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Wednesday, 2 June 1915


The CHAIRMAN - The remarks of the honorable member are outside the scope of the question before the Chair. Consequently, he will not be in order in pursuing the course which he wishes to adopt.


Mr SAMPSON - I should like to direct your attention, sir, to the fact that the Department of External Affairs deals with all matters external to Australia.


The CHAIRMAN - I have already given my ruling, and my reasons for that ruling may be very briefly stated. Lord Denman is not the Governor-General of the Commonwealth, and any statement which he may make has nothing whatever to do with the Department of External Affairs. Had the honorable member raised the question on the Defence Estimates, he might have been in order, but he is certainly not in order in raising it now.


Mr SAMPSON - If you, sir, rule that a reference to matters external to Australia cannot be discussed when the Estimates for this Department are under review, I am at a loss to know what can be discussed.


The CHAIRMAN - Order ! That was not my ruling. I ruled that the statement made by Lord Denman has nothing to do with the External Affairs Department.


Mr SAMPSON - I suppose that I must abide by the ruling, but if we cannot discuss questions which are extraterritorial, I would like to know what jurisdiction the Department has in connexion with matters outside of Australia.


Mr Spence - It does not rule all the world, although it is the External Affairs Department.


Mr SAMPSON -May I suggest to the Chair that under the Department of External Affairs we might discuss questions relating to the Panama Exposition and the High Commissioner's Office in Great Britain? All matters which have an international relation to Australia may, I take it, be properly brought up on the Estimates for that Department. I regret, sir, if, by your ruling, the Committee is denied an opportunity of discussing a question which has a very close relation to the Defence policy of Australia.


The CHAIRMAN - Order ! I cannot allow a discussion like this to continue. As regards one case proposed to be submitted by the honorable member, I ruled that it was out of order on the ground that it was not connected with the External Affairs Department. I suggest to the honorable gentleman that if he disagrees with the ruling, there is one course open to him. When he refers to other matters I will give a ruling.


Mr SAMPSON - May I, in discussing these Estimates, ask the Minister to request the High Commissioner to deny a statement which is inaccurate, and which was made by a gentleman who formerly occupied the position of Governor-General of Australia?


The CHAIRMAN - Order ! The honorable gentleman is now trying to get in in another form what I have ruled he cannot do.


Mr SAMPSON - Would I be in order, sir, in proceeding in that way?


Mr Mahon - If you will allow me, I will dispose of the matter in one act now. The answer is " No."


Mr SAMPSON - The Committee can ask the Minister to do so, and he probably will take its instruction.


Mr Thomas - I do not think it is very likely that the Committee will.


Mr SAMPSON - The honorable member ought not to anticipatewhat the Committee may do. However, sir, if you deny me the right to bring this matter forward in this wide discussion on the Department of External Affairs, I will have to take another opportunity. I have already spoken on the question of the Northern Territory. I regret that the Ministry has not submitted a general policy, so that the House could discuss the whole question of the Territory, instead of always compelling honorable members to deal with the Territory on the Estimates. It is a subject of sufficient importance to be discussed in the House, and in a way which would cause the Government of the day to bring down a comprehensive policy for the development of the Territory, which is constantly costing the Commonwealth enormous sums, without any appreciable result. It is unfair that honorable members should be denied an opportunity of discussing a general policy, and should be constantly called upon to discuss the matter on the Estimates within a space of time which does not enable them to do justice to the subject, and which at the same time precludes us from coming to a definite conclusion or instructing the Minister what kind of a policy he is to carry out. Several years ago the Commonwealth took over the Northern Territory, for the reason that the South Australian Government had failed to develop the country as rapidly as should have been done. It has been under our control for a number of years, but we have lamentably failed to do anything which is calculated to lay down even the foundations of a general policy of development.







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