9th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. (Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Investigations in New Guinea and Papua.
-Is the Leader of the Senate yet in a position to lay on the table of the Senate the report on forestry investigations in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea ‘and Papua, which I asked for some time ago?
– I informed the honorable senator on the 16th July that the report was in the hands of the printer. I am glad to say that it is now available. I lay it upon the table, and move -
That the paper be printed.
Motion agreed to.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer if he noticed in the press a few days ago a statement that the Tasmanian Government was able to show a surplus at the end of the last financial year, and, if so, will the Government consider the desirability of discontinuing the subsidizing of that state by the Commonwealth.
– The proposals of the’ Government in regard to financial matters will be laid upon the table of the Senate at a later stage to-day.
– Has the Minister for Home and Territories yet ‘ received a reply to a question which I put to him a few weeks ago in connexion with the furnishing of Commonwealth buildings at Canberra?
– On the 10th July, Senator Needham asked the following questions : -
The information was not available in Melbourne at the time, but particulars have now been furnished by the Federal Capital Commission. As they are somewhat lengthy, I ask leave to make a statement. (Leave granted). The reply is as follows: -
I am laying the schedule upon the table of the Senate -
As a general rule, all supplies or work to be purchased the value of which exceeds in the total the sum of £1,000 will, except with the authority of the Commissioner, be made the subject of a contract as distinct from an order. The Chief Engineer will obtain the necessary authority, in writing, from the Commissioner in any case in which he recommends orders should be placed without a special contract document..
In placing orders for supplies, all concerned will bear in mind that the first necessity is to get the best possible deal for the commission; at the same time the trading public must be treated with absolute fairness and equality. To this end the following general rules are given as a guide in cases not covered by annual contracts, and any officer departing therefrom must have a definite and sufficient reason for so doing, which reason may at any time be the subject of criticism by the Commissioner -
Past experience has shown that no good purpose is to be served by departing from the procedure laid down above.
The following papers were presented : -
Forestry - Report by Mr. C. E. Lane-Poole (Commonwealth Forestry Adviser) on the Forest Resources of the Territories of Papua and New Guinea.
Northern Territory - Development and Administration - Report by ‘Sir George Buchanan, E.C.I.E. (with Maps) .
Ordered to be printed.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925,” Nos. 119, 120, 122.
European Security - Documents relating to proposed Pact.
Federal Capital - Report of the Federal Capital Commission to the Minister for Home and Teritories for the quarter ended 30th June, 1925.
Federal Capital Commission - List of Purchases of Furniture required at Canberra.
International Disputes - Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of - Correspondence with His Majesty’s Government.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes - Western Australia - Cranbrook.
Meteorological Bureau - Report of Commonwealth Meteorologist for year 1923-4.
Navigation Act Royal Commission - Second Report (New Guinea and Papua).
New Guinea - Ordinances of 1925 -
No. 16 - Seamen’s Compensation.
No. 17.- Customs Tariff.
No. 18. - Aliens Registration.
No. 19. - Mining.
Norfolk Island - Ordinances of 1925 -
No. 3. - Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments (No. 2).
No. 4. - Brands.
Northern Territory - Ordinances of 1925 -
No. 13. - Registration of Births and Deaths.
No. 14. - Aboriginals.
No. 15. - Crown Lands (No. 2).
Oil- Report by Dr. Arthur Wade, D.Sc. (Lend.), M.I.P.T., M.I.M.M., A.R.C.Sc., F.G.S., F.G.S. (America), on possibility of discovery in Queensland.
Papua - Annual Report for year 1923-4.
Papua - Ordinances of 1925 -
No. 4. - Trust Fund Advances.
No. 5. - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 3), 1924-1925; Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure (No. 3), 1924- 1925.
Papuan Oil-fields - Report of Commonwealth Representative for month of June, 1925.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 90, 99, 102, 121, 125, 126, 127.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of Works and Railways -
J. L. Adams, J. A. Barrett, C. P. Cook, S. W. Cook, E. M. Dixon, G. P. Doddrell, O. E. Dye, A. Fraser, R. Groves, H. Hollins, A, Hunter, H. P. Jack, E. Knox, T. A Laird, H. W. Locke, C. F. Smith, T. Thallon, L. Thornton, J. Torrance, G. Whetters.
Public Service Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rule’s 1925, Nos. 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 131.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired in New South Wales, at Concord.
Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, No. 123.
Revested in German Owner.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer is as follows : - 1 and 2. No.
Debate resumed from 10th July (vide page -927), on motion by Senator Pearce- -
That the bill bo now read a second time.
– I congratulate the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) upon his faith in the future of the Northern Territory and the enthusiasm with which he contemplates its development, but, in my opinion, it will have to pass through all the stages which have marked the development of the other parts of the Commonwealth, before its empty spaces can be filled. I can see no serious difficulties which are peculiar to the Northern Territory. Practically all the conditions that have to be faced there have been faced and overcome elsewhere in Australia. All who are acquainted with the pastoral industry realize that the Northern Territory will have to meet similar disabilities to those which faced the early settlers in the outback areas of the various states. Improved transport facilities will be necessary, but in this respect the Territory appears to be in a better position than our colonies were in the early days. Then, only bullock and horse teams were available, but now the motor car is in general use, and has eliminated many of the difficulties which once faced pioneers in the back country. Northern Territory pioneers, therefore, are not handicapped nearly as severely as were our early colonists. It is true that the cost of production is higher to-day than formerly, but, in my opinion, the return received for produce, and the speed with which it can be transported, at least compensate for this. The Northern Territory to-day is entirely dependent upon the cattle industry, a; was Queensland years ago, and I believe that the industry can be developed there just as well as it was developed in Queensland. The Territory has the advantage of big mining possibilities such as has the north-west of Queensland. Very little has been done so far, to develop its mineral resources, and the Government would act wisely if it took steps to assist generously those who go prospecting in the interior. If a big mineral deposit were found in the Territory, it would soon be the centre of a considerable population. In the early, and what may be called the prosperous days of the Territory, South Australia spent a good deal of money on prospecting, but all the work then done has been rendered ineffective by the failure to follow it up. All those who have remained in the Territory, and have helped to develop it, deserve the most sympathetic consideration that the Government can give them. I trust that the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) will not allow unwarranted adverse criticism in respect to large holdings, concessions to so called beef barons and pastoral companies, and so on, to deter him from acting justly by those who have, so far, done the pioneering work in the Territory. It is quite clear that large holdings, and the expenditure of a considerable amount of capital, are essential to the development of North Australia. Pioneers always have to undergo hardships, and, therefore, are worthy of special consideration. Water supplies are highly necessary to countries in the process of settlement, and it is specially important that water should be provided in the Northern Territory. It frequently happens that a mob of cattle leave an outback station in splendid condition, but after travelling through dry country, arrive at the market in a very poor state. I have had personal knowledge of that kind of thing frequently occurring in Queensland. It is essential, therefore, that well-watered stock routes should be provided, lt is also necessary that a certain amount of money should be spent on creek crossings. In the old bullock dray days men often took risks in crossing creeks. Sometimes streams were easily forded, but, at other times, after a flood came down, the bottom of the creek was entirely washed out, and bullock drivers who attempted to drive straight through as usual were often bogged. There is ample justification for spending a considerable sum of money in making solid bottoms to creeks that have to be crossed. Drivers would very often risk crossing a creek if they knew there was a solid bottom to it. Encouragement should also be given to settlers who are willing to sink dams and bores. This is costly work in these days, but it is absolutely necessary. Settlers should be given every consideration in respect to improvements that they effect.
The possibilities of agriculture in the Northern Territory have been discussed during this debate, and cotton has been mentioned as likely to prove a profitable crop. Unfortunately, cotton growing has not been as successful in Queensland as was anticipated. It appears that all new industries of this character have to pass through a developmental period. Experiments are necessary to ascertain which are the most suitable districts for cultivation. Failure has attended the efforts of some settlers in Queensland to grow cotton, for the return has been far short of what has been expected. At present it does not appear to me that cotton growing will be profitable in the Northern Territory, although undoubtedly experiments in its production should be encouraged. Added to the difficulty of actually producing the cotton are the disadvantages of long transportation and unreliable shipping facilities. It has been stated that fruit and vegetables have been grown with satisfactory results in various parts of the Territory. I know of some instances in which remarkably fine fruit and vegetables have been grown on stations in parts of outback Queensland, where water from bores was plentiful. I have sampled fruit grown under such conditions that was equal to that grown in other parts of Australia, but its production in the Northern Territory cannot be regarded as of any commercial value owing to the distance from the markets. We shall, therefore, have to develop the Northern Territory by providing facilities to enable the cattle and sheep raising industries to expand. We have been informed by those who know the Barkly Tablelands that, as the rainfall in that locality is always reliable, droughts there are unknown, so that in that respect it is in. a more fortunate position than almost any other part of Australia.’ If the sheep and cattle industries are encouraged in the Barkly Tablelands, and railways constructed to connect with the existing New South Wales and Queensland systems, the future of the Northern Territory, particularly the eastern portion, should be very promising. If that were done, agistment would be available on the Barkly Tablelands during periods of drought in Queensland and New South Wales, and the money thus saved in consequence of the preservation of live-stock would in a few years compensate to some extent for the cost of the. railways. At present pastoralists in the Northern Territory are almost entirely dependent upon the operations of Vestey Brothers, whose works, however, are confined to. only one portion of the Territory. Cattle to be treated at the meat works at Darwin have to traverse long distances over poor country, and, until railway communication is extended further inland, heavy losses must occur when ample supplies of feed and water are not available. The pastoralists in the Northern Territory have at present only one outlet for their stock, but if a connexion were made with the Queensland railway system they would not be confined to the meat works at Darwin, which are rather out of the way. From a railway construction point of view, the Barkly Tablelands resemble the western district of Queensland. There are no engineering difficulties of any consequence, and the sleepers could, in many places, be laid on the ground and the track ballasted later as the revenue from the line grew. A good deal has been said concerning the labour troubles at Darwin, and the attitude adopted by the employees of Vestey Brothers’ meat works. I had the privilege of visiting Darwin with the Public Works Committee, and heard a good deal of interesting evidence given on oath. From statements made on that occasion we could come only to one conclusion - that some of the persons in charge of those works actually encouraged the men in every conceivable way to hold them up. The men received all kinds of concessions until it became almost impossible for the undertaking to be a paying proposition. If those in control of Vestey Brothers’ operations had taken a firm stand when the men began to ask for more than a fair thing, quite one-half of the trouble which afterwards occurred could have been obviated. As a huge sum of money has been invested in the Darwin meat works, it is a pity that such a large and important undertaking should be standing idle. If Vestey Brothers are anxious to continue operations after certain improvements have been made, every assistance should be given them to enable the works to remain open and labour to be continuously employed. It is of very little use to the men to have employment for two or three months, and then to remain practically idle for the remainder of the year. The Government propose that a portion of Northern Queensland shall be brought under the control of the proposed Commission, but I am not at all hopeful of that being agreed to by the State Government. For a number of years the settlers in Northern Queensland have been demanding separation from the southern portion, aud there is no doubt that some day, when the population increases, and the north becomes more settled, Queensland will be subdivided into three states. At present that cannot be done owing to the sparseness of the population. Those who have assisted in developing the northern portion of the state wish it to remain under the control of the Queensland authorities, and do not desire to be’ linked up with the Northern Territory. They wish to carry on their own work in their own way. In these circumstances, I do not think the Queensland Government would dare to do what is proposed without the consent of the people in the north, who have overcome their own troubles to a certain point, and have surmounted many of the difficulties’ which face the Northern Territory to-day. The question of populating the Northern Territory is a rather ticklish one. My view of the matter is that, if we persist with the cattle industry, the present population of Australia is sufficiently great to meet labour requirements there. The cattle-owner needs very few hands. The sheep-breeder also can carry on his station with half-a-dozen or eight men, except during shearing operations, which last for only a month. or six weeks in each year. It would be altogether a different matter, however, to populate the Northern Territory if agriculture were largely followed. 