government of Papua as good, clean, and sweet as it ought to be.
– I do not intend to speak at length on the vote for British New Gu’nea, because I think that Senator Smith has dealt with the question so very ably that it is not necessary for those to speak who. perhaps, have not had the same opportunities as he has made for himself of investigating its affairs. What I am anxious to speak about is the case of Mr. Richmond I baw» never met this gentleman ; but I received a letter in which his case was brought under my notice. He is the head of the
Lands Department. When Mr. Atlee Hunt visited the Possession, Mr. Richmond made to him certain complaints about Captain Barton,’ the Administrator, having destroyed certain official papers, and altered others. We are not informed of what Mr. Hunt’s view was as to the ground-work of Mr. Richmond’s statement concerning Captain Barton. But we are told that Mr. Richmond, after having made this charge, was immediately suspended by Captain Barton, who then called a meeting of the Executive Council, and, for some reason or other, appointed two extraordinary members to confer with the others on that very occasion. The* Ministry have told us that there was no unanimity* amongst the members of the Executive Council as to confirming the suspension of Mr. Richmond. We have a right to know whether that was the reason for the appointment of the two extraordinary Executive Councillors. According to the replies I received to-day from Senator Playford, the Executive Council consists of Captain Barton, Judge Murray, Mr. A. Musgrave, the Government Secretary, Mr. D. Ballantine, the Treasurer, and Mr. J. Richmond, the Chief Surveyor.
– Is he the Mr. Richmond who was suspended?
– Yes. Mr. Richmond was not permitted to be present at the meeting of the Executive Council, because he had made this charge against Captain Barton. Captain Barton, however, attended the meeting, and presumably voted to confirm the suspension of Mr. Richmond, who, it may be mentioned, was suspended for disloyalty in making a charge against his Administrator. It appears that the Executive Council refused to allow Mr. Richmond to bring forward evidence to prove the truth of his charge about the destruction of official papers, and the alteration of others. This, action, on its part, goes to show, I think, that there must have been a great deal of truth in the charges of maladministration made bv various persons, including Mr. Craig. Here is a chief officer, and a member of the Executive Council, suspended for disloyalty, because he informed the Secretary for Externa] Affairs, who was sent up specially to investigate the administration of the Possession, in what respect he thought it was being badly administered. What happened? Mr. Richmond was suspended, and, we presume, deprived of his salary ? He requested Captain Barton to permit him to visit Australia, but leave was refused. He is, therefore, confined to the Possession. If he were to leave, probably he would render himself liable to absolute discharge from the Public Service. He is kept in the Possession while his case is hung up, and we know that in the Commonwealth it is hung up - and unnecessarily hung up, I think - for a period of two months. I am satisfied1 that the Minister of Defence will recognise the injustice of keeping a cloud over an officer of Mr. Richmond’s apparent ability. I was informed this morning that the Richmond case was referred on the 26th September last to a Board of Inquiry, consisting of the Public Service Commissioner, the Secretary to the Treasury, and the Secretary to the Attorney-General ; and that they asked for further information, which was handed to them on the 17th November, being the very day on which I handed in the notice of questions asking whether it was. true that Mr. Richmond had laid1 charges against Captain Barton, and had been suspended. Is it merely a coincidence that this further information was handed to that Board of Inquiry on the 17th November? Surely if the Public Service Commissioner could spare the time to investigate this case, it ought to have been dealt with long, ago, because all the Board could do, I should imagine, would be to look into the papers. They could not call evidence unless they visited the Possession, and they could hardly call upon men to come down to Melbourne. The duty of the Board, therefore, was to go through the papers and furnish a report, and if they wanted further information, it should have been supplied at once. If the Public Service Commissioner could not spare the time to take part in the inquiry, then he should not have been appointed to the Board. I imagine that he has a great deal too much work to do to be able to spare the time to indulge in an inquiry of this kind. Would it not have been far better for the Ministry to have appointed a Victorian Stipendiary Magistrate to go into the case with the two secretaries if the latter had time to spare to make the investigation? lt seems to me a most singular thing that Mr. Hunt did not act in the matter. He went to British New Guinea to investigate its administration, and it was fo him that the- charge was made by Mr. Richmond. Why did 0 – not take part in the inquiry ? Was it because he happened to be a friend of Captain Barton? In that case, of course, he would have been quite justified in not taking part in the inquiry, because he might have felt that he would be unconsciously biased. However, I think that Mr. Hunt is somewhat to blame in this matter. Ministers have too much time taken up>. and necessarily taken up, in dealing with questions which are daily coming before Parliament, and, therefore, have very largely to trust to their secretaries. Mr. Hunt, as Secretary of External Affairs, should have endeavoured to get this inquiry pushed on, and a settlement arrived at. Imagine what Mr. Richmond’s feelings must be to be held up in Papua under suspension ! In justice to him the case ought to be investigated at the earliest possible moment. I submit that it was very unfair for Captain Barton to suspend Mr. Richmond for disloyalty. Where was the disloyalty # shown? If he had in his possession evidence to prove that the Administrator had done wrong, it was his duty to furnish Mr. Hunt with the information. No offence was committed in furnishing the information, and certainly Captain Barton had no ground for suspending Mr. Richmond on a charge of disloyalty. If, as is admitted, Captain Barton suspended Mr. Richmond, and was present when the Executive Council confirmed his suspension, I think that he ought not to be administering the affairs of the Possession. He is now Acting Administrator. It appears that he belongs to what might be called the old regime, arid is not properly in touch with the system of government which would bring prosperity to the Possession. I hope that the Minister will have Mr. Richmond’s case investigated at the earliest possible moment. I trust that the Government will appoint some gentleman in Australia to administer the affairs of the Possession. We ought to be able to secure the services of an Australian who is in touch with Australian public opinion, knows something about the treatment of natives, and therefore is not likely to be unnecessarily alarmed at something which might happen to him when he got to the Possession. I am quite satisfied that the officers who come from the old country to New Guinea have an inordinate fear of what might happen to them through mixing with the natives. We in Australia - especially those who have lived in country districts, and had some acquaintance with the aborigines - know that if aboriginal natives be properly treated, there is no reason to fear dangerous reprisals on their part. The whole history of native races, and all the writings of Cook, Batman, Stuart Russell, and other Australian discoverers and explorers, go to show that aboriginal natives, if properly treated, are amenable to discipline.
– It is quite pleasant to hear something good about a coloured race.
– Although the honorable senator thinks it necessary to make that observation, we are all, I think, more or less troubled as to what it is our duty, as a,n alleged civilized people, to do concerning the native^ races in various parts of the world. Those of us who think it is necessary to exclude Asiatics from Australia entertain that feeling as strongly as any one.
– What the honorable senator says, quite consistently, is that they may be excellent people in their own places. There is nothing wrong in that.
– Exactly. I objected to the Commonwealth taking over British New Guinea. I foresaw some of. the trouble that would arise. But we have got it, and we must govern the Possession as well as we can. i should offer no objection to a fair contribution from the Commonwealth for the purpose of instructing the natives, and enabling them to live better and fuller lives. At the same time, I quite agree that £42,000 per annum is a very large sum of money for a small’ place. There are not more than 500 or 600 white people there. We should have a larger return for the money spent, especially in view of the results achieved by Sir William McGregor with a much smaller revenue. I believe that it would be good policy for the Commonwealth Government to appoint some Australian, who knows the Australian feeling with regard to the natives, to administer the affairs of the Possession.
