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Wednesday, 9 November 1910
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Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I suggest to the Minister the advisability of omitting this clause. He has agreed with an interjection of mine that it is like a chip in porridge, that if it is struck out, the Northern Territory will, by virtue of the proclamation, pass under the control of the External Affairs Department. That being so, I think it is not only undesirable, but might be injurious, to retain the provision. Suppose that at a later period it was desired to re-adjust the duties of the various Departments. The Government would then have to bring down a Bill to amend this measure. At present, it is sufficient for the Cabinet to make a fresh allotment of the duties of the various Departments if it thinks fit, and by the issue of another proclamation, to give effect to the re-adjustment. I would remind the Minister that the measure dealing with the Federal Territory contains no provision setting out the Department under whose control it shall pass. The reason for the absence of the provision is obvious. It is all covered by the proclamation. It is undesirable to adopt one procedure in regard to one Bill and another procedure in regard to a similar measure.

Senator Rae - This clause may tie our hands in the future.

Senator MILLEN - I think it will. It introduces a want of uniformity. I suggest to the Minister that if he decides upon retaining the clause, and if the Committee concurs in his opinion, a similar clause should be inserted in the other Bill when it comes on.=

Senator McGregor - I am quite willing to leave out the clause.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [4.28].- While it is perfectly true that there is no necessity to define " the Minister," still, " the Territory " appears in several provisions, and there ought to be a definition of the term. It will not be enough to enact in clause 4 that the GovernorGeneral may appoint an administrator for " the Territory." It will be necessary to make it clear that it refers to the Northern Territory. Again, in clause 12, the term " the Territory " appears in two places.

Senator McGregor - I think it would be better to leave it in.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I think that if an alteration is to be made, it ought to be confined to the elimination of the definition of " the Minister." If that definition be retained, it will confine the administration of the Act to the Minister of External Affairs, and that might hamper the hands of the Government in the future. If they should consider it advisable hereafter to place the administration of the Northern Territory under another Minister of State, that would have to be done by Statute. If, on the other hand, the definition be deleted, the proclamation placing the administration of that Territory under the Minister of External Affairs could be altered at any time without interfering with the Act.

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