4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Debate resumed from 17th August (vide page 1593), on motion by Senator McGregor -
That this Bill be nowread a second time.
. The subject-matter of this Bill has been pretty well threshed out on two previous occasions, so that there is no necessity to go into the details now as there was before. The main principle of the measure is the acceptance of the Northern Territory by the Commonwealth, and I think that to that principle every honorable senator, no matter on which side he sits, will be prepared to give a most cordial assent. That a grave necessity exists for taking over that huge slice of country is known to everybody, because, while it remains as it is - practically speaking a wilderness, totally undeveloped, and with no population worth speaking about - it is a menace to the wellbeing of the Commonwealth. It is essential, if Australia is to become a great nation, which we all desire, that steps should be taken to develop the Territory, and people it with a sturdy population of our own race. For a great number of years it has been under the control of South Australia, which so- far has failed, for one reason or another, to adequately develop the country. I am not blaming South Australia for the failure, because, to use the expressive words which were used by Senator Symon, “ It bit off more than it could chew “ when it undertook the government of the Territory. It is the duty of the Commonwealth to get control of the Territory, and proceed to develop it in the national interests. We want the country developed and, as I have said, occupied by a sturdy population of our. own race so as to add to our wealth-producing power, and above all to be a garrison to protect, that portion of die continent against invasion. I am in favour of the Commonwealth tak-. ing over the Territory, and, therefore,. I am prepared to vote for the second reading of the Bill just as I did on a former occasion. But it must be remembered that in connexion with its main principle there are several detailswhich may not be nearly so acceptable to honorable senators on cither side, and they have a right to say what the details shall be. The measure imposes upon the Commonwealth conditions with regard to taking over the Territory to which it should not be asked to accede. First, I want to know, and I hope that the Government will be able to state, why extraneous matters were included in the agreement, and find a place in the Bill. I maintain that this question should be treated distinctly on its merits, without the intrusion of extraneous matter.
– What does the honorable senator call “extraneous matter”?
– In the Bill the honorable senator will find a provision which has nothing to do with the Northern Territory. It is to the effect that before the Commonwealth takes over the Territory, South Australia must do a certain thing, which is in no way connected with that matter.
– The same as the Merrie England was not connected with the taking over of Papua.
– Or the Burns-Philp contract.
– Is there any contract in regard to compelling South Australia to give her consent to the Commonwealth building a railway over the Western Australian border? Does that in any way concern the taking over of the Northern Territory ? Is that railway in existence? Has it been used to develop the Territory? Has it any connexion whatever with this proposal ?
– Yes, Sir John Forrest.
– It has a connexion because of the overweening influence of the mighty Sir John Forrest in the late unlamented Fusion Ministry. That was the only reason why such extraneous matter was included in the Bill.
– The agreement was made long before the Fusion Ministry was formed.
– Still Sir John Forrest has been like Tennyson’s brook. Ministries might come and Ministries might go; he appeared to go on for ever, but, of course, when the brook got to the sea it was swallowed up. I have mentioned one of the details to which I object. Because we do not wish to have the Parliament hampered as to its plans for the future development of the Territory, we have been accused by some honorable senators with taking up an anti-national attitude, whereas it is South Australia which is all the time taking up that attitude, because its Government say, “ Unless you do this in accordance with our parochial wish and desire, vou will not be allowed to do it at all.” It can be plainly seen at once where the anti-national attitude is most in evidence. 1 have never taken up an attitude which can be called anti-national. I have said that I am prepared to agree to the Commonwealth taking over the Territory with every shilling of indebtedness belonging to it, and every shilling of the accrued deficit which South Australia has accumulated in connexion with her administration of that country. What I am determined to insist upon is that if it is to be taken over, this Parliament shall be free to develop its resources as it pleases. I would point out that if it is taken over, then in any future developmental plans South Australia, in common with every other State, will have her full say. What more should she desire or ought she to get? It has been said that we want the railway to go here, there, or somewhere else. I freely confess that I do not know which is the best route to follow, and I venture to say that not a single member of this Parliament does. If we lay down hard-and-fast rules as to the route of the railway, then undoubtedly we shall be legislating in the dark, because no member of either House of this Parliament has sufficient information to enable him to say which is the best route to select with a view to efficiently occupying and developing the Territory. That is the position which I have taken up all along, and the one which I shall always stand by, because I hold that if the Territory is to be transferred to the Commonwealth, the Parliament must be left entirely free and unhampered as to the means to be adopted for its development. It is South Australia which assumes an anti-national attitude when she presumes to dictate to this Parliament what it should do.
– She does not dictate.
– She does in the agreement which we are now asked to ratify. She says, “ This is a great national project which must be undertaken by the Commonwealth for the development of its resources, its safety, and its well-being, but, unless you accede to our demands, we shall not allow you to take over the Territory.” That is an anti-national and parochial attitude. In his secondreading speech, we were told by Senator McGregor that the agreement was arrived at by two great Nationalists. He paid, I believe, a very welldeserved tribute to the late Mr. Thomas Price, who was Premier of South Australia when the agreement was made, and whose death I am sure every one regrets., The honorable senator said that Mr. Price viewed this matter entirely from the national stand-point when he was making the agreement. I interjected, “ At the same time that honorable gentleman had a tender and a proper regard for the interests of South Australia,” and Senator McGregor, of course, had to assent to that statement. I have no blame to attach to Mr. Price or to politicians in South Australia for trying to conserve its interests. What I object to is their assumption that they are taking a national view when at the same, time it is a mere parochial one. Senator McGregor went on to pay an equally glowing tribute to the nationalism of Mr. Deakin. In fact, in listening to Senator McGregor’s eulogy of that gentleman, I wondered how the Labour party ever had the temerity to oppose a Government led by such a great Nationalist as Mr. Deakin. I ask the Minister if Mr. Fisher is not an equally good Nationalist as the late Mr. Thomas Price or Mr. Deakin? I challenge any Minister to deny that. Yet, what are the facts? Mr. Fisher voted against this proposal when it was submitted to another place last session. Ministers, if they say that the agreement was based on purely national lines, will have to deny to their present Leader that he was actuated by national motives when he voted on the question last year.
– We do not expect very much from Queensland, and we do not get it.
– I think that I have placed an entirely logical position before the Senate. We have the national sentiments of two gentlemen lauded to the skies, and I ask those who paid these glowing tributes if they are prepared to deny that the present Prime Minister holds equally national sentiments.
– He is taking the national view now
– Of course, it is never too late to repent.
– Senator Givens has one defect - he comes from Queensland.
– Is that a defect?
– Yes, when great national questions come up.
– So a great national project is to be carried out in accordance with the parochial ideas of a little corner of Australia. “ We only ask that the Parliament shall be left free to develop the Northern Territory in the way which it thinks best. What is the position? South Australia has had the control of the Northern Territory for a number of years and has failed egregiously to develop it. Having failed herself, she presumes to dictate to the Commonwealth as to what she should do to develop it.
– The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth approached South Australia with a view to an agreement for the transfer of the Territory; South Australia did not approach the Commonwealth.
– I know all the tall talk that is indulged in by the representatives of South Australia on this question. We were told last year that if we rejected the Bill we should never get a chance to discuss it again. How is it that we are getting a chance this year to consider it? If South Australia was really so eager as we were led to believe to back out of the agreement, that we were never to be given another chance to pass it if we failed to take advantage of the opportunity afforded last year, how is it that we are getting another chance this year ?
– Because the present Government has brought the measure forward.
– We were told last year that South Australia would not give this or any other Government a chance to bring it forward again.
– South Australia has not proclaimed her Act, and may not proclaim it, even if we accept this Bill now.
– Then we are merely legislating on one side, and if we pass this Bill accepting the agreement the other party to it may repudiate it to-morrow.
– South Australia is waiting to see what the Commonwealth Parliament will do.
– As representatives of South Australia have been so free in prophesying, I shall venture upon a prophecy. It is, that if we do not settle this matter now we shall find in ten years’ time that South Australia will be only too glad to get rid of a Territory that is costing her a large sum of money every year, and from, which she gets no return. We who believe that this Territory should be taken over on national lines are not asking for any conditions at all. We do not ask that the railway shall be built here, there, or anywhere else. We do not ask that the line shall be run through a sandy desert, through a district in which all the water is salt, or through rolling sand-hills, where, like drifting snow, the sand will be continually covering the railway.
– No; but the honorable senator says that the part of the line already constructed shall be put on the scrap-heap, and that South Australia shall be given no compensation.
– I am coming to that. We are asking for none of these things, but South Australia is asking for them all the time. She says that we must agree to these specific conditions or we shall not be allowed to undertake this great national project. She desires to impose her will upon the people of the Commonwealth, whilst we who view this question from a national stand-point desire that this Parliament shall be free to develop the Territory as seems to it best.
– The honorable senator jokes with difficulties.
– Senator De Largie never jokes at all. Will the honorable senator explain in what way it can be said to be anti-national to preserve to thus Parliament full power to do what it pleases in the development of the Northern Territory? It is the honorable senator and those who agree with him who are taking up an anti-national attitude in this matter. Senator de Largie would not permit the Commonwealth to take over the Territory unless his State gets its special terms for the construction of a railway to Western Australia.
– It is one sturdy beggar backing up another sturdy beggar. .
– South Australia, which has egregiously failed to develop the Northern Territory, wishes to lay her dead hand upon the Commonwealth. She says, “You must develop the Territory according to my ideas, although in trying to do it, I have failed absolutely.” Is that viewing the matter from a national stand-point ? Let us examine the question a little more closely. I should like the attention of Senator Guthrie who wishes to know my views. I ask why we should be compelled to take over a long length of non-paying railway in South Australia itself, extending from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, in order to develop the Northern Territory. Will the honorable senator repeat his statement that that line will have to be thrown on the scrap heap unless this is done?
– Yes, because it was constructed for the purpose of developing the Territory.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the country from
Port Augusta to Oodnadatta is such a howling wilderness of sand that a railway through it will not pay?
– It does not pay.
– What is the use of building more lines through similar country ?
– It is not similar country.
– Some of it is a great deal worse.
– It is not.
– Any one who looks, at the map will see that with the exception of Western Australia - where I may say in passing a great deal of work has been done in the construction of railways - the other States have carried their railways almost to their borders and have not asked thi assistance of any one else to build them.
– South Australia did not ask assistance to build the lines to which the honorable senator has referred.
– If the other States have found that railways carried almost to their borders pay - and in Queensland they are amongst the best paying lines in the State - is it not a natural inference that South Australia will not extend the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta because it will not pay ?
– With the exception of the Cloncurry line the railways of the other States referred to do not approach their borders.
– In Queensland the Central railway from Rockhampton to Longreach, and the Southern and Western railway from Brisbane to Cunnamulla, run very far out towards the western border of the State.
– In Queensland they have to get private people to build their lines for them. They allowed private people to build the Chillagoe line.
– Yes; much to my regret.
– Because it would not Pay-
– No; railways in Queensland were not handed over to private syndicates to construct because the country was not good enough, and they would not pay. It was because it suited the policy of the “ boodle “ Government of the time to put them into the hands of private enterprise sharks.
– I hope the honorable senator will not pursue that subject..
-I shall try to keep within the mark, but if I have transgressed it was scarcely my fault, because I was drawn aside by interjections. South Australia, having built the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, tells us, through one of her representatives, that unless it is used as a part of the transcontinental line running through the Northern Territory it may as well be put on the scrap heap. I am inclined to believe the honorable senator, because I know from official South Australian documents that one train a fortnight is. found to be sufficient to carry all the traffic on that line. The country must be incapable of development if the railway communication - one train a fortnight - is more than ample to carry the traffic. Why should the Commonwealth be compelled, not only to take over this stretch of a non-paying railway, but also to build another stretch of non-paying railway through equally bad country ?
– That is not so.
– I think I know as much about the northern country as does my honorable friend. The best country in the Northern Territory is the coastal country and the Barclay tableland.
– And the Macdonnell Ranges.
-The Macdonnell Range country is not nearly so good as some honorable senators try to make out. I admit that there is as good pastoral country on the Barclay tableland, and from there in the direction of Pine Creek, as in any other portion of Australia. It is firstrate, pastoral country, but south of the tableland we are told by every one who has attempted to travel through the country - and only very few have succeeded - that the country is of the same class as that along the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. It is a fact that cattle being brought from any part of the Northern Territory down to Adelaide year in and year out have to be brought round through Queensland. If the country around the Macdonnell Ranges were good country, why should cattle travelling to Adelaide be brought by such a roundabout route? It must be because there is a lack of feed or water on the direct route.
– It is because there is too much water on the direct route, as the cattle are travelled at the time when the Cooper is flooded.
– They are brought throughout the year by the route to which
I have referred. When Senator Guthrie says that there is too much water in some places on the direct route, he ought to add that it is salt water.
– The waters of the Cooper are not salt, and it is sometimes 10 miles wide.
– The Cooper runs into a sandy desert, before it forms any volume of water which would be of use except in flood time. If honorable senators will look at the map they will see that the Cooper is shown as branching off into little rivulets.
– Would the honorable senator be surprised to learn that on the Finck River in a dry season there were pools of water into which this building couldbe put?
