9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Greens) took the chair at3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is it the intention of the Leader of the Senate to place the Agenda of the Imperial. Conferenee before honorable senators at the same time that it is submitted in another place by the Prime Minister, in order that the debate may be proceeded with in both Houses concurrently?
– It is myintention to place the Agenda of the Imperial Conference before the Senate, and to make a statement thereon, but I cannot promise to do so at exactly the same time that it is submitted in another place. Much will depend upon the course of business in this Chamber, but an early opportunity will be afforded honorable senators to discuss matters arising out of the Agenda.
The. following papers were presented:
Papua - Ordinance No. 3 of 1923 - Supplementary Appropriation(No. 1) 1922-1923.
Customs Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1923, Nos. 90, 91, and 92.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - StatutoryRules 1923, No. 95.
Public Service Act . 1902-1918- Appointments Department of Health. -R. E. Richards; N. B. Charlton.
Tonnageof Phosphate Rocksupplied -punishmentforsorcery.
– On Friday, 20th July, Senator Lynch asked the following questions: -
I promised to obtain the information, and have ascertained that the particulars! requested are as follow:-
Other Countries. - In no case less than to Australia and New Zealand, allowing for differences in. freight, but it would be prejudicial to the interests of the Commission to disclose the prices.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
-In New Guinea and Papua the local administrations have found it necessary to penalize the use of magic when, in the common belief, it results in death or unlawful injury. Attention is also invited to the statement of Judge Murray as to the difference between the points of view of the native and the European. The native” looks upon sorcery as a reality, whereas the European, asa rule, does not.” Far these reasons there seems to. be no’ justification for asking the. Administrator of Nauru to amend the law relating to sorcery. For information as to what constitutes sorcery, I would refer the honorable senator to Judge Murray’s work, Papua or British New Guinea, pages 203-210 and 219-223.
asked the Honorary Minister (SenatorWilson), upon notice -
– The answers are as follow: -
With regard to the refusal to grant a permit to thes.s. Eastern, while there is no direct passenger service from Hobart to Melbourne, an adequate, pasenger service from Hobart to Melbourne, via Launceston, does exist, and, in the circumstances, the Minister of the day was not satisfied that it was in the public interest that unlicensed vessels be allowed to engage in the coasting trade.
Motion (by Senator Wilson) proposed -
That the reportbe adopted.
.- When the Bill was in Committee on Friday last, I referred to the engagement of Commonwealth vessels in the trade of the north-west coast of Tasmania. I have no desire to repeat what I then said ; but I should like to say that the Minister in charge (Senator Wilson) referred to certain figures-
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T.Givens) . - The honorable senator must know, for I reminded him on Friday last, that it is contrary to the Standing Orders to refer, in the Senate, to any speech made in Committee.
– Would not the honorable senator be in order if he moved that the Bill be recommitted ? He would then have an opportunity to give his reasons.
– It is, clearly laid down in our Standing Orders that, in the Senate, an honorable senator may not refer to any debate of the same session, or to anything said in Committee. Were that permitted, the debate on any measure might be interminable. If one honorable senator were allowed to refer in the Senate to a debate in Committee, every other honorable senator would be entitled to do so with the result that whereas in Committee speeches are limited to a quarter of an hour, in the Senate honorable senators would be able to speak for one hour in reviewing the work of the Committee.
– That might be a very good rule.
– I am not concerned with that matter; I have only to carry out what is laid down by the Standing Orders.
– At this stage honorable senators are at liberty to advance reasons against the adoption of the report. Without questioning your ruling, Mr. President, I suggest that it is competent for an honorable senator to move that the Bill be recommitted, and on such a motion to show that Senator Wilson, in Committee -
– I havelaid down what is thelaw of the Senate. It speaks for itself.
– I still think that I should be. in order in moving for the recommittal of the Bill for the. purpose of reconsidering clause 6, which deals with the appointment of the Board of Control. Having had two or three days in which to think over the matter, Senator Wilson and his supporters may be in a more agreeable frame of mind to-day and they might consent to the amendment of that clause if you would permit me to move a motion for the recommittal of the Bill.
– The, honorable senator will be quite in order in. moving that the Bill be recommitted.
– It will, perhaps, be advantageous to test the Senate on that one point. The only reason that will prompt me to do so is the hope that after four or five days away from the influence of the Minister honorable senators opposite may now realize that provision ought to be made for the representation of the workers, on the Board. A world-wide movement is afoot to see that those who do the real work of the world shall have a voice in determining the manner in which it shall be done.
– The honorable senator will be in order in giving reasons for the recommittal of the Bill, but not in advancing arguments in favour of the alteration of the clause.
– I shall not come into conflict with your , ruling, Mr. President. I am unable at present, however, to see how I can give reasons for the recommittal of the Bill withoutdiscussing the question whether the clause should be amended, because the reasons in both cases are almost identical. If I can draw the line between the two I shall do so. If the frame of- mind of honorable senators to-day is different from what it was on Friday, when the clause was passed in its present form, I shall probably succeed in carrying a motion for the recommittal of the Bill. I do not entertain very strong objections to the Bill on broad grounds, but there are some honorable senators who, like myself, desire that there shall be a representative of the workers on the Board. When that matter was -being discussed there was a division of opinion amongst honorable senators. Some honorable senators thought that we should have one representative, while others thought that there should be two. The question revolved round . the point whether the Board was to be constituted of three or of five members. Notwithstanding the fact that the Bill .is almost through the Senate, I am not yet able to say how many members it is intended to have on the Board. I do not think, the Minister, Senator Wilson, himself knows. I doubt whether it is not a matter of deciding how many people there are for whom positions have to be found. Perhaps the Minister will take advantage of this opportunity to enlighten the Senate. I move -
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 6.
– For the information of honorable senators I now quote the Standing Order to which I referred earlier. Standing Order 413 provides -
No Senator shall allude to any Debate of the same Session upon a Question or Bill not being then under discussion, nor to any speech made in Committee, ‘ except by the indulgence of the Senate for personal explanations.
– I cannot agree to the recommittal of this Bill. Clause 6 was fully discussed in all its details. I have not heard of any reason which would warrant the Senate in recommitting the Bill in order to reconsider that clause. ^ No fresh arguments have been advanced in favour of the alteration of the clause in the manner suggested. It has been decided that there shall be a Board; and I am sure that Parliament will look to the Government to obtain three of the very best men available in order to make the Line a success.
– It is, then, to be a Board of three members.
– I think that the honorable senator can take it for the moment that that is so. Wc cannot foresee, however, what developments will take place. The Government, in its wisdom, as time goes on, may think it wise to accede to the wishes of honorable senators opposite. It is not considered advisable to close the door against the making of further appointments. I ask the Senate to stand by what has already been decided.
– I hope, notwithstanding the remarks of the Honorary Minister (Senator Wilson), that those honorable senators who desire that this Line shall be made, a thorough success will take such action as will remove any bias that may be held by a particular section of the community with respect to this matter. The Minister said that no new arguments had been advanced in support of the claim that the workers should have representation on the Board. We were told at the outbreak of the war and when the conflict was in progress that it was a war which would bring about a higher and nobler civilization, and that a new era for the workers was about to commence.
– Order! The honorable senator is now advancing arguments in support of the amendment of clause 6 whereas the question before the Senate is that the Bill be recommitted for the consideration of clause 6.
– I am endeavouring to give reasons .why the clause should be reconsidered.
– The honorable senator is discussing the clause itself. If he can show that it was not fully debated in Committee, that there has since been any change of opinion, or that new argu- merits can be adduced to justify the recommittal of the Bill for the reconsideration of the clause he will be in order in doing so. I must assume that the Committee fully discussed the clause.
– Do you rule, Mr. President, that I cannot advance reasons why this clause should be recommitted with a view to giving the workers representation on the Board ? .
– The honorable senator must not question ray ruling in that way. I have ruled that an honorable senator is not in order’ at this stage in advancing arguments why the clause should be amended, as the motion before the Senate is merely “that the Bill be recommitted to consider clause 6.” If a majority of the Senate decide to recommit the Bill, the honorable senator will then have the right to discuss the clause itself.
– Your ruling, Mr. President, really amounts to this -
– The honorable senator must not discuss my ruling. . If he dissents from it he must at once lodge his objection in writing.
– I am not disposed to do that, because I cannot advance reasons for the recommittal of the Bill for the reconsideration of a clause unless I state in what way I think the clause should be amended.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 6 - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clauses 13 and 14.
When the Bill was previously before the Committee I moved that the words “ subject to the provisions hereinbefore contained” be inserted at the end of clauses 13 and 14. My amendment received very little support; but I am now hoping that the Minister (Senator Wilson) has been able to give further attention to my proposal. Senator Grant regarded it-
– The honorable senator is also transgressing my ruling by referring to something which took place in Committee. The honorable senator at this stage is entitled only to give reasons why the Bill should be recommitted for the reconsideration of clauses 13 and 14.
– If the words I suggest are inserted at the end of clauses 13 and 14 it will make it quite clear that the transfer from the Commonwealth to the Board of land and other assets is strictly subject to the provisions contained in a previous clause of the Bill framed to prevent the alienation of assets without the direct consent of the Treasurer. An earlier provision in the Bill makes it appear that that is the intention ; but I am not sure that clauses 13 and 14 will necessarily be read in conjunction with that provision, and that the Board could be lawfully restrained by the Court from proceeding to alienate these assets if it so desired. If my amendment were adopted, the assets could not be alienated without the consent of the Treasurer, which really means the Parliament. It is very necessary that we should be absolutely clear on the point.
– I second Senator Elliott’s proposal. It is difficult, without transgressing the Standing Orders, to give reasons why the Bill should be recommitted, without also giving the reasons which justify the adoption of the proposed amendment, because they are (practically identical. There is a great deal in the argument advanced by Senator Elliott that clauses 13 and 14 do not contain any safeguard in regard to the transfer of property vested in the Board. Surely it is wise to insert words in the clauses providing that those powers which are ipso facto vested in the Board shall be exercised subject to the provisions of the Act. This is not provided in the Bill as it stands. I, therefore, urge the Government to recommit the Bill for the purpose of allowing the Committee to reconsider Senator Elliott’s amendment.
– I did not lightly pass over the suggestion made by Senator Elliott on Friday last. I made it my duty to consult the departmental officers whose responsibility it iB to look carefully into these matters, and they asured me that the insertion of the
– If it is merely a matter of words, as Senator Wilson declares, I can see no objection to the insertion of amendments which would make safety a certainty. Two legal senators express a doubt as to the security afforded by clauses 13 and 14, and I agree with them, just as I agree with all amendments that are moved. The provision should be made as secure as possible.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clauses 13 and 14 - put. The Senate divided.
Original question resolved in the affirmative. -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 18th July, vide page 1225);
Schedule (An Ordinance relating to Crown Lands) - ‘
Clause 2 (Repeal).
– After providing for the repeal of’ the South Australian Acts and Commonwealth Ordinances, this clause will practically give effect to every agreement under those Acts and Ordinances. As the lessees, in so far as part of the leases are concerned, will obtain an extension of twenty-two or twenty-three years, I am inclined to think that the Minister should insert some proviso improving the conditions under which the people of i Australia may take up holdings in the Northern Territory. I believe the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has given a promise to submit the Bill in another place, and, therefore, I shall not further occupy the time of the Senate except to suggest to the Minister (Senator Wilson) that, in view of the bargain being made by the lessees under the Bill, some consideration should be given to intending settlers in the Northern Territory.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
The repeal of the Acts and Ordinances referred to in the last preceding, section shall not affect any agreement, lease, licence, or permit made or granted thereunder and existing at the commencement of this Ordinance, or any estate, right, title, interest, power, duty, obligation, or liability created by, acquired under, or at any time existing under or by virtue or in respect of any such agreement, lease, licence, or permit, or any such Act or Ordinance, and all such agreements, leases, licences, and permits shal’l continue to be of the same force and effect as if this Ordinance had not been passed.
– I move - .
That the following words be added to the clause: - “Provided that nothing in this section shall prevent the resumption of any land held under such lease, licence, or permit, %r any part of such lease, licence or permit, at any time for any closer settlement purpose.”
– Without compensation.
– Other clauses provide for compensation. The Ordinance, as it now stands, provides for resumption, under certain, rights, for agricultural purposes. That does not go far enough. There is at present on foot, more particularly among the returned soldiers, a scheme for group settlement.
– Did the honorable senator say that the clause allowed only for resumption for agricultural purposes?
– It has that effect. I want to make it quite clear that, for any closer settlement purpose, the Government shall have the power to resume.
– The Ordinance gives that power.
– Under which ° clause ?
– Why limit the power of the Ordinance in this way ?- The Government should have absolute power to resume leases for any purpose.
– I do not wish the clause to be too drastic in its effect. If, after the allotment of these leases, it is found that portion, or the whole of them, is required by the Government for closer settlement purposes, there should be power to resume them.
– Clause 53 gives the gower asked for by the honorable senator.
– It does not go fax enough..
– I draw the honorable senator’s attention, to sub-clause 6.
– In that case, the power of resumption will depend on the terms under which the lease is granted. Subject to the saving clause, new leases- are to be granted, but it is extremely doubtful whether the Government will have the power of resumption for closer settlement purposes! A big scheme is now on foot to settle returned soldiers in the Northern Territory. A company representing returned men is being organized. It proposes^ to take up for closer settlement purposes large tracts of suitable land in the Northern Territory. It may be that the land required for tfes purpose is held under lease, but no barrier such as this Ordinance provides should be- placed in the way of returned soldiers to prevent them from obtaining that land for group settlement. It is not sufficient that land should be made available for agricultural purposes; it should include any other specified purpose. The position would be met if. the power of resumption were given for closer settlement purposes. A soldier may want a large block, one portion to be used- for agricultural purposes and another for grazing sheep or cattle. This could be done under my amendment, either by group or individual settlement, and it would be. a good business proposition for the Commonwealth. I do not think that there would be any very strong objection from the lessees if the Government wished to resume portion or the whole of their leases for such national objects as are provided for under the words-, ‘”’ closer settlement purposes. “ The amendment does not interfere in any way with the spirit of the Ordinance, and it will give to the Government much wider powers than they at present have under it. I commend it to the Minister.
[3.491. - I can assure Senator Duncan and the Committee that the power he seeks, as I understand it - it may be that he is seeking that which I do not yet. understand - is already provided for in the Ordinance. I am assuming that the amendment does not propose the repudiation of the agreement made by the Commonwealth under the Northern Territory Acceptance Act.
– I do not propose repudiation.
– This saving clause, among other things, saves the agreement the Commonwealth Parliament deliberately entered into with the South Australian Parliament.
– Any lessee whose land was resumed would be compensated.
– The effect of the proposed amendment would be repudiation of the agreement. ‘ It provides that nothing contained in the clause shall prevent resumption- of any land for any closer settlement purposes. Resumption for closer pastoral settlement purposes is definitely prevented under the South Australian Acts; but already we have power to resume land for- agricultural purposes.
– Ti want that power to be a bit wider.
– Senator Duncan’s amendment can be construed to mean that we intend to take power to resume), fa? pastoral purposes, land held under South Australian leases. We can only do that by repudiating the agreement contained in the Northern Territory Acceptance Act, and I take it that Senator Duncan does not want to do that. I direct the attention of the Committee to clause 25 of the Ordinance. It states -
Leases under this Ordinance (other than miscellaneous leases) shall contain reservations, covenants, and provisions as follow: -
Senator Duncan will see that that gives us a general power of resumption for closer settlement purposes in regard to all leases, other than miscellaneous leases, subject to the rights of lessees under the South Australian Acts. As regards those lessees who surrender and come under the terms of this Ordinance, we shall have power to resume one-quarter of the area contained in the leases in twelve years, and another one-fourth in another ten years. Clause 53 of the Ordinance deals with the resumption of land included in leases, and provides-
The Minister may, without payment of compensation in respect of the resumption, but subject to payment in accordance with this Ordinance, for improvements on the land in respect of which the resumption is made -
in the case of any lease granted under this provision in exchange for a lease existing at the commencement of this Ordinance -
1 ) resume on 30th day of June, 1935, an area not exceeding one-quarterof the total area included in the lease; and
resume on the 30th day of June, 1945, a further area not exceeding a quarter of the total area originally included in the lease; and
in the case of any other lease granted under this division make such resumptions as are provided by the lease or prescribed.
This deals with leases held under the new Ordinances not under the South Australian Acts. When those are surrendered they become subject to the provision in clause 25, paragraph c, which, as I have shown, is the reservation of a power of resumption.
– Does the Minister anticipate that the South Australian leases will come under that clause.
