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Thursday, 12 August 1926

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- I am surprised to hear the comments made by Senator. Elliott. I have no doubt he has good grounds for his statement regarding the inquiry held by the Royal Commissioner. I can understand the difficulty that the Government experiences in administering such outlying portions of the Commonwealth as Norfolk Island, and I also appreciate the difficulties lhat face an administrator when brought into conflict with the -residents in making attempts to improve local conditions. I understand that . evidence could have been tendered at the inquiry by a reliable person, the vicar of the island, who has been a resident of Norfolk Island for many years, but that the commissioner, although requested to call him as a witness, did not do so. Honorable senators generally will admit that members of the clergy can be relied upon to state the facts as they know them. The ' vicar ought to have been eminently qualified to give evidence, for or against, any officer charged with maladministration. I have not visited Norfolk Island, but I have been interested in its production. Those who know the island's wonderful fertility must have been appalled at its small production for many years. For the year ended 30th June, 1924, the exports from the island were valued at £3,100; in the following year they were valued at £3,900 ; last year they represented £6,156. It is estimated that the exports from the island this year will .be worth approximately £10,000. Those figures indicate that the Administrator made seme effort to increase the trade of the island, and to instil into the minds of the inhabitants the value of greater industry. As in a place like Norfolk Island there is a tendency for the people to stagnate, it is possible that the attempts of the Administrator to increase the production of the island caused some resentment. In this connexion I speak with some experience, because I have paid two visits to the Mandated Territories. In Norfolk Island there are no full-blooded natives, tha majority of the people being half-castes, but they have not lost the indolent habits of the Pacific island natives. We do not desire to- make slaves of them, but it is to their own physical, moral and commercial advantage that they should do their best towards the development ot their country. I do not say that an injustice has been done to the Administrator, but from a. brief reading of the report it would appear that that is the case. If so, the sooner it is righted the better. I hold no brief for the Administrator, and I entertain no antipathy towards the royal commissioner. My only concern is that justice shall be done. I trust that a further inquiry will be made and that, should any wrong have been done to any person, it will be righted without delay

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