Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 10 September 1902

Mr CONROY (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did they actually offer to do that ?

Mr POYNTON - I am perfectly satisfied that Mr. Playford will confirm my statement. These syndicates, however, stipulated that in the development of the Territory they should be allowed to use whatever class of labour they chose. The South Australian Government refused to grant that concession. The State Parliament believed that it held the key to the situation in regard to the influx of alien labour, and it also realized that whatever affected South Australia affected Australia as a whole. Without the slightest trouble South Australia could dispose of the Northern Territory, which is too great a concern for so small a State to manage. For years past, however, the South Australian Government have absolutely refused to entertain any proposition which might involve an influx of alien labour into the territory. The position today is that the Commonwealth has decided - and the territory is included in the area governed by the Commonwealth - that no coloured aliens can be employed in the development of tropical industries in Australia. That is another reason why this Parliament should take over the control of the Northern Territory. I do not think that it is necessary for me to reply to the caustic criticisms of the territory which were indulged in by the honorable member for Richmond, because he admitted that he has never visited it, which fact I presume, is the chief reason, why he is so well qualified to instruct others who have, as to its possibilities. But even he acknowledged that, as .the Commonwealth has adopted the policy of a white Australia, it is unfair to expect South Australia to bear the whole cost of carrying out that policy in respect to the Northern Territory, and in his closing remarks he agreed to support this proposition. I repeat that the Territory has great possibilities. I had collected a number of figures bearing upon that aspect of the matter, and, had I anticipated that any objection would be taken to the withdrawal of the motion, I should have had them in my possession to-day, and been prepared to justify my opinion. But, having regard to the resolution which has recently been carried in both branches of the- South Australian Parliament demanding terms very different from those which you, sir, as Premier of that State, submitted to the Commonwealth, I hold that the mover of the motion has no alternative but to withdraw it. "Undoubtedly South Australia has repudiated the offer then made, and is attempting to dictate terms which were never mentioned when this proposal was before the State Legislature some years ago. If the motion be pressed to a division, I shall support it, but, at the same time, I believe that the proper course for this House to adopt is to permit the order of the day to be discharged.

Suggest corrections