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Wednesday, 9 November 1910
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Senator GIVENS (Queensland) . -My attitude with regard to the clause under discussion is this : I think that, no matter who the Minister of External Affairs may be, it is a pity that a portion of the Commonwealth should be placed under the control of his Department. My objection would be just as strong if the present Minister of Home Affairs were Minister of External Affairs. It would, in my view, under such circumstances, be equally reprehensible to take this Territory away from the Department of Home Affairs and have it administered by the Department of Externa] Affairs. The Territory remains now what it was before, an integral portion of the Commonwealth. It was a portion of the Commonwealth when the Federation was established, and nothing that we can do will remove it from that position unless we are willing to turn traitors to our nation and hand the Territory over to a foreign Power. In no other way can we free ourselves from the obligation of regarding it as a portion of the Commonwealth. That, I think, is a proposition that will not be denied by any one. The only difference in the situation now is that we are assuming a dual function towards the Northern Territory. Formerly we had control over it to the extent that the Commonwealth has control over any portion of Australia. Commonwealth laws apply to every portion of Australia. Now, however, we are undertaking additional functions. We are undertaking functions affecting the Territory which formerly were fulfilled by the Government of South Australia. But the assumption of these functions is in -no sense an abnegation of the control which we formerly exercised. We have had a good deal of special pleading- with regard to this matter. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has observed that the Department of Home Affairs is merely a Works Department. The honorable senator must think that this Senate consists of a flock of sheep or a lot of fools. There is on the notice-paper of the Senate at the present moment a matter relating to the census. The Home Affairs Department has control of that business. What has a census to do with works ? Yet that is the sort of paM and piffle we get from the Vice-President of the Executive Council when he tells us that the Department is merely a Works Department ! The Department of Home Affairs also has control of electoral business. Has that anything to do with works? The special pleading that we have heard on this subject is absolutely ridiculous. To place the Northern Territory under the control of the External Affairs Department is to cast a slur upon it. It is to treat it as something external to the Commonwealth. I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will accept Senator Millen's suggestion, and that if he cannot see his way to amend the definition he will agree to leave out the clause altogether.







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