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Wednesday, 13 December 1905

Sir William Lyne - They will only be paid the bounty for four years under the honorable member's proposal.

Mr MAHON - They will receive it for a period of nearly five years.

Mr Thomas - And the next Parliament can extend it if it chooses to do so.

Mr MAHON - I thank the honorable member for his interjection. If a good case can be made out for the continuance of the system, the next Parliament would undoubtedly extend it for a further period. I move -

That the word " twelve " at the end of the clause be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word " ten."

Mr. HENRYWILLIS (Robertson).When I spoke upon the second reading of this Bill, I stated that I would support the application of a sliding scale to the payment of the bounty. That proposal having been defeated, I do not feel any longer bound to support the measure. I intend to vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Coolgardie.

Mr. CONROY(Werriwa). - I shall certainly support the amendment, and I only wish that it limited the operation of the bounty to a shorter period. It is wrong for any Parliament to bind its successors. In this Bill we are invited to bind at least two successive Parliaments. To my mind, any such action would be absolutely unjustifiable. In view of therecent division, which indicates that it would be impossible to substitute an earlier date, I shall vote for the amendment; otherwise I should certainly have supported a proposal that the bounty shall cease in 1907.

Mr. FRAZER(Kalgoorlie).- As the result of the division just taken will prevent our carrying out the desire of the representatives of Queensland, whilst at the same time placing the granting of this bounty on a satisfactory basis, I think that the proposal embodied in this clause is a most extreme one. Under the existing Act the bounty will terminate in 1907, and it is proposed by this Bill to continue it until 1 9 12. In other words, six years must elapse before the conditions for which it provides may be varied, unless we are to break faith with the people whom it is designed to serve. During that period we shall have two, and possibly three, general elections. The question has been brought before the Committee at a time when it is exceedingly difficult to give it that consideration which it ought to receive. Sir William Lyne. - Let us divide ! Mr. FRAZER.- The Minister of Trade and Customs has displayed a remarkable anxiety to secure the passing of this and other Bills without debate; but while we may have a great admiration for his ability to draft a measure in a form that ought to be acceptable to the country, we cannot lose sight of our duty to our constituents. We are asked by the Government to give a vote which must bind the next two Parliaments unless faith is to be broken with the people whom this measure is designed to assist. I respectfully urge that the proposal to extend the bounty until 19 12 is an extreme one, and that the Ministry might well accept the compromise proposed by the honorable member for Coolgardie, whose amendment I shall certainly support.

Mr. HUTCHISON(Hindmarsh). - I would point out that by agreeing to this clause we shall not tie the hands of future Parliaments to any serious extent. In the first place, if the amendment be accepted, it will be necessary for the Parliament to again deal with this question in 1909.

Mr Mahon - Would not the honorable member like to be able, in his own business, to see four years ahead?

Mr HUTCHISON - My point is that if the Parliament be called upon in 1909 to again legislate in regard to this matter, it will not have had sufficient experience of the effect of the deportation of kanakas, which commences in 1907, to enable it to arrive at a proper decision. On the other hand, if the clause be passed as it stands, we shall have had four years' experience of the altered condition of affairs before we are again called upon to deal with this question. I therefore hope that the clause will be accepted.

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