1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and lead prayers.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer whether he will be good enough to explain how it is the Government have kept back from the Queensland Government nearly £20,000, more than one-fourth of the customs and excise revenue collected in that State 1 Judging from a telegram which appears in this morning’s Argus, some misapprehension exists with regard to the action of the Federal Government.
– The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs intimated to me that he proposed to ask a question with regard to the whole of the statement which appears in the newspapers this morning, and I asked him to give notice of his question for Tuesday, so that I might in the meantime obtain all- the necessary details. My reason for’ retaining more than onefourth of the total Customs and excise revenue collected in Queensland is that the expenditure in the Post-office and Defence departments in that State was so heavy that the amount which would otherwise have been retained was exceeded. With regard to the other figures, I have no doubt that I shall be able to give a perfectly satisfactory explanation when I obtain the details from the officials of the Treasury.
– I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether his answer to my question yesterday, with reference to the irrigation works proposed’ to be constructed in “Victoria, is to be taken as an intimation that the Federal Government will interfere to prevent any diversion of the waters of the. Murray by the Victorian Government, contrary to the provisions of the- Constitution relating to trade and commerce 1
– Assuredly, if Victoria or any other State trespasses upon the provisions of the Constitution relating to trade and commerce, it will be the duty of the Federal Government to take, whatever action may be most effective to secure compliance with all requirements.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster - General, -upon notice -
. Has the practice of sending a mail-room officer from Coolgardie to Perth to receive and sort the incoming mail from the Eastern States been discontinued ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable and learned member’s questions
I might point out that, in connexion with the rifles ordered for rifle clubs, it was not considered necessary to purchase the full regulation percentage of spare parts, but in all cases where rifles were purchased at the increased price they have been accompanied by the full complement of bayonet, scabbard, and spare parts.
– I desire to inform honorable members that I have arranged with the President of the Senate that we will mutually receive and despatch messages between the two Houses, even though both Houses ma)’ not be sitting at the time. This arrangement is, of course, subject to the approval of our respective Houses.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
. In moving -
That the notice of motion, Government business, be postponed until after the consideration of the order of the day, Government business. No. 1.
I desire to take advantage of the opportunity to reply to the request made by the leader of the Opposition with regard to the recent Imperial Conference, and its transactions in regard to military and naval defence.
– I do not wish to interrupt my honorable and learned friend, but I think we should act regularly in these matters. I understand that he is moving the postponement of a notice of motion, and I am afraid that in doing so ‘ he can scarcely make a Ministerial statement on a subject that is not within the scope of the motion.
Mi-. SPEAKER. - The point is that the Acting Prime Minister could not make a statement to the House, except in connexion with some business on the paper, but as this is a purely formal motion, I see no reason why the Minister should not make, with regard to the Government’s intentions, a statement which does not involve any argument’ or expression of opinion.
– I find that no official publication of the proceedings of the Conference has yet been authorized, but under all the circumstances, can discover no reason “why such general information as we have should not be placed in the possession of honorable members. As honorable members are aware, the Conference recently held in London was exactly analogous to those -meetings of Premiers of the States which have been held in the past, and are likely to be held in the future, in Australia, at which all the matters, discussed were considered subject to the approval of the respective Parliaments whose representatives attended the Conference. With regard to military defence, the proposal submitted by the Imperial Government was for the creation in the various colonies of an Imperial militia reserve for service outside the colonies in cases of emergency with the consent of the Governments concerned. This appears to have been wholly withdrawn. With regard to naval defence the proposal was for a new squadron and reserve force to be subsidised by Australia and New Zealand to the extent of about £467,000. per annum. This was discussed and withdrawn. A new proposition was then ma’de to reduce the amount of the subsidy from Australia to £200,000 a year, with . an alternative project foi- the provision out of that sum of a local naval reserve. No resolution appears to have been carried in this regard, but the latter proposal was afterwards developed. The course to be followed will evidently be a submission to the Parliaments of Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand of Bills repealing the existing schedule of the Australasian Naval Force Acts, and providing for the cessation of the payments now made thereunder. The new schedule, as proposed, appears to allot onehalf of the cost of the Australasian squadron to the Admiralty, five-twelfths to Australia, and one-twelfth to New Zealand, the sums payable not to exceed £200,000 for the Commonwealth, and £40,000 for New Zealand, annually. Whether that would be the total cost of the fleet in these waters is not clear. The new squadron would probably consist of a smaller number of ships than are at present on the station, but the new vessels would be of greater tonnage and much increased speed. The alternative project for the establishment, out of the £200,000 a year, of an Australasian naval reserve has evidently been adopted, as it is intended that one of the cruisers on the station, and three of the existing auxiliary cruisers to be employed as drill ships, shall be manned by Australian sailors paid at special rates and enrolled in proportion to population ; two of the drill-ships would be stationed in Australia and one in New Zealand: Australia would receive eight nominations for cadetships and New Zealand two. The proportion of the £200,000 applicable to this Australian naval reserve is not stated. As the scheme involves the amendment of Acts of the several States, a Commonwealth Act will require to be passed before anything can be done to give effect to it. These are the outlines of a proposal which will, after approval by the Cabinet, be laid before this Parliament next session, when all the details will be submitted to the judgment of honorable members.
– Which Government is to have control of the Australian seamen ?
– In time of peace the control would be vested in the Australian Government, but in time of war the men would form part of the forces of the Empire, under the control of the chief naval officer on the station.
– Could they leave Australian waters at any time ?
– The official information received by us does not refer to that point. Under the old Act they could leave Australian waters with the consent of the Governments’ concerned. Whether that condition has been varied or not does not appear from the cables.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee qf Supply :
– In order to enable a general discussion to take place, I move -
That the following sum be granted to His Majesty to defray the charges for the year 1902-3, for the following service - The Senate -£6,829.
– I presume that it is the pleasure of the committee that a general debate should take place upon this motion.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– In rising to make some observations with regard to the speech delivered by the Treasurer, I cannot help remarking upon the different circumstances in which we now find ourselves as compared with those which attended the delivery of my right honorable friend’s first Budget speech. Upon that occasion matters of great moment and intricacy had to be discussed and determined. On this occasion we all feel relieved that the task before us is not one of the same kind ; but I think it is a proper constitutional rule that a man occupying the position, which I hold in this Chamber should, upon an occasion such as this, make a speech which will fairly deal with the situation of public affaire, especially in relation to finance, at the present time. I feel deeply sensible of the strain which has been put upon Ministers and honorable members generally during this prolonged session, and I do not wish at this time to introduce to a greater extent than is absolutely necessary remarks of a controversial character. I think I have the assent of honorable members who sit behind me in saying that they have a strong desire that the Opposition should satisfy itself with the address which I propose to deliver.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– We all feel that at this stage of the session it would be altogether unreasonable to have ‘any very prolonged debate, and I have ascertained from my honorable friends who are sitting behind me that, without any honorable member surrendering his absolute right of speech, they have a strong desire to allow me to speak for them. That will lead to a great saving of time, but that arrangement, of course, is subject to a tacit understanding that a similar disposition will prevail on the other side. These understandings are of no binding character ; they are not intended to restrict an)’ honorable member’s absolute freedom of discussion, because it would be a most improper exercise of any real or fancied influence in this House for one to endeavour to suppress in any way the freedom of legitimate discussion . The Opposition certainly cannot, take to themselves the blame which is usually attached to an Opposition at the end of a long session the results of which have not been quite up to the expectation of the Ministry. From time immemorial, the excuse of Ministers has always been that the faults which have occurred in the transaction of public business have entirely proceeded from the Opposition side of the House. I think that, looking back at the events of the session, I can fairly say, on behalf of the Opposition, that they have not been led into extravagant or obstructive or unfriendly tactics. I rejoice at the fact that, in spite of the great strain which has been put upon honorable members on both sides in respect of some of their most cherished political principles, we have, as a rule, been able to conduct our debates and fight our fights without any unseemly exhibition of personal feeling. I feel that the House is to be heartily congratulated upon the fact that after many months of arduous work we came out of the committee on the Tariff still able to preserve the good feeling which has happily characterized this Parliament from the beginning of its existence, and which I hope will long continue. At the same time, one is not to forget the duty which he owes to those whom he represents ; and it is impossible therefore to allow one’s friendly disposition towards Ministers personally, or towards honorable members personally, to influence his discharge of a public duty. I therefore feel compelled upon the present occasion to criticise Ministers with freedom ; but I hope with an endeavour to be fair, and in a spirit of moderation. When I recall the business-paper for the beginning of the session, I think it was then that Ministers made their first serious mistake. Honorable members will recollect that every conceivable Bill of which a Federal Ministry could think, or which a Federal Parliament could pass, was placed upon our first businesspaper. Honorable members may, perhaps, have forgotten the gallant array of measures which greeted us upon the opening of the session. I remember that one measure, which would take a House some years to consider, was inserted amongst a dozen others of great national importance. I refer to the Bill relating to arbitration and conciliation. There were a number of other measures which were more or le.ss of vital interest to honorable members, and to large bodies of men outside. I think that the Federal Ministry made their first great mistake in endeavouring to fly every possible flag that would attract support in this House as well as outside, without regard to business-like rules of procedure. In the next place, I believe that Ministers themselves will admit that, in regard to the management of matters in an assembly of this kind, it is of great importance that the Cabinet should arrive first at a wise selection of measures, in the order of their urgency and importance, and that, having arrived at a decision, they should resolutely and firmly adhere to the programme which they have marked out for themselves. I do not think -it is an unfair criticism of Ministers to say that their selection in the first place was not a wise one, and in the next place that, whether it was wise or unwise, they did not show that determination, courage, and resolution in carrying out their public programme which is called for hy responsible government. I do not desire to urge these matters unfairly against the Government, because I quite admit that no Ministry in Australia has ever occupied a more difficult position or been called upon to consider a larger number of difficult questions. But even having regard to those facts, I hold that the exercise of a fair and ordinary amount of prudence and intelligence by the Government would have saved this House from considerable waste of public time, and would have left honorable members with a much better record to present to the people of Australia. It is impossible for my honorable friends opposite, who have followed the Ministry through all their courses, whether straight or the reverse, to escape from their legitimate responsibility to the people for the results of the session. I confess that I should have thought that the very first measure of importance to have been dealt with in this House would have been a Bill to establish the administration of justice in the Commonwealth. Our Constitution does not make the High Court of Justice a department of the State. It is advisedly framed so as to make the High Court a part of the very Constitution itself. The Constitution has not yet been brought into operation in one of its most vital parts. Much of the grave dissatisfaction which has arisen in various parts of the Commonwealth with reference to the effect of federation has sprung from the fact that whilst the Government have taken every care to arm themselves with power to make use of the State courts in order to conduct prosecutions, and enforce pains and penalties, they have carefully shielded themselves from giving the public of Australia any chance to obtain redress. That state of things shocks the feelings of a community which is accustomed to be governed under just conditions. The Ministry have chosen to leave the Judiciary Bill upon the table for many months, for reasons which may not have had the slightest tinge of a personal character. It may not have entered into their imagination that the passing of a Judiciary Bill might involve changes in the federal administration which would be inconvenient in the middle of a session. I do not desire to impute to the Ministry any personal reason for the delay which has taken place in dealing with the measure ; but I must say it is a singular thing that towards the close of the session it was suddenly introduced, and an attempt made by the Attorney-General to pass it into law. The speech which the Attorney-General delivered in moving the second reading of the Bill was one which, I believe, will always stand in the highest place, with regard to the ability and eloquence which inspired it. I had not the pleasure of hearing his speech, but I had the very great pleasure of reading it, and I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that it will always remain one of the ablest deliverances to which we are likely to listen in this House. But that grand effort - that grand speech - had a very lame and impotent conclusion. If the occasion warranted not only the Bill but the oration, the Government ought to have gone farther. I am sure the AttorneyGeneral is not one who has any wish simply to indulge in a magnificent display of fireworks, the effect of which is to fade away after the performance is over. I must give him credit for a serious performance in making that great speech, but, strange to say, the Bill has disappeared from the notice-paper. Has it disappeared because the Ministry think this vital question is one which can be played with ; or is it because the Ministry has discovered that since they have delayed the Bill for so many months, the House is determined not to pass it now 1 If there is an Act whose powers of appointment should be exercised while Parliament is sitting it is a Judiciary Act. The most vital point in the history of Australia will be touched when the appointments to the High Court Bench are made, and no Ministry can shrink from Parliament at such a time. Therefore I think that those who, since the Ministry had delayed the measure for so many months, determined it should not be passed this session, took a wise course, of which I heartily approve. But the Government should have done then what they are now doing at the eleventh hour ; they should have made up their minds whether or not this Bill was to be passed. And if they made up their minds that the Bill was not to be passed this session, they clearly should have brought in a temporary measure to bridge over the serious difficulty which exists. But instead of that, simply because some little case about a cabman - a great case to the cabman, but little in the scale of national importance - occurred in a Sydney court, we have the Federal Ministry absolutely changing their attitude in reference to this matter of vital concern. Fortunately the change of attitude involves a general recognition of a duty which should have been performed long ago ; and on this score I do not complain. The case in Sydney was one of the most humiliating, I suppose, that we could conceive of. The Federal Government made admissions so that Mr. Drake could be sued personally, and promised they would not raise any question about Mr. Drake being the Postmaster-General, the action being practically against the Crown ; and these written admissions were made in order that the cabman should go into court and have his claim investigated. When the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, in speaking on the Post-office Bill, called attention to this singular state of things, the Attorney-General said - “ We can get over all that, and we shall not allow technicalities to stand in the way of justice.” But when the unfortunate man brought his case under these admissions, which I have had the opportunity of seeing, the AttorneyGeneral for New South Wales, reluctantly I am sure, seemed to consider it necessary to make it clear that Mr. Drake was not to be responsible personally. But the whole object of the admissions, and the consent to Mr. Drake being sued personally, was that he should be liable personally, or, otherwise, it was a trap. The result was that the proceedings broke down. This is a small matter to us, perhaps, but it was a serious matter for the man ; and it throws a glare upon a state of things which helps to intensify the dissatisfaction of the people in reference to the working of the Federal Constitution. Late in the day, the Government have done the right thing in giving notice of a Bill to deal with this difficulty. But, as I understand, this Bill contains a provision which will absolutely rob it of the barest elements of justice. Machinery exists in Australian Acts enab ling a man to petition, and enabling the Commonwealth Government to appoint a nominal defendant ; but unless the Government consent to appoint a nominal defendant, no person will be at liberty to bring an action in the courts. I understood that the Bill was to be laid on the table, but I found that the secretary to the Attorney -General had not a copy when I asked for one. I then asked him what the Bill was about, as I wished torefer to it, and the information I have indicated was that given to me.
– Is there not something in the States Acts as to waiver?
– The provision in the States Acts is that if the Government donot appoint a nominal defendant within one month - and, as I said, an official as a nominal defendant - the action may go on.
– That is in New South Wales, but not in several of the other States.
– I am speaking of New South Wales, with which I am most familiar. It is an absolute farce to bring in this Bill if the Government have power to decide whether a man is to proceed at law or not. Surely no one will say that the Act of New South Wales is a retrogressive or conservative measure?
– Have the Government ever refused to appoint a nominal defendant in New South Wales?
– If the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs had a case against the Commonwealth, he would not be satisfied with that answer. What sort of satisfaction would people doing business with the Custom-house have if, when they wished to bring an action against the Collector or the Minister, the latter had the option of saying whether or not the action should be brought ? What sort of fairness would there be in such a provision? It is repugnant to the very idea of justice or equity to offer what is not a favour but a right, and then make the exercise of the right conditional on the assent of the party against whom the action is being brought.
– There is a class of people in New South Wales who have not been able to assert their rights in any court.
– That may be, but I am sure that the existence of this provision will not help them. I shall say no more until we have the Bill . before us. I hope the Government will think over the matter, because I shall regard the Bill as verv unsatisfactory if it is encumbered with such a provision. The next matter to which I wish to refer is that of Australian defences. It was not, I think, necessary for the Government to take over the Defence department on the establishment of the Commonwealth. But the department was taken over in a state of chaos, and that being so, another measure, however short, became urgently necessary in order to place the defence forces of Australia on some legal basis. I do not wish to speak too positively, but I seriously question whether there is absolutely any legal basis for the discipline of th’e forces in Australia. The men signed to serve, not the Commonwealth Government, but the State Governments; and some short measure was, in my opinion, necessary, in order to put the forces on a thoroughly legal constitutional basis as the forces of the Commonwealth. The Defence Bill, however, was brought in, and, after there had been a series of speeches, it disappeared. If the Government did not intend to go on with the Bill, surely we had pressing business enough without amusing ourselves with a sham debate ? Then there was the InterState Commission Bill, which was one of the marvels of draftsmanship ; that Bill, if it is still preserved, will be a monument of incapacity for all time. Apparently it was drawn by some one who had lived, first in the United States, and then emigrated to the Sandwich Islands ; for it was drafted in absolute disregard of the state of things which exists in Australia. That Bill has also gone to oblivion. There t was another abortive attempt at legislation on an important subject which led to a waste of time. Then we had a great measure which might have received a better fate, because it was associated with visions of vast employment to tens of thousands of stalwart iron moulders. I refer to the Bonus Bill. In reference to to that Bill, we had a series of manoeuvres in which, perhaps, my own party played a not unimportant part, but a part, which they were justified in playing, because from our point of view, while some of us are not altogether opposed to a system of bonuses, we are absolutely opposed to any system which is associated with a tax on iron, the raw material of nearly all the industries of Australia. And many protectionists, as well as free-traders, take a strong view in reference to this matter. But whatever, our views are, surely the Government, who attached enormous importance to this measure, should not have allowed it to be kicked about the Chamber like a football. I cannot conceive of a more humiliating climax to the action of the Government in reference to this measure of public policy, than the picture, of the Minister for Trade and Customs sitting down in the graveyard over his own dead Bill. I do not wish to say that the labour party, in taking the course they did, had any desire to kill the Bill. I do not think they had that desire, but rather that they are honestly in favour of a Bill which commends itself to their view. The labour party, however, felt strongly about the measure, and they knew the course they took would kill it for this session, though, as I say, I do not think that they wished to kill it altogether. However, that presents another instance of a large amount of public time being wasted without any definite satisfactory result. There are -a number of other matters with which I will not take up the time of the committee. Honorable members will admit that I have dealt with only important matters - I do not wish to go into detail on the present occasion - but the public have a right to complain of the vacillation and confusion of purpose which have marked the administration of the Government in this Chamber. The next matter to which I wish to refer is also one of importance, namely, the visit which the Prime Minister has paid on behalf of the Commonwealth to England in order to be present at the coronation of the King. We were all glad that Australia should be represented on that occasion, and we were all willing to enable the Prime Minister to play his part worthily in connexion with the matters which have arisen in conference with the great statesmen of the mother country. I think the Prime Minister’s attitude in London on public affairs has, upon the whole, been a judicious one. The right honorable gentleman has pretty fairly reflected the views of the people whom he represents. I feel all the more satisfaction in making that statement, from the fact that some years ago, under similar circumstances, I took a course singularly like that taken by the Prime Minister. The fact is that a responsible Australian representative has very seriously to distinguish between visionary proposals to improve a state of things which has worked marvellously well in practice, and proposals which bear on them the aspect of some promise of real good to the Empire. As we all know, when the attitude which a statesman has to take is somewhat of a negative character, no statesman can take that attitude more happily, or in more redundant language, than my distinguished friend, the Prime Minister. It is only necessary to say that the right honorable gentleman fully lived up to his reputation in the long explanations which he made on various occasions. I have observed, however, that as he has proceeded across the American continent he seems to have undergone a transformation. I think our worthy friend, the Minister for Defence, seems at last to have made an impression on the Prime Minister, because some of the speeches of the latter in Canada are of a much more certain character than those he delivered in London. I remember that on the occasion of the departure of the Prime Minister there was a great banquet in Melbourne, and the Minister for Defence made the remark, which was very characteristic of him, that he thought there were too many captains in the Federal Ministry. AVe all know that is true ; but the Minister for Defence ought to remember that he, too, has been playing captain during his mission to the mother country. Even when only two members of the Federal Government are gathered together, each of them plays a captain’s part, and each of them has made statements, apparently with the mark of authority, which were absolutely contradictory. We must make allowances, in view of what transpired in the Ministry before the departure, for what must have appeared to English statesmen a rather remarkable state of things. I should like to saY, with reference to all those ambitious schemes for constituting a political union of the different self-governing forces in the Empire, that I have yet to see the outline of one which possesses even the rudimentary quality of common sense. I am as anxious as an)’ man in public life can be that in every sensible way we should draw, not away from, but nearer to, the centre of Imperial power. But that must always be done in such a way as to improve our present relationships instead of disarranging them. Until some scheme is submitted which promises well, we need not waste our breath upon all the projects of which we have heard. It has occurred to me that the independent orbits in which the great communities assembled under the British Crown revolve, whilst perhaps remote one from the other, all work harmoniously in the great scheme of the British Empire, and those who wish to.bring these mighty forces into closer relationship might easily find that discord, instead of peace, might be created, and that instead of mutual self-respect and self-restraint the less amiable forces of political life might be let loose upon the Imperial tie. There is another project less ambitious than that - and more tempting - which seeks to federate the British Empire, at any rate, in matters of trade. That project is one which should always be seriously considered ; but again I have to say that neither h-om the point of view of the British nor of the colonial people have I yet seen the outline of a scheme which could be seriously discussed. Perhaps we might find it possible to agree to such an arrangement - I do not think so - but, certainly our difficulties as to that would be as nothing compared with those which would assail the problem of political federation. There is a still more practicable and more attractive proposal, upon which the Prime Minister has pronounced himself favorably, namely, that the self-governing colonies should in their scheme of customs duties differentiate between British and foreign products. That seems a more manageable scheme, and I must say that if we are to carry out a protective policy one must have a strong inclination to so temper that policy as to make some difference between the products of the mother country and those, for instance, of Germany. But whilst I should be prepared to consider any such proposal - as I was in 1897 - I confess that in view of the greater knowledge which has come to me since then, and of the marvellous development of markets for the raw products of Australia in foreign countries, we should require to study our position very seriously before embarking upon even a very humble project of that sort, because if we did enter upon it we should practically close the great foreign markets against those products. Even the most simple proposal, therefore, is fraught with very grave considerations, and Parliament never did a wiser thing than when it insisted that whatever else the Prime Minister did, he should do nothing that could be supposed in honour to bind this Parliament. Going away from that question I come to another, to which some honorable members do not perhaps attach as rauch importance as I do. There has been, I regret to say - -and I have not, as my right honorable friends in the Cabinet know, vexed them in connexion with this matter - an altogether unnecessary delay in what, to New South Wales, is a very serious subject, namely, the selection of the federal capital site. The most recent proposal in regard to this matter, whilst bearing upon its face the appearance of a desire to expedite its settlement, only serves to point the strong criticisms which have been levelled at the Ministry by the State which I have the honour to represent. The Federal Constitution came into force on the 1st January last year. At that time the Government knew very well that it was their duty to set about furnishing this Parliament with the fullest and most complete information upon the subject. We are all aware that New South Wales appointed a very able man to make inquiries in regard to the most eligible site, and the result of those inquiries is well known. I do not suggest that this- Parliament should be satisfied with the report presented from that source ; but I do say it is a subject for remark that, after 21 months have elapsed from the establishment of the Federation, and after members of both Houses have inspected various sites in New South Wales, a proposal should now be made to appoint a committee of experts to collect information. It is another phase of the unhappy knack which the Government have of putting the cart before the horse. Would it not have been a more prompt and sensible course for the Government to appoint this committee fifteen months ago, so that when honorable members visited the sites they would have been in possession of all the information which the Government could offer them ? Considering the resources which we possess in the way of salaried experts in the Commonwealth and States services, I view with apprehension the’ bill which will be sent in to the Government in connexion with the investigation of the six professional experts proposed. I have- no desire to deprive professional men in a dull time of remunerative employment, but I do think that it would easily be possible to obtain, either in the Commonwealth or States services men of the highest capacity, “who are perfect authorities upon such matter-of-fact questions as drainage, water supply, building materials, climate, physical conditions, and soil. The truth is that the real difficulty connected with this question is one which cannot be solved by experts at all. This Parliament is not to be told that it cannot choose a proper site for a federal capital. Of course we want certain information to guide us in arriving at a decision, so that .after having chosen what seems to be an excellent site, we shall not discover that it possesses certain drawbacks. That information, however, should have been ready months ago. -I must, in all fairness, confess that I have seen no evidence of any desire on the part of my brother members from the other States to act unfairly in this matter. The question is one which in the initial stage is absolutely in the hands of the Government, and until they make up their minds to bring us up to the point of choosing a site, the House can do very little. But I view their latest proposal with suspicion, because I think that we can get all the information that we require in a cheaper and more expeditious way. I wish now to deal with a matter which calls for some remark at the present time. I, for one, do not suppose that there is any man who took any part in the accomplishment of federation who has not viewed with deep concern the marked change of feeling which has spread over certain parts of Australia in reference to this new-born union. To a certain extent such discontent is inevitable. To a certain extent it is unreasonable. To a certain extent it springs from causes with which, federation, federal Ministers, and federal members have had nothing whatever to do. But, whilst making all these admissions, it is undeniable that mistakes have occurred which might have been avoided, and which have tended to fan this feeling of discontent. I think that feeling is more marked in Queensland and New South Wales than it is in any other part of the union. So far as Queensland is concerned, I remarked with surprise at .the time of the visit of Ministers to that State - knowing, as I did, the views of Mr.
