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Wednesday, 10 September 1902

Sir LANGDON BONYTHON (South Australia) - At the beginning of the session I made my position in reference to the Northern Territory quite clear to this House. But I should like to ask honorable members whether we are altogether studying our self-respect by proceeding with the discussion of this matter ? It is true that the offer made by you, sir, as Premier of South Australia, has not actually been withdrawn, but practically it has been withdrawn. That is proved, I think, by the action which has recently been taken by both Houses of the South Australian Legislature. Under these circumstances, I am not at all sure that it is wise for this House to further debate the question. I think that the whole of Australia is very much indebted to South Australia for its past action in relation to the Northern Territory. At different times we have been told that it has been a burden upon us, and that we have been piling up liabilities. All that is true, but so far as South Australia is concerned it need nut have been true. As my colleague, Mr. Poynton has pointed out, when Senator Playford, was acting as Agent-General in London for that State, he received an offer which, had it been accepted by the Government of South Australia, would have freed that State from all liability in respect of the Northern Territory. But the acceptance of that offer meant that the company winch made it was to have a free hand in regard to the class of labour which it employed in the "development of the Territory. This, the Ministry of South Australia would never consent to give. Consequently the Territory is held as it, is at the present moment. As I have said, South Australia is entitled to the thanks of the whole Commonwealth for the position in which things are to-day. In reply to the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O'Malley, I think there is no doubt that whatever may happen in the future in regard to the Territory, that portion of the Continent must be bound by the legislation of the Commonwealth. It is part of the Commonwealth, and of course cannot escape from any legislation which may be adopted bv this Parliament.

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