Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Tuesday, 16 December 1930

Senator BARNES (Victoria) (Assistant Minister) . - I move -

That the amendment he not insisted on.

Honorable senators having by their previous vote expressed their feelings on the matter of the election ofanadvisory council for the Northern Territory, I hope that they will nolonger insist on their amendment in view of the fact that it would prevent the Government from carrying out its policy to give representation to the people of the Northern Territory.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Wes tern Australia) [8.4]. - I hope that the Senate will insist on this amendment. I am surprised at the reason given by the Government as to why the amendment should not be insisted on, namely, that, if it is, the Government's policy of giving representation to the Northern Territory, will not prevail. I point out that if we do press this amendment, and the bill is dropped, the present act, which already gives representation to the people of the Northern Territory, will continue in force, and that under that act there is an advisory council for both North and Central Australia. There is, however, a difference between the Government's policy and the system already in force. At present the Northern Territory is divided into North Australia and Central Australia, each having an advisory council of four members, and very little time is lost by pastoralists living close to Alice Springs or close to Darwin in attending meetings of the Advisory Council of Central Australia or the Advisory Council of North Australia, as the case may be; but this bill, as it came to us from another place, proposed to have only one advisory council for the whole of the territory, which would oblige a resident of the south to spend weeks in travelling to attend a meeting of the advisory council in the north. If Alice Springs were chosen as the meeting place, the same conditions would apply to a resident in the north. What is the object of the Government in seeking the change?

Senator Sir Hal Colebatch - Isit really the desire of the Government?

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.The provisions constituting an advisory council were not in the bill as originally introduced, but were inserted in another place. The Senate is willing to abolish the commission. It is not my view that the commission should be abolished, but if the Government really wished to achieve that object, I believe it would have the support of a majority of honorable senators in that matter. Its real object, however, in having an advisory council is that the Australian Workers Union organizers may have their travelling expenses paid by the Crown, instead of by members of their organization, and not over a circumscribed area, but over the whole of the territory from north to south. There are more rouseabouts and others employed on the cattle stations than there are owners, and there is not the slightest doubt as to who would be elected as members of the advisory council. The genuine pastoralist would have no representation. The Government is not trying to save the £8,000 which the commission costs. Inasmuch as the advisory council could meet as oftenas two members asked for a meeting, it would involve more in travelling expenses than the commission now costs. I again remind honorable senators of the tremendous cost of travelling about that country, especially in that vast area in the centre of the territory, which has no railway, or even air service. The journey must be made by motor car, a costly procedure because the petrol has to be sent up in advance, or a specially constructed type of car chartered. Local councils do not involve a very heavy cost, as the population is well centered around Darwin in the north, and Alice' Springs in the south. I urge the committee to insist upon theSenate's amendment.

Suggest corrections