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Thursday, 8 August 1912

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I must admit somewhat to a feeling of disappointment at the course of this debate. I had hoped that there would have been a more genuine inclination to take part in the discussion, and that the invitation which, to the best of my ability, I extended both to the Government and to their supporters, to regard my motion as entirely free from any party significance, would have been responded to a little more generously than has been the case. In view of the defects which are admitted to exist in the Ordinance, I felt bound to bring the matter under the notice of the Senate, lt is not my fault that these proposals are embodied in an Ordinance, nor is it my fault that under our rules I am not able to submit the Ordinance so that it could be dealt with as the Senate would deal with an ordinary Bill. If that course had been open to me, I should have welcomed it, because I approached the matter with the sincere desire to prevent the Northern Territory being committed to what I regard as a very grave mistake, involving very serious consequences. I took the only course which was open to me. I brought the matter forward with a frank declaration that I was merely concerned to amend the Ordinance, and not in any way to make the position difficult for the Government. I had hoped that the Vice-President of the Executive Council would have recognised the statement which I then made, and left it easier than he did for honorable senators on his side, who are disinclined to indorse the Ordinance, to join with me and others who wish to see it amended. 1 get one cause of satisfaction out of the debate. 1 do not believe that to-day there is -a member of the Senate but who is prepared to frankly admit that he regards legislation by Ordinance as a most undesirable and imperfect method of procedure. The debate has done at least this good - that it has brought before honorable senators the fact that by means of an Ordinance, and behind the back of Parliament, legislation, for which I venture to say there is no general approval in the Chamber, can be placed upon the statute-book, and it will be as effective there1 as if it had been passed by the two Houses.

I should like now to summarize, as far as I am able to do, the conclusions which one is entitled to draw from the remarks made during the debate. I am pleased to find that, at any rate, on some of the matters there need not, in future, be any difference of opinion as to what the Ordinance means. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has practically admitted, that, first of all, with regard to clause 8, dealing with classification. In introducing this matter, I pointed out that the clause was the subject of two limitations, and my honorable friend has stated plainly what it means. It is well that those who are to be invited to go to the Northern Territory should understand the terms and conditions under which they will take up their land. I specially direct the attention of Senator E. J. Russell to clause 8, seeing that he concluded his remarks 'by expressing the hope that it would, not be long before, under the generous terms of the Ordinance, streams of settlers would be going there. I invite him, whenever he is on the platform, directing the attention of land-seekers to the Northern Territory, to draw their attention to the fact that, although they can take up land under one set of conditions, as set out in the Ordinance to-day, under clause 8 it will be competent for the administrators to shift their land out of that set of conditions and put it under' another set whenever it suits them. That is the position which should be stated if we want to deal honestly with people who are thinking of going to the Northern Territory. We ought to tell them that, although they may take up a pastoral, or grazing, or farming lease, it will be within the competence of the Classification Board to say to them later, " Although you acquired the land under these terms and conditions, we can now., by the exercise of our power under clause 8, reclassify the land, and put you under an entirely different set of conditions."

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Suppose that good agricultural land is used for grazing purposes, and that a railway makes the land available for agriculture, would there be any harm in reclassifying it?

Senator MILLEN - If my honorable friend put in the best years of his life in the Northern Territory, and spent all the capital he had on the good faith of a lease obtained from the Government, and they claimed the right, under clause 8, to reclassify the land and put him under an entirely different set of conditions, what would he think ?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Will there be any harm in reclassifying grazing land when it is made available for agricultural purposes by a railway?

Senator MILLEN - Suppose that a. young man who is qualified by past experience to carry on the occupation of a grazier, and knows nothing of agriculture, acquires a block as a pastoral lease, puts his money into it, and spends the best years of his life on it, and that then, because of something for which he is not responsible, the officials come along and say to him, " Although you have grown old in pursuing the occupation which you came out here to follow, although you are too old to learn farming, yet, under clause 8, we shall bring the land under a farming classification, and you will have either to accept the new classification or to get out."

Senator Pearce - No; not until the time for a re.-appraisement of the rent arrives.

