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Northern Territory - Administration - Report of the Royal Commission (Mr. Justice Ewing)

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R E P ·O -R T



16th APRIL, 1920.

l'resented by Command; ordered to be printed, 21st May, 1920:

[Cost of Paper :-Preparation, not given ; 1,150 copies; approximate cost of printing and publishing, £16.]

Printed and Published for the GOVERNllfENT of the COMMONWEALTH of AuSTRALIA by ALBEil.T J. MULLETT, Government Printer for the State of Victoria.

No. 28.-F. 7384.-PRICE 9n.


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1655 , '

To His THE RIGHT HoNORABLE SIR RoNALD CRAUFtJRD Mu:Nno FERGUSON, Member of His Majesty's Most Honorable Privy Counr;il, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Ggvernar-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Commonwealth vj Australia.


I have hohoY.r to present -rny R-eport in respect of the matters irtto which i

was directed to inquir@ under Your Excellency's Commission, dat-ed the 12th November, 1919.

The duty imposed upon me was to irtquit-e into and report upon the following matters :-1. The causes which have brought about the present condition of affairs in relation to the Government of the Territory, and the incidents which led to the recent departure of Messrs. Carey, Bevan, and Evans ftom Datwih;

2. The irregularities, if any, which have taken place in the administration _the Aborigines Department, the Lands and Surveys Department, and the Mines Department of the Northern Territory; and the officers or persons who are responsible for these irregularities;

3. The accounts kept in connexion with the Aborigines Department;

4. The statements contained in the letter 8th July, 1919, written by Mr. _ H. E. :Carey to Dr. Gilruth, theActing Administ·rator of the Northern Territo:f!y, and the statements made by Senator Ferricks in speeches in the Senate on the 21st aiid 24th days of October, 1919;

5. The officers, if _any, who· have proprietary interests in minihg prop_ etties in the Northern Territory in respect of which fihancial assistance has been granted by the Government ; and 6. Any incidental to the matters hereinbefore set

In connexion with the inquiry into the above matters, sittings to the total number of 53, commencing on November, 1919, and concluding on the 29th 1920, were held at MBlbourne, Darwin, Thursday Island, on the s.s. ll1ontoro, and again at Melbourne.

Permit me, Your Excellency, to make a few preliminary remarks.

Proper and careful consideration of the affairs of the Territories of Australia is of the utmqst importance. It would appear that there is a cloud on the Norther_ n horizon which to-day may be no larger than a man's hand, but which, many are convinced, will, if uncontrolled, in thefuture produce a national deluge. It may be that Mr. Hughes was actuated by a similar belief when,

at the European Peace he insisted on the erection of a barrier between our white

people of Australia and the coloured races of the world . In so acting, he rendered Australia service of inconceivable value, and appears to have practically achieved his object. Notwith·­ standing the fact that we have control of these outposts of the Commonwealth, the resultt: far attained may be rendered futile unless an intelligent attempt be made to populate then1 with

contented citize!ls who will give true allegiance and affection to the Commonwealth of Australia.

i regret to inform you that, in my humble opinion, the best efforts of the CommOiiwealth do not appear to have been put forward to attain this. end, so far as the Northern Territory of Australia is but the blarrw should not be placed upon one set of shoulders only, or on one locality.

The result of my 1nvestigations, of my own personal observation. , and of a due consideration of the evidence giveh before the Commission, leads me to the conclu ion that the fault does not lie in the character of His Majesty's subjects in the Northern Territory. The citizens of Darwin in particular, and the Northern Territory in general, have been described as being composed largely


of Bolshevists .. Adopting the term in the sense in which it is generally accepted, I s-ay that there are not proportionately more B-olshevists in the Northern Territory than there are, unfortunately; found in ·many other parts of Australia. Darwin is . no exception to the general rule prevailing to-day, that in most communities there will be found a section of people who cannot, and never will be satisfied, and who are not prepared to obey the dictates of law and order unless compelled thereto by the general good sense of the community.

After due consideration, I have arrived at the conclusion that the following causes brought about the present of affairs in the Territory:-

. · the and South Australia the people of the Territory had full

rights CitiZeJ?-ship, and all that IS Incidental thereto. They were represented in the South Australian Parhament by two members in the House of Assembly, and had their proportionate voice in the electioJ?- of members of .the Legislative Council. On the surrender of the Territory to the Commonwealth the inhabitants ceased, in the true and full sense of the term, to be citizens of Australia, or of any State, and to have any voice whatever either in the national affairs of the Commonwealth or in any material sense in their own. They were called upon to obey Common­ wealth laws and to comply with local Ordinances, in the making of which they had no and in most cases of which they knew little or nothing until they were called upon to submit to them. They lost their political rights as citizens, but remained subject to the liability of paying taxes.

For some time the people of the Territory thought they would in due course be given similar, if not equal, rights to those of other Australian citizens. Unfortunately, this has not so far been realized . . Dissatisfaction in the Northern Territory in this regard is not confined to one class of the community, but for all practical purposes extends fr01n one end of the Territory to the other, and to all classes of men and women.

The Parliament of Australia, His Majesty's Ministers and their · appointees, have governed and controlled the Northern Territory autocratically. They have refused to its people in any reasonable sense of the term the right of citizenship, and then imagined that there could be permanent peace. How sensible men could think this, is beyond my comprehension .

. I would draw your attention to the procedure followed for the passing of Ordinances for the government of theN orthern Territory:-Either the Home and Territories Department or Dr. Gilruth, the Administrator, would draft an Ordinance. It would be approved by the Minister, laid on the table of both Houses of Parliament for a specified time, and then become law. The result was that in most cases the people of the Territory knew nothing of the passing of the law until it appeared in their Gazette. The laying on the table of the Houses of documents affecting the vital interests of the people of the Territory, when they have no representative in either House to look after their interests, appears to me to afford little or no protection to such people. It is true that, early in the history of the Territory, the Federal Parliament provided a Board of ·Advice consisting alpwst

exclusively of Government officials, but the Administrator paid as little attention to its decisions as he thought fit. It was the Administrator's duty, under the Act, to see that this Board of Advice met monthly. For a short time after Dr. Gilruth's arrival this was done; the volume of business transacted at such meetings, however, was small. Then came a meeting at which the question of an Ordinance dealing with the alteration of the hours of co'mmencing and discontinuing work in the Civil Service was discussed prior to the Administrator sending the Ordinance to Melbourne for ratification. The evidence before me shows that every of the Board of Advice protested against it, that there was a very lively meeting, and that a very warm discussion took place. From that date onwards the Act of Parliament was ignored, and the Board was .not called together again. The Administrator stated that Mr. Glynn, the then Minister, authonzed him to ignore the Act, as they both thought the Board useless, so little business being brought before it. In this manner the residents lost the slight vestige of representative government, much to their natural dissatisfaction.

_. Even if it be allowed that government by Ordinance was a wise and proper method of dealing with the affairs of the Territory, the question of administration thereunder. an all-important one. I found that the Territory had been governed in a manner whwh no other portion of the Commonwealth would tolerate for one moment. While I consider that the State of Tasmania is the sanest and most peaceful of all the States, I am confident that. if the of affairs I found existing politicaJly and otherwise in the Territory were to prevail for any length of time in. that State, it would quickly bring about the state of open rebelhon.

No doubt, the action of the citizens in insisting upon the departure of the Government representatives and the Judge was unconstitutional, but the confidence of the inhabitants of the Territory in the Commonwealth and in receiving just, impartial, and h.ul?ane was shaken to its foundations by the continued failure to remedy wrongs by Ministers and Parliament and by those who had been appointed to govern thein.



Administration (Mr. _ ,Justice '

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find it to blame the . residents for taking the unconstitutional action they did.

