Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 1 May 1931

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I cannot understand what the Senate managers were thinking about when they interpreted the decision of the Senate, as expressed when the bill wa3 under discussion, in the manner they have indicated in their report. Senator McLachlan said that he understood that the lessees consented to this arrangement.

Senator McLachlan - The Minister assured us that that was the case.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I gave the Sen-, ate definite information that the lessees did not agree to it. The of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) did the same. The lessees have good reasons for not agreeing to it. Honorable senators know that the lessees in the Northern Territory comprise a comparatively small body of men. They are carrying all the -burden'; they have invested their money there. I venture to say that if they were offered half the money they have put into the Northern Territory they would willingly accept it to get out.

Senator Barnes - That applies throughout Australia.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Northern Territory is in a worse position than is any other part of Australia. The lessees there require every possible assistance and encouragement in view of the adverse conditions under which they labour. Not one of them has made any profit for years. On the contrary, they are losing money. They are hanging on by the skin of their teeth ; yet, in spite of their difficulties, regulations are imposed to embarrass them still further. This year the Wyndham Meat Works is paying £3 5s. per head ibr bullocks of 700 lb., while the wages of aboriginal drovers have 'been raised from 30s. to £3 a week. Whatever its political views, I cannot understand why the Government should desire to sacrifice the remnants of the cattle industry in this way.

Senator Barnes - The honorable senator knows that aborigines have been employed without pay when white men should have been employed and paid, wages.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister, by interjection, has explained the action that has been taken. It is clear that .the Government wants to force the lessees in the Northern. Territory to employ white men instead of aborigines. It has deliberately set itself to kill what remains of the cattle industry.

Senator Barnes - The industry should not remain if it cannot employ white men.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - II that is the Government's attitude, all I can say is that before long the Northern Territory will be entirely depopulated of white people.

I had intended to refer somewhat critically to certain answers supplied by the Minister to some .questions which I asked last week, but in fairness to the Minister, I now desire to say that I received a letter from him this morning admitting that the replies given last week were not correct, and that he proposes to correct them later. At the time the answers were given. I knew that they were not correct. I asked whether the wages set down for aboriginal drovers in the Northern Territory did npt exceed those paid to white drovers in Queensland. The Minister replied that they did not. It is, however, a fact that white men employed as drovers in Queensland receive less than the wages set down for aboriginal drovers in the Northern Territory.

Senator McLachlansaid that he could not see how it would be possible for the council to be of only one political complexion. He failed to see how it would be possible for the Minister so to " rig " the electorates that the representation would be of only one kind. In whatever way the electorates are arranged, the representation must necessarily be of one political complexion.

Senator McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Is that the position to-day.?

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) --That the lessees in the Northern Territory have -no possible chance' of being properly represented is shown by the figures for the last federal election. There are three electoral districts in the Northern Territory, .with centres at Alice Springs, Batchelor and Darwin, The candidate w.ho represented the pastoralists at the last election was Mr. Love; the other candidates were Mr. Nelson and Mr. "Watts. At Alice Springs - the .district in which Senator McLachlan said it was impossible to go wrong - Mr. "Love polled 23 votes as against 113 cast in favour of Mr. "Nelson. At Batchelor the respective numbers were 54 and 361.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Batchelor includes the Barkly Tableland and the Victoria River district - the cattle country of the Northern Territory.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - At Darwin 96 votes were cast for Mr. Love as against 428 for Mr. Nelson. In the light of those figures I ask Senator McLachlan how it is possible for the lessees to have any representation at all. They number considerably less than the men they employ, and, as under the Electoral Act every adult is given the franchise, it is obvious that they will be out-voted every time.

Senator Ogden - What is the best thing for us to do with the Territory?

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - :une .thing that we ought .not to do .with it is to create a council on which. the lessees will have no hope of being represented. These men, who have put their money .into the Northern Territory, are trying, in the face of adverse circumstances,, to do something for Australia. The only way to develop the Northern Territory is to exploi t its resources by private enterprise. The lessees there must be given better conditions; otherwise we shall never have any considerable tenancy there. I .shall vote against the acceptance of the recommendation of the managers, because -I believe that it is entirely wrong. I hope that the Senate will decline to agree

Suggest corrections