Senator MILLEN - I do not say anything about the time when the reclassification is to take place. I say that it can be done.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - You have dealt with the individual.

Senator MILLEN - The clause will apply to a number of individuals.

Senator Pearce - When a man takes up a lease he will know that it will be liable to a re-appraisement.

Senator MILLEN - I want the Government to tell every man who is thinking of taking up a lease, not about the reappraisement, but about the reclassification.

Senator McGregor - The Ordinance will tell him that.

Senator MILLEN - It probably will not tell every one. It is the duty of the Government, and of every one who wants to deal honestly with men who are asked to go to the Northern Territory, to tell them that they will go there with a lease which, while professing to be perpetual, is nothing of the kind.

Senator McGregor - It will tell men that.

Senator MILLEN - I want to direct attention to another admission, or, if the Minister objects to that word, to his agreement with my interpretation of the clause under which power is taken by the officials to direct the manner in which a man shall cultivate his land. The honorable senator said that it was right and proper - and he defended the provision - that the Crown should have the power to tell the lessee, not merely what he should not plant on his lease, but what he should plant. These are admissions which came from the Minister.

Senator McGregor - That is to protect the common interest.

Senator MILLEN - All right. Honestly, we ought to tell every man who is thinking of going to the Northern Territory that he will be liable to receive an order from the Director of Lands, telling him that he must immediately proceed to plant a certain grass or herb, to use the Minister's language

Senator McGregor - No; I never suggested anything of the kind.

Senator MILLEN - If the Minister will give me his word of honour that he will not touch the Hansard proof before I see it, we shall find that he used those words in his speech this afternoon. He claimed that it was a right and proper thing that the Crown should have the right - and here I agree with him - to prevent a leaseholder from planting something which he might think would be an advantage, but which might prove a public pest.

Senator McGregor - That is exactly what I said.

Senator MILLEN - Yes, but the honorable senator went on to say, " and also to direct him to plant a certain grass or herb." I immediately interjected there, " That is more than using the power of veto." There need be no argument about the matter. First of all, there is the Ordinance, which states that the Crown reserves to itself the right to direct the maimer of cultivation, and. not merely the area of land to be cultivated - the right, not merely to give a general direction that a man is to cultivate and put under agriculture a certain percentage of his holding, which would be a fair and proper thing to do, but also to direct the manner of his cultivation.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - In Victoria at one time they tried to grow rabbits.

Senator MILLEN - I am now stating what is admitted to be the correct interpretation of this Ordinance, and I am doing it because I want to be perfectly fair, honest, and open with men who are invited to go to the Northern Territory.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Do you not believe in trying to prevent a man from growing a pest?

Senator MILLEN - The power of veto is one thing, but the power of directing a leaseholder to carry on an experiment is another thing. If these experiments are to be carried on for the public good, let them be carried on at the public expense. But do not allow the Director of Lands to order some farmer to put in a certain crop at a certain time of the year.

Senator McGregor - Reasonable men administer an Act in a reasonable manner.

Senator MILLEN - Only to-day I have heard suggestions which I do not regard as reasonable. It is entirely a matter of opinion. The Minister of Defence referred to the possibility of growing wheat in a district in which he admitted that the rain does not fall in what is ordinarily regarded as the wheat-growing period. Now suppose that some enterprising official entertained the view that it might be possible to discover a wheat which would grow in that district under the conditions which obtain there, and that he instructed the lessees to carry out certain experiments with that end in view. Suppose, for example, that he ordered one farmer to sow wheat in January, another to sow it in February, and a third to sow it in March. Those experiments would be very proper and desirable ; but as they would be for the public good, obviously they ought to be carried out at the public expense. It ought not to be within the competency of the Director of Lands to order lessees to carry out experiments at their own expense. I am glad that the Minister agrees with my reading that the Director of Lands under this Ordinance has a right, for what he regards as a breach of the conditions, to forfeit a lessee's holding; but the Minister and I differ when he asserts, as he did to-day, that a right of appeal is provided. I say that there is no right of appeal. It is true that the Administrator may, if he thinks fit, review the position ; but there is no machinery by which a lessee can prosecute an appeal. What the provision means is that if the Director of Lands chooses to consider that there has been a breach of the conditions, he may direct the forfeiture of a lessee's holding; and the Administrator may, if he likes, reverse that forfeiture. But there is no machinery by which a lessee, if he feels aggrieved, can call in question" and submit to cross-examination, the statements of those upon whose word the Director of Lands has probably acted.

