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Wednesday, 20 May 1914

Senator MILLEN - One day last week

Senator Blakeyread off certain headlines from an article in a Melbourne newspaper regarding certain disclosures in Papua and asked me if they were correct, gene rally speaking. I replied that they were an exaggerated sensationalism. The newspaper in question apparently did not agree with the opinion I" expressed as to the nature of the matter published in its columns, and suggested that, to put it mildly, there was an absence of frankness in my reply. I desire to point out the words to which I referred as an exaggerated sensationalism. One headline to which Senator Blakey referred amongst others was "Hundreds of victims," and in the article the writer said -

The allegation is that in nearly 500 cases men marked the agreement against their will.

I can only repeat what I said the other day that this statement in my mind did represent an exaggerated sensationalism. When the term "hundreds" is employed it clearly means more than two. In the general acceptance it means several hundreds, and that impression is confirmed by the quotation I have read where the writer refers to 500. Although my knowledge of the details of this case was very brief, I had ascertained before I spoke that the number was, compared to that, a very small one indeed. I understand that the cases which have been proven represent between twenty and thirty natives indentured to private employers, and some twenty odd employed by the Government under circumstances which apparently could not have been very repugnant to the men, because, when offered their release, only four of them accepted it. The point I wish to bring before the Senate, and those who read the journal in which these statements appeared, is that I had full justification for characterizing as an exaggeration a statement referring to several hundreds, when, as a matter of fact, there were only so few as the numbers I have indicated.

Senator Rae - Is it true that the Lieutenant-Governor had to discharge a magistrate in connexion with the matter?

Senator MILLEN - Yes.

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