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Thursday, 15 July 1926

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - I hope that the amendment will be agreed to. The proposal for the appointment of this commission has been condemned by Senator Lynch and Senator Thomas, who are both supporters of the Government. I hope that when a division is taken, Senator Thomas will vote for the amendment. Senator Pearce said that this commission was necessary to determine the value of a certain mineral, which is known to exist in Australia. In order to discover the value of that mineral, it is proposed to appoint a commission of four men, and to pay them high salaries. Although it is generally admitted that the discovery of oil in Australia or any of the mandated territories would prove of incalculable! value to this country, the Government has not introduced a bill to appoint a commission of four men for that purpose. It engaged the services of a geological expert.

Dr. Wadewas brought from England for the purpose of making investigations. Could not the same policy be adopted in connexion with these migration schemes? To-day, in the Popo district of Papua, in places recommended by Dr. Wade, men are engaged in drilling to ascertain the existence or otherwiseof mineral oil. Surely, it is not necessary to add another commission to the almost numberless commissions which exist ! SenatorFindley's remarks as to the authority of Parliament in connexion with developmental works, were contradicted by the Minister. Clause 2 of the agreement bears out Senator Findley's contention. That clause reads -

If the Commonwealth Government concur in the proposed undertakings, and are satisfied that the proposed works are such as will directly contribute towards the settlement, whether on the land or otherwise, of suitable assisted migrants, they shall submit details of the proposed undertakings to the Secretary of State for approval by him, or in his behalf, in such a manner as he may determine. In the event of the said proposed undertakings being approved by the Secretary of State and by the Commonwealth Government, they shall be certified in manner from time to time to be arranged, as " agreed undertakings " under this agreement.

Senator Findley - That bears out what I said.

Senator NEEDHAM - Of course; but the Leader of the Senate denied it. The agreement goes on to state-

In the event of the said proposed undertakingsbeing approved by the Secretary of State and by the Commonwealth Government, they shallbe certified in manner from time to time to be arranged as " agreed undertakings " under this agreement.

Clause 3 provides -

The Commonwealth Government agree that the Secretary of State may appoint a representative to act with them in connexion with all undertakings proposed under this agreement, to ascertain the progress of each agreed undertaking, and to furnish the Secretary of State from time to time with all necessary information; and that all facilities shall be given to the representative for this purpose.

It will be seen, therefore, that all undertakings by the States that are parties to this agreement must, in the last resort, receive the approval, not of the Commonwealth Government, but of the Secretary of State for the Dominions. That is the point which Senator Findley stressed. The names of certain persons likely to receive appointments to the commission have been mentioned. May I remind the Minister that last year, when he was introducing the Northern Australia Bill, he emphasized the urgent need for the appointment of a commission to recommend and control developmental schemes in the Northern Territory. Nothing was said then about the probable appointment of any persons to that commission. The bill received the royal assent on the 8th June, 1926, and although six weeks have elapsed since then, we have heard nothing about the appointment of that commission. Though this measure has not yet passed the Senate, the names of certain gentlement have been canvassed in the press a3 likely to be appointed to the commission. I agree with Senator Lynch that this is an insult to Parliament. Senator Pearce has said that the Government is under no obligation to appoint the persons whose names have been mentioned.

Senator H Hays - Certain names have been mentioned in the press in connexion with the Northern Australia Commission.

Senator NEEDHAM - That is so; but it is strange that at least two gentlemen should be mentioned as likely to be appointed to the Migration Commission before this bill has been passed. I know one of those gentlemen very well; but I have no desire to comment upon his ability or his fitness for the position. The appointment of the commission will merely add another excresence ;to the body politic. The Leader of the Senate has urged that the Government should have the benefit of expert advice for the proper development of our natural resources. That statement is ridiculous. We know what our resources are. All that is necessary is the courage to tackle them. If the Minister for Markets and Migration is incompetent, the Government should secure another minister. There has been a suggestion that before long the Departof Markets and Migration will become too big for one Minister to handle, so in all probability we shall be called upon soon to consider a bill to create a new department and appoint another minister. If that is done, we shall then have a Minister for Markets, a Minister for Migration, and the Migration Commission. Surely there must be government responsibility somewhere. Rather than that the Government should continue this policy of appointing commissions, it would be better if the Prime Minister carried out his own suggestion, and appointed a dictator to carry on the administration of public affairs. Already we have about 27 boards and commissions, and we do not want any more. I trust that the clause will be deleted.

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