– I do not intend to deal with the general question of the administration of British New Guinea, which has been so fully discussed ; but some matters have been introduced about which I think I ought to say a word. Senator Givens in his criticism of Mr. Atlee Hunt’s report has, I think, been a little severe on that gentleman. At the same time, we owe a debt of gratitude to him for directing attention to certain points in the report, even though the emphasis which he laid upon his argument, might have been somewhat subdued. We must recollect that Mr. Atlee Hunt was sent up to report upon the administration of the Possession, and the best means of promoting settlement. In the prefatory letter accompanying his report, I find that he anticipates possible criticism in relation to the emphatic form in which he expresses his opinions upon very debatable subjects. Practically, he begs to be excused - making his apology beforehand - and setting down that characteristic of the document to the wideness of the instructions which were given to him.
– Does the honorable senator think that that absolves him from criticism ?
– Not at all j and I think that a great service has been done by Senator Givens. I agree with much that he said. I merely state that Mr. Atlee Hunt is, if anything, rather to be commended for being perfectly plain in the opinions which he expresses, whether we agree with him or not. The very fact of his extreme plainness gives room for the criticism which in any case we should be disposed to apply to him. I should like to say in a sentence or two why I concur in very much that Senator Higgs has said as to the desirableness of having in charge of the Possession as Administra.tor some one who is in touch with Australian sentiment and feeling. In connexion with the Crown Colonies and Dependencies of the mother country men are sent out to fill high official positions who are supposed to be experienced, and to be in sympathy with the policy of the British Government that appoints them, and it would be an excellent thing if we adopted a similar policy, and sent to British New Guinea men who are imbued with the Australian sentiment in relation to the system of government I hat ought to b? applied, and the methods of administration that ought to be brought into play. An additional reason for that is that there is another great Terri: tory which is in some respects even more favorably situated than British New Guinea, and which will at some time be brought under Commonwealth administration. I refer to the Northern Territory. I dare say that honorable senators have seen a most statesman-like article, that was published in a journal with which we are well acquainted, some few weeks ago, dealing with that question. It is well for us to be particularly scrupulous and critical in regard to the administration of British New Guinea, seeing that we ought to, and may, take over the control of a great portion of this continent which is awaiting development, which is rich to a degree almost “ beyond the dreams of avarice,” and in which this Commonwealth may do a great deal to establish literally a new province. It is therefore important that we should be critical in regard to our administration in British New Guinea, because we shall require to apply the same principles to the Northern Territory, although not, perhaps, in the same way, because we are not confronted there with the same native races, and we should be going into a partially developed country. We must all, I think, have experienced a shock at some of the things - assuming them to be correct - which have been stated by Senator Higgs in regard to the Richmond case. The first point which ho made was that there was an accusation of want of loyalty made against Mr. Richmond. I am unable to see, if all the facts have been placed before us to-day, any ground whatever for suggesting that there was any disloyalty on Mr. Richmond’s part. If Mr. Atlee Hunt was sent to British New Guinea for the purpose of making an investigation, and reporting on the government of the Territory, surely he was the person to whom any one had a right to make complaints.
– Mr. Richmond would not have been loyal to the Commonwealth if he had not made them.
– At any rate, it was his duty to tell- the truth, if it was necessary for him to make any statement to Mr. Atlee Hunt. Surely there is no blame attachable to a high official - and he was a member of the Council - in making complaints to an accredited officer of the Commonwealth, who was there for the express purpose of investigating and listening to complaints. Of course, I reserve my judgment until the full facts are known, but I see no grounds whatever for suspecting that Mr. Richmond was disloyal ito the Administrator. The worst feature is, however - if the facts are as Senator Higgs pointed out - that practically there was a packed meeting of the Council for the purpose of suspending this man. That certainly was not a proper thing to do. If the accused was debarred from taking part in the meeting of the Council, surely the accuser ought to have been debarred also. That was not a right thing to do. It strikes one as a matter for investigation, and I join with Senator Higgs in saying .that the subject ought to be thoroughly inquired into. It also appears that, after Mr. Richmond was suspended, he desired to come to Australia. Whatever the reasons may have been, that permission was refused. Mr. Richmond has been practically a prisoner in New Guinea. He is interned there. He is told that he must not go beyond the bounds. That also requires investigation’. A fourth point, which appears to me to be the most important of ail, is that these events seem to have occurred months ago. Why is a man to be accused, and to have these charges kept hanging over him for so long? Why. is justice delayed? Why is the investigation of the case put off from day to day? I think that Senator Higgs is justified in pressing the question - whether the man is liable to censure, or punishment, or not - why these things have occurred. The matter ought to be investigated and determined, and the accused ought to be put out of his suspense by being either acquitted or condemned. These points appear to me to be of so serious a character in connexion with the good government of the Territory, and the esprit de corps which ought to exist amongst the officials and those in authority, that I earnestly hope that a full investigation will take place, and that the accusation in respect of which Mr. Richmond has been suspended will be dealt with at the earliest possible moment. I feel especially called upon to say so much, as the officer who received these reports from Mr. Richmond was one whose mission was sanctioned, if not actually ordered, by the Administration of which I was a member.
The time that has been spent in discussing the affairs of New Guinea, though considerable, has not been wasted ; because the subject is really of greater importance than I think is generally understood. British New Guinea, although it contains only a few hundred white people, has a coloured population, estimated variously at between 300,000 and 1,000,000. This places a great responsibility on the Commonwealth ; and I gladly recognise the general desire that the people of New Guinea shall be governed in their own interests. Incidentally it seems to me that our responsibilities in this connexion will tend to create a. little more sympathy with the mother country, in her task of governing native races extending over large territories. However, I have not risen to continue the debate beyond offering one or two remarks. I have perused Mr: Atlee Hunt’s report, and listened carefully to the speeches made this morning, and from both I have gained a good deal of information. Still, I feel the need of further knowledge before I can make any observations of value in regard to the government of the Possession in the future. I should like to say, however, that in my opinion the Government would be well advised if, at the earliest possible moment, they arranged to have a system of wireless telegraphy between Northern Queensland and New Guinea.
– That would cost ,£2,500 a year.
– If quick communication of the kind were established, we should be able to at once terminate what appears verv much like a scandal.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- The items embraced under the head of “ Mail service to the Pacific Islands,” in division No. 14, requires some scrutiny. I am given to understand that the position of affairs at the present time is very peculiar. These items, instead of appearing in the Estimates of the Postmaster-General’s Department, are placed amongst those of the Department of External Affairs ; and the only reasonable explanation is that the Government have dropped all pretence that this is a mail contract. As a matter of fact, there has been this pretence throughout. The items set down under the head I have just quoted consist of .£3,600 as a subsidy towards the mail service to the New Hebrides, Banks, Santa Cruz, and Solomon Groups; £400 as an additional subsidy granted on condition that black labour is not used; £2,000 as additional subsidy for extension of the services ; and £6,000 for improved services to the New Hebrides and the Solomon and Norfolk Islands, and new services to Solomon, Gilbert, and Ellice Islands and New Guinea - a total of £^12,000. Prior to Federation. New South Wales was paying Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company £3,600 per annum as a subsidy towards the mail service to the New Hebrides and other Islands ; and that amount is now treated in the Estimates as transferred expenditure. I am given to understand, and I believe it is a fact, that, although these votes were discussed on the Estimates last year, and payment has been made for these services ever since, the Department of External Affairs conducts its business so loosely that, up to the present moment, no agreement has been signed as between the Commonwealth and Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company. I shall be glad if the Minister will let me know whether I am rightly or wrongly stating the case. I understand that only now is an agreement being prepared - that it has not yet been signed.
– Has the firm been receiving money under the vote?