1 am not particularly acquainted with the agricultural possibilities of the Northern Territory, but I am well aware of the difficulty of closely settling portions of Queensland, on account of the long distances that have to be traversed to get the products to market. A good deal has been said regarding the influx of Italians. I am not an advocate of Italian immigration, but, during a visit to North Queensland at the beginning of this year, I endeavoured to learn the impressions of the people there regarding the matter. I witnessed the arrival of several boat-loads of Italians, and from their physique and general appearance I formed the opinion that they- were a credit to their country. I moved about amongst those whose work brought them into contact with Italians, and, apart from the feeling that this immigration is making more difficult the fight of the Britisher for bread and butter, I did not meet cue who had a bad word to say of them. They have shown themselves to be good citizens. They do not hang about the hotels. It is a very rare thing to find one of them drunk. They do not give any trouble to the police. At the present time, however, the sugar industry has a sufficient amount of labour, and there is not likely to be a shortage for a considerable time. -. Therefore, it might be wise to divert some of these immigrants to other parts. The last census shows that, prior to twelve months ago, there were fewer Italians in Queensland than there were in any other state in the Commonwealth. During the last twelve months, however, they have been arriving in Queensland in much larger numbers. That has been due to the fact that the sugar industry offers such very bright prospects. The majority of those who have gone to Queensland were nominated by their countrymen, by whom work was found for them on arrival. I do not desire the establishment of colonies of foreigners, but rather that every man who comes to Australia should become assimilated. It must be remembered that immigrants almost inevitably will gravitate to the more closely-settled districts, which offer greater facilities for companionship and recreation. Although immigration makes the competition for work keener, the awards of the Arbitration Court prevent the possibility of a lowering of the wage standard. The suitability of the north for the settlement of white people has been contested by some persons, but those who have had experience of the conditions there have no doubt on the subject. Even to the third generation the race there displays greater vigour than was shown by their forefathers. There has not been the slightest deterioration. I should like to mention an experience of mine in Darwin recently. I made it my business to visit the Chinese quarters of the town, and to see the conditions under which the Chinese were living. I found that the young Chinese, even to the third generation, were a much superior type, displaying better physique, greater intelligence, and a more alert appearance, generally, than their fathers. There is, I think, clear evidence that the Chinese ‘ race, at all events, improves in physique and general intelligence under favorable conditions in the Northern Territory. The whites are not sufficiently numerous to justify any definite statement of a similar nature. Now that Great Britain has decided to give Australia preference in her markets, we should be encouraged to go ahead with the construction of railways, the improvement of stock routes, and the provision of other facilities for the development of the Northern Territory. The railway . from Townsville out beyond Cloncurry has been an important factor. iri the settlement of that portion of north-western Queensland. Before its construction was under consideration, I was a member of the Queensland Parliament, and suggested that instead of the railway being built from Normanton it should follow a route best calculated to open up the country served by the Flinders watershed. That line, which now extends out beyond Cloncurry towards Camooweal and Birdsville, opened, up country as good as any to be found in Australia. Cattle stations have since given place to sheep runs, except in flooded portions of the country. I believe that an extension of the -railway in the Northern Territory to western Queensland, together with an improvement of stock routes, will enable us to get over our initial difficulties, and lead to the successful occupation of that portion of the Territory. We may also expect some results from mining if railway lines are constructed as proposed. It is practically certain that the present attempt would not have been made to develop the mineral resources of the Cloncurry district but for the railway line down the Flinders watershed. The establishment of a wireless broadcasting station in some portion of the. Northern Territory, lo link up with the wireless station recently established by the Queensland Government, would also have an important influence in settling the Territory, because the daily transmission of information important to settlers, such as weather and market reports, as well as musical and other entertainments, would make life in the outback country much more congenial. An extension of aviation services by extending the CharlesvilleCloncurry service to Birdsville and Darwin would also help. I am doubtful if administration by a commission will be as successful as the Minister anticipates, but I shall support the bill, and I hope that it will lead to- the successful development of the Northern Territory.
Debate (on motion by Senator Graham) adjourned to a later hour in the day.
– I lay upon the table of the Senate, by command, estimates of receipts and expenditure and estimates of expenditure for additions, new works, and buildings, &c, for the year ending 30th June, 1926, and the budget-papers presented by the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) on the occasion of opening the budget of 1925-6. I move -
That the papers he printed.
As honorable senators are aware, this motion gives me an opportunity to make a brief statement of the conditions of our finances, and the subsequent debate will furnish honorable senators with an opportunity to discuss financial and other matters.
I wish to bring before honorable senators a few of the more important features revealed by the Estimates and budget-papers.
Omitting certain special expenditure which has been made out of surplus revenues, the estimated expenditure for the year just closed was £64,368,968. The actual expenditure was £65,836,433, which is £1,467,465 in excess of the estimate.
The revenue for 1924-5 was estimated at £64,395,000. The amount actually received was £68,854,809, so that there was received in excess of the estimate a sum of £4,459,809. If we bring the actual revenue arid expenditure of 1924-5 together, we find the position to be as follows: The revenue was £68,854,809, and the expenditure, excluding ‘the special expenditure made out of surplus revenues, was £65,836,433, so that there was an actual surplus on the year of £3,018,376.
As we already had in hand a surplus from 1923-24 of £1,591,153, the accumulated surplus at 30th June, 1925, amounted to £4,609,529.
Perhaps, at this point, . honorable senators might desire to hear how it is proposed to utilize this surplus. A sum of £1,500,000 is being paid to the National Debt Sinking Fund Commissioners for the purpose of debt redemption; a further sum of £1,500,000 is being employed on naval construction, thus making altogether £3,500,000 for the building of our cruisers, submarines, seaplane carrier, &c. A further grant is being made to the states for main roads development - £750,000 being made available for this purpose. Honorable senators will remember that, during the previous two years, a sum of £1,000,000 was specially appropriated in this connexion. Of the surplus, there remains still a sum of £859,529, and of this, £100,000 is being used for a re-organized Institute of Science and Industry, and £100,000 is being set aside for prospecting for oils and precious metals, the balance of £659,529 being taken to trust fund for the payment of invalid and old-age pensions.
Honorable senators will observe that there has been some alteration in the method of presenting the Estimates this year, and that they have been divided into three parts, namely: -
Part 1. - Departments and services other than business undertakings and territories of the Commonwealth.
Part 2. - Business undertakings.
Part 3. - Territories of the Commonwealth.
This change has been decided upon so as to facilitate a study of our finances, and to show the position of each part and its different sections in bold relief. By this means, further, the burden of the Government railway enterprises and our territories, will be evident at a glance.
Under Part 1, the expenditure for 1925-26 is estimated at £56,619,283. The comparable figure of 1924-25 is £54,477,763, so that there is an increase this year, compared withlast, of £2,141,520. The main items of increase are -
Interest on loans raised for states (but which is recoverable from the states), £827,797.
Invalid and old-age pensions, £787,095.
Interest and sinking fund on war loans (due to the conversion now being made of our £67,000,000 loan from 4½ per cent, to 5½ per cent. interest rate) £323,895.
Honorable senators will doubtless be specially interested in the increase of £787,095 proposed in regard to invalid and old-age pensions. The present rate of invalid and old-age pensions is 17s. 6d. per week. Information at present in the hands of the Government, however, indicates that the Royal Commission on National Insurance will recommend, as part of its scheme, a payment of 20s. per week. The Government considers that it would be an anomaly for existing invalid and old-age pensions to be kept on a different scale. Accordingly provision is being made for these pensions to be increased to £1 per week simultaneously with the passage of such portion of the national insurance proposals as may be approved by Parliament.
As regards Part 2 of the Estimates, Business Undertakings, the expenditure out of revenue for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department for 1925-26 is estimated at £10,616,435, against a revenue of £10,710,000. There is thus an expected surplus of £93,565. I might here mention that the Estimates include an expenditure from loan in 1925-26 of £6,000,000 for the Postmaster-General’s Department for telegraph and telephone works, buildings, &c. The actual expenditure out of loan in 1924-25 was £4,532,882, so it will be seen that a generous provision is being made in respect of works for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
In connexion with our railways, there is an estimated deficit for the current year, on the east-west railway, of £151,575 ; and, taking our Commonwealth railways as a whole, the total estimated expenditure for the year is £901,107, against a revenue of £371,000, leaving a total deficit of £530,107.
Turning to Part 3, Territories of the Commonwealth, theNorthern Territory finances result in a deficit, which has to be borne by the general taxpayer, of £115,172; and, taking all the territories of the Commonwealth together, the total estimated expenditure in 1925-26 is £431,761, against an estimated revenue of only £29,000, leaving a total deficit of £402,761.
Coming now to the revenue of the year, honorable senators will no doubt be interested to know that it has been decided to further reduce the rate of income tax. Last year there was a reduction or something over 10 per cent, in the rates. This year the Government proposes to give relief to individual taxpayers to the very substantial amount of 12£ per cent., involving a loss of revenue of £1,400,000. It has also been decided to make a second reduction of the entertainments tax. The last reduction raised the exemption of taxation to admissions of ls. and under; this year it is proposed to pass legislation providing that no tax shall be payable where the price of admission is less than 2s. 6d.
– Why not abolish it altogether?
– The Government could not afford to do that. It must retain sufficient money to pay, for instance, the invalid and old-age pensions, for which an increase of £750,000 will be required. The loss of revenue from this concession is estimated at £360,000, and is being made so that the reductions of taxation shall be evenly distributed throughout the whole community.
Loan expenditure of 1925-26 is estimated at £11,105,284, as against an expenditure in 1924-25 of £7,317,370. As I have already indicated, £6,000,000 of this is for the Postmaster-General’s Department.
Our gross national debt now stands at £430,947,592, the increase in 1924-25 being £15,347,493. This increase, however, was in the main due to the raising of £15,209,850 by the Commonwealth for the States. During the past year, £5,529,467 was made available from various sources for the redemption of our public debt, while in the previous financial year, £9,041,670 was so applied. For the two years the total is £14,571,137.
These, perhaps, are the most important features presented in the estimates and budget-papers now’ in the hands of honorable ‘ senators, and any further in formation they desire can readily be obtained from those documents. I consider that they show that the financial affairs of the Commonwealth are in a very satisfactory condition. By remissions ot income tax, a remission of the entertainments tax, and a further remission that will be asked for of indirect taxation through the Customs, a very substantial load will be lifted from the shoulders of the taxpayers of Australia. The Government’s proposals on the expenditure side, providing for increased grants for main roads, and for invalid and old-age pensions, and increased provision for meeting our obligations in regard to defence, will also be satisfactory to the great mass of the people.
– They ought to be thankful that they have this Government in power.
