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§ 215. “Relations…with the Islands.”

RELATIONS.—The term “relations” is of an abstract character; a relation is defined as a connection which is perceived or imagined between two or more things. It is obvious that the power to legislate concerning “the relations of the Commonwealth with the islands of the Pacific” does not confer extra-territorial jurisdiction on the Federal Parliament. It may mean that the Commonwealth is to enjoy a sphere of commercial and political influence in those islands, so far as is not inconsistent with Imperial legislation or contrary to international law. It may give the Federal Government a statutory right to recommend to the Imperial Government legislation and administration, which may promote the views and interests of the Commonwealth, in reference to the islands of the Pacific. It may give the Federal Government the special right to remonstrate against the adoption of an Imperial policy or the toleration of an international policy, which may clash with the interests of the Commonwealth in those islands The Commonwealth may be entitled to claim facilities for carrying on trade and commerce with the races inhabiting the islands, and to enter into treaties with them, which would not be subject to the same strict Imperial scrutiny as those with continental nations.

THE PACIFIC ISLANDS.—By the Pacific Islands Protection Acts of 1872 and 1875 (35 and 36 Vic. c. 19, 38 and 39 Vic. c. 51) provision was made by the Imperial Parliament for the establishment of a British Protectorate over certain islands in the Western Pacific. On 13th August, 1877, by order in Council pursuant to the statutes, a Protectorate was established over the Southern Solomon Islands, the New Hebrides, the Tongan or Friendly Islands, the Samoan or Navigators Islands, the Groups of Melanesia, and the eastern coast of New Guinea, such islands not being, at the time, within Her Majesty's Dominions or within the jurisdiction of any civilized power. A High Commissioner was appointed to exercise certain powers within the Protectorate, and the Governor of Fiji was appointed the first High Commissioner. With the High Commissioner was associated a court of deputy and Judicial Commissioners, with civil and criminal jurisdiction over British subjects in the islands.

In November, 1880, the Governor of New Zealand was appointed High Commissioner. The abuse of the coloured labour traffic, and the prevalence of outrages, led to an Australian agitation for closer supervision over the islands. On 2nd February, 1883,


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the Agent-General of Queensland was instructed to urge on the Imperial Government the expediency of annexing to that colony the eastern part of New Guinea, not claimed by Holland, on the understanding that Queensland would bear the expenses of government. The reasons urged in favour of this step were:—

“That the trade on the coast of New Guinea and the islands adjacent—in which Queensland colonists were chiefly engaged—consisted of gold-mining, pearl-diving, and beche-de-mer fishing, and employed a large and increasing number of colonists, over which the authorities appointed by the Queensland Government found it difficult to exercise control, especially as the jurisdiction of its government only extended within sixty miles of the coast of the colony. That owing to the extended nature of the jurisdiction of the High Commissioner of the Western Pacific, it was not possible for him to exercise an adequate supervision over the settlers rapidly peopling the islands and coast of New Guinea, who were practically beyond the pale of restraint in their dealings with the natives and with each other. That Queensland had already suffered inconvenience and loss from the escape of political convicts and malefactors from the French penal settlement of New Caledonia; and apprehension was felt in the colony lest some foreign government might institute a similar establishment almost within sight of her territory. ‘That in addition to this contingent danger…there is an actual and present danger to Queensland interests in the fact of a coastline so near to the scene of several of her industries, and dominating one side of the direct channel of communication between Queensland and Europe, being in the hands of a savage race.’ Therefore the colonists of Queensland felt that in their interests it would be most desirable to prevent the possibility of such a misfortune by the annexation of the territory in the immediate proximity to their shores.” (Todd, 2nd ed. pp. 248–9.)

The Imperial Government not having readily acquiesced in the proposed annexation, the Queensland Government, on 20th March, 1883, sent Mr. H. M. Chester, a Police Magistrate from Thursday Island, to formally annex to Queensland, in Her Majesty's name, that portion of New Guinea and the adjacent islands not occupied by the Dutch. Mr. Chester accordingly, on 4th April, hoisted the British flag at Port Moresby. The Imperial Government repudiated this act, considering that there was no necessity for annexation, inasmuch as the powers of the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific extended to New Guinea; but if the colony of Queensland was prepared, with or without assistance from the other colonies, to provide a reasonable annual sum to meet the cost of placing one or more deputies of the High Commissioner on the coast, Her Majesty's Government expressed their willingness to take steps for strengthening the naval force on the Australian station, so as to enable Her Majesty's ships to be more constantly present than hitherto in that part of the Pacific. At the intercolonial conference held in Sydney in November, 1883, at which all the Australian Governments were represented, and at which the Federal Council Act was drafted, resolutions were adopted formulating the views of the colonies with reference to the islands of the Pacific as follows:—

“That further acquisition of dominion in the Pacific, south of the equator, by any foreign power, would be highly detrimental to the safety and well-being of the British possessions in Australasia, and injurious to the interests of the empire. That, having regard to the geographical position of the island of New Guinea, the rapid extension of British trade and enterprise in Torres Straits, the certainty that the island will shortly be the resort of many adventurous subjects of Great Britain and other nations, and the absence or inadequacy of any existing laws for regulating their relations with the native tribes, this convention, while fully recognizing that the responsibility of extending the boundaries of the empire belongs to the Imperial Government, is emphatically of opinion that such steps should be immediately taken as will most conveniently and effectively secure the incorporation with the British Empire of so much of New Guinea and the small islands adjacent thereto as is not claimed by the Government of the Netherlands.”