– The firm has been receiving money for, I believe, the” last eighteen months ; indeed, I believe the firm has been receiving money under a similar arrangement ever s.ince the beginning of Federation. I know it to be a fact that the subsidized firm vary the terms at” their own sweet will. They simply tell the Commonwealth what they would like to do, and, in the absence of any agreement, they are at perfect liberty to act as they please; at any rate, the Commonwealth appears to always calmly acquiesce. The former service to New Guinea from Thursday Island, which is the nearest point of the Commonwealth, has been discontinued, at the express wish, I believe, of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, and a monthly service from Cairns has been substituted. I am not complaining about that variation, if it be deemed the best course to adopt, as it probably may be under the circumstances. What I complain of is that Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company seem to be permitted to vary the contract as they please. Why were tenders not called for this service? How is it that one firm may be given a subsidy without any competition? I have looked into this matter very carefully, and I find- that, so far as. the mails are concerned, this service is practically of little or no use. Most of the mails, even for New Guinea, do not go by the vessels of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, but by the vessels of Messrs. Gunn and Sons, of Cooktown. These latter vessels carry more mails at paltry poundage rates than’ do the vessels of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company under the agreement. If I am correct in this, the service supplied by Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company cannot” be regarded as a mail service. It is a fact that the French line of steamers carry the greater portion of the mails to and from the Islands; and it appears that the payments to Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company constitute really a trade subsidy - a subsidy to one particular firm to assist them in the conduct of their business. That firm, under any circumstances, will be compelled1 either to give up their business in New Guinea, or to continue to have a service of steamers at regular intervals. There is now only a monthly service with one boat to New Guinea, in which Possession we are particularly interested. Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company have a very large and flourishing island trade; and in connexion with this they would, in the same way, in the absence of any subsidy, be compelled to have steamer communication. The £12,000 is paid as practically a subsidy to enable this firm to run its own business; and to that extent we assist them to cripple other firms. Messrs. Clunn and Sons, of Cooktown, maintain regular communication between that port and New Guinea, without any subsidy, and they have offered to undertake the mail contract on lowerterms than those demanded by Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company. The boats of Messrs. Clunn and Sons run at more frequent intervals, and are the more popular, even with the travelling public, who are generally good judges of the qualities of steamers. If the subsidy be continued, the effect may be to force Messrs. Clunn and Sons out of the business, and to leave us with one line of steamers to New Guinea instead of two; and that would be manifestly unfair. I do not desire that Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company should suffer under any disability. They are entitled to the fullest measure of fair play ; indeed, I go so far as to say that we should give them generous treatment. At the same time, we must not be unfair to other firms. If we are to continue these services when the contract comes before the Senate, I shall oppose it “tooth and nail,” in order to insist that tenders shall be called for the service.
– Burns, Philp, and Company have the contract for ten years.
– That may be so, but we were told in the Senate last year that the contract can. be abrogated at any time. When last year I proposed a motion refusing to assent to the contract, I was told thatthe best thing I could do would be to leave the matter in abeyance until next year. I refuse now to be continually put off. If a thing requires to be done, we should do it here and now. In order to emphasize my protest against the unfair way in which this contract has been given to Burns, Philp, and Company without tenders being called for, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote “ Mail Service to Pacific Islands, £12,000, “ by £1.
We have been discussing many matters of importance, and have not yet been able to get any information from the Minister in charge of the Estimates. I have been accustomed to the passing of Estimates elsewhere, and though the Minister in charge of a vote might not have been personally acquainted with all the information desired in connexion with it, the UnderSecretaries of the various Departments concerned have always been in attendance in order to supply the Minister with information asked for. I ask the Minister now to say whether it is not a fact that the contract with Burns, Philp, and Company can be abrogated at any time?
– I do not know.
– Is it a fact that the new agreement has not yet been signed ? Pending the receipt of satisfactory information on the subject, I submit the request I have moved.
– I do not think that it is fair for the honorable senator to say that we have been discussing a great many questions on which I should have given information, and have failed to do so. We have practicallybeen considering only parliamentary matters in connexion with which I am not expected to give information, whilst there are other members of the Committee who are better informed on such matters. There has been some discussion with respect to New Guinea ; but, although we have listened with pleasure to the remarks of an honorable senator who has always taken a deep interest in New Guinea, there has been nothing in the statement made which calls for any reply. I wish to get through these Estimates, and therefore I have no desire to talk any more than I can possibly help. The only matter of importance on which some information might be given is that of the Pacific Island mail contract. I anticipated that questions might be asked in connexion with that matter, and I have had information on the subject supplied to me by Mr. Hunt, the Secretary to the Minister for External Affairs. I am very sorry to say that he has not informed me as to the date of the commencement of the existing contract. I know that it is a contract for ten years ; but I am unable to say at what date it will terminate by effluxion of time, nor am I sufficiently aware of the terms of the contract to be able to say whether by giving certain notice we should be able to terminate it at any time. The information on the subject supplied to me is as follows : -
This service is in continuation of a contract entered into between the Government of New South Wales and Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company for a mail service for Sydney to Vila, New Hebrides, Santa Cruz, and the Solomon Islands, for a period of ten years, at the rate of £3,600 per annum. That service was carried out by two steamers, each leaving Sydney at intervals of two months.
Early in 1902 additional services were contracted for by the Commonwealth Government as follows : -
A three-monthly service to the Gilbert, Ellice Groups.
The addition of auxiliary inter-Island New Hebrides vessels, which, alternating with the then existing service, gave a monthly visit to all parts of the New Hebrides.
That is one of the alterations of the original contract entered into with the New South Wales Government.
For this service the annual subsidy was increased by £2,400, the contracting company undertaking to employ only white men as members of the crews, and to set apart their property in the New Hebrides for the benefit of settlers who should be conveyed free of charge.
In January, 1904, the inadequacy of the existing service was pointed out to the Government by Captain Rason, British Resident in the New Hebrides, Mr. Woodford, British Resident in the Solomon Islands, and a representative of Burns, Philp, and Company. As the result of the interview which took place between the Prime Minister and these gentlemen, Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company submitted a scheme for an extended service, for which the payment of an annual subsidy of £6,000 per annum was asked. Subsequently correspondence varied these proposals.
In 1904-5 an additional amount was provided by Parliament for an improved island service, and the new services began from 1st January, 1905
Pending inquiries by me into the New Guinea services, the formal contract was not completed. As a result of these inquiries, changes were made, and the draft contract has now been forwarded to the contractors for signature.
From that I gather that the contract has not yet been signed.
The completed services in respect of which the total subsidy of £12,000 is paid are as follows : -
To perform a regular monthly service from Sydney to Vila in the New Hebrides, to be carried out by two steamers of not less than 700 tons, calling on each outward and return voyage at Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands; at least seventy calls to be made on each all-round voyage of each of the steamers.
To establish a two-monthly service direct from Sydney to the Solomon Islands by one special steamer.
To provide a special steamer for a service every three months from Sydney to Gilbert and Ellice Group, via Vila.
To run a service by a special steamer from Sydney to Marshall, Gilbert, and Ellice Islands, via Vila, every three months.
To provide a mail service between Queensland and British New Guinea by a special steamer, the route to be from Cairns to Cooktown, Port Moresby, Samarai, and Woodlark, returning the same way, with a call every alternate trip at Hall Sound. The whole of the six steamers employed are to be ocean-going vessels, manned exclusively by white labour. All provisions and coals, the officers, and crews, are supplied in Australia.