– The frugality of the Government, and its careful husbanding of the finances of the Commonwealth, have contributed to this happy position.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
– I, too, desire to congratulate the Minister (Senator Pearce) upon his painstaking and informative speech in introducing the measure. I have never visited, the Northern Territory, much as I should like to see the country, but the Minister furnished us with a great deal of valuable information in regard to it. I was impressed by the remarks of Senator Guthrie concerning the Territory, and, no doubt, a vast sum of money will be required to enable it to be developed. I realize with honorable senators who have preceded me that in the course of time we shall probably see another state or -states formed there. I believe that about £4,000,000 has been spent in the Territory since 1911, but, being such a vast tract of country, there is very little to show for it. The cost of transport is one of the greatest handicaps to settlement. I understand that in some cases the settlers have to pay £40 or £50 a ton for the delivery of goods by boat, rail, and camel. I am satisfied that if the country is all that has been pictured by Senator Guthrie and other speakers, it is indeed very valuable. Senator Guthrie has described it as a purely cattle country, and the figures that 1 have taken out show that millions of acres have been leased. I am informed that the Barkly Tablelands country is second to none in Australia, and that some portions of it are suitable for sheep raising. No doubt a huge expenditure will be involved in protecting the holdings from the ravages of the wild dog and the rabbit, but in all probability that difficulty can be overcome in North Australia just as it has been solved in other parts of the Commonwealth. One authority says that this part of the Territory will carry one sheep to the mile, and another contends that it will carry three. If the latter be the case, it should be a wonderful country for wool. The fact that Vestey Brothers’ great industry is not flourishing in the Territory to-day suggests that there is “ something rotten in the State of Denmark.” Immigration is regarded as one of the questions of the moment, and I wish to state emphatically in this connexion that I stand for a “White Australia. I have the greatest objection to North Australia being populated by coolies. Senator Guthrie stated that this was not an agricultural country, but was suitable only for the raising of cattle and sheep. I point out that many parts of the Commonwealth that at one time were considered to be unsuitable for agriculture are being cultivated successfully today, and I hope that that will be the experience in the Northern Territory. Senator Guthrie said that a bonus should be given to anybody who would settle there. He remarked that the .land would produce rice, tobacco, wheat, cattle, sheep, cotton and strawberries, not forgetting mosquitoes. The real trouble is the lack of means of communication. People are naturally averse to settling in the back country far removed from telephone and telegraph communication. In the near future I believe that it will be found that less than half the area of some of these holdings will be quite sufficient for any one to maintain. Not many years hence these vast areas will be so subdivided and improved by the erection of vermin-proof fences and the putting down of bores that they will support thousands more families than at present.
As has been pointed out, the Northern Territory also has wonderful mineral possibilities. Statistics show that gold and silver-lead ores are produced. Who can say but that we may open up another Broken Hill there?
– Or another Kalgoorlie.
– Nothing is more likely.
– It is also quite possible that the Territory contains another Kalgoorlie. Tin, copper, wolfram, graphite, mica, coal, mineral oils - a good many leases have already been taken out for the exploitation of these oils - molybdenite, and other minerals have been discovered. Every encouragement should be given to men to go out and prospect thi3 mineral-bearing country. It is essential, however, that transportation facilities shall be provided. Without doubt Australia is one of the greatest mineral-producing countries in the world. Seeing that much of the Northern Territory has not even been scratched up to date, it is quite probable that some of the finest mines in the world will be opened up there. The tenor of most of the speeches that have been delivered during this debate has been that the Territory is a country of vast possibilities, and it is not unlikely that in the years to come three or four states may be formed within its vast borders. Our present trouble is to know how best to develop it. Shall we allow the Government to retain sole control of it, or shall we vest it in a sort of council, and so obviate the necessity for parliamentary sanction of everything that is done ?
– Even if it were vested in a council it would still be necessary to obtain parliamentary authority for expending money, and so forth. The honorable senator would not argue that the council or commission could raise within the Territory the money for its requirements ?
– Such a council would, of course, need to obtain parliamentary sanction to borrow money. I am not in a position to give the distance of the various leases from the railhead, but it is unquestionable that additional transport facilities are essential. I trust that the Government will do the best it can to provide them. I have gone to a good deal of trouble to ascertain the dates on which various leases in the Territory will expire. The following table will explain itself: -
The following table shows the rentals per square mile paid for various areas : -
Those figures also indicate the vastness of this great country. It may be taken for granted that the choice areas have already been leased. The men settled on them are undoubtedly out in the wilds, but according to the pictures drawn by the various honorable senators acquainted -with the Territory, they are located in good country. Generally speaking, the farther one goes into the interior of the settled states of Australia the poorer and cheaper the land becomes, but it appears that the farther one goes back from the coast of the Northern Territory the better the land becomes. The poor land seems to be all near the coast. I do not know this of my own personal knowledge, but I have gathered it from the speeches that have been made during this debate. In these circumstances we ought to be wary of the way we go.’ I trust that the highest hopes of the optimistic members of this chamber who have discussed this measure will be realized arid that the Territory will ultimately become a very valuable asset of the Commonwealth.
– My remarks will not occupy much time, for I feel that nearly everything that can be usefully said on this measure has already been said in a much better way than I could say it. I should like, however, to congratulate the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) on the tremendous amount of work he has put into the consideration of the bill, and on the great interest he has evinced in the Territory ever since he assumed office. Without disparaging in any way the work of his predecessors, I think I may say that no other Minister has ever taken such a keen interest in the Northern Territory as has the present Minister for Home and Territories, and I do not think any other Minister has approached the consideration of the subject with the sympathy evinced by the right honorable gentleman. He has sensed what I think very few of his predecessors have sensed. It is a large territory, and it has to be handled on big lines. It is useless attempting to deal with the Territory with any half measures. . If this vast area of country was what many have pictured it, simply a howling wilderness of no use to any one, impossible of being satisfactorily developed, and impossible of being made a real asset to the Commonwealth, the best thing to do would be to leave it severely alone. If that were the position, it would be of no use to expend large sums of money on its development, or to give it that consideration which the Minister has devoted to it. But I am not one of those who believe that the Northern Territory is anything of the sort. I consider that we have in it a wonderful asset, and that there is, within its borders, a vast area of country capable of satisfactory and profitable development. It can only be developed, however, on right lines. Senator Graham in the course of the few remarks he made on this subject, touched on what I believe to be the greatest difficulty under which the Territory labours. If we consider for a moment the way in which the rest of Austrafia has been developed, particularly the eastern and the southern seaboard, where the great bulk of the population is living to-day, we find that settlement has taken place along the coast. In close proximity to these centres of settlement there are large areas of good country, and the hinterland has been gradually developed as the people have been pushed further and further in from the seaboard. The difficulty in the Northern Territory, as I see it, is that long distances from the seaboard have to be traversed before good country capable of intense development is reached, and, consequently, we have at the outset to face a tremendous transportation problem, which has always been a great factor in retarding development. It is impossible under existing conditions to open up and settle this country when up to £40 a ton has to be paid to get provisions, plant, and everything required, on to the land, and similar rates to get produce away to the markets. Everyone knows that the large tracts leased in the Territory are held not because the lessees can utilize the whole of them, but because they embrace sufficient watering places to carry the requisite stock. Only a certain extent of the country around the watering places can carry stock, for the simple reason that stock can only travel a recognized distance from water. In the portions of the Territory already developed, water can be obtained at reasonable depths, and it is capable of being pumped to the surface, but the cost of equipping stations to-day with bores and with mills, or other means of raising water, is so great that the work does not pay. In consequence of this we have slow development. If it were possible to make money in the Northern Territory, the mere’ fact that it is a long distance from the other settled portions of the Commonwealth would not prevent people from going there. If there was an opening there for the profitable expenditure of money, capital would soon be forthcoming. Every one who has had experi ence of the Northern Territory knows that it is impossible to obtain an adequate return for the reasons I have mentioned. That state of things can only be met by reducing the cost of transportation, both in regard to supplies- and plant for the stations, and in getting the produce away. It is only by the provision of improved facilities that the Territory will be opened up and the investment of capital made profitable. The Government in this bill has sought to lay the foundation of such a developmental policy. I take it that that is the real object and intention of the bill. We must have a broad developmental policy, and recognize that this is a problem which must be approached in a businesslike way. Whether the method which the Government has chosen is the one best calculated to accomplish the end it has in view, is of course a matter of opinion. All we can ask the critics of the scheme is to show us a better way. I have heard a great many discuss it. Only the other day -when some gentlemen were criticizing the scheme I said, “You have a great deal to say against it. Can you tell me what you would do?” They had not a single constructive idea to communicate to me. They could not give me one solitary leading line on which to go. And so I said to them, “As you have no alternative to offer, why should I oppose the measure? I cannot see any reason for any active opposition to it, because I think it is probably the solution of the difficulty.” As the Minister pointed out in his second-reading speech, one of the great difficulties he and other Ministers have been up against is the lack of continuity of policy. .Owing to the peculiar conditions which exist in the Northern Territory, there is only a certain period of the year in which money can be expended. Parliament votes money from year to year, and under the system which Parliament in its wisdom has evolved in relation to the control of public expenditure of the country, until Parliament has set its imprimatur upon the budget, and the Treasurer is in the frame of mind to make money available, very little can be done. Then when the end of the financial year comes, Parliament again goes through the same performance. It so happens that the period of the year which immediately follows after the money has-been voted is one in which the money cannot be expended in the Territory.
– Hear, hear ! For four months.
– During that period supplies are cut off, and nothing can be accomplished. That has happened year after year with monotonous regularity, and has exasperated every one who has endeavoured to deal with the problems. The Minister has suggested the appointment of a commission very largely with the idea of overcoming that difficulty. The only thing I am not satisfied about in my own mind is whether this measure will accomplish what is in- tended in that direction. I should like the Minister either when replying to’ the second-reading debate or in committee to explain how this measure will entirely overcome the difficulties which, as I have already stated, have exasperated every one who has endeavoured to tackle the Northern Territory problems in a practical way. I am not sure that the Government is proposing to give the commission all the powers that it will be necessary for it to possess in order to overcome the present situation. I can quite understand that in view of the experience which this Parliament had with another commission in days gone by, it will be very careful in handing over to another body powers which’ Parliament might reasonably desire to keep within its own control. I admit the necessity for the exercise of the greatest possible care in dealing with this aspect of the question, but at the same time I urge the Minister to give the commission within certain definite limitations the power to spend such moneys as Parliament makes available. The Government should free it from any unnecessary fetters, and then endeavour by the character of the appointments made to the commission, to safeguard Parliament from the experience it has already had in relation to another commission, the name of which I need not mention. There is one provision in the bill, to which I have already privately drawn the attention of the Minister, concerning which I should like to say a word or two. I refer to clause 44. If honorable sena tors refer to that clause they will see that it provides that-
There shall be an Advisory Council for North Australia to advise the Government Resident in relation to any matter affecting North Australia. -
These words then follow in parentheses - hut not including any matter relating to the powers of the commission or any matter under the control of the commission -
Then follow these words - including advice as to the making of new ordinances or the repeal or amendment of existing ordinances.
As the clause is drafted, I think the Advisory Council will have the power to advise the Minister in relation to all ordinances governing matters which are entirely under the control of the commission - matters in regard to which the council has no control at all, and over which the bill is not designed to give them control. That, I am sure, is not the intention of the Minister.
– Hear, hear !
– If the parentheses were placed at the end instead of in the middle of the clause, I believe that the intention of the Minister would be made quite clear. He, I think, does not intend that the council shall act as an advisory body to him upon matters that are within the control of the commission but outside the control of the council. If the matter is not made clear, sooner or later there will be a conflict between the commission and the council, and an interruption of those amicable relations that are necessary if the Territory is to progress. Wherever there is divided control there is bound to be conflict and friction. There is a great deal that one could say regarding the provisions that are contained in this measure, but others who are better acquainted than I with the matter have already expressed their views upon it. I shall therefore conclude by again congratulating the Minister upon his attempt to handle a big problem on broad lines, and in the comprehensive way that is necessary in order to deal with it satisfactorily.
– No measure within my ministerial experience has met with such a friendly reception, even from its critics, as that which has been accorded to the bill now before us. There has certainly been some criticism of it, but it has been constructive, and there has been an entire absence of any desire to do other than contribute something helpful towards the solution of what is admittedly an intricate and difficult problem. No party significance has attached to any of the criticism. That in itself is a happy augury, because this is a problem that affects the whole of Australia, and not any particular political party in it; any party would experience difficulty in dealing properly with it. I do not therefore propose to traverse much of what has been said. Many of the points that have been raised can be dealt with in committee. Let me deal, first of all, with those that were raised by Senator Greene, because they are typical of a great deal of the “ criticism that has been offered to the bill. I quite agree with him that the financial powers that - it is proposed to give to the commission are really the most important portion of the bill. If the power of the commission to expend the money that is made available is restricted, as is the case with the administration to-day, no good will result, and this legislation will be a failure. Luckily we have some experience to guide us in dealing with the matter. The financial powers contained in the bill are an exact copy of those with which the Federal Capital Commission is invested. Whether the money be granted from loan fund or revenue fund the Federal Capital Commission is given a lump sum. It first of all presents its estimates, setting out the manner in which it proposes to spend the amount for which it asks. When the Minister has given his approval to those estimates the money is made available by the Treasurer, after which no further reference is necessary to either the Minister or the Treasurer.