– Only a section of them.
– If we are going to take the power of resumption other than by the surrender of leases we shall, as I have already stated, be obliged to repudiate the Northern Territory Acceptance Act, and I therefore ask Senator Duncan not to press his amendment. As regards the South Australian leases, we have always had the power of resumption for agricultural purposes, but not for pastoral purposes.
– I am rather surprised at the attitude of the Minister. (Senator Pearce). If I understand the Ordinance at all, it is a proposal under which an agreement may be entered into between those who hold leases under the South Australian Acts and the Crown, and, if I understand the position, the great bulk of those leases will fall due in 1942.
– I say “Yes!” The leases falling due in 1942 constitute the great bulk of the Northern Territory.
– They represent 180,000 square miles, whereas the Northern Territory comprisesan area of 500,000 square miles.
– Perhaps it would be more accurate if I had stated that the leases falling due in 1942 comprise the great bulk of the land in the Northern Territory suitable for pastoral purposes. This clause is virtually a renewal, after 1942, of the South Australian leases, because, without this Ordinance, some of the leases would fall due in 1929, others in 1934, others again in 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, and the great bulk of them in 1942. Under this Bill it will be 1935 before the first one-fourth subdivision of leases can be made, and the balance of all the leases will be tied up for a further term of ten years.
– We shall not be tying them up. They are tied up already.
– But not beyond 1942. Under this Ordinance onehalf of the total area in the leases will be tied up until 1945, and the balance until 1965. In all these renewals there should be a provision giving the Government power to resume if the land is required for pastoral purposes, upon the payment of compensation. Evidently the blunder committed by the South Australian Parliament in 1900 is to be perpetuated, as regards at least three-fourths of the area of such leases, by this Ordinance until 1945, as regards one-half of the area until 1955, and as regards the balance until 1965. If the holders of leases think there is any suggestion of repudiation in the proposal put forward, they have simply to sit upon their rights and decline to come under this Ordinance. In my second-reading speech I pointed out that from 1929 onwards till 1942, leases representing many thousands of square miles would fall due, apart altogether from this Ordinance.
– The honorable senator’s figures show that up to 1935 the leases falling due, through effluxion of time, represent about 3,000 square miles, whereas under this Ordinance in that year we shall be able to resume 25,000 square miles.
– And in 1945, under this Ordinance, about 182,000 square miles will be locked up for another ten or twenty years, whereas, without it, the great bulk of the leases would expire in 1942. With all due respect to Senator Guthrie, who, I know, has had very wide experience of Northern Territory pastoral development, I say that, as regards the great bulk of the pastoral leases, they have been a failure. The Minister proposes to renew those.
– In a reduced form.
- Senator Duncan simply put forward the view that’ this Parliament, reviewing these leases twenty-two years after the South Australian Government granted them, can effect an improvement by providing that if any further extensions are made there shall be the right of resumption for pastoral purposes.
– The lessees will not surrender their leases if that is done.
– Then nothing will be lost, because the whole of the leases will expire before the period arrives, for the second resumption to be made.
– We are extending the leases and they are giving us the right of resumption.
– The leases are to be extended on the basis that, if portions are required, they shall be resumed, compensation being paid to the lessees. If they are not surrendered under this Ordinance, then, according to the Minister’s statement, leases comprising 182,000 square miles in 1935 will have only nine years to run; while, according to my view, we shall then be within seven years of the termination of those leases. Would it not be fair for the Government to have power to resume for closer pastoral settlement purposes? We have no right to exclude that provision. The fact that the Minister is hurrying this Bill on makes one suspicious. This is to be a session short in .duration. Many important matters require to be dealt with. There is no particular urgency for this measure, unless it is in regard to the appointment of the Board. No resumption can take place until 1935. There is no reason why the Minister should not be reasonable. If he persists in locking up the leases for ten years, does he think that subsequent Governments will accept that position? The honorable member for the Northern Territory in the House of Representatibes is distinctly opposed to this Ordinance. I appeal to the Minister to realize that we are not attempting to repudiate anything. There may be in the Northern’ Territory the possibility of railway development, mining development, cotton growing,-
– The land can be resumed for all of those purposes.
– For cotton growing only small areas are required. How useful would it be for a man to have a small cotton area and’ a reasonably large pastoral lease. Under this Ordinance the lands will be tied up exactly as they were tied up by the South Australian Parliament. Senator Duncan’s amendment is a reasonable one, which will be accepted if the Committee is favorable to closer pastoral settlement in the Northern Territory. Senator Pearce has been through the country and apparently does not want closer pastoral settlement in our time.
– The honorable senator is quite wrong.
– Why, then, does he bring forward this Ordinance to tie up the land until 1965 ?
– The Ordinance will unlock the land. The procedure advocated by the honorable senator would have the effect of locking it up.
– No matter what happens, if this Ordinance is not passed, the whole of the land will be thrown open in 1942. I invite Senator Pearce to furnish particulars of the leases that will continue beyond 1942 under this Ordinance. If any leases are extended beyond 1 942 it is only fair to give to the Government the right of resumption for closer pastoral or any other kind of settlement.
.- A great deal of what the Minister (Senator Pearce) has said would be unanswerable if it were applicable. Broadly the position, as I understand it, is that a very large area of the Territory at present is held under the South Australian leases, and it will be perfectly optional with the present holders whether they come under this Ordinance or not. The Minister has stated that the majority
Of the lessees have assured him that they will come under this Ordinance. If the position is as I have stated it, it is perfectly idle to talk about repudiation or confiscation. This agreement is being placed before the present lessees. We say to them, “ Provided you accept this agreement, we give you the conditions set out in the agreement.” Itisperf ectly opento us to place in thatagreement anycondition that we please to make, and it isoptional on their part whether they accept the agreement or not. Where, then, can there be any suggestion of repudiation? I am seeking to include in the schedule a provision which willgive the Commonwealth Government the power to resume for any closer settlement purpose. If the lessees holding the old South Australian leases are not prepared to accept the new Ordinance with that clause incorporated in it, they need not do so ; but if they do accept the new Ordinance with that clause in it, there can be no repudiation of any sort. The Minister is afraid that a number of the lessees will not accept it if this amendment is made.
– Obviously they will not.
– I fail to see why they should not. The other advantages to be gained from the Ordinance are so great that Icannot imaginethat those who are prepared to accept it as it stands at present will be put off because of the inclusion of the clause I propose. It maybe that their land will not be required. It is true that theywilltake somerisk if the amendment is incorporated in the Ordinance, but I am rather inclined to think that the advan tages will be so great that they will outweigh any disadvantage arising from the fact that theGovernment will have the power of resuming for closer settlement purposes at any time either a portion or the whole of a leasehold area. I think that it is a perfectly reasonable proposal. The Minister has assured us that there are some men who will not have this Ordinance at any price.
– I have not said so.
– The Minister has not been able to assure us that the whole of the lessees will come under the new Ordinance; some of them, he seems to be convinced, will not accept it.
– I have not said anything of the kind.
– I cannot see that we shall do them any injury by asking them if they will accept the Ordinance with ‘this new provision. It is necessary for the future settlement of the Territory that the Government shall have some such power as I suggest, to enable them to resume forclosersettlement purposes either a portion or the whole of any lease if it is thought desirable to do so.
– How soon does thehonorable senator anticipate that such resumption will be necessary ?
– It may not be for years.
– Within twelve years the right of resumption will automatically accrue.
– Perhaps the portionsrequired for resumption for closer settlement purposes will be locked up in the further extension of the leases, and we shall not be able to get at them.
– Thereis too much of the “if” and “perhaps” in the honorable senator’s argument. Surely it is a matter for the Board.
– There is no “ if “ about this. If theGovernment want the land for closer settlement purposes,they ought to have it, even if theresumption is compulsory, on payment of proper compensation. The “ if “ seems to beall on the other side. I hope that the Committee will accept the amendment.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) is entitled to take advantage of an amendment moved by an honorable senator on this side which plays right into his hands. Senator Gardiner is clearly and decidedly against this Ordinance, and, therefore, I regard with some amusement his appeal to my reasonableness. Senator Duncan voted against the second reading of the Bill; therefore we can assume that he. is opposed to the principle -of the Bill. Naturally, he finds himself in accord with the Leader of the Opposition. Senator Duncan, however, cannot have it both ways; he cannot put this forward under the guise of assisting closer settlement, when he must know that, if carried, it will have the effect of keeping out of closer settlement for twenty-one years 100.,000 square miles.
– I do not .believe that it will.
– The only way to bring about closer settlement is to pass an Ordinance which will induce the South Australian lessees to surrender the leases issued under the .South Australian Acts and to accept leases issued under ‘this measure. That is what this Ordinance is intended to do. So far as all the other leases are concerned, .honorable senators can put them out of their minds, because we have, and always have had, in respect of them, full power to resume for agricultural, pastoral, -or .any other, closer settlement purposes. Therefore, Senator Duncan is clearly aiming only at the South, Australian leases. To carry bis .amendment would he to destroy the virtue of the Bill. It is obvious that if a lessee holds a lease under which resumption for pastoral purposes is not possible, he is not going to bo such ian arrant fool as to give up that lease for one including full power of resumption for pastoral purposes,’ unless he can get a ‘quid pro quo. Senator Duncan, with an innocence which is surprising, blissfully assumes that he is going to derive some other advantages from this Bill. “What other advantages is he going to derive? He will have a higher rental to pay. Is that an advantage? He will have to observe more stringent stocking conditions. These new responsibilities will devolve upon him as soon as he takes up a fresh lease under this Ordinance.
– How does the Minister hope to get them to come under the new Ordinance?
– By the extension of the term of the lease for the remainder of the area–that inducement is the quid pro quo. Senator ‘Gardiner very ingeniously spoke’ as though the extension of the term of the leases will be for the whole of the area covered by them. It will- be nothing of the ‘kind. All those large leases ‘have twenty-one .years to run. Victoria River Downs is one of the largest. Assuming that the owner of that lease surrenders his lease - and ‘he has promised that he will do so - for a lease under this Ordinance, what will happen? He will not get a forty-two years’ lease for the whole of that area, but ho will get a forty-two years’ lease for half of ‘that area, and only a twelve years’ 1 lease for the whole of it.
– In addition -to “the lease now held.
– No, the lessee surrenders the lease he now holds., which comprises 8,700 square miles, and which has twenty-one years to run; the lessee has undertaken to surrender that lease and take up a new lease under this Ordinance. For an area of 8,700 square miles he will have a lease of twelve years; for an area of 6,525 square miles a. lease of twenty-two years, and for one-half of the original area a lease of forty-two years. From the day he surrenders his original lease, however, he .commences to pay a higher rental, and will be subject to new stocking conditions, and an increased rental at the termination of every tenyear ‘ period after 30th June, 1935, whereas at present he is subject only to stocking conditions which can be regarded as the absolute minimum. The new stocking conditions can be varied and increased by the Land Board as prescribed by his lease. Is it to’ be expected that a man would surrender a twenty-one years’ lease with practically no stocking conditions - because the conditions under the South Australian Act are practically negligible - and no increase of rent for the next twenty-one years unless we gave him some quid pro quo ? The consideration is a forty-two years’ lease of a portion of what he’ now holds and a compliance with the conditions I have mentioned.
– All leases carry the right of resumption.
– The honorable senator was not here when I stated that the South Australian Parliament deliberately declined the power to resume for pastoral purposes, and the Commonwealth allowed itself to be handcuffed, by passing the Northern Territory Acceptance Act, under which it bound itself not to impose such a condition. How are we to escape?
– The right of resumption is not a serious matter to the average leaseholder.
– The honorable senator does not think it is a serious matter, but I would ask him to try to get a leaseholder to surrender his present lease for one under this Ordinance without a quid pro quo. If it is suggested that a lessee should surrender his lease under, the South Australian Act and come under a Commonwealth Ordinance, I may say that he could have done that at any time.
– Without compensation?
– How could he be paid compensation when he still held the lease?
– If the Government resumes land, the lessee is entitled to compensation.
– Yes; but lessees who could have abandoned their leases under the South Australian Acts and have come under a Commonwealth Ordinance at any time, have not done so. We must, therefore, assume that’ some quid -pro quo must be given to encourage them to come under the provisions of this Ordinance,- which is a forty-two years’ lease for one-half of the area without the possibility of resumption.
– That is a remote possibility.
– I think they will come under it. I do not think for a moment that they would come under the Ordinance if we possessed the power to resume at any time for any purpose of closer settlement. They would simply refuse, which would mean that we would be locking up about 100,000 square miles for at least twenty-one years, as the bulk of the leases have that period to run.
– Will the Minister state on what grounds he accuses me of suggesting repudiation ?
– The honorable senator’s amendment suggests repudiation of the’ agreement made under the Northern Territory Acceptance Act. I do not think honorable senators have read the clause. In the first place, clause 2 of the Ordinance repeals nob only our own Ordinances, but the South Australian Acts. If we repeal the South Australian Acts, as we do by this clause, we’ save ourselves from the charge of repudiation by passing clause 3, which reads -
The repeal of the Acts and Ordinances referred to in the last preceding section shall not affect any agreement, lease, licence or permit made or granted thereunder and existing at the commencement of this Ordinance or any estate, right, title, interest, power, duty, obligation, or liability created by, acquired under or at any time existing under or by virtue or in respect of any such agreement, lease, licence, or permit or any such Act or Ordinance, and all such agreements, leases, licences and permits shall continue to be of the same force and effect as if this Ordinance had not been passed.
But Senator Duncan proposes to add the following as an amendment: -
Provided that nothing in this clause shall prevent the resumption of any land held under such lease, licence or permit, or any part of such lease, licence or permit at any time for any closer settlement purpose.
We are repealing the South Australian Acts under which the leases were issued, and the amendment . would give us power to immediately resume for closer settlement pastoral purposes.
– Not unless the lessees voluntarily came under this Ordinance.
– The honorable senator does not realize the significance of this clause. We are consolidating the law, and, in recognising the Northern Territory Acceptance Act, we are bound to allow these leases to continue without providing for resumption except in the terms for which the Ordinance, as it stands, provides. If we adopt the proviso submitted by Senator Duncan, it will be a negation of a saving provision in the South Australian Acts that we shall not resume for closer settlement pastoral purposes. If Senator Duncan wishes to make it a condition of acceptance, he should move his amendment to clause 78, which deals with the power of resumption of leases generally. Whatever the honorable senator’s intention may be, if his amendment were adopted it would amount to an act of repudiation, and it is just as well for the Committee to face that fact. The- Government would not be prepared to go on with the Bill if the amendment were carried, because it would mean repudiating a solemn agreement.
– The Minister commenced by saying that I had endeavoured toshow that the whole of these leases would be extended. I did not suggest anything of the kind. What I endeavoured to prove was that none of these leases can be resumed before 1935. What will happen after that? If this Ordinance is not agreed to forty-five leases will expire in 1937 and eighteen leases in 1938.
– What is the area ?
– The following are the areas of the leases which will expire if this Ordinance is not adopted : - In 1936, 5,000 square miles; in 1937, 10,406 square miles; 1938, 5,809 square miles; 1939, 4,824 square miles; 1940, 1,625 square miles; 1941, 2,045 square miles; 1942, 19,065 square miles; 1943, .25,000 square miles; and 1944, 9,000 square miles.
– In 1943, almost as large an area as all the others combined will be available.
– I have shown that in the years mentioned, approximately 87,000 square miles .will become available if this Ordinance is not passed. Iti 1935, the Government under this Ordinance can resume about 30,000 square miles, and we are giving in exchange for that an extension of leases covering 120,000 square miles for ten years, 60,000 square miles for . twenty years, and 30,000 square miles for thirty years. That is the position. Senator Duncan’s amendment does not involve repudiation, or even attempted repudiation. If this measure is passed, will those who hold leases under the South Australian Acts be compelled to come under this Ordinance ?
– Then how can it be a question of repudiation? Senator Duncan does not wish to handcuff the Commonwealth - to use the Minister’s words - but merely to provide that, if necessary, certain lands may be resumed for closer settlement purposes. The Min ister wants to handcuff the Commonwealth until 1935, when one-quarter of the leases may be resumed, and to tie up one-half for twenty years from 1945. This Parliament should not be .asked to perpetuate the mistake made under Hie South Australian Acts. It appears that after twenty-two years of this system of granting’ huge pastoral leases only about 900 white people live on thousands of square miles.
– That is due r.o causes other than the size of the leases.
