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Thursday, 20 October 1904


Mr WILKS (Dalley) - The question involved bv this motion is one, not of domestic policy, but of external concern. As the honorable and learned member for

Corio is apparently not prepared to continue the debate, I shall speak a few words upon the motion myself, trusting that perhaps the honorable member for Hume, and other honorable members who take so much interest in the business of the House, will then favour us with their views in regard to it. It is stated in this afternoon's Herald that, the Prime Minister has promised a subsidy of £6,000 for an improved mail service to the New Hebrides, and it is certainly of importance that the Commonwealth should afford every facility for the settlement of Australians there. The whole question was very thoroughly discussed by the honorable member for Lang when he moved this motion some weeks ago, and is so important that it deserves to be treated as a Government matter. . Dr. Paton, the celebrated missionary, has brought prominently before the people of Australia the unsatisfactory results which have followed what has been termed the co-dominion of these islands, and the French newspapers have drawn attention to what the French people consider the most illogical state of affairs which prevails there. The New Hebrides should be the warden of British interests in the Pacific. We should regard them as an outstanding citadel, because French, German, and American interests in the various groups are now so strong that the position of Australia might become a dangerous one if Great Britain were embroiled with one of the larger Powers, and did not hold a commanding influence in the Pacific. The honorable member for Lang showed the strategical importance of these islands, and he also dwelt upon the commercial advantages which would be obtained by increasing our influence there, by improving our trade relations with them. He also had a great deal to say as to the beauty of Havana Harbor. I understand that he is personally acquainted with its .soundings and formation, and is of opinion that it should be under British control. The present leader of the Opposition at the time regretted that he did not know more about the New Hebrides, and expressed the opinion that the late Minister of Home Affairs would be able to enlighten the House very considerably in regard to them ; but up to the present we have not had the advantage of his information. No doubt the Government will inquire into the matter very closely during the recess.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why not make a trip there?


Mr WILKS - It was suggested, a year or two ago, that the members of the Federal Parliament should make a trip to New Guinea, and if such a journey were undertaken, it would, no doubt, be well to go on to the New Hebrides. In considering this question, we may with advantage bear in mind our experiences in connexion with New Guinea. It is generally recognised that Great Britain made a mistake when she failed to. acquire the whole of the island instead of only a portion of it. The occupation of New Guinea by three powers is likely to lead to complications in the near future, and we should endeavour, if possible, to avoid the establishment of similar conditions in the New Hebrides. The whole question should be well threshed out, and I should like the honorable member for Hume to give us the benefit of his opinion. I trust that he will have no further complaint to make with regard to important matters being hurriedly disposed of.

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta).No doubt this is a most important question', and I had hoped that the honorable member for Dalley would have made some practical proposal in regard to it. With the permission of the House I should like to continue my remarks upon another occasion.

Leave granted ; debate adjourned.







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