– Does the money remain in the hands of the commission until it has been expended, or does any unexpended balance revert to the Treasury at the end of the financial year ?
– It is an absolute grant, which the commission proceeds to expend according to the estimates it has submitted. The vote does not lapse at the end of the financial year. There is therefore a differentiation between that expenditure and an ordinary departmental vote, which, if unexpended at the end of the financial year, lapses. That, too, although in a rather different way, is the experience of the Murray Waters Commission. The Commonwealth has, at- times, voted sums from loan fund and revenue fund, which from the point of view of the Treasury are regarded as actual expenditure, even though months may elapse before the works are actually commenced. The Federal Capital Commission submits a developmental scheme covering a period of one year. That has first of all to receive the approval of the Minister. Having got that, the Treasurer is asked to make the money available. He may provide the amount from revenue account, or give the commission power to borrow, or borrow on its behalf. So soon as the money is provided, however, its expenditure comes directly under the control of the commission.
– Has the commission to work through the departments?
– It is its own master, and can say whom it shall employ in expending this money ?
– Absolutely. There is, however, the provision that ministerial approval must be obtained before an appointment carrying a salary greater than £500 a year is made. Let me give an instance of what now occurs in the Northern Territory. A road is asked for. Its construction has been recommended by the Administrator twelvemonths previously, and the approval of the Minister has been obtained. The matter then comes within the control of the Department of Works and Railways. Until the Estimates are submitted to Parliament, the Home and Territories Department is not aware of what has become of . the proposal. The Department of Works and Railways includes that work amongst its Estimates, which cover also the whole of the works that have been asked for by other departments. The Treasurer, reviewing the Estimates, says to the Department of Works and Railways, “You have asked for £750,000, but only £500,000 is available.” Those Estimates then go back to the Department of Works and Railways, by whom they are cut down to bring them within the limit of £500,000. When the Estimates are presented to Parliament we may find that this particular road has disappeared from the list. The commission will occupy quite a different position. Having submitted its estimates to the Minister and obtained his approval, it will receive the money and proceed with the work. The Minister, of course, will have to advise the Cabinet and obtain its concurrence before giving his approval.
– There will still be the same delay that is experienced now.
– No. Before the appointment of the Federal Capital Commission every proposed work had to go through the Department of Works and Railways. To-day that department has nothing whatever to do with any work in the Federal Capital Territory, nor has ministerial approval to be obtained to individual works. I, as Minister, merely approve of a schedule of works, to carry out which a lump sum of money is. provided.
– To what extent will the establishment of this commission affect those public servants who are employed by the Department of Works and Railways?
– The commission will have the same staff as the Department of Works and Railways now has to carry out road construction.
– It will be the staff of the commission, and not of the Department of Works and Railways?
– That is so. On account of the scattered nature of the population of the Northern Territory, and the small number of public servants that is employed, a peculiar anomaly has arisen. Some time ago the Department of Works and Railways decided to carry out road construction in the tablelands portion of the Northern Territory. It had no artisans there, but the Department of Home and Territories happened to have a very good officer - Mr. Stutterd - at Maranboy tinfield. It was necessary to loan him to the Department of Works and Railways to carry out that work for the Home and Territories Department. Could one imagine a situation containing a greater element of comic opera than that? In future any officer who does such work will be employed by the commission and will not be responsible to either the Department of Works and Railways or the Home and Territories Department. I feel confident that this is the only way in which anything of a practical nature can be done. I am quite sure that no good can result from the existing system. An honorable senator referred to the necessity to paint certain buildings. It is a fact that the painting of buildings in Darwin has been lamentably neglected. But what is one to do ? A “road” in the Northern Territory merely means making some sort of a crossing over a creek or a sand patch to provide a means, difficult though it may be, for getting across. The amount of money required for such work is considerable. The unfortunate Minister knows very well that if he asks for a. sum sufficient to provide for road construction and also the painting of buildings, some of his road work is bound to be sacrificed. He must choose between asking for money for roads and bores, or for the painting of buildings in Darwin. Obviously his choice will be for the former, because unpainted buildings will not fall down. Even if they did it would not be altogether disastrous to the Territory. On the other hand, if roads and bores are neglected people will be unable to live in the back country.
Senator Greene, in the course of his remarks to-day, dealt with clause 44 of the bill, which deals with the powers of the Advisory Council. As a layman, I agree with the construction which he placed upon the clause, but the draftsman thinks otherwise. However, to make quite sure, we intend to ask the committee to alter the clause. Some time ago I introduced a measure in the Senate dealing with the Crown lands ordinances. In the debate on that bill all sorts of prophecies were made. I made some myself. One of the statements that I made was - and this view was supported to some extent by Senator Greene to-day - that many people appeared to think that the Northern Territory was a sort of Eldorado, a place where fortunes could be made without much effort. That, of course, is quite a mistake. We said that we must give intending lessees long tenures at low rentals in order to induce them to take up the land.
– Otherwise no one would go there.
– We succeeded in convincing Parliament that our view was the right one. As the result, Parliament approved the alteration of the conditions. Since that measure was passed we have been able to induce holders of leases under the South Australian law to surrender them and take up 42- year leases under our’ land ordinance.
This principle, I may add, was strongly attacked by our friends opposite. It is gratifying to me, therefore, to be able to say that, although this new land ordinance has been in operation for less than two years, a large number of leases under the South Australian legislation have been surrendered for leases under the Commonwealth ordinance, which gives the Government the right within ten years to sub-divide one-fourth of the area held under lease, and within twenty years the right to resume and subdivide another 25 per cent. of the total area held. Within the last two days I have been advised by the Administrator that a large Queensland sheepraising company has purchased leases of 835 square miles of country on the Barkly Tablelands, near Newcastle Waters, and intends to prepare the country immediately for stocking with sheep. The leases in question were surrendered by the former lessees in June last, in exchange for leases which will shortly be issued under the provisions of our Crown lands ordinance. I regard this development as most encouraging, because the Queensland company referred to comprises people who have had extensive experience of that class of country, and know what are its’ possibilities. What induced them to purchase these leases?
– Sensible legislation. Senator PEARCE. - Of course it was. Under our Crown lands ordinance we give them security of tenure at a low rental. This undoubtedly induced them to risk their capital in a venture to turn that portion of the Barkly Tablelands into sheep runs.
– Is that the only application that has been received by the Government for land under the new ordinance?
– No. I have just said that a large number of leases under the South Australian law have been surrendered and that the land is now under the ordinance referred to.
– When portions of leases are resumed, as proposed, will the Government compensate lessees for improvements ?
– Yes. That, is provided for in the ordinance. Senator Newland spoke of the possibility of mineral development in the Northern Territory. I dare say that some people will think, he was somewhat optimistic, but I agree with him that any day we may expect to hear of very important mineral discoveries there. Within the last two days I have received a telegram from the Administrator giving particulars of assays made by the Mines Department from samples of malachite ore taken at a depth of 20 feet from an outcrop measuring 15 ft. x 20 ft. near Tennant’s Creek. These assays, I emphasize, were not made by a private assayer, but by a Government official at Darwin. I am advised that the three samples averaged 17 per cent. copper, 5 oz. silver, and 4 oz. 7 dwt. of gold to the ton. The richest sample assayed 33 per cent. copper, 12 oz. of silver, and 12 oz. 8 dwt. of gold to the ton. One sample contained neither copper nor gold, and only went 6 dwt. of silver to the ton, but carried a small percentage of nickel and cobalt - two very important and valuable minerals. Tennant’s Creek is 500 miles south of the Katherine River and 650 miles north of Oodnadatta. Recently rich amber tin ore averaging 76.6 per cent. of metallic tin was discovered 12 miles north-west of Tennant’s Creek.
– Did the telegram indicate the number of tons treated by the assayer ?
– No, but, as I have said, the samples were taken at a depth of 20 feet from an outcrop measuring 15 ft. x 20 ft. Of course, it may be that the samples were not a fair average of the reef.
– Everything would depend upon the ore bodies.
– That is so. We can be quite sure, however, that it was a reliable assay of the sample submitted, and, therefore, it is most encouraging. Undoubtedly there are important mineral deposits in the Northern Territory, and it is quite possible that any day we may stumble upon another Kalgoorlie or Broken Hill there. It should not be forgotten that at one time it was predicted that gold would never be discovered in Western Australia. The more the country is opened up by improved transportation facilities the more likely are we to be rewarded with important mineral developments. If, on the other hand, we fail to provide the means of communication it will become increasingly difficult to do anything with the Territory. The pastoral industry at all events can only be successfully developed if we supply satisfactory means of transportation. The bill of itself will not develop the Territory, but it is designed to create efficient machinery to enable that development to take place. When the Constitution was drafted, the framers did not design constitutional machinery for the development of the country, because at that time it was not anticipated that this responsibility would rest upon the Commonwealth Government. The lands, railways, and mines were all under the control of the respective states, but the Commonwealth Government has since taken over the Northern Territory, and is, in fact, the only government responsible for its development. Therefore, in so far as that Territory is concerned, we have to act as a State Government would act, and construct railways and roads, and provide for other means of transportation. The seat of government should be on the spot.
Turning now to the administration by a commission, the suggestion was made during the debate that members of that body should be elected. I hope that view will not be pressed for this reason : The machinery must be effective, and to ensure efficiency we must get the right men for the commission.
– That is most important.
– Some kind friends have suggested that I am going to be the chairman of that body; that I am creating a billet for myself. I assure them that I am not going to be the chairman of this commission. I do not think I am the right man for the job. There are. not many men in Australia who could undertake such a responsibility.*
– What about Theodore?
– I am not canvassing any one. I am simply emphasizing the importance of the position, and expressing the opinion that not many men are fitted for it. I am convinced that a process of popular election would be the very surest way to discover the wrong men. “
– No one suggests that members of the commission, should be elected.
– Senator Needham did.
– And When the bill is in committee I intend to move in that direction.
– That would narrow the selection. It would mean that the appointment would be made, not by the people of Australia, but by the 2,000 adults resident in the Northern Territory. Of that number at least 1,000 reside in Darwin, which town is by no means representative of the Northern Territory. Senator Needham ‘s proposal raises the old question of no taxation without representation. It would give the management of the Territory, not to the people who would have to find the money for its development, but to only a limited number living in the Northern Territory who would be called upon to find only part of it. In the budget presented to-day the taxpayers of Australia are called upon to find £250j000 for the Northern Territory. We cannot at this stage place the government of the Territory - a responsibility that belongs properly to the people of Australia - exclusively in, the hands of those who live there. This bill is designed to create the machinery for the development of the Territory until it will be possible to extend the system of local government to that portion of the Commonwealth.
Senator Thompson, unlike other honorable senators who contributed to the second-reading debate, appeared to think that the Government proposal went too far with regard to the duties of the advisory councils.
– Their advice should be given to the commission rather than to the Government Resident.
– That would be open to the same objection. Why should a council elected by the people of the Northern Territory advise the commission in connexion with the expenditure of money provided by the people of Australia? The existing Administration will still deal with such subjects as law, justice, police, education, and aborigines. The creation of advisory councils will afford residents of the Northern Territory an opportunity to become familiar with the principles of local government. Later on, when the population increases, there will be a number of men who have had a pertain amount of legislative responsibility, and then we may increase <he number called in on an elective basis to manage the affairs of the Territory. Thus the settlers will be given that training and experience in government which the people of all countries must obtain. The states of Australia were not immediately given the full power of self-government. New South Wales had a population of over 50,000 before it was entrusted with any governmental powers at all. And so in this case we must first get the nucleus of self-government and then gradually extend it.