That is the information I have on the subject. The matter has been looked into by two Governments, and they have come to the conclusion that the service proposed is the wisest provision we can make. Whether it would have been better and fairer to have terminated the contract by giving, notice under the usual clause, which I suppose the agreement contains, in common with most contract agreements, and then to have called for tenders to permit other shipping firms an opportunity to engage in the business. I am unable to say, but I am certain that the authorities of the Department have done what they believe to be in the best interests of the community by proposing to grant the additional subsidy, which. I believe, is to continue to the end of the contract originally entered into.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia). - There can be no doubt that the trade with the Pacific is now assumingsuch proportions as to be very valuable to the Commonwealth. The export and import trade of the Pacific now amounts to something like£1,000,000 a year. It is very profitable to Australia. We buy from the islands raw material, such as copra, which is made up in our factories in Australia, and we exchange for that raw material Australian manufactured goods. The Pacific mail service has assisted very much in the development of that trade. Comparing the subsidy with other subsidies, it amounts to a sum of about1s. 6d. per mile. That amount, compared with the German rate of subsidy of 5s. 4d., and the French rate of 6s. per mile, must be admitted to be very moderate. I have nothing; to complain of in the service or in its results. I think it is absolutely the best steam-ship service that we are subsidizing at the present time, in other words, that we get better value for our money from this service than from any other that we are subsidizing. At the same time, I am perfectly in accord with Senator Givens when he says that we should call for tenders for these services. It is not fair to other shipping companies that they should be given no opportunity to tender for any of these lines. Why should we make an exception in favour of .Bums, Philp, and Company? We should not say that, because Burns, Philp, and Company give us an excellent service we shall not allow any one else to tender. I am strongly of opinion that the contract for these mail services comes to an end within the next year or two, and if that is so, the Government should immediately ca.Il for tenders for these services. It is farcical to ask for tenders for a service to be initiated immediately. Companies like the Union Steam-ship Company of Australia, and other Australian companies might say : “If we could get this contract, we could utilize some of our slower boats in the trade in twelve months’ time, and we could replace the present service with faster boats “ - but if we call for tenders for a service to start immediately these companies will be prevented from sending in an effective tender. I would also urge that the Government should cau’l for tenders for the various Pacific services separately, as well as in the aggregate, in order that when tenders are received we may be in a position to select me best. In the New Guinea service we have the Ysabel running .from Queensland, along the south coast, to Woodlark, and the Moresby running from Sydney direct to the Solomon Islands, and from the Solomon Islands to Samarai. I understand that, unofficially, it has been intimated that the service that we are supposed to be voting money for, has been varied at the instance of the Executive in New Guinea. And as Senator Givens pointed out, instead of running from Thursday Island, it runs from Cairns. It means that the most westerly port of call now is Yule Island, or Delena, on the opposite side of the Bay, and that, therefore, the whole of the western division is cut out from regular steam-‘ ship communication. It means that at places like Daru and the Fly River no Tegular steamer calls.
– The Commonwealth Government have had an offer for an alter-‘ native line of steamers which would do the service admirably for £800. It could be run in conjunction with the other.
– The cost of this service is estimated at about £2,000. The Government might have informed the Parliament that they were varying the route, because it is a. matter of great importance. The reason why I advocated the route so strenuously was because we had practically linked up all the possible points of settlement on the south coast by a regular monthly subsidized service. On the eastern coast, from Samarai up to the Gira and Mambare rivers, on the gold-fields side, we had a regular line of steamers belonging to Whitton Brothers, which ran and were unsubsidized. We had communication with Woodlark Island by Clunn’s and Burns, Philp’s boats. We had a proper steam-ship service linking up all the principal points, but now the western division is cut off. Possibly a steamer would not call at Daru, which is a centre of some importance, and the Fly River once in three or four months. It is a pity that the service has been altered, unless there are very good reasons why it should have been done. I know that it accelerates the service to Samarai and Port! Moresby, but I do not think that that in itself is sufficient to justify the change. I understand that the previous Government promised to call for tenders before the contract expires. I should like the Minister to say when the ten years’ contract will expire, and whether, before it expires, they will promise to call for tenders, as they have done in the case of all other services, for a continuance of the Pacific mail service, which undoubtedly is doing very good work.
– I have been trying to find out the facts in connexion with the mail service to the Pacific Islands. The first difficulty which has confronted me, and I believe every one else, is that the Minister cannot tell us, first, whether there is a contract in existence, and, secondly, if there is, when it will expire.
– A contract has been sent to the parties for their signature. That is the position at the present time.
– The Minister has said that a contract is on the point of being signed, and I believe he has led the Committee to understand that it is being entered into in pursuance of an agreement which has been in existence for some time. Even so, it is most material to know how long it is to run. In connexion with every other service, whether it be an oversea service like the Orient mail service, or a sendee across the seas within the Commonwealth, we have generally agreed that the first thing to be done is to call for tenders. I believe that no tenders have been invited for the mail sendee to the Pacific Islands, although it involves an expenditure of ^£12,000. In my opinion, some one is very seriously to blame for failing to call for tenders. I do not care whether the blunder was made by the present or previous Government. I hold that such a very great mistake should be corrected as soon as it is discovered. I shall take any steps which seem to me to be necessary to prevent a contract from being entered into under those terms. We hear a great deal of talk in regard to shipping rings. We hear on all sides an express desire to throw all shipping matters open to competition. But when the Commonwealth has to deal with an important mail service, involving an annual expenditure of £12,000, we find that, for some reason or other, the various purely Australian shipping companies - and I venture to say that, perhaps, twenty of them are competent to tender for this service - have noi been afforded an opportunity to send in, a tender. I cannot believe that such a state of things os right. ‘ It will be noticed that we are asked to vote, first, under the head of transferred “ expenditure, a subsidy of £3,600 towards the mail service to the New Hebrides, Banks, Santa Cruz, and Solomon groups; and, secondly, under the head of “ other “ expenditure, an additional subsidy of .£400, to be granted on the condition that black labour is not used, and an additional subsidy of .£2,000 for extension of the services. I desire to know why the additional subsidy for the extension of the services is put down as “ other “ expenditure, while the expenditure on the original service is put down as “ transferred “ expenditure.
– That was a New South Wales contract which the Common- > wealth took over.
– Yes ; but it is carried on under these Estimates. That seems to me a most anomalous position. The three items to which I have referred involve a total expenditure of £6,000. I must confess that I cannot understand why the two additional subsidies are put under the head of “ other ‘ ‘ expenditure.
– It is only a means to avoid allowing New South Wales to escape the charge of £3,600.
– That may be the case; but it is a very important deviation. It seems to me to be playing fast and loose with “other” expenditure and “transferred “ expenditure. It will be observed that the first three items under the head of mail service to the Pacific islands are called subsidies, but that, in the case of the fourth item, the word “ subsidy “ is not used. I assume that the fourth item of ,£6,000 under the head, which is put down as “other” expenditure, is really a subsidy.
– It is a continuation of the same service.
– It is not quite a continuation of the same service.- It is a different service.
– Only in the sense that it is different from the original New South Wales service.
– It is a service to different parts.
– In the last line of the item it is called “ New services to Solomon, Gilbert and Ellice, and New Guinea.”
– Precisely; but it will be noticed that the word “ subsidy “ does not appear in the item. I believe I am correct in saying that this vote of £6,000 is a direct subsidy, and is charged to “other” expenditure. This, besides being interesting -in itself, is also interesting in regard to other items with which we shall have to deal. Here is a case of a subsidy for a mail service between Australia and one of its Dependencies which is classed as “other” expenditure. That is in striking contrast with the method in which the payment for the mail service between the continent and Tasmania is debited. When we come to the Postmaster-General’s Estimates, I intend to move a request with regard to that mail service. I could have no stronger proof of the desirability of altering the present method of debiting the mail service to and from Tasmania than is furnished by the items under the head of mail service to the Pacific islands. Either one method or the other is wrong. Either it is wrong - and I do not think it is - for the expenditure on the Pacific islands mail service to be charged on a per capita basis, or it is wrong for Tasmania to be charged with the total cost of conveying its mails to and from the mainland. If they think that this item of £6,000 is not properly classed as “ other ‘ ‘ expenditure, I suppose they will agree with me that the cost of the mail service to and from Tasmania is not rightly charged as “ transferred “ expenditure. But if, as I think they will agree, it is properly charged as “other” expenditure, I feel sure that they will agree with me that, in the case of the Tasmanian service, there is an error which needs correction. I intend to vote for the request of Senator Givens, because I think he has clearly shown tha* there is a wrong which needs to be righted
– Both Houses voted the money last year.
