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Thursday, 9 October 1902


Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - So faras I understand the honorable and learned member, he holds that Members of Parliament should have facilities for travelling to and from the seat of Government when they are engaged on parliamentary business only, and that if they desire to obtain information by visiting different parts of the Commonwealth they, should do so at their own expense. That entirely negatives the idea put forward by the Minister for Home Affairs. I understood from the Minister that a great many complaints had been received from various parts of the Commonwealth to the effect that honorable members were called upon to legislate upon subjects regarding which they had very little or no knowledge, and that therefore it was desirable that they should visit the more distant parts of the Commonwealth, and acquire information, so that the people generally might feel more confidence in the justice of their conclusions. Then the question arose whether it would be cheaper for honorable members to make these visits singly or as members of one large party. In the meantime an intimation was received that the Western Australian Government desired ' that a large number of members should visit that State in a body, and that in such an event the State Government would be only too pleased to show them all they could of the vast resources of that part of the Commonwealth. It seemed to me that the Minister's suggestion was an admirable one. I shall not be able to take advantage of it, but I am sure that much benefit will be derived by those who are able to avail themselves of the facilities offered. If such a visit had been made prior to the consideration of the Tariff, I am- sure that many of the items would have been considerably modified. When we were dealing with Queensland timbers, for instance, honorable members said that they had no guarantee that Queensland possessed sufficient resources to justify them in imposing a protective duty, but if they had visited that State they would have been able to judge for themselves as to the vast quantity of timber available for commercial purposes. In many other items in which Queensland was interested, honorable members admitted that they had not the detailed knowledge necessary to enable them to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. The people of Queensland will be only too glad if provision is made for honorable members to visit that State. The very erroneous idea prevails in many quarters that the Federal Parliament is something external, and apart from the people. This idea is being developed in some of the States, and the public are altogether losing sight of the fact that this Parliament is the creature of the people themselves. lc is desirable that this idea should be discouraged in every possible way, and in order that the federal spirit may be extended and firmly established, it is advisable that honorable members should make themselves fully acquainted with the conditions in which the people live in all parts of the Commonwealth.


Mr Isaacs - Do the Queensland Government ever plan excursions for Members of Parliament over their vast territory ?


Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - Yes, they have frequently done so. Moreover, whenever any visitors desire to obtain information regarding the resources of the State, or the conditions of life within it, they afford every assistance in their power. They offer facilities for members representing the southern parts of the State to acquire a knowledge of the northern districts, and at one time they allowed Members of Parliament to make a trip once a year to the northern districts with this object in view. This is really all that is suggested by the Minister. It has never been proposed that any big junketing trip should be entered upon, or that >ve should enter upon a large picnic of .any description. Wo know that the visits of inspection to the proposed sites for the federal capital were characterized as picnics, but I venture to say that no inspection was ever more economically managed than that in which honorable members of this House took part. The information I gathered during that visit to New South Wales afforded me knowledge which I could not -have acquired otherwise. We may read articles and reports, and see photographs, but we can obtain no such information as can be gained by a personal inspection, and by personal contact with those who are engaged in industrial occupations). We have not heard the last of the coloured-labour problem in Queensland. That is bound to be a recurring question for some time to come, and we shall probably have to face further agitations in reference to it. The representatives of that State have their own opinions, but we do not wish it to be supposed that the representatives of other States blindly follow us. Every man in this House owes it to his conscience to decide according to the best evidence he can obtain, and we desire that honorable members should study all these matters at first hand for themselves. I am not advocating a junketing trip, but I hope that the Minister will adhere to his idea, and afford reasonable opportunities to honorable members for visiting Queensland and other distant States. We are thankful to the Victorian representatives for what they have done to extend our information regarding the resources and industries of that State. They have organized trips, and they have given us opportunities of inspecting their factories, and I can honestly say that the inspections I have made have been revelations to me. I believe that the same thing will happen to honorable members who make visits to the other States. We have a magnificent continent, and we should make ourselves acquainted with it as closely as possible. Honorable members have had their attention' very largely confined to their own States, and we now ask them to avail themselves of every opportunity to gain a more extended knowledge. There is no desire on the part of the Government to incur lavish expenditure. They simply wish to do what is fair and reasonable, in order that honorable members may be in a position to do justice to all parts of the Commonwealth. There is a strong feeling amongst the people of Queensland that that State should be visited by honorable members, either singly or in a body, and they will be only too glad to extend every courtesy and consideration to those who may be able to partake of their hospitality AVe ask honorable members to come and see us, and to give us a verdict according to their consciences.







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