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Thursday, 11 December 1930

Senator GUTHRIE (Victoria) . - I was interested in the speech delivered by the right honorable the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), because no man in Australian public life has given such close attention as he has to the development of the Northern Territory. I was glad to note, also, that he approached the discussion of this bill in a. non-party spirit. With most of his statements I am in cordial agreement, and I can speak from many years of experience of the territory. I regard this bill as a retrograde step. There is not the slightest doubt about that. The Northern Territory, as we all know, has had a very chequered career. Repeated attempts at development have been attendedby failure, but the proposition is by no means hopeless. Some people have been successful, and I have no doubt that, as time goes on, that immense area, much of it fertile, healthy country, will be profitably occupied. The absence of transport facilities is one of the stumbling blocks to its successful development, and because of its isolated position, its problems are so often overlooked by the administration. The Leader of the Opposition was quite right when he said that this huge area could be divided into four separate sections. I have had a long experience of the territory, and I have an intimate knowledge of that portion of it which is known as the Barkly Tableland in which is to be found the best land in the Northern Territory. My father pioneered that country 50 years ago. He took sheep, cattle and horses from the south-eastern district of South Australia right through the continent, and also travelled sheep from Bourke, in New South Wales, to the Rankine and Herbert rivers on the Barkly Tableland. The pioneers had to face extraordinary hardships and expend a large amount of capital, and his was an uphill fight for 30 or 40 years. Eventually he made a success of the venture ; but legislation with regard to wages, and the difficulties of transport, finally forced us to abandon sheep, and we disposed of 60,000 merinos and devoted our attention to cattle and horses." While the people on the land in the territory - and I regard them as the real people - always worked magnificently, I cannot say the same of the residents of Darwin, which now is to be the administrative centre. It is no more a part of the real Northern Territory than Canberra can be considered as being in any way connected with Manitoba, in Canada.

Private business taking precedence after 8 p.m.,

Ordered -

That Orders of the Day, Bounty on Gold Production; Export of Manufactured Goods; and Beam Wireless Penny-a-Word Messages be postponed.

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