– It is marvellous that if it is such magnificent country, and is so well watered, it should be necessary to put a railway line going through it on the scrap-heap.
– Does the honorable senator know of any paying line which is dependent upon pastoral occupation only?
– Our best paying lines in Queensland to-day depend upon pastoral occupation.
– I do not know that.
– It is a fact, nevertheless. The greater part of the Central railway from Clermont to Longreach depends entirely upon traffic from pastoral occupation.
– And the Northern line also.
– Until that line was extended to Cloncurry, the section from Charters Towers, which is 80 or 90 miles from Townsville, westward, depended for its traffic upon pastoral pursuits. It isonly within the last year or two that thelast section of this line was built.
– Do those lines pay?
– They pay handsomely. They are amongst the best paying, lines in the State.
– In Australia.
– I shall not go asfar as that, but they are certainly amongst the best paying lines in Queensland. I think I have disposed of the good country and splendid water that we are told are tobe found in the southern portion of the Northern Territory. The fact that cattle travelling to Adelaide are brought from the Northern Territory down through Queensland and New South Wales is a proof that the country along the route which it is suggested the transcontinental railway should follow is unfit for settlement. That is the information we have about it at the present time, but, as I said at the outset, there is no member of the Senate who has any definite information as to the character of the country through which, under the terms of the agreement, the railway would be constructed. It is for this reason that I say the Commonwealth Parliament should be left free, after collecting all the information possible, to decide by what route the railway should be taken in order to develop the Northern Territory. I claim that that is a national view to take of this national project. There are honorable senators on both sides of this Chamber who appear to be fond of tying up the Federal Parliament, or, to use an expressive phrase used by an honorable member in another place, of “ leg-roping “ the Commonwealth. They desire that the Commonwealth should not be allowed to wander too far in this or that direction, but that we should go round in a circle circumscribed by the length of the “ legrope.” That is not a proper position in which to place this Parliament. No one who desires to see a national sentiment developed in Australia would wish to have this Parliament placed in such an invidious position.
– The honorable senator must recognise that if there is a contract it “ leg-ropes “ both parties.
– The whole of this Continent was in the possession of Great Britain at one time, but when she handed it over to the people of Australia she did not impose a”ny conditions upon them. In granting the States self-government, she did not dictate to them how they were to develop their country.
– Did she not? If the honorable senator would read the first five clauses of. our Constitution, he would find that she has done so.
– She did not say that we were to build a railway here, there, or elsewhere.
– No; but she said that we must recognise the Merchant Shipping Act, and the honorable senator knows that a certain class of Bills have to be reserved for His Majesty’s assent.
– That is so, but that is not binding us as to the course we shall follow in developing our territory. We are not asked to spend vast sums of money upon building a railway in a particular direction.
– Under the Western Australian Constitution, the State Parliament is bound to spend a certain sum of money on the protection of the natives.
– That was not foi the development of her territory. It was to secure the protection of people who might have been left helpless and stranded.
– Why not leave that to the Government of the State ?
– Because it was a matter for which the British Government were previously responsible, and they were bound to take care that the natives would not suffer from the grant of selfgovernment to the people of the State.
– It is a pity the condition referred to was not made a little more severe.
– According to some accounts, it certainly is, and, speaking casually on the question, I do not think that in Australia we have any reason to be proud of the way in which the natives have been treated in any of the States. Every one of the States, when given the right of self-government, was given the right to build railways and establish harbors where it pleased, and to develop its territory in any way it thought proper. If the people of the States were not given that right, they would not have had selfgovernment. But if the Northern Territory is handed over to the Commonwealth, under the terms of the agreement proposed we shall not possess the right of government of the Territory except in a limited sense. We must develop the country by a railway policy in accordance with the parochial ideas of South Australia. It might not be necessary for a very long time to build the transcontinental railway. It might even he found much better to do what has been done in the other States, namely, run railways from the coast into the interior of the Northern Territory. If that should be found the best means of developing the country, why should not the Commonwealth Parliament be free to take that course? It appears to me that not only are we expected to develop the Territory on the lines suggested in the agreement, but South. Australia expects us to develop that State itself by a railway policy. This is the first time in the history of the Commonwealth that we have been asked to assume railway responsibilities in any State.
– Why should we not have a free hand in the matter to do what is best?
– That is just what I have said. I say that we should be free, in the light of full knowledge after close investigation of all the facts bearing on the case, to take what seems to us to be the best course. South Australia expects us to take over a very long stretch of nonpaying railway and to relieve her of her responsibility on account of that railway, which has landed her in very considerable difficulties. What is the position in Queensland? Whatever else may be said of that State, she has, at least, done as much as any State in the Commonwealth to develop her country by the construction of railways. She has incurred the highest debt per head of population of any State in Australia in order to do so. And now, after incurring that debt to build her own railways, she is asked to incur further indebtedness to build a railway for another State ! The proposal will not hold water. It cannot commend itself to any fairminded man. Why should Queensland be asked to carry out a railway policy in South Australia?
– Or in Western Australia ?
– Or in Western Australia for that matter, and in this connexion I protest against the introduction of the Western Australian railway proposal in this Bill. We are asked to take over South Australia’s non-paying- railways and conduct them at the expense of the whole Commonwealth ; and the State which I represent will have to bear a considerable share of the burden.
– A very good Australian proposal.
– The honorable senator is entitled to think so, but I am equally entitled to put my view.
– Senator Findley differs from his Prime Minister.
– He does not; this is a Government proposal.
– I do not think that any South Australian senator will deny that while South Australia has attempted to develop her interior - if it were capable of development or worth development - by building the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, she has not done so much proportionately as has been done by the other States to develop their interior. The map hanging in the chamber now shows only a portion of the railways in the other States, but it sufficiently indicates how much they have done for their Interior development in comparison with South Australia. The least she could have done was to build that line to Oodnadatta; and yet we are told that if that railway is not continued through the Northern Territory, so as to bring all the trade down to Adelaide, the railway must be thrown upon the scrap-heap. That is such a gloomy view of the possibilities of South Australia that I do not care to characterize it further. There is another point of view in connexion with the Oodnadatta line to which I would like to draw attention for a little while. South Australia has not only failed to develop the Northern Territory, but she has actually failed to develop South Australian territory.
– And Queensland failed to develop the sugar industry without kanakas until she became federated.
– Like “ the flowers that bloom in spring” that has nothing to do with the case. It is a position unequalled on this earth that a State should have no less than three-sevenths of its whole population resident in one city. South Australia has confined herself to the development of Adelaide, and has allowed the rest of her territory to go hang. Now, having failed to develop the State, she comes cap in hand to the Commonwealth Parliament and asks us to develop it for her. That is the great national attitude that South Australia has assumed. I should like to remind Senator Guthrie that for the glorification of Adelaide, and the good of its trade, South Australia could afford to build a railway up to the border of another State in order to secure the trade of Broken Hill, while she has failed to develop her own territory.
– That is not a fact.
– It is. There is a railway running from Adelaide to the border of New South Wales to catch the Broken Hill trade.
– That railway was built before Broken Hill was discovered.
– How far was it built?
– To Silverton.
– I am this much of a nationalist : that I am prepared to allow the National Parliament to develop the Northern Territory on national lines whilst my honorable friends from South Australia are not prepared to do anything of the kind.
– We have a chance now. We can reject this Bill or accept it.
– I am going to vote for the second reading of the Bill, because I believe in the main principle of it, which is the acceptance of the Northern Territory; but 1 am not going to allow South Australia or any other State to hold a pistol at my head and say, “ You must do this on pain of your life.”
– If we do not do this, we shall probably have other people holdingpistols at our heads.
– If that should be so, I hope I shall be able to take a man’s part in defending my country.
– The honorable senator should not wait until an enemy is here.
– Will the honorable senator tell me that he has always been in favour of this Bill ? I venture to say that a large number of the Western Australian representatives were not in favour of it until the provision was inserted in relation to the railway for the benefit of Western Australia.
– That is not correct. The honorable senator cannot point to the vote of a single Western Australian senator in opposition to the Bill.
– I know what the opinions of some of them were before they supported the Bill.
– The honorable senator cannot produce a single speech made against it by any Western Australian representative.
– How many interjections am I to reply to?
– The honorable senator has one now that he cannot reply to.
– I make this statement, at any rate, that there are two honorable senators from Western Australia who expressed their intention of voting against the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill until the provision with regard to the Westtern Australian railway line was included in it.
– Name them.
– I will mention the names to the honorable senator privately if he likes.
– That statement is not true so far as I am concerned.
– It is not true so far as I am concerned.
– It is not true so far as concerns either of the honorable senator who interject. But I am not going to mention the names publicly. Indeed,I ask the honorable senators from Western Australia what the railway affecting their State has to do with this matter at all What right has Parliament to coerce South Australia against her will in this matter? Is it a fact that there were certain South Australian senators who were not in favour of granting the concession to Western Australia, and had to be coerced into doing so? Will any honorable senator reply to that question? Yet we find that this spirit of huckstering and bargaining is pursued to such lengths that, in order to get support from all parties, entirely extraneous matter has been included in the Bill.I think honorable senators must see for them selves that the real national position with regard to this matter is to leave the Commonwealth Parliament free, after it take over the Northern Territory, to proceed to develop it in the full light of all the knowledge that can be obtained.
– This is one of the terms that the Commonwealth demanded from South Australia.
– The Commonwealth did not demand any terms. Will the honorable senator tell me that South Australia did not have as much to say in the demanding as the Commonwealth had?
– South Australia,of course, had a say in regard to the terms of the agreement.
– All that the Com monwealth asked for was that it should be allowed to take over the Northern Territory.
– On what terms?
– Every member of the Commonwealth Parliament was prepared to vote for the taking over of the Territory, and for taking over every shilling of debt attachable to it, and also every shilling of deficit which South Australia had incurred through its attempt to develop the Territory. Having done so much, I say that this Parliament should not be asked to do a single thing more.I am not asking anything for the State which I represent. I am simply asking that the Commonwealth Parliament shall be left free to do the best it possibly can onthe information available. But South Australia is asking for everything, and Western Australia is asking for something. Those are the States which assume the antinational attitude.
– Hence the danger.
– The danger to particular interests.
– I do not know of any interests except the interests of the Commonwealth generally. Anybody who looks at the map must see that the projected railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie does not go within 500 or 600 miles of the Northern Territory. What in the name of Providence then has that line to do with the taking over of the Territory? It does not go towards the Territory, and has nothing to do with it. Why should such a stipulation be included in this measure? Will any reasonable man who looks at the map tell me why we should agree lo the stipulation to which I refer?
– It is not compulsory.
– It is ‘compulsory. We are told that we must accept the whole agreement or throw it out.
– Hear, hear !
– That is so, but the construction of the Western Australian railway is not compulsory under this agreement.
– It is not: but compulsion has been exercised on South Australia to give permission to build the Western Australian railway whether she likes it or not. Why, I ask again, should this Commonwealth dictate terms at the instance of one State to another State ? Why should we dictate terms to South Australia at the instance of certain representatives from Western Australia?
– South Australia has adopted the national policy of saying, “All right ; run your railway through our territory.”
– All these interjections beg the question. What has the Western Australian railway to do with the Northern Territory at all?
– Nothing that I can see.
– Then why should the two questions be complicated together?
– The condition is permissive and harmless.
– Some of our friends from Western Australia consider it anything but harmless. But they are under duress to vote for it, in order to get the other thing which they desire. Some of the representatives of South Australia, on the other hand, consider it exceedingly harmful to the interests of their State.
– It is harmless to “the Commonwealth.
– But why should the Commonwealth exercise coercion on any State.?
– I suppose it is a matter of mutual agreement.
– But it has nothing to do with the taking over of the Northern Territory.
– It has something to do with South Australia, has it not?
– Of course, but why should the Commonwealth coerce South Australia?
– It does not coerce South Australia.
– It certainly does. There are honorable senators from South Australia who are utterly opposed to the Western Australian railway provision, but who will be compelled to vote for it in order to get the other thing which they desire.
– The clause to which’ the honorable senator refers was put in as the result of an agreement with the South1 Australian Government.
– Was it South Australia that imposed this condition ? It was imposed upon her by the Commonwealth; and I say once more that the Commonwealth has no right to impose conditions on South Australia any more than South Australia has a right to impose conditions upon the Commonwealth.
– If South Australia is willing, what then?
– Why should we put South Australia under duress in this matter ? Why should we force her to do something which has nothing to do with her?
– In a mutual agreement, both parties take a hand.
– Why should the Commonwealth ask this from South Australia ?
– Because the Commonwealth wants it.
– The honorable senator does not know that. All that he knows is that that great Nationalist, Sir John Forrest, wants it.
– Sir John Forrest is no more in favour of the railway than I am.’
– He was a member of the Government which initiated this agreement, and it was at his instance that the provision regarding the Western Australian railway was included in it. The Prime Minister voted against the provision last year. If the attitude that I assume is anti-national, as the members of the Ministry seem to assert, it was anti-national last year, when the Prime Minister assumed the same attitude.
– The honorable senator is dealing with another question now.
– It is the same question, but I am bringing the Minister of Defence down to such plain terms that he cannot escape from the position.
– I never accused the hoinorable senator of assuming an antinational attitude.