According to the VIews not only of of peo.ple, ?ut even of Dr. Gilruth, Judge Bevan, and Mr. Evans. action was primanly directed to compel the attention of the

Federal authorities to redressing what the people conceived to be their wrongs.

it will be seen later that I. am placing a certain burden of responsibility and

condemnation upon the of. Pr. Gilruth, Judge Bevan, and in a lesser degree upon Mr. Carey, there are some extenuating Circumstances from an administrative point of view so far as they are concerned. It be. quite unfair of me to convey the impression that I think the cause .of the trouble hes with them alone; though I have no doubt that these officers

materially contributed thereto. Senator Ferricks, Senator N ewlands, and others endeavoured to bring the. seriousness of the wrongs of the people of the Territory to the attention of Ministers and _of Parliament, but .their appeals apparently passed unheeded. 'Vhile I think they, and in particular Ferrwks, took an exaggerated view of certain incidents, yet upon the whole flave rendered a great public service, and had they known of the facts subsequently given

In evidence to the Commission they could have presented an overwhelming case for inquiry and redress.

. Dr. is an able man, and in my opinion,· within the sphere for which Providence

Intended him, very much above the average. Unfortunately, he- was called upon to rule a people, a task for which he apparently is unfitted. Mr. Conacher, the Managing

Director of Vestey's Company, who in his evidence paid the highest possible tribute to Dr. Gilruth's ability, and capacity, and spoke of him as a personal friend, ended a letter

to his principals by saying that Dr. Gilruth's downfall· was a direct result of methods. He continued-" One would naturally Jike to use a strong hand, but I don't see anywhere in the world to-day where that is men wo rk satisfactorily." -

Dr. Gilruth had little toleration for any person who disagreed with him, and was tempera­ mentally unfitted for filling the office he occupied. There can be no doubt but that his general method of administration and conduet was one of the factors directly contributing to the unsatisfactory condition of affairs which I found existing.

A suspicion had also arisen in the minds of the.people that his administration was corrupt. I do not think that any such extreme as corruption is justified, yet I regret that I am

forced to consider that his conduct was in some instances highly improper and most unwise. This, amongst other considerations, broke the people's trust in him.

The administration is full of wasted energy, and shows a want of appreciation of the best methods to be adopted for the control and management of a place like the Territory. The Federal authorities have applied to a handful of people in the Northern Territory a system designed, and perhaps suitable, for the government of a State with one or two million inhabitants.

The result is that there are a large number of Heads of Departments, very few of whom have any experience from a Civil Service point of view; all jealous of their own positions, and some seriously differing with others. The Service consequently is being wastefully and inefficiently conducted, and the whole system required reorganization, but reorganization with a full knowledge of the conditions to be dealt with, and the application of at least some of the methods which a business would . adopt were he called upon· to handle a similar proposition. Little else could be

·expected of a Home Affairs Department and Ministers who, to my mind, have little appreciation

or knowledge of the Northern 'Territory and its conditions.

My investigations disclose the fact that there existed in the Territory a very strong feeling that justice was not impartially and fairly administered. This feeling did not apply to Mr. J;>layford, the Chief Warden and Special ]}1agistrate, who has been in Darwin for very many years, and apparently holds the confidence of the though I gathered he in .no way his

responsibilities. The reverse, however, apphed to Judge Bevan and the Magistrate, who IS now dead, and consequently has had no opportunity of his position. An . was

made to impress upon me that many of _Bevans decisiOns were erroneous In pmnt o_f law, but I informed the parties that I was sittiJ?-g as a. Court of Appeal, my only to

ascertain if Judge Bevan had done anything unJust or Improper. My general ImpressiOn IS that the people had ceased to have confid::r:ce in the Judge, and in thi I feel t? some extent they justified, although I am also of that many accu atwn _ were made

him. Among other matters to whiCh the people took exceptiOn was the trial of an aboriginal named Romula for attempted murder. ·Mr. Carey was sheriff, and the information was laid in his name, and he instructed counsel to prosecute Romula on behalf of the Crown. But Mr.


al$o Chief Protecttrr of Aborigines, and so there devolved upon him the duty of seeing

th;;tt Romula W!lS properly defended. lie, therefore, instructed counsel to defend the aboriginal. .R9tn\lla in the box; the Crown Prosecutor, Mr. Carey, the barrister defending, and the whole panel of j-qrors were present.. "Not guilty," and his counsel then stood up in the Court and said, "But he is guilty; he said he was." Hethen asked thatthechargeshould

be to ;;tccused Mr. Carey app:roved of this done. Romula, I believe, once

again pleaded "Not guilty," though on tbjs there is conflict. Thereupo11, the defending 90llnsel, urged on behalf of Mr. Carey (as defe11der? not as prosecutor.) Ro:rnula should be I think, for ;24 hours. He was taken back to the gaol and visited by Mr. Carey and counsel for the defence. Ultimately they persuaded him to plead 'f Guilty" the next time he was brought before the Court. This occurred at the time certain would-be volunteers were in gfiol for del;>t, and it was established before me that rn.en epdeavoured to perspade the aboriginal to stand by his plea of " Not guilty," but he in,formed them something to the effect that " Me frightened white-fellow, me say 'Guilty' next tirne." The excuse offered by M:r. Carey and counsel for the defence was that Romula had previously told therp. he would plead guilty. This may have been so, but I know of no right enabling counsel employed for the of the accused to declare in the presence of the jury who are about to try. the accused, that the man whom he is pretending

to defend is a guilty man. Whatehance could the accused have had if the trial had proceeded? This is quite independent of the fact that I do ·:not b&lieve thes. e, Q,bo:rigines realized the meaning of being asked to plead. The Judge in every suQh case should order: a plea of " Not guilty " to be entered. No counsel has any right whatever to disclose to the Court what has been told him by a black man, a half-caste, or any other person wh9 is being defendea, &!though he can withdraw from the d-efence · if he is satisfied that the accused is How Judge Bevan allowed such things to be done in his Court I cannot understand. I '"" am satisfied that Mr. Carey did not think he was doing wrong when he sanctioned the action of defendant's counsel, but the whole incident me how little Mr. Carey knew of his duties and obligations in the various positions held

by him.

During a strike Judge Bevan worked as ;:t labourer upon the Darwin wha:r:_f, and received the pay of the Company-an incident which the industrial section of the community never forgot or forgave. Judge Bevan admits that his conduct on this occasion was ·most unwise. I would add that it would appear to me as most particularly in view of the faot that he was

the only Judge in the Territory. ·

· Judge Bevan's suspected association in mining transactions with Dr. Gilruth, his close friendship with that gentleman, and the of a private telephone not connected with the exchange between his chambers and Dr. Gilruth's office, ·an tended to bring about suspicion.

Judge Bevan also, to the knowledge of the people, took active steps to secure the abolition of trial by jury in the Territory, and the residents thought this another stage towards their passing completely into the hands of the Administrator and the Judge.

An important point upon which, I think, the Judge failed is that, although knowing wliat was happening in Courts, he took no steps to bring same under the notice Qf the proper authorities. There is no doubt that the Judge advised in with upon which he might have

in future been required to adjudicate, but the instances are not He known to ?e the

Crown Adviser, consequently the people did not know how far or often he advised, and considered it to take proceedings against the Crown when the Crown Adviser was the Judge. The responsibility for this rests upon the Federal Government for allowing Judge Bevan to .act in this dual eapaeity. lVIinisters should have a Judge wh_o lS also legal to

the Crown, and a servant of the Administrator and the Government? IS placed In a false positiOn which sooner or later must undermine, in the minds of the public, his reputation for impartiality. From the standpoint of justice, not necessarily connected with the His Majesty's

subjects have been treated in a way which no Gove:rnn1.ent could ex:pect to be tolerated.