Philp and of the people behind him - the very friendly relations which existed between a Government, which was sworn to protect coloured labour, and a Government which was sworn to destroy it. I could not understand how it was that Mr. Philp, whose fiscal views are in entire accord with those of the Opposition, was so inclined to support the Ministry as he was.
– He did not think that they were in earnest about the kanaka labour question.
– I feel sure that the two Ministers who visited Queensland would be the last men in the world wilfully to create a false impression either in the mind of Mr. Philp, or of any one else. At the same time there was evidently a degree of amiability upon that Ministerial trip which has left a somewhat bitter taste in the mouth now. It was inevitable that there should be strained relations upon this question. My great surprise is that the Queensland statesmen - if they attached such vast importance to the matter as they apparently do - did not imitate my example by making conditions before they signed the deed. If they really believed that the interests of Queenslaud were so intimately bound up in the question of the employment of coloured labour, their duty to that State at the time when the matter might have been safeguarded, was to made a proposal which would have allowed us. to know exactly what they expected.
– They should have done as Western Australia did.
– I have not considered that point. But the Queensland Government, and, those who believe in the coloured labour traffic, knew what the mind of Australia was about it. It was absolutely clear that no Federal Parliament would allow coloured labour to strike its roots into Australian soil. There has been no ambiguity about that. I should always be prepared to deal gently and patiently with the immediate personal interests of large masses of people in any part of the Commonwealth, because I think that in bringing this union into being a little generosity towards the States will not be a bad thing to display, and will often do a vast amount of good, but as to the ultimate result there should have been no doubt whatever.
– Was not generosity displayed ?
– I am not going behind the Act which was passed. That part of the dissatisfaction with federation must recoil upon the Queensland statesmen themselves. But there is another matter in regard to which the people of both Queensland and New South Wales have very grave reasons for complaint. The people of New South Wales have several reasons-for grave dissatisfaction. One of the most serious, although a small one, is that, whilst Ministers of State sit here and introduce laws vitally affecting the industries and the welfare of every man, woman, and child in the State, not one of them will stand upon a public platform there to vindicate the policy and the acts of the Government. A certain amount of strategy is excusable and even justifiable : but as the Minister for Home Affairs can find courage enough to meet the ladies of Sydney to receive a snuff-box from them, and has time to attend to interesting little family ceremonials of that sort, he is deprived of any excuse for not facing the people of the State upon public questions.
– Why should he go to Sydney more than anywhere else? He has faced his own constituents.
– May I remind the honorable member that there are promises of a visit, now several months old t . Whilst the first duty of a Minister is to his constituents, that should not debar him from visiting the people of other parts of the country as well.
– No great English Minister ever went to address an audience in London ; they always say what they have to say to their own constituents.
– But a great English Minister who promised to go to London would go there. It is only a small matter, but it emphasizes a fact which I am about to mention, that an immense amount of taxation has been placed upon the people of NewSouth Wales against their will, and in conformity with principles which they consider mischievous and injurious. Taxation is bad enough at any time, but it is doubly objectionable when it proceeds from the adoption of what one considers pernicious principles. That is one of the reasons for the dissatisfaction of the people of New South Wales. There is another reason- which is common to them and to the people of Queensland, and it stands out as an eternal rebuke - I had almost said disgrace - to the Administration. In Queensland and New South Wales we have two great States which contain onehalf of the population of the Commonwealth, and contribute one-half of its revenue. The people of those States have been exposed for months, and even for years past, to a series of bitter and disastrous hardships, and at no time has the outlook been more serious than it is now. The conditions which exist strike at the heart of that settlement on the soil to promote which our statesmen have laboured in the consciousness that it is only by planting the seeds of such settlement that a sound and healthy nation can be produced. The main sources of wealth of these two great communities are exposed to the vicissitudes of drought and famine. The people came in their distress to the Commonwealth Ministry, to endeavour to obtain some slight relief. Their request was replied to by the Acting Prime Minister, in one of those beautiful answers which make him at once the most brilliant and the most unsatisfactory politician in Australia. The poor people who had come hundreds of miles to see him were so impressed with his humanity and tenderness, and desire to help them, that they went back rejoicing. There is nothing more cruel than, when one cannot do a thing, to create false hopes in the minds of those who ask that it shall be done. The clear mind of the Attorney-General knew well whether what was asked for could or could not be granted. The Ministry have refused the prayer of the great distressed industries of New South Wales and Queensland. Day after day, and month after month, the cry of the smallest industry in Bourke-street or Footscray was listened to and championed, when the placing of burdens upon the people of Australia was involved ; and the suffering, distressed, and desperate people upon the plains of Queensland and New South Wales thought, and naturally - thought, that the power which was able to mould a national policy to meet the case of a few individuals would be generous enough to come to the rescue of tens of thousands of struggling families. In the United States of. America, hide-bound as the national policy was by protection, when a terrible calamity overtook Boston, and it was laid in ashes, the Government threw aside their fiscal views, and principles; and tariffs, and allowed the people . of that State to import building, material free. When great calamities come upon a people, there is no longer time for lawyer - like statesmanship. If the laws prevent the giving of relief, statesmen must at such times rise above them. I make these remarks not as a mere idle criticism of a thing - which is done ; I appeal to the Government* in view of the awful sufferings which are still being endured and which are destroying, nob only the wealth of the people of the two States I have named, but the whole fabric of Australian prosperity, to do something to relieve this distress. We are now one family, and the distress of one member of the household should be as keenly felt as that of any other member. A Parliament which could do all that has been done for the protected industries in this State could do something for the unprotected settlers whose wealth is vanishing, and whose sheep and cattle are dying while the Government charge £1 a ton at the Custom-house upon imported hay and chaff. The Minister for Home Affairs, with that imperfect view of political economy which makes him one of the most entertaining speakers upon fiscal questions, when dealing, with this question, produced a little return from the Customhouse, showing what a comparatively small amount has been received from the duties to which I refer, and he used that fact as an argument to prove that the whole thing is a sham.
– It is. I know where it originated.
– I had nothing to do with it.
– I know that : I am not blaming the right honorable member.
– I do not always wish to multiply the difficulties of the Government, and therefore I have said very little about the matter until now. But as these conditions still continue, and the sheep and cattle which represent the accumulated fruits of the industry of the men whom we have all desired to encourage and help, are dying throughout -Queensland and New South Wales, the Government should do something. They have missed a great opportunity to make the federal power a beneficent one. If they had responded to the cry for help, the people could have looked upon the Commonwealth as having a heart. Talk not to me about the difficulty of preventing abuses. The Ministry find it easy enough to catch in the smallest mesh the mOst honest traders in the Commonwealth,
A Government which can do what they, do in the way of prosecutions, and the enforcement of pains and penalties, might exercise their ingenuity in devising safeguards under which relief could be afforded to the pastoralists and farmers without imposition.
– It is better to have Customs prosecutions than to allow secret settlements, as in the past.
– I do not deny that, altogether ; but I shall refer to the matter again. The people throughout Australia were told, in the glowing periods of platform orators, that once they entered into union, miserable distinctions between Victorians and Queenslanders would disappear, that they would be one nation, and that the misery and misfortune of any part of the Commonwealth would be felt at its extremities. But at the first time of calamity they find that, although the Commonwealth Government is powerful to tax, it is not ready to help. It might be argued that the people elected this House and the Senate, and therefore no more is to be said about the matter. But we all know that they had to vote more or less blindly at the first elections to this Parliament. At the next elections, they will have an opportunity to exercise a more intelligent vote. The parliamentary machine has been working, Acts have been passed, policies have been established, and we may hope by-and-by to have a more intelligent pronouncement from the electors upon the matters of difference which separate us. Now I wish to leave those matters and turn to the subject which is more immediately before us. I do not apologize to the committee f«r having referred to the question with which I have just been dealing. This is the proper constitutional opportunity for any one in my position to avail himself of, and, therefore, I do not hold myself under any reproach for the fact that I am now only beginning to address myself to the financial administration of the Government. I do not wish to be fulsome - I do not think that people generally find me paying compliments, and, perhaps I do not pay as many as I ought - but I never feel otherwise than in a friendly frame of mind in reference to the work of my right honorable friend the Treasurer. It is a pleasure to be able to feel confidence with reference to everything he has in hand, and, therefore, in regard to the voluminous statements he has made I have no bitter criticism to offer. There are one or two things to which I think ‘ it ‘ well to refer ; but they will be matters of importance. In the first place, I think that honorable members on this side of the House are justified in congratulating themselves upon the more or less successful, efforts they made to. reduce the burdens imposed by the Tariff. We were told over and over again that the effect of this vote and that vote would be to upset the financial calculations of the Government. When the tea duty was not passed we were assured” that it would have a most serious effect upon, the finances of the Commonwealth, and of the States ; but in spite of the reductions made, amounting to« £1,000,000, or £1,500,000, the Treasurer told us on Tuesday, that this Tariff, reduced as it was, would give him. something like £600,000 or £700,000 more than he expected. My right honorable friend expected to receive £8,000,000 when he delivered his first Budget, but he has received nearly £8,700,000 gross, ‘so. that in. spite of all our reductions of the public burdens, the Tariff has brought into the Treasury £700,000 more than he expected. Considering the information .1 at the disposal of the Government and the imperfect facilities at the command of the Opposition for obtaining information or arriving at opinions, I think we are entitled to take some credit for the fact that more than one member on this side of the Cham-, ber has, against the official calculations, made so faithful a forecast of the results. of the Tariff. We all said that the Tariff was cast on lines that were absolutely reckless as to the revenue it would yield, and now we find, that the Treasurer expects to receive for next year something like £9,000,000.
– That includes the. Western Australian special Tariff.
– I do not wish to include that. The Treasurer expects to receive under this Tariff £8,830,000. My honorable friend made allusion to a remarkable fact, to which he very properly called our attention. He pointed out that if the revenue continued to come in at the same rate as during the first two months of this year, July and August, the Tariff wouldproduce £9,600,000 for the twelve months. I admit that we cannot place too much . reliance upon the experience gained in the first two months of the year, but I think my right honorable friend tried to discount that fact too much. It is a remarkable circumstance that, on the actual receipts for two months, the total for this year would amount to £9,600,000. Prom this it would appear that, after all, the Tariff” is too big, and that too large an amount is being taken out of the pockets of the people. If the surplus could be devoted to the assistance of Queensland and Tasmania, there would’ be some sense iri collecting this large amount, but it goes to the State of New South Wales, which, of all others, really ought not to want it. With its enormous revenue New South Wales ‘ does not want the additional amount which it now receives through the Customs. In 1900 the whole of the States derived from the Customs, including intercolonial duties, £7,760,000. The revenue derived from the Customs last year, without InterState duties, showed an increase upon this amount of £928,000. New South Wales receives from the increase pf Customs duties £1,000,000, but of course she only takes her own money. The Treasurer’s Estimate for next year will make a difference of £1,200,000 between the year 1900 with intercolonial duties, and the year 1902-3 without them. Of this New South Wales will receive increased revenue to the extent of £1,500,000 so that we have the spectacle - which I ‘ admit the Treasurer could not help - of a larger amount than this increased revenue being paid to the one community which has fought against the high Tariff duties, and not to those States whose finances are deranged. I desire to .”ray, with reference to the finances of Queensland and Tasmania, that honorable members will always be ready to support the Treasurer in every conceivable way in dealing with any difficulty that may arise in connexion with them.
– The right honorable gentleman knocked off the tea duty.
– I was just going to remark that there is one method of meeting the difficulty of which I could not approve. I will not impose taxation upon people who do not want money in order to find revenue for those who do. Why should we tax the people of New South Wales to the extent of £1,000,000 more than they ought to be called upon to pay, because some other State wants money 1
– Why should we reduce the fodder duties, as was desired by the honorable and learned member ?
– I do not offer a stone instead of bread.
– The right honorable gentleman does not offer anything.
– I am not in a position to do so, or I might be more popular.
– When the right honorable gentleman supported the Constitution at the referendum, he said that the inevitable result of the financial clauses would be to secure to New South Wales a large surplus of revenue.
– I did, I admit ; but I also pointed out that if we attempted to meet the financial difficulties of Tasmania we should require an Australian Tariff’ which would produce £12,000,000, and that such a thing would be impossible. Just conceive the cruelty of imposing two or three millions taxation upon a large body of people in order to give 10s. or £1 a head to 170,000 people. Such a proposition is absolutely monstrous, and it is only those who look upon taxation as a method of becoming rich who could enjoy such a prospect. There are a large number of people who think that the straightest road to wealth is to be found by imposing taxation on the people, and from that point of view a £20,000,000 Tariff would be a grand affair. I believe that taxation generally involves the payment of cash, and that this cash has to come out of some one’s pocket.
– And yet the honorable member for Wentworth voted for the tea duty.
– I hope every public man will be left to stand on his own merits. My honorable friend the member for Wentworth voted as he believed to be right, and he has the same privilege as I have in that respect. Now, there is a matter which seems to me to be of very great importance. I do not find sufficient information in the documents before us with reference to the very interesting matter of the sugar duties. As I understand from the Treasurer’s statement, a duty of £6 per ton is to be collected on imported cane sugar, an excise duty of £1 per ton is to be paid on sugar grown within the Commonwealth by means of white labour, and an excise duty of £3 per ton is to be collected on that grown by the employment of black labour. Among these returns, which are all valuable, there is nothing to show how the sugar duties worked, out last year.
– They were not in full operation. The excise duties came into operation on the1 st July, and I gave my opinion in the course of my speech as to what would happen this year.
– Then there are no particulars to be given in reference to that matter?
– No; it is practically all guess work.
– Then I shall deal with the figures for next year, which, I presume, are based on some expert calculation. I wish to show how the sugar duties work out, especially with reference to the views of those honorable members who clamour for a tea duty. The people will be called upon to pay directly and indirectly in connexion with the sugar duties £1,000,000 per annum. Surely if we impose such heavy duties upon sugar we ought not to impose a duty on tea.
– £40,000 per annum has been taken away from Tasmania for the sake of securing a white Australia, which is rotten.
– I hope my honorable friend will remember that when I had the power I opened the ports of New South Wales to everything that Tasmania produced. That good action might at least be remembered to my credit. With reference to the sugar item, I wish to point out the enormous burden which is imposed upon the masses of the people. First of all the Treasurer expects that 75,000 tons will be imported next year, upon which duty will be paid amounting to £450,000. Then there will be the excise duty of £1 per ton upon 40,000 tons of sugar grown locally by means of white labour. That will yield £40,000. That will come out of the pockets of the sugargrower, as against the import duty. Then it is expected that £165,000 will be realized by the excise duty of £3 per ton upon 55,000 tons of sugar grown by means of black labour. The money paid by the sugar-growers in the form of excise duties will not go into the pockets of the people, but all will go into the Treasury. Therefore the excise duty cannot be set against the £450,000 paid upon imported sugar. As a rule we know that those who produce protected articles recoup themselves by increasing their price pretty well up to the limitof the import duty. We may suppose that the price of the 40,000 tons of sugar upon which the £1 excise duty is paid will be increased beyond the amount of the excise to the extent of at least £4 10s. per ton,which the general public will have to pay. Similarly, the sugar upon which the excise duty of £3 per ton has to be paid will be increased in price to the extent of £2 10s. per ton over the excise duty, and this the public will also have to pay. Altogether, therefore, the consumers will not only have to contribute to the revenue, but will have to pay a very heavy increased price upon the locally grown sugar, and directly and indirectly the burdens imposed upon them form a pretty fair offset against the tea duty. However, my vindication for not having supported the tea duty lies in the fact that the Tariff, after all our reductions, has yielded £600,000 more than the Treasurer anticipated.
– The whole of the tea duty would go into the Treasury, but the whole of the sugar duty does not.
– A tea duty would probably be more sensible as an economic arrangement, but we had a very mixed problem in connexion with the kanaka question to deal with when we allowed the sugar duties to pass. Of course, New South Wales derives a certain share of the benefit from the sugar duties, because she produces about one-fifth of the total sugar grown in the Commonwealth. Queensland gets the other four-fifths. There is another matter to which I wish to refer. There are three items in the Estimates for next year, which, I think, are worthy of attention, as they are very important. I refer to spirits, narcotics, and sugar. I am referring only to the customs duties, and I am leaving out of consideration the excise duties. The Treasurer estimates that he will receive £2,074,000 next year in the form of customs duties on spirits. If we take the receipts from the 9th of October to the 30th of June, and extend them to cover twelve months, instead of the broken period, we shall be able to arrive at a fair estimate. The receipts for the broken period were £1,313,000. That was for 265 days. I make an addition at the same rate for 100 days, in order to make up the full year, and that brings it out at £1,808,000, which is £266,000 less than the estimate for next year.
– The rate has been increased. We have also to remember that Victoria was loaded up to the hilt, and last year paid practically nothing under these duties.
– No doubt that has been taken into account.
– Victoria will account for nearly the whole of the difference.
– To my mind, it is a subject of congratulation, because I prefer these lines to many, others. I suppose the Treasurer has fully weighed the fact that upon the basis of receipts for the broken period, 9th October, 1901, to 30th June, 1902, he estimates to receive some £962,000 for narcotics. The actual receipts on the same basis for the twelve months would be £752,000, so that the estimate shows an increase of £210,000.
– That increase is to be accounted for by the loading up which took place and the increased rates we have imposed.
– Then the point has not been lost sight of.
– No; the figures are fairly correct.
– These two items represent an increase of something like halfamillion.
– Victoria will contribute something like £40,000 under the duty on spirits, whereas we were collecting only between £15,000 and £17,000.
– I am quite satisfied, but these figures struck me as being important. I come now to the only other financial matter with which I. desire to deal. I refer to the military estimates. My right honorable friend will readily understand that when I was referring to this matter on Tuesday I was dealing with documents that were very confusing. I have since endeavoured to arrive at a clear view of the position, and although I have not yet completed my investigations, I can quite see that the return to which I referred, and which accounted almost within £1,000 for the amount to which I alluded, does not bear the complexion which I placed upon it.
– The right honorable member fell into an error. He was comparing a return which was circulated last October with estimates that were circulated in April last, and failed to take into consideration another document which was also circulated last April.
– I discovered that document later on at the end of the Estimates. I feel thoroughly pleased that the view at first presented to my mind has no foundation.
I have such absolute confidence in the Treasurer that I would take his word for far more than that matter, and it was a source of satisfaction to me to learn that my confidence in him had been justified by the result. I desire to give the committee a few figures relating to the military estimates, because if any retrenchment is to be effected, it is in those estimates that reductions can be made. I do not see what other opening there is for any substantial saving. In dealing with the military estimates, we have the satisfaction of knowing that we have an absolutely competent and distinguished practical soldier at the head of our forces. It is entirely our province to decide how much money shall be given to the General Officer Commanding - how much money the necessities of the Commonwealth will allow us to place at his disposal - but in the midst of our fights over the Estimates we have this great and abounding satisfaction, that give him what we will, he will make the best possible use of it. It is only fair to say that of the General Officer Commanding. It is for us, however, to look after the expenditure to a certain extent, and I find that there has ‘been a marvellous expansion in the cost of the military services. In the year 1895-6, when we had a separate administration and six different head-quarters’ staffs, the total amount expended was £522,000.
– Do those figures include the contribution towards the auxiliary squadron 1
– I think so. I am quoting from figures which the right honorable gentleman placed before honorable members in his first Budget statement. I know the agreement with regard to the Australian naval squadron was in existence, and I make these remarks subject to the possible qualification that the £522,000 did not include the expenditure upon the squadron. Let us assume that the £106,000 voted for that purpose was not included in those figures. That would bring the total up, roughly speaking, to £630,000. Notwithstanding the marvellous reduction of £175,000, the Estimates for 1902-3 still amount to £762,000, exclusive of the sum set apart for compensation. I do not think it is fair to include the amount set apart for compensation in the annual expenditure, because it is in consequence of the action of the Government in reducing expenditure that provision has to be made for it.
– Has the right honorable member the figures for the year preceding federation ?
– I think I can give the facts.
– It is very difficult to secure those figures.
– It is a terribly mixed business. When I was in office in New South Wales I never could obtain the figures relating to the service. I despaired of being able to wade through all the intricacies of the Estimates furnished by the department. I used simply to knock off a certain amount, and then when I had been supplied with the very lowest estimate which the department thought possible, I struck off another £20,000.
– But the department still went on spending, and the right honorable member had to find the money.
