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Thursday, 1 August 1912


Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I move -

That the Ordinance No. 3 of 1912 (an Ordinance relating to Crown Lands, entitled Crown Lands Ordinance 1912), made in pursuance of the powers conferred by the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910 and the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910, be disallowed.

In submitting this motion I should like to say at once that I shall, of course, touch upon some matters for which I can expect very little support or sympathy from my honorable friends opposite. I refer particularly to the challenge which the motion unquestionably throws down to the principle of leasehold as against freehold. But quite beyond that there are a number of matters covered and provided for by the Ordinancewhich involve no matter of principle, but which are regulations in respect of which I am entitled to ask for the impartial consideration of every member of this Chamber. We are starting to-day to develop a land policy for the Northern Territory - that great possession which has come under the rule of the Commonwealth - and we must recognise the great desirability of making a good and sound start in the work which is before us. Any one who looks over the history of land legislation in Australia will recognise thatit is a history of mistakes; and almost without exception it seems to me as if each mistake can be put down to an effortto correct some mistake made at a previous time. I am referring to the several matters covered by this land Ordinance in the hope that the practical knowledge which I, and others, possess on this subject may be availed of by the Government, irrespective of the side of the Senate from which suggestions come, with a view to avoiding mistakes which I think will be committed if the Ordinance is carried out in its entirety. The first matter to which I wish to direct attention is covered by clause 8 of the Ordinance. I should like to say here that I am taking a few matters which, in themselves, may not appear to be of very great significance, but which, as I shall show later on, when yoked with other provisions, assume a much more serious aspect. Clause 8 provides that -

Lands under lease granted in pursuance of this Ordinance shall be subject to reclassification, but such reclassification shall not come into force until the reappraisement of the rental of the land included in the lease has come into force, and shall not affect the lease as regards the area of the land which may be included therein.

One cannot avoid asking - What will it affect then? There are two major propositions in this clause, dealing with area and rental. It provides that you may reclassify, but that you are not to touch rental, and that you are not to touch area. What are you going to touch then? It appears to me that it is desirable that a clause of this kind, which has considerable ambiguity in it, should be redrafted, because, as it stands, it is extremely difficult to know what it means. The ambiguity should be set at rest, because it is extremely dangerous. If at any future time a number of people, in all good faith, overlooking this clause, are induced to become tenants of the Crown in the Northern Territory, they may find, later on, that the reserve power, couched in these ambiguous terms, is availed to interfere with their tenures, or to impose upon them conditions not contemplated at the time they took up their land. It is difficult for any one to understand what clause 8 does mean, seeing that while it provides for the power of reclassification it also affirms that the reclassification is not to affect the two things, rental and area. I pass on to clause 16, which provides for the general conditions applicable to leases. It lays down that leases under the Ordinance shall contain -

A covenant by the lessee that he will use the land only for the purposes for which it is leased.

I should like to know from Ministers what is the object of that proposal?I am aware that it finds a place in many leases issued by the Lands Department of New South Wales, and possibly of other States, but I hope that we are not going to be too strongly bound by regulations which have been in force hitherto, and which, as a matter of fact, are largely a dead letter under State administration. The sole effect of this will be, not to prevent a man using his land for an inferior purpose than that for which he leased it, but to prevent him from turning it to a better account. There are three classes of land contemplated in this Ordinance - land to be used for grazing purposes, here called pastoral leases; land which is for agricultural purposes only; and land for grazing and agricultural purposes. This clause cannot apply to the man who holds agricultural land ; orto the man who holds mixed grazing and agricultural land, because in these two leases it is set out that the lessee shall cultivate as much land as is provided for in the terms of his lease. No man can hope to escape the obligations he accepts when he signs his lease. The provision to which I am referring can, therefore, only apply to pastoral leases, and what is really provided is that if a man secures land for pastoral purposes, he is not to be allowed to use it for cultivation. I ask why not?


Senator Needham - Does not paragraph h modify the argument?


Senator MILLEN - I know of nothing in the Ordinance which affects the argument. The paragraph the honorable senator refers to only makes provision for forfeiture. First, there is the provision to which I have referred that a lessee shall not use his land for any purpose other than that for which he leased it. Then if honorable senators will look at clause 24, they will find that it is provided that -

A pastoral lease shall not authorize the lessee to cultivate any portion of the leased land, except for the purpose of consumption in connexion with the use of the leased land for pastoral purposes.

Honorable senators may think that I have read that clause for the purpose of directing attention to the quaint language employed. It would almost suggest that the draftsman thought a pastoral lessee likely to cultivate his land prior to consuming it. I quote the clause as showing that my original contention is proved to be absolutely correct.


Senator Blakey - Does not clause 24 give power to cultivate?


Senator MILLEN - The grazing lease is the lowest form of occupation known to us, and under the clause referred to the (lessee cannot cultivate any portion of his lease unless he first obtains the sanction of the Director of Lands. I want to know why that should be so. Why should we throw even that little obstacle in the way of any man who desires to turn his land from an inferior to a superior use? What harm can it do any one if a man who has secured a pastoral lease says, " I shall put the plough in and cultivate a thousand, acres." We all desire that he should do so, and I venture to say that there will be no serious objection raised by the Director of Lands. Why, therefore, should there be any need for an application to that official for power to turn land to a better use than that for which it was originally leased? The only conclusion I can come to is that this Ordinance has been drawn up by gentlemen who are not familiar with the working of regulations of which they have obtained copies in the different States.


