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Thursday, 15 August 1912

Senator SAYERS (Queensland) .- I move -

1.   That, in the opinion of the Senate, it is advisable that a reward should be offered for the discovery of a payable gold or mineral field in the Northern Territory.

2.   That this resolution be communicated to the House of Representatives, with a request for their concurrence.

I believe that the motion will meet with the approval of nearly every honorable senator. All it seeks to affirm is that a reward shall be offered for the discovery of a payable gold or mineral" field in the Northern Territory. Experience teaches us that if, as the result of offering a substantial reward, a payable gold or mineral field were discovered there, it would do more to attract population to that Territory than would anything else which we could devise. We know that the discovery of gold at Gympie practically saved Queensland from a great financial trouble. That State would have been benefited if it had paid almost any sum for the discovery of that field. Then Chatters Towers and the gold-fields in the Palmer district were opened up, and these attracted thousands and thousands of people there. I recollect one period when there must have been 30,000 or 40,000 in the Palmer District and in Cooktown, all drawn there by that magnetic attractor - gold. Then I need scarcely point to what the gold-fields have done for Western Australia. They have raised it from a State which was comparatively unknown to one of great prominence. I venture to say that if we offer a substantial reward for the discovery of this precious metal, there will scarcely be a square mile of the Northern Territory which will not be prospected. I do not wish to lay down any hard-and-fast lines in this connexion if the Government will accept the motion. But my own idea is that we should offer a reward of£10,000 to be paid at the end of one year after the discovery of a payable gold or mineral field, if there be 1,000 people then upon it; and that if at the end of two years there be 2,000 inhabitants upon it, we should grant the successful prospectors an additional sum of £20,000. In these circumstances we should not be required to pay away any money until it had actually been earned. The dutiable articles which would be consumed upon such afield would return far more in revenue than would be represented by the reward, in addition to which the country would be opened up. Unless a mineral field of a payable character were discovered, the Commonwealth would not be called upon to part with a single penny. The Government might also offer smaller rewards for the opening up of fields of less magnitude. I merely ask the Senate to affirm the principle which is embodied in the motion, because I am convinced it is one to which the people of Australia will cheerfully subscribe. I know quite a number of persons who would be prepared to go into the Northern Territory and prospect it thoroughly if a substantial reward were offered for the discovery of a payable gold or mineral field there. If the Government choose to offer a larger amount than I have suggested, I shall raise no objection. It is not always the discoverer of a gold-field who derives the greatest benefit from it. Very often persons come after him who do better than he has done. The offer of a substantial reward would induce any number of young men - good bushmen - to go out and prospect the Northern Territory. All I ask is that, in the event of their search proving successful, the Government should grant them substantial recognition. I have no desire to labour this question, because I am informed that time is precious. I recognise that the proposal is one that does not call for the delivery of long speeches. I hope that the Senate will approve it.

Debate (on motion by Senator McGre gor) adjourned.

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