– No. They may have done so to a small extent, but I should not have allowed it to be practised largely. In reference to the military defences, I desire to point out an extraordinary fact which requires some rather serious observation. The naval and the military services are separately dealt with in the Estimates, and it is shown that, whereas the actual expenditure on the naval service for the year 1901-2 was £67,000, a reduction of £21,000 has been made for the presentfinancial year. That means retrenchment to the extent of 30 per cent. on the basis of the actual expenditure for last year. On the military branch of the service £612,000 was expended last year, and a reduction of only £22,000 has been made, which is equal to only 4 per cent. Inclusive of cadets, there are only 2,000 persons in the naval service, while, exclusive of the cadets and members of the rifle clubs, I find that there are still 25,000 men in the military service. It seems to me to be a most mistaken policy to sacrifice our naval service and to retrench it to the extent of 30 per cent., while only about 4 per cent. is taken off the expenditure relating to the military branch.
– The greater percentage has been taken off the most useful branch.
– I heartily agree with my honorable friend. In my speech on the second reading of the Defence Bill I laid the strongest possible emphasis upon the point that, whilst we are not yet ready to found a navy of our own, we are, and always have been, ready to have our men drilled in the art of naval gunnery and naval service generally. What is the use of the Australian squadron in times of peace? What a marvellous amount of good we might obtain from it in such times if our men on shore - the naval volunteers - could be sent on board to be drilled and to acquire proficiency.
– That is one of the new proposals.
– If it is, I am delighted to hear it. Months ago, in my speech on the second reading of the Defence Bill, I strongly urged that the Australian squadron should be used in this way. I shall be delighted to hear that my idea is being carried out, but might I suggest to my right honorable friend that to take £21,000 off the £67,000 which the naval service cost us last year, and to take only £22,000 off the £612,000 expended on the military services, is a queer way of carrying it out? I do not see any friendly movement in that little business. I have no desire to deal with matters of internal organization - we have, as a rule, nothing to do with them here - but having regard to the broad aspect of the question, it seems to me there is no line of defence which is better worth cultivating than that which we call our naval service. It should have the utmost facility for drill on the vessels of the squadron which are lying idle, and I must say that I see no sense of proportion in the reduction which has been made in the two branches. Some information of great importance has reached me while sitting at the table in reference to certain views which we on this side of the House entertain on the fiscal question, and I desire to give the committee the benefit of it. I have obtained it from a source which is absolutely to be relied upon. It relates to the first result of the census returns, which, as we know, are infinitely more reliable than the statistics which are prepared annually from various sources.I do not wish to introduce controversial matters in regard to the fiscal question, but this information relates to a matter of so much importance that I. think my honorable friends opposite will allow me to mention a few of the details. I have before me a statement, compiled from the New South Wales census returns for1901, of the number of persons employed, the horse - power used, the value of machinery and plant, the wages paid, the materials used, and the output of factories of that State in 1891 and 1901. Honorable members will recollect that from 1891 to 1895 we had a Tariff in New South Wales consisting of ad valorem duties ranging from 10 to 15 per cent. In 1895 I destroyed those ad valorem, duties, and nearly all others, leaving only about halfadozen in existence. Thus, during the second half of the ten 3*ears covered by this return New South Wales was really under what one might call a free-trade policy. Of course, no country has an absolutely freetrade policy, because some revenue must be obtained through the customs. I have never taken up any other position ; but the amount of revenue required to be obtained from this source is really insignificant in its interference with trade. In 1891 there were 47,958 males and females employed in the factories of New South Wales, but in 190.1 66,135 were employed, showing an increase of 18,177 for the ten years. Those ten years have been in many respects trying ones in all the States. The male hands employed increased during the ten years from 4-2,728 to 54,461, a difference of nearly 12,000. The increase in the number of the male hands in ten years was actually 11,733, and of the female hands, 6,444, a total increase of 1S,177. One of the brightest features of the policy of free-trade, which is said to grind down labour, is shown in the fact that in New South Wales, the increase in the number of male hands is larger, and the increase in the number of female hands is lower; and rightly or wrongly, I look on this as a matter of great importance. The value of the materials used in the factories of New South Wales was £8,172,383 in 1891, and in ten years it increased to £13,815,100, a difference of £5,642,717. In 1891 the wages paid amounted to £4,272,704, and in 1901 to £4,943,079. The output in 1891 was valued at £16,800,000, and in 1901 at £24,300,000, an increase of nearly £S,000,000. I now want to show the Victorian figures after thirty years of stimulation .by public policy and taxation. I may say that I obtained these returns from Mr. Coghlan, the statistician of New South Wales. I wish honorable members to understand that the period covered by the Victorian figures is not from 1S91 to 1901, but from 1890 to 1900 ; and this return I used some months ago when addressing meetings in Victoria. In 1890 the hands employed in the Victorian factories amounted to 56,369; and in 1900 to 64,207, an increase of 7,838. But the value of the materials used in 1890 was £12,006,233, and in 1900 £11,766,874, showing an absolute decrease in ten years.
– One was .a boom year, and the other a very bad year.
– Was 1900 not a pretty good year *1 **
– It is not to be compared with 1890.
– However, a difference of millions could not have been made, though I give the honorable member for Melbourne Ports credit for having an answer for everything. It is startling that, under any circumstances, a period of ten years should not show an increase in the value of the materials used, seeing that in the case of New South Wales there is an increase of over £8,000,000. I now wish to deal with the number of hands employed in Victoria, and we must remember that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports says that 1890 was a boom year in Victoria, and, in considering these figures, he cannot employ that argument both ways. In the boom year of Victoria, the number of male hands employed was 47,596, and in 1900 they were 45,794 ; that is, there was a decrease of nearly 2,000 in the ten years. But the ladies flourished, the number of female hands increasing from S,773 in 1.S9.0 to 18,413 in 1900. This is an enormous increase in the number of women and girls employed in the Victorian factories. Does that not point to the adoption of cheap labour 1
– To what sort of factories is the right honorable member referring ?
– To the whole of the factories in Victoria. I shall have these returns sent to the newspapers in order that they may be placed more fully before the public. I do not desire to take up the time of the committee, but merely to mention the salient figures, which afford great satisfaction to me in connexion with the view I take of the fiscal question. I thank the, ‘ committee for the patience they -have shown during my rather lengthy remarks. There is only one other matter to which I desire to refer. I have to . express the hope that the Treasurer will see the necessity of altering a statement in one of the returns which he laid before honorable members in his Budget speech. No one knows better than the Treasurer that in the financial world abroad the States of Australia have a number of bitter and unscrupulous critics. I will not say that these critics deliberately invent false statements, because, at the distance, the statements may be the result of perfectly honest mistakes. But any one who rends the financial newspapers of the mother country will see that many indulge in the most unfounded and slanderous attacks on the financial stability of Australia, Amongst the returns presented by the Treasurer is one, the purpose of which I confess I am at a loss to conceive ; but in the hands of one of the critics to whom I have referred it might be used unfairly to our disparagement. It is a return showing that the State and municipal debts of Australia amount to £236,000,000, or about £61 per head. Any man in England reading that will take the public debt of Australia, to mean the same thing as the public debt of England, the United States, France, Germany, or any other similar country. He will forget the vital fact that the people in Australia own all the railways, and nearly all the tramways, in the country. Out of the public debt, no less than £1 26,000,000 was raised and spent in the construction ‘of railways and tramways. The gross earnings of these railways and tramways amount to £11,000,000 per annum, and the net earnings to £4,000,000 per annum ; and they return 3’22 per cent, interest on capital against the interest charged on loans of 3 -61. These facts ought to be remembered in any return of this sort. Such returns go all over the world with the sanction of the Commonwealth Government, and without the explanation I have indicated they are absolutely misleading. There has been spent on sewerage and water supply which is reproductive, another £25,000,000, and we have covered this vast continent with public schools, public offices, post offices, and a whole system of advanced civilization. We possess 44,000 miles of telegraph. In 1861 there, were 240 miles of railway, and in 1900, 13,500 miles. If all these facts are taken into consideration, it is seen that there is not a more stable oi- flourishing security in the world than the continent of Australia. Just fancy what would be the value of our securities if we had no railways, telegraphs, or any of those institutions of civilized Government. I am not “one of those who wish to encourage a spirit of extravagance ; on the contrary, I say that if ever there was necessity on the part of Commonwealth and States for care, prudence, and economy, it is at this time ; and the agitation which has sprung up in Victoria must soon extend throughout Australia. I do hope the Treasurer will have this return put right, because the truth cannot be too widely known, that whereas the vast public debts of other countries represent bloodshed, strife, and rapine, the public debt of Australia, represents one of the most successful and most productive monuments of human civilization.
– I do not wish to occupy any great length of time on this occasion. It should be understood that if there is a general agreement amongst honorable members to abstain from discussing the general question of the finances ‘ at this stage, that ‘ must not be held as indorsing the details of Estimates or any .other of the financial proposals of the Government. Although I intend to shorten my remarks considerably, with a view to saving the time of the committee, I do not, for one moment, waive the right to criticise, and, if possible, alter some of the proposals of the Treasurer when we deal with the items in detail.
– I suggest that the same course be adopted as was adopted in the case of the last Estimates - namely, that on the first item of each department there shall be a short general discussion.
– That undoubtedly will be a convenient method. I am much obliged to the Treasurer for the clear and distinct sets of figures he placed before honorable members to enable them to arrive at a proper understanding of the finances. Unfortunately, in many of the States in the past - at any rate, in New South Wales - it has always been difficult to follow clearly the details which Treasurers in their Budget speeches have attempted to put before honorable members. There is one feature of the Treasurer’s statement on which those who hold strong opinions upon the subject may congratulate him. The Treasurer has gone to a much greater extent than has ever previously been the custom in the States in regard to the expenditure of moneys out of revenue on works generally. There are a number of us in the House - and I trust that we may prove a majority - who believe that practically all these works should be carried on out of revenue especially while we have the revenue with which to enter on them. But even if we do not succeed in attaining that object, we may at least congratulate the Treasurer on the fact that, as against £116,000 which was spent out of revenue on works last year, it is this year proposed to spend £180,000. That is at least a step in the right direction. Personally, I cannot sympathize with . the attitude which the Treasurer and the Government have assumed in regard to the balance of the expenditure on necessary works. While the Government estimate the Commonwealth surplus - that is, the difference between the one-fourth we are entitled to spend, and the amount which it is proposed to spend on the services of the Commonwealth -is £915,000, or approaching £1,000,000, they yet propose to raise a loan of some £500,000, in order to carry out works.
– That would not be necessary if it were not for the bookkeeping sections.
– Even if the bookkeeping sections were not there, probably the same considerations would weigh with some honorable members, and particularly with the Government, as to the necessity for the Commonwealth Parliament providing for the emergencies of the several States. I, for one, do not admit such a contention. Our business is to - as economically as possible, consistently with efficiency - carry on the affairs which the people of Australia have intrusted to us, and after that is done, to hand back to the States any surplus there may be. But as to attempting to set right the finances of the various States - as to making good any deficiency in the revenues of the States, as between what was received previously and what is received under the Commonwealth - that is no part of our duty. Surely it must be admitted that, where the operation of the uniform Tariff has resulted in lightening the taxation imposed upon the people through customs and excise, it is the duty of the States Parliaments to devise some means of making the loss good if the necessity for raising that revenue still exists. If this Parliament relieves the people of a certain measure of taxation, surely it cannot be contended that the whole of it is lost to the States. In Victoria, for instance, we have taken off the shoulders of the people an enormous amount of taxation through the customs, in addition to relieving them of the border duties.
– But we have imposed duties in other directions. Victoria practically collects the same amount now that she did in 1900.
– I do not think so. Taking the border duties and all other matters into consideration, I think that the Commonwealth Tariff is lighter than was the old Victorian Tariff. If that be so, surely the State Parliament ought to go to other sources of taxation to make good the revenue which it has lost through the removal of customs duties. It does seem to me that when this House is given an opportunity of expressing its opinion upon the Loan Bill, it should decide that whilst we have sufficient money at our own disposal from the one-fourth of the customs receipts within our control, we should insist upon public works being constructed out of revenue. There is one matter for which the Treasurer attempted to take some credit on behalf of the Government - I refer to the amount of retrenchment that has been effected in the Military department. In this connexion I find that I did misunderstand the position so far as the promise of the Minister for Defence was concerned. I find on refreshing my memory by reference to Hansard that the Treasurer was correct in declaring that the Minister for Defence had promised that the Estimates for his department should not exceed £700,000, exclusive of our contribution to the Australian Auxiliary Squadron.
– He explained that the Estimates for last year were taken from the Estimates of the other States.
– That is so.
– In delivering my first Budget, I explained that I had no opportunity of going into those Estimates with a view to cutting them down.
– I certainly understood, in common with a number of other honorable members, that the Minister for Defence had pledged the Government to a reduction of the actual expenditure from 30th of June last by £131,000 - not to- a reduction by that amount of the swollen Estimates of the previous year. The Minister for Defence himself admitted that of the £900,000 provided in the Estimates for that year there was £100,000 which could not possibly be spent, because the authority for its expenditure was not obtained in time. Had the House understood that the Government proposed to effect a reduction of merely £31,000, in addition to the £100,000 which they could not expend, I do not think it would have been satisfied. Certainly I never dreamed that it was merely a reduction of £31,000 to which the Government were pledging themselves, but it now appears that that was all they intended from the jump. Owing to the pressure of other work, I have had no opportunity of carefully going through this year’s defence Estimates and the Budget statement, but, looking at those Estimates in a cursory manner, it appears to me that the amount of retrenchment that has been effected is scarcely worth talking about. In the first place, no attempt has been made to minimize the gorgeous staff which the General Officer Commanding is allowed to maintain, and which is out of all proportion to the number of men enrolled. Only in October last we heard the Treasurer, from motives of economy, declaiming against the undue inflation of the Defence Estimates which had taken place in the different States during the two previous years. But I ask by what amount have those inflated Estimates been reduced ? The right honorable gentleman, in his Budget speech of Sth October last, showed that during the two previous years the Defence Estimates had been swollen in the various States by the following sums : - New South Wales, £90,000 ; Victoria, £120,000 ; Queensland, £90,000; South Australia, £36,000; Western Australia, £15,000; and Tasmania, £20,000, making a total of £371,000. Yet the Government propose to reduce the Estimates of last year by only £131,000.
– How much is that upon the expenditure of the years which I have mentioned ?
– I defy the Treasurer to make up a return showing how the £131,000 has been saved.
– I shall give a few details of how it has been saved presently.
– A saving of £15,000 has been effected by reducing the number of rifles to be purchased, and the nonrecurrence of the Royal reception accounts for a further sum of £10,000.
– Upon this occasion the Ministry claim to have made a saving of £175,000.
– If we take the whole of the Defence Estimates it really represents £188,000.
– That means that the Government have saved £188,000 upon Estimates which, according to the Treasurer himself, had been inflated by £371,000. This is the far-reaching knife of retrenchment about which we have heard so much. I do not think that the Treasurer has any reason to be proud of the result that has been achieved. I would further point out that, although in New South W ales last year the actual expenditure was £209,000, the amount proposed for this year is £203,000, so that it is intended to effect a saving of only £6,000. As against that saving there has been a reduction in the vote for “ contingencies “ alone of £18,000, which means that in other respects there has been an actual increase in the expenditure of £1 2,000. Looking at the Estimates for the various States, it seems to me that in all of them, with the exception of South Australia, the whole of the saving effected has been accomplished by cutting out large sums, varying from £12,000 to £25,000, from “ contingencies.”
– And by cutting down the poorly-paid men.
– The votes for “ contingencies “ do not affect the poorlypaid men.
– I am not speaking of the naval forces, because I am aware that there has been some re-organization in that department. I do not pose as either a military or naval expert, but I say that the system which has been adopted closely approximates to that of rule of thumb. The Government have mostly relied upon the elimination of “contingencies” for their so-called retrenchment. That is the conclusion which I am forced to adopt from an incomplete examination of the Estimates. In New South Wales, I repeat, the saving upon “contingencies” accounts for £18,000, whereas the actual saving upon the whole department is only £6,000.
– But the money covered by “ contingencies “ has all been spent previously.
– That is so, but my point is that the Estimates do not reveal any careful plan of re-organization, such as we had a right to expect in view of the promise of the Minister for Defence.
– It is a most unscientific scheme.
– The only other alternative was to cut down the establishment vote.
– By cutting down .the establishment of the staff officers it might have been possible to effect large savings. In Victoria, the total saving effected upon the expenditure of last year is £18,000, despite the fact that the vote for ‘.’ contingencies “ has been reduced by £24,000. In Queensland, a saving of only £17,000 has been made, though the sum allotted for “ contingencies” has been reduced by £20,000. In South Australia there has been an increase of expenditure of £275, which is due to the incursion of drill instructors. We have no particulars with regard to Western Australia, but in Tasmania the “contingencies” vote has been diminished by £3,000, although the total saving effected is only £500. I hold that we had a right to expect, in view of the promise of the Government, that these Estimates would have presented a wellthoughtout plan for obtaining the best results from, the large expenditure upon defence which the Commonwealth annually incurs. Then, another “ saving “ has been made by cutting down some of the essentials in regard to the maintenance of our military forces. For example, we have effected a saving of £15,000 by reducing the number of new rifles which it was intended to purchase, notwithstanding that a large proportion of our Australian military forces are at present armed with obsolete weapons. That is a form of economy which no reasonable man can justify. Where is the utility of training men in the use of arms, and of paying instructors, when, if an emergency arises, we have not a rifle to put into their hands ? It is absolutely ridiculous, and until we are able to ann every man in the forces with the most up-to-date weapon, and to have a few rifles in reserve with which to equip those who may be asked to swell the ranks of our defenders, I am convinced that almost the whole of the money which we now spend upon the military is wasted. When the Defence Estimates come before the House in detail, I hope that I shall be afforded an opportunity of testing the feeling of the committee upon the question of whether more money should not be spent in providing reserves of arras and ammunition, and less upon the mere drilling of men who, in the absence of rifles, would not be able to fight when the necessity . arose. There is another matter in regard to which I thought we should have had some information. I refer to’ the desirableness of establishing in our midst an ammunition and, possibly, a small-arms factory. When the Defence Bill was introduced we were promised that the Government would take that matter into consideration, and lay some definite scheme before the House. There has, however, been no mention made of the subject, and we are as dependent today as we were eighteen months ago upon the outside world for the supply of munitions of war. I trust that the Government will take steps as soon as possible for the establish ment of a manufactory such as I have referred to. There has been a considerable re-organization of the naval forces of the Commonwealth.
– Has there been reorganization, or merely an en bloc reduction t
– There has been reorganization, at any rate so far as the New South Wales naval corps are concerned. There, the volunteer naval artillery has been abolished, the naval brigade has been augmented, and several out-of-date officers have been retired. But in Queensland, where the State Ministry, after having themselves increased the defence expenditure, are now crying out for retrenchment, the reductions made are not material.
– -There has been a reduction of at least £47,000 on the original Queensland estimates.
– Yes ; but during the two years previous to federation, the Queensland authorities increased their defence expenditure by £90,000, so that considerable retrenchment must still take place before we get back to the earlier position. Although the Queensland naval force is not much larger than that of New South Wales, they have there a naval commandant, a staff paymaster and secretary, an officer instructor, a surgeon, nine drill instructors, and other officers with high salaries, while in New South Wales there are fewer officers, and the salaries are smaller. The Minister some time ago attempted to make capital of his action in abolishing allowances, about which so much outcry was made by the public, and by members of this House. But I find that in almost every instance what has been done is to add the allowances to the salary.
– The objection was taken that members could not ascertain what remuneration is paid to officers without referring to several documents.
– That was an objection, but a more important one was that allowances and salary together made too large a remuneration for the work to be performed. I trust that the committee will see the wisdom of reducing the remuneration of officers to reasonable amounts.
– Has Parliament power to do it?
– It has been contended that this Parliament has no power to reduce the salary of a transferred officer, but the common-sense reading of the Constitution seems to be that, while a transferred officer retains in the Commonwealth service all the rights and privileges which he enjoyed in the State service, he has been given no additional rights, and as his salary was subject to reduction by a State Parliament, it is also subject to reduction by the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The increases have all been made since the officers were transferred.
– Not .all of them. A number of New South Wales officers were before federation receiving salaries which were too high. I do not think any court would hold that we are prevented from reducing the salaries of Commonwealth officials, whether they be in the military or the civil service. Another complaint I have to make is that, although it is now many months since the Commonwealth Public Service Act was passed, the measure has not yet been proclaimed. Although there may have been difficulties of administration which prevented its early proclamation, those difficulties should have been surmounted by this time. Apparently the Government are unwilling to find the money which is required to pay the minimum wage to officers of a certain standing insisted upon by Parliament.
– That is not so. The delay has been caused by the difficulty in framing regulations.
– Then why was not provision made in the Estimates to meet the liability to which I refer ?
– Because when I prepared them I could not obtain reliable data as to the amount required’, but I have already promised that, as soon as that information is obtainable, I shall pay the money out of my advance vote.
– As from July?
– I see nO objection to paying the increases from the 1st July last. I should like to explain that when I . stated that the amount would probably be something like £36,000, I had in my mind the figures in the third column pf a printed document, which I took to represent the total of the other two. As a matter of fact, the three columns referred to different matters, and I now find that the sum will be nearer £50,000.
– Is the Treasurer paying the yearly increments which were referred to some time ago ?
– Where the salarydoes not exceed £200, the increment will be paid at the end of this year. I promised that instructions would be given to make the payments upon the Estimates being laid upon the table.
– I am satisfied with the promise of the Treasurer, and contemplate with pleasure the fact that officials who, for years past, have been struggling to live on a starvation wage will now be paid sufficient to keep them decently. I am glad that the estimate of the probable returns from customs and excise duties during’ the present financial year so nearly approximates the estimates which were put forward about March last by those who voted against the imposition of duties upon tea, kerosene, and certain other articles. The Treasurer has pointed out that there will be an inflation, amounting to about £250,000, consequent upon the provision in the Customs Tariff Act requiring the payment of duty upon States imports, which was not contemplated at that time. But, leaving that out of account, there will be a revenue of about £8,600,000.
– We have not reached a normal year yet. Our Customs receipts will be decreased by the increase of manufacturing.
– At the time to which I refer the customs and excise revenue was estimated at about £9,000,000, and I still believe, with all respect for the views of the Treasurer, who is, however, an extremely cautious individual, that unless the present badness of seasons is accentuated, the revenue will amount to about that sum.
– I hope so.
– I hope so, too, because I wish to see the condition of the people improve. The statement of accounts which the right honorable gentleman has put before us abundantly justifies our action in refus- ing to agree to the revenue duties to which I have referred. I trust that upon the consideration of the Estimates in detail the committee will insist upon a large reduction in the defence expenditure, and that this reduction will be carried out. not on the rule of thumb method which has hitherto prevailed, but that efficiency will be coordinated with economy in a proper re-organization of the forces.
– The Treasurer last year promised to save £131,000 on the defence estimates, but that has not been d.one. The reductions which have been made in connexion with the Queensland forces have concerned chiefly the volunteer forces and the rifle clubs, while the highlypaid permanent officers, whose wings we wish to singe, have escaped reduction. That is not what the committee wanted. We wish to have the salaries of highly-paid officers reduced. The non-recurring expenditure provided for on last year’s Estimates was £103,000.