– The interjections have been so frequent that I can hardly tell from what source they came.
– Does not the honorable member concede to the Prime Minister the same right to change his opinions within nine months as the honorable senator himself has claimed ?
- Senator O’Keefe cannot show me anything in regard to which I have changed my opinions in nine months. If he will point to any action of mine that justifies his statement, I shall be happy to explain it to him.
– It was proved up to the hilt, early this morning, that the honorable senator changed his views in regard to Tasmania and the surplus revenue.
– Nothing of the kind was shown; and, at any rate, I never said such a thing as the honorable senator did last night - that the State I represented was not fit for a white man to live in.
– Order ! It would be better if these recriminations came to an end. Senator Givens should be allowed to make his speech uninterrupted.
– I am sorry if I have transgressed the rules of debate. But I think it was excusable under the circumstances. I have said all I desire to say on the Bill at this stage. Later on I intend to move an exactly similar amendment to that which I submitted when the Senate last dealt with this question. That is to say, I shall submit a proposition to the effect that we should ratify the agreement, with the exception of the extraneous clause relating to railways, which has nothing whatever to do with the matter. We should leave the Federal Government free to develop the Territory as it pleases. In other words, we should express our willingness to relieve South Australia of a Territory which hitherto she has egregiously failed to do anything with.
– The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat has shown his peculiar consistency in connexion with the question at issue. Not only does he oppose this mea-. sure, but, so far as my memory serves me, he has consistently opposed every measure which the Government have introduced during the present session.
– That is an absolutelyuntrue statement.
– I think I am correct in saying that the honorable senator opposed the Trust Funds Bill. He opposed the Surplus Revenue Bill. Now he is opposing this Bill on the ground that he is a good Australian and a sincere Nationalist. Posing as such, he is doing his best to prevent the Commonwealth acquiring the Northern Territory. He knows very well that the agreement entered into by the Deakin Government on behalf of the Commonwealth, and by the Government headed by the late Mr. Thomas Price on behalf of South Australia, included the condition that the transcontinental line should be completed. He knows that, unless that agreement be carried out, the Commonwealth cannot, under any circumstances, acquire the Northern Territory.
– Why not?
– Because South’ Australia will refuse to hand it over to the Commonwealth? It has been frequently pointed out how inadequately Australia is defended in respect of its northern areas. It has been pointed out times without number that the Territory is a serious menace to every citizen in Australia, but when certain honorable senatorshave an opportunity of minimizing the danger which daily confronts us, they are determined, if they possibly can, to prevent the Common wealth from adequately protecting itself. Senator Givens said that South Australia,’ when she took over the Territory, “ bit off more than she could chew,” and had failed to develop it. If she had pursued a policy similar to that pursued in Queensland, so far as developmental work was concerned, the Territory would have been peopled, as some parts of Northern Queensland are peopled today, by a piebald population, when it would have given us a big problem indeed to solve.
– The Northern Territory has always had a greater proportion of coloured people to white people than had anY other portion of Australia.
– That is merely an aside. The northern parts of Queensland have been developed by coloured abour, and it was because of the danger which the employment of such labour threatened to the whole of Australia that the consummation of Federation was hastened. That was, in a large measure, responsible’ for Queenslanders being so ardent in their desire for Federation.
– The Constitution Bill was only carried by a bare majority. The most populous parts of Queensland were dead against its acceptance.
– And it was only barely carried after great exertions had been made by Federalists.
– I am talking of that section of the community which wanted to see Australia a white nation for all time. I know that there was violent opposition offered by those who were extremely anxious that the northern parts of Queensland should only be developed by coloured labour. But there was not a Democrat, not a Labour man, not a true Australian in any part of that State who did not work day and night to hasten on Federation.
– It is very strange that that was the part of Queensland which gave the vote which carried the Constitution Bill.
– In the northern parts of Queensland it is true the people gave a substantial vote in the Federal cause, because they were fully cognisant of the evils attached to the employment of coloured labour. They were aware of the dangers which threatened and would continue to threaten, not only Queensland, but the whole, of Australia, unless art attempt was made to make Australia a white nation, and to deport the kanakas who had been bond slaves in those parts for such a long period.
– Does the honorable senator know that black labour was employed in the south of Queensland as well as in the north?
– I am aware that black labour was employed in different parts of Queensland in respect to a certain industry. I am quite within my rights in replying to Senator Givens’ statement that South Australia had failed to develop the Northern Territory.
– Does the honorable senator say that she has developed it?
– If South Australia had followed a policy similar to that which was followed by Queensland in clays gone bv, the Northern Territory, no doubt, would have been well peopled to-day by coloured folks.
– - She did more in the way of employing coloured labour than Queensland did. Her railway was built by coloured people, which was never done in Queensland.
– The sugar industry, in Queensland, was developed by kanakas, or bond slaves, and, to-day, the banana industry, which Protectionists and Free Traders are extremely anxious about, is solely in the hands of Chinese in Queensland. According to Coghlan there are, in round figures, 23,000 coloured folks in Queensland, and in South Australia, including, of course, the Northern Territory, 4,650. It is quite true that the railway from Port Darwin to Pine Creek, covering a distance of 147 miles,, was built by Chinese labour, but it is also true that an Act was passed which would have enabled South Australia to introduce any number of Indian coolies into the Northern Territory for the development of it. There was a strong feeling in the Parliament which passed that measure that the only way by which that portion of South Australia could be developed was by the introduction of coloured labour, but an agitation was set afoot which stopped that. The State is to be complimented and congratulated upon having shouldered the burden for such a long period, and made it possible for Australia lo lie a white man’s land.
– And for preventing a railway from being constructed on the land-grant principle.
– At what cost and price are we asked te take over the Territory? We are offered an area four and a half times the size of Great Britain and Ireland for - taking into consideration the cost of the proposed railway embodied in the agreement - about ,£10,000,000. That is an absolute bargain to the Commonwealth, because there are visible and latent assets in the Territory. It is admitted by geologists and mining experts that it is one of the most highly mineralized parts of Australia. Almost every known mineral has been found there. Senator Fraser, and other senators, are aware that it contains magnificent belts of pastoral country, fine belts of agricultural land, and some of the finest waterways. Surely these factors are worthy of consideration. There will no doubt be unanimity on the part of Queenslanders in respect to an amendment which will be submitted later. We know how vigorously its members fought before against” the carrying of a similar measure.
– Some of us did not fight vigorously enough, I think.
– No, but I am inclined to think that there is very little nationalism about the opposition which is shown to this measure, so far as Queensland is concerned. What is the good of taking over the Territory if we say that there shall not be any condition laid down as to the completion of the railway desired by South Australia?
– Leave that to the best judgment of the people of the Commonwealth.
– South Australia is perfectly within her rights, when handing over to the Commonwealth this vast area, in saying, “ We desire that the work we began in the interests of, not only South Australia, but Australia, shall be completed, and that you shall take your own time in regard to the work. There is no specified period so far as the completion of this railway is concerned, and when you do that you, as a Commonwealth, can build railways anywhere you like in the Territory.”
– Is that so?
– I should say so. What would there be to prevent the Commonwealth from building railways in its own Territory. Reference has been made to the fact that two sections of this proposed transcontinental line are non-payable. That is perfectly true, but I have heard it argued in the Senate, and from innumerable platforms by Labour representatives and by men who are opposed to the Labour party, that we should not consider “ railways from a payable view-point, that they should be considered from a community or a national aspect. A railway constructed to-day, costing some thousands of pounds, may not prove directly a profitable enterprise for some considerable time. But many railways which have been nonpaying for some time have, after developmental work has taken place, proved highly profitable enterprises. There is a desire growing up in the minds of numbers of Australians that, in some parts, railways should precede settlement. Our policy hitherto has been that settlement should precede railway construction.
– A very wise policy if the country is suitable for settlement.
– I am sure that the honorable senator is not disposed to decry the Northern Territory. It ill-becomes any member of the National Parliament to decry any part of Australia.
– A man should speak the truth.
– Exactly ; but surely in that vast area there must be much valuable land. It contains highly auriferous country, agricultural areas, and also pastoral areas, and where you have good land, sunshine, and abundant water, there are many possibilities.
– If that is so, the question is, why should we, and not South Australia, build a railway there?
– The people of South Australia deserve the hearty congratulations of every well-wisher of Australia for the part which they have played in respect to the Northern Territory.
– You cannot reward them enough.
– No. We are told by the opponents of this measure that this is huckstering business on the part of that State. Was there any huckstering spirit manifested by the late Mr. Thomas Price, in regard to the Commonwealth taking over the Territory. On the contrary, he knew the influences that were at work, not only in South Australia, but also in London, to acquire the Territory for the benefit of profit-mongers, and that there was a keen desire on the part of certain investors to get the South Australian Parliament to pass an Act enabling those persons to build this railway, provided that a vast area was handed over to them. We know that during the regime of the Jenkins Government a Bill was passed by the State Parliament enabling a transcontinental railway to be built on the land-grant principle, and that it remains on the statute-book. What did that mean? That Act was an open invitation to investors that, if they built the railway, 90,000,000 acres of land on either side of the route would be- handed over to them absolutely free. In other words, that they would receive an area almost one and a-half times as large as the State I represent. Had that been done. South Australia might as well have handed over the whole of the Territory to the syndicates, because, holding the railway and owing .vast areas on either side, they would practically own the Territory, and, in a measure, they would own almost everybody who took up his abode there. Mr. Thomas Price knew as well as every honorable senator knows the burden which South Australia had to carry in respect to the Territory. The influence which was at work in London and in South Australia is not, vin my opinion, dead, because meetings have recently been held in South Australia, at which resolutions have been passed urging that State to hold on to the Territory, and suggesting that the railway should be completed on the landgrant principle. Knowing what these influences meant to Australia the late Mr. Thomas Price, as a good Nationalist, got into communication with Mr. Deakin, and a mutual agreement was drawn up. There is nothing in the Bill, or in the agreement, which, in my opinion, any true Australian can oppose. -The time has arrived for the Commonwealth to assert itself. I believe that if a plebiscite of the electors were taken there would be an overwhelming majority in favour of the Commonwealth taking over, the Territory under the conditions specified in this Bill.
– With a line ito be built in a non-paying part?
– I am not concerned for the moment as to whether the railway will, or will not, pay.
– That is a great idea.
– If we are to look at every proposition from a sordid standpoint we shall never make any progress. Many railways in this State, including some which the honorable senator helped to build, probably did not’ pay at the beginning.
– They all paid.
– In Victoria there are railways which are closed, and some which do not pay for axle-grease. If we are to consider every proposition from the pounds, shillings, and pence, or paying stand-point, little or no progress will be made in Australia. We do not ask ourselves if it will pay to erect a postoffice, or to provide a telephone service, or to do this or that.
– That is a different argument altogether.
– I do not expect that there is any member of the Senate who is more enthusiastic than Senator Fraser in regard to adequately defending the Commonwealth. I confess that I am not an enthusiast in military matters, but I have been to the Northern Territory, and have some little knowledge of that vast area, and I know that it is a danger to
Australia. President -Roosevelt’s words ought to be remembered in this connexion. He sent a message to a citizen of Australia in which he said, “ Beware of your empty North, for an unmanned country invites disaster.” The vastness and emptiness of the Northern Territory is a source of danger to the Commonwealth. ‘
– The cable news of the annexation of Korea by Japan appearing this morning should hasten the passage of this Bill.
– I have said that I am not enthusiastic about military affairs. I hope to see the day when there will be peace on earth and goodwill amongst men, but having started our career as nationbuilders, we should build on a concrete foundation. We shall never be a great people while we allow one portion of’ our country to remain unpeopled and undeveloped. If some honorable senators had their way they would allow the Northern Territory to remain in that condition for the term of their natural existence.
– Nothing of the kind. The honorable senator is the only patriot, and God help Australia !
– I do not profess to be the only patriot, but Senator Stewart poses as the only one who knows anything about every subject which is brought before the Senate.
– The honorable senator knows so much that it is unnecessary for me to know anything.
– I do not profess, as Senator Stewart does, to be the very embodiment of the wisdom of the wise, but, like other members of the Senate, I am extremely anxious for the advancement of Australia, the land of my birth, and for the betterment and elevation of every citizen of it. Although at one time the acquisition of the Northern Territory by the Commonwealth was not favored by certain newspapers here, and strong opposition was offered in the National Parliament to our taking it over on the terms drawn up by the Government of which Mr. Deakin was Prime Minister, and the late Mr. Thomas Price as Premier of South Australia, I never hesitated to express my views as to’ the advisability of the Commonwealth Parliament acquiring the Territory as speedily as possible. For the reasons I have given this morning, and which I gave on a previous occasion when a similar measure was before us, I shall record my vote for this Bill. I hope it will have a better fate- than had a similar measure previously discussed. The latter was lost by two votes, but I trust that when the division is taken the second reading of this measure will be carried by a substantial majority.
.- I do not rise with a very light heart to speak on this matter.. I am told that the numbers are against us, and I intend to make only a very few remarks so that it may not be assumed hereafter that I gave my consent to this proposal. I was hoping that Senator Lynch would be against the Bill, but as he is not, and I am paired with him, I shall be unable to record a vote against the measure as I wished to do. Though a supporter of the late Government I strongly opposed a similar measure introduced by them. I oppose this just as strongly, so that no charge of inconsistency can be levelled against me for what I am going to say. I do not think I have been charged with any inconsistency during all the time I have been a member of this Parliament.
