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Thursday, 23 August 1906

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member for Bland must withdraw that remark.

Mr Watson - - In deference to you, sir, I withdraw, but I would ask whether the honorable member is in order in making statements such as he has been making during the last few minutes?

The CHAIRMAN - If the honorable member for Wentworth has said anything to which the honorable member for Bland takes exception, I am sure that he will withdraw it.

Mr KELLY - I do not wish to debate the capacity of the honorable member for Bland to make unfair interjections. I was merely remarking that it was very refreshing to see my honorable friends present for the purpose of cracking a socialistic whip over the Government. Of course, we cannot expect the latter to interpose in a debate of this character until they have ascertained the will of the Committee. But may I suggest that this is too small a matter for such a loud crack of the socialistic whip. The whole question relates to one billet which is being very worthily filled at the. present time.

Mr Wilkinson - The question involved is the administration of the Possession.

Mr KELLY - Is the honorable member content to allow the present Administrator to retain has office?

Mr Wilkinson - I say that the administration of the Territory has not been what it ought to have been.

Mr KELLY - After all, the sole object of the intelligent interest which the Labour Party are exhibiting in national affairs is to secure the removal of one man from a billet which he is occupying with credit.

Mr Wilkinson - He is not occupying, it with credit.

Mr KELLY - That is where we agree to differ. The socialistic party has obtained many concessions from the Government.

Mr Bamford - It is not long since the honorable member himself took up a similar attitude with regard to another gentleman.

Mr KELLY - I have never sought to oust any member of the Public Service from his position.

Mr Watson - That is not correct.

Mr KELLY - It is correct, and I challenge the honorable member to disprove it. It seems to me that the genesis of the whole trouble is the anxiety of the Labour Party to get a gentleman who is in " recent and complete touch with Australian

I nought ' ' into the position of LieutenantGovernor of New Guinea. They desire to oust the present occupant of that office, and to secure the appointment of a gentleman whose claims have .been persistently canvassed in each of the Houses of this Parliament. That would mean that the Labour Party would have a much easier election to fight in Western Australia than would otherwise be the case.

Mr Watson - That is worthy of the honorable member.

Mr KELLY - In a matter of this kind it is as well to get the gloves off.

Mr Watson - And therefore to tell untruths.

Mr Johnson - I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member for Bland in order in accusing another honorable member of telling untruths?

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member for Bland would not be in order in accusing any honorable member of telling untruths, but I did not understand him to do so. If he did, I am sure that he will withdraw his remark.

Mr Wilkinson - I should like to ask whether the honorable member for Wentworth is in order in imputing motives to us by declaring that we are advocating the claims of a certain member of this Parliament ? I gave his statement a flat denial .

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member for Wentworth would not be in order in imputing dishonorable motives to any honorable member.

Mr Johnson - They are not dishonorable motives.

The CHAIRMAN - I must remind the honorable member for Lang that it is not in order for an honorable member to interrupt when the Chairman is speaking.

Mr KELLY - If this agitation on the part of my socialistic friends were successful, it would inevitably make an election in Western Australia more simple for them than it otherwise would be.

Mr Tudor - We shall get three members returned to the SenaTe just the same.

Mr Bamford - That is merely a side issue.

Mr KELLY - As long as the honorable member admits it is an issue at all I am satisfied. I merely wish to sa.y now that if we require as Lieutenant-Governor of New Guinea a gentleman who has been in close and recent touch with Australian political thought, the Treasurer might very well be appointed to " that highly ornamental billet.

Sir John Forrest - I am not a billet hunter.

Mr KELLY - I do not think that the Treasurer is ! If, however, he thought it would be to the interests of the Commonwealth that he should go to that distant Possession, I am quite sure that he would go.

Mr Deakin - We cannot spare him.

Mr KELLY - I can conceive of nobody who is tetter qualified for the position than the Treasurer, because he has been in close and recent touch with every political party in Australia.

Mr Deakin - He has the admiration of them all.

Mr KELLY - Exactly; and they are, therefore, all anxious to see him take up this arduous post. However, I have no desire to continue this line of reasoning. In dealing with the office of Lieutenant-Governor of New Guinea, our first consideration must be the natives of that Possession. The administration of the Territory chiefly concerns them. The present occupant of the office of LieutenantGovernor is a gentleman who is heart and soul in sympathy with the natives. Certain honorable members appear to think that he is a man who has made no sacrifices, and who, to quote the words of the honorable member for_Moreton, "has lived in carpeted halls."

Mr Wilkinson - I think that he has considered the natives in every way. I said that all the Administrators of the Possession have been very considerate to them.

Mr KELLY - And the present Administrator has been no less considerate than has any of his predecessors. This afternoon the honorable member for Bland stated that land concessions in the Possession could not be obtained, despite the fact that applications for them had been made more than two years ago. Does not that statement suggest that the cause of the delay may rest with this House? I shall refer honorable members to the Papua Act passed last session.

