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Wednesday, 25 July 1906

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) -4Sl- - I have a very strong feeling upon - this matter, because I have seen the inroads that have been made by public authorities upon the public domain. We ought to do everything that lies in our power to protect from inroads estates owned and enjoyed by' the public. I have a clear recollection of an endeavour made some time ago by the Gtv Corporation to take a portion of the park lands surrounding Adelaide for the purpose of erecting abattoirs, rubbish destructors, and other buildings of an objectionable character. The Defence Department has also made considerable inroads upon the public domain, though it is true that it has not prevented the public from crossing the land.

Senator McGregor - It has beautified the place.

Senator GUTHRIE - There is no beautification in a galvanized iron shed and an asphalted path.

Senator Playford - Mv Department has never taken any land for that purpose.

Senator GUTHRIE - The Defence Deportment took it over, and has still further encroached upon the public reserve. This

Bill gives the Commonwealth Government further power to take away land vested in the public.

Senator Trenwith - The honorable senator is simply showing that the States have taken public lands.

Senator GUTHRIE - The Commonwealth has also been making encroachments.

Senator Playford - Oh, no.

Senator GUTHRIE - I do not agree either with Senator Best's amendment or with the clause as it stands.

Senator Best - Mv amendment is, first, to reject the clause, and then to substitute section 3 of the original Act, together with additional words, providing that when an agreement has been entered into between the Governor-General and the Governor of a State, with the advice of the Executive Council of the State, thereupon the land shall vest in the Commonwealth free of all encumbrances.

Senator GUTHRIE - To intrust this power to the .Commonwealth Government means that ff it resumes public property for Commonwealth purposes, the public may have no right of entrance.

Senator Stewart - - What area of park lands has been resumed?

Senator GUTHRIE - I do not care what the area is. Tt does not matter if it is only a square foot.

Senator Best - That has been done under the present law.

Senator GUTHRIE - If it is the present law, the Minister of Defence has never had the pluck to put up a barrier, and to say to the public of Adelaide, "You shall not go upon that land."

Senator Best - He can compulsorily resume if he likes.

Senator Playford - -Why should1 I keep the public out?

Senator GUTHRIE - Why should not the Minister do it if he is the rightful owner? As a private individual, having interests in another corner of the city of Adelaide, he can say to the public, " I def y you to go upon this land." Why should he do that as chairman of a company, and yet, as Minister of Defence, give the public the right to go upon land which his Department has resumed?

Senator Best - He has not exercised! his full power in the latter case; that is all.

Senator GUTHRIE - Why does he not exercise it?

Senator Playford - If my Department built a powder magazine upon the land, I should refuse to allow the public to go there.

Senator GUTHRIE - Powder magazines have been built, ai/d I can go and smoke my pipe there. The public go there, and the Department has never prevented them.

Senator Trenwith - Has the honorable senator done that?

Senator GUTHRIE - Yes.

Senator Trenwith - Then he is lucky to be here now !

Senator GUTHRIE - I maintain that lands which have been devoted to the public use for the last 50 or 100 years should not be taken away from them. I have strong reasons for that contention.

Senator Best - Then the honorable senator ought to have been a legislator a century ago.

Senator GUTHRIE - In the country where I was born I have seen the public turn out en masse, pull up fences, pour oil upon them, and burn them, in order to insist upon their right to passage across lands. I am surprised that Senator McGregor, who knows these facts as well as I do, should support this provision.

Senator McGregor - The honorable senator is labouring under a misunderstanding.

Senator GUTHRIE - I am not.

Senator Playford - The honorable senator should recollect that the State is the public. The Commonwealth would act in the interests of the public.

Senator GUTHRIE - What is a municipality ? Is it not supposed to represent the public? Yet the municipality of Adelaide attempted to take away certain portions of the park lands of that city. The State Government, however, refused its permission. Now the Federal Government is taking power to say that it shall, if it likes, vest those lands in the Commonwealth. What do the Commonwealth representatives from Queensland and Tasmania care about the park lands of Adelaide? They do not care twopence.

Senator Trenwith - Does the- honorable senator really believe that?

