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Wednesday, 18 July 1906

Senator HIGGS (Queensland) .- I desire to say a few words in reply to several speakers. Senator Symon wants to know what is the meaning of the words " in touch with Hie aspirations of the Commonwealth." If he does not know, I may tell him that throughout Australia, as has been shown by the votes of the majority of the members of the Senate, there is an opinion that the lands in Papua ought to be administered in a way somewhat different from that in which the lands in Australia have been administered. In the Papua Act we inserted a provision that' no lands in the Possession shall be alienated, but shall be administered as 'Crown lands. When we say that we want an Australian to go there to administer the land ordinances, we mean that we want a. person who is in sympathy with our views regarding the alienation of land. It would be quite possible for an Administrator to refuse to administer the Papua Act in the spirit in which it was passed. It would be quite possible for him to so frame the regulations as to nullify the Act in that regard. There is also a feeling throughout Australia, as stated by another honorable senator, that the natives should be well treated. Thereis, I venture to think, no sympathy with the suggestion of the Secretary for' External' Affairs, that we should force the natives; of Papua to work as natives are forced to do in other parts of the world. The sympathies and the aspirations of Australians are in the direction of treating natives as human beings.

Senator Playford - But human beings ought to work.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - Not in slaverythough. ,

Senator HIGGS - Apparently the Government are in favour of forced labour being used in Papua. That is what the interjection means, if it means anything.

Senator Playford - Not necessarily; but the natives ought to work.

Senator Mulcahy - I cannot see very rauch harm in it.

Senator HIGGS - Then the honorable senator ought to read of the abuses which have marked the use of forced labour in other parts of the world.

Senator Findley - It is not necessary to go to other parts of the world.

Senator HIGGS - No; we might go to some States.

Senator Styles - To Queensland, for instance.

Senator HIGGS - Perhaps so. Contrary to his usual desire to be concise and precise, Senator Symon wants a great deal of elaboration in the motion. Now, when the Government brought down the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, he objected to the title.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - It has only come here to-day-

Senator HIGGS - The honorable and learned senator heard about the Bill, because he mentioned the fact. He objected to the use of the words in the title, because, apparently, there was too much detail given.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - That was not the reason.

Senator HIGGS - The honorable and learned senator knows well enough what is meant when we ask for the appointment of an Australian. When we use those words, the common-sense construction is that we want a man with sufficient ability in the way of education, and in the way of natural temperament and character.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - And with a knowledge of Australian conditions.

Senator HIGGS - Yes. We have been charged with want of loyalty to the Government in voting as we did this afternoon. It was a most singular thing that the leader of the Opposition should, for the first time, I think, since he entered the Senate, have been found supporting the Government, and endeavouring to save them from what he called humiliation.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - I always do it when they are right.

Senator HIGGS - Within my recollection there has never been a' chance of humiliating the Government which the honorable senator has not availed himself of if he could.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - The honorable senator knows that that is not quite just.

Senator HIGGS - Did not the honorable senator use his eloquence to scarify the present leader of the Senate ?

Senator Playford - I do not think that his scarification was very deep.

Senator HIGGS - I know that the Minister has had too long an experience in politics to be much hurt by Senator Symon's skilful attacks. But let us come to the Minister himself, who pleaded with us. He said, " I want information," and when I asked what information he wanted, no one thought for a moment that I expected a reply. I knew that I could not get a reply, because it was obvious. The Government have waited for nine months before proclaiming the Papua Act. They have forgotten that they have raised the cry of "Australia for the Australians," and they are now trying to find a person outside Australia to fill this position.

Senator Millen - Why did the honorable senator vote for an adjournment of the debate just now?

Senator HIGGS - Because I knew from the Minister's statement that he had the numbers behind him. Let us be candid. What is the use of beating about the bush ?

Senator Millen - Let us get to a vote, then.

Senator HIGGS - We know very well that this afternoon the Minister wanted an adjournment because he had not the votes.

Senator Findley - He said that he would get the votes after the dinner adjournment.

Senator HIGGS - It is of no use for honorable senators to try to indulge in bluff.

Senator Lt Col Gould - The honorable senator tried to get a snatch vote, although he knew that the majority of the senators were against him.

Senator Guthrie - And honorable senators set the telephones to work, and beat us off.

Senator Walker - -Quite right, too.

Senator HIGGS - This afternoon some veiled attacks were made by certain speakers which I thought were unworthy of them. An, honorable senator said that because he had paid a visit to India, and written an article about his trip, he was not necessarily qualified to occupy the position of Lieutenant-Governor.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - No, GovernorGeneral.

Senator HIGGS - The honorable senator might have used that expression, but it does not make any difference if he did. We know whom he was aiming at.

Those who know the honorable senator aimed at, will, I think, admit that he would vote for the motion on its merits, believing that an Australian should be appointed. If a particular gentleman has been mentioned by some persons as being qualified for the position, that is no reason why he should be made the butt of sarcasm.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator mentioned the name.

Senator HIGGS - Where did I mention it?

Senator Millen - Two or three weeks ago inthe Senate.

Senator HIGGS - I do not believe that I did; at all events, I do not remember doing so.