– Will any servants of the Administration be permitted to sit on the councils?
– No. In conclusion, I warmly thank honorable senators for the friendly way in which they have received the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Definitions) -
.- When the bill was in the second-reading stage, I suggested that the Government might give consideration to the employment of some new and euphonious names for the- two divisions of this territory, which will eventually become new states. Western Australia occupies a large portion of this continent, and so also does South Australia. It seems to me that by naming the two areas into which the Northern Territory is to be divided North Australia and Central Australia only confusion will result. Perhaps there are men whose exploratory and pioneering work entitle them to have their names perpetuated. I suggest that the Government -postpone consideration of the clause with a view to recommending the adoption of new names.
Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister for Home and Territories) ]~i.26. - The suggestion was considered, but the Government thought this hardly the proper time for the introduction of new names. We hope that these large areas will eventually become states, but they are not states at the present time. When they are declared states the time will be opportune to consider whether it would be advisable to bestow upon them more distinctive names than North Australia and Central Australia. Any proposed new names would need to be criticized from every angle, and the
Government thought the designations chosen to be fairly descriptive. New names at the present stage would be rather grandiose, for these areas will long remain territories of the Commonwealth.
Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) 5.28].- I am not too favorably disposed towards the proposed names. The Minister (Senator Pearce) stated that the Northern Territory did not occupy a high place in the opinion of many people both inside and outside Australia. While I do not think that the names selected will make any difference in regard to opinion concerning the Territory, it seems to me that the proposed titles will be rather confusing, especially to people overseas. We shall have Western Australia, South Australia, North Australia, and Central Australia, hut the large eastern states will be left off the map.
– Is Victoria jealous?
– Not at all, but the Government should hesitate before adopting the proposed names, which may cause inconvenience in connexion with letters and telegrams.
– When there are new states it Will be sufficient time to select new names.
– I realize that the Northern Territory must be divided, but that can be done without departing from the present name.
– Call it Northern Territory and Central Territory.
– That would be preferable to the present proposal. I move -
That the clause be postponed.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) T5.33]. - Much may be said in favour of Senator Foil’s contention that confusion would arise from the proposed change of names. I recognize the difficulty in obtaining a suitable, designation, and I suggest that instead of using the terms “ North Australia “ and “ Central Australia,” we should adopt the names “Northern Territory” and “Southern Territory.”
– What virtue is there in the word “ Territory?”
– From usage the world knows that Australia has a Northern Territory.
– If we use the word “Australia” we suggest that the area embraces the whole of the northern portion of Australia.
– I assure the Minister that this question has not been raised in a facetious spirit, but with a desire to assist him. We should, as Senator Findley suggested, postpone clause 5 so that we may have an opportunity to consider whether we cannot find better designations than those proposed.
– I can understand Senator Foil’s attitude, but I cannot see that postponing the matter will help us, for it has already been in abeyance for three weeks, It is not a new point, for Senator Foll introduced it in his second-reading speech. In these circumstances I ask the committee to reach a decision to-day. Apparently we have the choice of only two terms. It is suggested that instead of calling these two areas North Australia and Central Australia, we should call them Northern Territory and Southern Territory. What virtue is there in the term “ territory,” and especially “ Northern Territory,” that we should desire to perpetuate it? We should want to forget it, for all its associations have been unfortunate. Its reputation is not good, and will be no advertisement to assist the new era which we hope to inaugurate. It would be a kindness to blot it out. Any name would be better than Northern Territory. In any case I do not think the term is apt. It suggests that this territory is an appanage of some other portion of Australia, whereas we desire to encourage the idea that it will grow into a separate state and become self-supporting.
– Would the Minister suggest that the Federal Capital Territory is an appanage ?
– The Federal Territory is in quite a different category. It has been set apart for federal political “purposes’.. I suggest to honorable senators that ‘the terms proposed in the bill designate fairly, in a geographical sense, the areas that they are proposed to cover. It has to be remembered that this area may ultimately constitute three, two, or only one state. It is for that reason that no effort has been made to fix on a- name which will be perpetuated. When the time arrives for the formation of new states in the Territory an effort should bo made to secure names which will not arrogate to them the generic term for the whole Commonwealth. In all the circumstances, I ask honorable senators to accept the proposal in the bill.
– When replying to Senator Foll, the Minister touched on the point I had in mind in regard to the Government Resident, but I should like him to make a definite statement on the matter. I understood at first that this commission would be managerial, but apparently it will have authority in certain specified matters only, and the Government Resident will have authority in other matters. I was hopeful that it would have complete authority and would not be hampered by any Government Resident.
– The Government has endeavoured to avoid loading the commission with a lot of detailed administrative work. If it had to discharge all the ordinary administrative duties it would have a good excuse for remaining in Darwin, whereas we desire that it shall concern itself very definitely with developmental work in the interior. Unfortunately, the experience of all ministers and heads of government departments is that detailed administrative duties occupy so much of their time that they are unable very often to give the consideration they desire to bigger and new developmental projects. Our intention is that this commission shall be responsible for lands, railways, and public works and that the Government Resident shall give his attention to all matters touching education, justice, police, and the aborigines. The Government Resident will not be a” highly paid officer, and his duties will be limited to distinctly administrative work. By this means we hope to free the commission so that it will devote the whole of its time to developmental work. The term “Government Resident” is frequently used. The Queensland Government has a Government Resident on Thursday Island. There is a Government Resident in the north-west of Western Australia.. The term was also used in the early days of the .Northern
Territory by the South Australian Government; for it had a Government Resident in the Territory to represent it in all administrative matters.
.- I also am anxious that the overhead machinery of this commission shall not be heavy. When Senator Thompson, in his second-reading speech, remarked that as the commission would be composed of three members it should not be necessary to have a Government Resident also I was inclined to agree with him, but I can see the force of the Minister’s remarks. When I was at Alice Springs with the Public Works Committee, I met Sergeant Stott, who was virtually the Government Resident there. We discovered that his duties included those of lands ranger, sergeant of police, protector of aborigines, Crown prosecutor-
– And mining warden.
– Thatis so, and I could go on enumerating his duties for quite a while. He actually found himself in the position of having to frame a charge against an aboriginal prisoner and then, as protector of aborigines, conducting his defence. Further, as he was the only man there with any particular knowledge of the law, he had to recommend to the presiding magistrate, who was the local postmaster, the sentence that should be passed on the man he was defending.I take it that the Government Residents at Alice Springs and Darwin under this new arrangement will discharge many of the duties that I have already mentioned. The people in the north have much better medical facilities than those in the south, and I suggest, for the consideration of the Government, that, if possible, it should give special consideration in making this appointment to any applicant whois a qualified medical practitioner.
– That is what we have in view.
– I am glad to hear that. The appointment of such a man would be most acceptable.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 -
– I move -
That the words “North Australia Commission”, sub-clause (1), be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ Provisional Council consisting of three members elected by the people resident in the area proposed to be controlled, and three members nominated by the Governor-General in Council.”
If that amendment is agreed to I shall move -
That after sub-clause (1) the following new sub-clause be inserted : - “(1a) The Governor-General in Council shall appoint one of the members to be the chairman of the Provisional Council.”
The right honorable Minister in charge of the bill somewhat anticipated this amendment when he made his speech in reply to the second-reading debate. He said that some one had suggested that the control of North Australia and Central Australia should be placed in the hands of a few people, who would elect a provisional council, but who would not have to pay taxes. It will be seen, however, that according to my amendment the people of this area are to be given permission to elect only half the proposed council. Why should not these people have a voice in the choice of those who are to govern them ? There is in my amendment a provision that there shall be three members of a provisional council nominated by the Governor-General in Council, and, also, a further proposal that the GovernorGeneral in Council shall appoint the chairman of the commission. That discounts the suggestion made by the Minister. When speaking on the second reading of the bill, I said that I was in favour of the suggestion made by an ex-Premier of Queensland (Mr. Theodore) that a provisional Government should be appointed to which, as Mr. Theodore suggested, a loan of £20,000,000 should be granted to enable it to carry on for five years, and to test the possibilities of this great tract of country. That proposal was acceptable to me, but I think, on reviewing the situation, that a provisional council might be even better than the proposed commission. The provisional council, if the amendment is adopted, will be partly an elective and partly a nominated body, which will be controlled by the
Government of the day, through the chairman appointed by the GovernorGeneral in Council. I am submitting my amendment to test the feeling of the committee as to the form of control. I favour a provisional council, possessing greater powers than it is proposed to grant to the commission, because even now the Minister has not convinced me that this commission, if appointed, will possess more authority than the present administrator. The Minister, in his reply to the second-reading debate, suggested that, if the commission were appointed, there would not be delay in consequence of any possible conflict between the Department of Home and Territories and the Department of Works and Railways. I admit that conflict in details might be avoided, but after a close perusal of the bill I find that the commission will be hampered in its work, just as has been the present administrator. The commission will have to refer all important matters to the Minister at the Seat of Government, whether it be in Melbourne or Canberra. This is a vital provision, and one on which the feeling of the committee should be tested. I am not opposing the measure as a whole, but am only endeavouring to improve it. Instead of having a. commission it would be better to have a provisional council, such as I have suggested, to which the 2,000 white residents in the Territory would have the right to elect three members. That would be countered by the nomination of three others, and the appointment of a chairman by the GovernorGeneral in Council. We should not depart from the elective system in its entirety, and should not appoint a commission without consulting the wishes of the people who’ are living there.
– In supporting the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham), I remind the Minister (Senator Pearce) that the fact that- the British Government refused to give New South Wales anything approaching a system of local government until the population of that state was approximately 50,000, is no reason why in this age we should prevent the residents of the Northern Territory from electing their representatives.- Up to the present the people of New South Wales are handi capped by the existence, not of an elective, but of a nominated upper chamber, which stultifies every advanced proposal passed by the lower House. Even now the people of New South Wales have not the form of government which, thanks to the Labour Government, is enjoyed by the electors of Queensland. We are now asked to agree to the appointment of a commission quite regardless of the wishes of the people in the Northern Territory. It would, I think, be better to extend a complete system of local government to the people of this Territory, lt must be remembered that if the Governments of Queensland and Western Australia agree to a portion of the territories in those states coming under the control of the commission, the white population to be controlled by this body will be approximately 4,000, which will include some of the most enterprising people in the Commonwealth. We advocate the adult population of the country having power to express an opinion concerning its management, but ‘it is now proposed to depart from that principle. In New Guinea the people have little, if any, voice in the management of the country. In Papua there is at least a semblance of local government, but it is not proposed to give even that to the people resident in the Northern Territory. Surely that is a mistake, and the proposal should not be countenanced for a moment. The amendment submitted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is a modest one, and is in accordance with the principle adopted by the Senate in regard to Papua, where there is a council partly elected and partly nominated. ‘ Why should we not extend similar privileges to those vigorous’ and virile people who are assisting in the development of the Northern- Territory? I trust the Government will agree to the amendment, remembering that all we ask is that three members shall be elected, whilst three more are to be nominated, and of that number the Governor-General will have the right to appoint one as chairman. As a matter of fact, the Government appointee will control the commission.
– I am sorry I cannot support the proposal submitted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham). Everything must have a beginning, but in this case the two honorable senators who have preceded me desire to skip the beginning and commence half way through. We are justified in looking upon these territories as Crown colonies of Australia. No country has been more successful than Great Britain in its handling of Crown colonies, and invariably the administration has, for a certain period, been left to appointees of the Imperial Government. The success which has attended the colonization efforts of that government has been due to the appointment of men who were free from political bias, and had not to act in a way which would ingratiate them with the electors. Men of proved integrity and ability, possessing an independent spirit, and acting as they thought best, have been responsible for the success of Britain’s Crown colonies. I do not see any reason for altering these provisions in the bill. The proposal to appoint three men is a very good one. Only men of high calibre and undoubted character are likely to be charged with the responsibility of governing Australia, and they will see that only qualified persons are appointed to these positions. I do not know a great deal about the Northern Territory. It is very many years since I was even in the southern portion of it. The probability is that the residents would make a choice from among their number for appointment to these positions. It would be somewhat of a gamble to rely upon them to choose men equal to those whom this or any future government might appoint. If local knowledge is required, it will be readily accessible. Therefore, I do not think that the amendment has “ a leg to stand upon,” and I cannot support it.