Senator Sir Josiah Symon - That is a customary provision in South Australia.


Senator MILLEN - I am aware that it is, but I am asking that we should break away from such provisions. A similar provision was inserted in the legislation of New South Wales in the early days, but for a very good reason - to prevent a person who had leased his land for agricultural purposes neglecting to cultivate it, and using it merely for pastoral purposes. There would obviously be an objection to that, but there can be no objection to a man who has secured land for the purpose of grazing devoting it to a better purpose.


Senator Blakey - If the lessee has a fair case, the Director of Lands can authorize him under clause 24 of this Ordinance to cultivate any portion of his land.


Senator MILLEN - I have said so. But when Senator Blakey admits that the Director of Lands would permit the cultivation of land leased for pastoral purposes, why should it be necessary for the lessee to make application to that official for leave to do so?


Senator Blakey - It is as well to have a safeguard in the public interest. There might be exceptional cases in which it would not be advisable to authorize the cultivation of land.


Senator MILLEN - I should like Senator Blakey to mention any set of circumstances in which it would be inadvisable for a man who holds land for grazing purposes to put the plough in and cultivate it.


Senator Blakey - Such a case might arise.


Senator MILLEN - I ask the honorable senator to mention any circumstances in which it would be to the public detriment for a lessee to turn his land from an inferior to a superior use. I would ask honorable senators to forget for a moment that suggestions are being made from this side. If honorable senators will permit me to say so without accusing me of egotism, I am speaking now of a matter of which I have had a great many years close experience. I am putting forward suggestions in good faith in the hope that the Government, seeing how much is involved in properly beginning the occupation of the Northern Territory, will give them favorable consideration, and I ask honorable senators to do the same as I proceed. I direct attention now to clause 16, paragraph It is provided generally that leases other than miscellaneous leases shall contain reservations, covenants, conditions, and provisions. A number of these conditions are specifically set; out, and in paragraph i there is the following dragnet provision -

Any other reservations, covenants, conditions, and provisions which ar« prescribed, or which are specified in the Gazette notice that the lands are available for leasing, or which are considered by the Classification Board to be necessary under the circumstances of any particular case.

I quite recognise that some clause is necessary to give the authorities power, when advertising any land as being available for occupation, to advertise at the same time any conditions they think it desirable to impose. But if honorable senators will look into this clause they will find that it goes much further than that. It seems to me to give the authorities power, after a lease has been granted, to step in and super-impose further or altered conditions.

If that be the intent, the provision is manifestly unjust to the lessee. It should not be forgotten that this provision will apply not only to the lessees of very large holdings, but to the lessees of small blocks. It seems to me that it is extremely bad business, when we are desirous of attracting settlers to the Northern Territory, to ask them to become tenants of the Crown under a provision that after the tenancy has commenced the Crown may, whenever it likes, and from time to time, impose upon them fresh conditions and obligations. The reading I put upon this clause is that lessees are to become subject to any conditions, covenants and provisions which the Classification Board may regard as necessary. I want to point out now a second objection to this clause. It has reference to grazing and farming leases. The Classification Board consists of three officials, the Director of Lands, the Director of Agriculture, and the Chief Surveyor. They have the right to determine these conditions, but if honorable senators will turn to clause 31 of the Ordinance, they will find that quite another authority is given the power to impose conditions and provisions with regard to miscellaneous leases. It seems to me that if the Classification Board is the proper authority to determine the provisions and conditions for one set of leases, it ought to be the authority authorized to impose the conditions with regard to all leases.


Senator Rae - The difference may be due to purely technical phraseology.


Senator MILLEN - No, it is not. The honorable senator will see that something quite different is intended, from the fact that there is an appeal from the Director of Lands to the Administrator. I am suggesting, as a matter of simplification, that the Classification Board which appears to me to be the active authority for the administration of this Ordinance should be the authority to determine the conditions not only of pastoral and farming leases, but of miscellaneous leases. I am inclined to think that the alternative provision is the result of an oversight. I think that the Classification Board is the proper authority, as it will have the actual ad ministration of all these leases. It is the body whose special duty it will be to consider what conditions and covenants should be included in leases. A portion of. that duty should not be handed as proposed to the Administrator. I ask the attention of honorable senators now to clause 17 dealing with reservations in leasesThere are four classes of reservation set out there, namely : (a) a reservation of theright of entry and inspection ; (b) a reservation of minerals which may be found'" on the land ; (c) a reservation of a power of resumption ; and (d) a reservation of all ' timber. The point I wish to make is in regard to paragraphs a, b, and d. The' matters are specifically set out, and there is no opportunity for them to be varied1 later. But paragraph c, giving a power of resumption, is the most important one, as far as the lessee is concerned. Power is taken to vary that condition at any time the Crown may think fit, after the granting of the lease. The paragraph reads -

A reservation of a power of resumption shall be read as a power to resume the whole or any portion of the land as prescribed by this or any other Ordinance or the regulations.


Senator St Ledger - Does that weaken the security of tenure?


