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Wednesday, 9 November 1910
Page: 0

Senator NEEDHAM - Yes; I am going to verify my statement. I have a return here which was supplied to me by Mr. Knibbs only yesterday afternoon, and from that return I find that the number of Europeans is : males, 973 ; females, 301 ; total, 1,274. Chinese: males, 1,439; females, 36; total, 1,475. Japanese: males, 126; females, 7 ; total, 133. Others : males, 108; females, 24; total, 132. I was speaking of Europeans and Mongolians, and my interjection was justified by these figures. Senator Chataway, who was of the party that visited the Northern Territory, knows that the return of the population in 1905, always excluding aborigines, was 3,374- From 1905 to 1909 there has been a decrease of 360. In dealing with this matter of the population, we refer, not to the aborigines, but to those of all nationalities who have come into the Territory from outside.. It is evident, from the figures I have quoted, that Senator Chataway was wrong in his statement as to the white population of the Northern Territory. I intend, in Committee, to oppose clause 3, placing the administration of the Northern Territory under the Department of External Affairs. I think it is a mistake to place the administration qf the Northern Territory under the Department cf External Affairs, and I do not care who the Minister may be, or of what Government he happens to be a member. In placing the Territory under the control of the Minister of External Affairs, we are saying that it is a foreign Territory.

Senator O'Keefe - The honorable senator's opposition is not based upon the fact that the Minister of External Affairs happens to be a representative of South Aus.tralia?

Senator NEEDHAM - I am not concerned as to the person who happens to be Minister of External Affairs. I think that the Northern Territory ought to be administered by the Department of Home Affairs, and I care not who the Minister of that Department may be. I am not speaking personally, but departmentally. I have as much confidence in Mr. Batchelor as I have in Mr. King O'Malley. I recognise the ability of both. But we are now dealing with a measure for the government of the Northern Territory, and this Bill may establish a precedent. A day may come when neither Mr. Batchelor nor Mr. King O'Malley will occupy the positions they now hold. I hope that day is far distant; but I think a mistake will be made if we impose upon the Minister of External Affairs the responsibility of administering the Northern Territory when we take it over.

Senator Stewart - Why is that proposed ?

Senator NEEDHAM - I am not actuated by the same motives as Senator Stewart, who has cast aspersions upon the present Minister of External Affairs. Even if the Bill passes as it stands, I shall have every confidence that, although the present Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Batchelor, is a representative of South Australia, he will administer the affairs of the Northern Territory quite impartially.

Senator Stewart - Can the honorable senator assign any reason why the Department of External Affairs has been chosen to administer the Northern Territory?

Senator NEEDHAM - I am no more in the secrets of the Cabinet than is SenaStewart; but I have a greater faith than he has in the honesty of human nature.

Senator Stewart - I have not much.

Senator NEEDHAM - If the Minister of External Affairs were Senator Stewart or Senator Givens, or Senator Sayers, I should still oppose this clause, because I think it is wrong to dub the Northern Territory as a Territory foreign to Australia.

Senator Millen - If we struck out the clause, that Territory would still remain under the control of the Department of External Affairs.

Senator McGregor - Of course it would.

Senator Ready - Why?

Senator NEEDHAM - I do not think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council and the leader of the Opposition monopolize all the wisdom of the Senate, even when they happen to be in agreement.

Senator Millen - Whether the clause be retained or not, the effect will be the same.

Senator NEEDHAM - Another clause to which I object is clause 9, which contains the following proviso -

Provided that, in determining the compensation to which the owner is entitled under that Act- meaning the Lands Acquisition Act of

1906 -

the value of the land shall be taken not to exceed the unimproved value of the land, or the interest therein of the owner, at the date of the passing of this Act, together with the value of the- improvements on the land.

I would remind honorable senators that, under existing conditions, there are, in the Northern Territory, men who own from 7,000 to 10,000 square miles of country, upon which they have not paid a single half-penny of taxation. I wonder why the Commonwealth should be asked to compensate these individuals?

Senator Findley - We ought to compensate them for their improvements.

Senator NEEDHAM - They have not made any improvements.

Senator McGregor - Then they will receive no compensation.

Senator NEEDHAM - They have made no genuine improvements.

Senator McGregor - Then the honorable senator may possess his soul in peace.

Senator NEEDHAM - We ought to have some guarantee that these men will not be compensated for improvements which they have not made. The position ought to be made perfectly clear. It frequently happens that the provisions of a clause contain hidden meanings. I intend to support the second reading of the Bill ; but, in Committee, I shall carefully watch the clauses to which I have directed attention.

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