– To what item is the honorable member referring 1
– To the whole of the defence estimates.
– I think my honorable friend- is looking at the arrears.
– I am not particular to a thousand or two. In addition to the nonrecurring expenditure there is an item of £73,866, made up of a reduction in the Queensland military expenditure of £47,520, and a reduction of £26,346 in the naval expenditure. These three items make a total of £176,866. It is the easiest thing in the world to cut down expenditure under a retrenchment scheme of this kind. In the case of the naval forces, the number of men has been reduced, and the salaries of the highly-paid officials have been increased. In Queensland some officers are now receiving £100 per annum more than they were paid last year. When we come to the Estimates I shall deal with these matters in detail. With regard to the head-quarters staff, I see that increases amounting to nearly £10,000 are provided for, and I should like to know how this result has been brought about.
– There have been no increases in salary over and above what were provided for last year. Some of the officers were on the staff for only a very short period.
– I attended a review at Albert Park some little time ago, and the General Officer Commanding was surrounded by more officers than the CommanderinChief in England would be if he were reviewing 30,000 troops. There were seventeen or eighteen golden-spurred and cock-plumed roosters who were showing all th e colours of the rainbow, and riding and prancing about on horses for the feeding of each of which we have to pay £50 per annum. The Minister for Defence told us that the allowance of £50 per annum for feeding officers’ horses would be inquired into, but I find that the Estimates still provide for £50 for the feeding of each officer’s horse, whilst only £20 per .annum is provided for feeding each draught gun horse. The military staff at head-quarters ought to be cut down to about half the present number. In connexion with the artillery, I see that two officers are provided for, one being an “ officer in charge of artillery,” and another a “ director of artillery.” I have been an artillery man for many years, and I do not know the difference between these two officers.
– The honorable member must understand that these appointments are only temporary, and that as the re-organization scheme is completed the officers who are not required will be transferred to other positions as they become vacant.
– The re-organization scheme is all right, no doubt, but we find that nothing has been done with regard to the re-, port of Major-General Hutton, which was issued on the 17th April, 1902. It is apparently being assumed by Major-General Hutton that Parliament tacitly agrees to the whole of his report. The Acting Minister for Defence, in replying to my question yesterday, said that the General Officer Commanding had stated in a minute that he never intended to convey the impression that the defence forces of Australia were to be available for service in other parts of the world, but I would refer honorable members to the paragraph in his report, in which he says -
That paragraph is ‘ capable of only one meaning, namely, that if the Empire were in clanger in any part of the globe, the Home Government could commandeer the whole of our forces.
Mv. McCay. - I do not think the paragraph is capable of only that construction.
– That is the construction that nine-tenths of the people would place upon it.
– I think the General Officer Commanding leaves the question to the Australian Parliament.
– Supposing the Australian Parliament was not in session 1
– Then nothing could be done.
– The honorable and learned member would find that the military authorities would do what they thought fit, and ask our sanction afterwards. When the leader of the Opposition was in England some time ago, and there was some talk regarding the assistance which Australia could render to the old country in time of necessity, the right honorable gentleman said that the kangaroo was all right so long as he was left alone, and that the people of England would have in him a good friend, and a good ally ; but that if they attempted to put a collar and chain on him, they would find him a very rough and awkward animal to handle. We have had ample proof of the capabilities of Australians as soldiers in connexion with the South African war, and I was recently reading a magazine article in which it was stated that the highest French and German military authorities had arrived at the conclusion that a short and sharp term of service would be the best to adopt for military purposes. They concluded that twelve months’ effective drilling, free to a large extent from much of the barrack-room discipline to which we have been accustomed, would be sufficient, and that a man could then go back to his work. What we require are citizen soldiers, and in Australia we have plenty of them. If anything happened to-morrow which would endanger the Commonwealth, there is not one man in the States but would shoulder his rifle in order to defend our shores.
This brings me down to the crux of the whole question, namely, the rifle clubs. According to his report, Major General Hutton apparently desires to make the members of rifle clubs reservists. He wishes to take the best shots out of the rifle clubs and attach them to some military unit for a certain term, and if he succeeds in this object he will make them soldiers, in the same way that are the militia men who become attached to the fighting battalions in Great Britain. General Hutton is bringing his scheme into operation daily. We have been told that the officers who are not required at bead-quarters will find new positions when the reorganization scheme is complete, but we- do not want any such scheme of re-organization as that. I should sack the whole lot of the head-quarters staff, and I should send MajorGeneral Hut’ton’s report back to him for reconsideration. When the General was appointed, we were under the impression that we were getting the best value for our money. I thought he was one of the most capable men in the Empire, and I find that he is - for spending money. If we let him alone he will land us in a queer mess. He would put the collar and chain on the kangaroo a,ll right. Many years ago, Major-General Hutton, when speaking at a gathering of high military officers at Aldershot, indicated some of the features of his present scheme of re-organization, and he stated that if he ever had a chance he would carry it out. If we are fools enough to permit him to do so, we shall deserve all we get. Although I am as anxious as any honorable member to conclude the work of which we have had a surfeit during this long session, I hold that before we prorogue we should obtain from the Government some assurance with regard to their intentions in respect to Major-General Hutton’s scheme of reorganization, and particularly with regard to rifle clubs. It is all very well for the Acting Minister for Defence to have reports going backwards and forwards, but honorable members want to know what position they occupy. I will oppose as strongly as I possibly can the introduction of militarism into this Commonwealth. That is one of the greatest curses that could afflict any nation, and we have only to point to the experience of European countries to see the injury that it works. It is time enough to bid the devil “ Good-morrow “ when we meet him, and if a foe should land on our shores, we may rely upon it that our citizen soldiers would very quickly expel him. The Government have cut down the military Estimates, it is true, but the reductions have been made in a way that was never intended by the House. We have had instances mentioned in which volunteer officers who were performing certain duties for £72 per annum have been replaced by members of the General’s staff at a salary of £600 per annum. The volunteer and militia officers should be encouraged to the utmost, because we shall have to depend upon them in time of trouble. If we had an efficient Imperial officer here, and the Empire became involved in war, his services would be demanded by the old country. We should be left practically to our own resources. For that very reason, I hold that we ought to encourage the militia as much as possible, and not maintain a highly-paid head-quarters staff.
– I do not propose to address the committee at any length. There is no special matter with which we need deal now. I think it is much preferable that we should deal with the different divisions as we come to them, upon the understanding that on the first item of each division we may have a general discussion in regard to it. All I desire now to do is to ask the committee to pass the first item, and thus close the general discussion on the whole financial scheme of the Government. I wish, in fairness, to point out that if any honorable member desires to raise a question relative to the expenditure on the Senate, he should do so before this item is passed, but I do not think there can be any objection to it. After the item has been passed, I propose -to report progress. The Minister for Home Affairs will then proceed with the motion for the appointment of a committee of experts to report on the suggested sites for the federal capital, and after it has been disposed of we shall proceed again with the Estimates.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, with a view to obtain necessary information that will enable the Parliament of the
Commonwealth to select a site for the seat of Government, a committee of experts should be appointed to examine and report upon sites in the following localities : - Albury, Bombala, Lake George, Orange, Tumut, in relation to accessibility, building materials, climate, drainage, physical conditions and soil, water supply with rainfall, general suitability, and such other salient matters us may be approved hy the honorable the Minister of Home Affairs. Such report to be submitted to the Federal Government on or before the 30th of April next.
I am submitting this motion a little earlier than was apparently anticipated last night when a fierce onslaught was made upon the Government for failing to bring it on before. This is really the first opportunity which the Ministry have had to submit the question to the House. No doubt the motion relates . to an administrative act, which might be carried out without a reference to Parliament, and the Government need not have approached the House until prepared definitely to submit one or more sites for final consideration. The Ministry desire, however, as far as possible, to take the House into their confidence in regard to every step which they take in this matter. Ever since the provision was inserted in the Constitution that the federal capital shall be in New South Wales, I have kept before me the necessity of dealing with this question at the earliest reasonable date. I say the earliest reasonable date, because it is quite impossible to rush the matter forward with that baste which some honorable members seem to think should characterize our actions. When we consider the length of time which was occupied in determining upon a site for the federal capital of Canada, as well as the time occupied by the United States of America in deciding whether Washington or some other city should be the capital of the Union, I think we can congratulate ourselves upon the fact that we are marching along at a fairly rapid- rate towards a determination of this question. The leader of the Opposition took exception this afternoon to what he characterized as the delay of the Government in dealing with the selection of a site for the federal capital. He urged that the Constitution had been in active existence since January, 1901, and that although a year and nine months had elapsed since then, the Government had done nothing to secure a settlement of the question beyond arranging for and carrying out a parliamentary inspection of the sites. Surely the right honorable gentleman did not expect that upon the very day on which the Ministers were sworn in - before the elections to the Commonwealth Parliament had taken place, and before the passing of any legislation necessary in establishing the foundations of the Commonwealth - the)’ would take active measures to bring this matter into life. I think it is rather absurd to imagine that such a thing could have been done. It was not until the Parliament had met and dealt with other matters of serious importance to the Commonwealth which had necessarily to be considered that we could think of introducing the question. Certain financial and other measures necessary for carrying on the Commonwealth were first required, and we could not initiate this question until they had been dealt with and breathing time given to the House. Certain sections of the press in Victoria have displayed a spirit antagonistic to the taking of steps to select a federal capital, but that feeling has not been evidenced by any honorable member of this House nor by any member of the Ministry. I think that up to the present time the House has dealt fairly and in a proper spirit with this matter. In order that an inspection of the various sites might be made funds had to be provided, and there was no serious objection raised by any member of this House, nor, so far as I can recollect, by honorable members of another place to the voting of those funds. If there was an)’ spirit of antagonism on the part of honorable members, it would have been manifested in the House, but, as a matter of fact, the opposition to the selection of a site for the capital has been confined to a very large extent to the press. It has been asserted by one newspaper that the spirit of the Constitution is that the Federal Parliament shall not be removed from its present meeting place for ten years, and by another that a change should not be made for fifteen years.
– In one case “it has been asserted that the meeting place of Parliament should never be changed.
– I believe that such a statement has been published. No one can expect the seat of Government to be spirited away from Melbourne to some part of New South Wales at a moment’s notice. A reasonable time must be allowed to select a site, and to erect such buildings as will be necessary for housing the Parliament. I heard the remark made yesterday by an honorable member that no notice should be taken of the bogy that large sums of money will be expended in the erection of palatial buildings for housing both branches of the Legislature. We should obtain a reasonably cheap and eligible building of good design, which will meet our requirements for the next 50 years or more. A still greater period may elapse before any extra expenditure will be necessary. There is no doubt that, as the Commonwealth grows i n population, , in power and in wealth, there will be a strong feeling that we should have a model capital. The erection of a model capital would involve a very heavy expenditure. The city, however, will be formed by degrees. It will not be completed during our time, and perhaps not during the first century of the Commonwealth. After a site has been chosen, it seems to me that two or three years at the very least, and perhaps more, must elapse before we shall be able to obtain suitable buildings, and give that attention to the question of sanitation and water supply necessary to enable us to remove to what will be the future home of this , Parliament. It is in that spirit that I approach the question this evening. I trust that the House will approach it in the same way, and with a desire to carry out the spirit and intention of the Constitution. It will be within the memory of honorable members that the provision specially inserted in the Constitution that the federal capital shall be in New South Wales, influenced a very large number of electors in New South Wales in voting for the Constitution Bill, and I am sure there will be no attempt to burke the carrying out of that provision. Exception has been taken ‘ to the method that has been adopted by the Government to bring this question to a head. I must be allowed to differ from those who find fault with our action in this respect. I think it will be admitted by honorable members that they have derived considerable information from their inspection of the various sites in New South Wales. They have obtained information not only as to the sites themselves, but as to the wealth and the character of the State of New South Wales. If, as has been urged, a committee of experts had been appointed to examine all the sites before that inspection was made, great cost would have been involved. Honorable members will hardly realize the number of sites upon which the committee would have had to report. Speaking from memory, I think that no fewer than 45 sites were submitted for Mr. Oliver’s consideration. Mr. Oliver eliminated many names from the’ list, but there still remained fourteen which were seriously considered by him. The investigation of the merits of the five sites by a committee of experts will involve some expenditure, but a very large expenditure would have been incurred in making a scientific investigation of the 45 sites submitted for Mr. Oliver’s consideration, or even of the fourteen which remained after he had narrowed down the list. I am sorry that the parliamentary inspection could not have been a joint one. Had circumstances not prevented it would have been preferable for senators and members of the House of Representatives to have at the same time paid a visit of inspection. In this connexion, I must express my regret that a number of honorable members were, from various causes, unable to take part in either of the two visits. As to the honorable member for Gippsland, I know that he desired to go, but he thought that he might possibly not be able to get about so well as other honorable members, and that it would be better to wait until he could pay a visit by himself, or accompanied by a few other honorable members.
– I did not desire to go until the number of the sites had been reduced.
– In that idea I quite concur, and, as I said the other night, there is no objection to affording every facility to those honorable members, numbering, I believe, about seven, who have not yet had the’ advantage of inspecting the proposed sites. But there are other honorable members who, to my regret, did not embrace the opportunity of visiting the sites. I know that to visit New South Wales at. the time was inconvenient to a number of gentlemen who come from distant States, and who, when there was a short adjournment, took the opportunity of resting in their homes after their arduous) and constant work here. I hope, however, that those honorable members will -yet take an opportunity of going over the sites, and forming an opinion as to their merits. After taking a bird’s-eye view, such as a visit of inspection affords, honorable members will be more able to grasp the scientific and expert details when these are submitted to the House. Several questions have to be considered in fixing the site of the federal territory ; and here I may say that the committee which it is proposed to appoint will have no voice in the ultimate decision, that being a matter for the people’s representatives. We shall have to consider climate, accessibility, and, amongst a number of other matters, one that is most important, namely, what is the prospective centre of future population in Australia ? I wish to emphasize this point, because it seems to me that future populations will gather where there is good land and a good rainfall, and not on plains or other parts of Australia where the rainfall is very low. At the Adelaide convention a paper, prepared presumably by the statisticians of the various States, was laid on the table, giving an estimate of the populations of the various States in 1940 and 1941. According to that estimate there will, by that time, be a population of 7,500,000 in Queensland; 8,000,000 in New South Wales; 4,000,000 in Victoria, and the balance of 22,000,000 in the other States. From this it appears that 15,500,000 out of a total estimated population of 22,000,000 will be in Queensland and New South Wales, and, though the prophecy may not be realized to the letter, there is no doubt that the bulk oi the population, following the rainfall and the good land, will be found in these two States. The experts, as the motion shows, will be called upon to report on the accessibility of each site, on the building materials at hand, on the climate, drainage, physical conditions and soil, water supply, rainfall, and general suitability, and any other matter which may be considered sufficiently important to refer to them. The first site which the Government have decided to submit for the consideration of Parliament is that of Albury, which, no doubt, will never be short of a water supply. Albury has good land, and the only objection raised, so far as I know, by the people in the mother State, is that this site is too far south, and too far away from the centres of population. I must say that I do not think the climate of Albury is so extreme as some honorable members seem to think. I lived in the district for many years, and my experience was that, with the exception of about three months, when the weather is very hot, Albury has the best climate I have lived in. Tumut is a site which must receive serious consideration, more particularly when we consider its water supply, climate, and beauty, and the fact that it is about halfway between the two great cities of Melbourne and Sydney. A little further away we come to Lake George, which possesses a good climate. Theweather is rather cold in winter, though the same may be said of certain portions of Tumut.
– Tumut is the prettiest place in New SouthWales.
SirWILLIAM LYNE. - Tumut is one of the prettiest and most fertile valleys in New SouthWales. It will be noticed that there is no proposal in regard to the Upper Murray, though, in my opinion, the finest and most beautiful valley in Australia is to be there found - it is Tumut on a triple scale - and I hope that later on honorable members will take the opportunity of visiting the district. Lake George is a beautiful spot, and possesses the great advantage of an inland sea.
-Which is a lake for ten years and a prairie for ten years.
– It is mostly swamp.
– Lake George is not a swamp. No doubt, the lake is very nearly dry now, and it has been dry twice before in the knowledge of Australians, but, as a rule, there is a depth of seven to twelve feet of water over an area of five miles by fourteen or fifteen miles. I have here a map which shows how Lake George could be given a permanent and deep supply of water at all times ; and, further, the Murrumbidgee River is not far away, and it will be for the experts to say whether it is practicable to divert that water from that river into the lake, or to utilize it for the supply of any town or city in the neighbourhood. And here I may say that the inquiries of experts as to water supply for Lake George will also determine the same question in connexion with Yass. Mr. Oliver in his report speaks very strongly in favour of Yass as a federal capital site, but points out that the water supply is unsatisfactory. I have heard that a subsequent report is more favorable, though the question is not yet definitely settled.
– Is Yass included in the sites suggested by the Government ?
– No sites are suggested beyond those named, and I am now merely explaining the effect of the work which will be done by the experts in this particular neighbourhood.
– Why not get detailed information as to all the sites, so that honorable members may subsequently be able to judge of their merits?
– I do not think it would be wise to get detailed information in regard to every site. That would be equivalent to handing over the whole matter to a number of professional men, without Parliament exercising any discretion as to those sites most likely to receive attention.
– What did the Minister mean by saying that the Orange site covered Bathurst?
– Bathurst and other sites are in a position quite different from that occupied by the sites recommended by the Government.
– The Minister said that the Lake George site embraced Yass and Goulburn.
– If I said so I made a mistake, though Lake George may embrace Goulburn so far as water supply is concerned. I am not quite sure whether the fall of the country is from the Murrumbidgee towards Goulburn, but if it is, then, no doubt, the expert inquiries will cover both places in this connexion. I now come to the Bombala site, and have to say that Dalgety is not amongst the places which it is proposed to refer to experts.
– Why not?
– If all the sites are submitted twelve months or two years may elapse before we get any report, and that will mean great expense. Dalgety is, I believe, about 50 miles from Bombala, and, so far as I can judge, it is the only place from which a satisfactory water supply can be obtained for Bombala. The experts will have to visit Snowy River, either at Dalgety or some other spot, in order to ascertain whether or not a water supply can thence be carried to Bombala, and in that way they will, no doubt, be led to examine into the position of Dalgety.
– Dalgety is not dependent on the Snowy River for water. There are several other rivers.
– But it has not yet been satisfactorily shown that Bombala could command a permanent water supply sufficient to meet the requirements of a large city. In my opinion, a good water supply can be obtained only from the Snowy River. I may say that Dalgety, though it is a beautiful spot, is just underneath the coldest place in Australia. No doubt Bombala is cold enough, but I fancy Dalgety will be found out of the question, because I do not think that one-third of the members could be induced to live in such a climate. Even in summer time, when the wind blows over Kosciusco and the Bogongs, the weather is as cold as in the depth of winter in other parts of the State. I am not in any way attempting to “ run down “ Bombala, or to say that the weather there is so cold that people cannot live there, but I am afraid that people who have lived in hot climates will think twice before going to a place which may be found more trying than even the changeable weather we have in Melbourne.
– Supposing thatthe committee of experts consider that Dalgety is preferable as a site to Bombala, what then?
– If they can show that it is warmer, we shall have to include Dalgety in the list of eligible sites. I have dealt briefly with four localities. Now I come to Orange. I have always recognised that the neighbourhood of Orange and the sites proposed at Bathurst and Lyndhurst are really part and parcel of the same area, and would have to be included in the federal territory if any site near the Canobolas were selected, otherwise the territory which is available at the latter place would be insufficient.
– Has the Minister any reason to believe that the New South Wales Government will give the Commonwealth a larger area of Crown lands than that which is provided for in the Constitution?
– No, but I will refer to that question in a moment. There is no doubt, that Orange, Bathurst, and Lyndhurst, occupy an advantageous situation in relation to all the Australian capitals, and if a proposal which I submitted in 1885 had been adopted, and the railway had been extended from Cobar to Broken Hill, and a connexion had been made between Wellington or Dubbo and Werris Creek, there would have been practically a direct route to those sites from both Adelaide and
Brisbane, and it would have been impossible to overlook them. I understand that the Government of New South Wales is about to construct both of the lines to which I have referred, which will thus furnish us with a direct line to Brisbane. Honorable members will remember that when they undertook the last parliamentary visit of inspection, they left here by the express and reached Orange in time for breakfast. The distance between the two places is much shorter than is the distance from Melbourne to Sydney.
– It is 685 miles by way of Werris Creek to Brisbane.
– In addition to that, when the line is carried through to Adelaide, and later on to Perth, Orange will occupy a most unique position. Mr. Oliver, however, in his report, has questioned whether a sufficient water supply could be obtained there, which was one of the objections urged against Yass. I venture to think that expert examination would reveal that if it were required, storage accommodation could be made in the upper basins of the Macquarie River, sufficient to supply any town which is likely to be built within the next 500 years.
– Has the Minister seen the reports of inquiries in that connexion which have since been made by State officers ?
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- No ; but I know a good deal about Orange. When I proposed to construct a dam where the present water supply is located, it was urged by some that there was not a sufficient catchment area for the supply of Orange. I built the dam, however, and to-day, the Orange water supply is the cheapest and most effective to be found in New South Wales. Moreover, that supply comes from only a small portion of the area which would be required by the Government should a site be selected in that locality. I have endeavoured not to prevent any eligible site within reasonable distance from being considered.
– No. I am coming to Armidale. Knowing the climate which obtains there, I am aware that it is fairly cold - almost as cold as Bombala.
– It is higher than is Bombala, and Ben Lomond, which is only a little further north, is one of the coldest spots in New South Wales.
– I have lived there, and I know better than that.
– At any rate, the railway officials there have frequently had to scoop the snow out of the way of the trains. With all the great advantages which Armidale undoubtedly possesses in the nature of an abundant water supply, good building sites, and a favorable climate, I think that it is a little further north than honorable members would bc prepared to go. I admit that it is in the centre of future development ; but I do not think that we can seriously consider it at the present time.
– Has the Minister obtained a report regarding the prospect of obtaining a sufficient water supply and good building sites in the vicinity of Bathurst and Orange?
– I can assure the honorable member that if, during the progress of the committee’s investigations, it occurs to the minds of those who are most competent to judge that a further examination of any particular locality is desirable, that examination shall take place.
– There is no territory available at Bathurst.
