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Wednesday, 29 June 1938

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the bill.

Mr.JAMES. - I wish to know what rate of wages will be paid to natives engaged in the construction of this road, for which purpose this measure seeks to appropriate by way of loan to New Guinea, a sum of £150,000. This money is to be recouped by a toll, but the Minister has not informed us as to the period of repayment. We are entitled to object to the employment of natives in this work under conditions similar to . those prevailing on the plantations. In reply to the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), who asked by way of interjection, whether we knew they were going to be exploited, I point out that native labour is being exploited to-day in New Guinea. We should not be a party to similar exploitation when it is a matter of employing natives in the more arduous work of road construction. I agree that natives should be given preference in this work, but I am opposed to any form of exploitation of them. The Minister, I suggest, should give the House more definite information concerning this road which it is proposed to construct from Salamaua to Wau. Men who have spent many years in New Guinea are incensed at the cruel treatment of native labourers by the White man. I have always admired the efforts of British peoples in the past to abolish slavery, but in New Guinea to-day under the administration of this Government, wage slavery of the worst possible kind is being re-introduced.

Mr SPEAKER -Order ! The honorable member is going far beyond the limit of legitimate debate on this measure.

Mr JAMES - I urge that slavery in any form should not be tolerated by this Government in any territory under its control. To-day, in New Guinea, native labour is being exploited by the white man on plantations. This is certainly a tragedy, and so long as we permit such a form of slavery, we shall be failing in our responsibility.

Mr SPEAKER - Order!I shall not allow the honorable member to proceed if be intends to discuss generally the administration of New Guinea. He may make reference to the employment of labour in the construction of the road proposed under the measure.

Mr JAMES - If we cannot have information with regard to the rate of wages to be paid to native labour-

Mr Hughes - The honorable member is not seeking information; he is simply hurling abuse.

Mr JAMES - I am sorry if the Minister interprets my remarks in that way. He should at least inf orm honorable members of the rate of wages which will be paid by the contractors to natives who will be engaged in the construction of this road, but so far he has failed to do so. Because I ask for such information he says that I am hurling abuse. If we cannot administer the Territory of New Guinea better than we are doing at present, so far as exploitation of native labour is concerned, then the sooner we return that territory to Germany the better.

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