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Wednesday, 15 May 1957

Mr DRUMMOND (New England) . -I find myself rather at a loss to understand the logic of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O'Connor). He admitted that there was, as the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) indicated, in our Constitution and the rules governing both Houses of the Parliament, control over members in that they are forbidden to take part in debates, or to vote, on measures in which they have a pecuniary interest. At the end of his argument, however, he said that surely the number of people in Papua and New Guinea from whom legislative councillors might be drawn was not so small that it would be impossible to obtain a Council which would not include persons who might, at some time, have contractual relations with the Administration. Quite frankly, I cannot follow the reasoning which demands that, in the Parliament of a nation of 10,000,000 people, it is necessary to have such control, whereas in a limited electorate of perhaps 10,000 people, it is not needed. From that point of view alone, the honorable gentleman's argument cannot be sustained. If, in a population of 10,000,000, it is necessary to have rules governing the conduct of members of Parliament, surely the same kind of rules also are necessary with a population of 10,000. Of course, with a population of only 10,000 it would be much more difficult to find the right kind of people to serve on the Council, and the right kind of people would be likely to be the most enterprising people. It would be infinitely more difficult to attract the right kind of people if the Government completely excluded all persons who might possibly have contractual relations with the Government or the Administration.

I have seen something of local government in my own State, and I know that in large country towns - they might be called small cities - it is extremely difficult to get the right type of people to serve as aldermen and councillors, because there is a restriction that is so severe that it is impossible for many of the tradesmen and other citizens to take part in municipal deliberations. For the reasons I have given, I think that the objection of honorable members opposite falls to the ground.

I personally congratulate the Minister for having seen fit to extend, by means of this provision, the powers of the Legislative Council, and for his wisdom in including a -provision which, as he has pointed out, is common to other legislative bodies. I think, rather than attempt to put up Aunt -Sallies and knock them down again, it would be far better for the House to say, in this case, that we would gladly welcome the handing over of responsibility in the terms which honorable members on all sides of the House have constantly argued when they have said that these people, and the controllers of the people of backward and undeveloped areas, should have an increasing degree of self-government.

I have one thing further to say. I am not positive about this, but I think it would be borne out by experience that any contract would largely be dealt with, in the first place, by a contract or tender board which would possibly refer these matters to the Legislative Council. I think that that is the normal procedure. It is the procedure followed in the Commonwealth and every State, and it would, I am quite sure, be followed in the case of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Consequently, what would happen would be the issuance of an enabling ordinance, or its equivalent, to permit certain work to be carried out. Where a man might, in a moment of forgetfulness, or perhaps a moment of weakness, commit himself to a vote, here is the normal provision for dealing with such a case. I support the clause.

Mr Hasluck - The Legislative Council does not deal with any tenders.

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