– The size of a lease prevents closer settlement. I mentioned the other day that 450 miles would have to bc covered in traversing the boundary of one of these leases. I do not know how the Minister can say that the area . will bc reduced by onequarter in 1935, one-quarter in 1945’, and an additional one-quarter in 1955, and that the lessees can retain the balance until 1965. The areas held under lease are so large, and settlement is prevented to such an extent, that the Government should” accept the amendment. If the lessees desire to come under this Ordinance they can, but nothing will compel them if they are disinclined. A sovereign State has a right to do as it wishes with its lands. That was the decision of the Privy Council in the recent Queensland case. If Senator Pearce is anxious to make a compromise that will not savour of repudiation, he will induce these people to come under the new Ordinance for a fair consideration. Take the area of 12,000 square .miles held by one lessee. Surely the fact that he can hold 3,000 square miles for the next forty-two years would be a fair consideration to him?
– I would give the lessees any consideration but the right to an extension without the power of resumption.
– Anything but land should be given to them by way of consideration. Senator Duncan wants the right of resumption only if the development of the Territory justifies it; and Senator Pearce could very well accept his amendment. I object to that method of debate which suggests that one who differs from the Minister is doing something wrong.
– Are- the lessees who surrender under this Ordinance guaranteed a renewal of their leases for fortytwo years ?
– The longest term that any existing lease has now to run is twenty-two y;ears.
– But on renewal the lessees may get their leases for another forty -two years?
– That is a condition of the renewal, but the Crown can resume one-quarter of the area df a lease in 1935, another quarter in 1945, and still another quarter in 1955. As I was pointing out in my earlier remarks, under present conditions forty-five of the existing leases will expire in 1937, nineteen in 1938, eleven in 1940, eight in 1941, thirty-six in 1942, and forty-two in 1943; and as the new Ordinance will not permit any resumptions to take place until 1935, Senator Duncan’s amendment, might very well be accepted.
– I do not know the Northern Territory, but I should imagine that the conditions there are very much like those in Western Queensland. Therefore, the talk we have heard about closer settlement on these pastoral leases is all so much nonsense. I should say that two-thirds of the Territory cannot be closely ‘settled, and 1 should like to know whether the leases taken up under the South Australian Acts are in the coastal country where there may be such a possibility.
– The leases taken up under the Commonwealth Ordinance are in the coastal country, the others are mostly in the interior.
– That being the case, it is a waste of time to talk about thi; closer settlement of the South Australian leases. Nothing will induce people to leave ‘ the States to settle on small’ areas in the Northern Territory while there is any possibility of securing small areas in more settled communities. We should encourage the raising of cattle in the Northern Territory. It is in the coastal districts of Australia that closer settlement takes place, and, apparently, the Commonwealth Government have the. power to resume land for agricultural purposes in the coastal areas of the Nor thern Territory. I have- heard talk oi closer settlement in Queensland for the past thirty-six years, but it. is only the pressure of population that will send people out into the dry areas. If we want to bring about closer settlement in the Territory we should devote our attention to the coastal areas instead of talking about cutting up cattle runs in the interior for that purpose. I cannot, see any utility in accepting the amendment.
– I should support the amendment moved by Senator Duncan if I thought it would have the effect which he desires1, and with which I am in sympathy, but 1 am afraid it would not have that effect. I have been convinced by my own study of the Bill and by the arguments used by the Minister (Senator Pearce) that if the amendment were carried the old South Australian ‘lessees would not bring their leases under this Ordinance. It is entirely at their option to do so. Under the South Australian Acts they have certain stocking conditions to carry out .and a very low rent to pay, but if they come under this Ordinance the stocking conditions will be more stringent and the rents over the portions of their leases- they retain will be increased, their compensa- tion being an extension of their leases for the portions not resumed. I was in the South Australian Parliament when these leases were given. At that time the South Australian Government could not dispose of Northern Territory leasee even by giving people bonuses to. take them up. The conditions had to be made most liberal in order to induce persons to take up the leases, and those are the conditions which under the new Ordinance the lessees will have the option of retaining in respect of portions of their holdings. I do not think they would come under the Ordinance if Senator Duncan’s amendment were inserted. The Minister is stretching a point in suggesting that there is anything in the nature of repudiation in Senator Duncan’s proposal. There can be no repudiation where the parties have the option of taking or leaving the proposition. The South Australian lessees will not be compelled to come under this Ordinance. but as I do not think the honorable senator’s amendment would achieve the object he desires I cannot support it.
– The adoption of this Ordinance will repeal the following South Australian Acts : -
The- Northern Territory Crown Lands Act 1890.
The Northern Territory Crown Lands Amendment Act 1896.
The Northern Territory Land Act 1899.
The Northern Territory Land Amendment Act 1901.
Clause 3 has been inserted in this Ordinance in order to conserve to the lessees in the Northern Territory the rights which accrued to them under those Acts,, but Senator Duncan, in effect, is attempting to insert something in the South Australian Acts which was not in them at the time they were passed, and to that extent he proposes to forcibly withdraw from existing lessees something to which they have a legal title. A lessee would have a just claim against the Commonwealth for compensation for being forcibly disturbed in the enjoyment of his lease. I cannot vote for a proposal of that kind. We should let the leases run out to their full time.
SenatorLynch. - But there would, be no power of resumption.
– I prefer to have no power of resumption rather than give the extended leases which the Ordinance proposes.
– The honorable senator will not vote for the right to resume leases for agricultural purposes, which right is not included in the South Australian Acts.
– That position does not arise at the present moment. Senator Duncan’s amendment would permit what the South Australian Acts do not permit, and the point is whether we are prepared, in effect, to insert a provision in the South Australian legislation under which these leases were granted.
– Would the honorable senator lock up these areas for such a long period ?
– The honorable senator, whohas been immune from interjections for the last three years, is misrepresenting, my position.. I prefer to see the existing leases run their full course rather than do what the new Ordinance proposes to do at a later stage. To my mind, the amendment would in effect, repeal sections of the South Australian Acts, and in that re spect would not give to the lessees a fair deal. By adopting it we should be seeking to rob them of something possibly against their wishes, and for which robbery they would have a good case against the Commonwealth for compensation. Therefore, I am not prepared to support the amendment. Quite irrespective of whether the. lessees come under this Ordinance or not, the proposalof Senator Duncan, if carried, would give to the Commonwealth, without the consent of the lessees, the right to forcibly resume a part of their leases, for the purposes mentioned.
– I think the honorable senator is on the wrong side.
– I am ontheright side of the chamber. I take it that if the Government had intended to forcibly resume certain portions of these leases they would have inserted in the Bill a provision to that effect. The Government do not intend to forcibly resume any land; resumptions will take place provided that the lessees are prepared to come under the operation of the Ordinance. Senator O’Loghlin,a few moments ago, said that in the good old days it was almost impossible to give away land in the Northern Territory. Nobody wanted it. Apparently some people did want that land, and it is probable that, in taking possession of areas for a long term of years, they acquired the best portions of the country. I know that the Northern Territory covers a large area, and that some 340,000 square miles of Commonwealth Territory is yet unleased.
– The eyes of the country have been picked out of it.
– That is my information. I cannot see my way to support the amendment.
– I am not in accord with the point of view of Senators Duncan and Gardiner. If one examines the proposition closely it must be considered quite fair to ask the lessees, under the old South Australian Acts, to surrender their leases so that the Commonwealth Government may have greater powers over them, in the sense both of resumption, including the fixation and the re-appraisement of rents at shorter periods, and in the sense of stocking conditions. The Minister (Senator Pearce) stated that something like 90,000 odd square miles of land were held under old leases, the greater part of which would fall due in eighteen or twenty-one years. Senator Gardiner was quite correct in stating that .certain leases covering small areas of 5,000 square, miles would expire in five, seven, or ten years. But the greater .part of the leases,- according to the Minister’s statement, would fall due in eighteen or twenty-one years. Under the Ordinance, and providing the lessees kept faith with the Government, in twelve years’ time 23,000 square miles would be available for resumption. That is very nearly the size of Tasmania. But for the Ordinance, this area would not be available until eighteen or twenty-one years’ time. One cannot’ have it both ways. The lessees cannot be asked to surrender privileges unless something is given in return. I know that Senator Gardiner would not ask these lessees to do otherwise. But if he maintains that they should surrender their leases without any return, then they will refuse to come u rider this Ordinance, and the great bulk of the 90,000 square miles will be locked up for from eighteen to twenty-one years. Under the Ordinance 23,000 acres would be released in twelve years. We should look at this matter from both points of view. If we can make sure that the lessees will keep their promise, and under the term’s of this Ordinance, surrender to the Commonwealth their leases to be cut up, as portions of them fall due, into suitable areas for closer settlement, we shall make some advance. But if Senator Gardiner’s policy is adhered to, the whole of these areas will be locked up for eighteen or’ twenty-one years. Three years from the date of the passing of this Ordinance, the old lessees who elect to come under it will be subject to more stringent conditions than are at present obtaining. The rents’ will be re-appraised and increased, and the leases subject to improved stocking conditions. I do not know what else would tend to develop the Northern Territory. The object of the Bill is to prevent the settlers holding so much land as to diminish the prospect of success. It is the old story of the boy and the nuts. If the amendment is passed the. settlers will refuse to surrender their leases. It is all very well for honorable senators opposite to say that the Government are locking up the country, but their own policy will not permit of anything to the contrary. In twelve years, under the Ordinance as it stands, the Government will come into possession of 23,000 squaremiles, and ten years afterwards will takeover a like area. I <lo not see very much, wrong with the Government’s proposal, in view of the fact that even under liberal conditions the Territory has not progressed. It is to-day the one stagnant portion of the Commonwealth, and if liberal conditions have not made it prosperous, how can onerous conditions doso? Have the settlers gone to the Northern Territory for fun ? I do not think . so. They would have made headway if cattle-raising had been profitable. We are told that many of these men have lost money. We knew, long before SenatorO’Loghlin told us, that men in the Northern Terirtory, and Queensland a*s well, have been ruined. I know men who, in Western Queensland, lost fortunes, and: are now dry-blowing in Western Australia. We should give not only present lessees,, but also prospective settlers, a chance tosucceed in a short space of time. The twointerests should be reconciled, and this end will be accomplished by the passage of the Bill.
– The areas to be availableas the present leases expire will practically approximate those proposed to be madeavailable to the Commonwealth under the Ordinance. Before the first resumption, which, under the Bill, will take place in 1935, 3,000 square miles will be thrown open by expiration of lease.
– Three thousand, asagainst 23,000 square miles.
– In 1936 there - will be an additional 5,000. In 1937 there will be 10,000 square miles, making a total of 18,000 square miles. In the following year 6,000 square miles, will be made available. Therefore, within three years of any leases being thrown open under this Bill, 24,000 square miles will be made available owing to expiration of leases. I do not object to SenatorLynch arguing along party lines on this Bill, but I remind Senator Grant that for three years in this Chamber I have been immune from insult, and I intend; tobe so for the next three, years. If he persists in his present attitude, I shall see that he is placed on his right side in this Chamber. I should not -object to hisremarks if they came from the opposite benches. >
– I am on my right side.
– The honorable senator referred to me most offensively, and you, sir, did not call him to order.
– (Senator Newland). - If I had noticed anything offensive to the honorable senator in Senator Grant’s remarks, I should have called him to order.
– At no time during the discussion have I referred offensively to Senator Gardiner, and I resent his remarks. They are utterly uncalled for and of a bumptious character. I strongly object to them.
– Order! If I had deemed Senator Grant’s remarks concerning Senator Gardiner to be offensive, I should have called him to order.
– Does not the Chairman consider that Senator Grant’s utterances are offensive ? If I am to be the judge of that, I shall take care to see that his insults do not pass unchallenged.
– I take the same attitude.
– So long as there is a clear understanding as to that, well and good.
– ‘Throughout the discussion there has been a clear understanding.
– Senators Lynch and Grant agreed that the Northern Territory leases now under the consideration of the Senate should- be locked up until 1965.
– Senator Grant did not say that.
– What else is meant by his statement that the Government should not have the right of resumption without compensation if the leases are required for closer settlement purposes ?
– That question is not now raised.
– It has arisen. Senator Grant said that portion, at any rate, of the leases should be locked up until 1965. -The question whether all the leases should be available for closer pastoral settlement should be fought out on its merits. I do not believe in tying up -all this land.
– Is it not a fact that one-half of the area will be available for resumption in 1945?
– I say no. Under this Ordinance one-fourth of the area contained in leaseholds that come under it may be resumed in 1935; but until then nothing can be done. From 1935 threefourths of the area will be locked up for periods of ten, twenty, and thirty years. Senator Duncan’s amendment raises a very clear issue, because there is a very general desire for the resumption of leases in the Northern Territory for closer pastoral settlement. - The Minister talks about repudiation. This Ordinance itself repeals the South Australian Acts. Will he say that the leases under South Australian Acts contain provisions for the resumption of land fOr cultivation purposes ?
– I ask the Minister to quote the section. What is likely to happen in connexion with the first one-fourth resumption? Is it not reasonable to expect that the lessees will lock up the best of the available country, including all the water frontages, which alone make it possible to hold the land ?
– The Land Board will see to that.
– How can the Land Board prevent the pastoralists from holding the best land ? I prefer to be guided by experience. In 1889, in the New South Wales Parliament, we had a measure almost identical with this proposal, giving holders of leases a renewal conditionally on their improvements reverting to the Crown in 1895. In that case, all the water frontages and, of course, all the cultivable land was taken by the squatters. If honorable senators want to lock up all this pastoral land they may do so, but they cannot vote against the amendment without making their intention clear.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Senator Duncan’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 - (1.) There shall be a Land Board of the Northern Territory consisting of three members appointed by the Minister, of whom one shall, if the pastoralists of the Northern Territory nominate, in the manner and within the time specified by the Minister three persons, be appointed from among those persons nominated. . . .
. - I move -
That after “ a “ the following wordsbe inserted: - “Lands Administrator of the Northern Ter ritory, appointed by the Minister.”
A Board cannot carry out the work of administration so effectively as can a man who knows his business, and therefore the additional expense is not justified. A Board will establish an office, and get a staff together, and there will be heavy travelling expenses, on account of the members, throughout the Territory. It will also be difficult for the Minister to keep in touch with members of the Land Board. In my judgment the work will be done much more satisfactorily by a Land Administrator, under the Minister. Our experience of Boards has been far from satisfactory. Much of all the trouble experienced in the Territory has been due to the unsuitability of persons appointed to discharge their duties there. I understand the Minister’s original intention was to appoint two members of his Department as members of the Board. That would have been better than selecting outside officials. It is also proposed to give the lessees representation on the Board. Why ? Ministers find it very convenient whenever difficulties arise to shelter behind a Board. In this case the Minister should be competent to administer the Ordinance. We had a sorry spectacle of Board administration a few years ago in connexion with the Naval Board. Some of the members of that Board were at loggerheads, and would not speak one to the other, even at Board meetings, with the result that they had to pass notes across the table. I want to avoid any possibility of trouble in connexion with Northern Territory land administration under this Ordinance. I hope, therefore, that my amendment will be agreed to.
– I suggest to Senator McDougall that his purpose would be served if, instead of moving the omission of the clause with a view to the insertion of a new clause, he moved “ That after the words ‘-There shall be a’ the words Lands Administrator of the Northern Territory appointed by the Minister ‘ be inserted.” I think in this matter we have to be guided by the long experience of the States in dealing with land legislation. It has been the invariable practice ofall the States to appoint a Land Board to deal with the various matters of administration arising out of their legislation. If that has been found necessary in the larger States such as Queensland and New South Wales, it will certainly be necessary in dealing with an area so vast and so far removed from the Seat of Government as that of the Northern Territory. It is pretty clear to me that the Minister will have to rely very largely for his advice upon this Land Board. No Minister will have the time frequently to visit the Territory; the Board will have to be his eyes and ears, to report to him what is going on, and to make recommendations to him. Assuming that this legislation is passed, consider the duties which the members of the Board will have cast upon them. They will have theduty of drafting recommendations as to what portions of these runs shall be resumed. That work ‘will necessitate a considerable amount of travelling, and will have to be done - very largely on the spot. “ I do not mean to say that all the members of the Board will visit a particular run in order to decide that question. It will, however, be necessary for a member of the Board to visit the various leaseholds and to make recommendations relating to the area that is to be resumed. Then, too, there will be the question of resumption for’ agricultural purposes in certain - parts. If, as we hope and’ believe, the northern portion of the Territory is going to progress, in an agricultural sense, resumption will be necessary. That will necessitate the presence on the spot of a member of the Board, and’ his personal investigation to enable recommendations to be made. One can easily see how ill-fitted for such tasks officers in Melbourne would be, not because of any personal disqualification, but by reason of the fact that they are resident in Melbourne. Oh the other hand, if there was1 a single Administrator, he obviously could not be in two places at the one time. Whilst he was travelling over that vast area and making up his reports for the. Minister, it is possible that a question of urgent importance regarding lands administration might arise. With the absence of telegraphic communication and the restricted postal communication, one can easily imagine how impossible the position of the Minister would be made if his only adviser on land administration happened to be travelling through that vast area. The very circumstances of the case render it imperative that this Board shall consist of more than one member. I think that three: is the smallest number that can conveniently carry on work of this nature. When the country becomes more settled and there are better means of communication, perhaps the number can be reduced. At present I suggest to Senator McDougall that these three gentlemen’ will be kept fully occupied. I ask him not to press his amendment, because I believe the clause to be necessary if we are to- have efficient and effective administration in the future.