.-I believe that the Government is actuated by the best motives, and that this matter has been decided only after serious and mature consideration. The Government, in its wisdom, believes that its proposal will be in the best interests of not only the Territory, but also the Commonwealth as a whole. With all due deference, I submit that the interest of the residents of the Northern Territory in its development will be measured by the encouragement to do so that is given to them. It is true that the Northern Territory comprises a very big portion of the north of Australia. It has made little or no progress for very many years, and its people have been sorely disappointed at the apparent inaction of this and past administrations. They are anxious to see the Territory peopled and developed. If the amendment were agreed to, the Government would still have the appointment of three commissioners, and 1 believe that it would do all that was humanly possible to obtain the services of the men best fitted for the positions. The amendment proposes that, in addition, the residents of the Northern Territory shall have the opportunity to select, by ballot, three men to act with the commissioners. In all probability, they would make the selection from among their own number, but that does not necessarily follow. Those who have lived for many years in that portion of Australia are familiar with its requirements, and hold definite opinions regarding its development. They are just as capable of tendering advice and making recommendations as will be the commissioners whom it is proposed to appoint.
– Quite a considerable number of the residents of Darwin have not been more than 100 miles south of Darwin.
– That may be true. But when I was up there a few years ago I learned that some of the residents had travelled over the major portion of the Territory.
– Some of them.
– Those who will have the making of these appointments have never been in the Territory, and know nothing about it.
– There are men up there who have risked their lives in the search for the precious metals and other wealth that we believe lies hidden ir> the Territory. We believe in a democratic form of government. We should, therefore, say to the inhabitants of the Northern Territory, “ Your co-operation will be beneficial to the future of the Territory, and we propose to give you the opportunity to elect three men to act with the commissioners.” That would give them hope and courage. It would make them feel that they are a portion of Australia - a portion which, at no distant date, we hope will comprise a new state. Are they not capable of electing three men? In a minor way the bill does what the amendment proposes. There is to be a Government Resident in the north, and another in the south. The advisory council is to be partly nominee and partly elective. Why not extend that provision to the commission? The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) said that the proposal relating to the advisory council aimed at fitting men to hold responsible positions. The importance of the work to be done will not be much greater in the case of the commission than in the case of the advisory councils. I do not think that anything would have a more beneficial effect upon the development of the Territory than the proposal contained in the amendment. No one would be so foolish as to believe that those who ‘ reside in Darwin do not travel beyond the confines of that town. Many of those people have travelled over thousands of miles of the Territory. When they were given the opportunity to elect a representative to another place, the keenest interest was manifested by them. They hoped that something practical would be done to advance their interests. This is the psychological moment for action by the Government. A reference has been made to ‘Crown colonies. They no longer exist in Australia. The Minister said that- New South Wales was not given responsible government until it had a population of 50,000. Like “ the flowers that bloom in the spring,” that has “ nothing to do with the case.” Only a few years ago, some persons were opposed to the principle of “ one man, one vote.” Only yesterday, figuratively speaking, there was opposition to adult suffrage. Having agreed upon a democratic franchise we can, in a small way, give the people! of the Northern .Territory the opportunity to share in the responsibility of governing that portion of Australia. I feel satisfied that they would not select unsuitable representatives. If they did, the blame for any subsequent failure would rest upon their shoulders. Regarding the matter solely from a selfish point of view, they would see that men who were well fitted to undertake the work were elected. I believe that the Northern Territory has a great future, and I desire that its people shall not be treated differently from those who reside in other parts of Australia.
They have the same ideals and the same objective. We are here to legislate for the whole of Australia, and we should take advantage of this opportunity to do something for people who are- playing their part in the development of the Northern Territory. No sound argument has been advanced up to the present against the amendment submitted by Senator Needham. The people of the Northern Territory are intelligent and well qualified to express an opinion concerning appointments to the commission.
– I was hoping that the Minister, having heard the reasons advanced for the amendment, would have changed his mind. Senator Kingsmill, I think, is under a misapprehension. There is nothing in the amendment to suggest that the three members of the proposed * provisional councils must bo residents of the Northern Territory. The widest selection will be available to the people. They may draw nominees from any part of Australia. If the purely elective . system is good enough for the advisory councils it should also be good enough for the controlling body.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to S p.m.
Debate resumed from 2nd July (vide page 625), on motion by Senator J.
That the hill be now read a second time.
– I am afraid that Senator J. Grant’s youthful impetuosity has projected him a little too far. The time may arrive when the honorable senator as Treasurer of the Commonwealth will have to frame a budget, but it has not come yet, and I dare say that there are a great many people who hope that it never will. His proposal would relieve 74 per cent, of the taxable estates from the estate duty tax. One can only marvel at the honorable senator’s audacity, and deplore his lack of discretion. His object is quite clear. Those honorable senators who have been members of this Chamber for any length of time know that his one ideal is the single tax, and instead of asking the Senate straight out to adopt that system he proceeds to install it in a piecemeal fashion. His maiden effort is an attempt to lop off 74 per cent, of the estates liable to the estate duty tax. If this bill is passed tonight he will probably come along next Thursday evening with a second instalment of his reform and ask the Senate to” exempt the remaining 26 per cent, of those estates, For many weeks the Government has been engaged in a survey of the whole field of Commonwealth taxation. Income and land taxation, as well as estate duty taxation, have been under consideration, and with the tremendous war burdens that Australia is still carrying there is a limit to the amount of taxation that can be safely remitted. Those honorable senators who heard the epitome of the budget given in this chamber to-day will realize that the Government has gone to the limit in proposing remissions of taxation to which Parliament could be fairly asked to agree. To exempt 74 per cent, of the estates liable to pay the estate duty tax would be unreasonable.
– How much revenue would this cut off 1
– A considerable amount, for the simple reason that the great bulk of the estates fall within the limitations in the bill. I remind the Senate, too, that if measures of this description were encouraged, an end would be put to parliamentary government, since no government would be able to budget if private members were able to secure the passage of financial bills cutting’ off revenue here and adding to expenditure there. In view of the proposed increased expenditure for invalid and old-age pensions, &c, together with the projected remissions of taxation, the Treasurer will have very little margin to work upon in framing his budget for next year. We cannot play fast and loose with” financial measures. They have to be considered with some sense of responsibility and some regard for proportion. From that point of view alone it would be extremely embarrassing to the Government if its financial calculations were upset in the manner proposed by this bill. I ask that’ the measure be rejected.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
Effect on Tasmania.
Debate resumed from 9th July (vide page 848), on motion by Senator Odgen -
.- In supporting the motion, which was ably moved by Senator Ogden, I consider that the disabilities under which Tasmania has been labouring for many years have been so fully and frequently ventilated in this chamber that every honorable senator ought to realize that the present claim is advanced in all seriousness. The representatives of my state appreciate the value of the time of the Senate, and always refrain from bringing forward matters that are not of the first importance. Tasmania, by reason of its insular position, has suffered more than any other state through entering into federation, and it therefore behoves the representatives of the mainland states to come to its assistance. The Navigation Act applies just as strongly to Tasmania as to any other part of the Commonwealth; but Tasmania is specially handicapped through having communication with the mainland only by water. Owing to its salubrious climate, Tasmania has become well known as the sanatorium of Australia, and it was never contemplated that the Navigation Act passed should be as prejudicial as it has proved to be to the best interests of that state. Senator Ogden made it clear, by statements which cannot be refuted, that many tourists who were accustomed to visit Tasmania annually are now prevented from doing so. The report of the royal commission on the operation of the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act pointed out how serious had been the loss to Tasmania; and I find, from the report of those members of the commission who were in the minority, that they based their contention on the fact that more tourists had visited Tasmania of recent years than in 1912-13. I point out, however, that that is no good reason why the coasting provisions should not be lifted. Every state has increased in population in the last ten or twelve years, and it is reasonable to assume that the tourist traffic would also grow. It would probably have increased by 50 per cent., as against the figures for 1912-13, had the people enjoyed facilities to travel to Tasmania by any. vessel they desired. When living at Hobart, I always looked forward to the arrival of the Peninsular and Oriental liners, which invariably brought a fairly large number of passengers who were taking advantage of the “ apple trips.” These vessels were enabled to call at Hobart on the home run in order to pick up apple cargoes, by reason of the extra passenger fares they were able to collect. Now those trips have been abandoned, and Tasmania is the loser thereby. Notwithstanding the statements made in the report of the royal commission that the records of the interstate companies showed that, for a considerable period of the year, half the passenger accommodation on those vessels was not availed of, no one would imagine that it would be utilized in the winter months. The report fails to point out that, in the tourist season, on the interstate boats of all classes, it is a common occurrence for a considerable proportion of the passengers to be accommodated in “ shakedowns,” and to have to put up with the inconvenience of overcrowded saloons.
– It is only a few hours’ journey.
– I feel sure that a few hours spent in crossing Bass Strait in an interstate boat may be more uncomfortable at certain times than a much longer period spent on a large and commodious oversea vessel.
– Is it not more a question of regular transit than a matter of accommodation?
– No. It is impossible to dissociate the passenger traffic from the fruit industry, which is of the utmost importance to Tasmania. The orchardists there found that, through having the advantage in the early part of the season of shipping comparatively small quantities of their fruit to the Home market, they were able to realize such a high price for it that they averaged a satisfactory return for the whole of then crop. The advantage Tasmania gained through the visit of these oversea vessels, and which she reasonably expected to hold for all time, has entirely gone, as without the passenger traffic it would not pay the steamers to call for these small shipments of fruit.
– She has averaged a wonderfully good price this year.
– And it is due to her, for she has had a very bad time in the last few years. Conditions had become altogether intolerable for the Tasmanian fruit-growers who had to rely on their export trade. In one portion of the report of the commissioners who opposed the lifting of the coasting clauses of the Navigation Act, insofar as they applied to Tasmania, it is stated that the output of fruit from Tasmania in the year preceding the writing of the report showed conclusively that the industry must be nourishing. The reply to that is that when the war ended, and Tasmania was faced with the problem of repatriating the brave men who had fought for her, she placed a large number of them in the fruit-growing industry. Hundreds of returned soldiers are endeavouring to make an honest livelihood, on small orchards in that state, with the result that a normal crop nowadays is much greater than the normal crop in pre-war years. It cannot be said, therefore, that the larger quantity of fruit exported in that year is an indication that the industry is flourishing. I refer honorable senators to pages 12, 13, and 14 of the report, which contain ample evidence of the disadvantage under which Tasmania is labouring in consequence of the coasting clauses of the act. But we should look at the matter from -the point of view that Tasmania is a part of the Commonwealth. If any state in the Commonwealth, because of its geographical or insular position, is suffering a disadvantage as compared with the other states, we ought to do everything possible to remove that disability. Tasmania has rights, and they ought to be recognized. It is undeniable that she is handicapped in consequence of this act, and her development is being retarded, which means that the development of the whole of Australia is being hindered. We feel justified, therefore, in not only asking, but demanding, that our handicap shall be removed at ‘ the earliest possible moment.
– Honorable senators from Tasmania are not at all backward in malting these demands.
– I trust that we shall never be backward. Why should we so frequently have to request what is really our right?
– That is the honorable senator’s duty.
– We are here to prevent injustice being done to our state, certainly, but also to watch the interests of the whole of Australia. I protest against the necessity for fighting so strenuously for our dues. Surely honorable senators have enough common sense to see the justice of our claims. Tasmania’s position is almost intolerable, and we ask that something definite and drastic shall be done immediately to make things easier for her. In answer to our repeated protestations, it has been stated that provision is made in the Navigation Act for the Minister to grant a licence for any vessel to provide a service for a particular port if he is satisfied that the existing service is inadequate. A vessel so licensed need not comply with the conditions of the Navigation Act. I do not wish to refer disrespectfully to any of our statutes, but I say advisedly and without hesitation that that provision of the Navigation Act is not worth the paper it is printed on, for it does not give the relief it was intended to give.
