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Wednesday, 9 November 1910
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Senator STEWART (Queensland) . -I agree with Senators Givens and Sayers that something has been done which requires explanation.


Senator Henderson - The three Graces.


Senator STEWART - Honorable senators do not seem to like this criticism. I have read in history that when some tyrant wished to execute a rebel against his authority, and when that rebel endeavoured to justify his action at the place of execution, the drums were immediately ordered to be sounded. We are having a repetition of those tactics this afternoon. When honorable senators rise to protest against one of the provisions of this Bill, they are met With. angry interjections from various quarters of the chamber. I agree with Senators Givens and Sayers that something altogether wrong is being done in connexion with the measure, lt seeks to place the control of the Northern Territory, which is a portion of the Commonwealth, in the hands of the Minister of External Affairs. What does the word "external" mean? I would refer honorable senators to the definition given by the dictionary, and if they will not accept Webster as an authority upon the matter, perhaps they will accept Johnson. I find that the word " external " means " foreign." Now is the Northern Territory foreign to Australia? It also means "exterior, lying outside." Does the Northern Territory lie outside the Commonwealth? Is it exterior to Australia? The dictionary also defines "external " as " belonging to the world of outside things." Does the Northern Territory belong to the world of outside things? Certainly not. Therefore, one would naturally expect its control to be placed in the hands of the Minister of Home Affairs. What would honorable senators say if the control of the Postal. Department were placed in the hands of the Minister of Defence, or if the control of the Defence Department were placed in the hands of the Minister of Home Affairs ? We have a Minister specially to control the Defence Department, another to administer the Department of Home Affairs, another to control the Postal Department, and still another to deal with External Affairs. " External," I repeat, relates to things outside of the Commonwealth. Every interest outside the boundaries of the Commonwealth is properly placed in the hands of the Minister of External Affairs. But in this .Bill an exception has been made to the general rule, and I think that - honorable senators may be excused if they wish to discover the reason why that exception has been made.


Senator McGregor - What exception?


Senator STEWART - The exception to the general rule.


Senator McGregor - What is the general rule?


Senator STEWART - I have already told honorable senators what is the general rule. I am not going to waste my energies by repeating it for the benefit of the VicePresident of the Executive Council.


Senator Story - It is scarcely worth repeating.


Senator STEWART - I know that its repetition would not convert the honorable senator. But I would like the VicePresident of the Executive Council to explain why this exception has been made to the general rule. . Why has the control of the Northern Territory been placed in the hand's of the Minister of External Affairs rather than in those of the Minister of Home Affairs ?


Senator Vardon - The honorable senator has not yet stated the general rule.


Senator STEWART - The general rule is that each Minister confines his attention to his own Department. The Department of Home Affairs has to deal with all matters which are inside the Commonwealth, and the Department of External Affairs with all matters which are outside of it. Does anybody say that the Northern Territory is outside the Commonwealth ?


Senator O'Keefe - Is it one of the States of the Federation?


Senator STEWART - It is not, but it is, nevertheless, portion of the Commonwealth. It is not external to it. It is part and parcel of Australia. It is not on the-same footing as is Papua.


Senator McGregor - Exactly the same. The honorable senator would say that Tasmania is outside of the Commonwealth.


Senator STEWART - To talk like that is to talk the sheerest humbug. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council is so ignorant that he cannot perceive the mighty difference which exists between Tasmania and Papua, he ought not to occupy his present position. If he does perceive it, and endeavours to mislead others, he is unfit to hold his office. It seems to me that there is something behind this Bill which requires to be brought to the surface. The Minister of External Affairs happens to be a South Australian representative, and a gentleman who interested himself very keenly in pushing through the Shylock bargain which was made between that State and the Commonwealth.







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