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Friday, 25 November 1938

Mr BLAIN (Northern Territory) . - I support the remarks of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) and desire to remind the Government that it is necessary also to do a great deal more than has been done to defend the Northern Territory. It is not sufficient to expend money for defence at northern ports unless provision is made to develop their immediate hinterland on which an isolated garrison would depend for supplies. I regret that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McEwen) has not yet had an opportunity to place before us, in detail, the developmental programme which he has in mind for the

Northern Territory. I have had prepared for some time some notes dealing with the general subject of territorial development. I suggest that as the Northern Territory has hitherto been only one of many responsibilities of the Minister for the Interior, its needs have been largely overlooked. In my opinion another Minister should be appointed to the Cabinet and charged with the responsibility of the development of the Northern Territory, New Guinea, Papua, and, in fact, all Commonwealth territories except the Australian Capital Territory. If that course were adopted the big issues that are demanding attention in respect of the Northern Territory and other Commonwealth territories, would not be obscured by many more or less minor matters relating to other Commonwealth activities. I sincerely hope that careful consideration will be given to my proposal. It appears that in the near future the general subject of unification "will receive a good deal of attention by this Parliament. I can assure the Government that any proposal of that description will be strongly resisted by the people outback until such time as they are, themselves, given a greater measure of local autonomy. "What I have said applies not only to the Northern Territory but also to the north-west of Western Australia and some other remote parts of the Commonwealth in respect of which special developmental measures should be applied. If a Minister were charged with the responsibility of putting into operation a progressive policy in these particular areas it would be to the great advantage of the Commonwealth as a whole. I ask the Government to give sympathetic consideration to this proposal, which I had intended to speak upon at much greater length on an earlier occasion

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