– The honorable senator is always consistent.
– I am. I never give a vote against my judgment.
– The honorable senator reneged once or twice on Protection.
– No, I did not. I fought that out in certain quarters, and I have been told that I was on the right track.
– The honorable senator gave a written pledge that he would not do it again.
– I gave no written pledge. The honorable senator is making a very unjust assertion. I was going to use a stronger term, but it would not be parliamentary ; I gave no pledges. My votes have always been open to the criticism of press and Parliament.
– It was the Age that said the honorable senator had given a written pledge.
– The honorable senator need not mention the Age. I know all about it. I could place letters on the table from men whom I respected, but who are now dead and gone, which would confirm my statement. But this is beside the question, even if there were anything in the miserable accusation Senator Findley makes.
– That is a proper word to describe it.
– I am not allowed to use. a stronger word.
– The Age said the honorable senator had given a written pledge to be true to Protection.
– I ask the honorable senator not to interject. He is leading Senator Fraser away from the matter before the Senate.
– I am afraid I have been led off the track. At my time of life, 78 years of age, I cannot be expected to be as lively as a two-year-old. I am not against the construction of a transcontinental line to Port Darwin. The Commonwealth will be acting very wisely in proceeding with the construction of such a line. I may say that I do not regard the proposed line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie as a transcontinental line. I do wish to impress upon honorable senators that we should do well to leave the route of the line to Port Darwin to be selected by the most expert men for the purpose to be found in the Commonwealth, and after full inquiry. I know something of the country through which the existing line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta goes, because many years ago I had a good deal to do with the construction of the first section of that line. I am willing to commit the Commonwealth to the construction of this transcontinental railway, but I do say that the route should be left to expert knowledge after full inquiry.
– Hear, hear.
– Does Senator Guthrie approve of that ?
– Yes, so long as the line is kept within the Northern Territory.
– I know that Senator Symon is very strongly in favour of this proposal, and I hesitate to give a vote which would offend him j but if the proposed line is to go through the Macdonnell’ Range country I cannot say that I would approve of it. I think that the line might very much better be brought through or very near Queensland and New South’ Wales territory. If such a route were adopted the country would be available for immediate occupation and development. That would be better than to take the railway through country which, in my opinion, and in the opinion of those best able to judge, is not suitable for settlement.
– If we do not build the line as proposed by the agreement we shall not get the Territory.
– Then I say that South Australia is driving the Commonwealth into a very bad bargain. But I. do not admit for a moment that if we do not comply with the terms of this bargain we shall lose the option of taking over the Northern Territory.
– Does the honorable senator not think that at some time or other we should construct a railway bisecting the continent?
– I do. I am strongly in favour of a transcontinental line from south to north. I know a good deal about the country and travelled over a part of it twenty-five years ago. I admit that much of it is capable of development for mining and pastoral purposes, and is occupied now to some extent. I am speaking now not of the country along the direct route, but along the route of the deviation from the centre of the Northern Territory which I suggest.
– Into Queensland?
– Into or near Queensland territory. That country is profitably occupied now, and to take the transcontinental line by that route would not greatly increase its length, whilst it could be much more cheaply constructed ; and in the event of an invasion of the Northern Territory troops might be sent from Rockhampton or Townsville very much more rapidly than they could be taken round via Adelaide, and over a 3 feet 6 inch line upon which it would not be safe to run a train at more than 25 miles an hour.
– If troops were sent from Brisbane they would have to be sent to Brisbane, first of all, from Sydney and Melbourne.
– How many troops are there in Brisbane? Not enough to defend the Territory.
– It is to be hoped that when the Defence Bill is brought into operation we shall have a great number of troops in Queensland and New South Wales. Why should we take troops from Townsville, Rockhampton, and Brisbane round via Adelaide to defend the Northern Territory ?
– We could get them from Victoria, where there are the finest troops in the world.
– We might require a greater number than we could get in Victoria, and it would be utterly impracticable to send troops from Brisbane and the Northern ports of Queensland round to Adelaide and over a 3 ft. 6 in. railway. We were five years building the railway from Port Augusta to Government Gums, which is now called Farina.
– We could widen the gauge.
– We have not the means to do that.
– There is plenty of wealth in the country.
– Any country may be destroyed by mismanagement.
– We are going to develop it.
– This proposal will not be in that direction. From a financial point of view it is a monstrous proposal.
– Oh ! be reasonable.
– Do not say “ monstrous.”
– - In deference to my honorable friend ,1 ‘will withdraw that word.
– Let a French or German syndicate get hold of it.
– When Senator Guthrie talks of syndicates I may remind him that the construction of the proposed line has been open to syndicates for many years, but none of them would touch it. On the subject of building railways on the land grant principle, we know that Canada has been developed by land grant railways, and would never have been developed hi the way it has been under a system of State railways. The land grant railway people in Canada have brought thousands of emigrants from the Continent and the Old Country into Canada, and provided them with houses ready built and cultivated farms. What Government would take that kind of work in hand ?
– If we proposed to do anything like that it would be condemned as rank Socialism.
– I should never condemn a policy of that kind. I am prepared to go the “whole hog” in developing the country in any reasonable and sensible way. I contend that private enterprise can do infinitely more than any Government can do in work of this kind, in view of the difficulties that always confront the Government in holding their own. I am at a loss to understand the reason why Western Australian senators and some senators from Queensland have amalgamated in connexion with this proposal. Perhaps I ought to say combined.
– It is a fusion.
– Then it is a jolly bad fusion for the Commonwealth. T cannot for the life of me see any justification for carrying the line on from Oodnadatta. It would be far more profitable to the Commonwealth to take the line by the route I have suggested. A line by that route could be built in sections, and could be much more easily and cheaply constructed than a line over the direct route.
– Do we not want a line to develop the Northern Territory?
– If we are to build a transcontinental line from the south to the north, surely we should have some regard for the settlement of the country through which it passes. That is a strong reason why we should take the line into or close to Queensland and New South Wales territory through country fit for settlement.
– Why build a railway from Port Darwin to Brisbane as a consideration to South Australia for handing over the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth ?
– South Australia has had control of the Territory for many years, and in my judgment it has crippled that State. When with three others I built the first portion of the line from Port Augusta to Government Gums, it was supposed to be the first section of a transcontinental railway. The line has since been carried on to Oodnadatta.
– Why should it stop there?
– Because South Australia found that there was no traffic for the railway. It was not possible to settle the country through which it passes, not because of the poor quality of the land, because much of it is rich land ; but because there is practically no rainfall in the district.
– No; because the line practically ends in a culdesac.
– If the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta passed through good country with a sufficient rainfall, thousands of people would before now have been settled on it. What better proof can there be than that we who built the line did not lose a single day through rainfall during the five years we were engaged upon its construction?
– The honorable senator’s firm made a real good job of the work. It is a good line still. The train in which I travelled went over it at the rate of 40 miles an hour.
– What is to prevent a train from running fast over a line along a level plain, where there is not even a bird to block the way ?
– We saw beautiful “ horses, and plenty of artesian springs.
– There were no artesian wells when I was up there. I remember that we had to dig to get fresh water. Our locomotives had to be repaired every few days. My principal point is that the question of determining the route of the railway should be left to experts in order that settlement may be promoted.
– It will not be said that my attitude on this question is governed by parochialism, or bv a desire to promote the interests of one State at the expense of another. The question does not matter to Tasmania one way or the other. We -are not concerned with benefiting Queensland, or with bringing the railway through the centre of Australia for the benefit of Adelaide. I am open to conviction on the subject, although I know how I am going to vote as at present advised. The arguments that have been used have not convinced me up to the present that there is any justification for the Senate departing from the original intention to bring the railway down through the centre of Australia. An agreement has been entered into with the South Australian Government. It contains a condition to the effect that, unless the railway from Port Darwin to Pine Creek is connected with the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, she will not proceed with the contract. We have been confronted with contradictory legal opinions. The opinion of Mr. Dashwood, the Crown Solicitor of South Australia, on the. point whether the agreement will be null and void if the railway is not built entirely within the Northern Territory, is that the line must be constructed between the two points mentioned.
– The agreement is quite clear on that point.
– But we also have the opinion of Mr. Hughes, the Federal Attorney-General, who says -
I do not think that the words “to be built in the Northern Territory “ can either by themselves, or read with the rest of the agreement, imply that the whole course of the railway between Port Darwin and the boundary of South Australia must be entirely within the Northern Territory.
– I think that Mr. Mitchell, K.C., has given an opinion which concurs with that of Mr. Dashwood.
– The weight of authority seems to be against the Federal Attorney-General, and, speaking as a layman, it seems to me that the words “ to be built in the Northern Territory “ must mean that the railway must be built entirely within the Territory, and that not one foot “of the line must go outside of it. There is another aspect of the question that has agitated my mind considerably. I have always held the opinion that the Northern Territory should be taken over by the Commonwealth for defence purposes, if for no other reason. Some five or six years ago, we had before Parliament a Bill providing for the survey of a route for a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. I then expressed the opinion that it would be necessary in the interests of defence to connect the Northern Territory with the rest of Australia. In my opinion, the line with which we are now concerned is of even greater importance from a national and defence aspect than the line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. The defence aspect has always appealed strongly to me. Has it occurred to honorable senators that if a line is built from the present terminus at Pine Creek to the Queensland border, and made to connect with the present line from Melbourne to Brisbane, several breaks of gauge would be involved? From a defence point of view, it is evident that it would not be a good thing to have several breaks of gauge on a railway over which troops might have to be carried. If the line is built through the centre of Australia, however, those breaks of gauge will be avoided. I take it that the gauge of the Pine Creek line is 3 ft. 6 in. If that line were carried on to the Queensland border, it would connect with another 3 ft. 6 in. gauge line. This again connects with a 4 ft. 8^ in. gauge line in New South Wales, which joins on to a 5 ft. 3 in. gauge line in Victoria, and when Adelaide is reached, there is once more a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge line. That is an aspect of the question that has afforded food for grave thought to me. .It appears to me that for purposes of defence, which is the most important aspect, the weight of opinion is on the side of a line through the Northern Territory. An appeal has been made to the independent spirit of the Senate by Senator Givens, who urges that the question of railway construction should be left open. But if we leave it open, may we not lose the opportunity of dealing with the matter at all? Will not South Australia be able to withdraw the offer she has made to the Commonwealth? If the offer is withdrawn, what is to prevent South Australia from attempting to develop the Northern Territory by other means? We certainly do not desire the defence of Australia to be dependent upon the caprice of the owners of a land grant line.
– The honorable senator thinks that we are confronted with Hobson’s choice?
– Yes ; but it appears to me that the conditions offered are fairly generous. Senator McGregor, in his opening speech, referred to the millions of acres of land that the Commonwealth will acquire at 2 1/2 d. per acre as the result of this agreement. If that statement be anything like correct, we shall be making no bad bargain. The reason impelling me in the vote that I shall give is this : We have now before us an agreement which, if not accepted in its entirety, may be withdrawn.. If we can satisfy ourselves that the agreement is a fairly good one for Australia, the reasonable course is to accept it. Senator Givens, who spoke of the national aspect, protested too much. I am not sure that his national views were not rather tinged by consideration for the interests of his State. Senator Findley has properly alluded to the debt which the Commonwealth owes to South Australia for having done her best to develop the Northern Territory, and to keep it- free from coloured races. It might have been developed as portions of Queensland have been - by means of imported cheap labour.
– There has never been a kanaka inside the central plateau of Queensland.
– My argument is that if the South Australian Parliaments ofthe past had acted in the same way as Queensland Parliaments of the past did, by permitting the introduction of cheap alien labour, then the cry which has been raised here that the former State has not’ developed the Northern Territory might not have any weight.
– Queensland was quite as strong as South Australia on the exclusion of Chinese.
– The honorable senator cannot get away from the fact that’ a great deal of the country under sugar cane and bananas in Queensland was de-. veloped by cheap alien labour. To-day the greater portion of the bananas consumed in other parts of Australia are grown by Chinese labour, and the banana industry in Northern Queensland is practically in the hands of Chinese. Australia owes a debt to South Australia for not having descended to that way of peopling the Northern Territory. Before Queensland senators threw at South Australia the gibe that she has neglected her opportunities, and has not developed the Territory as she might have done, they might, I think, have considered that aspect of the question. The first time I ever heard the musical voice of Senator Givens was at Cairns on the night before the vote was to be taken on the Constitution Bill, and the chief reason which he advanced to a large audience why Queensland should vote for Federation was that it was dangerous to the interests of Australia that the development of the tropical or sub-tropical portions should depend upon foreign labour. That is exactly the view which South Australia took, and so it refused to develop the Northern Territory by cheap alien labour. For the reasons which I have given, I intend to vote for the Bill as it stands
– I shall not only vote for the Bill in its entirety, but, if there is any doubt as to the phraseology not being clear enough to indicate that the railway must go through the Territory, I shall support an amendment to make it clear. I think that even the opponents of the measure will be favorable to the wording being made so clear that there can be no mistake as to what is to be done in that regard. If the Bill is passed I shall always be proud of having been a member of the Parliament which sanctioned so great a national project. We are told by Senator Givens and others that the true national idea is to leave the opening up of the Territory by railways to the good faith of this Parliament, after having obtained expert advice and evidence. I think that within the boundaries of the Territory there is any amount of room for expert advice and evidence. We are told that its width is 560 miles, which leaves a margin of 280 miles on either side of the central point. It is clear to me that if, within such a wide margin, a railway could not be advantageously constructed, the Territory would be worthless. All this talk about South Australia dictat ing the terms to the Commonwealth is quite besides the issue. It takes two parties to make a bargain. The agreement which is embodied in the Bill must necessarily be accepted or rejected. It cannot be altered by one party without the other being consulted. Its rejection would necessarily mean the opening up of fresh negotiations or the abandonment of the project. If we should decide to abandon the project, then the talk- as to the danger of leaving the Territory open to possible invasion by aliens, which has been uttered all over the Commonwealth, will have been so much wind. If, on the other hand, fresh negotiations with South Australia are opened up that will mean delay. Perhaps South Australia may be glad of an opportunity to make fresh terms, and to give greater concessions.