I found-1. Persons had been imprisoned in the Darwin Gaol at Fanny Bay for long terms without any warrant or justification in l.a,w. 2. That it was the custom to imprison native and half-cast.e witnesses in the . Fanny

Bay Gaol without any warrant of law. 3. The debtors, including young men who had offered their services in the Great War, were imprisoned for long terms.

Apart from the legal aspect-and from this point of view I fear that j!lm.any is no justification- -I consider that the imposed were cruel and wi.cked. It. IS

to imagine, in a civilized country in the twentieth century, a young man seeking to enhst arnving



~t ~e pla~@ Qi_ e.nliit1Jl~ll1\1 &4mlld b~ th~fij ~~j~~d RM@~ ~fi a.JJ~@ondJng d~bttn:'& W&f;~nt· &rul IlllJ?n~QD-tldr-=JhJJ~ ·lll.~Il h~vmg1 ~o h~ ~t~t@d, fir~t Q:ij~i;i~d bj~ <2ttdjtors, tv~rything that he nwued, w~~ch wguJd . hiwe gm1~ som~ .w&y to.wttxd~ littlli4a.ting his ~Mth ~m.d &J$O i:ln ord~r on ·httlf hi2 m1htary. pay for the .ba~ance. How any British Court, Magistrate, or Judge could call him an ab§cgud.1ng ifobtpr w1t,hm th~ me.aning of th~ AGt I ~m ftt ~ lo~ t9 1md@r~tawli At tb-e end of the st@,tytm;y ;pe:r;iod, wl\fo4, l beli~ve, il3 ~lJ;f?:\}9~ed to.b~ 40 ~ay~, hew~~ Jibe:r&ited~ but iw.mem.ately

r~-~:rrets.t~d UJ1PP. JliP.Othe.r wa,r;r&n,t, aiud. a~.&lll oa~t ·1ntP pnsop. Wh~p. be h~d served a fa:rth~r t~rm Pf imp1;monrn~ut he w&~ d,epla,;r.ed lP.~Plv~nti Q}ls}i:rg~~ wen~ then. laiid ag~i:nst him 1md~r th@ lll-§Qlv~1icy J\,Qt. t? th~ :tmm.b~:r of thr~~' two of th~m b~ing JJ:raicitio.~lly fo:r the:~i1m~ ~lfog~d pff~no@; he wa,ij fo11nd gudty ~P:d sim-tt}p.~ed t9 h,nig t~:rm~ of imp:riaop.m~:P.ti whi'1h were m.itde .i;\iiµuhitiv~! ·Eventually he· was li~era ted, and suc~eed~d. in i~ttin~ to. the w&r attt1:r h~Yi:P.g s~rv~d a~ '1~a§t

390 days m the Darwm Gaol. I ment10n t];us as one of th~ worst cases, although it will be seen fr9ro the ~vid~:nca ~hait ~ilf o:r Beven. yo:u,:ng m~n w49 hoo al~q off~rnd th~if ~e:rvic~s to .the,ir country w~i;~ arrest~d af!-d i~:pP~@~d fo:i; snu1lar rea,sons at th~ . s~me tnn.e ; all thes~ young m~n ~e:rv~d lQJli. t~:r1P$ .Qf m;tpnsopJn~~t, Th~y we:re pll.t into . t~e c9mp91.u1q wjth abprigfo.~s, ·chine~~, Miillll&meri~ lm1atw~, ~nd idwts? b~mij ~:nu1ted the p:nvilege1 how~v~r~ of beip.g p11ti into ~ pl~c@

~»a:rt from th.e ordminy cell~} wb.~;re th~y sl~pt together. . Unfort11MWly for tht:mi, &c99r

· · lt app~!H'§ tg lllfJ tluit l\ik, who held an ofiipi~l pQsition in with tha 1Jidmini!i3$:rati9n of jµ~tioe, th~ Admini~tr~tor, ~nd Hrn Judge ~h

Thpma~ O'H~llP+im for the purp.ol:l~ ··of 13naibling hi:m to ~nlisti . · . ·. · . . .

Mr. Carey and the Administrator succeeded, after a long period, in having gaol regulations dr.a.iwn. , whfoh. tmJlbfod pe:fsQns imp:rililoned. for: debt to be p~id fof the work th~y did whilst in prison, thus ~ffor,diug thtml ~ eh11nQe of pilJying off th~iii li~biliHf3s awl b~comin! fr~e~

. The imprisop.ments which were b:tiought to my attention, ·if not illegal, were from the stand"' point of oppression a disgrao~ to the Oommonwealth,and the responsibility for sueh'must be shared by the Federal authorities in Melbourne, who knew the condition of affairs to some extent. Had ai gn~at~f inte:rest b.e~n t~ktm by them in the T~rrit(;rry, the po~ition would h~v~ ~e~p. more fully

~ppreoiated, · ·

. Another very objectionable practice prevailing in the Territory was the rehe3:rsing of caso3· in th~ Sup:r~me ,Cou:rt Hottse, prior to the trial~, in whfoh n&tives or h~lf .. ca,F)te witnesaos were GQnc~m~d, tind the he,1,ri:ng of what wijs practically a nwok trial of the carie to be hear,d· in the Court ne.~t da,y! When one re~HzeEi th(} .low,· ment&l staindaFd of the abo:rigines one- Cf.liil rea,qily

s6e, leaving every oth~r conside:r:~tion o-qt of the qu~ijtioll. , how ~11~ily thi2 might lei1d to a misof1rfjtt,ge of In m..y oph1ion, this w~s .ai diij~iJwtly i~p:r.ope:r pra,ctiee, 11nd co~tfihqted. to the ih,ikjng of confidenc~ in the prqpeyr ~dID1:p.1stitatum of Jt:J.~twe·. .J mlgf.3 Beva,n mformed me th&t lte­ consiidel'~d thj~ prn~tiQ~ higl_ily improper, -and, as s?ori ij~ h~ h~~:d of jt, · he o;rder~~ it to ba

discontinued. I cannot realize, however, why he failed to hear,of 1t earher. · ·

· . Qo!_I1:pl~ints were made· on beh~lf-of the citizens of Darwin that, although it was well known that th~ to-wn was full of £an-tan aod puekapoo dens and sly grog-shops, the streets were not properly p~trolled, and generally. that the polic6 did not perform their duties as the~ should have done. -I -think the statements with regard to the gaming.,.houses and s~y gpog-shops were true~

Jn reij:pe9.t of the1?e charg~s the reply of the police ~as that t hey- were so sm;1ll in num1?er, th~t it wa,s bnp9ssible to patrol the town properly. I beli~ve th~t this was so, but I also thmk th~t, ev~p exi~ting conditions, the police might hav~ done a deal more th3n they Spe!iking gen~rally? I believe the men are of a good s~amp, but t hey suffer from~ la,ck of p~p~er

di~GipHne ·and control. . Mr. ;wat~rs~ the Jnspecto.r, 1s an ~Id gentlem~n who 1s very higJ ly respected, but does not exercise his powers over the _ men with a firm enough hand . . The o~cet.':


next under the Inspector I believe to be a very excellent Clerk of the Court, but this position appears to take up most of his time.· · Judging, however, froin his casual manners, I am quite certain that from the standpoint of discipline and control, he sets the younger men a poor example. ·

I consider that the police should be considerably increased in number, which would cost infinitely less than the useless military patrol now being kept at the public expense in the Territory. I would suggest that, in the public interests and for the better maintenance of law and order, these additions to the police force should be made, and that an officer of wide experience should be placed in charge, and that judicious exchanges from the States should from time to time be arranged for. The present numbers are quite insufficient to admit of any regular patrol of Darwin or of the locality between the town and the meat works.