Senator Pearce - Is not that the position which obtains in some of the States?

Senator MILLEN - I know the land laws of three States fairly well, and I say that in those States a man's home cannot be taken from him without a public inquiry.

Senator Pearce - In Western Australia, I think, the Minister may forfeit his holding.

Senator MILLEN - I do not know the conditions which obtain in Western Australia, but I do know those which obtain in three of the States. I say that if a lessee's property is involved, he should be afforded a reasonable opportunity in some Court of making his case clear; but under this Ordinance the matter is left to one individual acting behind the closed doors of his office. The Minister of Defence spoke of the Government having had the advantage of the experience of the other States; but, as Senator Givens reminded him, they have not profited by it. We tried this oneman business in. New South Wales, and what happened ? From the force of a painful experience not infrequently associated with scandals, the public of that State were gradually driven to recognise the great value of a Court of public inquiry in dealing with these matters. Not long ago we know that trouble was experienced over land matters there. In every one of those cases, the trouble arose out of particular leases being dealt with behind the closed doors of the Minister's office. All the things which were called scandals were done in his office. But we may search the records of that State as closely as we choose, and we shall find1 that where lessees have had the protection of an open inquiry there has never been the slightest suggestion of any impropriety.

I come now to the matter of the re-appraisement of town blocks. The Vice-President of the Executive Council this afternoon seized upon a remark which I made to the effect that under the Ordinance not merely was a reappraisement provided for every ' fourteen years, but there could be a re-appraisement every fourteen weeks.

Senator McGregor - The honorable senator said that there might be one every week.

Senator MILLEN - If one can imagine a public work being completed, or even proposed, once a week, it would be competent to have a re- appraisement once a. week. But the Vice-President of the Executive Council knew perfectly well that I was speaking figuratively. Although the Ordinance professes to give the lessee of a town block a perpetual lease with a reappraisement every fourteen years, there is in the lease itself a provision by which the authorities can come along and call for a reappraisement of it as often as any public building is erected which is likely to influence the value of the block. Take the case of Port Darwin. Let us suppose that as the result of the advent of the Commonwealth, applications are put in for a number of town blocks there by persons who desire to erect business premises thereon. Is it unreasonable to suppose that during the next fourteen years fourteen public buildings will be erected there. I can mention almost fourteen buildings which will have to be erected.

Senator Gardiner - Would the erection of a building improve the value of the land ?

Senator MILLEN - I think so. I can suggest one building the erection of which would have that effect - I refer to freezing works in connexion with the export trade.

Senator Pearce - Who has a right to the increased value?

Senator MILLEN - The community.

Senator Pearce - Not the lessee?

Senator MILLEN - No; but in this matter my honorable friends cannot refine their theories down too closely. If we nominally grant a man a lease of fourteen years, subject to a re-appraisement at the end of that term, and yet claim the right with every expenditure of public money to re-appraise his block, we put him in an extremely embarrassing position. If I desired to erect a business establishment in a town like Port Darwin, I would not be anxious to put up a galvanized-iron shanty costing, perhaps, £50. I would want to put up substantial premises. But what security would I have under this Ordinance ? None at all. I would be liable to have my lease re-appraised every year.

Senator Henderson - If a man accepts a lease for fourteen years, he must recognise that he will get his full value out of it by the end of that time.

Senator MILLEN - But he will not get a lease for fourteen years. The Ordinance states that the lease of town lands shall be in perpetuity, subject to a reappraisement every fourteen years. But the lease itself contains a proviso that the Crown may at any time, if it has reason to think that any work which has been carried out by the expenditure of public money has added to the value of the town blocks, subject them to a re-appraisement. We shall not get business men to put £3,000 or £4,000 into store premises unless they have fixed terms for a reasonable period of years.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Does not the honorable senator think that a lessee would recognise that as his rent went up his business would increase?

