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Tuesday, 23 June 1903

Mr CROUCH (CORIO, VICTORIA) asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

With reference to the Administrator of New Guinea's last annual report, recently presented to the House, in which the following passage appears : - " Mr. Symons made a trip into the district of the offending natives, accompanied by several of the owners of property that had been stolen. In order the better to arrest culprits, and to try and find stolen goods in the small scattered villages, Mr. Symons divided his party. Some of those who were notunder Mr. Symons' eye were not sufficiently careful about keeping strictly within the law. The result was that exaggerated rumours of natives being wantonly murdered, and so on, were spread abroad. These rumours, when sifted and reduced to distinct charges, and to the evidence that supported them, showed that, considering the circumstances, nothing very exceptional had taken place. One European had shot a native without justification, though it is but fair to the offender to state that he thought he was justified in doing what he did. Another European, believing that he had come upon an ambush, fired at what he supposed to be an hostile native man, and found that he had shot a native woman."

1.   Will the Prime Minister cause inquiries to be made us to whether any trial and punishment were incurred by the alleged murderers referred to above; and will he communicate to the House the result of his inquiries ?

2.   Will he further inquire and state what are the ordinary conditions of life in New Guinea, if such conduct is regarded by the Administrator as "nothing very exceptional."

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