Senator MILLEN - That is my point, A man who takes a lease under the Ordinance may be fairly told that he took that lease knowing that there was a reservation which secured to the Crown the right to alter the conditions which the Ordinance provides for, in regard to resumption.


Senator Findley - The Land Acquisition Act gives similar powers to the Crown to resume land, if it is wanted.


Senator MILLEN - I have never said a word ' against the resumption of land*.. What I contend is that, when a man takes a lease from the Crown, he has the right, to know that the terms as to resumption set out in the lease will be observed during its currency, and that it shall not be left to the Director of Lands to come along later and provide for some other method of resumption, and, possibly, some other form of compensation. In this case, if honorable senators will turn to clause 35, they will find that it is set out clearly how the resumption is to take place. It is necessary to bear in mind, too, with regard to these resumptions, that it is an allimportant feature in the Ordinance which provides for a perpetual lease. It would' not matter so much if these were terminable leases, which, I hope, they will become. We are dealing now with a perpetual lease. If any considerable portion of the Northern- . Territory is occupied under this system within the next few years, it is inevitable that the power of resumption will be con,tinually brought into play. It is, to pay mind, merely meeting the requirements of fair play and justice to say to persons who take up these leases, that the provisions which are set out in the Ordinance as to resumption and compensation will be faithfully and honorably observed by the Commonwealth, and will not be varied at a later date to the disadvantage of the tenants.


Senator Needham - Will not notice of resumption be given?


Senator MILLEN - That is not the point. Of course, the lessees will have notice given to them, but that will not ease the matter. My point is, that clause 35 sets out the method of resumption and compensation. I. hold that the man who takes up a lease under the strength and security of that clause ought not to be told by any authority later, " We are going to destroy clause 35, we intend to tear up the terms and conditions under which you accepted the lease, and to impose upon you an entirely different set of conditions."


Senator Rae - Might it not be possible that, in some cases, the tenants would be very glad to have the conditions varied?


Senator MILLEN - If so, the course is very easy, because they can, if they like, surrender something to the Crown. The honorable senator will see that that is not what is contemplated here. We do not need a special provision when we want a man to surrender anything, but we do when we want to take something which he will not voluntarily give up. I come now to clause 1 8, which bars the right of a lessee to assign or transfer a lease, except with the sanction of the Administrator. If we wish to make our land system in the Northern Territory a success, it is desirable to attach to it as few irritating and handicapping provisions as possible. Nothing has done so much to make leaseholders clamorous to become freeholders as the attaching of such provisions to their leases. We have had experience of this system in New South Wales, South Australia, and New Zealand. When a leaseholder has secured his block, and finds that he is unable to handle it as readily as may a freeholder, he necessarily becomes dissatisfied, and says that he is hampered by onehundredandone State regulations, and the most harassing condition of all is his inability to handle the lease he holds as a mercantile proposition.


Senator Gardiner - He desires to enter into land speculation, not into land settlement and use.


Senator MILLEN - Does the honorable senator think that that answers the question ?


Senator Gardiner - That is the experience in New South Wales.


Senator MILLEN - If this clause was put in the Ordinance to prevent the aggregation of land, it will absolutely fail, because there is no provision to prevent one man from owning 1,000. leases in the Northern Territory - a provision which, I think, ought to be there, but is not. Even if the clause be retained as it is, there is no prohibition against the Administrator consenting to one lessee acquiring a dozen leases from persons who are willing to sell.


Senator Needham - It will prevent him putting a block in pawn.


Senator MILLEN - It will. If it is intended that a lessee shall not have financial assistance, it ought not to be left to the discretion of the Administrator to say which men shall pawn their blocks and which men shall not. If it is intended that lessees shall not give their leases as security in order to obtain advances to carry on their work, it ought to be set out that underno circumstances shall the leases be available for assignment. If my honorable friends opposite object to leases being mortgaged, the correct thing is to provide in the Ordinance that a lessee shall not be allowed to mortgage his lease.


Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Without consent ?


Senator MILLEN - No.


Senator Sir Josiah Symon - That worked very well in South Australia as to the perpetual leasing system.


Senator MILLEN - What is provided in clause 18 is that a lessee may mortgage his land, provided that he first gets the consent of the Administrator. I dissent from. that provision.


Senator Needham - Would you agree to the Administrator giving his consent?


Senator MILLEN - Not at all. I would sweep away half the regulations which are contained in this Ordinance, and substitute one simple regulation which would prevent aggregation anyhow, anywhere, and at any time. I would simply impose a limitation as to the acquisition and use of land by any one man, and having got that limitation, I would not care what he did with the land.


Senator Gardiner - You would not allow him to sell to another man holding land?


Senator MILLEN - Certainly not


Senator Gardiner - You would not give him a freehold?


Senator MILLEN - Yes, in a living area.


Senator Rae - How do you propose to amend the Ordinance, seeing that the motion asks the Senate to reject it?


Senator MILLEN - Unfortunately, I am obliged to proceed in this form. An Ordinance is a .most unsatisfactory way of dealing with such an important matter as land policy. It would have been infinitely better if the Government had brought down a Bill and given us an opportunity to design rules and regulations which would have been applicable to the conditions in the Northern Territory. I hope that it will not be long before Parliament is afforded an opportunity to say what it thinks ought to be the land policy there.


