Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 18 July 1906

The PRESIDENT - The amendment will have to be put before the motion.

Senator O'KEEFE - Then I cannot support the amendment. In his interesting speech Senator Symon missed a number of points. He elaborated his arguments at undue length, and he strained his points considerably. He said that if the motion were carried in its present form it might place the Government in the position of having to appoint an incompetent person. Surely that is a serious reflection upon the capacity of 4,000,000 persons.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - The motion shuts out men who may be much better than Australians.

Senator O'KEEFE - If the honorable and learned senator retains that feeling of Australian patriotism which in his early speeches here was so much admired, I am satisfied that in his inmost heart he is sure that there are Australians who are fit for appointment to this position.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - I am not so sure ; at all events, I do not know.

Senator O'KEEFE - Out of a population of 4,000,000 there should be.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - There may be, but I do not know.

Senator O'KEEFE - I believe that, even if the motion or amendment be not carried, the Government will be sufficiently Australian in sentiment to appoint an Australian if they are satisfied that they can get the best man here.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Why does the honorable senator wish the Senateto pass the motion? He will not trust the Government.

Senator O'KEEFE - It is not a question of placing the Government in an embarrassing position. We are simply saying to them, " Surely in Australia there should be one citizen - not necessarily Australian born - who is eminently qualified in all respects to fill this position."

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Can the honorable senator name one now ?

Senator O'KEEFE - I am not going to be drawn off the track in that way. I could name more than one Australian citizen who, in my humble judgment, is eminently fitted to hold the position.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Then put a name in the motion.

Senator O'KEEFE -I think it would be a good thing if the Senate, as part of the national Parliament, were to lay down, on every possible occasion, the rule that wherever it could be done an Australian appointment should be made. I do not think that there is anything unpatriotic in the cry of " Australia for the Australians," because, necessarily, it has its limitations, and we recognise them. But, surely, where the work to be done is not beyond the capacity of a large number of Australians, we ought to hold out an inducement to our citizens by letting it become generally known that, in our view, these appointments should be given to Australians whenever the opportunity arises. I do not think that we need worry ourselves about Sir William McGregor, whose name has been used frequently in this discussion. Admittedly, he did good work in British New Guinea. If he were an Australian citizen to-day, and it were likely that he would accept the salary which has been fixed, probably neither the Government nor any honorable senator would look beyond that gentleman for an Administrator. But it is stated on good authority that he is filling a position which carries nearly double the salary which is attached to the Lieutenant-Governorship of Papua. I do not see why his name should have been introduced, because, in the first place, it is hardly likely that he would accept the position at the salary proposed.

Senator Higgs - It was necessary to introduce his name.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - There is no objection to the introduction of the name.

Senator O'KEEFE - No;But why should we worry ourselves about Sir William McGregor, when it hasbeenlaid down by the Parliament that the salary for the position shall be £1,250?

Senator Playford - Why should not the honorable senator leave the matter alone? If the Government proposed to appoint Sir

William McGregor, and he wanted more than £1,250, the honorable senator would have an opportunity to express his opinion when the Bill came before the Senate.

Senator O'KEEFE - Perhaps the Minister of Defence, when he speaks, will tell us why the salary for this office was fixed at £1,250. Presumably, it was thought to be fair remuneration for the work to be done.

Senator Playford - The honorable senator said that if Sir William McGregor would accept £1,250, he should be appointed.

Senator O'KEEFE - No. I said that if Sir William McGregor were an Australian citizen to-day he would have a far better chance of getting the appointment than any other Australian citizen, because of his experience in Papua. If it is necessary to increase the salary in order to get the services of Sir William McGregor - some newspapers have gone the length of saying, and I do not know whether some members of Parliament have not said, that if we could it would be better to increase the salary - we should immediately have those who have always been crying out about Federal extravagance saying, " You are giving more for the work than it is necessary to give." Sir William McGregor is, however, worth more than £1,250 a year, because he is now receiving nearly double that salary in another place, and, therefore, I should think that he is out of court. I contend that that salary is fair remuneration for the work which is to be performed inPapua. Surely it is not necessary to go outside Australia in order to get a man who is fit to perform services which are valued at £1,250 a year ! In view of the fact that, in different portions of Australia, with a semi-tropical climate, some Australian citizens have had experience of work such as is to be done in Papua, it seems absurd to think that the Government cannot place their hands upon an Australian citizen who possesses, to the utmost degree, all the necessary qualifications for the position of Lieutenant-Governor of Papua. I do think that it will be a pity if this opportunity is lost of giving the Government a direction upon this subject. It may, of course, be said that if that is done, it will take from the Government some of its independence. But we have a right to let the Government know the opinion of this branch of the Legislature in respect to the appointment that has to be made. Senator Symon has told us that he believes in the principle of promotion. So do I. Probably there are many citizens of Australia in the Public Service who have qualifications which eminently fit themfor this position.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Does this motion mean that a man should be selected from the Public Service?

Senator O'KEEFE - The motion does not say so, nor does it mean the reverse.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Does the honorable senator think that Captain Barton would be eligible?

Senator O'KEEFE - I do not know whether he would be shut out under the terms of this motion. I do not know whether he would be considered to be an Australian citizen by reason of his having been so long in Papua, which is an Australian Dependency.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Would the honorable senator give him a preference?

Senator O'KEEFE - I am not going to mention any individual. I may have in my mind's eye individuals whom I may consider to be well fitted for this position, tout I shall not mention them. I shall vote for the motion, but if it is defeated, I should like to have an opportunity afterwards of voting for the amendment submitted by Senator Mulcahy. Perhaps we shall be able to get over the difficulty in some way so as to be able to meet the views of those honorable senators who, if they cannot secure the passage of the motion in its present form, would like to vote for the amendment.

Motion (by Senator Playford) put -

That the debate be now adjourned.

Suggest corrections