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Friday, 29 November 1912

Senator LYNCH - I think so. According to the Minister's statement, it is quite clear that the people of Papua will not have frequency of communication if the law' is rigidly applied to that Territory. I think the honorable senator will agree that, in the case of Wyndham, the State Government made an effort to bring the people of that town and other places into more frequent contact with persons in other parts of the Commonwealth.

Senator Rae - By what means?

Senator LYNCH - The State Government started a line of steam-ships which will co-operate in the effort to bring the people of Wyndham and other places similarly situated into a reasonable degree of contact with people living elsewhere in Australia.

Senator Rae - Cannot the same thing be done for Papua?

Senator Findley - Burns, Philp, and Company want a monopoly ; they do not want the Government to come in.

Senator LYNCH - The people who reside in Papua are the best stamp of citizens I know of. Men who will go into wild and waste places, found homes, and settle the country, preparing the way for others to follow in their footsteps, are more entitled to our consideration than are any people in the big cities or close centres of population. When my honorable friend seeks to impose upon the residents of Papua the same rigid rule as applies to people living in pleasant situations, he is going too far.

Senator Guthrie - You are prepared to give them black servants.

Senator LYNCH - I am not prepared to do anything of the kind.

Senator Guthrie - That is what the amendment of the other House permits.

Senator LYNCH - In Papua there are, to my knowledge, men who would go quite as far as any of us is willing to go to realize the White Australia policy. There are miners of my acquaintance who used to work in North Queensland, and who know too well the great burden which this Bill would impose upon them if they had to wait for the occasional service which Burns, Philp, and Company's boats would supply. I would point out to Senator

Guthrie that Wyndham is not a place which can be compared with Papua, because it is about to be supplied with a more frequent service through the action of the State Government.

Senator Rae - Could not the Commonwealth Government do the same thing for Papua ?

Senator LYNCH - There will only bea monthly service. Until the Commonwealth is prepared to give to the peopleof Papua the same facility of communication as the people of Wyndham are enjoying, it will be unfair to apply the Bill to its coasting trade. If we were prepared* to run a line of steamers, as the Western Australian Government are doing in the caseof Wyndham, there would be ample ground for supporting Senator Guthrie's amendment. I regret I am not able to support it. At the same time, I believe that asPapua increases in prosperity and population the time will come when it will be fair to apply to its coasting trade the same rule as obtains in other parts of the Commonwealth. It will be remembered that when we were debating the extent of the power we could exercise under the constitution in regard to navigation, it wasvery sternly contended by each Administration that we should at least have the right to regulate our shipping in our own way. When we gave authority to the population of Papua to control their affairs in. their own way, we did not give th*.m the same degree of power which we insisted' upon exercising to the full. We insisted upon the right to regulate our coasting trade according to our own idea. While we were quite prepared to give Papua a form of control which amounted to a kind' of Home Rule, we axe now wiping out that grant of power by insisting that they shall have no right to get that communication with the mainland which best suits their purposes. In fact, we are making the Papuans accept our laws, although, they have no share iti the framing of them.

Senator Guthrie - This amendment does not touch the coasting trade.

Senator LYNCH - The coasting trade of Papua is governed from the mainland. There are no ship-owners in the Territory.

Senators Guthrie and Rae. - Yes, there are.

Senator Pearce - In Papua they call a canoe a ship.

Senator LYNCH - The ships to connect Papua with Australia will be maintained and controlled entirely from this side. We are endeavouring to fasten on to the people ot Papua a regulation in the framing of which they have no voice. We shall commit a great mistake, until such time as Papua has developed upon a much greater scale than it is at present, in fastening upon its people a rule which will certainly give a set-back to settlement there.

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