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Wednesday, 29 June 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - The Minister appears to think that those citizens of Darwin who have refused to pay their taxes are lawbreakers, and, as such, must be punished. That may be a sound view, but it should not be forgotten that these people are called upon to obey laws which they have had no hand or voice in making, and to pay taxes at the behest of a Legislature in which they have no representation. I trust that when the Government may be considering their policy, upon the return of the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton), they will not deal with the Territory as though it were a portion of Australia which has its direct representatives in the Federal Parliament. Rather, they should apply themselves to the situation as the British Parliament would deal with a Crown colony.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Territory has been dealt with as the British Government deal with a Crown colony wherein the local residents are given opportunities to elect their own members to a council. I am not saying, of course, that that is sufficient, but the analogy holds.

Senator GARDINER - Rightly or wrongly-and, I think, rightly - these people maintain that they are being unfairly and illegally penalized. The familiar saying," No taxation without representation," is perfectly sound in its application to the Northern Territory.

Senator Wilson - Then the honorable senator countenances the breaking of the law by residents of the Territory?

SenatorGARDINER.- If they have had no voice in making a law, can they be saidtohave broken it?

Senator Wilson - But the honorable senator does countenance their breaking the law?

Senator GARDINER - My views may be put in that way if the honorable senator wishes; he may interpret any statementsas he likes. As for taxation without representation, I suppose that that was really the reason why Great Britain lost America. The citizens of the American colonies were among the most lawlovingand law-abiding people of the world.

Senator Keating -Great Britain was not spending money in America as the Commonwealth has done in theTerritory.

Senator GARDINER - Britain was spending much money in America. An army was being maintained there, for instance. But, generally, if a difference of opinion arises, it is not a bad practice to try to learn the other man's point of view. One cannot get much out of a man who thinks he has been wrongly treated. If some of the residents of Darwin have adopted drastic means of making known their plight, it is becausethey are convinced that such course is not only right, but thebest. The peopleof the Territory consider that the onlyeffective method of bringing their grievances prominently before their fellow citizens of Australia is to resist payment of taxes. Senator Wilson says, " You countenance law-breakers."

Senator Wilson - The honorable senator said he did. I did not say so of him.

Senator GARDINER -Senator Wilsonput the words into my mouth. However, it is not a question of countenancing breaches of the law, for, after all, there is something above the law. If a law is unjust, men are morally right in resisting it. The residents of the Terri tory consider that the law is unjust, her cause taxation has been imposed upon them by a Parliament in whichthey have no representation. They demand representation before they will pay their taxes. If Parliament adopts the attitude of Senator. Wilson, and calls them lawbreakers, there is little likelihood of them receiving justtreatment.

Senator Wilson - Did I suggest that?

Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator is the only one who accused them ofbeing law-breakers.

SenatorE.D. Millen. - They would not be in gaol, if they had not committed anoffence.

SenatorGARDINER. - Senator Millen adoptsthe attitude that they would not be in gaol if they had mot broken thelaw ; but offences against the law must atall times be considered upon their merits. What if these men are making martyrs of themselves? What if they feel that they have been so unjustly treated that they are justifiedin defying the law and submitting to punishment? We have to consider whether we are doing any good by placing them in that position, and if there is not a reasonable wayout of the difficulty. The Government have a difficult proposition to handle, and, as the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton) has visited the Northern Territory, and is doubtless coming back with fullinformation,the Government will be in an infinitely better position to deal withthe question when he returns.

Senator Foster - The Government endeavoured to do something.

Senator GARDINER - The Government wereso satisfied of the injustice to which the residents of the Northern. Territory were being subjected - I will put it that way, even if theGovernment do not approve - that theywere prepared to give them representation in the Senate, but honorable senators were not agreeable to the proposal. By introducing their Bill the Government recognised that the residents of the Northern Territory were being unjustly treated. They went to the extent of introducinga measure into this Chamber to give them representation. But that Bill did not get through, and, of course, the Government cannot bc held responsible for that.The introduction of such a measure ledthe people to believe that an effort was being made to give them representation in the Commonwealth Parliament.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The action of the Government should have shown reasonable men that their interests were being sympathetically considered from a distance.

Senator GARDINER - That would appear 4o be the case ; but it is regrettable to find that the efforts of . the Government were thwarted by their own supporters; because it requires a majority of this Senate to reject va Bill. The residents of the Territory do not possess as much information as the Minister on thi3 matter, and they, may believe that the action of the Government was a mere "put up." They realized that the Government introduced a measure and a majority of the Senate rejected it, and after making repeated complaints they decided to take drastic action.

Senator Keating - The Senate did more than reject it, because we passed a resolution in regard to the subject-matter.

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