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Wednesday, 9 November 1910
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Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) . - The present generation of Australians are not so much concerned about who are going to own the land in the Northern Territory, but they are keenly concerned to know under what terms and conditions the Commonwealth is going to get possession of land that is held under leases which have forty-two years to run, and for which rents as low as1s., or even 6d., per square mile are being paid by large companies.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - All existing rights have to be respected.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - That is my difficulty. I am not so anxious to preserve those rights as Senator Gould is.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - We are bound to respect rights which exist under the law.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I know that. But if we are to preserve the rights of those who hold land under leases running for the next forty-two years, it will be very difficult for the Commonwealth to develop the Northern Territory.

Senator Chataway - We can resume.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I wish to know the conditions under which we shall be allowed to resume.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - If a man makes a bad contract he has to abide by it. We knew the conditions existing when we took over the Territory.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I do not desire to repudiate any existing agreement that has been made by the Government of South Australia. But if it be necessary for the successful development of the Territory - let us say under closer settlement - to resume land at present held by the cattle kings, have we power under this Bill, or any other existing legislation, to resume at a fair value, or must we pay the cattle kings just what they like to demand? I much admired the eloquent portions of Senator Gould's speech where he laid it down that the added value of land was always created by individuals, and that it might be the same with land in the Northern Territory. He argued that some land there may in the future be worth £1,000 per foot. During a recent debate in this Chamber it fell to my lot to quote instances relating to the city of Melbourne. I showed that blocks in the city area have increased in value at the rate of £5,000 per annum since the first sales took place, whilst othershave increased at the rate of £2,000 and £3,000. Yet we are told that the Commonwealth is to take no steps to insure that the value created by the community in the Northern Territory shall be secured for the community. Surely there can be no injustice in making 'it clear that, even, though we arc not prepared to acquire lands in the Northern Territory for the next tea or fifteen years, the present occupiers shall not be permitted to reap the advantage of public expenditure?

Senator Vardon - We cannot prevent that.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - May I inquire at what rate the value of land at Port ' Darwin is increasing to-day? Senator Vardon knows as well as I do that land values there within the last twenty years have been decreasing instead of increasing. It has been generally recognised that the South Australian Government was not sufficiently powerful to deal effectively with the settlement problem in the Territory. I assume that we propose to spend large sums of money in the Northern Territory,- and within a short period the lands there will become considerably enhanced in value as a result of that expenditure.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - Not solely because of the expenditure, but also because of the people who would be induced to settle there.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - A second cause of the enhancement in the value of the land will be the introduction of population and the establishment of a settled community. Senator Gould is notso anxious to preserve the increase in the value of the land for the community as he is that it should be retained by the owners of it. We, as a party, stand for the right of the individuals forming the community as against the right of the individual. I support this clause, which I believe to be the best in the Bill. I should like to know what exactly will bethe position in regard to leaseholds. I think we should have a similar provisionsecuring for the community the enhanced value in the case of resumption of land held under leasehold, while at the same time preserving the legitimate rights of the individuals at present holding the land.

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