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Wednesday, 26 November 1941

Mr Calwell l asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that certain leading representatives of Australian newspapers have gone or are going to England at the invitation of the British Minister for Information to confer with him on questions of propaganda and so on?

2.   If so, was the invitation conveyed through any Australian Minister?

3.   If the invitation was issued direct to each such pressman does he consider that there was any breach of etiquette or any improper procedure in Australian Ministers being so ignored?

4.   Was the Australian Government notified that such conference was being held, and, if so, was its approval sought?

5.   Docs the Government apprehend any danger to our democratic institutions when Australian nationals attend discussions or conferences, convened by a Minister of a sister dominion to deal with questions of propaganda and other questions the nature of which has not been disclosed?

6.   How many newspaper representatives have applied for passports to attend such conference ?

7.   What are their names and the newspapers they represent!

8.   How much money will each person be allowed to take out of Australia?

Mr Curtin - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

1.   I am advised that invitations have been extended by the British Minister for Information to representatives of the Australian press as individuals to visit the United Kingdom separately and at their own expense in order that on arrival they may be afforded facilities to see and inquire into any matters of interest to them. The visit will be regarded as informal.

2.   No.

3.   It is thought that it would have been more appropriate had the invitation been issued through the Commonwealth Government.

4.   No.

5.   See answer to No. 1. 6, 7 and 8. This information will be obtained.

Northern Territory: Lands Administration; Provision of Station for Half-caste Returned Soldiers ; Selfgovernment.

Mr Blain (NORTHERN TERRITORY) n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that the Payne Commission recommended that the Northern Territory Land Board be abolished?

2.   Is it a fact that the then Minister for the Interior (Mr. McEwen) abolished the Land Board without consulting the sitting member for the Northern Territory?

3.   If so, will he inquire why the sitting member was not consulted?

4.   Will he inquire from the Queensland Lands Department as to the capabilities of the honorable member for the Northern Territory to report on large pastoral holdings in northwestern Queensland contiguous to the Northern Territory ?

5.   Is it a fact that the honorable member before entering Parliament reported on, valued, and classified theresumable areas of the Barkly Tableland? If so, has the Minister read these reports?

6.   Did the then Minister for the Interior (Mr. McEwen) give the Administrator complete control of lands administration?

7.   Have Vestey's and other large holders observed their assurances to improve their holdings?

8.   Is it a fact that since the Payne report was presented Vestey's have over -improved the choice areas so that when resumption becomes due a prospective new settler will be unable to afford to pay for the improvements on the desirable areas and will not be prepared to select the adjoining discarded second-class land unless some of the choice land is included ?

9.   Are Vestey's now more firmly entrenched in the Northern Territory by this practice than before the Payne report was presented to Parliament?

10.   Will he see that all improvements so placed are valued for resumption purposes in accordance with their value to an incoming lessee working an economic family holding in conjunction with the contiguous second-class unimproved lands?

Mr Lazzarini - The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers : -

1.   Yes. 2 and 3. Following the adoption of the recommendations generally of the Payne Committee by the then Government, one of which was to abolish the Land Board, the then Minister took the necessary steps togive effect to the Government's decision. I am not aware whether the then Minister consulted the sitting member on the matter.

4.   If the honorable member will advise me why he considers this information should be obtained I will consider the question.

5.   I am advised that the honorable member did classify the areas mentioned and his reports and valuations were fully considered by the then Minister in determining the areas to be resumed from affected pastoral leases at the 30th June, 1935.

6.   Yes, subject to the control of the Minister.

7.   Yes. 8 and9.I have no information to indicate that these statements are correct, butI shall look carefully into the matter.

10.   Any improvements on resumed lands will be valued in accordance with the Ordinance.

Mr Blain n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

1.   Will he see that a properly constituted land board, with a director of lands as chairman, is again set up in the Northern Territory?

2.   In all future land resumptions, will he see that preference is given to experienced landsmen of the Northern Territory who have fought overseas?

Mr Lazzarini - The matter will receive consideration.

Mr Blain n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that an experienced landsman from Orange, with two sons, was, during the previous Minister's term, refused by the Administrator a resumable area of 400 square miles of choice land from the Rocklands Station, Barkly Tableland?

2.   Is it a fact that the applicant produced evidence that he had £10,000 in cash and finance amounting to £1G,000?

3.   Why was the application refused?

4.   Will the Minister review the case to see whether the application can now be granted?

Mr Lazzarini - Information with regard to this matter is being obtained and the honorable member will be further advised in due course.

Mr Blain n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

1.   Will arrangements be made to reserve Western Arnhemland for a cattle station for half-castes who fought overseas or served at Darwin ?

2.   If so, will the station be established on similar lines to the one for returned soldiers at Scartwater, Queensland, with Mr. Cunningham as chairman of trustees?

Mr Lazzarini - The matter will receive consideration.

Mr Blain n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

As a first stop in self-government for the Northern Territory, will ho agree, in response to a petition from residents, to set up an executive council and a legislative council to assist in the administration and to take part in framing ordinances?

Mr Lazzarini - The matter will receive consideration.

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