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Tuesday, 16 December 1930

Senator McLACHLAN (South Australia) . - I moved for the elimination of this provision in the bill to test the feeling of the Senate, and 1 take it that the present motion before honorable senators will be similarly treated as a test. It is said that this elective council is part of the Government's policy. It is like many parts of the Government's policy - of very recent growth indeed. When the measure was introduced in another place it contained not one word about an advisory council. The Government was slated by the representative of the Northern Territory, and, for some reason or other, it inserted this provision for an advisory council.

Senator Daly - Mr. Nelson used the policy of the Bruce-Page Government as an argument why the bill should contain provision for an advisory council.

Senator McLACHLAN - The Government urges economy as the reason for theappointment of the council. If we are going to economize let us go the whole hog. What possible service could an advisory council give in three years?

SenatorRae. - Why not abolish the Administrator also, and abandon the territory?

Senator McLACHLAN - The honorable senator is carrying the matter too far. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Daly) has made it clear that there is no work in which an advisory council could engage. The whole thing is camouflage, and I am not going to deceive the people of the territory by giving them this council, the powers of which are to report upon - .

(a)   the necessity for undertaking any public work in the territory or concerning the continuance of any public work already undertaken; and

(b)   upon the rates charged for fares or freights in respect of the carriage of passengers or goods upon any railway within the territory.

The report is transmitted to the Administrator, who forwards it to the Minister. There is also another provision for the making of ordinances, an activity in which I do not think this Senate would permit the council to engage. What do those two substantive powers amount to? Nothing. This is a body which would function in the air. I infinitely prefer the Minister's administration of the territory to the suggested divided method of control, which could result only in expense to the country. I suggest that it is mere political eyewash to claim that these people are to be given an opportunity to govern themselves when the powers of the council are limited as I have indicated. I feel that it would be asking the Senate to go back on that solemn vote which it previously gave after a well-reasoned speech by Senator Greene on the point which was opened up by me. This council would have no substance at all. The Government is fighting for a shadow. What is influencing it, I do not know. I shall adhere to the vote I gave previously, believing that by doing so I shall be acting in the interests of the territory and complying with the wish of the Minister that there should be economy in its administration.

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