1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. CHANTER presented a petition from certain residents of New South Wales, praying the House to pass into law the Bonuses for Manufactures Bill.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH presented a petition from the Western Federal Capital League of New South Wales, praying the House to establish a ratio of values as a means of distinguishing the relative importance of the factors of suitability in connexion with the determination of the Federal Capital site.
Petition received and read.
– I wish to know from the
Prime Minister if he has obtained the exhibits and minutes of the Capital Sites Commission, and, if so, whether he will make them available to honorable members. Will’ he also consider the advisability of incorporating any information in the exhibits in the document which he proposes to publish ?
– I cannot speak as to the exhibits, though I hope to be in a position to attach those of them which can be conveniently printed to the printed copies of the evidence taken before the Commission. It will be within the recollection of honorable members that yesterday I stated that I had given orders for the evidence to be printed, notwithstanding the decision of the Printing Committee. As to the minutes, I am told that an answer was given in another place, which was strictly in accordance with the law, to the effect that they are the property of the Chairman of the Commission. I. took an early opportunity to have a conversation with him on the subject, and he at once and spontaneously informed me that he had not the slightest desire to adhere to the legal position, but would be very glad if the minutes could be published. Now that the honorable member has asked for their publication, I shall, with the consent of the
Chairman, take steps to have them published.
– Will the minutes supply the necessary information as to -cost ?
– They will nob supply any information as to cost. They contain information only as to the meetings and actual decisions of the Commissioners. I may add that I have been assured by the Chairman that there was not one occasion upon which he was called to exercise his casting vote.
– In view of the rejection by the Senate of the proposed resolutions for the choosing of the capital site, is it worth while to proceed with similar resolutions here 1
– I am confident that it is quite worth while to do so. As J indicated last night, I propose that this House shall agree to the motion which I have moved, with such amendments as may be considered, not merely desirable in accordance with the predilections of any honorable member, but necessary, and that - the motion, as amended, shall be sent to the Senate with a message asking for the concurrence of that Chamber. I shall ask the representative of the Government there to take such steps as will bring the question before the members of the Senate for their consideration, and I am not without hope that that procedure will bring about the necessary agreement between the two Houses.
– Section 8 of the Judiciary Act provides that -
A Justice of the High Court shall not be capable of accepting or holding any other office or any other place of profit within the Commonwealth, except any such judicial office as may be conferred upon him by or under any law of the Common wealth.
Does the Prime Minister consider that the appointment of a J udge who would be entitled to a pension, either during his term of office on the Commonwealth Bench or after its expiry, under some State Act, would be consistent with that provision ?
– I shall take the question which the honorable and learned member has asked as an invitation to the Government to consider the constitutional position which he has raised, and I promise to give it consideration.
– Before any final determination is come to in regard to the appointments ?
– I would rather not answer that question at present.
– I have just received the complaint that the Commonwealth Government Gazette is not obtainable in Brisbane. Will the Prime Minister see that arrangements are made whereby the Gazette may be procurable in limited numbers there?
– The honorable member has asked me, in view of the statement he has heard, that the Government Gazette is not to be purchased in Brisbane, whether I will make arrangements under which it may be obtained in that and the other principal cities of the Commonwealth. I am wholly in favour of that course being adopted, and I thought that such arrangements were in existence. The arrangements for the distribution and publication of the Government Gazette are to a certain extent in the hands of the Department of External Affairs, and also to a certain extent in the hands of the Treasurer, under whom the Government printing is done. I shall take occasion to have a conversation with my right honorable friend the Treasurer with a view of bringing about what is desired. It is entirely in line with my own view that this and other Commonwealth publications should be made available as easily as possible in all parts of the Commonwealth.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether, in view of the general expressions of want of confidence in the Ministry, he will consider the propriety of not making further appointments of any kind whatever ?
– I do not think that that question deserves an answer.
– May I ask why not 1 I wish to ask, after the defeats that all the proposals of the Ministry are receiving in this Parliament, whether they think they ought to carry on the business of the Commonwealth?
– That question meets with a similar fate.
– I will ask the Prime Minister not to address the Chair whilst sitting down.