Senator Millen - Either the honorable senator or Senator Styles did.

Senator Styles - Yes, I was the first to mention the name.

Senator HIGGS - I took the view that I should not advance the candidature of any gentleman by mentioning his name in public.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Quite right.

Senator HIGGS - With regard to Captain Barton, whose name has been dragged into the debate, he has made a thorough failure of the administration of Papua.

Senator Mulcahy - No.

Senator HIGGS - I know that from high authority in Papua.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - In the circumstances, the honorable senator ought not to say that or to discuss him.

Senator HIGGS - The matter was brought up by the opponents of the motion.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - No.

Senator HIGGS - Did we mention the name of Captain Barton ?

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - What I said was that honorable senators ought not to condemn Captain Barton unheard. The motion passes him oven.

Senator HIGGS - The very act of the Government in going beyond Captain Barton, and seeking an administrator outside the Commonwealth, shows that they have no confidence in that gentleman. Why should he get the position? He was head of the police, a position which I suppose is filled in Australia by a sergeant of police.

Senator Walker - He had a district to himself.

Senator HIGGS - Captain Barton had Co direct the police, and his position was no higher than some of the important positions in the Police Force throughout the various

States. From information I have received and read in corespondence, I can assure you, sir, that the administration of: Papua is in a state of chaos, and that the hand of every man appears to be against his neighbour. It is even said that letters in the post-office are tampered with.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - The honorable senator ought not to say that.

Senator HIGGS - I refer to the chaotic state of the administration because the honorable senator suggests that Captain Barton should get the position.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - I do not suggest that.

Senator HIGGS - We know very well that a good deal of vice-regal influence is being used to get Captain Barton into the position, and if honorable senators start to advocate his claims, it will be necessary for us to mention these matters.

Senator Mulcahy - No one did.

Senator Guthrie - Senator Fraser did.

Senator HIGGS - This evening, Senator Frasersaid that there was an attempt being made by the motion to secure the position of Lieutenant-Governor for a member of the Senate.

Senator Guthrie - To oust the man who was in it:

Senator Fraser - Everybody tells me so.

Senator HIGGS - Suppose that such an attempt was being made, may I quote the words of certain honorable senators who, when I moved a motion that no member of the Federal Parliament should accept a position on the Bench of the High Court, utterly repelled such an idea? They knew that the Justices would be chosen from amongst the members of this Parliament, and yet they opposed the motion. If it is reasonable that a member of this Parliament should occupy a position on the bench of the High Court, what objection can there be to a member of this Parliament being appointed, if he is sufficiently capable, to the office of Administrator of Papua?

Senator Best - No one disputes that.

Senator Fraser - It would be far safer to appoint an outsider though, because then there could be no question of partiality.

Senator HIGGS - In conclusion, I wish to refer to a remark made by Senator Best to the effect that the motion will be regarded as expressing a want of confidence in the Government. If Ithought that the motion, if carried, would have the effect of displacing the Government, and putting in office our honorable friends opposite, I would not think of pressing it. We are supporting the Government because we believe that they will endeavour to pass legislation which is in accordance with ourviews, and with what we believe to be the views of our constituents.

Senator Walker - The caucus.

Senator HIGGS - I hope that the honorable senator will not talk about the caucus after what has happened to-day. He has seen instance upon instance in which honorable senators belonging to the Labour Party have exercised their vote according to their conviction.

Senator Walker - I am glad to hear the honorable senator admit that.

Senator HIGGS - Must we suppress an opinion because members of the Government take exception to being directed, as they call it? What becomes of the gratitude of the members of the Cabinet and their supporters for the manner in which our party has supported them during the past six or eight months?

Senator Guthrie - That is nothing; it is not taken into consideration. The honorable senator ought to be thankful to follow them.

Senator HIGGS - I submit that in these matters we have a right to give a hint to the Government as to what our views are.

Senator Fraser - Not to give a hint, but to take the management of public affairs out of their hands.

Senator HIGGS - I think that the Government ought to be very thankful to the party here for giving them an expression of their views on this question, because otherwise they might be under the impression that if they appointed an Australian they would not have the support of the people of Australia. By our votes we will assure Ministers that in Australia there is a great body of public opinion which is favorable to such an appointment. Senator Playford said that he is desirous of getting information on this subject. Are we to understand, as we might assume from his professed utter want of knowledge, that the Prime Minister did not inform the members of the Cabinet when heentered upon the negotiations to get a gentleman to fill the position? Are we to understand that, although the Papua Act was passed nine or ten months ago, the question of appointing an Administrator of the Possession never came up in Cabinet? Who have been transacting the business? Has it been transacted by the Prime Minister only, or by the Prime Minister and the Secretary for External Affairs, who, I am given to understand, is a friend of Captain Barton, and who is said to have made a royal progress through the Territory? I trust that everybody who is in favour of the shibboleth of the Prime Minister, "Australia for the Australians," will cast a vote-

Senator Best - Against the Government.

Senator HIGGS - No; the honorable and learned senator knows that that is not so. I hope that we shall show by our actions that we believe in the principle to which wegive expression.

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