Senator MILLEN - Whenever a private landlord has attempted to increase his rent, gentlemen like the honorable senator have referred to him as a " blood-sucking " landlord.

Senator Needham - Should not the Crown always reserve that right to itself ?

Senator MILLEN - I am not arguing that question now. Would my honorable friends be prepared to spend £3,000 or £4,000 in business premises without knowing the fixed terms upon which they held their land?

Senator Givens - How can we be prepared to spend that amount of money when we have not got it?

Senator MILLEN - I thought I was appealing to capitalists. Let me give an instance. In Sydney quite recently our municipality resumed a considerable area of land. It is retaining the ownership of it and leasing it. It is offering that land upon leases of fifty years at a fixed rent.

Senator Blakey - That condition would not apply to Port Darwin.

Senator MILLEN - If it be necessary to lay down that condition in Sydney, it will be much more necessary to lay it down in Port Darwin.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Take the case of Kalgoorlie. Look at the increase which has taken place in the value of land there in fourteen years.

Senator MILLEN - The right claimed by the Crown under this Ordinance to step in at any time and alter the terms and conditions of leases will frighten any man who otherwise might be inclined to put his money into business premises at Port Darwin. Let me suppose that I desired to rent a house, and that the landlord asked me £2 weekly for it. I might say to him, " I will have my furniture and my carpets fitted to the rooms' of the house, and, therefore, I want to know that the rent will be fixed for a reasonable period." If he then informed me that he must have the right to come along and re-assess my rent every month, what would I think?

Senator Pearce - Many landlords have that right.

Senator MILLEN - Of course there is always a difference between my case and that of Commonwealth lessees in that if one landlord does not suit me I can look for another. But in the Northern Territory, lessees will have only one landlord to deal with.

I wish now to turn to the painstaking effort which was made by the VicePresident of the Executive Council and the Minister of Defence to justify the areas which are provided for in this Ordinance. They pointed out that in other parts of Australia there are very large areas of lower grazing capacity.. But the question of area is not the only matter for our consideration. When he was speaking, I asked the Minister of Defence how he could dissociate the question of area from that of tenure. He replied, in that lofty tone which he can assume at times, that Ee would deal with the matter in his own way. But he conveniently forgot to touch upon it. I would have no objection to leasing for six months to-morrow the whole of the unoccupied portions of the Northern Territory to a single individual if I could get rent for them. But that is a very different matter from granting a perpetual lease over those portions of the Territory. If the Minister of Defence will look at the history of our land legislation, imperfect as it has been, he will find that the larger the areas which have been leased, the less permanent has been the tenure. In that respect we have always differentiated, which is just what this Ordinance fails to do. An effort has always been made in our State legislation to differentiate between holdings which were permanent and those which were temporary. In all these big pastoral holdings in Queensland, South Australia, and also in the Northern Territory itself, there has been this sharp distinction: that, where lands were held for pastoral purposes in big blocks, they were held on, comparatively speaking, short leases.

Senator McGregor - Wherever the land was any good, the holders got it as freehold.