Senator Sir Josiah Symon - It ought to be just as much embodied in an Act of this Parliament as the railway policy.


Senator MILLEN - I do not know any subject which demands such careful consideration as our land policy. I ask honorable senators to turn to clause 25 of the Ordinance dealing with agricultural leases. It sets out that the leases shall contain, amongst other covenants -

A covenant by the lessee that he will cultivate the land to the extent and in the manner notified by the Classification Board by notification in the Gazette.

So far as the extent to which the lessee shall cultivate is concerned, I can have no objection. A man who takes a lease of this kind is taking an agricultural farm, and it seems quite right and proper that the Crown should say to him, " We are leasing this farm to you on the understanding that you shall cultivate a certain area." But when it comes to a question of setting out that the Classification Board shall have the right to determine the manner of cultivation, it introduces one of the useless, harassing, and pernicious rules which, if they are left alone, all Government Departments will attempt to inflict upon a long-suffering public. As regards the manner of cultivation, is a lessee to be told that he is to use a mould-board rather than a disc plough, or spike harrows rather than tooth harrows? Is he to be told that he is to trench his land, or subsoil it, or that he is to fallow it every other year, or one year out of three? These things come under the term " manner of cultivation." Either this provision is going to be used or it is not. If it is not going to be used it ought to be struck out.


Senator Rae - Suppose that a man were nominally cultivating his lease in a most inefficient way, what would be the good of it ?


Senator MILLEN - That would be his loss.


Senator Rae - And the country's loss.


Senator MILLEN - Undoubtedly ; but we have always- to remember that this Ordinance stands to-day, and that under a perpetual lease the reappraiser will come along every few years. If he puts the market value upon the property he will by that means compel the lessee to turn the land to the best possible account. Senator Rae will recognise the extreme difficulty of reposing in any Government official the right to go round the country telling men the methods by which they shall cultivate their land. It is becoming absurd when we carry Government interference to that limit.


Senator Sir Josiah Symon - And the Government official might interfere every year.


Senator MILLEN - I am not one of those who decry our official experts, or who depreciates the value we get from our experimental farms and agricultural colleges ; but nothing has been more ludicrous than the failure of a number of these experts to recognise the difference between an experimental farm and a farm upon which a man has to make his living.


Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Under this Ordinance every farm will become an experimental one.


Senator MILLEN - Yes ; but, unfortunately, the cost of the experiments will fall upon the lessees. I am very grateful to Senator Symon for his interjection. The Crown will call upon its lessees to carry out whatever experiments it chooses, but at their own expense. Experimental farms are the proper places in which to carry on experiments.


Senator Guthrie - In the absence of such a provision, a lot of our land will be taken up and cultivated in a loose manner for three or four years, when the lessees will leave it and take up fresh land.


Senator MILLEN - Under the operation of this Ordinance a couple of years must elapse before' the Crown can know whether a lessee is adopting right methods or not.


Senator Sir Josiah Symon - A man may just have got his holding under profitable cultivation when he may be told to alter his methods, and thus he may be ruined.


Senator MILLEN - At first I was Under the impression that this clause had found its way into the Ordinance by accident, but it seems from the interjection of Senator Guthrie that, after all, there are some who believe in the right of a Government expert to go round the country telling men how they should boil their billies.


Senator Givens - Does the honorable senator think that a lessee ought to be at liberty to grow a luxuriant crop of prickly pears ?


Senator MILLEN - That is not covered by this point. If there is any man in the country who would feel irritated if a Government official attempted to dictate to him how he should work his land, that man is Senator Givens.


Senator Sir Josiah Symon - But that point is covered by the stipulation that the lessee shall cultivate his land according to the best methods of husbandry. Under this Ordinance, he may be told to fence (his holding in the most extraordinary way, and to change his fences every six months.


Senator MILLEN --That is so. Further, I fail to discover in this Ordinance any provision for common boundary fences. In the absence of such a provision, I do not know whether the law of South Australia would be held to govern the position. But there is no more important matter between neighbour and neighbour with a common boundary than is the fence which is between them.


Senator Givens - In the case of large holdings, they do not have a fence.


Senator MILLEN - I am quite aware of that. The necessity of getting water ls about the best stockrider that ever operated in Australia; but as settlement thickens the question of fencing becomes an important one.


Senator Blakey - That is prescribed in the lease under clause 19.


Senator MILLEN - If the honorable senator knew anything about fencing he would not have made that interjection, because I spoke of two neighbours who have a common boundary. I say that there ought to be some provision by which either one of two lessees, having a common boundary, should be enabled to fence. Otherwise, one lessee may wish to fence, whilst his neighbour may not feel so disposed. There ought to be some provision "by which, in such cases, one man can fence and demand a contribution from his neigh"bour. That is the law of the land in the different States.


Senator Givens - In most of the other States that provision is not included in the land laws, but in a separate Act, namely, the Fencing Act.


Senator MILLEN - We have had no end of trouble in New South Wales over common boundaries, and I therefore suggest that there should be inserted in this Ordinance a simple provision dealing with that question. Then, under clause 41, it is proposed to continue in existence the South Australian Acts so far as they are applicable. I think, that is a serious mistake to make. If anything that has happened in South Australia is at all paralleled by what has happened in New South Wales, it means that in accepting wholesale these South Australian laws, we shall be accepting a legacy of doubt and confusion.


