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Thursday, 12 August 1926

Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) . - I do not intend to delay the committee very much longer. The person who had been instrumental in having the commissioner appointed succeeded in convincing the Minister that that course was acceptable to the people on the island. Under date the 2nd August, I have particulars of the result of an election for six members of the Executive Council.It shows that the person who was chiefly instrumental in the appointment of the royal commissioner was defeated, being returned at the bottom of the poll. The vote was -

P.   Buffett, 106 votes.

L.   Booty, 101 votes.

R.   Taylor, 97 votes.

E.   Christian, 88 votes.

L.   Quintal, 88 votes.

E.   Robinson, 85 votes.

The above six were declared elected. The defeated candidates were -

G.   Allen, 68 votes.

C.   Nobbs, 63 votes.

Senator Payne - And yet Mr. Nobbs is supposed to represent the community ?

Senator ELLIOTT - Yes. If I am instructed aright, some curious incidents took place in connexion with the visit of the royal commissioner. Apparently it was known who was to receive the appointment. Possibly, the announcement was made through the press. At all events, this person made it his business to journey to Sydney and return to the island in the company of the Commissioner who, I am informed, partook of his hospitality both on the journey and on the island. Surely the Commissioner should have realized the unwisdom of his action. He was impressed with the fact that the Administrator erred in mixing with litigants but, as we know, the Administrator was unable to help himself. The Commissioner was under no such necessity. Like the judges of our courts, he should have kept himself strictly apart. and should not have mixed with the people. Yet I am advised, that he attended race meetings and all sorts of jollifications, and mixed freely with thepeople whose complaints he was supposed to be investigating. I think I have said enough to convince the committee that an injustice has been done. I hope the Minister will not force us to a vote. If, however, the Minister shuts his eyes to what has happened, I shall be obliged to persist in the course I have mapped out. This department seems to have outrun itself, and the Minister has not yet been able to bring it to heel. Unless the Minister can give me an assurance that he will see justice done I shall have to ask the committee to register a vote on the item.

I again wish to direct attentionto the manner in which the Crown Law officer of Rabaul is being treated. For four years he has been refused his annual increment, though no charge of inefficiency has been made against him. Shortly after his first appointment, 25 charges were laid against him and he triumphantly refuted all except one of rudeness to the Administrator. In the other case with which I have' been dealing, a grave charge of drunkenness on thepart of an officer was condoned, and the officer restored to his positin ; yet, one of the highest officers in the Territory is being arbitrarily denied what he is entitled to by law.

Senator H Hays - If he is entitled to his increments by law how can they be withheld from him?

Senator ELLIOTT - If the Administrator certifies that he is carrying out his duties satisfactorily, the increments are paid. In this case, the Administrator makes no charge of inefficiency, but consistently withholds his endorsement. Surely this kind of thing will not be allowed to continue indefinitely. If the officer is inefficient a definite charge should be made. I appeal to the Minister to reconsider the matter and to insist upon a further investigation.

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