– If we did wrong last year, surely the Minister does not expect us to do wrong this year ?
– I admit that; but the item was considered and voted last year, and we need not make so much of it now.
– No matter .by which Ministry the wrong was done, the responsibility ought to be sheeted home. If the method is wrong, it ought to be corrected at the earliest moment, and that is why I intend to support the request of Senator Givens.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - I have been asked a question as to when this contract commenced and when it terminates. I am now in a position to answer that question. The contract was entered into in 1900 for ten years, and it terminates in the year 1 910. I learn that it cannot be terminated except . on the condition that Parliament does not vote the money.
– If Parliament refuses to vote the money, does the Minister say that the contract will terminate?
– I understand that that is so.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland).- The Minister is entitled to some sympathy when he is asked for information which he is unable to give, and perhaps we can excuse him for saying that the reason why he does not talk is that he wants to get the Bill through. But if there are reasons why the Appropriation Bill should be sent up in time to enable us to discuss it, we ought to be permitted to press for information. I am glad that the Secretary for External Affairs is now present. I think that the Secretary of each Department ought to be present when the part of the schedule with which he is concerned is under discussion. It is a slight to the Senate that the Secretaries of these Departments should not put in an appearance on such occasions. The Minister, in the first information which he supplied from a written statement, did not .give the Senate a fair idea of the case. He spoke of a ten years’ contract. There is no ten years1 contract. The Secretary of External Affairs should have stated the full facts. The information has been to some extent completed since the Secretary put in an appearance. The facts are that Parliament can absolutely stop the contract at once by refusing to vote the money.
– There is a ten years’ contract, nevertheless.
– It is subject to annual ratification by Parliament. Therefore, virtually, it is merely a twelve months’ contract. The matter has frequently been discussed in the Senate, and every time the. criticism has been met byl the Minister stating that Parliament voted the money last year. Parliament votes the money frequently because so little time is given for the consideration of the schedule. I was informed by a previous Government that care would be taken that in the new contract with Burns, Philp, and Company a condition should be inserted limiting their right with respect to freight charges and passengers’ fares. That very reasonable proposal was agreed to for the reason that Burns, Philp, and Company is a trading firm, and this subsidy would have the effect of enabling it to compete unfairly with unsubsidized traders and shippers.
– Those conditions are in the new contract.
– When was the new contract prepared ? Is it not a fact that it was only prepared during the last few days? That is a question which the Minister might put to the Secretary of External Affairs. The honorable senator might ask whether the contract has not been hanging up in the External Affairs office for months. This payment of £12,000 is, in my opinion, unconstitutional. It is not a payment for a mail service;. As Senator Drake admitted when he spoke as a Minister of the Crown, it cannot be defended as a mail service subsidy. It is merely a subsidy for the purpose of1 developing trade between the islands.
– It is for carrying mails also’.
– Incidentally; but mail matter to the New Hebrides is mostly carried on the -French steamers. The reason why the Government should at- an early date call for tenders should appeal to every one. There is a firm in Cooktown - Clunn and Sons - which has written to various Governments offering to run a line of steamers to Cooktown if it could -get a small subsidy. The Government has given that firm no consideration. It now appears tha’t Burns, Philp, and Company, either with the consent of the Department of External Affairs, or otherwise, has altered the route which its steamers have followed for many years1, and is now competing with this Cooktown firm. What chance has any individual small firm in competition with a large and rich subsidized company like Burns, Philp, and Company ? The policy of Burns, Philp, and Company is always to crush out the small competitor. – a storekeeper starts in business in New Guinea, Burns, Philp, and Company will start a store alongside him and squeeze him out. In a matter like this, it is preferable -that the Government should call for tenders, separately and jointly, in order that other firms may have an opportunity of contracting. In all probability, the work will then be carried out at lower rates, and the - Commonwealth will be better served. I trust that the request will be agreed to, unless the Minister is prepared to undertake, on behalf of the Government, that tenders shall be called for, say, before Tune next, for a service to commence from June, 1906. If the Minister will give that promise there will be no occasion to reduce the vote. If he cannot do so, it appears to me to be necessary to bring the matter prominently before the other House, as would be done by carrying a motion for a request to reduce the vote by £1
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I am much surprised that there should be such a debate on this matter, seeing that it was gone into very fully last year. It was shown a year ago that the contract was only entered into after very prolonged investigation. It originated with the first Deakin Government. Then the Watson Government came in and approved of the arrangements that were being made. The Reid Government followed, and it approved of and completed the arrangements. Last year, the whole matter was debated at great length. I think there was a -general feeling that a wise course had been adopted. Certainly, no £12,000 was ever granted, concerning which deliberations of such a continuous character took place.
– Does not the honorable senator think that it would be. wise to call for tenders?
-I think that after a contract has been entered into that question does not arise. I draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that since we discussed this subject last year, the firm of Burns, Philp, and Company, in carrying on its trade in the South Sea Islands, has had a severe rebuff at the hands of the German authorities in the Marshall and Caroline Islands.
– That was not within the scope of the subsidized service.
– I am aware of that ; but the trouble has occurred since we last debated this subject, and in connexion with the same company’s South Seas service. The new contract did include the islands in question, and I think that there is a widespread recognition of the fact - for it is a fact - that the Commonwealth of Australia owes a great deal to the enterprise of Burns, Philp, and Company. There is no firm in existence that has done so much to carry the name and business of Australia throughout the South Seas. I think it is thoroughly recognised that the amount of money that has been paid bv the Commonwealth has been exceedingly small for the services rendered. I believe that the firm is employing no less than six steamers in the trade ; and any honorable senator who knows anything about the heavy expense that attends the running of steamers will be aware that the amount that is being paid is not large in comparison with the services. I therefore look to this vote being agreed to unanimously.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - The matter under discussion has received full consideration. That is very gratifying to me, because it is exceedingly important, as Senator Pulsford has pointed out. to recognise that Burns, Philp, and Company has done a great deal to develop trade with the Pacific Islands. No doubt the firm has suffered disabilities and hardships in pursuing its business. I admit all that. But is it not also a fact that other firms have taken as great risks, and suffered equal hardships and reverses, although they have received no subsidy from the Government? My only desire is to have tenders called, and to place Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company on the same footing as other firms. Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company ought not to be helped in their private enterprises in such a way as to enable them to create a monopoly at the expense of other firms. The cost of the whole of these services is bulked together, but I believe that in the Department it is estimated that the New Guinea service costs £2,000 per annum; but I have a letter in my pocket, showing that Messrs. Chinn and Sons, of Cooktown, are prepared to give an equally good service for £600 per annum.
– That is not so.
– That i3 only a surmise on the part of the honorable senator.
– What is the tonnage of the ship that would be employed ?
– The firm I have mentioned offer to place on the line a new vessel of not less than 100 tons.
– But the Ysabel is 1,000 tons.
– A vessel of 100 tons is quite sufficient, and sometimes more suitable for a mail service of the kind. The mail service from Townsville North is carried on by means of very small steamers, these having been found more suitable than large steamers, owing to the shallowness of the water at up-river towns and other places where they have to call.