– 1 do not desire that the claims of Bathurst shall be lightly, put aside. , The country in that locality is beautiful, and Bathurst will receive the consideration to which it is entitled. Now I come to the question of what is required in connexion with the land surrounding the future capital. Doubtless the anticipation of the Convention was that in some particular locality sufficient Crown lands would be available upon which to erect the federal, capital, and that the State in which it was located should give that land to the Commonwealth. I have no doubt that New South Wales will hand over to the Government the Crown lands in any neighbourhood that may be selected, but it is impossible to get a sufficient area of such lands surrounding any particular site. The largest extent of Crown lands is to be found in the neighbourhood of Canobolas and Tumut. There is not much at Bombala and Lake George. My own impression is that the Commonwealth will have to resume an area outside of the Crown lands required for the capital site. It seems to me that in the first instance a large sum of money will have to be spent in this connexion. 45 s
At the same time I believe wo should be acting wisely in acquiring good land - even if we have to pay a fair price for it - in view of the increment which must take place consequent upon the building of a city, and the increase of population. Indeed, I think that if we obtain a sufficient area of good land, the rent roll will pay the interest and a portion of the capital involved in the construction of the public buildings of the future city.
– If it is in the hands of an honest commission it will.
– The committee which the Government intend to appoint will be composed partly of the best men to be found in the Government service. But if the services of any good man outside are available, he ought to be appointed. Personally, 1 think that the committee should consist of five or seven members.
– What are their qualifications to be ?
– They will require to be professional men of the highest, capacity. They will probably be drawn from the ranks of engineers, of men whothoroughly understand the qualities of good land, of architects who will be able to supply us with information as to building materials and sites, and I think there should be one or two broad commercial men.
– Will they act upon their own judgment, or will they takeevidence 1
– They will act upon their own judgment, or they may takeevidence if they deem it desirable to adopt that course.
– I thought that the.expertswere to inspect the eligible sites and toform their own opinion of them.
– So they are. But the honorable and learned member must recognise that it would be impossible - for the experts to do all the detail work which will be required to be done to enablethem to form that opinion. I know verywell that Mr. Oliver had to employ a number of men other than the two or threewith whom he was associated in order togain the necessary information.
– They were all selected from the State service.
– I do not know whether that is so or not, but T feel that in a matter of this kind the selection of these men ought not to be confined to the State services. Without detracting from the intelligence of any civil servant, I could mention more than one case which shows the folly of adopting that course. I have in my mind’s eye one instance in which designs of certain buildings had been prepared by the department, but these, when submitted to experts outside, were completely knocked to pieces within a few minutes.
Mr. -Joseph Cook. - There is nothing in that.
– It shows that it would be very unwise to confine the selection of these men to the Government service. I. think that New South Wales might credit the honorable and learned member for Parkes with having inaugurated in the Works department of that. State a system which has proved very advantageous. He initiated the practice of calling for competitive designs whenever any very large national work was to be carried out. If honorable members recollect the designs which were forwarded in connexion with the erection of the Kenmore Asylum - and those also done outside for the Walker Hospital - they must admit that no designs approaching them have ever been prepared in the Government department of that State.
– The Minister still fondly lingers over Kenmore.
Mi-. Fuller. - That work should have been given to the architect to carry out.
– I thought so at the time. What was done in regard to the Kenmore Asylum was to take the plans and use the brains of the architect, and to build it piecemeal, without his supervision. However, I do not wish to refer to that matter. I desire that’ in the selection of the federal capital site, and the subsequent construe. * tion of the’ federal capital, advantage shall be taken of the qualifications of men who have given special attention to kindred matters. Some time ago a very influential deputation, representing the architects, engineers, and other professional men of all the States, waited upon the Prime Minister in reference to this matter. I think, indeed, that they asked a little too much, because they practically wanted to decide the question of policy involved. I am, however, anxious to obtain the services of one or two of the best of those qualified to deal with each branch of this question - both private citizens and officers in State employ.
– What is the justification for appointing a commercial man 1
– I do not bind myself to the appointment of a commercial man, but I think that a man with business training often considers matters from aspects which professional men, whose minds move in certain grooves, altogether ignore.
– -Parliament would deal with the practical side of the matter.
– I feel that the opinion of a commercial man is often essential in dealing with a big matter, like this.
– Appoint a commonsense man.
– Surely ‘there are architects and engineers who are common-sense men.
– I do not think I need deal with the report and conclusions submitted by Mr. Alexander Oliver to the New South Wales Government. I practically appointed Mr. Oliver a commissioner to investigate the claims of the capital sites which had been put forward, and I have always looked upon him as one of the best and most painstaking men in the employ of that State. He has, however, only one mind ; he could not give a report of so much value as could be obtained from half-a-dozen minds. His investigation was carried out before this Parliament came into existence, because I considered that the State should prepare the way to do what we are doing now. He recommended Orange, Bombala, and Yass. The Government have not accepted the Yass site, but they intend to set down for investigation other sites in addition to the Orange and Bombala sites. I feel that it is absolutely necessary that this Parliament, in coming to a conclusion upon the matter, should have before it the report of a commission appointed by the Commonwealth Ministry, and not be forced to depend upon reports and information furnished wholly by State officers. The motion has been moved to give an opportunity for the full discussion of the matter, and so that there may be no delay in dealing with it next session. I hope to see the site of the federal capital decided upon during the existence of this Parliament. It cannot be hoped that much more than that will be done ; but, unless this commission is appointed now, and a clear six or seven months given for its investiga-. tions, we shall not be in a position to deal with the matter at all next session. If the first Parliament of the Commonwealth decides upon a site, I do not think that the people of New South Wales will have anything to complain about. At the suggestion of the leader of the Opposition, I have added to the motion words which require that the report of the commission shall be brought up by or before the 30th April next.
– There should have been a similar condition in the Constitution with regard to the fixing of the federal capital site.
– It has been suggested that the provision of the Constitution which deals with the fixing of the federal capital site should be amended, but I think that such a course would lead to further delay. There is a strong argument for not locating the federal capital in any large city, because there are influences at work in every large centre of population which roust affect those who reside there or are constantly there in the discharge of their political duties, but which, perhaps, do not affect other parts of the Commonwealth. When the federal capital is fixed upon, and the Federal Parliament and Executive are located there, they will be free from such local influences. I must confess that I at one time hoped to see the .capital located in the neighbourhood of Sydney, on the heights between the Parramatta’ and the Hawkesbury, which, to my mind, would have been an ideal place for it ;’ but, of course, under the Constitution that is impossible.
– Will the commission be required to confine its investigations and .report to the sites referred to it?
– Yes ; but I shall not hesitate about taking the responsibility of referring other sites to it if there seems to be any justification for doing so, and a reasonable probability of such sites being considered by this Parliament.
– Is the commission to make a recommendation as well as a report 1
– I do not think it is right that a body of experts should make a recommendation in regard to the policy involved in the fixing of the site. That is a matter wholly for Parliament. I should resent any such recommendation. The commission will have to consider the various sites purely from the aspects referred to in the motion, and leave it to the representatives of the people -to adopt whichever site they think best. 45 s 2
– Will the inspection of the Albury site include an inspection of the Upper Murray site 1
– No ; there is no need for that, because the water supply of Albury is an assured one.
– The honorable gentleman spoke very favorably of the Upper Murray site as being a most picturesque place.
– The matter is a very delicate one for me to refer to, inasmuch as there are two sites in my electorate which have already been put forward as suitable for the federal capital. Mr. Skene. - Might not the commissioners be allowed to report upon the whole locality within a certain distance of any proposed site?
– I hope that I shall not be called upon to give an opinion upon the Upper Murray site, but I intend to ask a few members of the House to visit it during the summer months, and I shall be guided by what they think of it, and of the probability of any site so far south being selected.
– But the Albury site is equally far south.
– Albury is on the railway.
– It seems to me that if the resolution is carried, we shall be as far from finality in the matter as ever. The Minister tells us that there may be fresh visits of inspection, and that new sites may be suggested.
– The Upper Murray site is surely no further from the railway than is the Bombala site ?
– The Upper Murray site is 100 miles east of Albury, whereas the Bombala site is only 50 miles east of Cooma.
– Will the experts to be appointed be chosen from the whole Commonwealth, or from New South Wales alone ?
– I think it will be wise to get experts from all the States. The people of Victoria would not be satisfied if only New South Wales experts were chosen ;. and the other States must also be considered.
– Will the honorable gentleman inform the House as to the personality of the commission before the session closes’ ‘
– I do not know that that will be possible, but I shall be willing to do so if I can. The appointment of the commissioners is an administrative act for which the Government must be responsible.
– It is the business of this House.
– I am always wishful to consult honorable members, but I know my duty to the House and to the Government of which I am a member, and I regard the appointment of this commission as a pure act of administration for which the Government must take the responsibility. If we do not select properly qualified men we must be held blameworthy. I have no objection, however, to getting my colleagues to ratify the appointment of the commission before the session closes, if that is possible. At the present time I know of only one or two experts whom I should be inclined to appoint.
– I do not think that this is a suitable occasion upon which to discuss the merits of any of the sites proposed for the federal capital. That may well be deferred until we have proper information before us. I shall refrain, therefore, from trespassing upon that ground, except so far as it may be necessary for the purpose of commending my amendment to honorable members. I am in favour of establishing the capital entirely away from all centres of population, and I do not attach any great weight to the objections which have been raised upon financial grounds. It has been repeatedly stated outside Parliament that in view of the great financial difficulties of. Australia, which will probably become more acute during the next year or two, it would be unwise and unpatriotic on the part of this Parliament to approve of the establishment of the federal capital at present. It has been urged that we might remain where we are for many years to come. But I think that those persons who have objected to the early establishment of the federal capital, on the score of the expense involved, have over-estimated the outlay. As the Minister has pointed out, there will be no necessity to erect extensive or elaborate buildings for many years to come ; and; even if we had designs prepared for all the buildings that would eventually be required, we need not complete them within a generation. If we spent in the erection of the federal capital one million of money in ten years that would be quite sufficient.
– We could do with a much smaller amount.
– If we have any belief in the future of the federation, an expenditure such as I have indicated would not be too great. I have the strongest sympathy with the Minister in this matter. Certain honorable members have from time to time baited the right honorable gentleman in regard to this question. They have charged him with being an enemy to New South Wales, and with having no heart in the movement for the early establishment of the capital. Although I believe that a motion of this kind might have- been tabled some months ago, and although I suggested that the Ministry should take the responsibility of reducing the 4-5 or 50 suggested sites to five or six, and ask the House to approve of the appointment of a board of experts, I recognise that we have been engaged upon very urgent work, and that so long as this matter is dealt with during the present session there will be no substantial grievance against the Government. I believe that the Minister is true to the compact embodied in the Constitution, and that he is a fervent friend of the people of New South Wales, who desire to see the capital established within their borders as soon as practicable.
– Why should not the experts have been appointed months ago 1
– I am free to admit that they might have been appointed long before this, but, after all, we have been engaged in dealing with very important business, and the delay of a few months, or even, a year, will not mean much in the history of the federation. I do not think the Minister has deserved the somewhat bitter criticism which has been levelled at him. J. approve of the motion, although I do not think it goes quite far enough. I do not wish to discuss the merits of the sites mentioned in the motion, but I have serious objections to one or two of them. I have indicated that I am in favour of the capital being established in the bush, away from any distinct town. Although I do not claim to be a disciple of Henry George, in so far as he advocates the nationalization of land, where such a reform would interfere with well established communities, I think that we shall start the federal capital upon lines sound if we decide not to sell any land within the federal area. I believe that in time the revenue derived under a proper leasing system, would help to recoup the expenditure involved in the establishment of the capital. If the Albury site, for example, included the existing town of that name, and the whole site were nationalized, a considerable sum of money would have to be paid for the land resumed. The same objection would apply to the Orange site if the town were included within it.
– The revenue of the Commonwealth would be all the greater.
– I do not suppose it is intended that the actual towns in either case should be taken in. I think that the motion as it stands is too restricted in its scope. It is quite possible that the experts may find that none of the sites mentioned are entirely satisfactory, and we should submit other sites for examination and report. The Minister has referred to Bombala, and it is very well known that certain honorable members were very much impressed with that site, not so much on account of the situation in which the future capital would be placed, as because of the idea that the federal area should embrace Twofold Bay, and thus enable us to establish a federal seaport. That idea is magnificent, but we should have to reckon with the State Government of New South.Wales. I doubt very much if they would consent to hand over to us 1,000 or 1,500 square miles of country, and enable us to assume control of the seaport of Eden, which might in time become a serious rival of Sydney. They might be quite agreeable to carry out. the compact embodied in the Constitution, and to cede to the Federal Government a site embracing from 100 up to perhaps as much as 300 square miles, but they would not agree to hand over 1,000 or 1,500 square miles and give us Twofold Bay as a federal port.
– Surely the Parliament of New South Wales would not wish to indefinitely defer the settlement of the federal capital question ?
– I think that the people of New South Wales would object to the federal authorities taking control of a seaport which would compete with Port Jackson. They desire that the federal city should, if possible, provide an outlet for the goods imported by the merchants of Sydney.
– How far is Armidale from the nearest port ?
– About 70 miles.
– That is not much more than the distance between Twofold Bay and Bombala.
– If it were considered necessary to embrace a seaport within the federal area, Armidale would be just as favourably situated as would Bombala. If a federal seaport were established the Australian navy of the future would have its headquarters there.
– It could never ride at anchor in Twofold Bay.
– I desire to know how the Minister can reconcile his action in asking this House to consent to Albury being reported upon, with his omission of Armidale. Unfortunately, no report has been sent in by the New South Wales commissioner, Mr. Oliver, with reference to Armidale.
– Was that site ever submitted to him for report?
– Yes ; but somewhat late in the day. Mr. Oliver has been more than once seriously ill, and it took him a long time to perform his work. I believe his report is now completed, but that it has not yet been received by the Government. I am, however, in the position to inform honorable members that Mr. Oliver was rather surprised that such a magnificent site was to be found at Armidale, and his opinion is that it is second to none. I was doubtful about the water supply, but the district surveyor and another expert engineer from Sydney inquired into the whole matter, and reported that no other site would have a better water supply than could be provided at Armidale.
– Has the honorable member seen the Armidale site ?
– Yes ; I know it well. In order to provide a water supply it is proposed to construct a dam across the Guyra Gorge.
– We all saw it.
– The honorable member did not see the Guyra Gorge, which is several miles away from the site inspected by honorable members on their recent trip.
– It was pointed out to us in the distance.
– The honorable member would require to be an eagle and soar up in the air to the height of a mile or two in order to see the gorge from the site he visited. The Armidale site is suitable in every possible way. It possesses a splendid climate and beautiful scenery, and an ample water supply could be provided. The only objection that appears to be raised against it is that it is north of Sydney, and is not situated between the two great cities of Australia. I notice that a distinguished gentleman, who occupies a seat in the Senate, said he would not think of going north of Sydney to look at any site for the federal capital, because he regarded it as essential that it should be situated to the south of Sydney. I would point out, however, that the trend of population iB northwards from Sydney, and that on the northern rivers of New South Wales there is a lot of splendid country, capable of sustaining a large population. The Armidale site does not include the city of Armidale. If it did I should look upon it as a grave objection, for reasons which I have already stated. I am desirous that the federal territory shall be as free as possible from acquired interests. It is quite possible that one or two of the sites proposed to be inspected by the committee of experts may fail to receive the approval of Parliament, because I believe that the majority of honorable members think that the federal capital should be as free as possible from valuable freehold property. They desire that a site shall be acquired as the absolute property of the Commonwealth. The Bombala site, although perhaps in itself a very fine one, might fail to receive the sanction of the New South Wales authorities if too much territory were sought to be obtained. Then, again, it is proposed that the Lake George site shall be inspected by the experts. Without going into details, I may say that that site may not be found to be a suitable one.
– It has more available Crown lands than has an)’ other site.
– That may be, but I think there would be a difficulty in obtaining a proper water supply. I think there should be a wider choice, and that any other site which has reasonable claims for consideration should be included in the motion. The great antagonism shown to the selection of the Armidale site is due to its geographical position. I accompanied members of another place on their recent inspection, and I know that they were strongly impressed with the beauty and general suitability . of that site. In answer to the objection of the President of the Senate,
I would ask - What object should we have in view in selecting a site for the capital ? Should we consider the convenience of present members of the’ Federal Legislature, or should we secure what is likely to be the most convenient site in the not-far distant future? A most important document, to which reference has already been made by the Minister for Home Affairs, was presented to the members of the Adelaide Convention by a committee of statisticians. That document dealt with the question of the trend of population, and it set forth that in 1940 - that is only 38 years ahead, and we need not be very particular to a few years - New South Wales would probably have a population of S,000,000 ; that Queensland would have an estimated population of 7,500,000, and Victoria an estimated population of 4,000,000, or a little more than half of the estimated population of Queensland. It was also estimated by the statisticians that the other States of South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania combined, would probably have only a population of 2,500,000. If we credit the Armidale site with only half the estimated population of New South Wales in 1940, and add the anticipated population of Queensland, we find that the population north of Sydney in 1940 will amount to 11,500,000, or considerably over half of the then estimated population of the Commonwealth. If we throw in the whole of the population of Sydney and suburbs, where the bulk of the population exists, nearly three-fourths of the population of Australia will be included within a line stretching from a little south of Sydney, north throughout Queensland. Having regard to the opinion of the statisticians of the various States who met in conference to consider this question, it cannot be denied that 40 or 50 years hence Armidale will be in the very centre of the densest population of Australia. If, as I have shown, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania combined will not have a population of more than 2,500,000, is it open to any representative of South Australia to sneer at the proposition that it is possible to have the federal capital north of Sydney ? The grounds which I have set forth are, in my opinion, amply sufficient to justify the inclusion of the Armidale site in the list of places to be inspected by the experts, and I am astonished that the Government should have ignored it while proposing that Albury shall be inspected. I do not object to an inquiry into the suitability of Albury, but I very much resent the failure of the Government to include Armidale in the list. Honorable members who have visited the Armidale site know that it is a beautiful spot, free from any town, and that it would not involve any very heavy expenditure to acquire a magnificent area there. It is a lofty table-land, with a splendid climate, and its beauty is almost unrivalled. Honorable members saw comparatively little of it during their recent inspection, but what they did see was only a sample of hundreds of thousands of acres which surround it. My principal reason for advocating its inclusion in the list is that it is justifiable that inquiries should be made into its merits, as we have not to consider the convenience of the present Members of Parliament, but the convenience of the people of Australia in the future. I do not wish to oppose the motion, but I earnestly ask honorable members to do justice to the Armidale district, and not to allow themselves to be swayed by the fact that it does not lie between Sydney and Melbourne. I move -
That after the word “ Albury “ the word “Armidale” be inserted.
– Why not move that the word “ Albury “ be omitted with a view to the insertion of the word “ Armidale.”
– I shall not go so far as that.
– I have to congratulate the Minister for Home Affairs upon coming down, even at this late stage, with a definite proposition to refer this question to a committee of experts. That committee, I understand, is not to be appointed for the purpose of making any final arrangement, but merely to consider, according to the terms of the motion, the suitability of the various sites. In considering the question of the selection of a site for the federal capital a good deal of feeling has been exhibited, and one can readily understand the reason for it. There is naturally a strong feeling in New South Wales in favour of an early settlement of the matter. When federation was entered into there was an undertaking that the capital-should be in that State, and the people reasonably thought that the making of a selection would have been expedited, and that some definite action would have been taken shortly after the parliamentary inspection.
Many people think that the money expended upon the parliamentary inspection was wasted. I had the privilege of inspecting nearly every site. Those I did not visit in company with other honorable members I had visited previously, and I think I speak for every honorable member when I say that much useful information was obtained by us. I mention this matter, because certain newspapers have referred adversely to the action of the Government in calling upon honorable members to visit the various sites. They have endeavoured to show that there was a wasteful expenditure.
– It was a jolly good picnic.
– Call it what we may, I have no hesitation in saying that as the result of the parliamentary inspection, we shall be able to save thousands of pounds in arriving at a determination. The information which we obtained will be of great value to us when we are called upon to consider the report already submitted, as well as that to be presented to us by the committee of experts. For these reasons I do not agree with those who have adversely criticised the action of the Government in arranging for a parliamentary inspection. I think it was a proper thing to do. The Minister for Home Affairs has referred to the western sites. I happen to represent the western district of New South Wales, but it is not because of that fact that I hold the views which I am about to express. I believe that every honorable member who visited the western district was impressed with the various advantages possessed by it. There is a* large area of rich agricultural land there ; the situation is beautiful ; the climate is very favorable, and it possesses many other advantages which might be named. No doubt other very good sites were visited by honorable members, and these will all have to be considered when we deal with the question. I asked the Minister for Home Affairs two or three weeks ago if, in view of the fact that. Bathurst, Orange, and Lyndhurst were so close to each other, experts would be required to report as to all three, and the honorable gentleman agreed with the suggestion. In order that a definite and proper settlement may be arrived at, I intend to submit an amendment, which will include the two sites I have mentioned. In speaking of the western site, the Minister stated that he believed that if the line via Werris Creek and the line via Cobar were constructed, there would be strong reasons in favour of that site, the distance from Bathurst to Brisbane via the former line being about 702 miles, or nearly 200 miles nearer than it would be via Sydney. The cross-country line has been approved of by the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, or, at any rate, it has been referred to the Public Works Committee, and is almost sure to be agreed to. There is no doubt that the fine stretch of country between Wellington and Werris Creek must be provided with a railway line, in order to meet the convenience of those who will eventually settle on that tract of country, and such a . line will bring the western sites nearer to Brisbane than any other.
– That site will not be nearer to Brisbane than is Armidale.
– That is so; but I am talking at present about the sites proposed by the Minister, who does not include Armidale. ‘ The line via Cobar was originally proposed by the present Minister for Home Affairs many years ago, but although it was approved by the Legislative Assembly, it was rejected by the Council, I believe, by a majority of ‘one. I am told, however, that there is now such a strong feeling in favour of its construction that the success of a proposal now before the New South Wales Parliament is assured.
– Such a line would never pay for the grease for the wheels.
– The proposal to construct a line has already passed the Legislative Assembly, and I am assured by those who ought to know that when in a few ‘days the proposal comes before the Legislative Council it is sure to be carried. The construction of these two lines will, as I say, afford strong reason for the selection of a western site at either Orange, Bathurst or Lyndhurst. Within the area mentioned there is a large tract of rich agricultural land, which, I have no hesitation in saying, is capable of maintaining a very large population. In that country, which includes Bathurst and Orange, there are already large numbers of people settled who are in a fairly prosperous state. A well-known farmer in this district told me the other day that, beginning in a very small way with less than 300 acres, which he took up under Sir John Robertson’s Act of 1861, he had been able, after deducting working expenses, to earn something like £300 a year for over 20 years, whilst another place which he bought for something like £2,000 had cleared itself in five or six years. I mention this to show what splendid land there is in the district, and most of the land is of pretty much the same quality.
– For what site is the honorable member arguing 1
– I am only asking the House to carry out a suggestion, approved by the Minister for Home Affairs, to consider Orange, Bathurst, and Lyndhurst as one site,’ and get all the necessary information regarding these places. What we require is information to enable us to come to a fair decision in a matter which involves the expenditure of a large sum of money. My desire is to submit an amendment asserting that in consequence of their proximity to Orange, Lyndhurst and Bathurst be included amongst the places on which the experts shall be asked to report.
– It is of no use providing for Bathurst.
– But the places are all in the same tract of country. There is only a short distance between them-, and it might happen that near Bathurst a better water supply could be obtained than at another place.