Senator Givens - But it is necessary that we should have some law to bridge over the gap.


Senator MILLEN - The gap could be bridged over by simply reserving the South Australian laws so far as the existing tenancies are concerned.


Senator Vardon - That is all that the Ordinance ought to provide for.


Senator MILLEN - But if we are going to adopt the whole of the South Australian laws, it may happen that in ten years' time some contentious point will arise, and some lawyer will then say, " Oh, but I rely upon the law which was passed by the South Australian Parliament in 1880." With a clean slate, so far as the unleased lands are concerned, it would be better to start de novo rather than to accept, in this blind fashion, the South Australian laws, of which 1 venture to say nobody here, except the South Australian representatives, has any intimate knowledge. I would shudder if we were asked to adopt for the Northern Territory the New South Wales land laws. They are so complicated that it is almost the work of a life-time to get upon even a speaking acquaintance with them.


Senator Givens - They would require a Philadelphian lawyer to understand.


Senator MILLEN - The ""Philadelphian lawyer was lost long ago in the matter of understanding those laws. Then clause 40 contains a proposal to enable lessees under the South Australian Acts to convert their holdings into perpetual leases. I ask honorable senators to think what that means. These lessees took up their leases under a forty-two years' tenure. It is now proposed to give them the right to have their' holdings converted into perpetual leases. I hope that the Senate will not for a moment countenance the idea of granting perpetual leases for these enormous areas. However, I shall deal with that aspect of the matter at a later stage of my remarks. I turn now for a moment or two to the regulations. Regulations 9 and 10, I venture to say, do not find a place in any land law in any country in the world. The former sets out that an applicant for a lease may be required to produce a medical certificate of fitness. Is it to go forth to the world that the climate of the Northern Territory is such that only the most robust constitutions can stand it? What is the reason for this provision?


Senator Sir Josiah Symon - If a medical certificate of fitness be required in the north, why not in the south?


Senator Guthrie - If we have made a mistake in the south, why should we make one in the north?


Senator MILLEN - Does Senator Guthrie seriously think that a man ought to provide a medical certificate of physical fitness before he goes to the Northern Territory ?


Senator Guthrie - I do.


Senator MILLEN - Then theCrown has a right to ask him for a medical certificate before he goes anywhere. When the honorable senator is journeying back to South Australia in a luxurious train to-morrow, I feel sure that, if he thinks over this matter, he will come to the conclusion that he ought not to have interjected. I submit that any man . who goes to the Northern Territory with a view to settling there will have given all the proof that is required of his physicalfitness. It seems to me that some officials entertain the strange idea that it is their special mission in life to act as a wet nurse to people. I am satisfied to leave this matter to honorable senators, and I am sure they will agree with me that the provision to which I have referred is an undesirable one. I pass now to the provision under regulation 10, which sets out that any information supplied by any person other than the applicant to the Classification Board, or to any authorized person at the request of the Board, shall be privileged,and shallbe treated by the Classification Board as confidential.


Senator Sir Josiah Symon - That is an invitation to slander.


Senator MILLEN - As Senator Symon truly observes, it is an invitation to slander, and, moreover, the slandered person is to have no opportunity of refuting the slander. I wonder what our legislation is coming to. Here, it is absolutely set out that an official may go round the country; and say to any individual, " You may tell me what you like about people, you may slander them as much as you like, and you will be immune from punishment. More than that, the persons whom you slander will not know of it!" Thus evilly-disposed persons, who may possibly be interested in counter applications, will probably give the Board untruthful evidence. As a result, the Board may come to the conclusion that the applicant is not a desirable tenant. I challenge any one to find a counterpart of that in. any land law in Australia. Invariably, when a man's fitness as an applicant for land is called in question, there is a proper mode of making a pronouncement, and that is in open Court.


Senator Guthrie - On oath.


Senator MILLEN - Yes; although, as far as the oath itself is concerned, I do not attach much importance to it. Personally, I think that the time has arrived when we should abolish the oath altogether, and make the penalty which attaches to false swearing attachable to false declarations. I hope that, in this matter, honorable senators will seriously put to themselves the question whether it is desirable that we should proclaim by Ordinance that the Commonwealth of Australia opens the back door of its public offices to those who like to come in and commit a slander to the detriment and prejudice of an applicant for its land.


Senator Sir Josiah Symon - What is more, any one who discloses the matter to the man whose character is taken away, is liable to be fined £50.


Senator MILLEN - That is the case. I leave that matter in the full belief that if honorable senators give it careful and impartial judgment, they will agree with me in saying that that clause should be struck out. I turn now to clause 19, and I ask honorable senators to compare it with clause 20. Clause 20 provides that -

The rental payable under perpetual leases shall be subject to re-appraisement every 14 years in the case of Crown lands and 21 years in the case of agricultural and pastoral lands.

