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Thursday, 4 April 1946

Mr BLAIN (Northern Territory) . - I desire to call attention to the condition of affairs at Darwin, which I have just visited. I am sure if the Australian public were aware of what is going on there, it would be appalled. It has become the Siberia of Australia. The people there have become slaves of the Government. The town has become an almost complete Government possession, except that part which is under the control of Vesteys Limited or other big interests, which are powerful enough to use the -mysterious influences which always seem to work more effectively with the kind of government with which we are now blessed.

A fine plan was provided by Mr. Mcinnes, formerly Brisbane town planner and now Planning Commissioner of Tasmania, Mr. Miller, the Surveyor-General, and . a. brilliant young man named Lieutenant Symonds, for remodelling the town some time ago, but this has been thrown overboard in the interest of the new commissar and officer class. That plan was drawn after, not before the bombing of Darwin. It is necessary to emphasize that, for the idea seems to have developed that it was drawn before the bombing and that that is why it was rejected. Both Mcinnes and Miller, are licensed surveyors and townplanners of 30 years-' standing. The whole residential and business section for the mere proletariat has been swept from the cool and healthy peninsula which nature has provided. The peninsula is to be" used for the residences of naval and military officers, which will be -surrounded by vast cool open spaces, which will provide them with playgrounds and isolation, on the pretext that one day those spaces will be needed for defence purposes. This excuse is mere humbug. Any officer who contemplated putting important defence works on that peninsula, where they would be a bull's-eye for raiders, should be ordered to be shot by a drumhead court-martial. However, it has been decided that the old residents, the mere democrats, are to be thrown into the mosquito-ridden backblocks away from the breezes and the views and the health-giving heights. The commissars and the officer classes must not have their atmosphere tainted. As for the rebuilding of Darwin, there are men who are willing to carry timber in on their backs to repair the ruin, but that task must be reserved for the black marketeers, the grafters, and the other vultures who seem to hover over everything which this Government undertakes. Every obstruction is put in the way of individual private efforts, not only in the Northern Territory, but also in the south. I am not suggesting that the Government is concerned in graft. But I do say that its works appear to have a curious attraction for persons who have the reputation of doing so. It is a poor look-out for the re-establishment of those in need of it.

In this northern Siberia, liberty is no more pronounced than it was in the days of Bligh. We cannot even express ourselves by means of a referendum. I have listened to the debate on the referendum proposals. Government supporters have glibly let fall from their lips words describing the grand Utopia that will come to Australia if the referendum should be passed, but I say - and I will expatiate on it tomorrow when I speak on the subject - that this Government has had the great- est chance to prove bow its controls work, because it has been in sole control of the Northern Territory for four years. But what a mess it has made. My constituents have been driven into the very :gravel. They are in a state of uproar and the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Johnston) knows it. So does the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin). This Government's control of the Northern Territory has put the people into the gravel. The Minister for the Interior was afraid to meet the people at Alice Springs. I will not repeat what they said about him; but I have contacted them and I am surprised that the Minister, who is a bushman, did not make it his business, to meet them. If he goes there again, he will find it necessary. to contact the people as I have contacted them. I am pleased to know that the Minister in charge of the Territory at long last is a bushman who can speak my language and the language of the people of the Northern Territory and the outback of Western Australia. 'But why did he npt speak their language to them and allow them to speak it back to him. It is time he went back there with me taking with him the Minister for the Navy, and the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lazzarini) but keeping the officials away. He ought hot to let them nurse him as they did when he went north some months ago. He should sit down on the kerb with the residents, talk with them and learn their story at first-hand. He should not allow himself to be shepherded by officials. I expect great things from him. He has shown, his good intentions by the appointments that he has recently made. He has appointed technical men to do a job that requires technical men. The place reeks with technical difficulties. However, I have allowed myself to be diverted from the subject of the fantastic plan that has been accepted for Darwin. Honorable members interested in the Northern Territory ought to realize how fantastic it is, but I am afraid that such honorable members are few and far between, because the territory is isolated and its small population has no effective vote. The Northern Territory has not even a legislative council. Under this plan the Minister for the Navy has taken all the choice land. What the Navy is going to do with it goodness only knows. Probably the scheme was devised by a. junior naval officer. At any rate, the Navy does not know what to do with it. There are sinister influences at work whereby this choice land, including the very foreshore that is the birthright of the people, has been taken from them. Ministers are basically at fault, because they do not understand the position. The officers and commissars have, been able to show them a pretty picture, but it is not town planning. We have the

McInnes-Miller- Symonds plan, which does preserve the town of Darwin as we know it. The business site is there. If I were given the job, I could put the business people and the residents of Darwin into position within a few days. The Government is uprooting the business site from the place where it belongs. If honorable members opposite regard this matter as a joke I can only say that they have no love for people; it is no joke to those who are most affected. If the Government and its supporters really love people they would listen to the plea of the people of the Northern Territory, and of Darwin in particular, and adopt the plan of McInnes, Miller and Symonds. I could give a dissertation on townplanning, but as the hour is late I shall not do so now. I have with me copies of my telegrams to the Minister for the Navy and the Minister for Works and Housing, and also the foolish replies that I have received from the Minister for the Interior. There is no sense in the implies that have been sent to me. They show complete ignorance of the subject of town-planning. I am ashamed that Ministers who pose as democrats should have so little love for men and women that they should uproot Darwin in the way that is proposed. Let us suppose that a town-planner went to Hobart and attempted to change the personality of that city. Honorable members may know that almost in the heart of Hobart there are two little bays in which ketches are harboured. Some time ago a "go-getter " wanted to despoil Hobart by converting those bays into motor parking stations or garages. Fortunately, sanity prevailed, with the result that the little ketches are still to be seen in the bay. Hobart would not be Hobart without them. Indeed, one can almost see the sailors of the past walking up from the vessels in the bay. Had the people who plan to uproot Darwin been given a free hand in Hobart they would have destroyed that city's charm. What would the people of Kalgoorlie do if Kalgoorlie were to be treated as it is proposed to treat Darwin ? Would they regard it as a joke? I ask the Government to take notice of the town-planners who know their job, and decide on the plan of McInnes, Miller and Symonds.

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