Considering the mixed population, I am astonished that there have not been very much more serious happenings than up to the present have taken place. It was alleged that the police had been guilty of some very grave offences and impropriety of conduct. Speaking generally, I am persuaded that this is not true. I have formed, however, no definite conclusions upon this matter, as some of the men involved have had no real chance of defending themselves, the charges against them .having been made towards the close of the proceedings of the Commission, when it was practically impossible for some of them to be properly heard, by reason of the great distance from Darwin of the places where the officers charged were stationed. I do think, however, that there are facts in connexion with the conduct and failure in the performance of duty of the police constable at Parap which are worthy of inquiry. The alleged action of Police Constable Richardson as to the smuggling of opium, and the conduct of another constable in regard to drunkenness, and his behaviour in the hotel at Darwin, he was alleged to have-threatened people with a revolver, are matters in connexion with which I do not intend to make any findings, as I do not think these men have been given a proper chance of defending themselves. Such material as I have in regard to these cases is contained in the put before the Commission.

That the police could have done more towards the suppression of sly-grog shops and gambling saloons, in my opinion, is undoubted. It was not formally proved before me, but it was stated, and so far as I remember it was not denied, that when the influenza outbreak occurred keepers of fan-tanshopswereactually informed by the police that they must not allow people to congregate in their shops in any substantial numbers.

The hotels and the importation of liquor are absolutely under Commonwealth control, so that the sly grog-shop question should be much more easily dealt with in Darwin than anywhere else. Mr. Callan, Supervisor of Hotels, has urged that steps be taken in this direction, and I believe the police themselves have also asked for further assistance, so that probably fault in this matter lies with the Department of Home Affairs and the Administration at Darwin.

For manifest reasons, Darwin is not the type of town to be left almost without police protection. Beyond a few prosecutions nothing of any consequence has been done, and the public is greatly concerned that the present state of affairs should not be allowed to continue.

It was complained that the promotion by the Administrator of a junior officer- Police Constable Stretton- over the heads of other police officers of long experience in the Territory, and contrary to the recommendation of superior officers, was the outcome of a close friendship between Dr. Gilruth and Special Magistrate Stretton, the father of the officer in question. I do not think that this conclusion is justified. It, however, showed poor recognition of the services of other officers in the Police Department who were many years senior to Constable Stretton and held honorable records. In my opinion the appointment was not in the best interests of the Service.

The chief complaint against Mr. H. E. Carey, Director of the Northern Territory, up to the point of his writing the letter which laid the foundation for this inquiry, lay in his being the close personal friend ancl intimate associate of Dr. Gilruth and Judge Bevan. I can find no evidence whatever that he did anything which could be construed into corruption. I propose, however, to refer to his actions in other directions in a later portion of this Report.

I do not consider there is any proof of any impropriety in the actions of Mr. R. J . Evans, who, in my opinion, has suffered in public esteem by his close personal association with the three gentlemen already named." There is not a suggestion to be found of any on his part, and I really think, when the inquiry was over and the matter had been fully ventilated, that such was the opinion of Mr. Nelson, the representative of the citizens of Darwin, and Mr. Barratt, their coun-sel. · · ·



The incidents which led to the departure of Messrs. Carey, Bevan, and Evans from Darwin are, t.o sol?-e s!ig?-t extent, dealt with in other parts of this Report, but to thoroughly understand situatiOn. It IS necessary to refer to the earlier history of these troubles. This I propose to do

m some detaiL ·

It will be remembered that in December, 1918, an attack was made upon Dr. Gilruth. This was called a." riot" It was not a riot, but it certainly was a disturbance and a breach of the peace. The Circumstances are as follows: - The people of the Territory held meetings at which were · voiced what they claimed to be grievances, some of which, as will be seen, were very real indeed. The people felt they were being neglected by the Commonwealth, that they were unable to have their views heard, and were receiving no real consideration either at the hands of the Federal Parliament or Ministers. The outcome of these meetings was that certain resolutions

were passed which in effect, if not in express terms, requested Dr. Gilruth to leave the Territory. A deputation, headed by the Mayor of Darwin, Mr. Watts, waited upon Dr. Gilruth, and first endeavoured to order him out of the Territory. If the people had considered ·the class of man they had to deal with they might very well have saved themselves their trouble. Dr. Gilruth told them quite plainly that he was there as Administrator, and would accept no orders save those issued by the Federal authorities. In the course of the discussion he took a very strong

stand. His attitude was manly and courageous, but not discreet, and I believe followed his usual practice, making little attempt at conciliation. Outside Government House fence there was a crowd of about 1,000 people. The deputation interviewed Dr. Gilruth for about two hours, and, when it was found useless to try an

Dr. Gilruth seems to possess none of those qualifications which fit him for the exercise of almost autocratic powers, except personal courage. As he turned to walk back to Government House, a panel was pulled out of the fence, and many rushed through. Dr. Gilruth :was certainly handled rather roughly, and improperly treated by some of those present. When I asked him if he had been injured in any way he smiled, and said, " Nothing of any consequence."

Certain police officers were there, who, with one or two exceptions, rendered little or no assistance. Knowing that a demonstration was being arranged, some 40 special police had been sworn in, and were in the near vicinity. Certain military forces under Colonel Johnstone were also near by. I cannot understand the reasons why Colonel Johnstone and his men and the special police did not see fit to assist the Administrator. It may be that the matter lasted too short a time. It has been stated that Mr. Nelson, the Secretary to the Australian Workers' Union, called

out to the crowd, " Over the fence, boys" ; but the evidence upon this point is unsatisfactory. The Administrator himself was standing near Nelson, and all he could say was that he thought it was Nelson's voice. The crowd then proceeded to pull down a lattice-work door, and some lattice­ work on the verandah of Government House, and were about to enter the building. Some, I believe, did enter. Immediately Mr. Nelson and Mr. Watt, who as Mayor was the chief spokes­ man for the deputation, ran to the verandah and addressed the crowd. Within two or .three minutes it was stated they had the men completely in hand, and succeeded in getting them away. My information on this subject was sup1>lied by those who formed part of the Administrator's party on that day. Mr. Carey told me. that he was in and out of the crowd of in front of

Government House, and found that, prwr to the rush through the fence, no bad spmt at all was displayed. There was no disorder in town either before or after the occurrence.

The Administrator was subsequently actively supported by Colonel J ohnstone and others until he was requested, I believe by his Minister, to mturn to Melbourne.

A second Advisory Council was appointed under Ordinance approved by the Federal Parliament. Although this :vas. supposed to give .the people of the Territory some control over their own a:ffiars, m reality It gave them practically none, and was a poor recogmtwn oftheir political rights of citizenship: Mr. Carey's dated 8th July; 1919, to Dr. Gilruth, I have little doubt was stolen, by whom I have been unable to ascertam, was read at the meetmg of this body.

When the contents of this letter became public, a storm of indignation was raised. Public meetings were called, the final outcome of which was an to Carey, Bevan, and

Evans to leave Darwin on the Bambra. They commumcated With the lVhmster, who told them to stand their ground. A deputation of citizens met the officials and. position.