There it is set out that re-appraisement is to take place at definitely fixed periods. If the principle of perpetual leasehold is to be maintained, there can be no fault found with that provision. But turn now to regulation 19. It deals with the matters that are set out in clause 20; but it pro- vides, not for a re-appraisement every fourteen years, because, under it, there may be a re-appraisement every fourteen weeks, or every fourteen months. Where any public work is carried on which, in the opinion of the authorities, increases the value of town land, a re-appraisement can be made ; and so with regard to each succeeding public work. The idea underlying that may be an excellent one ; but surely the Senate will agree that there ought to be some fixed period between one re-appraisement and another. Suppose the case of a man who obtains the lease of a town allotment. They tell him that his rental is subject to reappraisement at fixed periods of fourteen years. Suppose that he puts up premises - and bear in mind that premises in such a town as we hope to see growing up there are not going to cost a few hundreds of pounds, but may, in some instances, cost thousands - believing that he has a fourteen years' lease. Immediately the Crown puts up a new public building, it can come along and re-appraise that man's land. A month or two after, when another public work has been completed, the Crown can again say that there has been an addition to value, and make another re-appraisement. It may be quite right to devise a system which will secure to the Crown the value arising from expenditure on public works, but there ought to be some fixed period between each reappraisement. The term of fourteen years appears to me to be too short. Certainly it is not an unduly long minimum. It is a question whether we ought not to make it longer. But, at all events, a man who takes up land in a town in this Territory ought not to be subject to having his land re-appraised every week, every month, or every year. He will never know where he stands. In my opinion, clause 20 ought to be adhered to in its integrity, and clause 19 ought to be modified in conformity with it. I have just one other regulation to deal with, namely, regulation 22. It is a long one, and what it means is this It vests in the Director of Lands power to forfeit leases if the lessee, in his opinion, has been guilty of a wilful breach of the regulations. It is an extremely serious and dangerous thing to place in the hands of any one individual, not sitting in open Court, but within his own office, the power to re call one, or any number, of' leases held by other individuals. No such power ought to be exercised by any offi cial behind the closed door of the office in which he sits. First, I object to the power being given, no matter who may exercise it, whether in open Court or not; but, beyond that, I strongly and doubly object to it if it is to be exercised in the Director's own office. I am not saying this with reference to the particular gentleman who occupies the position at present. I am certain that if any honorable senator's individual concerns were to be put in jeopardy in the way I have indicated, he would say that it was not fair, that it was not common sense, and that it was not just. To show that I am not overlooking anything, let me say at once that this power is subject to appeal.


Senator Guthrie - Hear, hear !


Senator MILLEN - We will see what the appeal is worth directly. There is no provision by which a lessee, whose block has been forfeited because the Director chooses to believe that he has committed a' breach of the agreement, may have an absolute right to ask for a re-hearing. But there is power given to the Administrator if he sees fit to vary the decision of the Director. I am going to contrast that with another provision in this Ordinance. I hope that I have made it abundantly clear that under this regulation power is given to the Director of Lands to forfeit the lease of any man who, in his opinion, has been guilty of a wilful breach of the Ordinance, and that in that case the Administrator can if he likes review the Decision of the Director, but that there is no right given to the lessee to appeal from the Director. Now let me point out what is provided in a much less serious matter than the forfeiture of a lease. It will be admitted that the forfeiture of a lease is far more serious than the re-appraisement of rental. But when the time comes for re-appraisement it is provided that the proceedings shall be in open Court, with all the safeguards of publicity. Even before the Appeal Court is constituted the interests of the lessee are safeguarded, because it is provided that the appeal shall be heard before the Supreme Court Judge of the Northern Territory, aided by two assessors, one of whom isto represent the lessee. Before that open Court the lessee will have the right to go. He will have the fullest opportunity of stating his case, and his interest is to be further conserved by the presence ofan assessor who will look after his rights. But surely if it necessary to give him those safeguards where only the matter of rental is concerned, it is far more important that his interest should be equally well conserved when the forfeiture of the whole lease in involved. With the experience that you possess, Mr. President, of what has taken place in Queensland, and with the experience which other honorable senators have had of what has occurred in other States, it can hardly be denied that it is undesirable to place in the hands of any one man, sitting in the privacy of his office, a power which ought only to be exercised by a tribunal sitting in open daylight. If we are to avoid the serious mistakes which have always attended State administration when we have departed from the safe principle of the open Court, we ought to take warning here. Matters of this kind should be determined by a Board, and whatever the decision of the Board may be, the first .essential is that it should sit in public. That safeguard a lessee ought to possess. Then, if the Board gives an adverse decision, the lessee ought to have a right of appeal to a Land Appeal Board. In that way everything which justice requires may be met.


Senator Guthrie - There is an appeal to the Courts is there not?


Senator MILLEN - No; the Ordinance says distinctly that the decision shall not be subject to any appeal to a Court. Tt does appear to me to be carrying matters too far to say that any official shall have power to forfeit a man's block without appeal, and in fact with the express condition that there shall be no appeal to any Court in the land. If I had stated as a proposition that we ought to give any one official the right to take a man's land away from him without appeal, I venture to say that every member of the Senate would have scouted the idea.


Senator Guthrie - Why did not the honorable senator ask the Senate to disallow the particular clauses to which he objected ?


