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Wednesday, 15 May 1957

Mr LUCHETTI (Macquarie) . - The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has not been convincing in his statement to the committee, and I think that there is only one course for the committee to adopt, that is, to reject this clause. I want to tell the Minister that I should like him, even now, to tell us what are the new and changed circumstances that make this alteration necessary. The Minister has not told us that, nor has he replied to the suggestions that malpractice could be condoned under this amendment.

As I have said before, this clause opens the gate to those adventurers who can find, in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, their way into the Legislative Council and there seek, unashamedly, to advance their own cause and their own personal interests. I think that that is a state of affairs that this Parliament has a right to prevent. We have a right to protect the people. We have a duty to stand for the public interest. May I say, with respect to the members of the Legislative Council, that we uphold them as good people? But unfortunately good people sometimes err and despite the great trouble to which the various States go in preparing local government legislation, requiring, for instance, that aldermen and councillors shall leave the chamber if they are personally interested in a contract or matter that is being discussed, malpractice does occur from time to time. There have been examples of it in New South Wales in recent years. Councils have been thrown out of office and the New South Wales Minister for Local Government has had to appoint an administrator in their stead. That illustrates that, even with the most rigid safeguards, some councillors will not do the right thing by the ratepayers and the community generally.

If that can happen in a State, what a wonderful invitation is being extended to the adventurer - the get-rich-quick Wallingford - to operate in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea! Such a person, appearing in that area might, because of his position in society, very soon become a member of the Legislative Council. He might be a contractor, or be engaged in some other class of business on behalf of the people of the Territory. He could advance his fortunes to the misfortune of the community generally. The highest ethics should obtain in the Legislative Council, and the Minister has not adequately answered the charges that have been made from this side of the chamber. We do not seek to condemn members of the Legislative Council, but we insist that the public welfare should be safeguarded. Other speakers have pointed out that there is no comparison between the Parliament of the Commonwealth, which is elected on adult suffrage and the Legislative Council for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, members of which are either elected or appointed by the Minister. The Minister's position is untenable and the sound practice which has been adopted in the past should continue to obtain. If the Minister re-reads the clause before us he will see that paragraph 3 does not express in a clear-cut manner what is necessary for the sound and honest administration of the area.

Question put -

That the clause be agreed to.

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