– Senator McDougall’s proposal does not assume that the Administrator will be an officer resident in Melbourne; he will be a Northern Territory officer. If three members are appointed they will be in the one place at the same time. The Government are giving the lessees the right to nominate one of the members of the Board. What have ‘they done to deserve, that? What is the intention, unless it is that such a representative shall look after the interests of the lessees ?’
– He will serve the same purpose as would be served by an employees’ representative on the Shipping Board.
– The employees’ representative on the Shipping Board would represent the men who were actually doing the work. These lessees have prevented any work being done in the Territory; for years they have held out of full use millions of acres of land. If there is the analogy suggested by Senator Hays, seeing that he would’ not agree to a workers’ representative being appointed to the Shipping Board, I presume that he will not agree to allow a representative of the lessees to be appointed to this Board. The cases, however, are not similar. I believe that this Bill is - being rushed through to enable the Government to appoint, the Board. I suppose the salaries will range from £1,500 to £2,000. Living and travelling are costly in the Territory, and the members will have to be well provided for by way of salary or travelling allowance. For ten years the Board will have nothing to do in regard to the leases, because they will be locked up for that period.
– They will have all the other lands to deal with.
– Senator McDougall had economy in view in moving this amendment.. He has said that the matter should be placed solely in the hands of one man. If it is a position carrying great responsibility and wide power the Government can afford to pay one man well. The appointment of three members is not justified by the work that will have to be done or the profits that will be derived by the Commonwealth. I think the appointment of the Board should stand over until 1935.
– J am prepared to alter my amendment as suggested by Senator Pearce.
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly.
– It will be “possible, shortly, to travel by aeroplane, and there will be no thought of travelling in any other way. Under those conditions one man would be able to do the work as well as three or four. The Minister (Senator Pearce) says that officials in Melbourne cannot carry out that work and advise him. I do not want them to do it. There are certain details of administration that must be attended to in the capital, but there are other duties in connexion with the Territory on which the Minister should be advised by the Lands Administrator for the Territory. The Lauds Administrator could cany his wireless apparatus with him and communicate with the Minister within a few hours. The best administration can always be obtained from one man, not from three’ or five. The interests of the Commonwealth would be best served by adopting my suggestion.
– The clause ought to be drafted in such a way as to be clearly understood. -At present the ‘language appears to be somewhat involved. We are not informed for what period the members of the Board are to be appointed. We have no information regarding the salary they are. to receive, but we are told incidentally that they will have power to re-appraise the rentals.
– (Senator Newland). - The Committee is now dealing with an amendment moved by Senator McDougall. I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to that amendment.
– I was about to deal with the reason advanced by Senator McDougall for the appointment of one member instead of three. If we pass the clause in its present form we will be quite in the dark as to the salaries to be paid to- the members of the. Board, the powers of which are set out in the clause. It appears to be the policy of the Government to , appoint Boards whenever possible, and one naturally supposes that these bodies are created to provide employment for Government supporters. If there is any truth in a certain rumour, and such men are selected, I trust that only the most qualified will be, appointed to important positions. . What objection can there be to a Lands Commissioner ? When we were discussing the Commonwealth Shipping Bill, I directed attention to a provision under which it is intended, in the absence of the chairman, to’ appoint a deputy chairman, who is to have a deliberative as well as a casting vote, and, if this Board is to be established on similar lines, it would be just as well, to have a Lands Commissioner, responsible to the Minister. The Commonwealth Bank, established by a Labour Government, was very effectively controlled by the late Sir Denison Miller, and if the operations of the bank had been under the direction of a Board I do not think it would have been the gigantic success that it is to-day. I believe the Government are anxious to further the interest of the Territorials, and I, too, am willing to do all I can in the direction of assisting to develop the Territory in the interests of the Commonwealth. Later on a measure will be submitted to authorize the construction of a railway from the Katherine River to Daly Waters, and it would have been preferable to discuss ‘that measure before passing this Ordinance.
– That was my suggestion.
– It would be the proper course to adopt.’ When speaking of the appointment of a Board to control the Commonwealth Shipping Line, I was accused by Senator Lynch of wishing to go slow in one direction, and of advocating undue haste in another. I am anxious to see the Territory developed as rapidly as possible, but I am not foolish enough to believe that the appointment of a Board, as is proposed, will lead to substantial progress unless something more is done. I do not think that this Ordinance will mean rapid development, and I shall do all I can to prevent its speedy passage until the other measure which I have mentioned is before the Chamber. Is this Ordinance merely being rushed through so that a Board may be appointed ? Extensive areas in the Northern Territory are in the possession of certain individuals who have not fared badly, and who, by the expenditure of some millions of public money, will be further enriched. The Government appealed to the electors on a policy of economy, but they are riot practising economy. The members of the Board will not only draw their salaries, but also liberal travelling allowances. Senator McDougall referred to the possibility of rapid communication by aeroplane, and if the members of the Board adopt that modern means of transit, the expenses incurred for highly skilled pilotsand for petrol will be exceptionally heavy. We should hesitate before we commit ourselves to this clause.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– There was some justification for the appointment of a Board to control the Commonwealth Government Shipping Line, because different phases of its activities have to be administered, but to appoint a Board for carrying out the work involved in connexion with the Northern Territory leases is to incur unnecessary expense. The expenditure will absorb all the revenue received from the Territory, and, perhaps, a little more. The conditions of the leases issued under the South Australian Acts will not have to be closely investigated, and those issued under Commonwealth Ordinances will require little attention. Considering the enormous size of the Northern Territory, the work performed by a Board of three, or even of seven members, would be almost futile. The work involved can be efficiently performed by the present Administrator of the Northern Teritory, who should he responsible to the Minister. ,If, in the absence of the Chairman of the Board, a deputy chairman possessing two votes is to be appointed, the proceedings will be farcical.
– I trust the Committee will accept the amendment moved by Senator McDougall. If the Government are genuinely anxious to develop the large territory committed to their care, they can do all that is required through the Administrator of the Northern Territory, who already has a staff and the necessary machinery at his disposal. In other words, we are simply . throwing good money after bad. If there is to be a separate Department for the administration and development of the lands of the Northern Territory, one man can do all the work.
– It would be a big job for him.
– I admit it, but one man, with a knowledge of the possibilities of the country, who concentrated on his ‘work, would do it as efficiently as would three men. As pointed out by Senator Grant, the clause itself is contradictory, because it says that two shall form a quorum, and where there is am. equality of. votes, gives the chairman for the time being a casting vote. I can imagine two strong men. seated in the Board-room and coming to a deadlock about a matter of administration. But the clause gives one of them absolute power. Why cannot we give it to one man in the first instance without going to all the trouble of appointing three. I agree with Senator Findley that the Ordinance has been brought forward at the wrong time. In the few weeks at the disposal of Parliament, the Government are anxious to set up this additional expensive machinery for the administration of the Northern Territory ‘ before they tell us in what direction the Board shall work. We should have had the Government’s developmental policy in advance of their administrative proposals. .
– If a Board of three is to be appointed I should like an undertaking from the Minister that the pastoralists’ nominee will not be appointed chairman. I can see no reason why the pastoralists should have special representation on the Board. The Governmentpointblank declined to appoint a representative of the unions on the Board to control the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers. The unions are as much entitled to representation on that Board as are the pastoralists on this Board. We know what sort of influence their representative will exercise, particularly when the Board is dealing with country which may be unknown to the other members of the Board. It is certain that his fellow-members will rely on his knowledge of the country and of the conditions attaching to pastoral development. It is bad enough to have a representative of the pastoralists on the Board, but the position will be worse if that representative is appointed as chairman. The amendment is a wise one. For the sake of economy, we should have one man only. He could do all the work that it is proposed to intrust to three.
– The idea in giving the pastor alists an opportunity to submit a panel of three is so that they will have some guarantee that there will be at least one practical man on this Board. But once he is appointed he will cease to have anything to do with the pastoralists; he will become a Government servant. It is extremely unlikely that the Government will appoint him as chairman of the Board. Obviously they will appoint as chairman one of the other members of the Board who are straight-out Government nominees. I cannot bind the Government, but that is my view of what will be done.
SenatorFindley. - What is the Minister’s idea of the constitution of the Board ?
– My idea is that there should be on it at least two practical men who are acquainted with the lands, especially the pastoral lands, of the Northern Territory. One of these two will be selected by the pastoralists themselves. The third member of the Board should be a Commonwealth officer with a knowledge of administration and acquainted with the laws he will be called upon to administer.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator McDougalls amendment) be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 (Officers of Public Service of Commonwealth, State, or Northern Territory appointed members of Board).
– I move-
That the following wordsbe added to the clause: - “Provided that every member of the Board shall bea returned soldier, with a good record in the Australian Imperial Forces, and a practical knowledge of land.”
The present Ministry came into office as friends of the returned soldiers. I am now affording them an opportunity to prove that they were sincere in their protestations and were not merely “ gulling” the electors.
– This is an extraordinary proposal from a party which, through the recent elections, opposed the principle of preference to returned soldiers.
– That is not right. We have always believed in the principle of preference to returned soldiers, and we are now backing up our opinion. I do not see how the Government can dodge this amendment.
– As the amendment is not relevant to the clause, it is out of order.
– I propose to add it toclause 7.
– Clause 7 has already been passed.
– Clause 7 must have beenput before honorable senators had an opportunity to return to their seats after the division. The Chairman should not put a clause until honorable senators have taken their seats.
– What if honorable senators remain standing about forhalf an hour after a division?
– I took particular care to see that honorable senators were duly seated before I put theclause.
– At that moment Senator Hoare was crossing the chamber.
– The honorable senator might take five minutes to do so,and the Committee could not wait for him. If the honorablesenator had wished to move an amendment he could have directed my attention to it before I had put the clause. But he did not do so.
– Would not Senator Hoare be in order in submitting his amendment as a separate clause?
Clause agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Hoare) proposed -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 8a. Every member of the Board shall be a returned soldierwith a good record in the Australian Imperial Forces and a practical knowledge of land.”
SenatorPEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister for Home and Territories) [6.6]. - If by the moving of this clause Senator Hoare thinks that he will embarrass the supporters of the Government, he is very much mistaken, because, luckily for honorable senators on this side of the Chamber, there is a long record behind them of the beneficial results of their attitude to returned soldiers, of which the general public, and. particularly the returned soldiers, are well aware. They also recollect that the first Government to take action to repeal a law placed on the statute-books for the protection of returned soldiers in employment, was a Labour Government in New South Wales. Therefore, honorable senators opposite have a great deal to explain away before they can convince the returned soldiers in this Senate that the amendment is moved for any other purpose than to embarrass Government supporters.
– But the Government can show their sincerity on this question by supporting the amendment.
– We recognise that the mouthpiece of the returned soldiers is the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League of. Australia. That organization has placed before the Govern- ment many requests, all of which are on record. I suppose there was nothing, in which the returned soldiers had a greater interest than. the. War Service Homes and the Repatriation Department. There, the Returned Soldiers’ League asked for the right to nominate one member on a committee of three. The Government of the day voluntarily conceded more than the League asked. The policy of this. Government, as was that of: the last Government, is to give preference to returned soldiers, other things being equal.
– Have honorable senators the assurance of the Minister that that principle will hold good in all cases?
– I give an absolute assurance to the Senate that the principle will be honoured. I ask honorable senators supporting the Government not to be led astray by voting for an amendment, which has been put forward - I am not using these words offensively, but simply having regard to those used by the honorable senator who moved the amendment - to embarrass the Government. I ask the Committee to reject it, and to rely on the Government’s promise to adhere to their policy, as has previously been enunciated, and upon which they fought the last election, to give preference to returned soldiers, other things being equal.
– I cannot understand Senator Pearce’s argument. He said that the amendment was designed to embarrass the supporters of the Government, but no embarrassment could possibly be caused if it were accepted by the Government, especially if they are, as they profess to be, the friends of the soldiers. They pretend to befriend the returned soldiers, but when a remunerative position is vacant, with little work attached to it, the soldier does not get preference of appointment. He is shown consideration only when positions of hard work and little recompense are offering. I am always delighted to embarrass theGovernment, but in no way could that be accomplished by the acceptance of the amendment. We ask them merely to put on the statute-book a recognition of their claim to be the friends of the returned soldier. The Minister referred offensively to the action of the New South Wales Parliament in respect of certain legislation. I do not know of any Act passed by that Parliament which dealt with returned soldiers, unless it was one to repeal a measure enacted by the pretended friends of the soldiers, but which never helped them one iota. The principle of preference tax returned soldiers is either right or wrong, and if the Government say that it is right they should accept the proposed amendment. If it is wrong they should reject it.
– Would the honorable senator give preference to returned soldiers over trade unionists?
– No. Returned soldiers already know that the talk of pref erence is utter nonsense. The Government will not even find work for them.
In Bourke-street men every day are standing in the rain waiting for employment, and yet the Government are doing nothing for them.
– The Government voted a large sum for main roads construction.
– The Government certainly did vote £500,000, apparently to relieve unemployment, but there is no guarantee that the returned soldiers will obtain any advantage from that grant to the States. The money may possibly be distributed amongst district councils and local authorities, who will employ their existing staffs to carry out any necessary work. How can the Minister claim that it will be embarrassing to put on the statutebook of this country what he claims to be the Government’s policy ? I put the returned general on a different footing from that of the returned soldier. Take, for instance, the Public Service Board, and the appointment to it of General Sir Brudenell White and Mr. McGlinn, at salaries of £2,500 and £2,000 per annum respectively. What is the use of those appointments to the men who have served in the ranks? The b Government are prepared only to give effect to the principle of preference to returned soldiers when it suits them, and then always to aid their friends. . Any others are interlopers. The returned soldiers know which political party supports them, and they are becoming wiser every day. It was the soldier’s right to fight for the Government, but when he returned he was given the right to work - if he could find it. The unfortunate alternative was privation. I know, as well as any one, the serious extent of the unemployment; existing at present. If the Government were sincere, they would say, “ Preference to returned soldiers is the Nationalist party’s policy ; and . we do not object to put it on the statute-book. . It should be there as a record that we are prepared to stand by the principle.” If the Bill is passed without the amendment, we, and particularly the returned soldiers who have had such a hard spin from the Government, will know how this pledge will be honoured by the party opposite.
– I am a strong advocate of the policy of preference, to returned soldiers, and if I imagined, that by reason of this, or any other Bill, that principle was in danger, I should be prepared to fight strenuously against it. The amendment moved by the Opposition will not guarantee that protection of the principle of preference to returned soldiers which the Minister has promised shall be observed when appointments are being made. It may be that the whole administration ot the Government will be embarrassed by the inclusion of the amendment. It may be that, in the Northern Territory, there: are returned soldiers available for appointment, with the necessary qualifications for this Board, or there may not be.
– This clause does not presuppose that all the members of the Board .will be resident in the Northern Territory.
– There may not be such men in the Northern Territory. I agree with the Minister that it is advisable to include in the personnel of the Board capable business men with an inside knowledge of the Territory. There may be suitable returned men in the Territory, and, if so, the Minister has assured us that they will receive preference. I agree entirely with the policy of preference to returned soldiers.
– Consistent with the possession of the necessary qualifications.
– They should have the qualifications necessary for the position^ that is to be filled. The Government have adopted this course in a number of appointments. I candidly confess that, in other appointments, the policy of preference to returned soldiers was not observed by the Government as closely as it should have been. There has been room for complaint by the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia. If returned soldiers with the necessary qualifications are available for appointment to the Board, and are not appointed, then Parliament will later on have something very definite to say.
– It will then be too late.
– It is never too late to punish wrong-doing.
– The honorable senator does not forget the appointment of Mr. Victor Ryan.
