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Friday, 27 July 1906

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - In this clause I observe a departure from the corresponding provisions in the existing Act, no time being set out within which the Minister shall pay rent for the land temporarily occupied. Under the existing law, not only has the Minister to pay within a specified time rent for land temporarily occupied, but within one month he has to pay the value of any crop or dressing which is on the land, or which may be destroyed or rendered valueless by reason of the occupation. That provision is omitted from this clause, arid it seems to me to be extremely un desirable that the rights of private owners should not be clearly expressed. I should. like to hear some explanation of the clause before submitting any amendment, because I assume that the alterationhas not been made in a haphazard way. The two alterations made are, first, that there is no time limit within which rent may be paid., and, next, that there appears to beno express provision by which the Minister shall pay for injury to crops or dressing.

Senator Keating - We provide for compensation.

Senator MILLEN - The compensation: appears to apply to damage to the land.

Senator Keating - No; it applies togeneral damage.

Senator MILLEN - It may be that the amendment which Senator Symon is to move at the end of the clause will sufficiently protect the rights of individual landowners, but there is the further point that where the Crown takes away the value of a crop which the owner has on his land, and which he could convert into money, there ought not to be an indefinite period within which he shall be paid for it. The Crown should pay promptly where it takesfrom a land-owner that which represents hiscurrent income. More particularly do I express these views in face of the fact that in our extremely economical way of dealing with other people's money we have limited the amount of interest payable to 3 per cent. Very few people engaged in land occupations can finance at 3 per cent., and' I doubtvery much whether the Commonwealth itself could raise money, including all charges, at that rate.

Senator Fraser - It could not do anything of the kind.

Senator MILLEN - As the interest which would have to be paid by an individual would be at least 31/2 per cent., it seems to me that we are not merely offering no inducement to pay promptly, but are really offering a premium to delay payment. I am sure that there would be nodelay of special purpose, but any one who has had any experience of obtaining payment from the Treasury of a State knows perfectly well that it is one of themost difficult things to obtain the reimbursement of money. Therefore, it is desirable that we should adhere to the existing law, and get a time limit within which payment of the kind indicated shall be made to the owner.

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