– If £600 is asked for the services of a small launch, how much should be paid for the services of the barger steamers used now?
– We do not pay in accordance with the size of the vessels, but in accordance with the services they render.
– The vessels render services in proportion to their size.
– Certainly not. No one would employ an elephant to crack a nut, or puLl a half-ton trolley. Messrs. Clunn and Sons still offer, on receiving six months’ notice, to provide a steamer of not less than 100 tons, of nine knots speed, for a subsidy of £800 if a white crew be used, and £600 if a mixed crew be employed. Messrs. Clunn and Sons have been transacting business between the mainland and New Guinea for a number of years, and, as I said before, the present subsidy may enable Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company to drive the other firm out of the business, to the great inconvenience of the public, seeing that then there would be communication only once a month. If the service to New Guinea is worth £2,000, a fortnightly service might be arranged by paying Messrs. Clunn and Sons £600, and Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company £1,400. That would be something like a business arrangement, by which the Commonwealth would get better value for their money, and no injustice would be done to any firm. I intend to proceed with, the request, unless the Minister can assure me that within a reasonable time tenders will be called. Even if the services rendered by Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company were infinitely greater than they are, a good principle should not be abrogated on their behalf.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - I cannot make any absolute promise without consulting my colleagues. I have, however, been much impressed with what’ Senator Givens and other honorable senators have said, and, personally, I am inclined to favour the’ view they have presented. I am not sufficiently acquainted with all the details of the question to be able to express an opinion off-hand ; but I promise to bring the matter before my colleagues, with a view to meet the. wishes of honorable senators as far as possible. Personally, I am favorably inclined to the views which have been expressed.
– Will the Minister urge those views on the Cabinet?
– I shall do so.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - In view of the promise made by the Minister of Defence, I ask leave to withdraw the request. But if something is not done, I promise that the discussion on the item this year will be but a circumstance to the discussion there will be next year.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - I see that amongst the miscellaneous items, a sum of £200 is set down for advertising the resources of this immense Commonwealth. Ig there any additional sum provided elsewhere* in the Estimates for this purpose ?
– Not a hal-f-penny.
– The amount provided seems ridiculous for such a purpose.
– It is ridiculous.
– This £200 ought to be multiplied by at least twenty-five, or ought not to find a place in the Estimates. Perhaps Senator Playford can explain how this money is expended, and whether there has been any return.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - I cannot say what return has been got from the expenditure. An arrangement was entered into by the late Prime Minister, Mr. Reid, with a Sydney gentleman, Mr. John Plummer, on the 1st July, last year, and that arrangement terminates on thd 20th of next month. One of the conditions of the arrangement was that six months’ notice to terminate it might be given on either side, and that notice was given to Mr. Plummer on the 30th June. I have heard that Mr. Plummer wrote articles about Australia for the newspapers.
– Where is the advertising being carried on?
– Mr. Plummer was employed correcting the statements made in England about Australia-
– I understand that Mr. Plummer wrote to the newspapers in England.
– And ran Australia down !
– The money has been practically spent, and as the agreement is about to terminate, I do not think it worth while to discuss the matter further.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - I am glad to hear that the arrangement or contract is about to terminate.
– How did it come to be made?
– Will it be renewed?
– I do not care who made the contract. I am here to express my views, no matter how the arrangement came about. The item suggests the important consideration that we all desire “ the resources of the Commonwealth “ - the phrase used in the item - to be, not exactly advertised, but made fairly known, especially in England. Is there any provision on the Estimates for work of the kind ? If not, I should like an expression of opinion from the Minister as to whether there ought not to be provision. We ought to be prepared to vote, not £200, but ^5,000 or ,£10,000 to be judiciously ex- l>93J pended in making known the resources of the Commonwealth.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - That question of making the resources of Australia known is being considered in connexion with the appointment of a High Commissioner. When that appointment has been made, a sum of money will be placed on the Estimates for the purpose indicated by Senator Clemons. At’ present, we have in Mr. Coghlan one of the very best representatives that could be obtained for the Commonwealth. Honorable senators will have noticed the excellent work that gentleman is doing in making known the resources of the Commonwealth as a whole.. The late Ministry placed no item on the Estimates for the purpose indicated, nor did the present Government see their way to do so, for the reason, as I say, that the matter is being considered in connexion with the appointment of a High Commissioner. So long as Mr. Coghlan remains at home there will always be some one to promptly reply to any misstatements regarding Australia, and no better man that I know of could be obtained for the work.
– I hardly agree with Senator Clemons that the sum of .£200 should be multiplied by twenty-five, because, in that case, we should be asked to spend £^5,000. Before starting to advertise our resources we ought to have a clear conception of what those resources, are.
– I suppose the resources exist?
– I really do not know; but probably Senator Clemons may tell us when he again speaks.
– I do not intend to speak again on the question, because to do so would be to waste time.
– The honorable senator would do good service’ if he told us, for instance, what are the resources of Tasmania. The average person whom such information] is designed to help is the immigrant who wants free land. How much Crown land of good quality is there in Tasmania?
– There is any amount of good land in proportion to the total area.
– I was in Tasmania some time ago, and, so far as I could gainer, the Crown land of any value was extremely limited. I saw people selecting land there on mountain-tops, swept by all the winds that blow, and country which I did not think would be taken up by any man. If we have any resources we should certainly .advertise them, but before anything of this kind is done we should see that our resources .are made available. I take Tasmania, first in dealing with the States.
– I do not think I can permit the honorable senator to proceed with a discussion as to the necessity for an alteration of the land laws of the various States. That would not be in order on the item for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth. It will be admitted that we have resources. The question for consideration is how we should advertise them.
– I respectfully beg to differ from you, Mr. Chairman. The item is for “ Advertising resources of Commonwealth.” It will be admitted that one of our principal resources is our land, and surely I am entitled to discuss whether land is available, and where. If it is not available, of what use will it be to advertise it?
– There is no need to discuss that on this item, which really refers to the employment of one man, who will have left the service of the Common.wealth directly. No good can result from the honorable senator’s talk.
– That is very probable. It appears to me that all our Governments since the establishment of the Commonwealth have possessed rhinoceros hides. Nothing said to them seems to do any good.
– We are here to do business.
– I am here to do business, but the honorable senator is here to get his Estimates through with as little discussion as possible. That is all that any member of ‘a Government desires, and I am sorry to say that it is all that many Members of Parliament seem to desire. I propose to be an exception to the rule on this occasion. I wish to know how’ this money has been spent.
– I have told the honorable senator.
– I have been told that it has been given to a Mr. Plummer, who was appointed by Mr. Reid to advertise the resources of Australia. I suppose that he started to “blow” about the vast resources of the Commonwealth.
– No ; he wrote this : “The fact is, that labour conditions in Australia do not admit of industrial production on a large scale at even a moderate cost.”
– I have no objection to our resources being advertised. What I am concerned about is that we should have some resources to advertise, and I think I am justified in referring to the land question in this connexion. In dealing with an item of this kind, the question -I have to ask myself is, what is the extent of our resources, and whether we have any land to advertise. I begin by referring to Tasmania, and I show that the amount of land available in that State is infinitesimal.
– The honorable senator should’ have mercy.
– It is not a question of mercy, but of getting right down to the root of Australia’s trouble. When I come to deal with Victoria, where is the land in this State?
– The honorable senator could go on for a week on that subject.