Senator MILLEN - I am trying to the Northern Territory from the mistakes into which the States have allowed themselves to fall, and one of the chief of these is the mistake of allowing big aggregations to go on. The States have made the mistake, which this Ordinance seeks to perpetrate, of applying the same tenure to small permanent homes as to large temporary holdings. This perpetual leasehold principle, which may be an extremely valuable system when applied to small residential farms, becomes quite a different thing when applied to big pastoral holdings. My fundamental objection to this Ordinance is that it does propose to grant these big pastoral holdings under perpetual leases. Senator Russell, and others who have spoken, seem to overlook the fact that if the Northern Territory is to be half as valuable as they think it will be, it will not be very long before some of the land which is now leased will have to be resumed - and it will not be very long after that before the land which will be leased under this Ordinance will also be required for subdivision. Senator Russell goes a long way round the compass in speculating about gold-fields being opened up. There is no need to suppose that such, things will happen. We need only point to what has occurred in some of the States to show that land that is held to-day in holdings of 500,000 acres for pastoral purposes will be required, not for agricultural or mining purposes, but for pastoral purposes in small areas. That has been the experience of Queensland, and is the experience of my own State - certainly of that large portion of New South Wales of which you, Mr. President, have some knowledge, namely, the Western Division, embracing, roughly speaking, a third of the State. Ten or twelve years ago, owing to a series of bad years, and also to some faulty legislation, that division of New South Wales became practically bankrupt. With the desire to prevent the abandonment of a large portion of it, legislation was passed which was extremely liberal in its character. It gave forty-two years' leases for holdings in that Western Division. But, although only a. few years have passed since that was done, there has been a. general demand for resumption, not for agricultural or mining purposes, but for the purpose of smaller pastoral areas than were provided for by the existing law. No one pretends that it is farming land. The land is wanted purely for pastoral purposes - fordiminutive squattages, if honorable sena..tors like to use that term. The same is going to happen in the Northern Territory. Senator Russell has made a claim for honesty on the part of his party. I do not want to question it now. But where is the common sense of granting to-day leases in these large areas, with the practical certainty that the land will have to be resumed for subdivision within a few years? Let us proceed on the reasonable assumption that the average areas for the holdings already taken up give us some idea of what the average areas will be when the remaining area is taken up.

Senator McGregor - It is not what a man applies for, but what he will get, that matters.

Senator MILLEN - It is not that. The Government are not in a position to compel people to take up land in the Northern Territory. You have to consider what people want, and what they will expect to get, when you invite them to go there with their lives and their money to develop the Territory. It is not altogether what this Parliament wants. Parliaments have adopted that policy before, and, in consequence, have continually had to alter their land legislation. What we may assume is that to-day the best pastoral country in the Northern Territory is occupied in areas which average a quarter of a million acres in extent. There are 256 holdings embracing something like 103,000,000 acres, an average of 270.000 acres. We may assume that that represents the best land. If that be so, we can clearly see that the land which lies behind these holdings, in a country less generously treated in the matter of rainfall, will not be held in smaller blocks on the average. Is that position going to continue for ever? If that is so, it means that 700 or 800 people will occupy all the purely pastoral country in the Northern Territory. We may be quite sure, however, that there will be a demand for the subdivision of these large holdings. People will say that the time has gone by when they should be allowed to continue, and that the time has come when younger men should have an opportunity of making a start for themselves, as their forefathers had. It appears to me to be monstrously foolish to give any one a title to occupy large areas on perpetual lease. It is nonsense to say that you cannot get the Northern Territory occupied otherwise. All experience shows that you can get it occupied under a terminable leasing system. A third of it is now occupied under laws passed by the Parliament of South Australia. It is evident that if it was possible to secure the occupation of so much of the country while it was under South Australian administration, we shall have no difficulty in securing occupation when the Commonwealth administers it. The Commonwealth, as shown by the policy which it has initiated, is determined to help forward the Territory and to develop it. But surely we are not going to try to settle it on terms less favorable to its permanent development than those granted by South Australia. Hitherto the leases granted have been for twenty-one, thirty, and forty-two years, the latter being the longest term allowed anywhere in Australia for pastoral country. Those terms have proved sufficient to attract enough people to take up a third of the Territory. The Commonwealth has now come along, and is prepared to spend money to build railways and to facilitate settlement. But although a term of fortytwo years has been effective in a short space of time in securing settlement, we are asked to believe that we can only settle the remaining portion of the area by adopting the perpetual leasing system. In regard even to so long a term as fortytwo years, there comes a time when a lease falls in, and when land again comes into the hands of the Crown. The Crown can then do as it likes with it. If the Crown desires to resume before the forty-two years' period is up, it has to pay so much according to the value of the term that has still to run. . But with interminable leases the only way in which the Crown could resume would be by compensating the leaseholder on the basis of perpetual holding. We are told that the Government have had the benefit of the experience of the several States. If that be so, I wonder who has been advising them, in this matter, because it seems to me that the experience of the States has been completely ignored. The statement has been made that it does not matter about granting perpetual leases, because we can resume at any time. It is quite true that we can, but I am trying to point out that under this Ordinance that resumption would cost a good deal of money. Senator Russell, Senator Findley, and others have tried to suggest that we should only have to pay for the improvements. If Senator Russell thinks a little he will see that that would be a monstrously unfair thing to do. In fact, the Ordinance does not propose to do it. A man who goes into a concern of this kind has to devote a few years to developing it before he gets any return. It certainly would not be a fair thing simply to pay him the value of his improvements alone and turn him out. Under the laws of all our States the mere fact of forcible, dispossession entitles a man to compensation. But let us look at what the Ordinance does.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - The lessee would not get compensation for communitycreated value.

