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Friday, 15 June 1906

Mr DEAKIN (Ballarat) (Minister of External Affairs) . - In reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Boothby.I shall have pleasure in giving notice on Tuesday next of a motion similar to that which I submitted last year for the selection of a Chairman of Committees. I shall give notice on Tuesday, and move the motion on Wednesday, if that meets the convenience of honorable members.


Mr DEAKIN - It reads-

1.   That the House donow proceed to the election of aChairmanofCommittees.

2.   That in the eventof more than two members beingproposed fortheposition, theelection shall be by open exhaustive ballot, andthat so much of thestanding ordersbe suspendedas would prevent the House adoptingsuch course.

The honorable member for Coolgardie has called attention to certain correspondence relating to the deportation of kanakas, so far as it has proceeded with the Government of Queensland. That correspondence is in rather an imperfect state at present, but 1 have no objection tohaving it upon the table.I have been anticipating the arrival of a letter from the Premier of Queensland in reply to inquiries which I have made, and am now making, and this will close that part of the correspondence. The investigations by the Commission, which is sitting in Queensland, are of interest to us, because they are directed, inter alia, to a determination of the number of kanakas who have a claim - whether legal or other wise- to remain in the country. When that information is forthcoming we shall, by deduction, be enabled to determine the number of kanakas who will require to be repatriated after this year, and that will assist us in arriving at an estimate of the cost of deporting them. We also desire to ascertain the amount of the fund which exists in Queensland for that purpose. When we learn that, and not till then, we shall be able to consider the responsibilities of the Queensland Government.

Mr Mahon - Why should the cost of the repatriation of the kanakas concern us, seeing that we are not called upon to pay it?

Mr DEAKIN - It concerns us to this extent - that it is conceiv able that if the control of the kanakas had rested entirely with the Parliament of Queensland it might have fixed a slightly longer period for their deportation. It might have extended the operation of the law for six or twelve months. But our Act fixes a definite date for their deportation.

Mr Watson - In Queensland there is no lawfor compulsory deportation.

Mr DEAKIN - No; but the State law provides for regular deportations. The present period is fixed by us, and tothat extent we have a related responsibility with the Government of Queensland. It is impossible for us to say whether that amounts to a responsibility of a financial character until we know the facts, which are not yet in our possession. The honorable member for Maranoa has referred to some statements which were made by the Commandant of the Military Forces in Victoria. These have escaped my memory, but I will call the attention of the Minister of Defence to the remarks of the honorable member. The honorable member for Bland has suggested that opportunities might be afforded members of this Parliament to visit some of the new sites suggested for the Seat of Government, the reports upon which were laid before the House this afternoon. The plans of those sites have yet to follow. I merely wish to point out that this Parliament has already made its choice of a particular site. That circumstance, of course, does not preclude us from rescinding our decision, and so arriving at another. If any fresh site were chosen, the Scat of Government Act would require to be repealed. But an invitation is implied in the communication from the Premier of New South Wales, in forwarding these reports and plans. It might be viewed as pointing to an invitation to honorable members to visit the sites. Its acceptance would rest with them and certainly it would not be the duty of the Government, or of honorable members who are still satisfied with Dalgety, to throw obstacles in the way of the acquirement of further information by any who chooseto visit new sites. I hope that when we do reach the final consideration of this matter we shall be able to say that we have extended every courtesy and consideration to the wishes of the Government and representatives of New South Wales. We can lose nothing by that. No honorable member is obliged to alter his opinion, and if such an invitation arrives, I hope the House will view it favourably. The honorable member for Herbert suggested that the invitation should not be accepted as regards one of the sites until the great reservoir lake is constructed; but I am afraid that will be long after the House has finally decided upon the site of -the Federal Capital, and probably entered into possession of it..

Mr Mahon - What : about tthe seed regulations?

Mr DEAKIN - I understand that the interpretation put upon Hie filiations byMr. Holtze is different from mat adopted bv the Comptroller oF Customs. While Mr. Holtze may be or.e of the best authorities in Australia iin regard tto seeds, I prefer to rely on the Comptroller-General of Customs, who has. not only had a verv long experience <>f his Department, but has legal training unci sound judgment tei assist him in the interpretation of the actual meaning of these regulations. I si'." no reason to question Dr. Wollaston's opinion.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned al 4.2,5 p.m.

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