– There is no possibility of that.
– Suppose that South Australia would be glad to get rid of the incubus of the debt at any price, even then the rejection of this agreement would necessarily involve delay. Tt makes my national spirit thrill when we are offered an opportunity to bisect Australia by a railway as nearly as practicable through its centre. One has only to glance at the map suspended in the Chamber to see the shortest possible route from ocean to ocean. All the talk about population within an easy distance of the eastern seaboard being so great compared with that in other parts of Australia, that in the event of hostilities it would be much easier to get troops round to the point of danger if the transcontinental railway were constructed in a more easterly direction so as to touch the great railway arteries going from the Queensland coast westerly - evidences, I think, a very shortsighted way of looking at the proposal. First, it means, notwithstanding what Senator Fraser said, a very considerable deviation lengthening the line by hundreds of miles, and second, it means that the Commonwealth would be constructing through a portion of New South Wales, and through a very large portion of Queensland, at its own expense, a railway primarily for the opening up and development of the latter State.
– Queensland would pay every cent of the cost of the railway through its’ territory.
– Then let Queensland build the railway on her own account, quite distinct from this proposal. If she desires to take several railway systems further west, and ultimately to connect with a transcontinental railway, then, if that railway is constructed by the shortest route through the Territory, it will mean that eventually Queensland will have to extend the lines running from the coast westward right out to her western border, and so open up the whole length and breadth of her territory.
– In any event, if the north and west develop, the Territory is going to be a province of Queensland.
– I think that it is going to be a province of Australia.
– Through Queensland it will be a province of Australia.
– The northern portion of the country may be opened up by a railway from Cloncurry, but we have to consider the connexion of Port Darwin with the extreme southern, part of the continent. I ask any one looking at the map on the opposite wall whether the red line from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin is not the shortest route. “ That being so, lines from the east will, we hope, ultimately meet the transcontinental railway from various points. I think that, unless overwhelming advantages can be pointed out, it would be a big mistake to make that line very much longer in order to take it in a more easterly direction. I know that that idea is popular in a portion of New South Wales, but it has no weight with me. All through the late election campaign I advocated the construction of a transcontinental railway by the Commonwealth, and of course precedent to that the taking over of the Northern Territory as a really national undertaking of paramount and immediate importance. 1 said that even if the bargain with South Australia were not so good as it was, it would be better for the Commonwealth to close with the offer - to take over the Territory at almost any price rather than to incur delay. I think that if we were to act session after session on the lines sketched by Senator Givens we should, like Nero who fiddled while Rome was burning, be wasting precious time. Already we have waited too long before deciding to undertake this national work. If there is any reality in the talk about defence, then clearly every honorable senator must realize that it is not enough to have troops.
– The question is, who is to have the control of the Territory?
– It is a very big part of the question to have strategical railways for conveying our troops to the places where they would be wanted.
– Who is to lay down the policy - the Commonwealth or South Australia ?
– With honorable senators for Queensland the stock-in-trade argument is, who should have the right to say where the railway shall be constructed?
– ‘Who is to find the money ?
– The honorable senator if he sold me an estate would not expect me to call in somebody to decide whether I should pay him his price or not.
– I should not make any terms as to the development of the estate.
– I would remind the honorable senator that no person can be both huyer and seller, and that there must be two parties to every agreement. The rejection of the agreement embodied in this Bill would, I repeat, entail delay, because fresh negotiations would have to be opened up. Those who say that they are favorable to the main principle of the Bill, and will vote for its second reading, but object to the terms laid down in the agreement, are not giving it honest support. They are merely supporting it by words, and opposing it in reality. It reminds me of the objection which was offered in New South Wales for years to the introduction of a system of local government. The Bill was always killed ici the interests of the parish-pump politicians. So it is with honorable senators who are opposing this Bill.
– What about the Prime Minister’s opinion last session?
– We in New South Wales would like to get connected with Cunnamulla, and thereby join on to the proposed deviation from Queensland to the Northern Territory.
– That is certain to come.
– I believe that a railway from Bourke or some place in that vicinity will ultimately join on to the Queensland system at Cunnamulla, but let that line, be considered on its merits. It should be no part of a transcontinental railway. It is a travesty to talk about bisecting Australia with a grand transcontinental railway, and then to take it within a comparatively easy distance of the eastern coast. I suppose that even a large proportion of what is now looked upon as a wilderness in Western Australia will in course of time be opened up. Why should there not be opportunities in the future? Why should we not have a sufficiently large outlook to foresee the time when not one line will go from Perth to connect with the other systems, but perhaps several lines will go from different parts of that vast western State across to the transcontinental railway running north and south. In the same way I foresee the day when a network of railways, unless they are superseded by some better invention, may, continue the lines which now run -from Rockhampton, Townsville, and other centres of Queensland right across to the proposed transcontinental railway, linking up the whole continent north and south, as well as east and west. Having no large waterways, it is only by a vast network of railways that we can hope to make the whole of this continent fit for settlement and habitation. The proposed railway will be as it were a backbone line bisecting the continent as nearly equidistant from east to west as it is possible to be. I admit at once that the route indicated with red ink on the map from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek may not be the best to follow, but surely it will be possible to pick the best available route within an area 560 miles wide. There is margin enough there” to afford ample opportunity for the Commonwealth to exercise .1 wise judgment as to the route, and to comply with the spirit of the conditions laid down in the agreement. Those who talk about the large amount of money which will be required to develop the Territory, and to pay the interest on the accumulated deficit, take the gloomy, despondent view that there will be no assets in return.
– That is the history for the past twenty-five years.
– It is not quite fair to state it in that way. Assuming that it has bee’n a losing proposition up to date, admittedly that has been because the small community comprising South Australia proper has not been able to spare sufficient money to properly open up the Territory and develop it. Every one who is acquainted with the Territory says that it contains vast areas near the coast which can be devoted to pastoral and mineral pursuits, and the growth of tropical products. If it is capable of development in that way, may we not hope that this will eventually become a paying proposition? The money we put into the investment will not be sunk for all time. Even if it does not pay from a purely commercial standpoint, it must pay from another point of view, if the defence of Australia is not to be a mert pretence and sham. The only possible way in which we can protect that danger point in the Commonwealth is by connecting it with other portions of the Commonwealth by rail.
– The other States have built their railways out of their own resources. They have not come begging to the Commonwealth Parliament.
– South Australia is not begging in this matter at all. She is offering millions of acres of land which she has been unable to develop because she has not had sufficient means to do so.
– It is a bargain.
– -It is a bargain, and not a begging proposal at all. There is an influential .party in South Australia even now bringing pressure to bear upon the State Government to induce them to withdraw the offer and tear up the agreement.
– If there were not a Labour Government in power in South Australia that would be done.
– Every indication is in that direction.
– Even the Labour Government have promised to do it.
– I suppose that every Government are more or less amenable to public pressure. I hold the opinion that, from ,a national point of view, we have no time to lose in the construction of the transcontinental railway. A reference has been made to the varying gauges of Australian railways, and I should like to say that some attempt should be made to decide upon a standard gauge for the railway systems of this country.
– We shall never have that until we have federalized the whole of the railways.
– I am afraid that we shall not until the Commonwealth has control of the whole of the railways. I advocated that when Federation was first proposed. I thought that Federation without the federalization of the railways would be very much like Hamlet with the Prince of Denmark left out. I think the Government should convene an Inter-State Conference for the discussion of the question of a uniform gauge, and. when such a gauge is adopted, the proposed transcontinental railway should be constructed on that gauge. I do not think that the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge prevailing in South Australia should be the gauge adopted for a great transcontinental railroad. If the proposed railway were constructed on a standard gauge, I believe thatthe existing railways would rapidly be brought into line with it. I understand that the New South Wales gauge is the standard gauge of the world at the present time, and that might be adopted. I do not say this because I represent that State in the Senate. There is a possibility that the mono-rail may be found capable of fulfilling all requirements, and the transcontinental line might be constructed on that system. I think that this Bill should be amended to make it perfectly clear that the line shall be constructed through the Northern Territory. We should leave no room for litigation involving the Commonwealth and the States in expense and delay, and giving rise to friction and bad feeling. I believe that if we delay the settlement of this matter it will not be a question of a mere huckstering bargain with South Australia, but we may be faced with such danger from the coloured races lying to the north of Australia that we may curse the day we put any obstacles in the way of carrying out this project speedily. I regard the project as an essential part of our defence scheme. I believe that the provisions of our Defence Act will be ineffective unless this is undertaken as one of the most pressing obligations of the Commonwealth. I am prepared to go further than many honorable senators on my own side, and say that I have no doubt that, however much this railway will cost, it will be possible to build it out of revenue.
– We are all waiting for this information.
– I am aware that one of the strongest articles of the creed of honorable senators opposite, and as important to them, perhaps, as their spiritual belief, is that we should always borrow money for the construction of national works.
– Does the honorable senator think that he could construct the railway out of revenue?
– I am dead sure of it.
– I do not believe that there are three members of the Senate who agree with the honorable senator.
– There is no disgrace even in being alone. Senator Walker, 1 know, takes an interest in church affairs, and I am sure he must sometimes have read the hymn -
Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone.
And I am prepared to advocate the con struction of this line out of revenue if I should be alone in doing so. I remind honorable senators that it would absolutely dislocate the labour market of Australia to spend more than£500,000 on the construction of the line in one year. In my opinion, there would be nothing to prevent the Commonwealth expending that amount out of revenue in each year. Assuming that the line will cost£5,000,000 to build, it is clear that it could not be constructed in one year ; and I see no reason why it should not be constructed in sections out of revenue. So far from its being beyond the bounds of possibility, I think that it is well within practical politics for the Commonwealth to construct that railway, administer the Territory, and pay the interest on the debt already incurred, without borrowing money for the purpose. I remind honorable senators, further, that for defence purposes the construction of the line could be justified, even though it passed through a sandy desert the whole of the way, and if we are not going to borrow for defence purposes, I do not see why we should borrow for the construction of strategic railways.
– I am afraid the honorable senator is getting away from the question.
– I shall not enlarge upon that point. I am of opinion that the great body of the people of every State with which I am acquainted earnestly desire that the Northern Territory shall be acquired by the Commonwealth without delay.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I have nothing further to add to the remarks I have already made. I give my whole-hearted support to the Bill, and I trust that it will be carried.
– I am in favour of taking over the Northern Territory, with all its liabilities. I would invite honorable senators who accuse those who think there should be some modification of the agreement to ask themselves whether our position is not the national one, and theirs the provincial one; whether we are not the “ big Australians “ and they the “ little Australians “ ; whether we are not the promoters of national ideas, and they the upholders of localism, and, to put it in plain native English, of parish pump ideas. Every member of the Senate is in favour of taking over the Territory. I do not know what its resources are, and I do not care. It is enough for me that I believe that portion of the Australian Continent ought to be under the control of the people of Australia. I am willing that the Commonwealth should take it over with all its liabilities, present and contingent, but the crux of the matter, from my point of view, is that if the people of Australia are to assume responsibility for a present debt of ^6,000,000, and a future debt of, probably, another ^6,000,000, they should have the right to lay down the policy for the future development of the Territory. That would be an honest and honorable method of conducting the business. But one portion of the future development of the Northern Territory is laid down for us in the proposed agreement. Whether South Australia has a right to seek to impose conditions or not, I am not going to offer an opinion ; but I say that men sent here to look after the welfare of the Commonwealth are not acting in the interests of the people of Australia if they are prepared, on behalf of the people, to assume a present liability of ^6,000,000, and a future liability of another ^6,000,000, and hand over the direction and control of the Territory to the people of one State. The people of Australia, as a whole, will have to find the money for the development of the Territory, and they are, therefore, entitled to lay down the policy. That is all I am contending for. Speakers on the other side have talked all round the Bill. They have put up Aunt Sallies, and knocked them down again. They have dealt with everything but the one point of difference between those who are in favour of the Bill and those who are opposed to it. The one question at issue is whether the future development of the Territory is to be under the control of the people who will have to find the money, or to be carried out on lines laid down for them at this stage by South Australia.
