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Thursday, 3 October 1912

Senator SAYERS (Queensland) .- I do not intend to occupy much time in discussing this proposal, because honorable senators appear to be unanimously in favour of it. But, in reply to the statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the Government have already appointed a mining expert in the Northern Territory, in the person of Dr. Jensen, I wish to say that that circumstance has no bearing whatever upon my motion. I know that there are parties of men in Queensland to-day who are prepared to go out and prospect the Territory if the Government choose to offer a suitable reward. They are men of the best type, being thorough miners andgood bushmen. They are ready to go out into the Territory for the purpose of trying to discover new mineral fields. If payable gold were discovered there, the Commonwealth, in reality, would not be called upon to contribute a single shilling in that connexion. We know that at one time the discovery of gold at Gympie practically saved Queensland from a great financial trouble. We know, too, what the gold-fields of Western Australia have accomplished for that State.

Senator Chataway - What about the Palmer and the Hodgkinson fields?

Senator SAYERS - Exactly. But the discover) of gold at Gympie happened at a time of great distress, and consequently was the more welcome. My own idea is that we should offer a reward of £10,000, to be paid at the end of one year after the discovery of a payable gold or mineral field, if there be 1,000 people then upon it; and that if, at the end of two years there be 2,000 inhabitants upon it, we should grant the successful prospectors an additional sum of £20,000. If that course be adopted, we shall open up the Northern Territory by leaps and bounds. There are hundreds of men who are willing and eager to go out there and prospect for gold and other minerals if the Government will only offer a substantial reward in case they are successful. I need scarcely point out that Dr. Jensen will report only upon existing fields. It is quite possible that if a suitable reward be offered, a payable goldfield may be discovered in the Territory before his report reaches this Parliament. Such a discovery would solve the problem with which the Government are faced much more rapidly than would anything else. Any honorable senator who knows anything about gold or mineral fields knows that very frequently the pioneers do not secure the best ground. But they have blazed the track for others to follow. More has been accomplished by offering rewards for the discovery of gold and other minerals than has been achieved by all the Government prospecting parties which have yet been equipped. It is our bounden duty to offer an inducement to men to go out into the Territory, and to prospect for minerals there. I recollect a discovery which took place at Port Darwin nearly forty years ago. But, unfortunately, there was no stable Government there at the time. It was practically a no-man's land. I hope that the Government will take immediate steps to offer a suitable reward for mineral discoveries in the Territory, and, if they do that, I believe that within six weeks of the proclamation being issued, prospecting parties will be seeking to earn it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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