Senator GUTHRIE - Senator Trenwith himself said that if it was in the interests of the Commonwealth that a tobacco factory should be erected on the park lands of Adelaide, it should be done.

Senator Trenwith - I have not said that, but I say it now. If the park lands of Adelaide were the only place where it would be in the interests of the Commonwealth to erect a factory that was required for Commonwealth purposes, it should be done there.

Senator GUTHRIE - Against the interests of the people? Unless the people of any part of the Commonwealth where lands are taken by the Commonwealth are given the right of. entrance, I shall vote against the clause.

Senator Playford - We should never have had the railway im Adelaide to this day if permission had been refused to enter upon the park lands. The railway crosses those lands.

Senator GUTHRIE - But the point is that this Bill puts a new construction upon the term " public purposes. " This point has formed the subject of a decision by the Supreme Court in South Australia. I wish Senator Symon were present, because he gave an opinion both ways on that case.

Senator Trenwith - That shows that it is arguable !

Senator GUTHRIE - First of all he gave an opinion to the Government, and then he accepted a brief on the other side. I refer to the Malcolm lands case. The decision of the Supreme Court was that the Government had power to reclaim lands for roads, railways, and bridges, and for such purposes only. But under this Bill the powers given to the Commonwealth are far greater than those enjoyed by any State.

Senator Trenwith - So they ought to be.

Senator GUTHRIE - The definition of " public purposes " contained in this Bill would apply to the whole Continent.

Senator Best - There is not a principle in this Bill, so far as resumption is concerned, that has1 not been embodied in States Acts almost ever since responsible government was granted to the States of Australia.

Senator Keating - Such a law already exists in South' Australia.

Senator GUTHRIE - What is that principle ?

Senator Best - That the State must be supreme where it is in the interests of the public to resume lands.

Senator Playford - That is the law of eminent domain. ,

Senator GUTHRIE - The principle of this Bill is very' much wider than that contained in the States laws.

Senator Keating - No.

Senator GUTHRIE - The Supreme Court of South Australia absolutely laid it down that the only powers which the State had to resume public lands were for the purpose of making roads, railways, and bridges.

Senator Findley - Does the honorable senator think that the Commonwealth is going to acquire land unless it really wants it?

Senator GUTHRIE - The Commonwealth may want land to speculate with.

Senator Best - That would not be for "public purposes."

Senator GUTHRIE - It is questionable.

Senator Lt Col NEILD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. Gould. - The Constitution would stop that. The Commonwealth cannot go beyond the' powers conferred by the Constitution.

Senator GUTHRIE - Anything that is lawful under the Constitution can be done. It is, for instance, lawful for the Com monwealth to build lighthouses.

Senator Trenwith - Does the honorable senator say that the Commonwealth should put up a lighthouse in a wrong place because the right place happens to be publicproperty ?

Senator GUTHRIE - The Commonwealth should not be allowed to acquire 100 acres for the purpose of a lighthouse whan five acres would be sufficient-. I can quote a case where that has been done.

Senator Best - But there is no reason why the Commonwealth should not have the power because a similar .power hasat times been abused.

Senator GUTHRIE - The honorablesenator wants to shut the public out from all lands acquired by the Commonwealth. He wishes to provide that property shall' be handed over to the Federal Government without encumbrance, and that, even though the public have had the right to use lands for 100 years, that right may be taken away from them.

Senator McGregor - The public may still have the right when the land is acquired bv the Commonwealth.

Senator Trenwith - And probably will" have it.

Senator GUTHRIE - But " the amendment says that the land is to be acquired" without encumbrances.

Senator Best - That is the object of the clause also.

Senator GUTHRIE - Senator Bestapparently wants to absolutely shut out the people.

Senator Best - The honorable senator misunderstands me.

Senator GUTHRIE - Senator Bestproposes that where the State has given a right in land to the people, that right may be taken away.

Senator Best - That is the object of the clause, and the object of the existing law.

Senator GUTHRIE - I do not think so. I shall support the clause in preference to the amendment suggested by Senator Best, but I shall later on move that the words within brackets be left out.

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