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Thursday, 4 April 1946

Mr SPEAKER - If the honorable member for the Northern Territory is not quiet, I shall stop him.

Mr JOHNSON - As the result of conferences, a slight alteration of the plan was made, but I repeat that that was done only after the mostcareful consideration and weighing all arguments for and against anyalteration.

Mr Blain - The Minister let some fantastic architects " pull his leg ".

Mr JOHNSON - The honorable member isnot willingto listen to my answer tothecharges thathe has made. He says that he has notbeen asleep since he returned to Australia, but it would appear that he must have been a "Kip Van Winkle " before he left. During my tour of the Northern Territory I met deputations at every place I visited, including Alice Springs, but I was not prepared to fall into the trap set for me. I was not disposed to attend a- meeting and discuss matters of high policy with people who had prepared resolutions condemning the Government and myself, as Minister. I have been in the back country too long to be caught in a trap of that kind. Instead of criticizing the Government, the honorable member ought to be co-operating with it in overcoming the difficulties associated with the rehabilitation of Darwin. I admit that the people there are suffering a great many disabilities, but I inform the honorable member that the Government is operating . under a most Conservative ordinance, which the honorable member has made no attempt, so far as I know, to have amended in the interests of the people. He talks of large areas being held by Vesteys Limited, but what did he or the governments which he supported do to check the aggregation of big estates? It may interest the honorable member to know that I have had an ordinance prepared for submission . to Cabinet which, will prevent monopolies of that kind in the future being built up in the Northern Territory. That is an effective reply to his allegations. This morning, the honorable member for the Northern Territory presented a petition to this House. I inform him that I also received a petition from Darwin! At a meeting held on the 25th March last, and attended by over 200 persons, the following resolution was carried : -

That we write to the Prime Minister dissociating ourselves from Mr. Blain's petition regarding plans for Darwin and urge that the Government go ahead with the plan that they have endorsed and get on with the work

Therefore, the representations which the honorable member made, and which were reported to have been the expressed opinion of the majority of the people in the Northern Territory, are directly contradicted by that resolution.

Mr. ARCHIECAMERON (Barker) challenged two statements that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) has just made. The first was that the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) was a supporter of the previous Government, of which I also was a supporter. It is news to me that the honorable member for the Northern Territory has ever supported any government in this House. He does not have a vote except on matters directly relating te- the Northern Territory, and therefore he has never been regarded by any political party as one of its supporters.

Mr Falstein - That puts him in the same category as the honorable member for Barker.

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