Senator MILLEN - It was not clear to me when I gave notice of my motion whether I could confine attention to parts of the Ordinance, because it must be remembered that we are not dealing with it as though it were a Bill capable of amendment in particular clauses. But if the Government would assist in bringing about desirable amendments, it would be possible to do what Senator Guthrie suggests. That is all that I want to do. I have submitted this motion in the belief that this is the only way in which I could state a case for the consideration of the Senate. But if the Senate shows sympathy with some of the points to which I have directed attention, the Government themselves might bring forward some amending provisions. It is not a matter of party concern, and I will do anything I can to avoid that aspect of the case. The matters which I have pointed! out hardly touch any principle the leasehold system, but they do effect the satisfactory working of our land laws. Now I come to the question of perpetual leases as applied t® pastoral holdings. I strongly object to such leases without any qualification whatever. We have to recognise that these pastoral1 holdings are merely transient holdings. Land is held under pastoral occupation until such time as, with the increase of population, it is required for higher purposes. I recognise that there is a large portion' of the Northern Territory which, so far as we can judge, must be devoted to pastoral occupation for all eternity. But there is a great deal of the country - how much we do not know - which, in the course of time, as has happened in- the Western1 Division of New South Wales, in Queensland, and in Western Australia, will, aspopulation increases and railway communication is provided, be required for higher purposes than pastoral occupation. Thereis much country there now held under pastoral lease which will probably remain' under that form of occupation for the next generation, but its ultimate destiny is, not pastoral, but agricultural occupation. That being so, the question arises- Are we entitled to grant perpetual leases of that land?


Senator Rae - Resumption is provided1 for.


Senator MILLEN - Of course, it is, but that might be said of lands held under freehold. Every resumption we make wemust pay for. I say that these pastoral leases should' be recognised as merely stopgaps, so far as the class of country towhich I refer is concerned. Ought wenot to give long, but still_ terminable, leases of such country, so that the question of" compensation may be simplfied for the generation that will come after the present one. It has been found that a fortytwo years' lease has been sufficient to causeonethird of the Northern Territory to beoccupied. I venture to say that, when- the Commonwealth gets properly to work there, undertakes railway construction and affords increased facilities for graziers to send their produce to market, we shall find that a forty-two years' lease is a sufficiently attractive lease for the balance of the country. If we cannot have it all occupied under a forty-two years' tenure, we might try a fifty years' lease, or a sixty years' lease, but if we provide for a perpetual lease, it will mean that when we wish to secure the land for higher purposes it will have attained a value for which we shall have to pay under the provisions for compensation. I hope that the Senate will agree with me that there is no justification for perpetual leases of purely pastoral holdings in the Northern Territory. I direct attention to the fact that, with regard to pastoral holdings, the conflict is not between perpetual leases and freehold, but between perpetual leases and terminable leases. All I am asking is that, until we know better what the country is suited for, and experience has shown us how to properly classify the broad areas of the Northern Territory, we should let lands, at present suitable for pastoral pur-poses only, on leases sufficiently long to attract settlement, but still terminable leases, which would insure in due course, when the time came for further treatment at the hands of the Commonwealth Parliament, or some authority in which this Parliament may have vested its powers, the oportunity to put the lands to better use. A few figures will show what the grant of perpetual leases for pastoral areas in the Northern Territory might lead to At present one-third of the Territory is under lease. I am not referring -now to pastoral permits and licences. The 69,000,000 acres of land under pastoral lease in the Northern Territory, as distinguished from pastoral licences, is held under 256 leases, so that the average holding is 270.000 acres in extent. We may assume that the best and most attractive areas have been taken up so far. It is not unreasonable,, therefore, to suppose that persons now looking for land, and confined to less attractive areas, will be disposed and entitled to look for larger holdings What would be the position if this average area of holdings were maintained ? I* would mean that the Northern Territory would provide for only 1,237 holdings. Under this Ordinance, it might not provide for even half that number. Honorable senators will see that provision is made for pastoral leases of three classes, one with a maximum of 500 square miles, a second class with a maximum of 1,000 square miles, and a third class with a maximum of 3,000 square miles. Let us take, not the maximum area, but the mean area of 1,000 square miles - if perpetual leases are offered of holdings of 1,000 square mites, it will be possible to have in the Northern Territory only 523 such holdings. Suppose that the average at present existing, 270,000 acres, is maintained. There will then be provision in the Territory for only 1,237 such holdings.


Senator Rae - What about agricultural holdings ?


Senator MILLEN - I am dealing now only with pastoral lands. Can any one seriously and undisturbedly contemplate a proposal to grant the Northern Territory in perpetuity to 1,237 persons? The proposal is too absurd for serious contemplation. It is difficult to understand how provision for such a state of affairs came to have been made in this Ordinance. I can only assume that some theorist, attaching great importance to the idea of perpetual leases, and recognising that there is a great value attaching to such leases as applied to certain holdings, has not discriminated between holdings which may be permanent and those, such as pastoral leases, which may be merely transient. There is a big difference between a permanent holding, and that which is a mere stop-gap. I hope the Government will modify the Ordinance by providing, not for perpetual leases, but for leases which, while being of long tenure, are still terminable leases, of those big pastoral holdings. Dealing with classification, I may refer to the proposal to grant blocks of 64,000 acres, for what is termed mixed farming. It is proposed to grant perpetual leases for these areas also. I do not know why. I appeal to Senators Gardiner and Rae, and to all who know anything about land, to say whether a proposal to grant an area of 64,000 acres as an agricultural farm is not an absurdity itself. Honorable senators must recognise that on a 64,000-acre mixed farm, very little ploughing will be done. It will be used as a grazing farm pure and simple, with just sufficient agriculture to meet th( bare requirements of the lease. I should not be prepared at any time to grant perpetual leases of big areas of 64,000 acres. I object altogether to an area of 64 00c acres going in perpetuity into the hands o' any one individual. Within reason, I d< not mind how big an area is given to an individual, provided there is a termination, within a reasonable period, to the lease he holds. I suggest a policy which I think ought to be adopted, and could be adopted, with advantage. I would give a man 64,000 acres, or even a larger area, under a terminable lease, with the right at the termination of his lease to secure in perpetuity - under a freehold tenure, according to my" idea, but if that is objected to under a perpetual lease - what is known in New South Wales as a living area.