Inflammatory language was made use of, serious consequences to the officials m questiOn and the


pe<;>ple in Darwin being pictured the former failed to dep&rt peacefully. The deputationists informed the offi_cials that the crowd had been held once from using force, but that this co11ld not be guaranteed again. I do believe that, when the officials concerned finally the Minister and departed on the it was as the outcome of their belief that very serious might occ11-r if they remained, and, being anxious to avoid a p1.1-blic disturbance, d(2parted. I have little or no doubt that, had they not voluntarily gone aboard the Baimbra, the of Darwin would have forcibly placed them on that · At the same time, I am quitE2 certain members of the deput!),tion were very anxious to avoid this, a course of using extreme expression, which they thought would achieve the desired result. The question still remains to be as to how the affairs of the Empire could be carried qn if British througl}out

the world, in such a contingency, behaved in a like manner!. ·

During the course of the inquiry an attempt w;:.ts made to attack not only the persQnal character of Mr. Nelson, the Secretary to the Austra.lian Workers' Union, l:}ut the. methods he adopted to attain his ends. In justice to Mr . Nelson I feel bonnd to that attacks

absolutely failed. Witn.ess after witness wa.s asked questions as to Nelson's personal cha;racter, and those to whom I paid attention were in no way·co:rinected with labour, bl!t were of the opposite party. Dr. Gilruth, Judge Bevan, Mr. Carey, and Mr. Evans all gave Nelson an excellent They testified as to his reasonableness in endeavouring to settle disputes a:nd his great usefulness in avoiding industrial troubles. - ·

With regard to the administration of the Aborigines Department, I am of opinion that, speaking generally, the Protectors of Aborigines are competent men and perform their duties yery well. So far, however, as the methods of keeping accounts and the administration of the Department are concerned, I find that an unsatisfactory condition exists. My opinion is that this js largely due to the fact that Dr. Gilruth appointed Mr. Carey and Mr. Evans to positions of which they knew little or nothing. ·

An allegation was made to the effect that a young man named Thomas Cahill, Protector of Aborigines under his father, Patrick Cahill, at Oenpelli Aborigines Station, hAd in1posed upop. a certain number of aborigines in connexion with the alleged of a bicycle: This matter was thoroughly investigated, and the vouchers in this oonnex:ion carefully It was found that Thomas Cahill was desirous of selling his old bicycle bttying a motor cycle He came to Darwin arid interviewed Mr. Evans, who was then, I t4ink, also acting as Chief Protector. Cahill went to the Aborigines Department and obtained the of a number of

aborigines on the station who had money standing to their credit. lie took a of sufficient of these to make up the price he desired for the bicycle, which was its price when new. Htp then informed Mr. Evans that he had arranged with these aborigines to buy the bicycle at the price mentioned, and to receive out of the funds to their credit the amo11-nt of the purch(tse money, Accepting that statement· as true, Mr. Evans agreed that C;:thill might sell th(2 bicycle to these. aborigines. I do not believe that any such arrangement was ever wade, and that when CahjU . received the rnoney from the account referred to he did so without any authority whatever from

the aborigines, and I doubt whether they ever knew that they owned the bicycle; cm;tainly. of them never did. · But the worst aspect of this case is that Thomas Cahill went to Mr, Rice, the accountant, and informed him that Mr. Evans had approved of the sale. In his evidence, swore .that he had brought one of the blacks to act as spokesman for the others in order to the officials in Darwin that the arrangement was really made. The officials concerned stated in evidence that Cahill brought no aboriginal t;o them, and I believe them. The voucher for the payment of the money was produced, and I find that it purported to be signed by the whole of the

aborigines named fixing their marks, and that it contained · a certificate that the money had been paid to them and that the officer certifying had seen it paid over. This offioer was a girl in the office about nineteen of age. I asked Mr. Rice who ·had written the names and made the marks for the aborigines. I-Ie acknowledged that he .had, and then admitted that he had never seen the blacks, that they were not present, that the money was never paid over to them as certified · on the voucher, and that it had been paid into Thomas Cahill's banking accoul).t I then inquired

how it·was that the girl, whose signature certified that she had seen the money paid over1 had to give such a certificate. Mr. Rice st,ated· that he had requested the girl to sign her name as witness to the ]nark, and that beyond doing this the girl knew nothing whatever 3tbout the matte:r. He added that whatever responsibility attached in the matter must be accepted by hirp.. · The voucher was finally signed by Mr. Evans in accordance with the Audit Act. .

It was deposed that this was not an isolated case, but that the practice had in

the Aborigines Department for some time in cases where it was inconvenient to the signatures of persons to the vouchers required by the Auditor-General in Melbourne. · It seems tp me that a custom reduced the whole system of accounts to a positive farce and opened the way to fraud.




. Another officer of the Department· gave an instance in connexion with one of the Government the procedure was that money would be sent in a lump sun1 by the train. The officer

sending it would telepho:r:e to find out whether the money had arrived. Upon this, the voucher for the Auditor-General would be filled up, and the amount set against the names of each person supposed to have received it. Some one in the office would n1ake the mark, and another would certify that he had seen the payments made and received. I think I need say no more the accounts and the methods adopted by the Aborigines Department of the

'rerntory. Not only was a deceit practised on the Auditor-General, but it might

descnbed by a very much harsher term. This practice was known, I believe, to Mr. Evans, 1 \'Ir. Rice, and, according to the latter, to practically every one in the Accounts Branch.

Again I have to condemn Assistant Protector Thomas Cahill for his transaction with the Aborigines in regard to a saddle. This saddle was bought by Cahill for the. sum

of .30s.. He apphed to the Department for a refund of the amount which he alleged had paid, VIZ. _, £5. He assured the officials that he· had paid that exact sum for the saddle; In the end, ftfter swearing several times that he had really paid the £5, ·he admitted having paid 30s. only.

/ - I consider that Thomas Cahill is morally and intellectually below the normal standard. He Wf1S appointed Protector of .Aborigines at the age of sixteen, some fouryears ago-an important position for which his age and mental and moral qualifications in no way fitted him. It is inexplicable to me how Dr. Gilruth ever. came to appoint a boy of his age to a position of kind.

It must be remembered that on occasions he was left practically alone with his mother amongst a body of aborigines in a district many miles from civilization, occupied by a comparatively uneivi1ized people, over whom he, as Protector, exercised great powers. It has been suggested that the appoint-made becaw;;e Patrick Cahill, the father of, was a of the Administrator

and in assoeiation with him.

A complaint was made against Patriek Cahill, Protector of Aborigines at Oenpelli Government to t]].e effect that he had left Government cattle unbranded on the station at the time when

his son and anot4er intended to take up the adjoining property, and that }lis objeet in so doing was to render it easy for the eattle to be stolen later by Th<;:>mas Cahill and his assoCiate. After and hearing Patrick Cahill, and. examining all the eireun1stances, I believe him to be a decent m.a,n, fl.rtd that his aetion showed no intention. I do think, · however, that there was l&.xity in the branding of the cattle on the but this is not a material matter. There ifl a

further against Patriek Cahill of eruelty to a but I find that this a-lso was not

sustained. ·

As previously mentioned, in my opinion the eause of the unsatisfactory state of affairs in eertain bra:p.ehes of the Aborigines Department was due to the appointment of persons alrel:J.,dy occupying other Departmental positions incompatible as a combination with those in the and the appointment also of persons without proper' knowledge and experience.

The answer of the Administrator to this was that, although he realized the diffieulty, he was not provided by the Commonwealth authorities with sufficient funds to enable him to obtain the of other and more experienced men. In one sense this is quite correct, but in another it

is entirely wrong, for in my opinion the actual amount of money provided for the service in the Northern Territory is quite adequate, and possibly liberal.

No evidence was brought before me of anything improper in connexion with the conduct of the and Mines Department, and it seems to me, so far as I am able to judge, that they are fairly well managed. The great delays which oceur in connexion v.rith the Lands Department, owing to fact that there is no registry in the Territoryl cause inconvenienee, are produetive

of dissatisfa ction, and a great drawback to settlement. Suggestions were made that in both the Lands and Mines Departments there were irregularities, but these were not so much directed against and their officers as against the who was alleged to be so

closely associated with Vestey Brothers that this firm. reeeiv.ed special consideration, and that when they wanted any property the requirements of other people were always subordinated to the wishes of this firm. I ani sati fied that there is no foundation for this allegation.

