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Wednesday, 25 July 1906

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) . - I cannot follow the argument of Senator de Largie. If I were a member of a State Parliament, and this question arose, I should oppose, just as strongly as I do now, any proposal to resume reserves which have been dedicated to the public for the purposes of recreation and amusement. We in Australia have left very little land for the benefit of the public generally, and there is a strong feeling against using for speculative purposes any land that has been dedicated to the use of the community.

Senator McGregor - " Speculative purposes ' ' !

Senator GUTHRIE - Senator McGregor knows that the present leader of the Senate. when Commissioner of Crown Lands in South Australia, proposed to divide the National Park amongst a lot of fruitgrowers.

Senator Playford - The National Park was Crown land then.

Senator GUTHRIE - The State Parliament, however, passed an Act which prevented the National Park being so used, and dedicated it for all time to the public. By the Bill we are attempting to undo what the South Australian Parliament did in 1893.

Senator McGregor - There is no comparison between the positions.

Senator GUTHRIE - The positions are identical. By this Bill we say that what the South Australian Parliament did was wrong, and that there shall be power to take that land for some purpose other than that to which it was dedicated. We ought to provide that a dedication of land for public purposes shall be honoured.

Senator Trenwith - So it will be; 'there has always been the power to take such lands, but thev have not been taken.

Senator GUTHRIE - That is because circumstances have not arisen to make the acquisition of the lands desirable. We are now passing legislation which may find a place on the statute-book for hundreds of years.

Senator Trenwith - Legislation, with the same underlying principle, will occupy a place on the statute-book for thousands of years.

Senator GUTHRIE - I hope it will never be provided that the rights of the people over the reserves must be surrendered, because those lands cannot be put to better purpose than the promotion of the health and the recreation of the people.

Senator Trenwith - We cannot possibly know what mav happen! in the future.

Senator GUTHRIE - Day after day inroads are made on the public recreation grounds, and to such an extent has this been the case in South Australia, that a Park Lands League has been formed to protect the public interests.

Senator Trenwith - To protect the public interests from the State Government.

Senator GUTHRIE - What is the difference? I have already pointed to the action nf the leader of the Senate when he was Commissioner of Crown Lands in South Australia.

Senator Playford - I never proposed to take any of the Park Lands.

Senator GUTHRIE - The honorablesenator, as Commissioner of Lands, proposed to take the National Park.

Senator Playford - I never proposed to take the National Park - it was Crown land at the time.

Senator GUTHRIE - The people of South Australia returned a Parliament which dedicated the land to the public, and thus prevented the Commissioner of Lands from dealing with it in the way he desired.

Senator Playford - I did not object to the action of the Parliament. I desired to take only a portion of the land, in order to place working men on it.

Senator GUTHRIE - Not working men, but apple growers. The position I take up now is that the people of South Australia have spoken with no uncertain voice regarding the preservation of lands dedicated for public purposes.

Senator Playford - I have never proposed to take an acre of land dedicated for public purposes.

Senator GUTHRIE - I should be a traitor to the people of the State that has sent me here if in this Bill I did not endeavour to provide for the protection of their public lands. A Select Committee of the Legislative Council of South Australia sat to investigate this matter some three or four years ago.

Senator McGregor - And they gave a slice of land to the Cricketing Association.

Senator GUTHRIE - They did nothing of the sort.

Senator de Largie - If a piece of land at present held as a public recreation reserve were absolutely necessary for the construction of a fort for the defence of Adelaide, does the honorable senator think that the Commonwealth should not have the power to acquire that land?

Senator Playford - Part of the Park Lands at Adelaide are used for racing purposes.

Senator GUTHRIE - Because they have been absolutely filched from the people. That is the case 'not only with respect to the race-course, but also with respect to the cricketing oval. It was proposed a few years ago to enlarge the cricketing oval, and a special Bill was introduced into the State Parliament for the purpose. The House of Assembly voted against a proposal to add a few acres to the oval, as did also the Legislative Council, but then a Governor's message was sent down - a course which is almost unprecedented, even in the House of Commons - and in the last days of the session an amendment recommended in the Governor's message was rushed through Parliament for the purpose of adding four acres to the area of the oval.

Senator Trenwith - That shows that we cannot trust the States Governments.

Senator GUTHRIE - No; and we cannot trust the Commonwealth Government. We must have a provision in this Bill preventing the acquisition of lands dedicated to the public.

Senator Best - Then the honorable senator is not supporting the amendment.

Senator GUTHRIE - I am not sure that I quite understand its scope; but I propose to support the amendment if I cannot get something better. I wish to put my position clearly. I desire that all lands dedicated to the public for recreation purposes shall be kept for all .time.

Senator de Largie - Let the people have lands for recreation, and let our cities lack a means of defence?

Senator GUTHRIE - If we are to enter into the question of defence, I think it will have to be admitted that what we require are not forts, but floating batteries.

Senator de Largie - - Let us fiddle while Adelaide burns?

Senator GUTHRIE - There is no fear that Adelaide will burn, and I do not believe that Senator de Largie could fiddle anything like a decent tune if he tried. I am surprised that honorable senators should be prepared to hand over public recreation reserves, even for defence purposes.

Senator Playford - The land might be required for wireless telegraph stations.

Senator Trenwith - It might be required for hundreds of purposes other than defence.

Senator GUTHRIE - - It might be required for a race-course.

Senator Best - Not bv the Commonwealth.

Senator GUTHRIE - We do not know for what the Commonwealth might require land. Senator Trenwith says that it might be required for hundreds of purposes, but he has not enumerated them.

Senator Trenwith - Give me time.

Senator GUTHRIE - I enter my protest against any proposition that lands dedicated for public purposes shall be made use of for any other purposes than those of providing for the recreation and conserving the health of the people.

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