Senator Lynch - The leases are subject to a power of resumption.


Senator MILLEN - But we must pay for the resumption.


Senator Lynch - What about improvements ; they should be paid for.


Senator MILLEN - That would apply to resumptions in the case of leaseholds as well as freeholds. Whether terminable or interminable leases are given, improvements must be paid for, but in the case of terminable leases, we should have to pay only for the improvements, whilst in the case of interminable leases, we should, on resumption, have to pay, in addition, compensation for dispossessing the lessee.


Senator Lynch - It is now proposed to hand back to the Government some of the terminable leases in Western Australia for nothing.


Senator MILLEN - I am surprised at Senator Lynch's interjection. I did expect that honorable senators on the other side would be careful to resent the possibility of land monopoly, and they must know that land monopoly can occur as well under a perpetual lease as under a freehold.


Senator Rae - That is so, if no precautions are taken to prevent it.


Senator MILLEN - Exactly. We could grant a perpetual leasehold to one man of the whole of the Northern Territory. Is Senator Lynch in favour of that?


Senator Lynch - No.


Senator Rae - It is a question of reappraisement of rent.


Senator MILLEN - There might still be a monopoly. All I am saying is that in the early days of the Territory, as in the more settled States of the Commonwealth,' there will be a developmental period, when we shall be anxious to have the land occupied. Those of us who have had experience of settlement in the eastern States knew that the first purpose to which land can be properly put is grazing, and that, as time goes on and population in creases, the land can be held under a better form of settlement. It seems to me that the correct course is to say that during the developmental period in the North- * ern Territory we shall lease lands on terminable leases for any purpose to which they can be put, but we shall not mortgage the future, and give people to-day the right to permanently hold lands which in the course of time will be suitable for subdivision. I should say that,, with respect to large pastoral leases, and also with respect to the proposed mixed farms of 64,000 acres, which ought not to be called agricultural farms, we should give leases for a fixed period, and at the end of that period give the lessees the right to secure, upon some more permanent tenure, areas which the circumstances then existing show to be fit and necessary for individual occupation.


Senator Findley - I take it that the honorable senator believes in leasehold as against freehold, but not in leasehold in perpetuity ?


Senator MILLEN - I have not said anything of the kind. I regard the existing leaseholds as stop-gaps, and useful while we are passing through the developmental stage in the Territory. We are not going to settle the Northern Territory in small holdings under any tenure to-morrow. Neither Senator Findley nor I am able to say what portions of the Territory are suitable for closer settlement, or when the time will arrive when it can be settled in small holdings. I say that I object to leases in perpetuity, because I know that the time will come when we shall have to resume lands, and it will then be necessary to pay heavy compensation to the lessees. I wish to avoid that. I say that we should have terminable leases of pastoral lands, and people will be prepared to take up pastoral leases if the tenure is sufficiently long to enable them to recover the money they sink in their ventures. I have dealt so far with what I call minor regulations, which, though of importance, do not involve any great matter of principle. They can be discussed dispassionately by honorable senators, whether they favour the freehold or the leasehold principle. It is with regard to them that I particularly request the impartial judgment of honorable senators opposite. The issue raised by the proposal to grant only leaseholds in 'the Northern Territory will not be settled in the Senate. It will not be settled either at the next election, though I can assure my honorable friends opposite that it will be raised then. It is not going to be settled probably for a few years, but it is none the less necessary that the issue should be raised now, if only for the purpose of enabling honorable senators on this side to make their position regarding it abundantly clear.


Senator Findley - The principle of leasehold as against freehold has been established by this Parliament.


Senator MILLEN - I want to say that those with whom I am politically associated desire, at the earliest possible moment, to see a change made in the principle set out in this Ordinance.


Senator Findley - Why did the honorable senator not challenge it in connexion with the Federal Capital area?


Senator MILLEN - It is sufficient that I should deal with this matter at the present moment. The honorable senator's interjection shows how necessary it is that the issue should be raised now. The fact that something may have been done at some time or another is no reason why we should to-day refrain from challenging a principle which we regard as obnoxious.


Senator Findley - Did you not approve of the leasehold principle as regards the Federal Territory and Papua ?


Senator MILLEN - Papua is quite a different thing.


Senator Findley - Well, as regards the Federal Territory?


Senator MILLEN - I am not aware that I approved of the leasehold principle then. We have been frequently asked what law passed by the present Government we would repeal if we came into power. I think 1 car, safely say that if the Liberal party come into office they will unquestionably make an effort to insure to every man who goes to the Northern Territory-







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