In connexion with the Mines Department, I was asked to find that Dr. Gilrutb, as Administrator, had given preferenee to certain companie , and had illegally given rights to certain persons for the purpose of floating a company, the insinuation being made that was on account of the fact that he was interested in, or with them, or that he was .assisting Vestey s company. I am not at all sure that Dr: did irregul ar in the protection he extended

to certain persons for the purpose them to land.they would finally 1:rp

in with any proposed tin-dredging or other mimng Industnes. The legal lS,

'I 12

owing to the state of the statutes, not entirely Iree from ·doubt, but I consider Dr. Gilruth acted in good faith in the matter, and in ·what he conceived to be the best interests of the Territory. As to his being interested with these persons, I am quite satisfied that any such charge is without justification. Before passing from this Department I should state that the allegation that Judge Bevan had inserted in the Daly River Mine file a memorandum which operated to his- adavntage is not true.

The system of accounts, and the methods in which they are kept, both in the Lands and Mines Departments, seemed to me to be satisfactory.· This is, hGwever, a matter for the opinion of accountants. ·

I am asked to report upon statements contained in the letter of 8th July, 1919, written by Mr. Carey to Dr. Gilruth just prior to the latter's departure for London. It is an extraordinary letter, and had it not become public property in the Territory, Mr. Carey. might have had a chance of carrying on as Director, although, asJ have previously stated, there was an element of suspicion concerning him, due largely to his close friendship with Dr. Gilruth. The pub.lication of this letter destroyed any confidence the public might have had in Mr. Carey, and led to the demand by the people of Darwin that he and others should leave the Territory.

The letter shows a want of appreciation on the part of Mr. Carey of his responsibility to the Government. It increased the suspicion already existing with regard to Dr. Gilruth, Judge Bevan, and himself. I cannot, however, see that it affected Mr. Evans. There is one paragraph in the letter referring to Mr. Playford, Chief \Varden and Special Magistrate. I called upon l\1r. Carey to justify his statem.ents in this regard, but he was utterly unable to do so.

In connexion with the references to Mr. Watt, Dr. Gilruth, and Sir William Vestey, and the suggestion contained in the letter that Dr. Gilruth should help Vestey's Company sell their unprofitable meat works to the Government, and his endeavour, with the object of getting a good price for Vestey's Company, to use Dr. Gilruth's personal friendship with Mr. Watt in order to enlist his sympathy and support, I am unable to understand Mr. Carey's attitude. He could give no satisfactory explanation of this except that it was written with the view to assisting his friend Dr. Gilruth to a better position.

• Coming from a man who was about to become Director of the Northern Territory, the suggestions were highly improper. In order to see if there ·was anything in them, I called for ·the actual letters and telegrams from Mr. Conacher, Managing Director of Vestey's companies, and I found that they did not in any degree support the inferences to be drawn from Mr. Carey's

letter. There were two letters sent by Mr. Conacher to Sir William Vestey, informing him that Dr. Gilruth was about to sever his connexion with the Territory, and setting forth the long and valuable experience of Dr. Gilruth in certain scientific and practical directions, and suggesting that he would be a very useful man for them to employ in connexion with· their industry in South America, China, Madagascar, and other parts of the world, but discouraging his employment in Australia . . It is evidenced from Mr. Conacher's letters that he was of opinion that. temperamentally Dr. Gilruth was so constituted that he would fail, as he had failed in the Northern Territory, among classes of people with the instincts of Australians. There is no indication whatever of the suggestion that he should be used for the purpose of inducing the Federal Government to buy the meat works at Darwin, or to buy the whole proposition of Vestey Brothers, or that he should .be used for any improper purposes. After hearing Dr. Gilruth, I conclude that these inferences are without

foundation', nor is there any warrant for the belief that either Vestey Brothers or Mr. Conacher haa any connexion with the Administrator of an in1proper character. The letter has in this inquiry served a very useful purpose, in that it enabled me to discover fairly definitely the association of Dr. Gilruth with Mr., and the associations also with Judge Bevan and the

Daly River Copper Mine.

One of the matters which .was the outcome of Senator Ferricks' speeches, into which I am directed to inquire, was whether the statement that Vestey Brothers were part of the American Meat Trust was true or untrue. I found from the evidence available that, frotn a conclusive point of view, such a task was impossible. To ascertain, with the materials and the few advantages placed at my command, the connexion between corpo!ations of this kind would be quite imprac­ ticable. The documents and papers in connexion with this matter are amongst the exhibits, and

are of a very limited character.

My attention was particularly directed .to a certain article in the ltV est Australian which undoubtedly influenced Senator Ferricks. The limited amount of information justified him at least in being profoundly suspicious. After a of certain further An:erican periodical.s .and · the reports of the committee apF ointed by the Bntish Board of Trade, I consider that the suspiCious


element contained in the article relied upon by Senator .Ferricks may be eliminated. 1 believe that the establishment by the V estey Corporation- of an office in America was for purely commercial purposes, and to enable them to avoid the taxation which American companies were not called upon to bear. So enormous was the advantage given by the incidence of the war tax of the United States of America, as well as that of Great Britain, that in the opinion of Vestey's Company, if fresh arrangements to nieetthe position were not made, the result would be disastrous to all British trade institutions. I believe that the American registration was effected not to co-operate

With the American Meat Trust, but to enable the few British meat industries; of which Vestey's were the chief, to successfully compete with that Trust, which hacf planted its claws in the meat trade of America, to an extent that made the trust masters of the meat supplies of the United States, and was fast obtaining a -vice-like grip on the remainder of the world. I believe Vestey's and few other British meat companies that remained have fought most valiantly against this domination, and that Vestey Brothers, with a few other companies, are standing, as Mr. Flannery put it, "In the last trenches in defence of British Meat Industry." .

In answer to Your Excellency's question as to the officers who have proprietary interests in mining properties in the Northern Territory, in respect of which financial assistance has been granted by the Government, I take it that this means at the time when such financial assistance was granted.or in anticipation of such assistance. It has not been established before me that any

other officers had any such interests other than Dr. Gilruth and Judge Bevan. The first of the mining transactions between these was a lease taken up in the name of Mr. P. H. -Hope, ·which was called the Arrino lease. With regard to this I find as follows :-1. That Hope was a partner of Dr. Gilruth and Judge Bevan from the beginning to

the end of the transactions in connexion with this n1ine.

2. That Judge Bevan was perfectly open in his association as a partner with Hope, · but that Dr. Gilruth the Administrator was a secret partner.

3. That in his· position as Administrator, after money had been voted by Parliament, and absolute control vested in him as to the mines and persons to whom assistance out of the vote for that purpose should be given, Dr. Gilruth, in exercise of that power, made advances and granted a subsidy nominally to Hope, but_ in reality to Hope, Judge Bevan, and himself. No repayment has ever been made in respect of these transactions. Though the advances and subsidy in connexion with .this mine small, the impropriety of the action is not thereby lessened.

