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Wednesday, 2 March 1927

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland) (Minister for Home and Territories) [3.12].- (By leave)- Early last year certain areas on the Edie Creek in the Morobe District of New Guinea were applied for as dredging and sluicing leases, and the applications were subsequently approved by the Administrator. Opposition by the miners of the district to the granting of these leases has been more or less continuously manifested ever since the leases were first applied for. The principal complaints of the miners were that the ground covered by the leases was of a rich alluvial nature suitable only for working by box and dish, that it was totally unsuitable for the application of dredging and sluicing methods, and that the granting of the leases had locked up in the hands of four individuals an area that could have been profitably worked by many times that number of miners as ordinary claims. Reports have been furnished by the Administrator of New Guinea in regard to the various phases of the matter, and these, together with the representations made by the miners, have been considered by the Government. Having regard to all the circumstances of the case, the Government has deemed it advisable to appoint a. Royal Commissioner to investigate the complaints that have been made, and Mr. P. B. MacGregor, a barrister, of Brisbane, has been appointed for the purpose. The terms of the reference to the Royal Commissioner are as follow : -

Know ye that we do by these Our Letters Patent, issued in Our name by Our GovernorGeneral of Our Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the advice of Our Federal Executive Council, and in pursuance of the Constitution of Our said Commonwealth, the Royal Commissions Act 1902-1912, and all other powers him thereunto enabling, appoint you to he a Commissioner to inquire into and re- port upon all matters connected with the applications for, and the granting by the Administrator of New Guinea, of four Dredging and Sluicing Leases on the Edie Creek in the District of Morobe, of the Territory of New Guinea, on or about the 8th July, 1926, in the names of William George Royal, Arthur Frank Chisholm, Albert Alfred Royal, and Richard M'ervin Glasson respectively, and, without limiting the generality of the above reference, in particular to inquire and report upon the following questions, namely: -

(1)   Whether the area, or any substantial part thereof, included within the leases is alluvial, suitable for working as claims;

(2)   Whether reasonable and proper steps were taken by the Administrator and his officers to satisfy themselves as to the nature of the ground applied for by the said lessees, and its suitability for working as claims or by dredging and sluicing methods;

(3)   Whether flue care and diligence were exercised by the Administrator and his officers in dealing with and determining the applications for the said leases, and in considering the representations made to them in regard thereto by persons other than the applicants;

(4)   Whether, regard being had to the nature of the ground covered by the said leases and to all the circumstances connected with the applications for the leases, the granting of the dredging and sluicing leases in respect of that ground was a reasonable and judicious exercise of the powers conferred upon the Administrator by the Mining Ordinance of the Territory of New Guinea; and further to inquire into and report upon the question whether, having regard to all the circumstances, reasonable provision was made for the administration of the Edie Creek locality after the reported discovery of gold, and in particular for the medical requirements of Europeans and natives on the fields.

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