Mr. NEVILLE.—I am satisfied with what Mr. Carrodus has said. I have no authority to speak for Western Australia on this subject, except from the native point of view, but my Minister asked me to introduce the subject at the Conference, because he desired to know if parts of the Western Australian coast were to be included in any patrol service. I am quite prepared to leave it at that.
Mr. BLEAKLEY.—We in Queensland are equally interested, and I had a motion on the subject to submit to the Conference. Protection is needed on the Queensland coast, just as much as on the Western Australian coast. We have one patrol vessel, but she is slow, and her usefulness is limited. Quite recently we had news of a sampan in an inlet to one of the reserves, and the patrol boat went after her, but the speed of the patrol boat was only seven knots, while that of the sampan was much greater. However, the sampan was ultimately chased away. To that extent, the patrol is worth while.
Mr. NEVILLE.—This item was included in the list of items from Western Australia, with the idea that we might seek some financial assistance, but I do not wish to say anything more about it at this stage.
Mr. BLEAKLEY.—Queensland also had a motion on this subject. It is very hard on natives if they have to be shifted from their own district to a distant leprosarium.
NATIVE ON TRANS-AUSTRALIAN LINE.
Mr. NEVILLE.—This subject consents both South Australia and Western Australia. The presence of natives along the trans-Australian line has been a source of great trouble for many years to Western Australia, but the difficulty has been solved in one respect at least. I suppose this, also, would come under the heading of those items in respect of which Commonwealth assistance is desired. The Commonwealth Government has assisted us as far as possible by making rules governing the train crews and workers along the line, but, unfortunately, there is no control of the passengers on the trains. Continually, passengers write to the press on this subject, and adverse comments are published in the English newspapers about the miserable conditions of the natives. I absolutely deny that the natives along the Western Australian section of the line are living under miserable conditions. They did do so, but that is not their condition today. We have stationed two white married couples among these blacks, and they are now completely under control. They are prevented from begging at the trains, and are properly fed and dressed, at considerable cost. We really have to maintain about 100 natives in idleness to keep them away from the trains. When we were coming across the other day, I was shown some well dressed and well cared for natives quite a distance from the train, but when we crossed the border, the conditions were quite different. I do not want to criticize the South Australian control in any way, and in a sense, the natives cannot be blamed for coming to the train. I merely want to place the facts before the Conference. When these natives approach the train, they are received with extraordinary sympathy by the passengers, who give them money, fruit, cake and many other things, and in every way possible encourage them. At Immarna about 100 very dirty natives of all sorts and conditions, dressed in filthy rags, crowded to the train. I have never seen such a collection. I should have been ashamed to have had anything to do with them. The train stopped at that station for nearly twenty minutes and these native swarmed round it like flies. One extraordinary feature of this business is that although, ten years ago, there was hardly a child to be seen among the natives along the line, there must have been from 30 to 40 children from ten years of age and downwards in that company. Knowing the natives as I do, I am quite satisfied that those children were bred for the purpose of begging. Tho mothers carried them along the train on their backs, and the little children held out their hands to the passengers who gave them shillings sixpences and or coins. Their pathetic appeal could not he resisted by the passengers. It seems to mo that only two things can be done to remedy this state of affairs. They must be taken away from the line altogether, which would involve the expenditure of considerably more money than Western Australia or South Australia can spare for the purpose, or the passengers must, in some way, be prevented from making gifts to them. It is not charity to these people to give them money. It is actually pauperizing them. On our end of the line they are already properly fed and clothed, and they do not really want for anything. As things are, it is difficult to keep them from contact with the passengers. I understand that the natives are allowed to travel without charge on what is known as the "tea and sugar train", which, once a week, carries rations between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta. The natives get on this train and get off at some station a distance from their own locality and beg from the people on the passenger train when it arrives there. They really move from place to place, and it is very difficult to do anything with them. I suppose it would cost £3,000 or £4,000 in capital expenditure to provide adequate quarters for them away from the line, and it would probably cost £1,000 a year to maintain them. This must be done, or the Commonwealth Government must request passengers to cease making gifts to them. Unfortunately, a feature of the advertising in connexion with the trans-Australian trip is that aborigines may be seen along the route. These aborigines, however, bring only discredit to the Commonwealth. Another element that adds to the difficulty of the situation should be mentioned. There is a native walk between the south coast and gold-fields which is used by 300 or 400 people, who, from time to time, come down from the interior to enjoy the sympathy of train passengers. We have checked this to some extent, but we cannot altogether stop it. Mr. McLean's problem is very much some as ours, but is probably accentuated by certain missionaries who encourage the people to come to the railway line. Unless we can get financial help to correct this state of affairs, it is likely to continue.
Mr. HARKNESS.—Could not the railway authorities be told to declare the railway stations out of bounds?
Mr. McLEAN.—The facts are as Mr. Neville has stated. This has been a burning issue between the Commonwealth railway authorities and our Government for some time. We issue rations at only one point along the line, and that about four miles from the railway, where there is water, our object being to keep the natives back from the stations. We issue them with clothes so that they may appear more or less respectable, but we find that they hang the clothes on a tree, and present themselves in their rags before the passengers so as to excite sympathy. The only solution I can see is to have permanent police officers on duty to turn tho natives back from the railway.
REPRESENTATION AT FUTURE CONFERENCES.
Mr. CARRODUS.—It is desirable that this Conference should express an opinion on the question of representation at future conferences of bodies interested in aboriginal work. My department has been approached by various bodies asking for representation at this Conference. As we all know, there are various