– I could, but I shall spare the honorable senator. I do not propose to go on very much longer than 4 o’clock. I think the subject is of sufficient importance to occupy the attention of the Committee for at least a few minutes. We had a long discussion here last night about cab hire, sleeping berths, and other matters of no importance, and yet when a question the magnitude of which I venture to say overshadows that of every other question that could possibly be brought before the Committee is being considered, I am told that I am wasting time. I shall not, however, go round the various States, and point out the nakedness of the land in each. It is becoming every day more and more clear that there is something radically unsound so far as our land resources are concerned. We find land monopoly existing to a greater or lesser extent in every one of thd States. We find that the conditions which ought to prevail in a country which invites immigrants from other portions of the globe are here entirely absent. They are not absent in reality, but on account of artificial conditions which have been imposed upon the community. The community is, so to speak, bound, and the people have not the courage to turn round, knock their fetters off, and free themselves. I wish to see this artificial scarcity of resources in the way of land put an end to. I appeal to the Minister of Defence who, I believe, loves his country–
– The honorable senator has said that he wishes to see certain abuses abolished. I submit that he cannot deal with that matter on these Estimates. The question is one of advertising the resources of the Commonwealth.
– Cannot I discuss the resources of the Commonwealth?
– I do not think the honorable senator will be in order in discussing any proposed legislation or administration which would abolish the evils of which he has been speaking.
– With all due respect to you, sir, the Committee are now considering an item for “Advertising resources of Commonwealth.” I am surely entitled to consider whether those resources exist, and if they do, whether they are available. If they do exist, and are available, there will be soma warrant for spending money in advertising them, but if they do not exist, or are not available, the spending of money on this item will be absolute waste. If I am not entitled to show that there is such a state of affairs in every one of the States as renders land unavailable to immigrants, of what use will it be for me either to support or oppose this vote ? However, I now move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “Advertising resources of Commonwealth, £200,” by £1.
I make this motion, in order to show that honorable senators do not approve of advertising resources which, if they exist at all, are not immediately available.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I wish to know to whom the contribution of£200 is paid for the investigation of tropical diseases ?
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - The item to which the honorable senator refers is an instalment of a contribution we have agreed to make, at the rate of £200 per annum for five years, in connexion with the investigation of tropical diseases. I am informed that -
Schools for the study of tropical diseases have been established in Great Britain, at London and Liverpool. These institutions were inaugurated by funds contributed by the Imperial Treasury, the Royal Societies, and various Crown Colonies. Extensive investigation into malaria and other tropical diseases in hospitals and laboratories in England, and special expeditions to tropical’ countries have been made. The schools have been largely availed of by medical officers, the Government service, missionaries, students, and others.
Those engaged upon the work found it necessary and desirable to enlarge the places occupied, and widen the scope of their observations. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, in a circular despatch on the 28th May, 1903, gave a history of the movement up to that date, and outlined the proposal for the extension of the existing scheme, suggesting that any contributions which might be made should be paid into a common fund for the benefit of the work in hand.
Mr. Chamberlain proposed to appoint a board to advise the Secretary of Slate as to how the moneys received might best be allotted, the board to consist of the medical adviser of the Colonial Office, a representative of the Royal Society, a leading London physician, one or more representatives of the Crown Colonies, and one or more members of the Colonial Office.
The Advisory Board has now been completed under the Presidency of the Right Honorable Sir J. West Ridgeway. Up till August, 1904, about £1,600, had been guaranteed by Crown Colonies alone for a period of five years, and a further contribution of £500 for a similar period had been promised by the Imperial Government on behalf of State-aided Protectorates, while it was anticipated that the Indian Government would also make a contribution to the fund.
The matter was considered at a Conference of Premiers held at Hobart in February last, when it was resolved that the Federal Government be asked to provide an annual grant of £200 a year for five years towards scientific inquiry by the Imperial authorities into tropical diseases, the amount to be distributed on a population basis.
Mr. Reid when Prime Minister directed that the necessary provision should be made in the Estimates.
The necessary provision has been made in these Estimates.-
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - I desire to ask Senator Playford what will become of the 100 copies of the Year Book of Australia, for the purchase and distribution of which we are now asked to vote £50? It is an excellent publication, but if it is worth our while to purchase and distribute 100 copies it ought to be well worth our while to consider the question of purchasing and distributing 1,000 or 10,000 copies of the book, because it contains useful and reliable information which would help to correct a number of misstatements and errors. Of course we do not want these 100 copies to be distributed in Australia. Frommy point of view, 10,000 copies ought to be distributed in Europe.
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - With regard to this item of £50, I have been supplied with the following information : -
In June last the manager of the Year-Book of Australia asked for authority to supply 100 copies of the Y ear-Book at 10s. 6d. a copy, less 10 per cent., for distribution by the Federal Government in Great Britain, and pointed out that the Y earBook is the only Federal work of its kind, and is accepted by leading English papers as the standard authority on Australia. It was further observed that for many years several of the State Governments, notably that of New South Wales, had been sending copies of the work to England for distribution among libraries -and public institutions, but this has now been discontinued, as the States are evidently of opinion that it has become a matter of Commonwealth interest.
The proposal was forwarded to the late Government by the manager of the Year-Book, but no decision was arrived at. On the20th July the Prime Minister authorized £50 to be placed upon the Estimates to purchase 100 copies of the year book for the current year, when issued in1906, for use and distribution.
The States discontinued the practice of purchasing and distributing copies of this book because they considered that it ought to be done by the Commonwealth. The suggestion from the manager of the publication was that 100 copies should be purchased for distribution. Accordingly, the late Prime Minister placed upon the Estimates a sum of£50 for the purpose of purchasing and distributing 100 copies of the book amongst the various libraries and institutions in Great Britain, which had previously been supplied with the publication by the States. I agree with Senator Clemons that if we had a proper organization in Great Britain to distribute publications containing useful information about the States, we might as well purchase 1,000, or 2,000 copies of the Year-Book of Australia. But. as he will see. its manager only suggested that 100 copies should be purchased.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - I should like the Minister to ascertain what is a fair charge for the work. Obviously, we could not afford to distribute many thousand copies at10s. each. I donot suppose that the proprietors would ask that price ; but if the Commonwealth could obtain 1,000 or 10,000 copies at a cheap rate, as I think it ought to be able to do. they could be distributed. Will the Minister ascertain the cost at which we could purchase a large number of copies ?
– We could not get the Year-Book at a less cost, I think.
– It is a half-guinea book.
– I imagine that it could be produced and sold for much less than that.
– It is mostly required for libraries and public institutions.
– In the case of a large order, it ought to be sold at considerably less than the published price.
Attorney-General’s Department, divisions 16 to 19 postponed.
Home Affairs : Salaries.
Divisions 20 to 26 (Department of Home
– The Estimates for this Department furnish another instance of extravagance in the matter of salaries. I find that the Secretary gets a salary of , £800, and the Chief Clerk a salary of £600. I believe that if the salaries of these officers be compared with the salaries paid to the permanent heads in the States Departments, which are of very much more consequence than the Department of Home Affairs, and involve a great deal more work and responsibility, they will be found to receive more than the States administrators get. If the Secretary to this Department were paid at the rate of £600 a year, he would be handsomely remunerated. A Chief Clerk might very well be got for about , £400. The work in connexion with the Department cannot be very) great or involve very much responsibility. Here is a case in which someeconomy could (be effected. Therefore I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, Administrative Staff, “ Secretary,£800, Arrears, £50, £850,” by £250.
– Why should this officer be in arrears to the extent of £50?
– Because he was getting£750, and was classified at ; £800. The classification is now made to take effect from the 1st July of last year in the case of all increases.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).When I resumed my seat, I expected some honorable senators to rise and say what they think about the salary of this officer.
– We shall as soon as the request is put to a vote.