– If the honorable member proposes Bathurst I shall propose Geelong.
– I only desire to submit an amendment to which the Minister for Home Affairs has agreed.
– Bathurst is within 100 miles of Sydney as the crow flies.
– I am not speaking of the city of Bathurst, but of the district outside, which was shown to honorable members, and which is not within the limit prescribed by the Constitution.
– If I am in order I desire to move an amendment to strike Albury out of the motion.
– The honorable member can move that only if the honorable member for New England consents to temporarily withdraw his amendment
– As a matter of courtesy I desire temporarily to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– Judging from what I saw during the visit of inspection, I should say that Albury, on its merits, has the least chance of all the suggested sites of becoming the federal capital, and it surprises rae to see the place included amongst those in the motion. The Minister for Home Affairs has admitted that Armidale has the most perfect water supply of all the sites.
– I did not say that. Tumut has the best water supply.
– At any rate the Minister said that one of the best water supplies could be found at Armidale, and yet that place is not included amongst the sites to be inspected.
– I must ask the honorable member not to misquote me.
– I understood the Minister to say so, but, if I am wrong, I am prepared to withdraw. At any rate, I now make the assertion that Armidale is second to none amongst the sites proposed. The country is good, and the elevation is such as to insure a good climate, while there is all the necessary material near at hand for building purposes. The only reason given by the Minister for not including Armidale is that the place is “outside practical politics.” It is not the present, but the future we have to consider. It is not merely the convenience of a few members of the first or second Commonwealth Parliament to which we must have regard ; we must remember that the federal capital we now select will endure for generations, and probably for centuries. Under the circumstances we ought to take into consideration all the advantages that are presented by a place situated as Armidale is. Time and again it has been pointed out that population is trending to the north of Sydney, and for many years - it may be centuries to come - the great bulk of the people of Australia will be on the eastern coast.
– I am not so sure about that ; there is Western Australia.
– I admit that the development of mining in Western Australia has been very great.
– And we have only (started.
– The progress of Western Australia can be seen in the returns of the magnificent yields of gold year after year. While Western Australia may be a mineral-producing country, the territory upon’ the eastern side of the continent is not only rich in minerals, but possesses magnificent pastoral and agricultural resources.
– We have similar land in Western Australia.
– But not any great extent of it.
– Oh, yes. That is a very common error.
– I only hope that in years to come Western Australia will contain a large population. Still we must recognise that during the next century or two the trend of population will be towards the eastern coast. Consequently Armidale will be the centre of the most denselypopulated portion of the continent, and therefore I think that it should be included in the list of eligible sites. Albury is one of the last places that should have been so included.
– That shows howlittle the. honorable member knows of it.
– That may be so. The one thing above all others that would kill Albury, in my estimation, is that it is only 800 feet above sea-level, and I do not think that we ought to remove to any place with an altitude of less than 2,000 feet. I have no interest in advocating the selection of Armidale.
– Is it not the nearest point to Queensland 1
– That, of course, is a mere coincidence.
Mr. - MCDONALD. - Let me remind the honorable and learned member for Indi that, if the statistician’s are to be relied upon, within a comparatively few years Queensland is likely to possess twice the population of Victoria. 1 repeat that I am not interested in the selection of the Armidale site, but I ‘certainly hold that in the light of the information which has been presented to us Albury has no claims whatever.
– Albury has always been considered the federal city.
– That may be so; and I can quite understand the awkward position in which the Minister is placed. There are two eligible sites in his electorate, and it is therefore necessary that both should be included in the list. Seeing, however, that the Government profess to be in earnest in their desire for economy, I think they might effect a small saving upon this item. Therefore I move -
That the word “ Albury” be omitted.
– I have already made some reference to this motion, and I am strongly of opinion that the method proposed will prove a cumbersome and expensive one of gaining the information desired. I trust that the Government will not persist in the idea of appointing a large number of persons to this committee. If they are professional men their services are sure to prove expensive. I hope that there will be a distinct understanding made with them as to the remuneration which they are to receive, so that future trouble may be avoided.
– The right honorable member may depend upon that.
– I would further point out that although the 30th April next has been fixed as the date upon which the report of this body should be in readiness, it ought to be available much earlier.
– We fixed that date as the extreme period.
– In appointing the committee the Government should fix an earlier date, because the period for the presentation of the report can always be extended if that course is necessary, and it cannot be very difficult matter for experts to report upon these sites in relation to the features covered by the resolution. I do not wish to oppose the motion, though I should have preferred the Government to take another course.
– During this discussion I have been impressed with two features of it. The first is the practical unanimity of honorable members in favour of a speedy selection of the ‘capital site. That is an admission which the people of New South Wales, even at this .late hour, will welcome. The next feature is that owing to the difficulty in which the Minister for Home Affairs finds himself, we are now offered a plethora of sites. The honorable member for New England has suggested adding Armidale to the list, and, similarly, the honorable member for Macquarie wishes to include Lyndhurst. I have no object to serve by proposing the addition of any particular site ; but as the Minister has been wise enough to include two localities in his own electorate, I would suggest that he should add to the sites mentioned the words “ et caetera.” I contend that the Minister already has in his possession the very data which he is desirous that this committee of experts shall collect for him. Mr. Oliver, the commissioner appointed by the New South Wales Government to report upon this matter, has most admirably traversed all the points covered by the resolution under discussion. But, strange to say, the site which that gentleman placed second on the list - Yass - has not been included in this motion.
– If the honorable member will read Mr. Oliver’s report he will see that he considered the water supply there most unsatisfactory.
– Nothing of the kind. Mr. Oliver says -
If the final selection is to be governed mainly by considerations of cost of acquisition and present accessibility as between New South Wales and Victoria, Yass would be entitled to first place ; but the resources of that site for an effective water supply for a large population are not as satisfactory as could be desired.
– That is practically the same thing.
– No, it is not. It is re- . markable that the Minister has included in this resolution the Lake George site, although he has admitted that there is a doubt as to the water supply there. True, there is a larger extent of Crown lands in that neighbourhood than there is in the vicinity of any other site. That consideration, in itself, should cany great weight. I quite agree with the statement of the Minister that there is no necessity for the erection of palatial parliamentary buildings at the federal capital. Once a site is decided upon, almost any architect will be capable of designing a suitable building for the Federal Parliament House. . It has been said that . care should be taken to make the federal capital a model city ; but I do not think it worth while discussing that question now. I shall not be guided by aesthetic considerations, such as the beauty and picturesqueness of the surrounding country, in giving my vote on the question. In this twentieth century, it is not considerations of that kind, but the ability of the soil to attract and maintain a population, that is to- be considered in the location of a city. Per- sonally, I see no necessity for the appointi ment of the proposed commission. The I members of the Senate and of this House have already visited all the ‘proposed ; sites, and have been educated in respect j to them by what they have seen, which is i the best education of all. Armed with the knowledge which we now have, I think that Parliament would be in a position to decide finally on the matter on the report of a select committee of its own members, appointed to collect the evidence of experts on certain points. I am not here to advocate the adoption of any one site ; I believe in allowing them all to be considered by the experts who are to be appointed. When the matter comes finally to be determined, I shall do my best to deal with it in the interests of Australia and of New South Wales. The amendment of the honorable member for New England has much to recommend it. The -trend of population seems to be chiefly towards the eastern and north-eastern coast of Australia, and, topographically, Armidale is practically the centre of the settled portions of the continent. I think it would be well to add the words “ et cetera” to the motion, so that all the sites which New South Wales possesses - and she is practically teeming with them - may be investigated by the ‘commissioners.
– I trust that the honorable member for Kennedy was not serious in his proposal to omit Albury from the list of sites to be considered. I have hitherto taken very little part in the discussions in this Chamber upon the choosing of the federal capital site, because I think that we are doing wrong at this stage to champion the cause of any particular district. In my judgment, the time has not yet arrived for discussing the comparative merits of various places in New South Wales as a site for the future capital of Australia.
– The number of sites to be investigated must be limited. It would never do to submit 50 sites for investigation.
– Sites have been suggested from time to time which are recognised to be clearly out of the question, and they are easily disposed of, but there are other sites which might fairly be submitted for investigation, and to which serious attention should be given. I wish to repeat now what I have said on former occasions when this matter has come up - that I am most anxious that the compact with New South Wales, which is embedded in the Constitu- tion, shall be honestly and fairly kept. I shall do my best to see that it. is so kept. But it must not be understood that New South Wales alone has an interest in the fixing of the capital site. The federal capital is to be in New South Wales, but the determination of its position is a question, not for any one State, but for the people of the whole Commonweal oh to determine. I do not wish to say a word to advance the cause of any proposed site, or to prejudice any other proposed site ; but the suggestion of the honorable member for Kennedy compels me to make one or two remarks in support of the claims of Albury to be included among the sties referred for investigation to the proposed commission. The honorable member for Kennedy gravely told us that he had no interest in the fixing of the Armidale site. Nobody supposed that the selection of that site would benefit him personally, but on cannot help associating his position as a representative of Queensland with the proximity of Armidale to the borders of that State.
M r. McDonald. - Where is Albury ? Is it not somewhere near Victoria ?
– Yes; but no Victorian representative has taken up the position that he is not interested in the selection of Albury. Albury is not only nearer to Victoria, but is nearer to South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania, than Armidale is. We must recollect, too, that there are other circumstances attaching to its position which make it eminently a site worthy of consideration. Not only is it located upon the trunk line from Adelaide to Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, but it lies on the banks of the River Murray, which, in the perhaps not distant future, will be made an important channel of communication with Ade- laide. The greatest river in Australia may offer opportunities for development which we cannot yet foresee ; and since it is the peculiar privilege and duty of this Parliament to legislate for the navigability of the rivers of the Commonwealth, we .must not forget that Albury may yet form a central point of communication and importance in regard to New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. While the altitude of the town is only little over 500 feet, there are within 15 or 20 miles mountains, which reach a height of 1,500 or 2,000 feet. I did not refer to these matters in order to impress them upon the consideration of the commissioners, because I feel that it is our duty to abstain from remarks which might appear to pre-judge the question : I have mentioned them because I think it would be an injustice to Victoria, and to the other States, to exclude the consideration of the claims of Albury. I shall support the proposal of the honorable member for New England for the investigation of the Armidale site. I think that the commission should have an opportunity to visit every locality which might reasonably be selected as the site of the future federal capital, so that Parliament may come, to a decision upon the matter with the fullest information at its disposal. Although the honorable member for Kennedy thinks that Albury stands a poor chance of being selected as compared with Armidale, we should, at least, allow it to be considered. I cannot think that this House would refuse to allow its consideration ; but, if such a tiling were to happen, it would surely be thought that the selection of any site which might possibly be advantageous to Victorian interests is to. be rigidly prohibited. I do not attribute any such motives to honorable members, but a great many people would be inclined to hold that view. If, however, Albury is included in the list of sites to be examined by the commission, and it is determined by the commission and by Parliament, or by Parliament alone, not to select it, fair play will have been given, and everything that should have been done, will have been done. I shall support the inclusion of the other sites which have been suggested for consideration, because I think that there is no fair reason for excluding from investigation any position which offers advantages of magnitude and importance. I regret that I have been compelled to advert to matters which, under other circumstances, might well have been avoided ; but honorable members know that I have never hitherto uttered a word in advocacy of the Albury site, and that what I have said to night I have been compelled to say, because of the proposal of the honorable member for Kennedy that that site should be excluded from consideration. I have little hesitation in believing, however, that the House will not accede to the honorable member’s proposal.
– I trust that, in dealing with this motion, considerations relating to individual members will not be taken into account. One would think from the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Indi that, we were to consider whether it would suit the representatives from South Australia or from Victoria, or some other State, to have the capital located at a particular spot, but I protest against any such view being taken.
– Are we not to consider the advantage of the various States ?
– Yes ; but we should not study the convenience of the representatives of the States.
– No one suggested that. I was speaking about the States, and not their representatives.
– The object should be to select a site in which there will be a possibility of growth, and where the conditions will be such that the value of the federal area will increase. We should be able to look forward to obtaining in the near future, or at any rate before any very distant date, some return for the money to be expended in establishing the capital. We should not consider the interests of any particular State. The object of appointing a committee of experts should be to obtain further reports upon such sites as have been shown to be worthy of consideration, and it is upon this point that I again join issue with the honorable and learned member for Indi. Surely after the two visits of inspection made by members of this Parliament, and in view of the valuable report of the New South Wales commissioner, we should be enabled to narrow the area of selection.
– Mr. Oliver’s report was very biased in many respects.
– If I thought it was a biased report, I should discount its value very much, but I regard it as an admirable production, and as showing that a great amount of careful consideration was given to the various matters which came under the attention of the commissioner. We should now be prepared to cull out such sites as are, from our general knowledge and the evidence before us, considered to be out of the running. I have not heard anything in favour of Albury from honorable members who visited the various proposed sites. It was not included in the first report we had, and if we are to add it to the sites which are to be reported on by the experts, I do not know where we shall stop.
– Is the honorable member opposed to Albury 1
– I am decidedly opposed to -its being reported upon by the experts. If Albury is to be regarded as an eligible site we may look upon all that has been done up to the present time as a waste of time and money.
– The honorable member ought to have visited Albury.
– I have been there many times. None of the honorable members who visited the proposed sites regarded Albury as having any chance of selection.
– I do not think that that is correct.
– In all the reports I saw relating to the visits of inspection I did not see any favourable mention of Albury, but, on the other hand, Armidale was regarded by some honorable members with distinct approval. We are moving somewhat in the dark with respect to this motion. Although the Government are ready to assume the responsibility of selecting the experts, I do not think we are asking too much if we desire to know the maximum number to be appointed. We ought also to be informed as to the payment they are to receive.
– I said that we proposed to appoint either five or seven experts ; I had not quite made up my mind as to the number.
– We are also entitled to know the amount of remuneration to be given to them.
– We cannot say that at present, but the fees will be fixed at as reasonable an amount as possible. I told the leader of the Opposition that a definite agreement would be made as to the fees before the experts started their work.
– There is not much consolation to be derived from that.
– The honorable member must trust the Government for something, bad as he may think them.
– I think we already trust them a great deal. So faras I am personally concerned, I am prepared to vote to-night in favour of one of the sites proposed.
– What site does the honorable member favour?
– I am not supposed to divulge that now.
SirWilliam Lyne. - Has the honorable member seen the sites proposed?
– No; but I have studied the reports upon them.
– Has the honorable member seen the report on the Armidale site?
– Why, it is not printed yet.
– Yes, it is. I have it here.
– I have read all the reports and the various pamphlets which have been issued, and 1 was much impressed with the report of the New South Wales Commissioner, which contains enough information to enable this House to arrive at a decision. It is now proposed that we should appoint experts to examine a number of sites which have hitherto been considered as completely out of the running. The Commonwealth has been in existence for nearly two years, and we should have been in a position to do something more than has yet been accomplished.
– What could have been done ?
– The experts might have been appointed immediately after the visit of inspection made by honorable members of this House.
– Before any money was voted for the purpose ?
– That is a mere matter of detail. I am not altogether satisfied with the wording of the resolution. I think that the experts should report upon the area of Crown lands available within the various sites.
– That will be included within the latter part of the resolution. That is one of the things I had in my mind.
– Another matter . for consideration is the approximate amount of money that it will cost to resume the lands that are now held in fee simple.
– That will also be within the scope of the inquiry.
– There is a largeamount of work to be done in connexion with the selection of the sites before we can possibly commence building operations, and I am sorry that the settlement of the question is to be further postponed by the appointment of a committee of experts. Twelve months at least must elapse before their report can be dealt with. I was very pleased to hear the Acting Prime Minister say that there was no intention to erect elaborate buildings upon the site for some time to come. In the ordinary course of events, and in view of the red tape which is generally associated with Government proceedings, and the claims of land-holders, which will have to be settled by arbitration, some five or seven years will probably elapse before the Commonwealth will acquire a complete title to the federal area. The introduction of this motion, in itself, affords evidence that what we have done during the past two years towards the selection of the federal capital site is scarcely worthy of consideration. The number of sites which it is contemplated to make the subject of report by the experts is already too large, and probably we shall have a number of others suggested by honorable members who have the special interests of their constituents to consider. The experts will be called upon to go over the ground which has already been covered by honorable members and by the New South Wales Commissioner. I believe that the federal area will become a valuable asset of the Commonwealth, and that the longer we defer its selection the longer we shall deny ourselves the benefits which will accrue from our possession of it. We ought to be in a position to-day to say which site we intend to acquire. Two of the sites referred to in the motion I am entirely opposed to. I trust that the Minister will see that the committee of experts docs not resolve itself into an expensive roving commission.
– The honorable member must recognise that I am most economical in everything.
– I think- the Minister requires to be watched. I had made up my mind to vote against the inclusion of Albury in the motion, but lest there should be any feeling that the interests of Victoria are not being fully considered, T shall abandon my original intention.
– I join with the honorable and learned member for Indi in expressing the hope that honorable members will not eliminate Albury from the list of sites which are to be reported upon by the committee of experts. I think this would be extremely undesirable, especially in view of the fact that the Minister has informed us that there is an excellent site upon the Upper Murray which might also be considered. I think that the reason , given by the Minister for not including the latter site in his motion, namely, that he did not see his way clear to recommend it because it was in his constituency, and he did not wish to press its claims, was a very weak one.
– That was not quite the reason that I gave.
– What the Minister said amounted to that. Without unduly increasing the number of sites to be reported upon, I think we might very well include the site on the Upper Murray, which, I am told, is an excellent one. It is most picturesquely situated, and it embraces some very excellent land, which would become a valuable asset. There is also the Dalgety site, which was known as Buckley’s Crossing. In conversation with the honorable member for Bland to-day, he touched upon the very point which the Minister urged as an objection. The Minister represented that the Dalgety site was too far up amongst the mountains, and that for that reason the climate would be too cold. The honorable member for Bland says, however, that it is a much warmer locality than Bombala ; that it lies more closely in the mountains ; that the cold winds which sweep across these mountains strike Bombala when they do not strike Dalgety. I have seen the Snowy River at Dalgety, and a moremagnificent water supply is not to be found in Australia. The Minister has admitted that we shall either have to take the capital to Dalgety, or take the water from Dalgety to Bombala.
– No ; I said that if there was not a sufficient supply at Bombala, it would be necessary to tap the Snowy River.
– At Dalgety ?
– No; at some point.
– I have not visited Bombala, but I have been to Dalgety, and I think it would be a great mistake to omit it from the list, in view of the fact that it is proposed that Bombala shall be inspected by the experts. If we are te be tied down to these hard-and-fast lines we- shall never get beyond them. The Albury site might be rejected, and, in that, event, we should not have an opportunity to fix the capital at that excellent place on the Upper Murray to which reference has been made, or. at Dalgety rather than Bombala. I do not intend to enter into a general discussion of the question, but like the honorable member for South Australia, I should have been prepared to vote tu-night for a site if the Constitution had permitted us to take a certain course. A great mistake was made in fixing any limitation. If the Constitution would permit it, I should prefer the selection of the si’.e near Sydney to which the
Minister has referred ; I should prefer it to any other site in New South Wales.
– That is out of the question ; the Constitution would not allow it.
– I am aware of that; but are we to be bound in all matters of fact by an unalterable Constitution ?
– It would be necessary for us to have wings if we selected the site near Sydney.
– Now we have two honorable members from New South Wales expressing opinions that are diametrically opposed to each other ; but it seems to me that, by reason of its situation and many other advantages which it possesses, the Sydney site is a magnificent one for the federal capital. A great deal has been said about the danger of an attack from the sea, and we have heard from time to time references made to Washington, as if it were far removed from attack by sea. As a matter of fact, it is on the tidal waters of the Potomac, while Chesapeake Bay is not very far away, and the Capitol was burnt clown by a hostile British force. The selection of Washington as the capital of the Union was simply a matter of barter between Hamilton and Jefferson. Hamilton agreed to the capital being fixed in the south, on the understanding that Jefferson would agree to the consolidation of, the debts. Ottawa was selected as the capital of the Dominion of Canada, because of a long hostile boundary line. If the question of the possibility of attack from sea is to be considered, I would point out that one-fifth of the cost of building a city in the back blocks would be sufficient to make the site near Sydney impregnable. I have rather a horror of the back blocks. I was in Washington in 1867. It was then a city of magnificent distances. Its streets reminded me of some of our old thoroughfares furrowed with bullock dray tracks. It is now a magnificent city, with a large population ; but the people of the United States have had 100 years in which to build it up. I have some little hope that better counsels may yet prevail, and that some alteration in the Constitution will yet be made, so that we may consider the suitability of Sydney. After the business of the first Parliament of the United States had been disposed of, there were ten alterations made in the Constitution in one Act.
– I think there were thirteen.
– No ; ten. There have been only sixteen alterations made altogether.
– Does the honorable member think that Victoria would agree to an alteration?
– Most decidedly. I think the people of Sydney have an altogether wrong impression as to the opinions held by the people of Victoria in regard to the federal capital.
– -Why was the limitation fixed 1
– I do not know. I was a member of the Australian Federal League, and I never heard any one in Victoria seriously discuss the question of why Sydney should not be the federal capital. The people of Sydney inflicted great harm upon themselves in entering into any bargain with regard to the site of the capital. Had they left it to be dealt with as a matter of sentiment - had they left it to the people to consider the position of the elder State, the beautiful harbour of Port Jackson, and the splendid sites which New South Wales possesses for a federal capital, I believe the capital would have been fixed at Sydney without cavil.
– Ballarat would have been the capital.
– That is a very important admission to make.
– I have heard that suggestion before. But one objection to the selection of Ballarat would have been the inability. to secure the water supply necessary for the federal capital. Ballarat is a very pretty city, bub I do not think it would have been in the running. I should like to appeal to the Minister to include the Upper Murray site in the motion. Being near the headwaters of the Murray, it is possible there to obtain the purest water ! that can be secured in any part of Australia. ; I should also like to see the Dalgety site j included, in case it should be found upon inspection to be more suitable than Bombala. My only object in rising was to suggest that i these two places should be included in the list of sites to be inspected, because the inspection of Albury and the site of the Upper Murray might be regarded as one work, while the inspection of Bombala and j Dalgety might also be taken together.
– I trust that the honorable member for Kennedy will withdraw his amendment, because apparently there is a fear, which the honorable and learned member for Indi shares, that such action is likely to be misconstrued. It would be very unfortunate if it were thought that there was any attempt on the part of honorable members from the northern States to deprive Victoria of the opportunity to have considered a site which may be regarded as suitable from the point of view of this State. I believe it would come as a surprise to honorable members to be asked at this stage to vote upon a proposal for the omission of one of the names included in the motion. I feel confident that honorable members - many of whom are absent - had no idea that a vote of that description would be taken. I could only interpret
Such a vote as a judgment by the House upon the merits of Albury as a site for the federal capital. Whether Albury is suitable Or not, is a matter which I do not think we are called upon at the present time to determine. In the first place, the fact that the Ministry, after careful consideration, have deemed it advisable to get further expert evidence, weighs with me in thinking that the matter should be left open for further consideration. ‘ I take it that this motion is to a certain extent a judgment. I presume that the Minister is asking us to pronounce judgment upon the five sites named in the motion,- to the exclusion of all the others which honorable members who accompanied him on the tour of inspection, visited, and it’ is for that reason that I ask him to include Armidale in the list.