– But the amendments made to the act last month remedy the position.
– The honorable senator is off on another track altogether. The measure we recently passed, which authorized the Minister to suspend the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act, was designed to meet cases of emergency. If an application were made to the Minister for the licensing of a vessel or vessels in consequence of an existing service being inadequate, what evidence would he require as to inadequacy? Some time ago I asked the Minister what evidence of inadequacy was given when licences were granted to overseas ships to bring people from various Australian ports to Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup.
– The coastal steamship companies admitted it.
– That is not sufficient. If 20,000 people were expected to come from Sydney, Adelaide, and Hobart for the Melbourne Cup meeting, it might be possible to prove that the existing service was inadequate, but it is almost impossible to prove the inadequacy of the shipping service for tourists who desire to visit Tasmania. It might be found after the tourist season had ended that 5,000 more people would gladly have visited Tasmania had there been adequate shipping facilities for them to do so, but it is too late after the season ends. I urge honorable senators to support the motion. It has been submitted with the object of securing fair play for Tasmania. Any one who has visited Hobart knows that luxuriously-fitted vessels call there regularly, but they are not permitted to carry passengers from other Australian ports to Hobart, or from Hobart to other Australian ports, because of the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act.
– That has been altered now.
– That is not so ; but it certainly should be altered. Tasmania’s rights should be fully recognized. I feel confident that if this motion is agreed to here and in another place, and the Navigation Act amended accordingly, no one in Australia will be any worse off. We should remove the unfair burden which Tasmania has had to bear for many years.
– I do not desire to labour this subject, as the case for Tasmania has been well put by the mover of the motion and various other speakers. I should like, however, to present a few figures to the Senate which, I am sure, will carry weight. There is no doubt that the business community of Tasmania generally, and of Hobart in particular, have suffered seriously owing to the operation of the coasting sections of the Navigation Act. That suffering has unquestionably been reflected on the industrial community, and on Tasmania generally.
Unless Tasmania can stabilize her industries, much more serious results must follow. At present she is losing her population rapidly, and the efforts of the
Government to finance the state are being made under great difficulties. I ask honorable senators to consider carefully the following table: -
These figures indicate quite clearly that Tasmania is relatively in a far worse condition to-day, compared with the other states, than she was at the time of federation. I would particularly call the attention of honorable senators to the percentage increase per head - that whereas Tasmania’s increase in exports overseas was 27 per cent. since 1900, the average of the other states was 70 per cent. If Tasmania could obtain anything approaching the increases obtained by the other states in respect of overseas trade, the solution of its financial problem would be an easy matter. We claim that Tasmania’s present position is largely due to the operation of the coasting clauses of the Navigation Act.
– Do the honorable senator’s figures relate only to direct imports?
– All imports into Tasmania from overseas. I am dealing only with overseas trade, as that is practically the only trade affected by the operation of the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act.
– Not altogether.
– No; but very largely. There were some imports which came from South America, with which country a considerable amount of trade was done, but now that trade, and also the business which Tasmania did with New Zealand, has gone. The operations of the Navigation Act have caused a considerable restriction in trade, which has had the effect of reducing the population - is a very serious matter, particu larly to a small state. If this Parliament will give Tasmania assistance by the deletion of the provisions of the Navigation Act relating to coastal shipping, Tasmania’s financial position can easily be improved. The Commonwealth Government cannot afford to stand by and see the finances of one state seriously affected when it can by the amendment of an act on its statute-book materially benefit that state.
.- I am sympathetically “disposed towards the motion submitted by Senator Ogden, particularly after the experience that we had during the visit of the vessels of the American Fleet, and when the guests of the Government were humiliated by the action of certain seamen at Port Melbourne. Prior to that incident, as a member of the Navigation Commission, I had in conjunction with Senator Duncan, submitted a report concerning the necessity for an amendment of the Navigation Act. The principal act was couched in such terms that it was very difficult for the Minister and his advisers to waive the provisions of the act in cases of emer- . gency. The Minister has to be satisfied that a shipping service is inadequate “before he can waive any section of that act. Obviously, if such a position were disputed by the interstate shipping companies, an investigation would have to be held, and evidence called, which . would take up considerable time, and before a decision could be given the need for a suspension would probably have passed. Senator Duncan and I recommended that an- amendment should be made so that it would operate when it had been intelligently anticipated that a suspension would be necessary. If the Queensland frozen meat trade is to be carried on properly, provision should be made in advance, because cattle cannot be purchased, slaughtered, and frozen at a moment’s notice. Under the provisions of. the act, it is impossible for the Minister, to be satisfied that, the shipping services will be inadequate two or three months hence, although he may know in his own mind by an intelligent anticipation of events and regard for what has happened in the past, what the prospects are. Under the act he is not permitted to anticipate anything. Senator Duncan and I, therefore, felt obliged to submit a report to the Government on the lines I have indicated, and I understood that subjection 2 of section 4, inserted in an amending Navigation Bill recently passed by this Parliament, would meet the position. That sub-section reads - (2.) Where the Governor-General is satisfied, as regards any ship or class of ships, that such circumstances exist as render compliance with any specified requirement of this act impracticable, or make insistence upon compliance with that requirement undesirable in the public interest, he may, by order, direct that that ship or class of ships shall not be required to comply with that requirement.
I understood that that sub-section was drafted to meet such cases as Senator Duncan and I had in mind, and I should like the’ Minister to state if it is the intention of the Government to allow it to operate in such circumstances. If such is the case, the position outlined by Senator Ogden has been met. Under this amendment, it is no longer required that the Governor-General shall be satisfiedthat the shipping services are inadequate, but simply that the conditions are such as to make insistence upon compliance with the requirements of the act undesirable in the public interest.
– If the Government will exercise its authority under that subsection I am prepared to withdraw the motion.
– Senator Ogden admits that if the Government have that power, nothing more need be said; but if it is not intended to exercise it I trust the Government will, during the present Session, bring in a further amendment to make the act a workable instrument, which it is not at present.
– I think most honorable senators realise that the request contained in the motion is one to which a great deal of consideration has already been given. In fact, approximately two years ago the Government considered the matter of sufficient importance to appoint a royal commission, consisting of members of both branches of the legislature, to fully investigate the operations of the Navigation Act, in consequence of complaints which had been made from time to time. Some honorable senators are particularly anxious that the Navigation Act should be amended in the direction indicated in the motion. I think it is clear that the majority of those comprising the royal commission were undoubtedly convinced that Tasmania, as well as other states, were labouring under considerable disability in consequence . of the operation of the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act. I regret that those members of the commission who were of the opinion that the act should be amende’d, could not arrive at some compromise, so that the commission could submit a majority report clearly, indicating the conclusions resulting from their’ deliberation.
– We have not had a majority report.
– It is true, in a sense, that a majority report has not been submitted, but a majority of members of the commission who were satisfied that the Act should be amended could not so adjust their’ differences as to bring down a majority report.
– We have not had a majority report.
– Labour members of- the commission who stated in their report that the act should not be amended may, perhaps, sup-‘ port this motion. Whatever may have been in the minds of the members of both Houses when the Navigation Act was passed and when effect was given to its provisions, I am sure it was never contemplated that it would work so prejudicially against the interest of any one state, as it has done in the case of Tasmania. It has been stated in evidence that Tasmania has not suffered, but, on the other hand, evidence as been given to show that that sta’ yjs~. experienced considerable difficulty. ‘ wing the matter from whatever angle we- may, the fact remains that there is less, shipping to Tasmania to-day than there was prior to the passing of this legislation. If that is so, we have to ascertain the cause. Tasmania is to-day labouring under disabilities that have been caused by the action of this Parliament, and it has been given few compensating advantages. The Senate is presumed to watch the interests of the states. It is, therefore, to this chamber that we should look for justice for individual states. A number of citizens of Tasmania have formed themselves into what is known as a shipping committee, and that committee has made representations to the Government upon this matter. The representatives of Tasmania in this Parliament met the committee last week, and again had the position fully explained to them. It is. a matter that peculiarly affects Tasmania, because that state is dependent for its transport upon the shipping industry. Vessels from overseas call at Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, but few call at Tasmanian ports. A large quantity of the cargo that is consigned to Tasmania has to be discharged at mainland ports, and, consequently has to bear additional transshipment charges. The tourist traffic from the mainland to Tasmania during the summer months has been seriously interrupted. It is fair to assume that the Government, was in earnest when it appointed a royal commission to make investigations into the effect of the Navigation Act. The evidence taken by the commission having revealed a state of affairs prejudicial to one or more states, the Government should indicate its intention to introduce legislation so to amend the act that the disabilities which are now being suffered will be removed. Last year a motion in terms similar to this was moved in the Senate, but it was adjourned from time to time because it was considered advisable to await the report of the royal commission. That report has been presented, but so far the Government has not given any indication of its intentions with regard not only to Tasmania .but also to other states that have suffered to a less extent. The Navigation Act was largely experimental legislation. I am not aware of any other country.- that has legislation controlling its transport arrangements that is so rigid in its terms, arid so restrictive in its. operations. I hope that the majority of honorable senators will support the motion.
– During the course of this debate it has been said that honorable senators are not often told of Tasmania’s difficulties and troubles’. I think, however, that every honorable senator will do the Tasmanian representatives the credit of saying that they pull together wonderfully well. and work very hard in the interests of their state.
– They are of the one brand of politics.
– One could not have a better brand than that which induces one to work in harmony with others for the benefit of the state one represents. The Government fully realizes the difficulties and anxieties that have confronted Tasmania. At one period of my life I conducted a very successful business in Broken Hill, but the anxieties caused by water famines, strikes, shortages of coal, and other interruptions to trade were so great that I was unable to carry on. That is the position in Tasmania to-day. Quite recently the Senate discussed a motion moved by Senator J. D. Millen. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) then gave an undertaking that the Government would do everything possible to ensure the continuance of shipping services to Tasmania. It merely undertook to provide that security of tenure which Tasmania, as one of the states of the Commonwealth, has- a rightto enjoy. The recent amendment of the Navigation Act applied to the shipping services of the whole of Australia. This motion deals solely with the position of Tasmania. The Constitution provides -
The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade, commerce, or revenue, give preference to one state or any part thereof, over another state or any part thereof.
– The motion could be amended to bring it within the scope of that provision.
– A royal commission to inquire into the effect of the Navigation Act was appointed in September, 1923. In .August, 1924, three separate reports were presented; and in July, 1925, a majority and a minority report dealing with Papua and New Guinea were submitted. The reconsideration of the provisions of the Navigation Act is a very big and a very important matter-.
– The Government can get over the provisions of the Constitution Act at the present time by grantingspecial permits in certain circumstances.
– The Government’s advisors have assured it that it cannot deal solely with Tasmania without an alteration of the constitution. No one is more anxious than I am to assist Tasmania, and to see that it is given the service to which it is entitled. The fact has not been mentioned that at the present time the Government is subsidizing a service to Tasmania costing £30,000 a year.
– For the carriage of mails only.
– Oh, no!
– That is payment for services rendered.
– The mails could be carried for a very much less sum, on a poundage basis. I have had occasion to confer with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) upon this matter. I am sure that honorable senators do not forget the action of that honorable gentleman in seeing that the service to Tasmania was restored. An undertaking has been given that that service will be continued. It is hoped that there will not be. another seamen’s strike for a very long time. The legislation that was recently passed by this Parliament should have a steadying effect upon those who have been creating difficulties in the shipping industry. They undoubtedly are responsible for the position in which Tasmania finds herself to-day.
– The Government is afraid of its own act.
