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Thursday, 30 August 1928

Mr WEST (East Sydney) .- I had hoped that we had got rid of those honorable members whose vision is so short that they are unable in this national Parliament to discuss matters of national interest. The opposition to the expenditure of money on a road between Canberra and Goulburn has all come from members representing constituencies in States other than New South Wales. Many honorable members who represent States to which assistance has been granted by the Commonwealth appear to have forgotten that the people of New South Wales and Queensland have been the largest contributors to the funds from which those grants have been made. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) referred to the liberal action of New South Wales in ceding to the Commonwealth 900 square miles of the best portion of its territory on which large sums of money had been spent. That area, which is the show ground of Australia, now belongs, not to New South Wales alone, hut to the whole of Australia. Any money expended in the Federal Capital Territory is spent on behalf of the people of Australia. I protest against the parochial attitude adopted by some honorable members in this chamber.

The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) brought under the notice of honorable members a number of matters affecting the Northern Territory. Having spent some weeks in the Northern Territory, I realize that it has a great future if the residents will devote their energies to cattle raising, and the development of its mineral resources. Probably no portion of Australia is so rich in minerals as is this part of the continent. That is our chief hope of making a success of settlement in North Australia. It has been proposed on various occasions that migrants from the United Kingdom should be settled there, but they would never make a success of stock-raising. If that kind of production is desired, the best class of settler will be found in the outlying areas of - South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. When we visited the Katherine River district we saw 700 head of cattle, equal to the best Herefords raised in New South Wales. They were subsequently shipped from Darwin to Manila and the gentleman who had the transaction in hand informed me later in Sydney that it was quite a success. A good deal has been said at different times about the courage of Vestey Brothers in establishing meat works at Darwin. I am of the opinion that the sole object of the firm in undertaking that enterprise was to prevent the development of a substantial trade between Manila and Darwin and so enable the South American and Argentine monopoly of the Manila trade to continue. I say that after a careful study of the whole situation.

The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) drew attention to the necessity for taking steps to encourage an extension of meat production in North

Australia. It is wrong that the Australian people should he obliged to pay such a high price for their meat. The unfortunate Australian consumer has to pay dearly for most of the foodstuffs produced here. This is largely because our producers are unable to cope with the transport problem. The Government should be doing something to increase our transport facilities instead of rushing to the country on a whirlwind election campaign.

Provision is made on the Estimates for the expenditure of £1,800 on a wireless station at Lord Howe Island; but I do not expect the money to be spent. A similar amount was on the Estimates last year, but was not spent. I do not think that the Government has any intention to provide these facilities, although they are urgently required. I have endeavoured on numerous occasions to get something done. I have been referred in turn to the Works Department, Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, and other authorities, but always with a negative result. It is unjust and cruel that people on this lonely outpost should have no means of direct communication with the mainland. I have even gone to the length of getting the Governor of New South Wales to intercede with the Commonwealth Government on behalf of these people. I thought that, as his instincts were naturally tory, he might be able to influence a tory government; but it was not so. These people are more than 450 miles from the mainland. It takes me five weeks to go there, deliver an address and get back to Sydney. There is shown on the Estimates the sum of £3,250 for extensions at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. I wish to know why the Government is asking for this expenditure, and at the same time carrying on negotiations for the sale of our national workshops at Cockatoo Island.

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