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Thursday, 26 July 1906

Mr WILKINSON (Moreton) .- It is not my intention to abuse the courtesy of the House in allowing me to continue my remarks in support of the motion bymaking a long speech. Iasked for leave to continue chiefly to enable one or two honorable members whom I knew wished to speak to do so without being interrupted by an adjournment. Although I have received many complaints from residents in New Guinea, I have always made it a practice not to bring individual grievances before the House, because I think that they should be referred to the Ministers to whose Departmentthey relate, and to the officers under them. Therefore, neither in Committee on Supply, nor on grievance day, nor onany other occasion, have I made these grievances public, and I do not intend to depart from that course to-day. It might, ' perhaps, have been better if I had spoken of want of proper administra tion instead of maladministration as the cause of the retardation of the development of the Territory. When a comparison is made between what has taken place there and what has taken place in other tropical countries, and in German New Guinea, there is very just ground for complaint. Personally, I think that it would be possible to formulate direct charges of maladministration since Sir William McGregor left. My chief object, however, is to endeavour to secure the appointment of an Australian as administrator of Papua.

Mr Deakin - On what special grounds?

Mr WILKINSON - Because I consider an Australian likely to be better fitted for the work than any one whom we can import from elsewhere.

Mr Lonsdale - Simply because he is an Australian?

Mr WILKINSON - Because Australians have done a great deal of pioneering work, and know what is required of the position. I call Australians, not merely those who have been born here, but also those who have made their homes here, and have helped to develop the country, and refer to men like the Jardines, who went out into the wilds of the Cape York Peninsula, the Mossmans, and others whose names are household words in tropical Queensland ; men who have combated all the difficulties of tropical life and exploration. I advocate the appointment of a man who will be in sympathy, and in recent touch, with the aspirations of the Commonwealth, and able to bring a knowledge of the conditions to be faced to the task of developing Papua. I have taken some trouble to look into this matter, and I find that countries which require to be developed along lines similar to those that will have to be followed in Papua, instead of obtaining the men they require from Great Britain or America, come to Australia. The great Raub gold mines, the largest in the Malay Peninsula, were discovered and developed by Australians. Then, again, the Tronah tin mines, the largest in the world, are managed by an Australian, and all the shift bosses are Australians. The company say that they prefer Australians, because they are more resourceful and adaptable thanare men of other countries. A short time ago an advertisement was published inviting applications from surveyors and civil engineers for one of the Eastern countries, and stating specifically that Australians would be preferred.

Mr Deakin - We fill up every vacancy for surveyors and others by employing Australians.

Mr WILKINSON - The Government fill every position but the highest by engaging Australians. The Prime Minister is one of the most patriotic of Australians, and I am very sorry to notice that he has thought it desirable to approach Sir William McGregor upon the subject of again taking up the administration of Papua. I have the highest opinion of the work performed by that gentleman in the past, but I do not think that, in view of the future development of the Territory, his administration would be the best. He devoted his energies principally to' the control and protection of the natives, and did not engage in work of a developmental character.

Mr Deakin - Matters had not then reached that stage.

Mr WILKINSON - I could not, even though I might wish to do so. say one word derogatory to the administration of Sir William McGregor, but I think that, seeing that we have found among ourselves men competent to fill the highest positions on the Judicial Bench and elsewhere - to say nothing of the fact that an Australian native is now Prime Minister of the Commonwealth - we should be able to select an Australian fit to act as Lieutenant-Governor of Papua.

Mr Deakin - Hear, hear ; always given a suitable training.

Mr WILKINSON - I think that I am on safe ground when I claim the support of some members of the Government. I have here a copy of a speech delivered by the Treasurer at the Melbourne Convention, in 1898, in which he advocated the appointment by the Governor-General in Council of Lieutenant-Governors for each of the States. I notice further that you, sir, had something to say upon that question. The Treasurer went as far as language would carry him in advocacy of his proposal, and I think it will be admitted that, if we can find men amongst us fit to act as LieutenantGovernors of States - much more important positions than that of Lieutenant-Governor of Papua - no difficulty should be experienced in carrying out my suggestion.

Mr Deakin - In the Territory there is much more to do, because the LieutenantGovernor has no advisers, to relieve him of responsibility, and will require to be an active official.

Mr WILKINSON - That is a phase of the question that will be dealt with by some honorable members who will follow me. I stated previously that I thought it desirable that the white settlers should have some voice in the choice of those who were to represent them in the Legislative Council. The Prime Minister assured me that two of the three persons who had been nominated would certainly be elected by the miners, if they had their choice. It is very easy to assume such a thing.

Mr Deakin - That is the information we have from Papua.

Mr WILKINSON - I realize that the Prime Minister is speaking in perfect good faith, and considers that he has good reason for the view he holds. I do not wish to labour the question, and I shall content myself by thanking honorable members for the courtesy which they have shown in permitting me to continue mv remarks to-day.

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