– I could mention other appointments of which I did not approve. The Government now propose to honour the principle of preference to returned soldiers. The amendment, if passed, will have no practical effect, and no request for it has been made by the League. The Minister has given an assurance to the Committee, and it is up to this Parliament to see that it is carried out.
– Until I realized what the amendment meant, I was at a loss to understand Senator Gardiner’s remarks. He wants to know why the Minister (Senator Pearce) objects to the amendment if the declared -policy of the Government is to give preference to returned soldiers. But this proposal is not preference to returned soldiers at all. It seeks to make it imperative to appoint returned soldiers as members of the Board.
– Hear, hear!
– Whether they have suitable qualifications or not, the amendment limits the applicants to returned soldiers, and returned soldiers only.
– Hear, hear!
– I hope the honorable senator’s indorsement of my statement of the position may be taken as an intimation that he and other honorable senators on his side have been converted to the principle of preference to returned soldiers, and that, if in the course of time they come into possession of the Treasury bench, our returned soldiers will get from them the same fair spin that they are receiving from this Government. The amendment was submitted, not so much with the idea of getting it into the Bill - that would be disconcerting to my honorable friends opposite* - as to embarrass me and other honorable senators on this side.
– We expect honorable senators over there to accept it.
– My policy is preference to returned soldiers. I would not support this or any other Government that departed from that principle. All that the Returned Soldiers’ League asks is that, other things being equal, preference in employment shall be given to returned soldiers. I go a step further, and say that where we can find returned soldiers with the necessary qualifications - I do not mean the best qualifications - we should give them the preference. I hold that if a returned soldier has sufficient qualifications for a position, he should get it every time. But if my honorable friends opposite think that by compelling me to vote against this amendment they are going to embarrass me, they never made a greater mistake. I am not in the least troubled by this move on their part. I intend to vote against the amendment. I do not stand for a policy that will make it imperative to employ a returned soldier on any job- -I do not care what it is - regardless of his qualifications. That is what the amendment seeks to do. The policy of this Government is to give returned soldiers preference in employment. Immediately they depart from that policy, I shall cease to support them. This statement, I think, makes my position perfectly clear. Of course, mistakes have been made from time to time, but so long as the Government adhere to this principle as one plank in their policy, they deserve support on all soldier questions from every honorable senator on this side of the Senate; and now, according to the declaration of honorable senators opposite, they should receive support also from Opposition members, Senator Gardiner’s suggestion, that the Government have gained support from returned soldiers by -pretending to be their friend is, of course, absurd. Deeds speak louder even than all the “ wind “ blown off by the opponents of the present Government. The late Nationalist Government and this Government, composed of Nationalist and Country party members, have stated definitely what their policy is with regard to the employment of returned soldiers. The Nationalist party made preference to returned soldiers one of their principal planks. It still is their policy, and, therefore, any attempt by* , honorable senators opposite to embarrass returned soldier members on this side of the Chamber will not succeed. I wonder if they would support a proposal to amend the Constitution by providing that only returned soldiers should be eligible for election to Parliament. If one may judge by their attitude towards this amendment, they should be prepared to support the one I now suggest.
– Where is the analogy? We cannot alter the Constitution.
– But a proposal to amend the Constitution wouldhave to gothrough this Chamber before it could be placed before the people; and I know just how much support it would get from my honorable friends opposite, who, since the close of the war, have been so enthusiastically collecting votes from returned soldiers, but who, during the war, were not so enthusiastic on their behalf. I feelperfectly certain that such a proposal as I suggest - and it would be on all-fours with the amendment now under consideration - would not get much support from honorable senators opposite.
– I fail to understand the reasonfor all this trouble about a matter concerning which there ought to -be complete unanimity. Why all this heat on the part of Senator Drake-Brockman? The honorable senatorclaimed that the Nationalists were the only party interested in returned soldiers, and that deeds spoke louder than all the “ wind “ from this side of theChamber. All I can say is that the feats of those who support the Labour party - I mean, of course, the workers - stand as a monument to their work in connexion with the world’s war. And when we talk aboutpreference to returned men, we mean that section which we represent in this Chamber. The Minister (iSenator Pearce) may smile. No one knows better than he to what extent members of the Labour party were responsible for the conduct of the late war.
– The honorable senator says “rubbish.” Well, I shall prove what I say. What Government was in power in the Commonwealth at the outbreak of war? A Labour Government, of course. The majority of the men who went overseas to fight were workers - volunteers who were equipped and trained by a Labour Government of the Commonwealth. It is because of this fact that we are anxious now to do all wecan for the men who fought for Australia. We say that the Government ought toembody in this clause a provision that returned soldiers shall be appointed as members of the Board. We do not want to embarrass the Government.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– Senator DrakeBrockmanhas made a statement to which I feel justified in replying. I know that it (has been said by some people that Australia won the war. I do not share that opinion, but I contend that the Australian soldiers helped materially towards the victory that was gained. The Labour party playeda very important part in that great conflict. The majority of the men who went overseas led a hard, workaday life, and many of them were pronounced trade unionists. The trade union ranks were considerably depleted by reason of the number of trade unionists who volunteered. Naturally, therefore, the Labour party always has been, and is now, as anxious as the Nationalist party to see that the right thing is done for the returned men.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that by passing this amendment the Committee will ‘be doing the right thing ?
– Honorable senators on the Ministerial side cannotclaim to be the sole custodians of the rights of the men who went to the battle-f ronts. We on this side have always doneour level best for the returned men, irrespective of the sphere to which they belong. In asking theCommittee to vote against thisproposed new clause, the Minister (Senator Pearce) said that the declared policy of the Government is preference to returned men, all things beingequal. I do not dispute that statement, but it is quite evident that the policy which has been adopted by the Government has not been entirely satisfactory to many returned men. Recently the columns of the daily press in the capital cities demonstrated that vigorous objection was taken by the returned soldier organizations to certain Government appointments. Such action as the Government then took could never be charged against the Labour party.
– What about the unions turning down the returned men ?
– Unionists have never turned down the returned men.
– The honorable senator is getting away from the question before the Committee. I ask him to confine his remarks to that question.
– If the Government are in favour of the policy of giving returned men preference, what objection can they have to the insertion of this new clause? They ought readily to ‘accept it.
– This new clause would give a monopoly to returned soldiers; the Government policy is preference to returned men.
– I thought Senator Drake-Brockman said that he was in favour of returned soldiers having preference over all other sections of the community.
– I am, so long as the returned soldier has the necessary qualifications to fill the position.
– No one for a moment would desire that returned soldiers should foe appointed to important positions if they .did mot possess the necessary qualifications.
-Brockman - Why, then, does the honorable senator support this amendment ?
– I am supporting it in the hope that the Committee later will .agree to an addition to it. I want the field to be open to all, not closed against any one section. If applications are received from returned men, and they possess the necessary qualifications, they should be .given preference:
– That already is- the policy of the Government.
– Although this is the declared policy of the Government, the returned soldiers’ organizations at recent meetings held in’ this and the other capital cities denounced in the strongest possible language the action ‘of the Government in regard to the filling of certain positions.
-They set out two instances in which, they contended, the Government had not adopted -the policy >of preference to returned soldiers.
– If the statements which they made were correct, they had every reason for severely criticising the Government. By inserting this new clause it will be .clearly demonstrated to returned men and their associations that, in connexion with the appointments to this Board, the Government will give preference to returned soldiers, all things being equal. I hope that the Committee will agree to the amendment, and thus remove any doubt which exists in the minds of many returned men. It would clearly prove to returned men and to their associations that the Senate, at any rate, is extremely anxious to see that that which occurred recently shall not occur again.
– There are in the. Northern Territory, occupying some of the lands, returned men who are perfectly competent to occupy a position on this Board. I am prepared to wager that they will not be given a chance. I have met some of these men. It is a well-known fact that many of them who own thousands of head of cattle and sheep did not go to England to buy a commission - -as some other people did - but joined as privates in Australia and returned to Australia holding the same rank. Senator Duncan said he was perfectly satisfied that preference to returned soldiers is the declared policy of the Government. It was the declared policy of the late Government, but it is not the declared policy of this Government. In the Caucus-room they did not give preference to returned men; they turned them all down. Unless this provision is inserted in the Bill the returned men will again be sadly disappointed. Every honorable senator who has at heart the interests of the soldiers should vote for this new clause. The Public Service Board will have no say in regard to the filling of these positions. These are going to be political appointments, and in all such cases there should be a mandatory clause in the Bill to insure, that the returned soldiers shall get a fair deal.
– All that we are asking the Government to do is to prove that they are absolutely sincere in advocating a policy of preference to returned soldiers. It ‘is very easy for the Government to dodge their responsibilities “by making the stipulation “ all things being equal.” That is the way in which every difficulty is -disposed of in the Government service. I worked in the Government service for a number of years. If an individual against whom the ‘Government have a grudge applies for a position carrying a higher status, he is immediately told that the other applicants possess better qualifications than he does. Did the Government give preference to a returned soldier when they appointed Mr. Page .to the Public Service .Superannuation Board ? The returned men were knocking at the door every day to be ‘given representation on that Board. Look at the action of the Government in the appointment of Mr. Victor Ryan, who went to the recruiting depot, was declared fit to go to the war, and did not go. He is worse than those who, like me, did not go near a recruiting depot; because, to all intents and purposes, he was willing to go, but failed to do so. If the Government’s policy is one of preference, let them adhere to it. If it is not, let them be honest enough to say so. Will any honorable senator insinuate that there are not in Australia returned men possessing the “ qualifications which will be required of those who are to be appointed to this Board? I believe that there is a large number who possess the necessary qualifications. Was preference given to returned soldiers in the formation of the Government? Two honorable members in another place, who had excellent war records, were dropped from the Cabinet, and a “ Johnnycomelately “ was substituted. The Government have the opportunity now to show their sincerity. Men are to be found amongst the returned soldiers who will fill the position as ably as any one.
.- It is very refreshing to hear Senator Hoare refer to the sincerity displayed by the members of his party on this particular question. The amendment is not to give preference to returned soldiers, all things being equal ; it distinctly provides that these positions shall be filled only by returned soldiers. The honorable senator twitted those on this side of the chamber with opposition to preference to returned soldiers ; but he apparently has overlooked the fact that an organization with which he is closely associated laid itself out at the last general election to bring about the political defeat of one of the finest returned soldiers who ever occupied a seat in Parliament.
– What organization?.
– The Labour organization used every power at its disposal to bring about the defeat of Colonel Bell, who once occupied a seat in another place. Where is the honorable senator’s sincerity in the matter of preference to returned soldiers?
– Did not the honorable senator oppose him also?
-No. In dealing with this question we have to realize that returned soldiers possessing the necessary qualifications will, all things being equal, be appointed.
– I do not think they will.
– I do not care what the honorable senator thinks; I am stating facts. Returned soldiers possessing equal or superior qualifications to other applicants will be appointed. I trust the honorable senator’s profession of sincerity will be accepted at what it is worth..
– Some honorable senators appear to overlook the fact that this Ordinance will remain in operation long beyond the time when the youngest returned soldier now in our midst is likely to be available, and there is therefore a danger in introducing the proposed new clause. It may be said that that provision could be amended if necessary, but the better course is not to insert it.
.- I intend to support the Ordinance in its present form, because I do not think any returned soldier desires that such a hardandfast provision as that set out in the proposed new clause should be embodied in it. Many service men lived so long in exile that they do not wish to go into renewed exile in the Northern Territory. I am sure that I will be supported by the returned soldiers’ organizations when I ask that returned soldiers with the necessary qualifications shall be given preference over those possessing similar qualifications who had the opportunity and did not go to the Front.
Question - That the proposed new clause (Senator Hoare’s amendment) be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … .. 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Clause 9 -
In the case of the illness or suspension of any member ofthe Board, or in the event of the office of a member becoming vacant the Minister may, if he thinks fit, in accordance withsub-section (1) of the last preceding section, appoint a person to act as a member of the Board during the illness…..
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That the words “ in accordance with subsection (1) of the last preceding section “ be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 -
A member ofthe Board shall be deemed to have vacatedhis officeif -
without the consent of the. Minister, he engages during his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office. . . .
– Do I understand that the Minister may consent to any member of the Board engaging in any work outside the duties of his office ? This paragraph pre-supposes that the members of the Board will not be fully engaged on the work which they are appointed to perform, and we ought to be clear as to what . the provision means. If the Board is to deal with matters appertaining to Crown lands in the Northern Territory, a member of the Board should not have the right to engage in any other work.
– There are occasions when it would be perfectly proper to permit a member of the Board to engage in other paid employment, as, for instance, acting as the secretary of a society. These men cannot be expected to detach themselves entirely from the ordinary social life of the community, and may possibly accept payment for rendering some service which is perfectly proper, and which would not interfere with their duties as members of the Board. Occasions of this kind have arisen in the Public Service where the person affected has applied for permission to accept paid employment. An officer in the Defence Department, who was acting as an organist, asked permission’ to undertake such work at a small salary, and this provision has been inserted to cover such cases. The Minister would be responsible to Parliament if the members of the Board undertook work which interfered with their duties.
– I have no objection to the provision if it is being inserted to meet only a case such as that mentioned by the Minister, but I have a decided objection to the members of the Board who are to be paid by the community for the services they render engaging, if the Minister consents, in other paid occupations.
– That is not intended.
– If the Minister gives that assurance, I shall offer no further objection.
– Paragraph c provides that a member of the Board shall be deemed to have vacated his office if - he is wilfully absent from duty fora period of fourteen consecutive days except on leave granted by the Minister (which leave the Minister is hereby authorized to grant), or becomes incapable of performing his duties.
How can a member of the Board, visiting out-back portions of the Northern Territory, report himself every fourteen days? I was under the impression that these men were to carry on work involving a good deal of travelling, and that their office duties would be very light. If a member of the Board were absent from Darwin for three or four weeks, how could the Minister ascertain that he had been wilfully absent?
– If a member of the Board were travelling through the Territory on duty, it would not be necessary for him to report, but if a complaint were lodged to the effect that he had been wilfully absent, he would have to prove that he had not been. Some such provision is necessary to insure that an officer accepting a position on the Board carries out his duties.
.- Perhaps the Minister (Senator Pearce) would he prepared to amend the clause in the direction of providing that, if a member of the Board is absent from duty for fourteen days after having received notice to resume, he shall he deemed to have vacated his position. Occasions may arise when an officer, having been called upon to resume work, is wilfully absent, and in such cases, he should be punished. When Parliament is in’ session, an honorable senator occasionally secures leave of absence on account of ill-health, or for some other reason, and unless some one was looking after his interests, that period might be exceeded. Provision should be made for an officer to resume duty within a specified time after he has been directed so to do.
– This does not refer merely to the neglect to attend meetings of the Board. It refers to neglect of duties generally.
– I can imagine a member of the Board commencing a fortnight’s vacation on the 1st June, and deciding to fill in his time by looking through the Territory. Something might prevent him from taking up his duties again within the fourteen days, and if he had not the permission of the Minister to absent himself he could not be restored to his position any more than we could restore to a seat in . this Chamber an honorable senator who exceeded the period of his leave of absence.
– I have no desire to make the clause watertight, but the suggestion put forward by honorable senators would not improve it. The members of this Board will be intelligent men, their duties will be laid down, and it will not be necessary for the Minister to be giving them constant reminders of what they are required to do. There is a possibility, however, that a member of the Board may give way to drink and wilfully neglect his duty. The Minister should have power to. call such a man to- book. If the obligation were placed cm the Minister to remind a member of the Board that he was neglecting his duty, the man who chose to go “ on the spree “ would be put in a safe position. This clause will not operate while a member of the Board is carrying on his duties.
.- The clause is safeguarded by the use of the word ,; wilfully.” It is suggested that if a man is .stricken down by malarial fever and cannot look after his duties it will be obligatory on the part of the Minister to discharge him, but in such a circumstance the word “ wilfully “ would protect the Minister and the member of the Board.
– I do not want to tie the Minister down, but if a member of- the Board goes on a “ bender “ he may absent himself for fourteen days, return to work for a day and then go off for another fourteen days. Meanwhile the Minister will not be in a position to interfere with him. The Minister’s explanation makes me more earnest in my desire to amend the clause.
– The danger feared by the honorable senator is guarded against by the preceding clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 12 to 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 (Districts).
.– In this clause we find the words “published in the Gazette.” In other clauses provision is made for the insertion of advertisements in the Northern Territory Gazette and the Gazette of the Commonwealth. Should there not be uniformity in this matter?
– Under the definition clause Gazette means both the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette and the Gazette of the Northern Territory.