In the case of the Daly River Mine, there is a conflict of testimony so far as the interests of Dr. Gilruth are concerned, and the date at which such interest arose, if at all. The transaction was not a direct advance of money, but the handing over of certain Government property which produced a financial result favorable to the parties interested with Hope of an amount of between £600 and £700. Judge Bevan admits that he was a partner with Hope from the beginning. Dr. Gilruth, on the contrary, denies that he was ever a partner, or in any way interested in the mine. Judge Bevan has, in effect, sworn that Dr. Gilruth for all practical purposes became a partner in the months of August or September, 1916. He could not, however, give the exact date. I feel compelled to accept his evidence on this point, and find therefore as a fact that Dr. Gilruth.was a partner from this time. Whether he was a partner from the beginning and at the time the first transaction was entered into, and Government assistance given, is, however, as far as the ex-Administrator is concerned, the material point. Upon this the evidence is not so satisfactory. Any conclusion I come to on this point is one founded on an inference to be drawn from facts. After careful consideration, I am reluctantly compelled to find that these three gentlemen were partners from the beginning-Hope and Judge Bevan openly; and Dr. Gilruth secretly.

The facts and circumstances which influenced me in coming to this conclusion are as follows:-Mr. Hope was the nominal applicant for the lease,. and his partners were Dr. Gilruth and Judge Bevan. Shortly after this transactiOn ended Mr. Hope became

the applicant for the Daly River Mine, with Judge Bevan admittedly his partner. Judge Bevan stated that, it was not _until or September,

1916, Dr. Gilruth became a partner In the Daly River Mine, there was what he described as something like an inchoate understanding between them, and t he would come in at any time he was wanted, though there was no agreement to that effect.


Messrs. Bevan and Hope a banking in connexion with this mine

in the name of "Bevan and H;ope." · It is admitted by Judge Bevan

and Dr. Gilruth that the first money paiq. into that was supplied by

Dr. Gilruth, and it is not disputed that a little later twq further of _mqney were paid into the sall!e for the purposes of this mine. _ of these

sums was a cheque of pr. Gilruth, and the 9ther a cheque of Judge Bevan, ..for egual amounts, and they were paid in within a few days of each other:. After that the mi_ ne was .run practically on from its working, ap.d over- ·

The next step is that, at a later date, Dr. Gilruth admits that he undertook the responsibility of half Judge Bevan's ovredraft, which finally ran to the figure of £1,200. Dr. Gilruth's explanation is that he undertook to pay half of any losses · on the mine in order to assist the development of the rnining industry in the Northern Territory, and that he neither then nor at any time had anyinterests in the profits of the mine if there should have been any such profits. With this Judge Bevan does not agree, although he supports the allegation as to the loans. Later, when the mine was abandoned, stlms 9f money belonging to Dr. Gilruth· · were paid into Bevan and Hope's Daly River Mine banking account; in reduction

Qf the overdraft. It is too great a. strain on my credulity to believe that Dr. Gilruth, under all these conditions and circumstances, was not a partner in the Daly River ·Mine ftom the beginning. I find he was a partner, and that while a partner he advanced as Administrator, in the manner I have already indicated, substantial sums of _money out of the proceeds of the realization of Government property over which he had the sole control, nominally to Mr. Hope, but in reality to Messrs. Bevan, Hope, and nimself.

Before passing from these mining transactions, I Would say that the Administrator's connexion with either of them was not publicly known, although it was strongly suspected, and had the worst possible effect on the public mind. The of these findings, if sound, means that the information supplied to Ministers and to Parliament by these was misleading, and, in some material particulars, untrue. I may that my investigations have been exhaustive

enough to enable me to say that I do not believe that any further transactions took place between these gentlemen other thanthose enumerated.

I also inquired into the land transactions of Dr. Gilriith, and found that a Mr. Palmer, in conjunction with him, bought a piece of freehold land on the Daly River. Later on, Palmer applied for a lease of 3,000 acres, which I understand adjoins the freehold. This and the freehold is the land referred to in Mr. Carey's letter of 8th July, 1919, where he gives Dr. Gilruth particulars of their sale. Dr. Gilruth admits he had interests in the freehold, but asserts he had no interest in the leasehold. The leasehold was granted by Dr. Gilruth as Administrator to Mr. Palmer, but he received no better consideration than would have been given any other applicant. Ultimately, on the sale of the property by Mr. Carey, the proceeds, after deducting certain moneys which Mr. Palmer paid out of his own pocket, equally divided, Dr. Gilruth's share· being paid intd the banking account of Bevan and Hope before referred to in reduction of the overdraft. · It was urged that the· lease was of little or no value, but this I am unable to believe. I am of opinion

that Dr. Gilruth and Mr. · Palmer were equally interested in the leasehold as well as the freehold.

Dealing with the question of shipping, I find that men were placed on the Daly settlement, \Vhich appears to be eminently suited for the production of certain commodities w:p.ich can be marketed to advantage in Darwin. Under the existing shipping conditions these settlers, being entirely dependent on the steamer service, were bound to fail.

An instance was brought under my notice of an occasion on which a boat was promised a certain time. This vessel went to the settlement, but later than was expected, and then

left behind a large portion of the produce which hi:td been brought to the river bank, and which was ultimately lost or destroyed, although she was only half loaded, of which fact I am satisfied from the tonnage and a perusal of her manifest. The cargo chiefly of the ore belonging

to Messrs. Gilruth,. Bevah, and Hope, from the Daly River Mine. This incident created a very bad impression, although, in my opinion, it was not the fault of the Administration. The public, felt that all the authorities cared about was the Daly River l\1ine, in which they strongly

and justifiably suspected that the Administrator, as well as Judge Bevan, was interested.


_ This boat was burnt some time later, and no vessel to replace it was purchased by the authorities for a long time, the reason assigned being that a suitable one could not be

o-btained. I fe-el su:te an auxiliary vessel sufficient for the trade require1nents could hitve been readily secured either in Tasmania or New Zealand. This course, I understand, was ·strongly l!-rged by Administrator .. another boat was purchased, but proved quite unsuitable. 'f.he John Was built . . This I consider was a n1ost scandalous waste of public moJ?.ey. boat is practically and the Government is incurring, an.d always will incur, a greap loss

on her Mr. infurmed me that it cost nearly as much to carry produce of an ordirtary

fartnirtg in this vessel as the value of the whole of the cargo, so expensiye is she to run, and such a large cre_ w has she to carry. As a result of her unsuitttbility, she lies ih Darwin I shC?1ild say of her time with_ her crew of twelve receiving high wages the whole time. The

loss entailed is somewhere in the vicinity of £8,000 a year, and the· vessel has cost to date Sh.e was desigtwd, amongst other things, to serve the settlers on the Daly River, but was found that she could not ge_ t up this river owing to her length and draught. The whole scheme of the boat is wtong, taking into consideration the purpose for which she was built, and affords ari instance

a£ the lack of intelligent of local conditions on the part of the Home and Territories

Department . . Dr. Gilruth is blamed by the public, but, in my opinion, the responsibility does rtot test with him, but \\rith the autht>tities in Melbourne. ·

It is apparent that the various schemes for land settlement in the Northern Territory have hopelessly failed. Large· slirris of money have been wasted in this direction, greatly to the annoyance of residents, who urge that such money could and would, if local men of experience had been c?nsulted; have been spent in useful directions. I consider that this failure is due· to three causes, VIZ.:-

1. That the Federal authorities appear to· have conceived the idea that agricultural products could be profitably grown in the Northern Territory with the standard wage, ranging in accordance with varying conditivns and dates from· £3 10s, to £6 per week, whilst the same products are being grown in Java and other Eastern countries by coloured labour on wages ranging from 6d. to ls. 6d. per day. 2. That there are other directions in which n1ight have been achieved, but that

the management of the shipping in the Territory is of such a character that all those who were dependent on it, whatever may have been their merits ordem'Brits, wete b6hnd to, and did in fact, fail. -This was due partly to mismanagemeht by the Administration in the Territory, and partly to the failure to appreciate local conditions exhibit·ed by the authorities in Melbourne. 8. That in certain cases an class of person was placed· upon the 1atid.