– That is quite a mistaken idea. The impression that I gained a fortnight ago was, not that the Government or its supporters were afraid, but that very great fear was felt by certain other persons. The Government accomplished what it set out to do, namely, to place upon the statute-book a law that would enable the people of Australia to conduct their, businesses without interruption due to a “ hold-up “ of the shipping services. Up to the present the Govern ment has not had an opportunity to fully consider the position, and I can only repeat the assurance which my leader (Senator Pearce) gave to Senator Millen recently,, that the Government will see that the services to Tasmania are maintained. In these circumstances, I ask the honorable senator not to press the motion to a division. If he does, I shall have to vote against it, and ask other honorable senators supporting the Government to do likewise, not because the Government is in any way hostile to it, but because it has not yet had an opportunity to decide what is best to be done in the interests of the Commonwealth.
– I do not know what Senator Ogden proposes to do, but having heard the statement of the Minister (Senator Wilson), I shall vote against the motion if it is pressed to a division. A few weeks ago, at the instance of Senator Millen,’ the Senate passed a motion on similar lines, and, very shortly afterwards, we had before us a measure to give the Government power to suspend the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act, which really are dealt with in Senator Ogden’s motion. Even before the passage of that amending bill, the Government had the necessary power to do all that was necessary. In view of the fact that the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act may be suspended at any time by proclamation, what more does Senator Ogden desire? 1- want to assure the honorable senator that I am in no way hostile to Tasmania. I desire to see its shipping services maintained. I agree with the Minister (Senator -Wilson) that the representatives -of Tasmania in this chamber keep its requirements well before honorable senators. Senator Payne said that the authority sought for in this motion would be used only in cases of emergency. I suggest that Tasmania seems always to be in a state of emergency. Reference has been made -in this debate to the reports of the royal commission. Parliament has not had an opportunity yet to consider those reports. Senator Hays cannot say that the commission presented a majority report.
– I did not say that.
– -No, but the honorable senator inferred it.
– I said that the majority of members of the royal commission favoured an alteration of the act.
– A majority do not say so in any recommendations to which they have attached their signatures. Quite a number of reports were presented by that body, and necessarily the whole of them should be considered before any action is taken. It would be as well, in the circumstances, if Senator Ogden asked for the discharge of the motion from the notice-paper. If he does not, I shall register my vote against the motion, because, as I have already said, the Government has the power to continue the services, and is doing so.
Debate (on motion by Senator J. B Hayes) adjourned.
.- I move-
Hoad construction and maintenance is one of the most important problems that we have to deal with. It vitally concerns the development of the Commonwealth. Within the last few years there has been a complete change in our methods of transport. Railways have been constructed at enormous cost for the purpose of carrying our primary products to market or ports for shipment, but, with the advent of petrol-driven vehicles, much freight which formerly was secured, by the railways is now carried over the roads, with the result that road problems have become exceedingly urgent. For several years the Federal Government has enjoyed a surplus. I know of no better use to which the surplus could be put than that of handing it over to the states for the construction of roads, Until a few years ago roads for light vehicular traffic could be constructed comparatively cheaply, but it is necessary to spend a great deal more money on heavier roads for present-day traffic. We are all agreed that any money available for this purpose should be spent economically. When the first Commonwealth grant was made two years ago the conditions attached to the grant were, in a great many cases, quite unsuitable, and several attempts were made to have them, altered. I have no fault to find with the Federal Government, because, within the limits laid down by the act, it attempted to comply with our requests. It is impossible to get a road policy suitable for the whole of Australia. In Tasmania we have between 6,000 and 7,000 miles of metal roads constructed at considerable: cost. When the first Commonwealth grant was made it was thought that it would solve problems that were then exercising the Government and municipal councils in my state. Unfortunately, as I have said, the conditions attached, to the grant were quite unsuitable. Consequently full advantage was not. taken of die opportunity to secure the money. E cannot speak of the constitution of the various boards controlling road matters in. tlie respective states, but in Tasmania the Main Roads Board comprises representatives of the Government, of motor car owners, and municipal councils.
– The municipalities of the larger towns, I presume?
– No. The municipalities of Tasmania compare with shire councils in some of the other states. At a conference of the Municipal Association of Tasmania recently, the following resolution was carried unanimously: - .
That, owing to the conditions in Tasmania being different from any other state, this conference urges that the strongest representations be made to the Federal Government, through the state government and federal members, to modify the regulations so as to allow 50, .per cent, of the grant to be spent in the reconstruction of existing roads throughout ‘the state, for the following reasons: -
It is evident from the resolution -which. I have just read that, in the opinion of the Municipal Association of Tasmania, the regulations attached to the Commonwealth grants for roads should bo amended. I may state that in Tasmania every sale of even 100 acres of Crown lands carries “with it the implied condition that a metal road shall be made to the land. Between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000 of borrowed money has been spent on roads in Tasmania. They are of light construction, and are quite unsuitable for present-day traffic. If no roads had been made the federal grant would be available, but where the Tasmanian Government has built what may be considered half a road, the money may not be spent there. I have received the following letter from the Tasmanian Minister for Lands and Works, Mr. J. Belton, dated the 30th June: -
Federal Grantfor Roads.
As yon are aware, attempts have been made to have the conditions governing the expenditure of the last two federal grants modified in order to suit the requirements of this state.
As a result of communications which have taken place between the Commonwealth Minister for Works and Railways and myself, he has stated that it is hoped to hold a conference of the state -ministers and himself prior to the next grant being made available. I would appreciate anything that you can do in conjunction with the other Tasmanian members in order to bring this conference about.
The conditions which would be suitable to Tasmania are as follow : -
At least one-half of the funds (a moiety of which is provided by the state) to be expended in improvements to main and other important existing roads, the removal of dangerous portions, and necessary deviations, to avoid present excessive grades.
The minimum expenditure on cither new work or improvements to existing roads to be reduced from £1,000 to £500.
You are so well versed in the Tasmanian conditions, that there is no need to elaborate on the reasons which make these modifications necessary.
I should be glad if you would kindly use your best endeavours to urge Mr. Hill to convene the conference suggested at an early date.
Although when I first advocated the line of action suggested in the foregoing communication, the Minister (Senator Pearce) was unable to furnish me with an immediate reply, I did not think that a conference, as suggested, would have the expected result. A conference between the Ministers for Works in the various states and the Federal Minister for Works and Railways does not appeal to me. Each state has its own roads’ policy, which is peculiar to its own particular needs. The object should be the attainment not of a common policy, but of the best results from the expenditure of the money available. A few weeks ago when visiting Tasmania I saw sufficient of road construction under the federal scheme to warrant my asking that the money be handed over to the state authorities free of restrictions. The Commonwealth Treasurer is in the position of having taken from the people more money . by way of taxation than he requires, and he has selected this estimable way of returning portion of the excess, to the people. In order to achieve the best results the money should be handed over to the state governments.
– The local authorities have all the machinery for carrying out the work.
– Yes, and they also have local knowledge gained by years of experience. I have no complaint to make as to the ability of the federal officers as engineers, but they cannot be expected to know as much about local conditions as the state officers do. The present dual control is not conducive to the best results. At the invitation of the chairman of the council in my own district, I inspected a few days ago some road construction work between Launceston and Scottsdale. After negotiating a number of hairpin bends, and travelling through slush for about 10 miles, we came to the scene of the work being carried out by the federal authorities. It was being done under a qualified overseer, and there was a good gang of men. I saw 90 chains of road that will cost between £2,000 and £4,000, but there were many miles of bad roads to be traversed before reaching this good stretch of highway. The State Government built the road originally, perhaps 40 or 50 years ago, and some ten years ago a deviation was made. The work now in hand is the second deviation, but I could find 20 places in the district where this large sum could be spent to greater advantage than in the construction of one costly stretch of roadway in the. midst of miles of indifferent tracks. I have no doubt that the federal officers will reply that the state officials must bave agreed to the work. The fact is that under the present arrangement it is’ impossible to sheet home the responsibility for any mistakes made, but if the whole, expenditure were handed over to the State Government the responsibility could be placed definitely upon its shoulders. I have expended many road grants in Tasmania, and I have a warm place in my heart for municipal and shire councils, for I realize the value of their services to the community. Road construction should be very largely entrusted to these bodies, whose local knowledge and experience specially fit them for that work. I have received a sheaf of telegrams in support of the motion. One is as follows: -
Lilydale Council supports your motion federal road grant. Conditions in Tasmania much different to mainland.
Prom Ringarooma I have received the following telegram : -
My council heartily in accord with your motion re federal grant. Conditions Tasmania totally different those prevailing mainland states. Best wishes safe passage through Senate.
A similar communication has reached me from Portland, Scottsdale, and other towns. From the president of the Municipal Association of Tasmania, which represents 49 municipalities, I have received the following : -
Every municipality Tasmania hopes your resolution will be carried, and that the Government will give effect thereto.
– The motion would apply to the mainland states as well as to Tasmania.
– Yes, and I assume that the Western Australian Government and the municipal authorities there know more about the building of roads in that state than the federal officers do. In Victoria there is an excellent body known as the Country Roads Board, and if it were entrusted with the expendi- “ture of Victoria’s ‘ share of the federal grant, better value for the money would be obtained than if the work were carried out by another authority.
– Not all the states have an organization like the Country Roads Board of Victoria.
– The members of that board have been very good in supplying information to me, and they certainly know their job. Some of the states have been trying to make bricks without straw. The Victorian Country Roads Board has had a considerable amount of money to spend, and has spent it well. Its work is an earnest of what the Federal Government could expect if it handed its money over without conditions. I have no doubt that it would be equally well expended, and the taxpayers would be satisfied.
– Does the honorable senator propose to hand ‘ over the money to the local councils or the State Governments ? .
– It would have to be handed to the State Governments, for I understand that they are the only authorities with which the Federal Government can deal. It would be much too circuitous for the Government to go to the local governing bodies. The State Governments should call in the assistance of the local governing bodies to help in determining how the money should be spent.
– Does the honorable senator advocate that the money should be spent on construction work only.-
– I would be agreeable to it being spent on construction or reconstruction, but not on repairs.
– I agree with that policy.
– Many of our roads were of too light construction in the first place. We have learnt from experience, and are building heavier roads nowadays. In these circumstances it is fair that the grant should be expended on reconstruction work. I feel sure that the Government recognizes that the motion is moved not in a- hostile spirit, but with a desire to see the money economically spent under a system that will make it of the greatest possible value to the states. I do not know whether it mil be in order, Mr. President, but I ask permission to amend my motion by omitting the word “ future.”
-(Senator the Hon. T. (Givens). - A motion may be amended by the mover at any time before it is actually stated from the Chair. The honorable senator may ask leave to amend his motion by omitting the word “ future,” or in any otherway that he desires.
– Then I ask leave to amend it by omitting the word “ future.”
Leave granted; motion amended accordingly.
– I congratulate the mover of the motion, on the clear and distinct way in which he has advocated the claims of Tasmania. I have not had the opportunity to make myself conversant with Tasmanian conditions, but I am quite able to understand from the honorable senator’s speech that conditions there are different in some respects from those which prevail on the mainland. The Government desires to see this money put to the best possible use. It is undeniable, however, that unless some conditions are applied to the grant it would be wrongly used. Although it is well known that the expenditure of ?1 on road work in these days will do very little more than the expenditure of 10s. did a decade ago, the local governing bodies in some of our wealthiest districts have not increased their rates.
– The rates have been increased in most districts.
– I know of some councils which could keep their roads in a perfectly good condition by imposing a fair rate, but they prefer to appeal to the Government for assistance.
– The proper thing for them to do is to cover the cost of roadmaking and maintenance by the rates.
– It is all very well for the honorable senator to say that, but some districts require government assistance. My honorable friend’s theory isall right in respect to what he would term the capitalistic section of the community, but the intention of the Government is that this grant shall be used to assist in the development of national roads. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a’ later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 9.39 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 August 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1925/19250813_senate_9_110/>.