.- At first I thought that there had been an error in drafting the Ordinance, but I find that the use of the terms Gazette, Commonwealth Gazette and Northern Territory Gazette is necessary because- there is no official Gazette in the Northern Territory, and for the time being the Northern Territory Gazette, which is a newspaper published at. Darwin, becomes the Gazette of the Northern Territory. If there were an- official Gazette in the Northern .Territory the word Gazette would be sufficient in all cases, but certain provisions in the Bill require matters to be advertised in the Northern Territory newspaper as well as in the Commonwealth Gazette.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 16 to 20 agreed to.
Clause: 21 (Board to decide applications).
– Sub-clause 3 apparently makes it obligatory on the part of the Board to furnish reasons why an application for a lease has been refused. It is a novelty in land legislation to impose such an obligation on a Land Board. If there are a couple of dozen applicants for a block it will entail a lot of trouble if the Board is required to furnish to every unsuccessful applicant reasons why his application has been refused. I. do not see why the Board should be required to do so. In a small community I should imagine it would create a good deal of trouble, no end of confusion, and, perhaps, bad spirit, if an unsuccessful applicant were informed why he had been refused a block of land for which he had applied.
– The provision may be regarded as novel, but it is in the old Ordinance, and a little consideration will show that it is a very reasonable innovation, if it be such, in land legislation. When there are several applications for a lease the Board will take various things into consideration; for instance the fact that an applicant is married or single, or that he may not have sufficient capital or experience, or that her may be a returned soldier. They will make up their minds onthe evidence presented to them, and possibly they may be influenced in their decision by a consideration, which, if the whole of the facts had been presented to them, would not have so influenced them. The unsuccessful applicant is entitled to ask why his applicationhas been refused, and when he is supplied with the information he may be able to bring forward evidence to show that the facts have not been properly presented to the Board.
– Will he be allowed to do so?
– Yes; that is the reason for the clause.
– And he may demand a re-hearing ?
– No, provision is made for an unsuccessful applicant to receive notification that he has failed before the land has been allotted to some oneelse.
– He can appeal against the allotment. Before making an appeal he asks why he has been excluded . If the reason given does not satisfy him he may- appeal against the decision of the Board, and he is strengthened in his appeal if he can show that the Board has come to a decision under amisapprehension. This is a very reasonable provision, which will enable justice to be done between the different applicants for leases.
– The Minister (Senator Pearce) has anticipated the reasonsI was about to advance for retaining the subclause as printed. It affords the only protection that an unsuccessful applicant for a lease can possibly have. The Minister has pointed out one reason which might influence the Board in refusing an applicant. There might be different influences at work. Representations might be made to the Board reflecting, perhaps, on the personal character of the applicant, independent altogether of his financial means or capacity to carry out the conditions if the lease were granted to him. The applicant would naturally wonder why his application had! been refused. In common justice, he should have the right not only to request, but to demand that the Board shall giveits reasons for refusal. This subclause paves the way foran appeal against the decision of the Board, otherwise the. Board would have arbitrary power.
– Ill-feeling would be engendered.
– With the right of re-hearing, ill-feeling will be prevented. I can imagine more ill-feeling in a small district than that suggested by Senator Lynch, in the event of two. or three applicants for a certain block of land being turned down. If the reasons were not known to each of them, illfeeling would prevail.
– Would the honourable senator delete sub-clause 3 ?
– The deletion of sub-clause 3 certainly would not improve the Bill, and I hope it will remain.
– I dare say it is quite impossible to include in this Ordinance a proposal that the leases should be sold by auction. It is the function of the Board to fix the rentals ‘ and thus to limit the number of applications. To my mind it is an entirely wrong scheme. If these lands were in the hands of a private land-owner, he would deal with them so as to secure the highest possible returns. The Commonwealth* Government does not propose to do that. The Board, first of all, is to fix the ‘rents and then it is entitled to say whether or not an applicant shall have the right to live in the Northern Territory. Because of lack of experience or cash, a man will not be given the opportunity to take his chance by ballot. I am entirely opposed to such power being given to the Board. I am assuming - I do not believe that it will ever be done - that the Board will fix the fair rental values of the land”. Any one who is prepared to- pay a deposit, risk its possible forfeiture, and undertake the other obligations should certainly be allowed, quite irrespective of whether his hair is red, black, or yellow, to take part in the ballot. The practice of excluding certain people from the ballot has been in operation in New South Wales for a considerable period. The spectacle can be seen there day after day of hundreds of people making application for one block. In the Northern Territory that should not be so. I prefer the auction of the leases. -
– Does not the honorable senator believe in the ballot?
– No. We might follow the course adopted by the New South Wales Railways Commissioners. When they have land or houses for sale, the highest bidder is the purchaser. The Commonwealth Government are entitled to get the highest possible rentals for these blocks in the Northern Territory. After a number of years it is proposed that these blocks shall be re-appraised.
– That would hit the small man very hard.
– That has been said so often as to become tiresome.
– The honorable senator’s proposal would admit the speculator.
– No, because certain conditions are laid down. If a man is prepared to give 3s. per square mile per annum for the use of this land the Commonwealth ought to accept it.
– The honorable senator’ would increase the land monopoly.
– No . man will acquire large areas of land if he has to pay the full rental value for it. ‘ Senators Needham and Drake-Brockman know that. The only way to prevent monopolies of land is to extract from the’ holders the full rental value. Under this scheme the Commonwealth will not get the full rental value for land unless the Board so fixes the rentals.
– How does the honorable senator’s present policy fit in with the principle of fixing fair rents ?
– The proper way to fix a fair rent is to allow people to bid for property, and it should go to the highest bidder. That method is adopted by all private land-owners in the disposal of their properties, but the Government, possibly in order to provide lucrative positions for special gentlemen, adopt a different policy.’ They appoint a Board.
– What is the honorable senator’s opinion of the Fair Rents Court ?
– I am not a supporter of the Fair Rents Court. Everybody knows that it is a fake. It has had no beneficial effect, as far as I am aware ; but that, of course, is a matter of opinion. T realize that some enthusiasts consider that a Fair Rents Court works wonders. I hold the view that any Australian citizen who is prepared to pay a deposit and to sign, the necessary application form should not be excluded by the Board. It seems a most peculiar thing to me that in the disposal of any land held by the Commonwealth such a method as this should be adopted. It will lead to no end of dissatisfaction. Under this clause, the applicant is entitled to ask the Board for its reasons for refusal. By the time the reasons are supplied, there will be no opportunity to obtain redress. In the meantime, some other person, by ballot, will have secured the block. I support the clause as it stands, but it would have been far more beneficial had another course been adopted.
I wish to deal with two points raised in connexion with this sub-clause. The first, whether any applicant has a right to apply for the reasons for his exclusion from the ballot, is very important. The provision is wise, but the clause does not go far enough. I have looked through the measure, and I have not ascertained what procedure is to be adopted by the applicant who has been excluded.
Senator Drake-Brockman. That will be set out in regulations to be prescribed.
– It would be very much more satisfactory if it were provided in the clause. By the time an excluded applicant receives the Board’s reasons, another applicant will have been gazetted as the lessee of the land in question. Some provision should be made in the Bill, apart from the regulations, that no gazettal shall take place until a reasonable time has elapsed to enable the excluded applicant to obtain reasons from the Board, thus giving him the opportunity to appeal before the successful applicant is gazetted. I commend this matter to the consideration of the Minister. The other point relates to the suggestion of Senator Grant that it would be better to dispose of those lands by auction. I believe the honorable senator is as anxious as any one should.be that an opportunity shall be given to every one to compete for the lease of these lands, but if his proposal were adopted it would exclude many deserving men who would otherwise have a chance of securing these leases. The highest bidder would be the purchaser. The Bill is based on an arrangement as to renewal of leases, and the terms under which the present leases may be continued. Senator Grant’s suggestion, if carried out, would upset the whole basis.
– No. The first annual rent is fixed by the purchaser instead of by the Board.
– It would be far better to put every applicant on the same basis, otherwise in the acquisition of land the wealthy individual will have an advantage over the man of moderate means. The Government should fix the price of their property rather than submit it to auction, especially where development is the end in view. It is not the man with the most money that makes the most successful settler, but the man of heart and grit. Many deserving men with limited capital would be entirely excluded if such a course as that suggested by Senator Grant were adopted.
– The point which I intended to raise has been dealt with by Senator Payne, but I may be allowed to express a certain amount of wonder at the nature of the proposition made by Senator Grant. If the procedure outlined by him were followed inregard to these leaseholds, the prospective leases might fall into the hands of the “ idle rich,” and the democratic purpose of the Bill would be defeated. With Senator Payne, I cannot find in the Bill any provision to enable persons who have been excluded from the ballot to be reinstated. I should like some explanation from the Minister. This is too important a point to be left to regulation, as is suggested.
– I had intended to refer to the point raised by Senator Payne and mentioned by Senator Kingsmill. If the intention of sub-clause 3 is to give an applicant who has been excluded from the ballot the right to require from the Board their reasonsfor excluding him, and : an opportunity of competing in the ballot, it certainly is not provided. Subclause 2 states that where several applications are received for the same block of land the Board shall, subject to this Ordinance, and after excluding the applications of those deemed to be unsuitable, decide the matter by ballot on a date notified by the Gazette. Where is the opportunity for an applicant who has been excluded from the ballot to be furnished with the reasons? What chance will he have of competing in the ballot? If there is any provision to this effect, I should like the Minister to state where it is.
– It is quite obvious that there is going to be lot of minutive in connexion with proceedings of the Board which cannot very well be inserted in the Bill. Numerious regulations will have to be drafted to meet the various provisions in the Ordinance. For example, one clause states that applications for leases may be made in the prescribed form. The details of the “ prescribed “ form are not found in the Bill, and necessarily they will have to he provided forby regulation. There will be regulations, too, as to procedure for the guidance of the Board and the applicants. Applicants will make their applications in the prescribed form. The Board will then proceed to weed out the undesirable applicants, but before a ballot can be held there mustbe notification in the Gazette fixing the date. The persons weeded out will have to be notified, and there will be regulations prescribing what action they may take to contest the decision of the Board, and perhaps demand a re-hearing of their applications. All these matters must be dealt with by regulation. But suppose the Board disregard an appeal by a disappointed applicant. The Board will not issue the lease. This will be done by the Minister, and the disappointed applicant will have the right, enjoyed by everyother citizen, of bringing his case under the notice of the Minister. If, for instance, one of the reasons given by the Board for excluding an applicant from the ballot was thathe was suspected of being a “ cattle duffer,” the man might be able to show that no such charge had ever been or could be laid against him.
– From what I have heard of the Territory, that might be a very common reason.
– No; the Territory, thanks to our Ordinances, is very clear of that sort of thing. If the man could prove that there was nothing to substantiate such a charge, the Minister would undoubtedly take the necessary action to safeguard his interests. The very fact that this provision is inthe Ordinance will make the Board very careful about excluding any applicant without good reason, but if it did, the excluded applicant would have an opportunity, before the ballot was taken, of appeal to the Board, and, if necessary, to the Minister, through the member for the district.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 22 to 24 agreed to.
Clause 25 -
Leases under this Ordinance (other than miscellaneous leases ) shall contain reservations, covenants, conditions, and provisions as follow: -
.- I move-
That the words “or which are specified in the Gazette notice that the lands are available for leasing “ be left out, and that after the word “case,” line 11, the words “and are specified in the Gazette notice that the lands are available for leasing “ be inserted.
This paragraph was lifted from the old Ordinance, and in its original form was worded clumsily.
– I should like to know if the Ordinance reservations apply to pastoral leases ?
– Yes, to all leases other than miscellaneous leases.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 26 agreed to.
Clause 27 -
The Minister may, on the application of the lessee, if he thinksfit, postpone the payment of the rental under any pastoral or agricultural leasefor such period, and on such terms, as are prescribed, or ashe thinks fit.
– The clause vests too much power in the Minister. It provides that “ if he thinks fit “ he may postpone the period of rental under any pastoral or agricultural lease for such period, and on such terms as he thinks fit. We suggested that there should be only one Land Administrator, but the Committee has decided that administration shall be by a Board. There will be danger of political influence being brought to bear under this clause, because absolute power will be placed in the hands of the Minister, who may ignore the recommendations of the Board, and do just as he likes. We should clearly understand what we are doing in connexion with this clause. The clause is loosely worded, and confers too much power on the Minister.
– This clause has caused me a considerable amount of thought, and I can sympathize with any honorable senator who takes the view that has been taken by Senator Needham. It is impossible to frame a regulation which will deal with every case. A regulation framed with the desire to give relief in a specific case may let out people who ought not to he let out. If a certain postponement is prescribed everybody who comes within the regulation will claim the postponement. Since I have been administering the DepartmentI have dealt with cases in which common humanity demanded the postponement of the payment of rental. The law allows a Minister no option, and the result has been that, with the small holder especially, we have simply had not to enforce it. There are cases in the interior of men who cannot sell their cattle. They have no capital to fall back upon, and in many cases they cannot find the money to buy tea and sugar. That is particularly the case in the country down towards the Macdonnell Ranges. There is no reason why we should have a general postponement of rentals in the Territory, as a great number of the men are well able to pay the rent.
– Why not provide for the Board to advise the Minister ?
– I would have no objection to provision being made for the. Minister to act on the recommendation of the Board. There must be some elasticity in the law, to meet the individual cases.
– Are there any provisions in the Bill governing mining leases?
– Mining leases are dealt with in a separate Ordinance.
. -The Minister(Senator Pearce) has practically acknowledged that this clause gives almost unlimited power to the Minister ; but he claims that that is justified by the necessities of the case. He has intimated that he would not object to the clause being amended in the direction of providing for a recommendation of the Board being obtained. I therefore move -
That after the word “ may,” line1, the words “ on the recommendation of the Board and “ be inserted.
That will relieve the Minister ofa certain amount of responsibility.
– I accept the amendment.
– The Minister need not act upon the advice of the Board unless he thinks fit; he will still have some discretion.
– I am in favour of the clause as it stands. If the Minister requires advice on any matter pertaining to the Territory he will naturally consult the Board. I do not think we ought to tie the Minister’s hands. I consider that that will be the effect if the amendment is agreed to.
– I do not think any harm will be done by the insertion of those words.
– I do not think their insertion will do any good, and they may do some harm. A common-sense Minister would consult the Board as to what he should do in a certain set of circumstances.
– I prefer the clause as it stands. I am quite sure that the Queensland Act contains such a provision, and I know of cases in which the Minister for Lands has shown clemency. It will not be the function of the Board to deal with such questions as drought or reduction in the value of stock.
– I have listened with a good deal of interest to this debate. My mind has been running contrary to nearly everything that has been said. I view with repugnance the policy of investing Ministers with the right to make laws as they think fit, whether in big or in little things.
– Supposing a man had not the rent, would the honorable senator drive him into the Insolvency Court?
– It is not right to make laws which will operate “ as the Minister thinks fit.”
– There may be a variety of reasons rendering necessary the postponement of payment. How . can every one of those be prescribed in a regulation ?
– They can be prescribed in such a way that the Minister will have something to guide him. I have not the slightest intention of assisting in the passage of laws the operation of which will depend upon the will of the man charged for the time being with their administration. Supposing Senator Pearce, administering that law to-day, acts as he thinks fit, and I, administering it to-morrow, act as I think fit, the position will be created of having two contrary decisions, both absolutely correct in law.
– The amendment will modify that.
– I agree that it will. It would be very convenient for Ministers if all laws were to be interpreted as they thought fit.
– This will be a convenience for the man who is badly hit.
– We are adopting a method -perhaps in only a small matter - which, in the long run, will cause trouble. Ministers at all times have to interpret the law liberally. If the words “ as he thinks fit “ were struck out the clause would be perfectly workable.
– The reason I desired to have deleted from the clause the words “ as he thinks fit “ was to take from the Minister the power which those words undoubtedly vest in him. Notwithstanding the Minister’s remarks regarding the difficulty of meeting the different cases, I still think the interests of the lessees and of everybody else would be better safeguarded if those words were deleted.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 28 to 30 agreed to.
Clause 31 (Position of mortgagee).