– I shall npt oppose the amendment for the inclusion of Armidale, but I do not desire to see a whole shoal of names added.
– Then I need not further urge the claims of Armidale, because they will then be properly investigated. I do not agree with the honorable member for Grampians in the view that it would be advisable to postpone this matter in order that the opinion of the electors may be taken as to the advisableness of allowing the federal capital to be anywhere in New South Wales. I take it that there were strong and urgent reasons which led to the insertion of the provision in the Constitution that the federal capital shall not be within 100 miles of Sydney. I presume that, to a certain extent, the influences which actuated the persons concerned were the same as those which actuated Madison when he wrote his essay in the Federalist, in which lie laid down the principle that it . was absolutely essential that where there is a large central government that central government should have a city of its own, so as not to be open even to the bare suspicion of being under the dominating influence of any of the large States. Unfortunately, I believe that at the present time the Federal Parliament has the suspicion directed against it that Victorian influences are having more weight with it than they should have. That assertion, though without foundation, has been made in Queensland, and it is unfortunate that the Federal Parliament should sit anywhere under the dominating influences of any great city where powerful newspapers are published. I do not think there is any necessity to select a site in the desert wilds. We have excellent sites in towns, such as Tumut and Orange, which are not large centres of population, but are in every way suitable for the foundation of great cities.
– Only trade makes a city.
– If we apply that test, many sites have been selected which are centres of trade, and which may become large cities on commercial grounds. Many of the sites which we saw during our inspection are magnificent ones, but, unfortunately, owing to the way in which the lands around them are locked up, there is no development. That is one of the evils which I hope will not be perpetuated when we obtain our federal city. It is absolutely essential that we should get away from any of the large State centres of population. I believe, with the Minister, that the experts should have- regard to the soil surrounding the sites, so that the one selected may become in itself a selfsupporting centre. I believe that is possible, and I think we have a splendid opportunity of testing the feasibility of the idea without detriment to the Commonwealth. From that point of view we have splendid sites throughout New South Wales. I am gratified the Minister intends to include Armidale in the list to be inspected. I rose chiefly to argue not that -it should be the site selected, but that in view of the very great advantages surrounding it, its claims should be considered. We see from the development which is going on in Northern New South Wales what are the possibilities in that direction. The Armidale site is near the Queensland border, and, with all due deference, I say that to a certain extent should be a powerful factor. I think that the honorable and learned member for Indi, and other honorable members, have stated in this House that they believe Queensland to be one. of the richest States in the Commonwealth. At the present time its resources are practically undeveloped, and the area open for close settlement is absolutely unlimited. If we take the statistics as to r.he future possibilities of population north of Sydney, undoubtedly in years to come Armidale will be the centre of that population. I admit that the present conditions of population will undoubtedly decide where the federal capital will be ; but we ought to bear in mind that we are picking a site which, we hope, will exist as the capital for all time, and that we cannot fail to have regard to the possibilities of the future in determining where that site is to be. We should look ahead - look forward - and I believe that if honorable members do so, the claims of Armidale will receive fair consideration. I need not further argue the point, because the Minister has promised that this site will be included in the list.
– I do not intend to say very much–
– Except to congratulate me.
– No; I see no reason for congratulation. I am going to express my great delight that this question is to be brought to an issue of some sort. There has been very great delay in dealing with it; but all that is over now, and it. is useless to cry over spilt milk. I feel that the question of the selection of these sites has already been jeopardized by the delay which has taken place. I am led more strongly to that conclusion by reason of the debate which has taken place tonight. In this Chamber, to-night, work is being projected which, in my humble judgment, cannot possibly be carried out by the time the next session opens, and unless we take some steps at once to lighten the load of the experts who are to be appointed, I am afraid it will take us all our time to make a selection during the present Parliament. I shall be very glad to be agreeably surprised in that respect, but we ought to make a serious effort to-night to lighten
the responsibility which we propose to put on the experts. I tell the House candidly that I do not see any very great need for the proposed expert committee. We have a mass of evidence available, which, if perused and thoroughly considered, is sufficient to enable us to arrive at a decision. I venture to say that the report of the experts will not be so valuable, from many points of view, as the report already made by Mr. Oliver, the President of the Land Appeal Court of New South Wales. It is of no use to blink the fact that State prejudices will have to be considered if these experts are appointed from the various States, but there can be no suspicion of prejudice attaching to the report of Mr. Oliver. That gentleman had no interest to serve except to select the most eligible sites in New South Wales, and investigate them thoroughly.
– Mr. Oliver did introduce political considerations.
– And decided against them.
– Not altogether.
– Most unquestionably the final suggestions of Mr. Oliver are absolutely free from any bias whatever, and must be so in their very nature.
– Mr. Oliver said that Albury was too far away from Sydney to be considered.
– And therein I see no suspicion of prejudice, but only a consideration of the provision in the.Constitution, The honorable and learned member for Indi has pleaded the cause of Albury, and endeavoured to show its eligibility as a centre for Australia, but he has conveniently forgotten to say a word about the bargain entered into with New South Wales. What we have to consider is not the mere letter of the agreement, but its substantiality and spirit. ‘ Does that agreement mean substantially that the federal capital is to be fixed at the remotest confines of New South Wales ? Was that the bargain entered into by New South Wales when she finally accepted federation ?
– Is that not a matter to be considered hereafter t
– Certainly not. When the honorable and learned member begins to argue the eligibility of Albury, we must regard the question from the point of view of first principles ; we must look at the bargain made with New South Wales, and endeavour to interpret it honestly and fairly. I do not wish to say a word against Albury, except that to fix the capital there would be to break the spirit of the bond. It is provided by the Constitution that the Commonwealth Parliament shall meet in Melbourne until it can meet in the federal capital in New South Wales, and that there must be 100 miles between Sydney and the federal capital.
– I suppose the honorable member would fix the capital 101 miles from Sydney ?
– I say that the bargain would be kept more nearly if the capital were 101 miles from Sydney ; that I should regard as a fair interpretation of the agreement. Would it be a fair reading of the Constitution if, after Parliament had met in Melbourne for five years, the federal capital were fixed at a place hundreds of miles nearer to Melbourne than to Sydney ?
– Certainly, if it were a more suitable place.
– I am sorry to hear a New South Wales member talking in that way.
– The honorable member for New England is speaking as an Australian member.
– I am very sorry that I cannot rise to those Australian altitudes, and I tell honorable members frankly that I have no ambition to do so. I am having regard to the arrangement which was made at the Federal Convention, and embodied in the Constitution, and unquestionably the meaning was that the capital should be placed as nearly as possible to Sydney.
– That is a very novel construction.
– I believe that the people of Sydney would just as soon leave the federal capital at Melbourne as have it fixed at Albury.
– Why was not the bargain made not to have the federal capital within 200 miles of the border?
– I see the honorable member is trying to take advantage of a loophole in the federal compact. It might have been better if the arrangement had been more clearly defined, but the people of New South Wales clearly understood, as a result of the last Premier’s conference, that the federal capital had to be on an eligible site, as nearly as possible 100 miles from Sydney. That is a point of view which seems to have been lost sight of ; but it ought to be our first consideration. In my opinion, a large and costly committee of experts does not bode a very speedy solution of the difficulty. These gentlemen, apparently, are to roam all over New South Wales, and all the sites previously inspected have to come under review. Having regard to the time occupied by Mr. Oliver in his investigation, I do not see how it is possible to expect the report of the experts by April next. . But there is no necessity to ask the experts to report on all the matters mentioned in the motion. Can experts tell us any more than we already know about the accessibility of the sites mentioned ? Do we not all know how accessible or inaccessible Albury or Bombala is? There have been estimates galore as to Bombala in both New South Wales and Victoria, and wehad ffurther estimates in Mr. Oliver’s report. We know all about the accessibility of Lake George, and we have the same knowledge concerning Tumut. Where is the need to traverse wellbeaten ground ? If there were rival schemes of connexion which would make the distances considerably shorter, I could understand this proposal for further inquiry ; but as it is, we have all the knowledge about accessibility that can possibly be available for experts. Then, surely, by this time we know all about the climate.- Are we to give ourselves credit for no knowledge obtained during the trips which took place ? Why ‘ did we go if not. to test for ourselves the questions of climate and physical conditions and features ? In my opinion; the point of climate might well be eliminated from the scope of inquiry. As to “general suitability for the capital site,” I can see very little difference between a report On that point and a definite recommendation ; and the question of suitability is one which we might well determine for ourselves. If experts must be sent, then they ought to be asked to report only on the questions of building materials, drainage, and water supply. We know ali about the values of the land and the qualities of the soil ; this is common knowledge in the State Government departments of New South Wales and Victoria. ‘We shall, be wasting the time of the experts, as well as prolonging the investigation, if we give the experts all this ground to cover once more, and I hope the Minister will consent to eliminate all the items but the three I have mentioned. I very much doubt whether we ought to leave in the words, “ and such other salient matters as may be approved by the honorable the Minister for Home Affairs.” The experts ought to be confined to the sites we send them to investigate, without further loading their commission. By this time of day we know all the main features connected with the problem that has to be solved, and I do not think that many honorable members desire to have further information except on the three points I have indicated. If an honorable member does desire further information, that is easily available, and consists of matters of fact and not of opinion. On the whole, I think that the honorable member for Kennedy would perhaps be well advised if he withdrew the amendment. There seems to be some feeling in connexion with the matter, and in any case the amendment cannot make much difference. I do urge, however, that the House might do better than trouble with Albury in connexion with the federal site. If the site were fixed in a place like Albury, at the remotest confines of New South Wales, I say again that we should depart very much from the spirit of the bargain made with that State.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I regret that the Minister for Home Affairs has adopted a course which will not further the settlement of this question. It is perfectly clear that the report of the experts cannot be brought before the House before next May or June. We already have reports on the sites by Mr. Oliver, who was appointed by the Minister for Home Affairs when a member of the New South Wales Government, and a perusal of these reports shows that Mr. Oliver went very thoroughly into the work, and dealt with almost every point.
– It is an excellent report from a New South Wales stand-point.
– So far as I can judge, Mr. Oliver’s report is quite unbiased. He had first to report on the accessibility of the sites.
– Accessibility from where, Sydney?
– If the honorable and learned member for Corio will look at the report, he will find that in every case Mr. Oliver considered the distances from Melbourne,
– I have read the report. Mr. Oliver considered Melbourne in order to decide against it.
– There was no difference made in that respect, Mr. Oliver in every case considering not only Melbourne, but Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, and Hobart: Albury, Bombala, Orange, Lake George, and Tumut have all been reported upon by Mr. Oliver from the point of view of their accessibility, and there is absolutely no need to institute any further inquiries in that direction. The figures have been given by competent surveyors, and these cannot be questioned. Similarly in regard to building materials we have not only a report from Mr. Oliver, but the evidence of men who were examined at each of the sites concerning the suitability of the timber in the locality for building purposes, and the quantity and quality of the stone available. The question, therefore, has been exhaustively inquired into. As to climatic conditions honorable members will notice that Mr. Oliver has supplied us with the mean temperature at the various sites, their altitude above sea level, and the mean altitude. Under the heading of “ physical conditions,” we find that the nature of the soil, and the drainage of the different localities have been fully dealt with. The committee are also to be invited to report upon the water supply, rainfall, and general suitability of the various sites. All these matters have been reported upon by Mr. Oliver. What additional information, therefore, can we derive from the appointment of this body ?
– A great deal.
– Can the Minister suggest one direction in which we shall add to our knowledge? He was at such a loss to suggest any additional features that he was compelled to include in the resolution the words “ other salient matters.” Is not this resolution being submitted as a pretext for delaying a speedy settlement of this important matter ?
– That is not a fair suggestion.
– What other reason can there be? The Minister is evidently desirous of making a little political capital out of it. Why should he not be perfectly candid and openly declare that he is .a little weak in his electorate, and that that is his object ? I would further point out that four of the chief professional men in Australia- have already reported upon the suitability of the different sites for building purposes. These gentlemen include Mr. Mansfield, a Fellow of the Institute of Architects ; Mr. Vernon, the Government architect of New South Wales ; Mr. John Barlow, the president of the Institute of Architects in Sydney ; and Mr. Knibbs, who is president of the Institute of Surveyors.
– Is the honorable and learned member altogether opposed to the appointment of the proposed committee ?
– Yes ; upon the ground that it is a mere pretext for delaying an early settlement of this matter. If the honorable and learned member can show me one piece of new information that can be obtained by adopting the course proposed I shall be entirely with him.
– We have had no federal report upon the matter.
– We have had a report prepared by men who are admittedly impartial.
– That is a report to a particular State and not to the Federation.
– That report was prepared solely for the purpose of enabling this Parliament to choose the most suitable site.
– Does the honorable and learned member advocate that we should do nothing until next session ?
– I want the matter settled this session.
– Is that possible 1
– Why not? We can gain no information upon these sites which is not contained in Mr. Oliver’s report. I understand from the Minister that Yass - which was one of the three sites recommended by the New South Wales commissioner, and whicli is omitted from this resolution - is now to be included in the Lake George site. Therefore I shall not say any more upon that point. Personally, I think there is a majority in this Parliament in favour of eliminating from the Constitution the provision that the. federal capital must not be located anywhere within 100 miles of Sydney.
– Strike out all the limitations, and leave the matter to Parliament.
– That would be a direct violation of the compact which was entered into with New South Wales.
– Not more than would the course which the honorable and learned member suggests.
– I think so. Possibly next May or June it will be found that the quickest waY to overcome the difficulty imposed by the Constitution is to strike out the 100 miles limitation. That would permit of Parliament choosing any site in New South Wales. Then in the following December, when the elections for the Senate take place, the resolution of Parliament affirming the desirability of effecting this change could be placed before the people without any additional expense. However, the feeling of the House is apparently in favour of the appointment of this committee, and therefore I shall content myself with placing upon record my protest. Six months hence, when the report of the committee is presented, I am satisfied that it will be found that nothing new has been added to the information which the House already possesses, and that therefore a useless expenditure has been incurred,
– I desire to express my astonishment at the new reading which has been given to the bargain which was entered into by the premiers of the various States in respect of the federal capital site. I have always expressed my utter abhorrence of that bargain. It should not have been necessary in the first instance, and it would have been more dignified for the States to refuse to enter into it. It was a compact between politicians, not between the people of the States. I cannot believe that the electors of New South Wales had such a low opinion of their duty to, not only their own State, but to the future union, as to demand such terms. Now, however, we have received a new reading of the compact. We are told that, if the spirit of the bargain is complied with, the federal capital will be located as nearly as possible to the 100 miles limit, and that the knowledge of that fact actuated the people of New South Wales in accepting the Constitution. If that is so, they carefully disguised their feelings, because, although I have followed federal affairs pretty closely, this is the first occasion upon which I have heard a pronouncement to that effect. I was quite prepared to accept any site which might be selected, either by the Parliament of New South Wales or by the members of this House who represent that State, because I have no preference for any particular site, and I feel that any place so chosen would meet all requirements. Mr. Commissioner
Oliver, in his report to the Government of New South Wales, states that he divested himself of all State prejudices and local feelings, and investigated the matter referred to him strictly from the point of view of .Australian interests. The honorable and learned member for Corio suggested that the reason why he did not recommend the adoption of the Albury site was that it was too far from Sydney, but the honorable and learned member for Werriwa gave a denial to that suggestion, and said that no such statement appears in the report. It is true that Mr. Oliver did not reject the Albury site because it is too far from Sydney, but it appears from the report that he rejected it because it is too near to Victoria. On page 17 of that document, he says -
In the matter of accessibility, Albury is about twice as far from Sydney as from Melbourne. . . . With the commercial consummation of Federation, Albury and the federal capital of the Commonwealth, if located there, must be dominated by the nearest State and its metropolis for all commercial purposes, for trade will then necessarily be governed by the conditions of cheaper and shorter access to the best market.
That is the first intimation, but it is not quite so direct as the expressions used by the honorable member for Parramatta, that the- people of New South Wales are of opinion that a site should be chosen as nearly as possible to the 100 miles limit. I did not intend to speak in this debate, and should not have done so, but for the remarks to which I am now replying. I * feel that the selection of the federal capital is a most important matter, and I agree with the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, that it is absolutely necessary that the seat of government shall be situated within an area which will be the absolute property of the Commonwealth”, and will not be subject to the domination of a State or of any State capital. Personally, it would suit my own convenience best if the seat of government were situated in one of our larger cities, say Melbourne or Sydney, but I know that that is impossible, and those who at the time of the referendum clamoured that Sydney, Ballarat, Melbourne, or some other city should be chosen as the seat of government, were unaware of the terms of the Constitution. I have been compelled to speak upon this subject to-night by the unfair and somewhat selfish interpretation which has been placed upon that unholy compact. As an Australian, I say that if we allow the commercial needs or desires of the people of Sydney to prevail in this matter we shall be doing a very unfortunate thing, and committing a blunder which we shall in the’ immediate future sincerely regret. Under these circumstances I am inclined to reconsider my previous decision, and to resolve to exercise all my influence in the direction of securing a site which I believe will answer the calls which may be made upon it. If this Chamber is to be converted into an arena of conflict between State interests I cannot refrain from taking part in that conflict. But I urge honorable members, and especially the representatives of the mother State, to approach this great question in the most broad and open-minded fashion. We should endeavour to do our duty in such a way as will secure for the Commonwealth a site which will possess all the advantageswhich we hope for, and which will assist to make it an object lesson to the rest of the world.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).I think that the Minister for Home Affairs has done the correct thing in bringing forward this motion. The report of Mr. Commissioner Oliver is a very exhaustive and valuable one, but since I have visited the sites to which it refers I have come to the conclusion that we require further information from hydraulic engineers, experts on the quality of soil, and others, in regard to several of them. I think that honorable members generally are of opinion that the Lake George site, the Bathurst site, and the Lyndhurst or Carcoar site, which are amongst the best of those which were visited, should be further investigated. I do not wish to go too far in expressing an opinion upon the advantages of the last of those sites, but a great deal was said to us upon the spot in regard to its possibilities, its water supply, and the facilities for water conservation near at hand. It is not my intention, however, to deal with the merits of the various proposed sites, because we shall have another opportunity to do that. While a great deal has been said which must have been irritating to the Minister for Home Affairs, I am of opinion that up to within the last three or four months he has done everything that’ could be done in the matter now under consideration. He arranged for visits of inspection to the proposed sites by members of the Senate, and by members of this House, and he gave ‘the matter as much prominence as could be given to it by one Minister in a Cabinet whose members generally are” not enthusiastic about leaving Melbourne. I feel it is my duty, therefore, to say something by way of encouragement to him. No one expects the question to be settled this session, and if the proposed commission is appointed and makes investigation, we shall have before us next session a report prepared by a Commonwealth authority, upon which, in con-, junction with the voluminous information contained in Mr. Oliver’s report, and the evidence afforded by our visits of inspection, we can finally deal with the matter.
– The honorable member thinks that there has been no delay 1
– Until the last three or four months there has been none, and if I had been in the Minister’s position, and had been badgered as he has been badgered, I should not have moved any more quickly. The rancour which has been shown during the debate, and the innuendoes and insinuations levelled against the Minister, were quite uncalled for. I am here to consider the interests of Australia as a whole, and if any honorable member happens to lose his head, and to say things which in his calm moments lie would not say, I shall not be ready to support him. What has been lost by the inaction of the Minister during the past three or four months ? Nothing. Nothing can be done by this Parliament until next session. The Minister is doing his very best, and I hope that he will adopt the suggestions that Bathurst and Lyndhurst, as well as Armidale, should be included amongst the sites to be reported upon.
– I have agreed to that-
– If the honorable and learned member for Indi had not left the Chamber, I should have directed his attention to the information contained in Mr. Oliver’s reports with regard to’ the relative distances of the various sites suggested, including Albury, from the capital cities of Australia. I hope that the committee will consist of the most capable officers to be found within the public service, and that it will include a highly competent hydraulic engineer, and several practical men. I agree entirely with the proposal, and I hope it will be carried to a successful issue, and that the federal capital site will be finally selected next session.
– I see considerable force in the point raised by the honorable member for Parramatta, that in requiring from the experts a . full report as to the accessibility of the sites, the building materials available, and the other matters referred to in the motion, we shall ask them to repeat a great deal of the work that has already been done in connexion with subjects upon which no further information can be gained. I do not wish to limit the scope of the inquiry in such a way as to prevent them from furnishing us with any additional information that may prove of advantage to us in coming to a final decision upon this question, but I think we ought to make it clear that we do not wish them, to travel over ground that has already been covered, unless there is a fair prospect of beneficial results. I suggest that the motion should be amended so as to indicate the intention of Parliament. I am sure that the Minister has no intention that the experts should enter upon their investigation as if no inquiries had been made, but that he desires that they should make use of the reliable data already gathered. Therefore, I suggest that the last sentence of the motion should be amended to read - “ Such committee to avail itself of all reliable data already gathered, and to submit its report to the Federal Government on or before the 30th April next.” Parliament ought to indicate its wishes in such a way * as to save, delay and expense, and to remove any doubts that might rest in the minds of the committee or of the Minister as to what is desired. ‘
– Would the honorable member leave it to the committee to decide as to what is reliable evidence ?
– Certainly. It is not desired that this should be a fresh investigation from the beginning.
– I desire that it should be a fresh investigation.
– Does the Minister desire the committee to gather information that has already been obtained, and that is beyond question, from the same sources that were available to Mr. Oliver and others ? A great deal of important data has been supplied by independent officers, who would have to be relied upon by the experts. The alternative would be to obtain similar information from other officers,, perhaps as well informed, but in no better position to supply the data required. I very much fear that the whole ground will be gone over again, and that unlimited expense will be incurred unless we amend the motion in the way I propose. The cost will not be restricted to the expenses of the experts, but they will have to employ a numerous body of men to assist them. It should be made clear to them that they are to accept already gathered data as to the reliability of which they can satisfy themselves,
– Surely they would’ do that.
– But the Minister says that he desires to have a fresh investigation made from the beginning.
– I wish them to check a good deal of the information given in Mr. Oliver’s report.
– Surely the Minister would not object to ‘the experts accepting reliable information ? 0
– I hope the honorable member will not press his amendment.
– I think it is very desirable.
– I do not see that it would be of any value.