Senator MILLEN - He would under this Ordinance. The only thing that is barred to him under it is the value which springs from the construction of public works. But there is a community-created value quite apart from' that. Take a pastoral holding in an agricultural district. The run itself may be regarded as outside the agricultural zone. But by degrees settlement commences to flow -on until it laps up to the boundary of the holding. Has not that added a value to the holding? Of course, it has; and the holder would be entitled to collect that increased value. In Part IV. of this Ordinance, -dealing with resumptions, it says that the lessee shall be entitled to the value of his improvements, and then it goes on to provide that - the lessee shall also be entitled to be paid compensation for any depreciation in the value of the lease by reason of any resumption, such compensation to be determined in the same manner as compensation for improvements.

The words, " the lessee shall also be entitled to be paid compensation," mean that lie is to be paid some compensation more than that for improvements. The word " also " indicates that clearly enough.

Senator Long - Does not that get over the honorable senator's objection to there «ot being a stated period for resumption?

Senator MILLEN - I am not objecting to this from the stand-point of the injustice to the lessee, but am contending that it is foolish in the interests of the community to give away a perpetual lease to-day with a certainty that you will have to pay to resume to-morrow.

Senator Findley - The honorable senator wants to give it away for forty-two years.

Senator MILLEN - I do not say so, tout I do say that forty-two years has been the longest that has been found necessary hitherto.

Senator Findley - The honorable senator's argument is that it should not be given away at all.

Senator MILLEN - I have no time to argue with those who cannot see the difference between a terminable lease under which, by effluxion of time, the land reverts to the Crown, and a perpetual lease under which the land can only come back to the Crown when the Crown pays for it.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Does the honorable senator say that sub-clause 9 of clause 35 of the Ordinance modifies subclause 6?

Senator MILLEN - Sub-clause 9 shows that, in addition to being paid for improvments, the lessee shall be paid compensation for. depreciation by reason of resumption.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - The same estate cannot increase and decrease in value at the same time.

Senator MILLEN - That is not the point. I have just sketched a case where settlement gradually running up to the boundaries of a man's block increases its value. The honorable senator admitted that.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - The honorable senator was playing upon the word " also."

Senator MILLEN - What does " also '' mean, except "in addition to"? The Ordinance, first of all, provides for compensation for improvements, and goes on then to say that the lessee shall " also " be paid something else. What is that something else ? It is of no use for Ministers to say that it does not mean the communitycreated value. The only thing barred to the lessee by way of compensation is that special portion of the community-created value which springs from the construction of a public work.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Suppose there is a nice running creek of good water on a block, and, by a development of mining, sludge and silt are driven into the creek, would not that depreciate the value of the block?

Senator MILLEN - It might, or might not ; it would all depend on circumstances

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - The drinking water would not be so good.

Senator MILLEN - Stock in Australia are not very particular about drinking water. If the honorable senator will come out with me to the back country in drought time, I shall be able to show him some water which he would not care to drink. I have given a complete answer to those who say that there is no provision in this Ordinance for the payment of compensation for anything but improvements.