– As this clause seems fairly broad, I hope the Minister (Senator Pearce) will be able to assure the Committee that tinder its provisions there will be no opportunity for “ dummying” leases. In different parts of Australia certain individuals have secured good country nominally for themselves, but really for some other person. It would be a very easy matter for a large land-holder to arrange for, say, one of his boundary riders to apply for a block, and to advance him a nominal sum, and if the interest were not paid the mortgagee would enter into possession of the lease, and would remain in possession for the unexpired portion, during which time he would be subject to the same terms, covenants, and conditions of the lease as if he were the lessee under the lease. When a lessee fails to carry out the covenants and conditions of his lease the fact should be duly advertised, and if the mortgage is paid off by another applicant, he should have the right to go into possession of the land, . otherwise there is a great danger of land monopolists securing control of large areas in the
Northern Territory. An honorable senator referred to the sale of leases by auction, and I was wondering whether the leases would be offered for sale on the land or in Melbourne. There are not many who know anything at all about the Northern Territory. One man in South Australia is in possession of 60,000 square miles of territory throughout the Commonwealth - I refer to Sir Sidney Kidman - but he does not use all the land he is now leasing. It pays him better to allow to remain unused some of the best pastoral country in Australia. Large areas in the north-east of South Australia, in the direction of Broken Hill, are not being used by him, and no other person can acquire control of the property.
– That could not be done under this Ordinance.
– As this is a new Ordinance, we should take care that the mistakes made in the past shall not be perpetuated, otherwise we shall be only wasting our own time and that of those whom we are endeavouring to help. I want the Minister to give me an assurance that there is power to prevent dummying, because I have the idea that under this provision it is possible.
– We are only dealing with the question of mortgages, but the question arises whether under the guise of a mortgage dummying can proceed. If honorary members will refer to clause 29, they will see that before a man can mortgage his lease he has to make written application to the Minister, which gives the Minister an opportunity of examining the conditions of the mortgage, and of deciding whether he will allow a mortgage to be granted. If the mortgage is approved, and is not met, later, the mortgagee proceeds to foreclose, and takes upon himself the liability in respect to that lease. A lessee, under this Ordinance, could not hold country out of use, because the stocking provisions have to be com plied with. Even in the event of a foreclosure, a transfer has to be made subject to the consent of the Minister. Subclause 2 of clause 29 reads -
The Minister may, if he thinks fit, refer the application to the Board for its recommendation, and may give or refuse his consent.
Exactly the same procedure would take place in regard to foreclosure. Before the Minister would transfer or assign’ a lease he would refer the matter to the Board for a recommendation, and he could give or refuse his consent to the transfer of a lease. I think there is full power for the Minister to prevent the misuse of the mortgage provision for the purpose of dummying, as has been suggested by Senator McHugh.
– There does not appear to be anything in this clause to prevent banking corporations becoming mortgagees. The functions of banking institutions are strained to the very utmost when they become mortgagees, and such institutions should not be eligible to hold leases beyond a certain specified time. Many of the leases in the western division of New South Wales are largely held by strong financial corporations, and, apparently, there is nothing in this clause, if the Minister is agreeable, to prevent a banking corporation from becoming a mortgagee in possession, and remaining so for _ an indefinite period. The stocking provision will eventually break down, or will not work as effectively as the Minister believes. We were informed by the Minister that some of the leases in the Northern Territory are so great that their boundaries are marked by parallels of latitude, and that, in one instance, a lease comprises 8,000 square miles. That condition of affairs was made possible under the South Australian method of settling the Northern Territory, and, apparently, it is to be repeated under this Ordinance. I trust that the Minister will give this clause further consideration, and see whether banking institutions, when acting as mortgagees in possession, cannot be prevented from holding leases beyond a certain limited time.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 32 and 33 agreed to.
Clause 34 -
– I move -
That the word “ fourteen “ be left out with1 a view to insert in- lieu thereof the word “ ten.”
The period for re-appraisement in the case of town lands is too long. Had the Ordinance been dealing with a more populous country than the Northern Territory, I would have suggested an even shorter period; but as some time will necessarily elapse before there are populous towns in the Territory, town lands should be subject to re:appraisement every ten, instead of fourteen years as is proposed. -The same clause deals with the’ re-appraisement of agricultural land, in which case a period of twenty-one years is stipulated. . In that instance, also, the time is too long; but in order to test the feelings of. the Committee I have moved for a reduction in the direction indicated.
– Senator Needham’s amendment is to insure that the lessee shall pay to the Crown a fair rental value for the land he is leasing. It is possible, but very improbable, that the rental value of these blocks will be fixed by the Board at a higher rate than that at which they would be fixed at auction. It is also likely that as development in the Northern Territory proceeds the rental fixed by the Board in the first instance will be considerably less than the true rental value. A re-appraisement should be made every ten instead of every fourteen years, and although a period of ten years is perhaps too long, it is as far as the Committee will be prepared to go at present. In all settled communities in Australia the local governing authorities readjust their rates every three years, as they regard that as a reasonable period within which to review the position. In almost every instance the rental value’ has been in- creased, although there have been a few cases where reductions have been made; but whether there have been increases or decreases, the Crown is entitled to obtain the full rental value of the land. No citizen has a right to get a block of land from the Crown for less than other citizens are prepared to pay for it, and the object of the amendment is to insure that while the lessee will not pay too much, the Crown, by fixing a re-valuation every ten years, will rcadjust the amount which the tenant in fairness ought to pay for the exclusive use of the block he holds. Disregarding for the moment the fact that the Northern Territory is somewhat backward - although we must remember that the Minister has hinted that the Government intend to pursue a policy of development in the Territory, possibly by means of railways and roads - it is the general experience throughout the world that where public money is expended in the vicinity of town lots, the value of those lots is substantially increased, through the desire of people, other than their holders, to make use of them. . That being the case, ten years is- a long period to elapse without a re-appraisement of the rent payable on such lots.; but as the Committee would not feel disposed to make the period shorter, I support ‘ the amendment.
– I hope that the Committee will not take up much time o,n this sub-clause, which deals only with town lots and agricultural lands! As I intimated on the second reading, the Government intend to bring in a Bill to amend the Northern Territory Administration Act, and grant the freehold for town lots and agricultural lands. That Bill will give the Senate an opportunity to decide how those particular lands should be dealt with. The sub-clause in question simply carries on a practice that has been in existence for a considerable time,, but will be altered .during the present session. It does not deal with the re-appraisement of the rents of pastoral leases. On the merits of the clause itself, I can only say that it is the existing law, that no one is making a fortune out of town lots or agricultural land in the Northern Territory to-day, and that in such a backward country it is not fair that reappraisements should - take place at shorter periods than every fourteen, years.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia), [9:.50”J. - The Minister has replied, to the arguments advanced upon this’ side of the Chamber. Apparently the backward policy to which he has referred is to be. pursued by his Government. His. excuse, for the rejection of the amendment, is that the Government intend in die near future to do something, with, regard to town lots and agricultural lands, but he must remember that the Government is. not like Tennyson’s brook - it will not go on for ever. Its security of tenure is somewhat shaky. I believe that when a man is on a job, he ought to do it well. We are not now concerned about any measure the Government may intend to bring in. It is our duty to make a good job of the Bill before us today, and therefore I ask the Committee to support my amendment.
– I am pleased to hear the Minister’s assurance that the Government will give the freehold in respect to town and agricultural lands in the Northern Territory. Would honorable senators opposite invest one penny of their own money in a town lot in the Northern Territory, and erect a building on it with a. security of tenure not exceeding ten years?
– Is the- honorable senator prepared to abolish the leasehold’s at Canberra?
– Certainly. If a man is not given a lease for more than ten years, he cannot be expected to put up a good building on his holding. No private individual in Melbourne would be expected to- put up a good, building on a block the lease of which did not extend for at least fifteen years.
– Leases of town and agricultural lands in- the Northern Territory are now held in perpetuity.
– But when Senator Needham asks for re-appraisements every ten years, it would mean, in- certain circumstances, a new lease-. The person who can re-appraise the rent of a block every ten years may insist on a rack rent. He may include in the rent the value of the/ improvements carried out by the tenant. If tha tenant declines to pay the- increased rent, he must throw up his lease, and the land and all the buildings on it can then be. re-let to, a new tenant. The miners at Wonthaggi, Victoria, who had agitated for the leasehold system, were not on their leaseholds more than two years before they asked the State Government, to grant, them the freehold. They found that they could not get loans on their leaseholds, and therefore they had to be content to. live in humpies, in conditions of squalor and’ misery. Upon their representations the State Government, with the approval’ of the Labour party, abolished the leasehold’ system at Wonthaggi, and now every miner who occupies a block there is enjoying the benefits of the freehold system. If we axe to encourage people to go into out-back places, the least we can do is to give them security of tenure for their dwellings. A man is said to be entitled to the produce of his own industry, but if he goes to the Northern Territory and builds a home there, he may lose it at the end of ten years if the honorable senator’s amendment is agreed to. I hope that the Government will see their way to give men on town lots and agricultural lands in the Northern Territory security in the homes they erect.
– I am astonished at the remarks of Senator Elliott. I could point out where .private individuals in Melbourne have spent thousands and thousands of pounds on buildings and have no better tenure than a leasehold.
– But the leases .are for longer periods than ten years.
– Lands in cities become valuable because of the valuable buildings erected on them. Whole streets have been resumed by the Sydney City Council, and splendid business places have been erected on the land on leasehold terms, which provide not only for periodical re-appraisements of rent but also that the buildings shall revert to the corporation at the termination of the leases.
– But those leases are for long periods.
– The leases of town lands in the Northern Territory are in perpetuity. The only question we are discussing is whether it is fair, when the value of land has been improved through the expenditure of public money, to t insist that the land itself shall, by means of an increased rental, repay the Government for that expenditure. I have worked on a mining battery which cost thousands of pounds, and was erected on a property the tenure of which was nothing more than that given by a mining lease. I take it that the ‘Government will continue to develop the Northern Territory, by boring -for sub-artesian, water at stated distances along stock routes, so that stock can be moved from place to place. When money is spent for that purpose, or on ‘building railways., is it not fair that a man who finds that the value of his holding is increased by this expenditure should, every ten years, have hi3 rent reappraised by the Government so that the rent he pays may in some measure compensate the Government for that expense.
– This clause deals with town and agricultural lands only.
– That is all the more reason for making the reappraisement period short. In Sydney half of William-street was pulled down, and to show how rapidly values of land rise, I may mention that when some land on one side of the street was sold a little while ago, it brought £45 a foot. That land has already been re-sold at £80 a foot. In the city of Sydney, enormous areas qf leasehold property, in twelve months or more, have increased in value by 100 per cent. I contend that ten years is a sufficient period for owners of land to reap an increased value to which they have contributed nothing.
– There are dozens of other places where, after ten years, one could not sell a house.
– That cuts both ways. We can look to the Northern Territory for certain improvements. ‘There is very little likelihood of a backward tendency. There are only 3,000 people in that vast area, so that there is no room for deterioration. With an intelligent ad- ministration, there are great prospects for the Northern Territory. In addition, with the ordinary development due to the genius of the race, I venture to say that that country, within the next fifty years, will show an improvement that has not previously been experienced in any part of Australia.
– Does not the ‘honorable senator think that a man who .goes to the Territory deserves .all he gets ?
– I do not -care very much whether the clause provides for ten or fourteen years.
– The man who settles in the Northern Territory is .not entitled to be placed in such a position as would enable him to fleece those who come after.
– The honorable senator would mot go there for any money offered him.
– How does Senator Elliott know that? Later on we shall discuss the whole question of freehold and leasehold.
I am glad that the Minister intends to bring in a Bill concerning freehold in the Northern Territory. This system has been tried all over the civilized world. It Las been a complete failure, and no one knows it better than does the Minister. The clause under discussion proposes to lease blocks of land in perpetuity, and to give the Board the right to fix the rental for the first period, and after fourteen years the right to review it. That period is too long if the Territory is to be properly developed. The rental value fixed for these blocks to-day will probably be considerably less than the true rental value before anything like fourteen years have elapsed. The Sydney Municipal Council, for years past, has adopted the policy of resuming congested areas hitherto held under freehold. They now lease those lands for building purposes, generally for a term of fifty years. At the end of that period, not only does the land, but all the improvements thereon, revert to the Sydney City Council, without compensation to the lessees. Does any one imagine that the Commonwealth will adopt that course? In the Northern Territory, the leases of such lands are in perpetuity, but not so the leases of the Sydney City Council. . The lessees of the land there have to pay rates and taxes, municipal, State, and Federal, and these rates are re-appraised once every three years. By this means they are kept at their proper value. The resumed land is worth £2,000,000. The whole of it has been leased at a very satisfactory figure, with the exception of a portion valued at £10,000.
– The land is leased for fifty years at a fixed rental.
– Subject to the rates being adjusted every three years.
SenatorCrawford. - Rates or rents?
– I am referring to the rates. They amount to about 6d. in the £1, so that it is a very serious matter for the tenant. The Commonwealth is entitled to the full rental value of the Northern Territory leases, and the lessees to full compensation for their improvements. This would remove the possibility of any complaint of unjust treatment.
– Where is it stated in the Ordinance that the lessees are entitled to full compensation!
– It is shown in . clause 38. I support the amendment.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out (Senator Needham’s amendment) be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Objection was taken by the Government to a proposal made from this side of the Chamber that town and agricultural lands should be re-valued every ten years. Will the Minister explain why pastoral lands in sub-clause 3 are to be treated in accordance with that proposal? Why are the pastoral lessees - the pioneers of the Northern Territory - singled out for severe treatment more so than are the lessees of town and agricultural lands?
– Under sub-clause 2, concerning pastoral leases generally, the date of re-appraisement is inserted in the lease.There is no limitation. But subclause 3 sets out the re-appraisement periods for the existing leases exchanged for leases under this Ordinance, and a definite term of re-appraisement is fixed. In the case of town and agricultural leases there is no limitation to the amount of re-appraisement, but in the case of pastoral, leases there is a definite limit to the amount of re-appraisement at each of those periods:
– Why put in ten years?
– In this case the Government think that a limitation should be imposed.
– This clause creates an anomaly between two sets of ‘ leases. Broadly speaking, the Ordinance deals .with three sets of leases - two already existing and one in prospect. They comprise the leases taken up under the old South Australian Acts, the leases taken up under the Ordinances from 1912 to 1918, and the leases to be issued under the Ordinance. The clause is intended to regulate the reappraisement of the leases to be issued under this Ordinance. For new leases of the Northern Territory there is no fixed limit, as the rental to be charged for the period, covered by each reappraisement will endure, except, of course, as may be otherwise prescribed. In the case of other leases, such as those that may be exchanged, there are definite periods extending over forty-two yea.i-3 fixed for the re-appraisements. The new land likely to be taken up under this Ordinance will not necessarily be the pick of the Territory. In the case of land held under South Australian leaseholds aud under the 1912-1918 Commonwealth Ordinances, re-appraisements during the next forty-two years cannot be in excess of 50 per cent, of the previous value, whereas for new leases to be issued under this Ordinance for new country) - and certainly the worst country, because the best always goes first - there is no guarantee what the rental or the terms will be. This is a differentiation that may not be encouraging for new men on new country. This view is confirmed by a perusal of clause 52, which provides much easier conditions in respect of land held under the South Australian leases than for leaseholds under our 1912-1918 Ordinances or the Ordinance included in this Bill. I suggest that a direction be given the Board that in fixing tho rentals and the duration of the leases, due regard shall be had to the value of the corresponding areas in the matter of rentals and the duration of the leases.
– I appreciate the point raised by (Senator Lynch. !If we want tho vacant land, in the Territory to be taken lip, we must, in the fixing of the terms, and in the re-appraisement of rentals, have regard to the terms and rentals of existing leaseholds. It is obvious that if, under present conditions, the land was as attractive as that which has already been taken up, it would not be vacant to-day. Therefore, the Land Board, whose duty it will be to endeavour to bring it under occupation, will be compelled to have regard to the circumstances mentioned by Senator Lynch.
– The Minister means that the conditions of lease will have to be easier.
– Yes, otherwise the land will not be taken up. There is also a variation, as Senator Lynch has pointed out, between the South Australian leases and the leases granted under our existing Ordinances, in favour of the former, but it has to be borne in mind that there is not the incentive to offer lease-holders under our Ordinances the same inducement to come under this Ordinance, because, in regard to those leases, we have a general power of resumption for pastoral settlement. To illustrate what I mean, I may quote the Victoria River district as an example. In the case of leaseholds under existing Ordinances, we provide that the Board may fix the rent at not less than 2s. 6d. nor more than 6s. per square mile. We can take our starting point anywhere between those amounts and re-appraise on that basis, whereas in the case of South Australian leases in the Victoria River district, we say that the starting point shall be 2s. 6d. per square mile, because we want to induce those lessees to come under this new Ordinance. I can assure the honorable senator that if I am Minister when the Board is constituted I shall see that the conditions of lease and re-appraisement are such as will induce people to take up the land.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 35 to 37 agreed to.