– I expected honorable senators to state the reasons why they support an extravagant salary of this kind.
– How does the honorable senator know that they are going to support it?
– If honorable senators did not support the salary there would have been a chorus of approval of my proposition. In this Chamber it is absolutely hopeless to try to effect any economy. Honorable senators seem to have the most exalted opinions as tothe value of these positions. They appraise the services of the officers at a very much higher rate than I think they are worth. We ought to have an annual report from the Department of Home Affairs. Some time ago I suggested that there should be an annual report prepared by the Department of External Affairs. In my opinion, each Department ought to submit a report as to the year’s operations. It would give us an idea as to the ground covered by each Department. In the case of the Lands, or Mining, or Education Department of the States public men have something tangible to go upon. In the case of the Post and Telegraph Department a man can grasp to some extent the character and responsibility of its work. But in the case of the other Commonwealth Departments we do not know the extent or responsibility of the work done, or even its character. It may be known to the Ministerand some senators, but it is absolutely unknown to me. I hope that honorable senators will show their desire of economy by supporting my request. There is no real responsibility - nothing but routine work to do, nothing demanding initiative. I think that the holder of the position would be amply rewarded if he were paid , £600 per year. I am told that, as we have voted£800 to the Secretary of External Affairs, we must not reduce the salary of this officer. But. let every herring hang on its own string. I shall persist in my efforts at economy.
– I think that Senator Stewart has gone about the business of reducing this item in rather an uncanny fashion. If he had been reasonable, he would have secured more support. I should have been prepared to vote with him if he had proposed to reduce the salary by £50. I think that a man engaged in secretarial duties of any kind is not worth one solitary penny more than £750 a year, no matter who he is. I have no special desire to knock £50 off this salary. What I want to do is to justify the position which I took up in regard to the Public Service Classification, namely, that, like other simi lar schemes, it aims at giving a substantial advance to the well-paid man, whilst no attempt is made to enable the poorly-paid man to live comfortably.
– The Commonwealth officers are pretty well off.
– Some of them are paid £120 a year. I have often had to live on that amount, and know what it means. I know the true value of such a salary in Australia. I am prepared to support reasonable reductions, with a view to increasing the salary of the lower-paid officers.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I am glad that, at least, I appear to have made a slight breach in the wall. It is a beginning. I hope before long to make a further breach. I shall accept Senator Henderson’s suggestion, and accordingly ask leave to withdraw the request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I now beg to move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, Administrative Staff, “ Secretary, £800,” by £50.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I. read in the newspaper a few days ago about the disappearance of an officer of the Home Affairs Department. I suppose he took a good sum of money with him. There must have been loose management to enable that to occur. Did the money disappear in a lump sum or had the dishonesty been going on for some time ? I am afraid that we have got a state of affairs in the Public Service that is very unhealthy. If this officer had been carrying on his, predatory, practices for some time, how did he escape detectionby those in charge ? It is evidence of bad management. We pay high salaries to the Secretary and Chief Clerk of the Department, and we are rewarded by an officer being permitted to leave the office with a big swag. We ought to insist upon things being managed in a very much better fashion than that. I have been ignobly defeated in my proposal to reducethe salary of the Secretary, but I am not discouraged. Let me make a comparison. The Deputy Postmaster- General of Queensland receives a salary of£700. He has charge of the whole of the Postal business of a great State. Yet he actually receives £100 per annum less than the man in charge of the Home Affairs Department. If this man is worth £800 a year, I submit that the Deputy Postmaster-General of Queensland is worth £1,000.
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, Correspondence Branch, “ Chief Clerk, £600,” by £80.
Request (by Senator Stewart) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, Correspondence Branch, “ Chief Clerk, £600,” by £50.
Question put. The Committee divided-
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the Committee have leave to sit again on Tuesday.
I ask honorable senators to come next Tuesday prepared to sit to a finish, so far as regards the schedule. Honorable senators are aware of the importance of passing the Appropriation Bill before the end of the month, in order, that the public servants may be paid their salaries at the usual time.
– If I . understand Senator Play ford aright, honorable senators are expected to come on Tuesday next prepared to sit continuously until’ the consideration of this Bill has been completed. That isa very extraordinary announcement; at any rate, it is unusual to threaten honorable senators with an allnight sitting before the sitting has commenced. Surely I must have misunderstood! Senator Play ford, because he cannot mean’ that, if we do not complete the consideration of the schedule by, say, 11 o’clock or 11.30 o’clock on Tuesday night, we are to go straight on. Is that Senator Playford’s intention ? If so, I shall not offer any threat, but merely say that, in my opinion, such an announcement is very illadvised, and not at all likely to attain the object the Minister has in view. Senator Playford cannot accuse me of having interfered, so far, with the progress of this Bill. We have heard no justification for the statement as to the absolute necessity for finally dealing with the Bill on Tuesday next. That day does not end the month.
– It is very near the end of the month.
– Yes ; but I understand the calendar, if I do not always understand the honorable senator, and it seems to me that if the Bill has been dealt with by midnight on Wednesday, the necessities of the case will be met. I trust that the Minister will offer some explanation for a statement which seems to me to be extraordinary, unwarranted, and unjustified, and, I warn him, not likely to conduce to the success of the object which he has in view.
– I think that the Minister might well give us until Wednesday next to deal with the Bill. Hitherto only one request has been agreed to, and it is extremely probable that there will be few, if any, others, so that the other Chamber need not take long in dealing with’ the measure, which can be passed on the 30th, in ample time to insure all that is necessary being done.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - I am informed that if the Bill is not passed until Wednesday, there will not be ample time to inform officers in outlying places that the usual payments may be made on the 1st of next month. There would be no inconvenience so far as officers in the cities and towns connected with Melbourne by telegraph are concerned.
– The Bill ought to have been brought before us earlier.
– Why should we not sit on, now?
– There is hardly a quorum present, and I have promised honorable senators to allow them to catch their trains, a promise which I cannot break. It is impossible for me to compel the Senate to do what it does not wish to do. Probably, if we can get the Bill down to the other House before the conclusion of Wednesday’s sitting, the necessary arrangements may be made! in time, tout if I can induce the Senate to pass the Bill on Tuesday night, I shall be extremely pleased, In any case, I must bow to the will of honorable senators. I ask them to be prepared to sit late on Tuesday, but it is for them to say whether they will do so. I make the request, because I do not wish to inconvenience the public servants of the Commonwealth.
They expect to be paid on the 1st of the month, and we ought to be prepared to pay them then. It is only officers in outlying parts who will suffer if ‘any delay occurs, and I think that they should be given the same consideration as officers elsewhere.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with the message that it had agreed to amendments Nos. 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 9; had agreed to amendments Nos. 5 and 7, with amendments; and had disagreed to amendment No. 1.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– -I am sorry that I missed my opportunity to speak on the motion, that the Committee have leave to sit on Tuesday next, but I desire to say now that I think that the Government are acting unfairly, in trying to compel us to rush through’ the Appropriation Bill without due consideration. We have been told that if it is not passed on Tuesday night, or early on Wednesday, the Commonwealth servants in outlying parts will not be paid at the usual time. That is a very ancient, moss-grown, and hoary excuse, which has already served on a hundred previous occasions, and will probably, serve on many future occasions. It is like the excuse of the clerk who, whenever he wished for a holiday, did so on the ground that his grandfather was dead: We are being asked to pass the Appropriation Bill with due consideration, on the ground that, if we do not rush it through, a number of public servants will be inconvenienced.
– The Bill should have been brought before us earlier.
– I call attention to the state of the Senate.
A quorum not being present,
The Deputy- President adjourned the Senate at 4.90 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 November 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051124_senate_2_29/>.