– No, the question is whether we shall ratify the agreement or reject it.
– 1 repeat that a section of the policy of future development is laid down in the agreement. If South Australia wishes to get rid of the Northern Territory, and if she wishes to get rid of her Oodnadatta railway - and I do not wonder that she should, for a more madcap scheme than the construction of that line was never undertaken in Australia - that should be frankly stated. The railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta runs for its whole length through what is neither more nor less than drifting sand. There had been a strong wind on the day previous to my arrival at Oodnadatta, and on going down to a camp of Afghan carriers, who had put their goods on the ground the previous night in readiness to be loaded on to the camels’ backs next day, we found that the goods were buried under heaps of sand which had drifted over them in one night. *
– I was on the same trip, and saw nothing of the kind.
– Does it follow that because the honorable senator did not see it, it was not to be seen? Honorable senators can accept my assurance that I saw it, and other members qf the Senate, as well as members of the House of Representatives, were with me, and also saw it. If Senator Pearce did not see it, it was because he did not stretch his legs in that direction.
– Did I not? I saw more on that trip than the honorable senator did, as he knows.
– There are other honorable senators here who can corroborate my statement. Senator Pearce cannot deny that there is no agriculture, and that the pastoral industry is carried on in but a very small way in the country through which this railway runs. It is quite unfitted for settlement under present Australian conditions. The line cost over ^2,000,000 to build, and the South Australian Government run a train over it once a fortnight, at an annual loss of ^80,000. They admit that, but I am personally of opinion that the loss is very much greater. The South Australian Government claim that there is a balance of ^12,000 on the working of the line after paying working expenses. There are twenty-six trains run over it each way per annum, which would mean a revenue of ^500 a trip. I do not believe for a moment that traffic to the value of .£500 was ever carried over that line in one trip. There is no traffic there. The country through which it goes is a desert, and 1 am sure that South Australia would be exceedingly glad to get rid of the line.
– Is it not necessary to bridge over deserts with railways?
– It is not usual for people to run a railway into a desert to begin with. If there is desert country in any State, the people do not go there until they are compelled to do so. They do not attempt to develop the desert part of their country while there are hundreds of thousands of square miles of good country awaiting development. That would be a fool’s policy. It may be the policy adopted by South Australia, but I hope it will never be the policy of the Commonwealth. I do not think the people of Australia are such fools as to adopt any such policy. I believe that they are a wise people, very much wiser than many of their representatives, and they will endeavour to develop the best portions of Australia to begin with. Only when they are compelled by stress of circumstances should they retire to the desert fastnesses of Australia. No one is more anxious than I am to develop this country. I have proved that throughout my public life. I have consistently endeavoured to remove obstructions from the path of development. Australia is capable of maintaining a very much larger population than she has at present. I believe that that population can be grown here as a consequence of proper legislation and administration. We have tens of thousands of square miles of fertile country, which we ought to develop before we tackle the desert. So much for that point. My principal contention is this : The Commonwealth will have to bear the expense of developing this Territory. The people of Australia will have.. to pay the piper. Therefore, they ought to have the privilege of calling the tune. But if some honorable senators have their way, such will not be the case. A section of the people will lay down the policy for which the people of Australia, as a whole, will have to find the money. Is that Democratic Government ? Is that the kind of proposal one would expect from a party or a Government whose cardinal principle is equal opportunities for all ? Where does the equal opportunity come in here? It reminds me of a story about two boys. Each had a penny. One gave his coin to the other, who bought a two-penny cigar, lit it, and smoked it. When it was nearly consumed, the other boy became alarmed, wondering when he was going to get a pull. He asked where he came in. “ Oh,” said his mate, “ You looks on and spits.” Thai is how the Commonwealth is to be treated by this Government. It can look on and spit, while South Australia lays down a policy for which the whole Commonwealth finds the money. If that be national senti- ment translated into action, it seems to me to be something too funny to be heard of outside a lunatic asylum. Are we going to allow one State to dictate as to how our Consolidated Revenue shall be applied? We would never permit such a thing. No section of the community would have the impudence, the audacity, or the impertinence, to ask to be privileged in such a way. But South Australia, forsooth, while she is very anxious to get rid of this white elephant of hers, wishes to dictate, as one honorable senator said to-day, as to how the elephant shall be fed. We hear a great deal about the dangers which confront us in the north. If South Australia were the truly patriotic State that her representatives would make us believe her to be, she would come to the Commonwealth and say, “ Here you are; we have sustained the burden of this Territory for a number of years; we have incurred a certain amount of debt upon it; we are not able to go any further; take it from us, and God bless you. Pay us what it has cost us, and develop the country as the people of Australia think proper.”
– That would be a confession of helplessness.
– The fact of the matter is, as Senator Story ought to know, that South Australia is helpless.
– She is not.
– She cannot develop the- Territory, or do anything with it.
– Yes she can.
– If she could do anything to develop the Territory, I do not believe she would ever have offered it to the Commonwealth Government.
– She is now rather sorry that she has done so.
– I do not believe a bingie word of that story.
– The Imperial Government would take the Territory on better terms than those which the honorable senator would give.
– Here is another Nationalist talking ! Here is one who would sacrifice the true national spirit for the sake of his own little provincial ideas ! If I were an Australian of that brand, I should he ashamed of myself. Think of it - that any member of this Parliament should propose to hand over a portion of this continent lo the British Government !
– The British Government could come and take it if they liked.
– Perhaps they could come and take the whole of Australia if they liked. I do not believe that there is a single man or woman, even in South Australia, who would ever dream of handing over the Northern Territory to the British Government.
– If we dilly-dally, others may take it.
– Who is going to take it? This bugbear of defence is continually brought up in connexion with the question. The whole of Australia is in danger until our population is increased. I believe that every honorable senator is wideawake to that fact, and is anxious that the population of this continent should be largely increased at as early a date as possible. But the whole of the danger does not lie in the Northern Territory. Does any man in his senses dream that a Power like Japan or China, or any other great Power that wanted to invade Australia, would land an army in the Northern Territory? Nothing of the kind. They would come down here, to the heart of Australia, where they could capture fertile areas. They would come where it would be possible for their people to live in comfort, and even in luxury. They would not plant themselves in a God-forsaken land like that. If we want to provide for the defence of Australia, we must populate Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia; although I must say that there does not seem to be much chance in the latter State. The place is so absolutely barren. Only one portion of it is fit for habitation. The proof of that statement is that there is no country under the sun whose population is so largely concentrated in one city as South Australia. Why does everybody in the State run to Adelaide? Because they cannot live elsewhere, and if it were not for Broken Hill they could not even live there in Adelaide. Heaven knows what will happen to them when the Broken Hill mines cease to be productive !
– That is not a nice way for the honorable senator to be fouling his own nest.
– I am not fouling the nest; the nest is there.
– That is a nice libel on a State of the Commonwealth.
– It is not a libel.
– It is.
– But I know that it is not.
– The statement is certainly not true of South Australia.
– Every one knows that, with the exception of a small area around Adelaide, the land of South Australia is of a very poor character.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– It is unfitted to maintain a large population under existing conditions.
– An igno:ant statement, undoubtedly.
– It is not my statement. It is a statement which has been written by Nature upon the soil of South Australia, and that is plain to every one who goes there to see. However, my own opinion is that every man should speak the truth about his country.
-He should speak of what heknows something about. The honorable senator evidently does not know what he is talking about.
– Well, I have been there. I have examined the statistics of South Australia. I find that the state of things is as I have described. South Australia is absolutely without a parallel anywhere.
– In what way ?
– There is no other country, so far as I know, where half the population is centred in one city. In South Australia three- sevenths of the whole population is centred in Adelaide.
– What proportion of the population of New South Wales and Victoria is resident in cities?
– The proportion is too great everywhere. But South Australia is, I think, far the worst of all the States in that respect. The impression conveyed to my mind from reading the statistics is that the evil to which I have referred is more accentuated in South Australia than anywhere else. The reason for . that, as far as I have been able to discover, is that there is in South Australia less land fitted for close settlement than in any other State of the Commonwealth.
– When the honorable senator is arguing on the land question, he says that the reason is that all the good land is locked up.
– Much of the good land is locked up. No doubt there is a great deal of fair land in South Australia, but the climatic conditions are not very favorable. The rainfall is scanty. Within about 200 miles of Adelaide the country is something like land in Queensland which is 500 or 600 miles from the coast. That was the impression conveyed to my mind when J passed through it.
– It was a wrong impression.
– In any case, that has very little to do with the question under consideration. We are concerned with the development of the Northern Territory. I am willing to vote for the Commonwealth taking over the Territory, but not on the conditions set forth in this agreement.
– The honorable senator wants the Commonwealth” to get the Territory for nothing, with a bonus thrown in.
– No; but I say that if the Commonwealth is to pay the piper, it ought to have the privilege of calling the tune. That is only fair. Senator Rae drew a comparison between the seller of a piece of land and the buyer. [He said that a seller will only sell at his own price, and that a buyer will try to buy on his own terms. But that is not a parallel case.
– 1 said’ that it takes two to make a bargain, and this is a bargain.
– This is a case of a property, the owner of which is very anxious to get rid of it. South Australia has had the Territory for a long period of years. I have no doubt that her intentions were, and are, admirable. She would have deve-. loped the Territory if she could have done so. But, unfortunately, circumstances were against her, and the task was beyond her capacity. Therefore she is willing to hand the Territory over to the Commonwealth 3 but on one condition only, and that is that it shall be developed on lines which she has laid down. Those lines are intended to bring all the traffic of the Territory down to Adelaide.
– Or up to Port Darwin.
– I do not care where the trade comes from, or where it goes to; what I insist upon is that if the Commonwealth assumes this responsibility, and pays this money, it ought to lay down, on behalf of the people of Australia, who will have to find the cash, what the line of development shall be. _ I do not know what the resources of the Northern Territory me and I do not care. My point Ls that, in the interests of Australia, .some attempt should be made to develop the Territory ; and that if the people of Australia take it upon their shoulders to carry it on, they should frame the policy. That proposition is denied by the supporters of this Bill. _They say, “ You can take the debt and the responsibility, but we will dictate the policy.” That is a beautifully national sentiment ! We have heard something about black labour in Queensland.
– There is a larger proportion of coloured people in the Northern Territory than there ever was in Queensland.
– Of course. The only reason why more Chinamen have not gone to the Northern Territory is that they did not think it was a fit place to live in.
– The Chinamen own it now.
– The great majority of people who are there at present are Chinamen. If the country had been anything like what some people say it is, there would have been thousands there instead of a comparatively small number. With regard to defence, my own opinion is that the danger in regard to the Northern Territory is not so great as some people say. Any great foreign Power invading Australia would aim its blow at the heart of the country. Moreover, we may rely upon it that any Power which came down to these seas with a hostile intent would be strong enough to attack us in our chief citadels, and be done with us. Taking the matter from the point of view of those who favour this proposal, it means the building of a railway right up from Port Augusta to Port Darwin. Suppose that an enemy landed at Port Darwin some morning at an early hour. What would happen when that fact was wired all over Australia? Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria would have to rush their troops round to Port Augusta to be conveyed to Port Darwin.
– Why? Why should they not go direct?
– It will take a long period of years to build this railway.
– So it will to build the other.
– This afternoon, Senator Rae said that he did not see any reason why the railway should not be built out of revenue. Unless a very much larger amount of revenue was raised by the Com < monwealth, or unless, on the other hand, our expenditure in other directions was very rauch less, it would take us about halfacentury to build the line out of revenue. I am not saying that I object to the policy. I am quite willing to leave it to the people of the Commonwealth to lay down .the policy after sufficient evidence has been collected.
– After a reasonable delay.
– Yes ; but if that policy were adopted, and the railway built right through the heart of Australia, no matter what the character of the country may be, Queensland and New South Wales would have to extend their lines right out to the border of the Northern Territory, and the Commonwealth Government would have to build spur lines from the main trunk line to join with them. The whole thing would have to be linked up, and that would take a very long time. I am not attempting to suggest a policy. I am quite willing to leave that in the hands of the Commonwealth. I am quite willing to take over the Territory with every obligation which it now carries - a debt of ;£6, 000,000.
– Yet the honorable senator is endeavouring to prevent it.
– I might just as well turn round, and say that the honorable senator is endeavouring to prevent it. The only difference between us is that whereas he asks the Commonwealth to take over the Territory, and to be responsible for the money, while reserving to his own State the right to dictate the policy, I am quite prepared to vote for taking over the Territory, with its debt, present and prospective, but I claim that the people of Australia, who will have to find the money to do that, ought to lay down the policy. He wants South Australia to dictate to the Commonwealth, but I want the latter to be master in its own house.
– Nothing of the kind.
– There lies the whole difference between us.
– The whole question has been placed before the people, and we will see the result when a vote is taken.