Clause 38 (Valuation of improve- ments) .
.; - I should like to know if any guide will be given to the Board as to how improvements shall be valued. There is a very old grievance, not only here, but in Great Britain, as to whether improvements should be valued at their capital cost or present-day value, or according to a later, and, I believe the best, standard, namely, their unexhausted value. This may not be a very serious matter in the Territory where improvements bear a small ratio to the cost of, the leases, but it is a. principle that should not be neglected. It is well for us to put the matter on a business footing and to show that we are not going about our work carelessly.
– The clause itself is fairly explicit. It provides that the Board ‘shall prepare a plan showing the improvements on the land and indicating their- value as determined by the Board. The Board will also be required to forward a copy of the plan tq the lessee. I presume that,, in arriving at the value of plant the Board will estimate the value of a windmill, for example, not at its cost when erected, but at its present, or unexhausted, value. If a lessee is not- satisfied with the decision of the Board he may appeal to the Minister and from the Minister to the Supreme Court of the Northern. Territory.
Clause agreed to. -
Clause 39 verbally amended and agreed to.
Pastoral leases shall be for such term, not exceeding forty-two years, as the Board deter- mines
– As this is a very debatable clause and as the Committee has made substantial progress, I suggest that it offers a convenient opportunity for the Minister to report progress.
.- I should like to know if the Minister intends to adopt the suggestion made by Senator Gardiner.
– Let us go on a little further; we have not made much progress yet.
– In my judgment this is one of the most important clauses in the Ordinance. It provides.’ that pastoral leases may be for- a period extending up to forty-two years, without any chance of re-consideration. I move therefore : -
That the words “ forty-two “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ twenty.”
The Minister mentioned a little while- ago that it was the intention of the Government to bring down a developmental policy for the Northern Territory, and in view of that, the clause should be amended in the way I propose. I do not’ believe in tying up pastoral leases in the Northern Territory or, for that matter, in .any other part of Australia for fortytwo years. In many circumstances twenty years would be too long. It is beyond the bounds of reason to ask honorable senators to consent to pastoral leases being made for a term of forty-two years.
– The term is not a fixed one. The clause provides that leases may be for such terms “ not exceeding forty-two years as the Board determines.” The Board may recommend, and . the Minister may approve, leases for any term not exceeding forty-two years. In districts where there is a possibility of substantial development the. term fixed will probably be much shorter. There is nothing arbitrary about the clause at all; forty-two years is the longest term for which pastoral leases may be issued. T am rather surprised that Senator Needham should propose to shorten the term. The honorable senator has often held up the Fisher Government as a model of all that is good. That Government, in an Ordinance which it brought , down, proposed to grant- leases in perpetuity. The Ordinance was taken before the Caucus of the Labour party and received approval. When criticism of these provisions was made in the Parliament,, it- was subsequently withdrawn. If there is to be development of the pastoral country in the Territory, an inducement must be held out to people to spend money. Do honorable senators think that men would spend the amount mentioned by Senator Guthrie when they held only a twenty years’ lease? They might do so on a city property, from which they would receive big, quick, certain returns-. If honorable senators desire to prevent the promotion of settlement they will vote for the shortening of the term.
Senator GARDINER (New South ing along wrong lines. People will not be induced to put money into developmental work by the granting of long leases. The granting of shorter leases, with compensation for all improvements made, is the most effective way of inducing people to develop their leases. Since 1863, when the leases were first granted, what expenditure of money has there been ?
– On the Lake Nash head station alone £12,000 has been spent.
– What does that amount to when compared with the area of land occupied and the years during which the lease hasbeen held ? The best inducement to offer is to make it absolutely certain that a man shall not be removed unless he receives a. return for everything he has done to improve his property, and is given liberal compensation for dispossession. I have had a good deal of experience of the working of New South. Wales Acts. Wheat-growing is being engaged in profitably on country which, twenty years ago, men were prepared to swear was not suited to its cultivation. I could turn up the records of a Royal Commission and show where a wheat-grower said he took up a 1,280- acre block ; that during the first year he put about 15 acres underwheat, and during the second year 50 acres, and that he increased the acreage until, in the last year, he grew 500 acres of wheat, the average yield from which was never less than 15 bushels to the acre. A. squatter had sworn that that land was incapable of producing wheat. He believed that to be the case. He wanted to continue the old practice of granting long leases of big areas. The same opinion will be held in regard to this country. It was the force of public opinion that compelled the relinquishing of the big holdings.
– If it turns out that any crop can be grown on this land it will be liable to resumption.
– How long have these leases been running?
– For different periods. In the western districts of New South Wales the least amount of improvement has been effected on the largest holdings.
– There will be full power of resumption in connexion with these leases.
– There also will be full power to lock them up for fortytwo years. The potentialities of the country have been referred to by Senator Pearce. Its magnificence is suchthat he is quite ambitious to develop it. Yet he proposes to follow the same lines that the South Australian Parliament followed twenty years ago.
– Under the South Australian leases there was no power of resumption. We have that power.
– Let the Minister draft a simple proviso giving the Government power of resumption, on payment of just compensation.
– Clause 53 b gives the power of resumption.
– Clause 40, with which we are dealing, provides for the granting of a lease, and does not prescribe the power of resumption. If the Minister adopts an unreasonable attitude, I shall not continue to treat him as a fair opponent, but rather as a man who, desiring to tie up the leaseholds, deliberately sets a trap in order to induce honorable senators to pass the. measure in the belief that’ the lands can be resumed, whereas they will find later that clause 40 is not affected by clause 53. Clause 40 does not provide for anything but the granting of these leases for forty-two years. If the Minister has the right of resumption at any time, what greater security will a lessee have with a forty-two years’ lease than he will have with a twenty years’ lease?
– Does the honorable senator think that the Northern Territory will be required for development before that time?
– Notwithstanding the great insight which the honorable senator has into the spiritual world, he cannot say any more than I can what will happen in the Northern Territory in the next ten years. I have known huge areas which were carrying sheep to become active towns within a far less period than forty years. I would like this Ordinance to provide that no man taking up land under it shall suffer loss because of unfair resumption by the Government; but it should provide also that no man holding big. leases shall block the natural development of the country. I shall not vote for the granting of a forty-two years’ lease.No greater mistake could be made than to pass an Ordinance granting a forty-two years’ lease in respect of country which may be traversed by a railway, the proposal to build which is at present feeing discussed by ‘another place. No Government should have the right to tie up the people’s land for forty years. The amendment moved by Senator Needham is just and fair, and the Minister would do well to accept it.
– Senator Gardiner is not quite fair, to me. Obviously it would be quite impossible to include in this one clause all the provisions of the Ordinance. This clause deals only with the term of the leases. A lease will be subject to the conditions under which it is granted. I drew Senator Gardiner’s attention to clause 53 to show that there is power of resumption. That power of resumption will be set out in the lease. Under clause 54 the lessee will be given notice of resumption. Clause 55 sets out the rules to be followed in making a resumption. All those provisions could not be included in a clause dealing with the term of the lease. But merely because clause 40 does not contain those provisions it is not competent for Senator Gardiner to say that there is no power of resumption. There is specific power, and the procedure is laid down.
– Will the Board have power to classify any land as agricultural land?
– Yes. It will be seen, therefore, that we are not giving fixed leases under all conditions for fortytwo years. The leases will be subject to the power of resumption for agricultural, pastoral, or any other purpose to which the Board say the land ought to be put.
– We had better confine ourselves to the clause before the Committee, which, in my opinion, .embodies a pernicious principle. The Minister (Senator Pearce) has stated that a lease may not be granted for the full period of forty-two years, but I am confident that if this clause is passed in its present form leases will not be granted for a shorter period . The Minister endeavoured to” defend this clause by saying that it was governed by clause 53, where the power of resumption is given. I do not intend to dispute the Minister’s contention. We should have the power of re sumption in clause 53 even if the Committee decided that the period should not exceed twenty years. It is not so much the power of resumption that has to be considered in detail, because I believe thatafter all the Crown never surrenders its right to resume land at any time for public purposes. We have had many disastrous examples in Australia of pastoral leases being granted for long periods, with the result that development has been retarded. If the Government are sincere in their promise to introduce a proper developmental policy for the Northern Territory, we shall’ be quite safe in reducing the period from forty-two to twenty years.
– I understand, that this clause will apply to 320,000 square miles of country still controlled by the Crown, If that is so, the Government are ‘doing their best to follow the foolish practice adopted by the South Australian Government some years ago. UP to date the total population of the Northern Territory is less than 4,000 in an area of roughly 520,000 square miles. Under clause 40 it is proposed to grant leases for extended periods, and we are justified in assuming that the stocking conditions will be waived under various pretences, which will mean that the Northern Territory lands now in possession of the Crown will be tied up as are the 181,000 square miles under legislation passed by the South Australian Parliament. It is a common complaint in connexion with the lands in the western division of New South’ Wales that the leasehold periods have been too long. We were assured this evening that one astute individual in South Australia controlled 60,000 square miles of country in the Commonwealth, a large portion of which he does not use at all. It is quite impossible to get the Committee to .agree to a frequent re-appraisement of these large areas, and as the lesser of two evils I intend to support the amendment moved by Senator Needham, although I would much prefer to see the leases re-appraised more frequently. Personally, I have no objection to leases in perpetuity, provided that the number of leases held by one person is limited, and that the full annual rental value is paid.
– Tho rental value is not mentioned in the clause.
– No; but the period for which a lease may be granted is stipulated. I have no objection to a lease in perpetuity, provided that the power of re-appraisement and resumption- is incorporated in the measure; but in the absence of that I think the period proposed is outrageous.
– I support the amendment. If we knew how the proposed Board was to be constituted we might, perhaps, be able better to make up our minds as to whether it would or would not be wise to give this power to grant leases for a period not exceeding fortytwo years. I have an idea that the Board will comprise men of a type who will hand over the Territory to certain lessees for long periods. The Minister (Senator Pearce) says that the Government have the right of resumption, but that right applies only to a comparatively small area. In 1935 the Government will have the right to resume an area, not exceeding one-fourth of the total area of a lease.
– That applies only to leases issued under the South Australian Acts, but as regards the others we have the power to resume them all.
– I understand that the South Australian leases, which comprise 180,000 square miles, cannot he resumed as a whole.
– The term stipulated is altogether too long. After the Minister’s glowing description of the Northern Territory, I was expecting him to say that the maximum period of a lease would be ten years. He said it was simply a matter of providing transport facilities-
– “Would the honorable senator be prepared to incur the expenditure involved in constructing a home, station buildings, fences, &c, on a ten years’ lease?
– Yes, if I had an assurance that I would be paid for improvements at the end of that time. ‘ That would be perfectly fair, but I cannot see any justice in this provision. If a railway is constructed, naturally the value of the country adjacent to the railway - and if it is pastoral country, perhaps 100 miles away from it - will be considerably enhanced. If we are to populate the Territory money will have to be spent in constructing railways and generally in providing transport facilities, and, as a representative of the people, I object to money being spent merely for the benefit of a few large land-holders who secure leases under this Ordinance.
– A re-appraisement of the land will overcome that difficulty.
– But- the reappraisement is limited.
– Not in regard to new leases.
– I understood the Minister to say that the best portions of the Territory had been leased. From conversations I have had with men who have been right through the Territory - the Minister covered only a small portion of it - I gather that the leases taken up comprise, as far as is known, the best country in the Territory. The Government are making an effort to develop Australia by introducing new settlers who, the Minister said, were essential for the development and defence of the Commonwealth. If we are to expend millions on developmental work in the Territory, it is not right to lock up this land - or the birthright of the Australian people - in the interests of certain rich pastoralists. There are not too many small men who have thousands to spend, and probably those who will “ collar “ the best leases will be the wealthy pastoralists, such as Kidman and Lewis, of South Australia. The Government do not propose to render financial assistance to the small men,-who may be willing to take up the country, and. consequently, the big men, irrespective of the provisions of this Ordinance, will acquire most of the land. These are the individuals who know the way to defeat Ordinances and land laws generally, and I believe that in ten years practically the whole of the Territory will be in the hands of a few wealthy pastoralists.
– Senator Pearce has informed Senator McHugh that the Government can vary and re-appraise these leases at any period, but clause 41 says -
Provided that nothing in this sub-section shall empower the. Board to vary the condition of any lease during the currency thereof.
– That is so. The conditions must be inserted in the lease when it is granted.
-But surely we should put them in this Ordinance. Once we grant a forty-two years’ lease, we cannot vary the conditionsunder which it is granted.
– But the conditions in regard to the rent will be fixed in the lease when it is granted.
– I cannot see why the Minister should not agree to insert in the clause a provision tocarry out his intention in this regard. Will the leases to be resumed in 19,35 and 1945 come under this clause?
– That means that they can be locked up for another forty-two years if the Minister so decides. Will the Minister agree to the insertion of a proviso giving the rightof resumption?
– No. That is already provided for in theBill.
– The Minister must be aware that there is no such provision inthe Bill. In order totest the feeling oftheCommittee as to whether we should legislate to make it possible for the Territoryto be developed, or whether the desire is to lock up these leases for another forty-two years, Ishall move later to add the words, “subject to the right of resumption with reasonable and just compensation.”
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Needham’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 8
Majority . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Senator Gardiner) put -
That thewords” subject to resumption with reasonable and just compensation “ be added to theclause.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause 41 -
The Board shall,by notice in the Gazette, determine for each district the minimum extent to which the land in the district shallbe stocked, and may, in respect of any -lease, determine that the minimum extent to which the land shall be stocked shall he greater than the minimum extent determined for the district:
Provided that nothing in this sub-section shall empower the Board to vary the conditions of any lease during the currency thereof.
The lessee shall, within five years after the commencement of the lease, stock the land to at least the minimum extentdetermined in respect of the lease, and keep it so stocked during the currency of the lease, and shall every three years furnish to the Board a statement verified by Statutory declaration,showing the number of stock carried on theland.
.- The drafting of this clause is somewhat defective, and I wish to reconstitute sub-clauses 1 and 2. I move -
That sub-clauses 1 and 2be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following subclauses: (1.) The Board shall by notice in the Gazette determine for each district the minimum extent to which the land in the district shall be stocked. (2.) Notwithstanding anything contained in the lost preceding sub-section the Board may, in respect of any lease, determine the extent to which thelandshallbe stocked, within the respective periods of the lease specified by the Board:
Provided that nothing in this sub-section shall empower the Board to vary the conditions of any. lease during the currency thereof. (2a.) The lessee shall, within five years after the commencement of the lease, stock the land to at least the minimum extent determined in respect of the lease; and thereafter shall stock the land and keep it stocked in accordance with the provisions of the lease; and shall every three years furnish to the Board a statement, verified by statutory declaration, showing the number of stock carried on the land.
The amendment, besides stating the clause in better form, also includes provision for progressive stocking. That is to say, the number of stock to be carried on. the land can be increased at intervals.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, us amended, agreed to.
Clause . 42-
Ifanewpastoralleaseofanylandsis gazetted as open for application before the expiry of the existing lease of the lands the Board shall, other things being equal, give preference in allotting the lease to the holder of the existing lease, whether that lease is under the Ordinance or under any Act or Ordinance previously in force in the Northern Territory, should he be an applicant for the new lease.
– This clause seems to be somewhat ambiguous. Would it not be better if the word “ same “ were inserted before the word “lands,” on the second occasion upon which it occurs? I think this would better express the intention of the clause.
– There is no objection to inserting the word “ said.”
– I move-
That before the word “ lands “, line 3, the word “said” be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 43 to 49 agreed to.
Clause 50 (Surrender of existing leases in exchange for leases under Ordinance).
– I lay on the table the paper, “ Imperial Conference and Economic Conference 1923, subjects listed for discussion,” and move -
That the paper be printed.
This motion will give honorable senators an opportunity of discussing the matters to be dealt with at the Conference. As the hour is late I ask leave to continue my remarks. Leave granted.
Northern Territory : Treatment of Half-castes.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- It is rather late, I know, to speak on the motion for the adjournment, but I have been waiting patiently for an opportunity to bring under the notice of the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) the very serious accusation made in the press against white residents of the Territory in regard to their treatment of halfcaste girls. It is not my intention to read the statement, because it is too bad to place on record in Hansard; but I shall hand it to the Minister, with a request that an inquiry be made into the charge. If it is correct, it is no wonder we cannot people the Northern Territory. If, on the other hand, it is incorrect, the newspaper publishing it ought to be brought to account.
– I can assure the honorable senator that I shall have inquiries made into the allegation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 July 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1923/19230724_senate_9_104/>.