– If the report of the experts were accompanied by a very large bill, honorable members might be disposed to ask why they had gone over all the old ground. The experts might very well reply that they were asked to make the fullest possible investigation, and that they could not accept the results of any previous inquiries, and therefore thought it necessary to commence from the beginning. The experts would have a perfect right to express any opinions they chose, and to draw any conclusions they might think fit, but any information already obtained from reliable sources ought to be accepted by them. Unless we indicate this, it will be impossible for the experts to furnish us with a report by the 30th April. They will need to examine the whole of the sites with regard to their resources in building materials ; to examine -and test the timber, in each locality ; to obtain information as to the amount of water which flows down different streams in different seasons, and they may even have to test the rainfall for themselves. Therefore, not only will their labours be gigantic, but their expenses will be enormous, and the preparation of the report will be very much delayed. I regret that very strong reflections have been made upon Mr. Oliver’s report. He has been accused of bias, but if there is one thing for which Mr. Oliver deserves credit, it is the unbiased nature of his statements. It is quite true, as has been stated by the honorable member for Corio, that Mr. Oliver pointed out that Albury was not satisfactory as a site for the federal capital because it was too close to Melbourne and too far away from Sydney ; but did hs give Sydney any advantage in his final selection ? Did he not recommend a site that was almost equidistant between the two capitals ? How can he be accused of bias under such circumstances? How is he to be accused of allowing prejudice for Sydney to influence him in his report? The very considerations which induced him to reject Albury on the ground that it was too near to one capital, influenced him in selecting a site midway between the two capitals. I was rather surprised that the honorable and learned member for Indi should introduce into this debate the advocacy of any particular site. This is not the place for that. I am quite willing to admit Albury to the list of places which are to be inspected and reported upon, but I demur to the remark of the honorable and learned member for Indi that the interests of particular States should be taken into consideration. The interests of no State should be taken into account, except so far as the Constitution provides. It is the interests of Australia that should be borne in mind, and the interests of the people of Australia, not of to-day merely, but of the future. We are not establishing a capital for the present, and we must take into account the requirements of the people of the future. Objection has been taken to Mr. Oliver’s remarks with regard to Albury, and also to some observations made by honorable members on this side, to the effect that the selection of Albury would not be a fair fulfilment of the terms of the Constitution. The selection of that site would almost amount to a breach of the litter of the Constitution - an extension foi: 150 yards more to the south would make it an absolute breach of the letter of the Constitution.
– The same argument would apply to a site 101 miles from Sydney. “
– I am not speaking against Albury on that account, but I contend that it would be an absolute breach of both the letter and the spirit of the Constitution if Albury were selected, not on account of its superior suitability and its superior location in view of the interests of the whole of Australia, but because it is on the extreme limit of New South Wales territory. I think that in order to safeguard our own interests, and to facilitate the work of the committee, we should indicate in the motion what course we desire them to adopt. I, therefore, suggest the following amendment -
That the words “ committee to avail itself of all reliable data already gathered and its “ be inserted after the word “such.”
I hope the Minister will accept this amendment.
– I quite agree with the principle laid down by the honorable and learned member for Indi as to the character of the discussion which should take place upon this motion. We should not consider the special merits of any particular site for final selection, but hold in view the general claims of the sites upon which it is proposed to ask the committee of experts to report. That being so I do not propose to enter into a discussion of the special qualifications of sites suggested, but to consider the arguments which have been brought forward in. connexion with the appointment of the committee. Reference has been made to the report compiled at the instance of the State Government of New South Wales by Mr. Oliver. That is a very valuable and most unbiased report, and it states the position, not from the parochial .or State stand-point, but from the general Commonwealth standpoint as far as the very able gentleman who was the commissioner was competent to state it. When that report comes to be reviewed by the Expert Board I think that the conclusions arrived at by Mr. Oliver will be very generally accepted. But, on the other hand there is a need for the appointment of a board of the description proposed. At the time Mr. Oliver made his investigations he had to break, as it were, virgin soil. Then again, since that time, there have been considerable changes that, no doubt, would modify Mr. Oliver’s conclusions if he were to consider the claims of the respective sites from the present day’s stand-point. Take, for instance, the case of
Tumut. In his original report Mr. Oliver did not consider that Tumut was so situated as far as accessibility was concerned as to warrant hiin in making any recommendation with respect to it. But subsequently the State Government approved of a railway extension to that town, and the result of this increased accessibility led Mr. Oliver very carefully to modify his report. So, at least, I am informed; and it is largely in consequence of subsequent recommendations not contained in the original report submitted to the Government, and in view of this greater accessibility, that the Minister for Home Affairs was led to include Tumut amongst the places which he proposes to submit to the Board of Experts. The same remark may possibly apply to other sites. I am glad to know that the Minister now proposes to -include Armidale. Mr. Oliver in his report did not consider that Armidale was one of the places, the claims of which should be0 seriously entertained. Since then he has been asked to make a supplementary report, which has not yet been made available to the members of this House. I understand from the remarks of the Minister this afternoon, that even he has not been placed in possession of that report. But judging from local newspapers’ statements, it appears that Mr. Oliver’s supplementary report is very much more favorable to the Armidale site than was his original report. A similar consideration applies with respect to the Canobolas or Orange site, which also engaged the very careful - consideration, of Mr. Oliver, no doubt largely from the fact that he regarded it as one of those sites which were amongst the three that he finally recommended in his report. That being so, he gave that site more minute attention and consideration than probably he was disposed to devote to other places, such as Tumut and Armidale. But since the compilation of his report the State Government have had further inquiries made by experts. I know that for a considerable time a very competent engineer from the Public Works department, Mr. Wade, and others under him, have been investigating the water supply. That was one of the points on which Mr., Oliver considered that Canobolas did not stand as favorably as might be wished by those who considered that that site had special claims. Whilst I have not seen the report of those other expert officers of the State
Government, I am led to suppose that in view of its contents Mr. Oliver has very considerably modified the opinions he held when he compiled his original report. Then, again, 1 know that very exhaustive investigations have been made by a very competent geologist in New South Wales, the Rev. Milne Curran, asa result of which he has formulated a very valuable report upon the building material of the district, and so forth. I understand that that report has not come under the notice of Mr. Oliver, but there is no doubt that these further investigations will be made available to the Commonwealth expert committee. This, to my mind, all points to the fact that, despite the very exhaustive inquiries made by Mr. Oliver, there is still room for further investigations and fresh information, which the board of experts will be able to elicit. Therefore, I am favorable to the appointment of this Board, and, even though it does mean some delay, which ought not to be unreasonable in extent, the question is of such magnitude to the Commonwealth of Australia, not only of to-day, but for all time, that no effort should be spared to get the fullest amount of information possible, so as to place members . of this Parliament, I hope, but this House, at any rate, in such a position that aftertimes will justify the wisdom of their selection. I am glad to know that the Minister proposes to so widen the scope of this inquiry by the board of experts as to embrace Armidale. I also understand that he how proposes to embrace in the consideration of the Orange site the other suggested sites of Lyndhurst and Bathurst. I am not going to urge any objections to the enlargement of the inquiry. I am aware that both those sites have had ample consideration from Mr. Oliver, and that, after weighing the respective claims of the three, he decided that, all things considered, Orange had the superior claims, and hence recommended that site. I have no doubt that there is something very substantial in, the reasons which led Mr. Oliver to make this special recommendation on behalf of what is known as the Orange or Canobolas site. There can be no doubt that Mr. Oliver looked at the question from the stand-point of the area indicated in the Constitution as the minimum area. I agree with those in this Chamber and outside, who hold that when the site is selected it is wise to secure a decently sized area, because as the requirements of the federal capital grow, if the area is too small it will be impossible to remedy the defect. It is much wiser to err a little on the side of taking in perhaps a considerable slice of land rather than to take in an area that will prove too limited for the requirements of the federal capital. That being so, I think that the Lyndhurst site, and possibly the Bathurst site, ought to be included amongst the sites which are to be considered in the western district. I think that the site of Yass should receive more consideration than has appeared to be the case from the resolution submitted by the Minister. I was not quite clear whether the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, who represents the district, got a promise from the Minister that Yass should receive special consideration, but the fact that Mr. Oliver was induced to make special mention of this site - to include it amongst the three that he specially recommended - is sufficient to warrant Yass receiving more than passing consideration. I trust that in the investigation that is to be made by the Board of Experts they will have power to consider the special claims of the Yass site.As to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Kennedy for the exclusion of Albury-
– The honorable member is going to withdraw it.
– I am glad of that, because I could not support an amendment of that character. There issomethingmore to be considered than the mere question of accessibility. There is the question of whether a site, together with its surrounding districts, can support a population, and I hold that Albury has special claims in that respect. For that reason I do not favour its elimination from the motion. I do not think that anything more need be said. It is not a question affecting the merits of particular sites, but rather one of whether a committee of experts should be appointed, and, if so, what sites should be submitted to them. I am in agreement with the Minister as to the appointment of the committee. I do not share the view held by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa that there should be further delay, in order to enable an amendment of the Constitution to be submitted to the people. If there is to be any alteration, the request for it, at least, should come not only from the people of New South Wales, but from the people of the
Commonwealth as a whole. The House should be reasonably satisfied that there is a demand for an amendment of the Constitution strong enough to warrant it in anticipating that as a result of calling into play the requirements of the Constitution in regard to its amendment, an amendment would be made. I am not in sympathy with the suggestion made by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, as there has been no such request from the electors of any of the States. I shall support the Minister, but L hope he will see his way to include Yass in the list of sites to be inspected. I trust that he will be able toannounce to the House before the close of the session- the personnel of the committee which he proposes to appoint.
Mr. MCDONALD (Kennedy).- I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment by leave withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Sawers) again proposed’ -
That the word “Armidale” be inserted after the word “Albury.”
– I wish to put a question to the Minister, but before doing so I desire to say that I am glad that he has consented to include Armidale in the list of sites to be referred to- the committee of experts. Armidale is centrally situated’ so far as Australia is concerned, and every place which- has a claim to be considered - and- I contend that Armidale has a claim - should receive fair play. The question I wish to ask is this - Does the Minister intend to incorporate the Dalgety site with Bombala? It was proposed by Mr. Oliver that Buckley’s Crossing, otherwise known as Dalgety, should be incorporated with the Bombala site. In the official pamphet which’ has been circulated reference is made to a plan and description of boundaries in the- appendix marked’ S. I presume that the Minister has a copy of the plan referred to, and I desire to- know whether the Bombala site which he proposes to submit to’ the committee is identical with the incorporated site or whether it is the original one.
– - It is the first site of Bombala.
– It seems to me to be a pity that the’ inquiry should be restricted to the first site of Bombala, because Dalgety embraces the Snowy River and the possible water supply of the Bombala site.
– I think most honorable members understood that the Bombala site , included Dalgety.
– The Minister has just informed the House that he proposes to submit only the original Bombala site. Perhaps I shall bring more clearly to the memory of the Minister the position in regard to Dalgety by reading a paragraph from the official pamphlet prepared by himself as Minister ‘ for Home Affairs. The paragraph is as follows : -
No public inquiry was held at Buckley’s Crossing ; but, although in regard to water resources, position, character of country, and climate, that site had much to recommend it, yet it lacked those special features which the neighbour site of Southern Monaro possessed, and suggested a modified incorporation with that neighbour rather than independent competition. Such incorporation, it will be seen, has been suggested. (See plan and description of boundaries of Southern Monaro extension site marked “ S” in appendix.)
What I wish to suggest is that he should include Buckley’s Crossing as embracing the possible water supply of the Bombala site.
– I shall include it so far as the water supply is concerned.
– That is all that is necessary. I should like to have a clear understanding that that part of the scheme known.as Dalgety will be considered by the experts in connexion with, the question of- water supply.
– It will be so considered.
– I rise for the purpose of supporting, the amendment of which notice has been given by the honorable member for North Sydney.
– If it is submitted, I shall have to move the adjournment of the- debate, because many honorable members are -absent, and it would not be fair to take a vote in their absence.
– I shall support the amendment, which I think is very necessary. I am one of those representatives from New South Wales who think that the selection of the federal capital has not been pushed forward with that expedition to which it is entitled-. I disagree with the remarks made by the- honorable member for Robertson that the Minister for Home Affairs has done everything that could be done to cany out the compact made with the people of New South Wales. If a committee of experts is necessary - and perhaps it is in connexion with some matters - it could have been appointed months and months ago. But for the- delay which has taken place we might now have had the committee’s report, and the House might at once have arrived at a decision. The amendment of which notice has been given by the honorable member for North- Sydney meets with my hearty approval. The Minister for Home Affairs appointed Mr. Oliver to make inquiries, and he knows that he was perhaps the most capable man that could.be obtained in New South Wales to inquire into the matter. If the amendment is carried, the committee will’ be able to make use of all the information which Mr. Oliver gathered, at great pains and trouble, and in that way much time will be saved.
– I cannot accept that amendment,, because I think it is a limitation which ought not to be introduced. I shall do what is’ right, and- 1 do not’ think it is fair to make an alteration of the kind proposed.
– The inquiries as to accessibility, building materials, and so forth have been made by Mr. Oliver, and there is no necessity for further, investigation. The facts in. relation to those matters have all been, ascertained on sworn evidence taken by the commissioner, and it would be an absolute waste of time for the committee of experts- to make any further inquiry, in regard to them. If the experts- are to inquire into all these matters, their report, instead of being ready in April next, will not be presented for another three years, and therefore, in order to avoid further delay, I intend’ to support the amendment. The people of New South Wales are entitled to have this matter settled expeditiously.
– This is another system of blocking.
– I am not trying to block- this matter. I am trying to push it forward. I feel satisfied that if. the committee of experts are called upon to inquire into all these* matters delay will’ be occasioned’ which could be avoided by taking the commissioner’s report on the.’ ascertained facts. It is ludicrous for’ the- Minister to say that I am taking this stand simply for the purpose of blocking the business-. I believe the Minister1 has been- sincere in his desire to push’ the matter forward, but he has been- prevented by his colleagues and by the press.
– That is not correct. My colleagues have stood loyally by me. 45 u 2
– If- they have done so, then both the Minister for Home- Affairs and the Prime Minister have done very little in the interests of the people of New South Wales, whom they represent. I, as a representative of- the people of that State, feel very strongly in this matter. A compact” was entered into that the capital should be- in New South- Wales, and in voting for federation a number of people in that State were influenced by the insertion of this provision in- the Constitution. I am sorry that the Minister should have accused’ me of attempting to delay the settlement of the question, because, as a matter of fact, I am doing all that I can to forward it.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Sydney Smith) agreed’ to -
That the words “ and in consequence of their proximity, Bathurst and- Lyndhurst “ be inserted after the word. “ Orange.”
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I desire to move that Goulburn be added- to the list of sites to be inspected.
– The honorable and learned member cannot move that now.
Amendment (by Mr. A. Paterson) proposed -
That the words “ Goulburn and Yass “ be inserted after the word “ Tumut.”
– I feel that at this late hour’I must move the adjournment of the debate, for the simple reason that in a thin House an attempt is being made to take an advantage of me. I was promised that such an attempt would not be made, and the amendment proposed- is one to which I cannot agree. Only within the last few minutes have- I received information that the amendments would be moved: Honorable members have1 left the Chamber, and .1 may now be in a minority. If the amendments are- persisted* in T must move the adjournment of the- debate, because I cannot accept either. I intended, in- reply; to make some reference to Goulburn- and’ Yass, but I may say now that I cannot accept a proposal to include these places in- the same definite way as are other places. Then another amendment is to be moved which, in my estimation will altogether destroy the effect of the motion ; indeed I could not accept the motion passed with such an amendment.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- I am interested’ in listening to-night to the
Minister’s direct contradiction of some words he spoke to a reporter of the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, in connexion with this very matter.
– That is not correct.
– The words can he found in the Baily Telegraph report of an interview, in which the Minister, replying to my criticisms, said - “The honorable member forgets that Lake George includes Yass and Goulburn.”
– Was the Minister referring to this particular motion 1
– Certainly ; the Minister was referring to the decision of the Cabinet in regard to these five sites. When I criticised his action in inserting Albury in the list and removing Goulburn, his reply was that which I have quoted, but to-night he tells the House that he will not include Goulburn and Yass : that, rather than do so he will move the adjournment of the debate. That is a direct contradiction of the statement made in the interview.
– The honorable member is quite incorrect.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I would remind the Minister that the other day in Sydney he pointed out that the Lake George site necessarily included the other sites in its vicinity. If we are not to have the capital in Sydney, Goulburn deserves consideration as a large inland town on the main line. As to Yass, that site has already been reported on by Mr. Oliver, and recommended as one to be considered by Parliament. In view of what the Minister said the other day, I am surprised at the attitude he has now assumed. It is unnecessary for me to dwell further on the matter, because both sites were visited by Members of Parliament, who are well aware of the attendant advantages or disadvantages. I hope that the Minister will reconsider his position, and consent to the addition to the report of any further information which may be forthcoming respecting these sites. ,1 do not wish evidence to be repeated, but only that any fresh information may be taken advantage of . . .
– I told the honorable member some time ago that I would take Care to do , what he now suggests, but I do not wish to have these sites included in the way now proposed. I shall take care to see that they are carefully considered.
– Does the Minister give his assurance that any further evidence available will be taken and added to the report ?
– Certainly ; I intend to do that, and I shall so state in my reply on the debate.
– Under the circumstances I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I would ask the honorable member for Parramatta not to persist in the amendment he has suggested. I want all the information I can possibly get, and this amendment is to some extent bound up with the amendment which has just been withdrawn.
– The Minister could instruct the commissioners to make use of all reliable information.
– I intend that to be done.
– A report on “ general suitability “ must include a recommendation of a site.
– The suitability of a site is the general configuration of the country as to a variety of points. If the honorable member will withdraw his amendment, I give my word that all the available information shall be obtained, and an instruction’ given to see that the information is used as far as possible.
Amendment (by Mr. Thomson) proposed -
That the words “accessibility.” “climate.” and “general suitability” be omitted.
– The honorable member for North Sydney is reasonable in all things, and. I hope he will not persist with this amendment. I can give the honorable member my assurance that all the reliable information already gathered will be availed of.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- I should not like the Minister placed at a disadvantage by a division being taken tonight, but I do not desire to have any further delay. It is important that care should be taken to have all reliable data placed before the commissioner made available to the committee, but as the Minister has promised to give an instruction to that effect, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Thomson) agreed to-
That after the word “ such.” line 12,’ the words “ Committee to avail itself of all valuable information already gathered and its “ be inserted.
– I have made two or three promises which I wish to reiterate in replying on the debate to-night. First, I shall deal with the amendment just withdrawn by the honorable member for North Sydney. It is so patent that all available and reliable information existing should, as far as is possible, be made use of by the committee, that I have no hesitation in saying I shall give an instruction to that effect. As to the report of Mr. Oliver, what will probably be done is that the, committee will take the report and invite evidence on points on which they are not satisfied. That, I take it, will be the course adopted right through, and it may possibly result in a saving of time and expense. If the commissioners are satisfied with the report, so far as it goes, no doubt they will accept it, so as not to cover the same ground twice. As to Yass and Goulburn, I said, in submitting the motion to-night, I looked upon Lake George and Yass as to a very large extent bound up one with the other. The water supply for either will practically come from the same place, and an investigation of the supply from the head of the Mumimbidgee to the - Murrumbidgee opposite Yass must take place in order to ascertain what can bc done regarding Lake George. The investigation will practically decide the supply available for Yass as well as for Lake George. If there is any fresh evidence of importance that can be brought forward, I shall instruct the committee to use their best endeavours to obtain it. Goulburn, however, is in a somewhat different position. I ‘am not quite sure, from the configuration of the country, whether it is possible to bring water from the same catchment area towards Goulburn, and also Yass and Lake George.
– I only ask that any fresh evidence may be taken into consideration. -
– I have made the promise that if any evidence of a reasonable and serviceable character can be submitted for the consideration of the committee, I shall give instructions for that evidence to be taken. But I do not wish this motion to be hampered by a number of sites, or that the committee shall examine all the sites which were visited by the parliamentary representatives. I must express my thanks to the honorable member for Parramatta for not proceeding with his amendment, and thus preventing ‘ any further delay in carrying this motion.
– I understand that the Minister to-night says that Lake George practically includes Goulburn and Yass.
Question, as amended, resolved in the, affirmative.
Resolved - That, with a view to obtain necessary information that will enable the Parliament of the Commonwealth to select a site for the seat of Government, a Committee of Experts should be appointed to examine and report upon sites in the following localities : - Albury, Armidale, Bombala, Lake George, Orange (and in consequence of their proximity, Bathurst and Lyndhurst), Tumut, in relation to accessibility, building material, climate, drainage, physical condition and soil, water supply with rainfall, general suitability and such other salient matters as may be approved by the Honorable the Minister of Home Affairs. Such report to be submitted .to the Federal Government on or before the 30th of April next.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is it the intention of the Government to sit tomorrow night ? We were told in the early part of the week that it was the intention of the Government to sit on Fridays for the full day, and also on Mondays. I believe that some members, on the strength of what was stated a few days ago by the Acting Prime Minister, have made arrangements to remain in Melbourne continuously for a fortnight. By sitting on Fridays and Mondays we shall save time and probably expedite the close of the session. .
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).In reference to the point raised by the honorable member for Kennedy, I am disposed to think that since the beginning of the week the circumstances which have confronted us have undergone a change. It was .then understood that the Senate would meet nest week, and that there was a possibility of Parliament disposing of the businesswhich remains during that week. But the other Chamber having adjourneduntil Tuesday week, it is scar cely necessary for honorable members from other States to remain in Melbourne until Saturday, seeing that in any circumstances they must attend here next week.Personally,I see no reason why we should not complete our work during the coming week.
– That is impossible. Unless we sit on Friday and Saturday, we shall be delayed here for another fortnight, and that will prevent some of usfrom getting round our electorates.
– As far as I am aware, we have to deal only with the Electoral Bill and the Estimates.
– What about the Loan Bill?
– Another Bill has just been read a first time.
– What I fear is that if we sit to-morrow night and on Saturday weshall dispose of the balance of the business early next week, and then we should have to wait for the re-assembling of the Senate.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).If the House sits to-morrow night it should certainly sit on Saturday.
– Is it the intention of the Government to proceed with the Loan Bill?
– I should like to emphasize the point which hasbeen raised by the honorablemember forKennedy. What will contribute to an amicable understanding is a definite statement by the Acting Prime Minister regarding theintentions of the Government. At the close of the session it is usual forthe Ministryto take the Opposition into its confidence regarding the business withwhich itis intended to deal, and thenboth sides co-operate with a view tofinishing by a certaindate.
– In reply to the points which have been raisedby honorable members, I desire to saythat the Budget proposals include the Loan Bill. The Estimates and Loan Bill,together with the small measure, the first readingof which has just been moved, comprise all the business with which it will be necessary to deal, with the exception of the Electoral Bill, so far as it may need further discussion. Beyond these wehave cleared the business-paper. I hope that honorable members will provide us with a quorum to-morrow evening, in order that we may proceedwith business. If we sit to-morrow and again on Saturday until the departure of the trains for the other States, there will be no need for us to meeton Monday, and we shall have every reason to hope thatby assiduous sitting - perhaps by attending on the following Friday night - we shallhave completed our labours. That will be very gratifying to all of us. The proceedings during the following week will be so purely formal that they need not detain honorable members. I hope that we shall have a quorum to-morrow night, sothat we may make good progress with the Estimates before next week.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 September 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020925_reps_1_12/>.