Mr Wilkinson - It has not yet been proclaimed.

Mr Deakin - It is just proclaimed, and will come into force on 1st proximo.

Mr KELLY - The honorable member will admit that it has been in print for some time, and I do not think that an Administrator worthy of his position would have done anything pending its proclamation contrary to the spirit of the Act.

Mr Watson - In some cases these applications have been in abeyance for two years.

Mr KELLY - And it is something like four years since the Papua Bill was first introduced. I propose to quote a provision) from the Act for which this Parliament must inevitably take the responsibility. In the first place, the fee-simple of Crown lands in Papua is not to be alienated.

Mr Wilkinson - The same condition applies throughout the Malay Federated States.

Mr KELLY - That does not affect this issue.

Mr Frazer - What did Captain 'Barton say as to the non-alienation of land? .

Mr KELLY - Whatever his opinions may be, the honorable member knows that he has always endeavoured to loyally' uphold the statute. In section 41 of the Papua Act it is provided that -

The Lieutenant-Governor shall not assent to any ordinance of any of the following classes, unless the ordinance contains a clause suspending its operation until the signification of the Governor-General's pleasure thereon : -

2.   Any ordinance dealing with the granting or disposal of Grown lands.

The honorable member for Bland has complained that Crown lands have not been alienated, and yet under this Act they cannot be alienated.

Mr Watson - What I said was that applications for land had not been dealt with.

Mr KELLY - They were held over, perhaps, until the passing of this Act.

Mr Watson - No. Applications were practically made long before the Papua Bill was on the stocks.

Mr KELLY - That would be more than four years ago.

Mr Watson - Less than that. At the time in question there were existing ordinances in relation to the lands of British

New Guinea, and the applications to which I refer - applications for trading sites consisting of, perhaps, an acre, or a fourth of an acre - should have been dealt with within a reasonable time.

Mr KELLY - If the honorable member held office as Lieutenant-Governor of Papua, \voald he be prepared to act on an existing ordinance, when he knew that a measure was being considered by the governing power which would affect that ordinance ?

Mr Watson - But the Administrator might give a man permissive occupancy of a trading site.

Mr KELLY - I presume that' would mean an alienation of Crown lands.

Mr Watson - Not necessarily. A mar* could be given some form of tenure that would enable him to occupy, perhaps, a quarter or a ha If -acre block.

Mr KELLY - Then, again, in subsection 7 of section 41, we have a provision applying to -

Any ordinance relating to the sale or disposition of or dealing with lands by aboriginal natives of the Territory.

It is quite possible that native lands were applied for. Under this Act those lands cannot be disposed of. It is very clear that the case which the honorable member for Bland has put is one for which the responsibility lies largely at our own door, and not at the door of the LieutenantGovernor of Papua.

Sir John Forrest - I think that the alienation of Crown lands was stopped as soon as we agreed to take over the Territory.

Mr Watson - But I am speaking only of occupation, not of alienation.

Mr KELLY - Sub-section 7 relatesnot only to the sale, but to the disposition, of native lands.

Mr Watson - The honorable member is arguing around the question. I say that the land to which I refer was available, and that it was the fault of the Administrator that applications were not dealt with within a reasonable time.

Mr KELLY - The honorable member is usually very reasonable. I think hewill admit that, if he wished the Committee to support him, he should have shown at the outset that that was the position. He has just said for the first time that the land in question could have been dealt with by the Lieutenant-Governor. But even now he has adduced no proof of his contention. 1 have mentioned one instance in which this

Parliament has expressly prevented the disposition or alienation of Crown lands in Papua, and, so far as they are concerned, the Parliament must accept the responsibility. How arewe going to' bring about the development of these possessions of the Commonwealth unless we allow their products free entry into Australia? How can we grant any means for developmental purposes unless we give the people of Papua a market for their produce? Honorable members of the party who are now complaining would be the first to deny to the Papuans a market in Australia for their products.

Mr Watson - That is another base assertion.

Mr KELLY - Would the honorable member allow the products of Papuan labour from British New Guinea free entry into the Commonwealth?

Mr Watson - Under reasonable conditions. I would give them a preference, but I would not admit the products of all black labour on the same conditions as those of white labour.

Mr KELLY - We wish to know what the honorable member means by " preference " ?

Mr Watson - I cannot explain by way of interjection.

Mr KELLY - I shall give the honorable member an opportunity in a few moments to explain what he means. I have pointed out two directions in which we can help to develop Papua. The responsibility for not having availed ourselves of these opportunities rests absolutely with us, and not on any gentleman who may be, for the time being, administering the Possession. The present Administrator has very ably filled his position, and it is unworthy of this Parliament to make an attack upon him on no better grounds than the flimsy ones which have been mentioned during this debate.

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