Senator Findley - The honorable senator would contend that, no matter how much a lease was improved, the lessee should be given no compensation ?

Senator MILLEN - Senator Findley knows very well that that is not my attitude. My attitude has been made sufficiently plain. I am protesting against the granting under perpetual leases of these large squattages, which will inevitably, in the course of time, have to be taken back by the Government under the resumption clause of this Ordinance providing tor the payment of compensation. If we are going to grant a perpetual lease, we should grant compensation if the land is resumed; but I say that it is entirely foolish to make grants of large squattages under perpetual leases when we know that sooner or later we shall require the land for public purposes.

Senator Findley - Then why grant a lease for forty-two years?

Senator MILLEN - Because that is a terminable period. If the honorable senator thinks that forty-two years is too long a period, let him contend that it should be twenty-one years. I am not saying that any land should be leased for forty-two years, but I do say that there is a reasonable mean between a lease for a day and a perpetual lease.

Senator Findley - The contingencies which the honorable senator suggests would arise under a perpetual lease would also arise under a lease of forty-two years.

Senator MILLEN - They must inevitably arise under a perpetual lease, but a terminable lease may have expired before the land is required. Senator Pearce admitted that in the Northern Territory we are starting an experiment. If we are, we should certainly go slowly. We should not tie up the lands of the Territory in these big areas in perpetuity. The honorable senator admits that we should feel our way in this matter with great caution. I am not only surprised, but extremely disappointed, that there has not been, from both sides, a strong protest against the granting in this blindfold fashion of big squattages under perpetual leases. I should have thought that honorable senators would have welcomed an opportunity to give perpetual leases for residence areas, and, it may be, for the smaller blocks, but that with respect to the big grazing areas, under which a great portion of the Territory must be held for many years to come, they would have insisted upon fixing a definite period for the lease,* so that the lands might come back to the Crown, when required for closer settlement, free from all the complications and expense of compensation to the lessee.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - There might be difficulty arising from the Territory developing more quickly than is anticipated.

Senator MILLEN - In that case, the perpetual lease would be found to be still more harassing.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - If land is let under a terminable lease, there may be twenty years of the lease to run when the land is required, and, under the Ordinance, there might not be more than two years.

Senator MILLEN - Under the Ordinance, whether a lessee lives for twenty years or a hundred years, he will still hold a perpetual lease.


Senator MILLEN - Then what is it?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - It is subject to modification.

Senator MILLEN - Whilst a very great deal of injury may be done under this Ordinance in the locking up of lands for an interminable period in a few hands, I am quite confident that not many years will' have gone over our heads before we shall find it necessary to revise this Ordinance.

Senator McGregor - That is quite likely.

Senator MILLEN - But a great deal of damage will then have been done, and we shall have to go through the experience that has had to be faced by every State in the Commonwealth.. They have all, by subsequent legislation, been compelled to try to minimize or remedy the mistakes made in the past.. Those mistakes are being repeated here today in making provision for a perpetual right of occupancy of large areas of country in the Northern Territory. The one cry which the Labour party raised a few years ago was that Australia was suffering from land monopoly. They are trying now to bring about another kind of land monopoly. I admit that it will not be as dangerous as a freehold monopoly, because the amount involved in resumption will not be so great ; but the principle is just the same.

Senator Findley - There cannot be a land monopoly if the land belongs to the people.

Senator MILLEN - That is rather a. novel statement. The honorable senator asks how there can be a monopoly if the land belongs to the people. How was it that there was a land monopoly in Victoria when the land belonged to the people ? The reason why it was a monopoly is the reason why it will be a monopoly in the Northern Territory, and that is that the land will belong to so few people. If there were no other means of settling the pastoral areas of the Northern Territory except by granting perpetual leases, I should say grant them, because the first business is to secure the occupation of the land. But when we may secure the occupation of the Territory under leases which every day will become shorter, and may thus leave a future generation and a future Parliament free to deal with the lands in the light of the experience which will then have been gained, I say it is not merely foolish, but it becomes a national crime if we attempt by means of this Ordinance to lock up the lands of the Territory in the way proposed.

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