– I beg pardon, sir, and will answer the honorable and learned gentleman’s question at once. The Government is not of opinion that it has persisted in a course which has evoked a want of confidence on the part of the House or of the country, or which disentitles it to either. Therefore, the ground of the honorable and learned member’s question, in my view, disappears.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What conclusion have the Government arrived at in relation to the letter of the Western Australian Government on the subject of oversea ships and the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
I have found that, before it is possible to deal fully and justly with the question, it is necessary to institute inquiries into the extent and value of the passenger traffic by mail steamers between Western Australia and the Eastern States. I have directed such inquiries to be made, and have telegraphed to the Premier of Western Australia in the same relation, and asked for his assistance in obtaining full information.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
I and 2. Deductions for rent of quarters as fixed under the State laws will remain in operation until the classification of the Service which is now in progress has been completed, and no distinction in this respect is made as between postmistresses and postmasters. Where vacancies occur, however, and it is necessary to advertise same, the rent deduction is fixed at 10 per cent. , as provided by section 64 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. Upon the completion of the classification the whole question of rent deductions will be adjusted.
Resolutions of the Committee of Supply for the services of the year 1903-4 agreed to.
“WAYS AND MEANS.
Motions (by Sir George Tusker) proposed -
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year ending 30th June, 1904, a sum not exceeding £2,648,939 be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for additional new works and buildings for the year ending 30th June, 1904, a sum not exceeding £422,283 be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
– I should like to take advantage of this proposal to ask the Government why they allow Order of the Day No. 6 - Conciliation and Arbitration Bill - to remain on the businesspaper? Do they propose to take any other steps in regard to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, or are they allowing an idle order to remain upon the paper?” The Prime Minister has already told the House that he does not intend to go on with the measure, and the usual procedure is tomove the discharge of such an order from thebusinesspaper. I should like to know whether the Government are relenting over the matter, and whether, after all, they mean to make an effort at the eleventh hour toput that Bill through ?
– I question whether my honorable friend is very serious,, or as serious as he usually is, in asking thisquestion. His seriousness in ordinary is sogreat as to be almost jocose, and I am not quite sure whether he has not reached the stage of jocosity on this occasion. However,, the honorable member will not object to this patch on the face of that beauty known as the notice - paper ; because he will consider that as in the case of the -beauties of old days, even the existence of what he may consider to be a patch may bring out the stronger points of adornment. We have nothing to say as to the question asked. The Bill is very well where it is.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 22nd September, (vide page 5238), on motion by Sir EdmundBarton -
That, with a view of facilitating the performance of the obligations imposed on Parliament by section 125 of the Constitution, it is. expedient that a Conference take place between the two Houses of the Parliament to consider the selection of the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth.
That this House approves of such Conference being held on a day to be fixed by Mr. Speaker and Mr. President, and that it consist of all the Members of both Houses.
That at such Conference an exhaustive ballot be taken to ascertain which of the Sites reported on by the Royal Commission on Sites for the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth appointed by the Governor-General, on the 14th day of January, 1903, is in the opinion of the members of the Parliament the most suitable for the establishment of such Seat of Government.
That Mr. Speaker be empowered, in conjunction with Mr. President, to draw up Regulations for the conduct of such Conference and for the taking of such exhaustive ballot.
That the name of the Site which receives an absolute majority of the votes cast at such Conference be reported to the House by Mr. Speaker.
That it is expedient that a Bill be introduced after such a report has been made to the House, to determine, as the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, the Site so reported to the House.
That the passage of the last preceding Resolution be an instruction for the preparation and introduction of the necessary measure ; and that leave be hereby given for that purpose.
That so much of the Standing Orders of this House be suspended as would prevent the adoption or carrying into effect of any of the above Resolutions.
That these Resolutions be communicated to the Senate by a Message requesting its concurrence therein.
Upon which Mr. A. McLean had moved, by way of amendment -
That after the word “ That,” line1, the following words be inserted : -“ with a view to the selection of the most suitable site for the Commonwealth seat of Government, and the acquisition of same on the most favorable terms, it is desirable that the Government should ascertain the lowest price at which they can acquire 100 square miles of territory at each of the following proposed sites, viz. : - Albury, Bombala, and Tumut; also the lowest price at which they can secure the necessary area for the protection of the proposed sources of water supply in connexion
With each of the foregoing sites. That a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Senate, with a message requesting concurrence with same.”
– This discussion has now reached such a stage that I do not consider it is necessary for me to do more than say that the motion meets with my cordial approbation. It is easy for some honorable members to criticise the action of the Government, but it is remarkable that no one has come forward with any substitute for their proposal.
– We have all agreed to it.
– The honorable member did not speak as if he altogether agreed with the motion. He referred to the delay that had occurred in submitting it, and also asked for more information. The general tone of the debate, so far as honorable members opposite is concerned, has been one of fault finding.
– The Victorian representatives have been the principal objectors.
