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Friday, 11 December 1914

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - The question of the type of settlers introduced to the Northern Territory can appropriately be discussed on the Estimates of the Department of External Affairs. The papers made available show that the type of settler introduced there could be much improved on.

Senator Turley - Have you read the Commissioner's report?

Senator LYNCH - Yes. The Commissioner has issued a report, and has also tabled some papers relative to assistance rendered to settlers there. From my knowledge of the struggles of settlers in other parts of Australia, I think the men introduced to the Territory have nothing to complain of. lt is rather the administration which has grounds for complaint regarding the settlers' behaviour. A great deal of assistance has been rendered to them - much more than to settlers in other parts - but some of them when given an opportunity to supplement their earnings by working for the Government on the Batchelor Farm or on the railway system of the Territory, either refused or stipulated for conditions which they were not entitled to demand. It is quite plain from the papers that, in the opinion of the Commissioner, great care needs to be exercised by the Department in selecting men to take up land there. It is equally clear that the man who has been placed on the land there so far is not nearly as good as he ought to be. It is urgently necessary to exercise the utmost scrutiny in this matter. No man should be sent to the Territory as a settler unless the Government are satisfied that he has at least some qualifications for pioneering. A great deal of money has been spent, and is being spent, there to encourage these men, but there must have been a certain amount of looseness in the past, or many of them would not have been sent there. No one can read the Commissioner's report without being struck by the way in which the Department controlling the Territory has carried out its policy of settlement. It has not succeeded so far in introducing a really hardy, strenuous type of settler. The men who have gone there have proved themselves as a class to be unfit to carry on, or incapable of carrying on, the work of settlement.

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