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Wednesday, 9 November 1910
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Senator WALKER (New South Wales) . - I am afraid that it is useless to attempt to negative the clause. But I think it right to draw attention to the fact that there is a very great difference as regards a leasehold tenure between a comparatively small Territory like the Federal Territory and a huge Territory like the Northern Territory.

Senator Rae - The principle is the same.

Senator WALKER - I understand the principle, but I do not admit it to be universal. Do honorable senators expect persons to emigrate to a large Territory and spend their money unless they have a chance of acquiring a freehold? The other day a member of the Scottish Commission was asked his opinion as to the proposal in New South Wales to do away with freehold tenure after 1st January. He would not speak on behalf of the Commission, but he expressed his own opinion. He said he knew that one of the great attractions to those wishing to emigrate to Canada or to the United States or Australia was the hope of being able to have a freehold tenure. He thought that if New South Wales did away with it, it must not expect anything like the population which otherwise it might expect. I believe that it will be wise hereafter if a future Parliament adopts a different system from the one which is now advocated. I admit that if the Northern Territory were comparatively small there would be a great deal of force in a lease; hold system.

Senator Rae - How many farmers in Scotland own the freehold of their land?

Senator WALKER - It is the very fact that they do not get a freehold which induces them to go where it can be obtained. I do not believe that there is a single honorable senator who would not prefer a freehold to a leasehold. I recognise that I have to submit to the inevitable because I am in a minority, but I still maintain that the circumstances of the Northern Territory are absolutely different from those of the Federal Territory.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [9.55].- Like Senator Walker, I realize that the feeling of the Senate at present is in favour of a clause of this character. I indorse what he said with regard to the desire of an individual to have a freehold, no matter whether it be large or small. The idea is strongly held by certain honorable senators that by granting long leases they will induce settlement. Some honorable senators approve of a ninety-nine years' lease, while others even go to the extent of advocating a' 999 years' lease, with a periodical appraisement of rent. . A man does not regard a property which he holds under a tenure of that kind in the same light as he would if it v/ere his own freehold. If he has a freehold tenure the State can get as much revenue out of him by ordinary taxation as it could by means of a periodical appraisement of rent. In New Zealand they have tried the leasehold system, but they are finding out now that the lessees are anxious to convert the leaseholds into freeholds. So it will ever be.

Senator Rae - A man yearns to become a landlord.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - As you put men on the land, whether it be under a leasehold tenure or under any tenure less than a freehold, they will agitate, and when they get strong enough they will obtain a freehold tenure. I venture to predict that, although we may enact to-day that no land in the Northern Territory shall be sold, before twenty years have passed over our heads, probably within a much shorter period, the system of alienation will have been adopted if the Territory should succeed. Certainly it will be started in the towns, and thence it will gradually extend. In legislation, we have to bear in mind that a man desires to acquire a freehold if he is in a position to do so. In every great city you visit you find that if a man can manage to buy his little home he will do so.

Senator Rae - All these great cities were built up on leaseholds.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - On leaseholds from private individuals, and the lessees are desirous of having an opportunity to become freeholders. Whilst we cannot alter the clause we can point out the disadvantages which we think will accrue from its enactment, and the detriment it will be to the increase of settlement. Senator Walker has quoted the opinion of a member of the Scottish Commission inregard to freehold tenure, and I feel quite sure that the . history of the next few years will accentuate the correctness of his opinion.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 12 and 13 and title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.

Bill read a third time.


In Committee(Consideration of House of Representatives' message).

Clause 12 (Land exempted from tax).

Senate's Amendment.- After paragraph 2 insert following new paragraph - " 2A. A building owned and occupied by a masonic society or by a club or association of members of a trade or profession not carried on for pecuniary profit."

House of Representatives' Message.- Amendment agreed to with the following amendments - " Omit ' masonic ' ; omit 'or by a ' ; omit ' of members of a trade or profession.' "

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