- Senator Findley said he was sure that if the voice of the people could be taken by means of a referendum, a large majority would be in favour of taking over the Northern Territory. I quite agree with him there. But he said also that they would be willing to take it over on the conditions laid down in the agreement. I beg leave to differ with him there. I have never yet discovered that the people of the Commonwealth were willing to allow a section of the Commonwealth to dictate a policy to them, while they collectively had to find the money to carry it out. If a man has to find money he wishes to have some voice in the expenditure of it. What was the cry of the early reformer in Great Britain? It was, ‘ No taxation without representation.” Taxation without representation is exactly what certain honorable senators are trying to thrust down the throats of the people of the Commonwealth. They want the people of the Commonwealth to develop the Territory, but refuse to them any voice in laying down the developmental policy. That is in direct violation of the national idea, and the men who preach that doctrine, and call themselves Nationalists are, to put it mildly, labouring under a delusion. They are nothing of the kind.
– Did not the honorable senator deal with the question- of the Northern Territory at the general election?
– I said that I was prepared to vote for taking it over, but on exactly the same conditions as I am stating now. and the electors returned me. What they said to me in effect was, “ Take over the Territory, but insist upon the Commonwealth laying down the policy.” I am carrying out that mandate this afternoon. And even if they had not said that to me, if they had told me to work the handle of the parish pump, I do not think that I should be very willing to do it, because it is an operation which no man who professes to be an Australian ought to attempt to perform. We should not have any parochialism here. There should not be any State ideas in the Commonwealth Parliament. We are all one people, with one destiny I hope, and a community which is afraid to trust itself in the hands of the people of Australia as a whole is one which ought not to be trusted. South Australia takes up this position. “ You can take our debt, we will give it to you, and welcome, but you have to manage this business in the way we tell you.” That is not a policy which those who represent the people of Australia ought to accept. It is not a policy which South Australia should ask them to indorse.
– That is not a fair statement of the position.
– It is. SoutH Australia says to the Commonwealth, “You must do this thing in our way.”
– No. She says, “ We will give you the Territory.”
– If South Australia would say, “ We will give you the Territory to develop in the way which the people of the Commonwealth think best,” then I would say that it had done something patriotic, that it was possessed of national spirit, that it was, so to speak, a fit citizen. But when it comes forward in this huckstering fashion, and says, “ Take our debts, take over the Territory, but develop it in the way we desire. If you do not, then you cannot have it,” then it is playing a dog-in-the-manger game. It is not a Nationalist State. It is a pettifogging, huckstering, bargain-making State. I do not particularly blame its representatives here, because I know what politicians are. They have to accommodate themselves to their environment. If they do not they will lose their seats. The last thing which any politician desires is to lose his seat; indeed, in many cases, he would rather lose his life. So the honorable senators from South Australia, who take up this attitude, are to be excused, but those who come from other portions of the continent are not to be excused. They, at least, ought to stand up for the national idea. They, at least, ought to see that justice is done to the people of the Commonwealth. They, at least, ought to see that Australia is kept to the front all the time, and not any particular portion of it. The only difference between the supporters of the Bill as it stands, and myself, is that they are advocating not nationalism, but localism - sectionalism - which, the Parliament ought not to tolerate for an instant. I shall vote for the second reading, but if the Bill can be altered in Committee in the way which I have indicated, I shall be glad. I shall do my very best to bring about such alterations as will bring it into line with my ideas on the subject.
– Since this Bill was defeated last session, a general election has been held. In Queensland, the candidates were opposed to the Northern Territory being taken over on the terms laid down by South Australia, but they were not opposed to the Commonwealth taking it over with the right to develop it in whatever way it might think fit. They were quite prepared that the Commonwealth should pay the money which South Australia had expended on the Territory, and deal liberally with its people. I have no fault to find with them for trying to make the best possible bargain, and, if they can, to compel the Commonwealth, by means of the votes of their representatives here, to take over the Territory on their terms. What I do find fault with is the statement that South Australia does not want to part with the Territory. After the previous Bill was defeated here, the State had ample time in which to withdraw from this business, but it did not do so. The statement that the people of South Australia do not want to part with the Territory on any terms, even on their own terms, is rather too thin, or, if you like, too thick for the people of Australia to swallow. We have seen vast sums voted to different States for different reasons, but now we are asked to accept a proposal which I do not believe for a moment the people of Australia would ratify if they had a chance to express their opinion. I, for one, should be quite prepared to take a referendum of the people on the question of taking over the Northern Territory on the terms laid down in the agreement.
– The honorable senator would be prepared to do anything to stop it.
– No. I do not wish to stop the railway from being made. I want the Commonwealth to make the line, and at the same time to give its people a voice in determining the developmental policy. From those who are now seeking to compel the people of Australia to build a transcontinental railway in the way in which South Australia desires, we heard a great deal last session about the Commonwealth being leg-roped if the Financial Agreement were carried, but I do not hear anything about leg- roping from them now.
– The two things are quite different.
– What they say now is, “ This is a national project ;. we- are in power, and will carry it in spite of any obstruction which you “may offer.” Well and good. I suppose that eventually I shall have to submit, but I do not intend to submit, so long as I can raise a voice in protest. I am not against the second reading of the Bill. Far from it. I am quite prepared to allow the measure to go through if the route of the railway is left an open question. But I am not prepared to vote for a proposal which I believe in my heart the people of Australia would condemn if they had a chance to speak. At the last election, this question was not made a burning one. In Queensland, the candidates declared that they were willing that the Commonwealth should take over the Territory from South Australia, and pay a fair and reasonable amount, but they were not willing to be bound by the agreement. Of course, we hear a lot about South Australia. I do not wish to take away any credit which is due to her for the effort which she made to develop the Territory, a task which she found to be beyond her financial resources. I, with others, went to inspect the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. 1 had heard a great deal which was not favorable to the line, and what I saw convinced me that the position was really worse than had been alleged. At the same time, I give every credit to the people of South Australia and its Government for their pluck in attempting to build the line through to Port Darwin. I know that they have expended a large sum of money, and that the Territory has been a white elephant to them for years. Forty years ago it was offered to Queensland, but she had sufficient country of her own to develop, which I am happy to say she is doing very rapidly. Thinking that there was money to be made, South Australia took over the Northern Territory, but found that it had made a mistake. We know very well that if the agreement is adopted,’ as no doubt it will be, the people of Queensland, as well as the people of Tasmania, who, through a representative, asked the Senate this morning to redress their grievances, will be compelled to pay their portion of the millions which the Commonwealth will be called upon to expend. Tasmania is unable to do so, and remain financially sound. Queensland, I am happy to say, is able to do so, and remain financially sound. At the present time, the latter State has more railways than has any one of the other States,
– The honorable senator is not correctly putting the position of Tasmania.
– Through the honorable senator, Tasmania asked for assistance from the Commonwealth, early this morning, and I was willing to support the claim, as I told him.
– No; for justice.
– I shall accept the honorable senator’s statement, although I know very well that in this case “ justice “ means “ assistance.” In this Bill, the Government are asking that little State “to saddle itself with a debt which it is unable to bear.
– Nothing of the kind.
– The honorable senator has only to turn to the records of the Tasmanian Parliament to find a distinct statement that owing to the proposed Financial Agreement, the State will not be able to carry on without imposing extra taxation.
– No representative of Tasmania, in either House of this Parliament, has ever neglected to discharge his responsibilities to the whole of the States.
– The honorable senator has his opinion on that question, and I have mine. Queensland is extending her railway system westerly. At present, a railway stops at about 200 miles from the border of the Northern Territory, but within eighteen months, if it were necessary, it could be carried over that distance. Will not that line, when it is made, help to develop the Northern Territory ?
– It will go too far north.
– The land adjacent to the Roper River is the best portion of the Territory. It can be developed by that railway at the cost of the people of Queensland, without asking them to pay a share of the cost of making a railway’ through one of the most infertile portions of the Commonwealth. South Australia, I repeat, wants the Commonwealth to take over the Northern Territory on conditions which are not fair to the other States’ That is the reason why we had no voice in the making of the agreement.
– It was adopted by the Prime Minister.
– The Prime Minister is nothing to me. No Prime Minister is going to bind me in this matter. I come here as a free agent. I opposed this measure when it was introduced by a Government I supported. I do not come here tied . hand and foot to vote for anything a Prime Minister proposes. The Queensland railways are being extended out to the west, almost up to the border of the State, and branch lines are being constructed from the main trunk lines. But this railway construction is being carried out at the expense of the taxpayers of the State. We have a right, therefore, to ask that South Australia shall develop her own territory. If we take the Territory over, we should be at liberty to develop it as we think fit. The people of Queensland never thought of asking the Commonwealth to extend their line from Townsville to Cloncurry^
They have sufficient spirit to develop their own territory at their own expense. But they do object when they have done so to be asked to bear a portion of the expense of developing the territory of another State. I travelled over the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, in company with the South Australian Minister of Railways, the Railway Traffic Manager, and other officials, and 12 or 15 miles out from Port Augusta we were shown a number of stone houses that had been erected by the Government for people settled along the line. We could just see the top df the chimney of one of them, as the rest of the house was buried under drifting sand.
– Port Augusta itself was in that condition at one time, but it is not so now.
– Port Augusta gets plenty of sand still. The railway has been in existence for a good many years, and a number of experiments have been made to deal with the drifting sand without success. Senator Guthrie, in his wisdom, may think that he knows more of the matter than do the South Australian railway officials, but I prefer to take the opinion of the officials, some of whom were bom in the country, and have lived there all their lives. On the occasion of our visit, wa were told that another storm might remove a portion of the sand we saw covering the houses, and that if we came back in a months’ time there might not be even the top of a chimney to be seen. When we got to Quorn, I was driven out to see a little of the country, and I admit that under the foothills there was an oasis, a patch in the desert with good crops, but 6 or 7 miles away the crops were an absolute failure, and we were told by the residents that this was due to the fact that there had been no rain except under the foothills.
– That was only one year.
– I am sorry to say that, according to the local people, the same thing occurs very often. I am sorry that the land in the district is not better and more suited for settlement, and 1 am satisfied that if it were, South Australia would continue to hold the Northern Territory, and we should not be asked to take it over! I was told, and I have. read, that the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta is run at a loss of £80,000 a year.
– The loss is not £80,000 a year.
– It is said that figures may be used to prove anything, but 1 have read, as well as heard, the statement made.
– The honorable senator is including interest on construction?
– Of course, I am. If Senator Rae risks money on a business and does not make interest on it, he loses money. South Australia had to borrow money with which to construct that line, and must pay interest on that money. There is no doubt that the line is run at a dead loss. From Quorn we went on to Oodnadatta, and what did we see there? Senator Stewart has described one camp that we saw. It has been stated that the people did not tell us the truth, but I do not know why they should not do so. We were taken to see the best land, and it was very bad. I walked a few miles out from Oodnadatta, and no sign of vegetation could be seen. We asked the local people why the Commonwealth should be invited to take over a country which is nothing but a desert, and that is swept with sand carried by a wind which has blown. up from the Gulf from time im- memorial ? We saw small metal raked up in heaps along the line, and we were told that Afghans were employed in collecting it. All that it is necessary for them to do is to rake it together in heaps. A railway employ^ told us that one heap was larger than he expected it to be, and on digging into it he found a dead camel in the middle of it. That is a fact, vouched for by railway men working on the line, and it shows that the Afghans are not as simple as they look. After seeing all this desert, the only consolation the local people could give us was that 200 miles ahead, on the Macdonnell Ranges, there was better country. That reminds one that men wandering on the plains in search of water are buoyed up with the hope that they will find it ahead. They see a mirage on the plains, and go on until they perish. South AustraLia wants us to go ahead with this railway until some of the smaller States perish for lack of the funds which will be required to construct it. I should like to say that I believe in the White Australia policy, and fought for it long before many men in this Parliament thought of it. I was then in North Queensland, where we opposed, as strongly as we could, the introduction of black labour. I hope, sir, you will allow me a little latitude in dealing with this matter, because we have been told from the other side that Queensland was developed by black labour.
– Hear, hear !
– I distinctly deny that statement. If the honorable senator were in Queensland to-day, he would not be prepared to make such a statement to a Queensland audience.
– I saw the black labour there.
– It is the white men. of North. Queensland who have developed that country. What happened in connexion with the mines of North Queensland?
– I am not talking about the mines.
– Was not the opening up of the mines a means of developing the country? I repeat that North Queensland was developed by white men. It was white men who opened up the Palmer, which was then as far removed from civilization as are any portions of the Northern Territory to-day. I repudiate with scorn the statement that North Queensland was developed by black labour. It is true that black labour was introduced to carry on one branch of the sugar industry.
– I am afraid that the honorable senator is getting away from the subject.
– You have allowed others, sir-
– No. I stopped Senator Findley when he tried to deal with the black labour question, and brought him back to the question before the Senate. He made a statement on the subject of black labour, and Senator Sayers has now replied to it.
– With all due respect to you, sir, the statement made by Senator Findley with appear in Hansard, and surely you will allow it to be contradicted ?
– The honorable senator has already contradicted the statement. He was going into the reasons why black labour was introduced in connexion with the sugar industry, and it appeared to me that he intended to give the whole history of the matter.