These resolutions were communicated to the Imperial Government. In May, 1884, a circular despatch was addressed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the Australian Governors, intimating that Her Majesty's Government were disposed to think that there should be a High or Deputy Commissioner, with large powers of independent action, stationed in New Guinea; and that the cost of this system of protectorate should be secured by one or more of the colonies to the Imperial Government. On 6th November, 1884, the British Government proclaimed a protectorate over the southern coast of New Guinea, to the eastward of the 141st meridian of east longitude, Germany


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having claimed the northern portion of the east coast of the island. Further correspondence ensued, and in 1886 modified proposals for the annexation and government of New Guinea were made by the Australian colonies interested.

At the Colonial Conference held in London in April, 1887, the Secretary of State for the Colonies intimated that Her Majesty's Government had decided to accept the modified proposals of the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, in regard to the administration of New Guinea. In order to give effect to the scheme, the Queensland Government introduced into the Parliament of that colony a Bill providing that as soon as Her Majesty should have assumed the sovereignty over the eastern portion of New Guinea, the Queensland Government would guarantee to pay to Her Majesty, towards the expenses of government, the sum of £15,000 per annum for a period of fifteen years. The British New Guinea Act, 1887, was passed by the Parliament of Queensland, and was assented to by the Queen on 4th November, 1887. Though the full amount of the indemnity required by the Imperial Government was guaranteed by Queensland, each of the colonies of New South Wales and Victoria agreed to pay one-third of the entire sum. It was agreed that contributions from the other colonies, and revenue derived from New Guinea, should be applied in reduction of the £15,000 subsidy. The contributing colonies have a voice in the administration of the country. Thus by one of the earliest and most important of intercolonial agreements, the obligation to perform a duty of an Australian character was equally divided among and equally borne by the colonies most interested. On 8th June, 1888, Her Majesty caused letters patent to be issued providing for the erection of certain territory in South-Eastern New Guinea and in the adjacent islands into a separate British possession, to be known as British New Guinea, and also enacting a plan for its government.

SOVEREIGNTY.—The Islands of the Pacific, South of the Equator, now belonging to Great Britain or under her protection at the passing of the Commonwealth Act are:— South-eastern New Guinea, Southern Solomon Islands, Gilbert Islands, Ellice Islands, Phœnix Islands, Tokelau Islands, New Hebrides (dual control with France), Fiji Islands, Tonga Islands, Savage Islands, and Cook Islands. Germany owns:—Part of New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, one of the largest of the Solomons, two principal Islands of Samoa, and (north of the Equator) Caroline Islands and Marshall Islands. France has New Caledonia, Loyalty Islands, and Tahiti (eastward of the Cook Group). The United States own one of the Islands of Samoa, and Hawaii, which lies half way between Samoa and California.

GREATER NEW ZEALAND.—Since the passing of the Commonwealth Act the Government of New Zealand, under the forward leadership of Mr. Seddon, has launched proposals of a far-reaching character, having for their ultimate object the establishment of a Federation which shall include New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, and the Savage and Cook Islands. This is not a recent idea. At one time it was the dream of far-seeing New Zealand statesmen to establish an Island Federation which would embrace even Samoa; but such an extended scheme has been rendered unattainable by the partition of Samoa between Germany and the United States.

On 28th September Mr. Seddon submitted the following resolution to the New Zealand House of Representatives:—

“That whereas it is desirable, in the best interests of the colony and the inhabitants of certain islands in the Pacific hereinafter mentioned, that those islands should be annexed to this colony, this house therefore approves of the alteration of the boundaries of this colony, and consents to the extension of the said boundaries, so as to include the Cook Group, including the islands of Raratonga, Mangaia, Atin, Aitutaki, Mitiari, Mauke, Hervey (Manuai); also the following islands:—Palmerston (Avarau), Savage (Niue), Pukapuka (Danger), Rakaanga (Manahaki), and Penrhyn (Tongareva).”

This resolution was carried by 37 votes to 4, and was also passed by the Legislative Council. Of the islands mentioned, Aitutaki, Penrhyn, and Palmerston Islands were already British territory, whilst the others were merely under British protection. Lord Ranfurly, the Governor of New Zealand, was authorized by the Imperial Government


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to proceed to Cook's Islands in H.M.S. Mildura, and proclaim the annexation of the group as part of the Queen's Dominions. The annexations having been made, it is next expected that the Queen will issue letters-patent, under the Colonial Boundaries Act, 1895, for the extension of the boundaries of New Zealand to include the islands mentioned.

Mr. Seddon has since submitted a further resolution to the New Zealand House of Representatives, proposing that Fiji should be relieved from the position of a Crown colony and should be federated with New Zealand. Sir William Lyne thereupon cabled to the Secretary of State for the colonies, protesting against any alteration in the political status of Fiji pending the establishment of the Commonwealth; and Mr. Chamberlain replied that no such change would be made until the Federal Government had been consulted.

51. (xxxi.) The acquisition of property216 on just terms217 from any State or person for any purpose in respect218 of which the Parliament has power to make laws:

HISTORICAL NOTE.—At the Adelaide session Mr. Wise called attention to the necessity of providing for the acquisition of public works within a State. (Conv. Deb., Adel., p. 1199.) At the Melbourne session Mr. Barton proposed to insert a new subclause: “The acquisition of property on just terms from any State or person for the purposes of the Commonwealth.” He expressed doubts whether the power to make laws on matters incidental to the exercise of powers would be enough to carry a right of eminent domain for federal purposes. Dr. Quick and Mr. Glynn supported the subclause; but Sir Geo. Turner thought that time ought to be given for its consideration, as such a power might involve enormous expenditure. Mr. Isaacs also suggested further consideration, in order to examine the effect of the clause upon the territorial rights of the States. Accordingly the sub-clause was withdrawn from the present. (Conv. Deb., Melb., pp. 151–4.) On the first recommittal Mr. O'Connor proposed the sub-clause as it now stands, and it was agreed to. (Id. p. 1874.)

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