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Wednesday, 18 July 1906

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) .- I intend to support the motion submitted by Senator Higgs. The first paragraph reads -

That, in the opinion of the Senate, it is desirable, in the interests of good government and the effective development of British New Guinea, that a proclamation should be at once issued, bringing the Papua Act into force.

Various honorable senators who have addressed themselves to this part of the motion have admittedthat at the present time, and for some time past there has been a great amount of trouble in connexion with the administration of the Territory. From recent reports which have been submitted, we know that there has been little or no development in the country. Various reasons have been assigned for this, but in my opinion the true reason is that the existing administration of the territory is not as satisfactory as most people in the Commonwealth desire that it should be. The second paragraph of the motion reads -

That an Australian citizen in touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth should, without delay, be appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the Territory.

Most honorable senators who have spoken have expressed some sympathy with this part of the motion, but some of the reasons urged why it should not be carried seem to me to be extraordinary. Up to tonight I considered Senator Stewart an outandout Australian, imbued with the na tionalspiritandthenationalsentiment, but the honorable senator has gone so far as tosay that this Commonwealth, with a population of 4,000,000, does not contain a man with sufficient intelligence, business capacity, and administrative ability to fill he post of Lieutenant-Governor of New Guinea. The honorable senator urged that only a man accustomed to the conditions of life in a tropical climate should be appointed to the office. He paid a high, and probably well -deserved, compliment to Sir William McGregor, but that gentleman, like Senator Stewart himself, was not born in a tropical climate. The honorable senator, as well as Sir WilliamMcGregor, has nevertheless thriven well in a tropical climate. Senator Stewart contended that Sir William McGregor is a man possessing exceptional qualifications, but I was surprised to hear from Senator de Largie that he is just about sixty years of age.

Senator Trenwith - That is the prime of life.

Senator FINDLEY - It is not considered so by any State Government; or by the Government of the Commonwealth. So far as the Public Service is concerned, sixty years of age is held to be the age at which public servants should retire. If that be a good rule to adopt in connexion with the Public Service of the Commonwealth or of the States, surely it cannot be a bad rule to apply to the LieutenantGovernor of New Guinea. I am personally unable to understand the antiAustralian spirit which apparently seems teammate certain gentlemen connected with the administration of the Commonwealth. Surelyno one will have the courage to say thatAustralia is destitute of any man who could ably and faithfully represent Australian interests in New Guinea? I hold no such view, and it is because, on the contrary. I believe that every encouragement should be held out to Australians in connexion with the filling of vacant posts of this kind that I desire to see the motion carried. It would appear that now. by reason of some additions, to their strength, the Government are in a position to defeat the motion; but even if that should be so the division upon it will supply a good indication of the opinions which certain honorable senators hold in regard to the fitness or otherwise of Australians to fill the vacant position in New Guinea. I intend to vote for the motion if it goes to a division.

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