– No, I wish only to be allowed to make a passing reference to the subject. The statement which Senator Findley made can have reference only to the action taken in connexion with one branch of the sugar industry. It is the white people of North Queensland who developed the country and assisted to bring about Federation, and they have always protested against black labour, as I hope they always will. I should like to enlarge upon the subject, and some other time I hope to be able to deal with it more fully.. We have been told that the Northern Territory has been kept white, but the- fact remains that after forty years of control by South Australia there are two coloured men for every white man in the north, according to the latest statistics, and the numbers of both coloured and white are diminish-, ing. In spite of this fact, we are given glorious accounts of the Territory, and are told that it will keep thousands of people. I am satisfied that in time it will, but it will not be until the better and more accessible lands of the Commonwealth are all occupied. The Northern Territory may then be settled and developed by people born and reared in North Queensland and Western Australia under somewhat similar climatic conditions. That is what happened in connexion with settlement in America. It was not until hundreds of years after the good lands of America were settled that what were called “the bad lands” in the United States were taken up. They were settled by men born and reared in the country, and accustomed to those climatic conditions.
– We can never hope to get settlement hundreds of miles from civilization unless we provide means of communication for the settlers.
– It is possible to provide means of communication with the Northern Territory without going to the expense which would be involved in carrying out the terms of this agreement. The people of Queensland are willing to build railways to the boundaries of that State and the Northern Territory at their own expense.
– To tap just a little corner of the Territory.
– No, a very big corner, which includes the Roper River, the lands along which are the best areas in the Territory. I can remember a time when Queensland had no railways, and even then people were settled 600 miles west from the coast grazing sheep there, as they are doing to-day. The wool was brought down to the port in bullock drays, and the settlement of the country was carried on profitably. How much of the Northern Territory 600 miles from the coast is settled? The country might be opened up if the railways from Rockhampton and Townsville were extended to the Macdonnell Range country, and further north from Cloncurry.
– There is nothing in the proposal before the Senate to prevent Queensland doing what the honorable senator suggests.
– But there is something in this proposal to compel Queensland to pay a share of the interest on the cost of a railway which will be of no earthly use to the people of that State.
– Queensland need not do what the honorable senator has suggested unless she thinks it worth while.
– Queensland will do her duty, and does not come here to ask consideration from the honorable senator. We have been told that the railway from Port Darwin to Pine Creek has been constructed by South Australia, but how was that railway made? White men attempted its construction, and had to leave it to be finished by Chinamen. In the construction of that railway, Chinese were harnessed to carts, with which they dragged the stuff out of the cuttings. That is the. way in which the Northern Territory was kept white by South Australia, and, as I said before, there are now two coloured men for every white man in the country.
– The honorable senator is giving a good reason why we should take the Territory over.
– We are asked to take it over for various reasons. The people of the Commonwealth are being asked to allow themselves to be “ legroped,” and told to build the line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek.
– It is a good thing for Australia that the honorable senator can prevent it.
– I opposed a similar proposal before, when I was sitting behind a Government, as the honorable senator is now. But I am not to be made the lapdog of any Government, and I shall continue to oppose this proposal as long as I am a member of the Senate. We are told that this transcontinental railway will be a line of defence, and I may say, in reply to that argument, that if an enemy landed at Port Darwin, and there was no railway to the south, they would have as much chance of getting south as they would have of flying.
– They might establish a base there.
– An enemy could find plenty of good country on which to establish a base without going into a desert. They could establish a base at Normanton, where they could find plenty of cattle and sheep, and an abundance of water. What would they be able to get at Port Darwin? If they landed there they would have to take with them every ounce of food they required, and when they had established their base they would be in very much the same predicament as were the soldiers of Napoleon after they reached Moscow. Why should an enemy, intending to invade Australia, pack himself away in a corner of the Continent when, by making his attempt elsewhere, he would find everything he wanted convenient to his hand ? Honorable senators who make such statements must be hard pressed for arguments, and must have a very low opinion of the capacity of the generals who would plan a campaign against Australia. Only a fool would think of landing an army at Port Darwin, and marching it across the desert. If we leave that desert untraversed by railway, Australia will be much safer from attack in that direction than she will be if we build a line through it. If, however, we really want a. railwayfor military purposes in the north, our best plan would be to build a line from Pine Creek to the Queensland border. I have no doubt that the Queensland Government would then link up the line with the general railway system of Australia. As regards the quality of the Territory itself, it is true that the Barclay table lands contain some very good grazing country. I know, as a matter of fact, that hundreds of Queenslanders, Victorians, and New South Welshmen, have been all over the Northern Territory looking for country. If they could find good land to suit their purpose they would be quite willing to take it up.
– They could not get leases, because the whole matter of leasing land in the Territory has been held up in recent years.
– But I happen to know that people have been leasing land there for the last twenty years. Let me quote to the Senate an advertisement which I read in the North Queensland Register last year. It was as follows -
The properties of the Eastern and African Cold Storage Supply Co. Ltd.
To be sold by auction at the Royal Exchange, Sydney, on Wednesday, 26th May, 1909, at 2.30 p.m.
Situated in the Northern Territory, on the Hodgson River, the nearest portion of the property being about fifty miles from the Katherine Telegraph Station.
Tenure - Leasehold, 42 years.
Rent - at present, £303 3s. per annum.
There is a vast area of country having an area of nearly 6,000 square miles, and it brings a rent of only a little over£300 per annum. If the Commonwealth took over the Territory to-morrow it would not be able to interfere with existing leaseholds.
– The leases that I refer to were taken out twenty or thirty years ago. It is of no use for the Honorary Minister to pretend to know everything about the Northern Territory when he really knows nothing at all.
– Mr. O’Loughlin, the South Australian Minister controlling the Territory, has said that these leases could be acquired by the Commonwealth on compensation being paid if the land was wanted for other purposes.
– Did any one ever hear a statement like that from a Minister professing to understand a subject? Does Senator Findley suppose that this land in the Northern Territory could be used for agriculture? For the next hundred years it will be useless for such purposes. As to stock, the advertisement from which I have quoted contains the following information -
Stock. - The latest returns from the station show about 4,800 head of cattle (more or less) and 300 head of horses (more or less), but number of stock is not guaranteed.
Here is land for which the South Australian Government are getting no more than 1s. 3d. per square mile per annum, and yet we are told what valuable land it is. I admit that there is a considerable quantity of pastoral land, but certainly not sufficient to warrant the expenditure of £10,000,000 on the building of a railway to bring down the wool grown in the Territory. I was reading some time ago a book by Mr. Lindsay, who represented that the land of the Territory wanted nothing but capital to make it valuable. Of course his boos was a kind of prospectus written for a certain purpose. We all know what mining prospectuses are. Such things are produced to gull the public. This gentleman told his readers that sheep can be fed in thousands in the Territory. Even if we admit so much, what guarantee is there that the Commonwealth would receive an adequate recompense for the money spent upon a railway? Of course, while the price of wool remains high a fair case could be made out, but in ordinary seasons there would be not enough traffic on the line to bring it within reach of paying. The whole proposal is simply absurd. Personally, I am quite willing that the Commonwealth should take over the Territory if it is allowed to develop it on its own lines. But we ought not to permit our hands to be tied by South Australia. We should be free to do whatever we think best in the interests of the Commonwealth. I would pay South Australia for what she has spent on the Territory, and would treat her in no niggardly fashion in that respect. I shall not oppose the second reading of the Bill, because I am in favour of taking over the Territory, but I shall certainly endeavour to get the agreement modified in Committee. Those who some time ago were complaining about the leg-roping of the Commonwealth under the Financial Agreement, certainly ought not to vote for the proposed agreement. I shall do my utmost to support the amendment foreshadowed by Senator Givens, and will fight to the last ditch in opposition to the condition sought to be imposed by South Australia.
Debate (on motion by Senator Guthrie) adjourned.
Message received from the House of Representatives stating that it had made the amendment in the Bill requested by the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
.- I desire to take advantage of this opportunity to make an explanation concerning a statement made by the Honorary Minister, Senator Findley, with regard to an action alleged by him to have been taken by me in connexion with this Bill. He made the statement to-day, when he was discussing the second reading of the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, but what my action on this Bill has to do with that Bill passes my comprehension.
– I said that the honorable senator was consistent in opposing the Bill.
– The honorable senator said that I was in the habit of opposing, every measure brought down by the Government, altogether ignoring the fact that last week I sat up all night in order to assist them to get through the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and that I sat up last night to assist them to pass this Bill. Simply because I will not swallow every detail, I am to be accused by Senator Findley - and I pin him down to his specific statement on this Bill - of not giving to the Government that support which they have a right to expect. There was one main principle in this Bill, and that was the return of 25s.per capita per annum to the States: The question of when it was to be given was a detail. The question of how long it was to continue was also a detail. The one principle was the amount to be paid over. I supported the second reading of the Bill, but I did not agree with all the details, and in Committee I exercised my right to get them amended. I assisted the Government by staying here all last night to get the Bill put through, and I am now prepared to vote for the third reading. In the face of these facts, ] want to know what justification the Honorary Minister had for making such a reckless statement.
– The honorable senator knows what justification I had, and no one knows it better than he does.
SenatorGIVENS. - I shall be much” obliged if the honorable senator will take advantage of the motion for the third reading to get up and say it. However, it does not matter what he says. I have quoted the facts, which are on record in Hansard, and which are known to every honorable senator. I hope that the Honorary Minister will not throw these reckless statements round any more, unless he has some better justification than he had on this occasion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
– In moving -
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I desire to mention that, in view of the fact that we have now a pretty full businesspaper, it is proposed in the week following next week to ask the Senate to add Tuesday to its sitting days.
– Not Tuesday. Friday evening.
– During the day Senator de Largie sounded honorable senators on the subject, and found that, by a very large majority, their desire is that Tuesday should be the additional sitting day. We have endeavoured to study the wish of the majority. The motion to appoint the additional sitting day will be moved next week, and the object in making this announcement to-day is to give honorable senators an opportunity to make their arrangements.
– About last Tuesday week the Melbourne Age commented on a measure of public policy in a way which was directly personal to myself. I chose’ to reply to it, and it is within the knowledge of honorable senators that the Age, for reasons which were sufficiently good for itself, refused reinsert my reply. I now take the opportunity of reading the reply, which deals with a matter of public policy, in order that the public may know what sins were upon it, and honorable senators generally may be able to determine this matter for themselves. The letter reads -
The Editor, the Age.
I have seldom to thank the Age, politically, for anything it does or says. i beg, however, to thank you for your leader of to-day, in which you draw such graceful and personal attention to myself and my article in the July number of the Contemporary Review. i note, however, that you quote extracts which wrested from the text are in every instance a complete perversion of it. Pilate on a memorable occasion did something similar. He then asked, “What is truth?” and finally washed his hands of his own self-confessed iniquity. Wrest the texts, and a Barabbas deliverance follows as of course.
With so much of your leader as refers to me, personally or politically, i have no concern here, and little anywhere else. But i note that the whole of your leader is a sort of hedge built round myself, and the article in the Review, from behind which to lire at those Liberals who followed Mr. Deakin in the formation of the Fusion party and policy.
I do nol belong to a party, nor do I hold scarcely any vital or fiscal opinion which the Age could indorse. Conversely, I might put it, that any vital or fiscal opinion which the Age could indorse as such, would almost necessarily be one which I could seldom support. And because of that, I and others are dubbed Conservatives, Re-actionaries, or Tories. This is reminiscent of the proverb about “ Hard names and buttered parsnips.”
You say of Mr. Deakin’s action in the formation of the Fusion party and policy, if not directly, by necessary inference as to him and all of us, “ It was a sordid junction for the one sole purpose of a grab at office.” Now, I am no blind admirer of Mr. Deakin, but if’ ever a statement was personally unfair and unjust, surely that one is, if directed against Mr. Deakin. Every office in the Commonwealth’s gift has been open to hint for less than his asking for it. To any of them he might have retired for life, and at any time, with personal -ease and comfort to himself, and probably with the highest efficiency and certainly the highest honour in the discharge of it. Not his worst enemy, .nor his bitterest critic or opponent, but should feel, not only the shame -
– The reply continues - but the degradation of such a reflection on his personal honour even by’ the shadow of a shade of inference. Yet you seem to impute it to him, or I misunderstand your leader. But if you choose to leave him out of this, to whom then do you refer?
There were men in that Ministry, men who still as vigorously support the Fusion policy, whom the Age for years steadfastly supported and heM up to the public as worthy subjects for its and their confidence. Were they the guilty ones? If so, you were greatly mistaken with them in the past, or are grossly unjust 4o them now. Of course, there was the other section to the Fusion, but these were Conservatives, or Re-actionaries, or Tories, and were, and are, at all times, not only politically, the abomination of desolation, but out of such Nazarenes, and such a Nazareth, no good could -ever come to the people, and no truth, principle, trust, or honour could, according to the decalogue of the Age, be ever expected. Which attitude of the Age is also reminiscent of the proverb which warns us that “ He proves nothing who proves or asserts too much - “
– I beg to call attent ion to the state of the Senate.
The bells being rung -
– What good can this do?
– I waited for the adjournment to suit the convenience of honorable senators.
– It is contemptible. The thing has been organized. The Whip spoke to honorable senators opposite, and they went out.
– The whip did not.
– These recriminations must cease.
– I call” your attention, sir, to the fact that one honorable senator has left the chamber while the bells have been ringing. I refer to Senator Walker.
– The honorable senator must be recalled.
Senator Walker having returned, and, a quorum not being present,
The President adjourned the Senate at 3.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 August 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19100826_senate_4_56/>.