The general treatment of settlers also unsympathetic, and in some cases illegal and harsh.

It has been the custom of the Administration to make what were called advances to settlers in the 5hape of cattle and other live stock. The greatest laxity was displayed in obtaining proper in favour of the Crown in respect of these advances. The stock was, in n1y opinion, sold

subject to certain conditions as to the repayment of the purchase n1oney, but became the property of the settler, a lien being taken over the progeny of such stock by way of security. The document to cover such a transa0tion was almost inconceivably fooli h.

. Some of the settlers bitterly complained of what they deemed the illegal seizure of their stock by the· officers of the Administration. It would appear that, when an opinion formed that a settler was not carrying out his obligations, officials on various occasions without legal process entered, seized, and retook possession of the stock that had been sold to the settler, and in some cases possession was also taken of leased land. I do not desire to speak too definitely upon this subject; but from a perusal of the agreements, unless a great deal n1ore can be said in favour of the Orown;s p9sition, the seizures in these cases appear to me to have been without any justific_ation in law, and I have formed this opinion without taking into consideration the effect of the J\1oratorium regulations on such agreen1ents.

At least one case was brought under my notice to which, according to the date of the agreement, the Moratorium regulations applied. It is argued that these r gulations do not bihd the Crown, but i am of opinion that, t aking all'the ciroumstances of these cases into the Crown was bound, and the officials acted absolutely without justification. In any case, their

action was harsh, and, in my present opinion, although I have not given the n:atter very exhaustive c9nsideration, the entering on settlers' property, seizing and rer:-1oving_ sto?k, and treating same as the property of the Crown, ·was unwarranted by law, and arbitrary In the extreme, and a very just cau-se of complaint on the part of settlers, who had been given no opportunity of being heard

or of jttstifying their position.


. When I questioned Dr. Gilruth and Mr. Carey as to their opinion as to what ·effect the Moratorium regulations had on . these contracts, I was satisfied from their attitude that they hardly knew of the existence of such regulations, and that they have never for one moment considered the effect of same. .

I investigated the system adopted in connexion with the Commonwealth hotels under the management of Mr. Callan, and am of .opinion that the hotels are run on fairly businesslike lines. The managers do their best under difficult conditions, · for I realize it is most difficult to properly conduct hotels in places like Darwin and Pine Creek. One cause of complaint however is that beer has not been regularly supplied to the hotels; the reason for 'this may be the difficulty of obtaining supplies, and lack of shipping owing to outside causes. For weeks, and sometimes almost months, there is no beer obtainable in the Territory, and it is to be remembered that the people very much prefer the lighter class of lager beer. As a consequence, those who drink take spirits, which, in the case of the sly grog-shops, are often very badly adulterated. When a boat arrives with some 400 or 500 cases of beer, there is a rush for the liquor, and drunkenness ensues. The remedy for this evil is unquestionably a regular supply of light malt liquor. I think this difficulty can be, and could have been, overcome if any real attention had been given by the authorities to the matter. Mr. Callan informed me that he cannot get the supply he requires, but that he believes that if he were allowed to make his own purchases he would overcome the difficulty.

The public are not allowed to buy bottles of beer in the hotels, · but must consume the liquor on the premises. They know perfectly well that nothing further in the way of supplies will be obtainable for a period, and that a shipment will be exhausted in the course of a week or so.

Although they cannot buy by the bottle, they can buy by the case. Cases are

consequently purchased, and taken to the camps or homes. ·This most undesirable state of affairs leads to excessive drinking.

The sly grog-sellers also buy up a large quantity of beer out of every shipment. When the State supply is they sell this liquor at prices up to 6s. per bottle. The people of Darwin bitterly complain of this practice, but I do not see how the managers of the hotels or any of the hotelkeepers can be expected to cope with it without an alteration of the present system. In my

opinion, means couTd be very easily devised which would substantially do away with sly grog­ selling in the Territory. A competent and sufficient of police would of course be required.

I desire to inform Your Excellency that a vast amount of evidence was submitted to me, and that the· letters and documents which were produced and investigated were considerable in number and most voluminous. To go detail . in this Report and all the matters to which I have given consideration would be wearisome, and serve no good purpose, particularly as. I conceive the main object of my direction was to ascertain what in substance brought about the extraordinary condition of the Northern Territory, whether it arose through the fault of the people, whether they were orderly, self-respecting people, or whether it was the outcome of bad administration or the refusal of the recognition to the inhabitants of the rights of Australian citizens, or neglect and indifference on the part of the Federal Parliament and Ministers.

In my opinion, the burden of ·responsibility be divided . between the failure of the Commonwealth of Australia to realize the position and grant to the people of the Territory citizen rights, the failure of Ministers to form a proper appreciation of what was due to Territory, and the failure of Dr. Gilruth, Judge Bevan, and those closely associated with them to exercise their great powers with firmness, sense, discretion, and justice.

Mr. Bamford, a one time Minister of Home Affairs, stated that the people of the Northern Territory required " a strong hand and a big boot." No doubt a strong hand is essential, but it might be suggested that the phrase should be "a strong hand, justice, and decency of treatment."

I have not suggested in this Report reforms in other than a few minor rna tters of adminis­ tration. I have carefully considered the idea of formulating a scheme for the future government of the Territory, but I have come to the conclusion .that it is useless to deal with one dependency alone. Whatever local control may be given to Commonwealth Territories in the future should provide for a similar government of them all, making provision only for special local conditions.

I did not fail to gather all available information as to the Northern Territory a;nd the obtaining therein, but I did _not have the opportunity,. owing to shipP_ing of

calhng at British and German New Gwnea, as I had arranged With the Acting Pnme M1mster,

I 7 1669

lVlr. Watt, for the purpose of gathering evidence, at first hand, that would assist lVIinisters,in ,their endeavour to bring about a better condition of affairs in the Territories generally. I feel that by making suggestions without further consideration and fuller investigation of the conditions prevailing in all the Territories, I might be doing nwre harm than good. I have, however, come

to certain conclusions, and have gathered together a considerable amount of material as to the views of representatives of the various classes of the populatiDn, which I shall be glad to n1ake available if it is so desired. That I do not do so at the present stage is in order to avoid the presentation of any incomplete 'COnclusions.

A copy of the evidence which was taken accotnpanies this Report, and a list of the exhibits put in is attached.

The work of the Commission was carried out· by a very sn1all staff, which necessitated the typewritten statements being confined to the sworn testimony of witnesses, so that, unfor­ tunately, many of the remarks which were made by counsel·and others have not been included.

1 desire to express my thanks to Mr. Whiteford for his services as secretary; the work he was called upon to do was extensive in volume and considerable in importance, and always efficiently .carried out. He is indeed a capable man.

I would also mention the excellent work done by Mr. Weatherstone, the Hansard reporter, who carried out his duties under trying conditions. ·

I wish also to acknowledge n1y appreciation of the help received from counsel. Mr. Barratt, who had charge of the case for the people of the Territory, was of marked assistance ; the great burden of most of the work fell upon him, and he discharged his duties well. Mr. Morley and Mr. Mills also helped me greatly, and I fully appreciated the judg1nent and capacity with which Senator

conduete<-1 the case on behalf of his client.

Judge's Chambers, Supreme Court,

1 have the honour to be ,

Your Excellency's ·most obedient servant,



Hobart, Tasmania.

16th April, 1920.

Perused and transmitted to the Right Honorable the Prime Minister .


21st April, 1920 •

. Printed and Published for the of the COMMONwEALTH of A U STRALIA by ALBER'r J. MULLE'l"l',.

Government Printer for the State of Victoria. ·

F .7384.