– It is all very well to blame Victorian representatives. Honorable members opposite are in the habit of imputing all sorts of motives to those who happen to disagree with them. I recognise that the Victorian representatives have as much right as the representatives of New South Wales or other States to express their opinions, and I regret that the cry of State against State should have been raised in connexion with the motion. A very good example was set by the Prime Minister when he stated that every honorable member should have a free hand, and that no attempt would be made to coerce any one into voting for a particular site. As a matter of fact it is well known that Ministers differ as to the best site for the Federal Capital.
– Is that the reason why the motion has been submitted ?
– Surely it is better that the Government should take up their present . position than attempt by a party move to force a particular site upon Parliament. We have to consider, in dealing with this question, that when once this question is settled it will be disposed of for ever. Possibly, I have been as impatient as any honorable member to see the site fixed for the capital; but I have recognised the great difficulties that beset the Government. The Prime Minister said that he was quite prepared to consider any amendments that might be proposed, and I hope that some of the amendments foreshadowed during the discussion will prove acceptable to the Government. I am sure that whatever our views may be with regard to the merits of the proposed sites, we are all anxious to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. We have almost reached the stage at which we may hope to arrive at a solution of the difficulty. Notwithstanding the action of the Senate in regard to a similar motion, the discussion in that branch of the Legislature has disclosed the fact that a majority of senators have very carefully considered the question, and have made up their minds regarding it. Naturally they are a little bit shy about adopting a course which may result in a choice of which they could not approve, and we can easily understand their hesitation before taking the final plunge, which will commit them to a selection for all time. I am glad that it is not necessary at this stage to say anything regarding the relative merits of the proposed sites. It is better that that aspect of the matter should be dealt with at the Conference of both Houses. Whilst many of us have strong convictions, I do not believe that there is one honorable member who is not prepared to alter his mind if it can be shown that some other site is better than that which he advocates.
– Even better than Bombala ?
– It would be almost impossible to find a site better than Bombala ; but one cannot tell what may happen. I hope the Government will agree to accept, in a modified form, the amendment proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney. It might prove very awkward for honorable members representing western districts if they had to make a direct choice between Orange, Bathurst. and Lyndhurst; and the same remark would apply to honorable members representing other divisions of the State. It seems to me reasonable that we should at’ first reduce the three sites in the western district to one, because there is no reason why an honorable member who is in favour of Orange should not also be well-disposed towards Bathurst. I think that we should make a mistake if we now attempted to select site for the capital. It is not necessary for us to do so at this stage. We are not armed with sufficient information to enable us to fix a site for the capital itself. ‘ The Commissioners point out not only that they are not prepared to select a site for the capital, but that much more information is necessary, and that much more consideration should be given to the matter before any determination is arrived at. Some honorable members seem to consider that there is a wide divergence between the reports of the Commission of Experts and the Commissioner appointed by the State of New South Wales, but the summaries of the reports practically agree. We should direct our attention to the selection of a territory within which the capital may be established. Who will dare to say that we should without the fullest consideration commit ourselves to a site, and to the expenditure of a large sum of money? We should make haste slowly, and if there is any reasonable doubt in the minds of honorablemembers, and if it is possible to obtain any more and better information, we should not, because of any ou tside cry, rush in and perhaps make a mistake which we should ever afterwards regret which would cost the Commonwealth dearly, and which could not be remedied. I hope that honorable members will forget for the time being any differencies that may have existed between New South Wales and Victoria. Are the representatives of Queensland, of Western Australia, or of other States any less patriotic than those who represent the more populous States? In. considering this matter we must not count the cost that will be incurred to-day, or tomorrow, or next year, but the ultimate outlay. We must bear in mind the ultimate results, and we must rememember that it is possible that, perhaps even in our time, some of the smaller States may become more populous than either New South Wales or Victoria. We must keep inview the possible developments of the States, and we must consider that a site which would be convenient only for representatives of Victoria and New South Wales might be extremely inconvenient for those who represent other States. As a representative of New South Wales, I have yet to learn that the people of that State have any divine right to the control and trade of the capital. I have yet to learn that we have any right to select a site that will divert the trade to Sydney.
– We have a con stitutional right.
– It is high time that honorable members protested against the continuance of this old wrangle between New South Wales and Victoria. The representatives of the latter have been accused of a desire to cast a block vote in favour of a particular site. That such an accusation is ill-founded is proved by the fact that when the representatives of New South Wales held meetings to discuss this question, no taunts of that character were indulged in.
– I have never attended any meeting to discuss the question of the capital site.
– I do not ^accuse anybody in particular. I believe that there is an honest desire on the part of honorable, members to select the best site. For this reason I hold that our first duty is to decide upon the territory within which the site shall be located. Last night some question was raised as to the awkward position in which honorable members might be placed if they were called upon to record a vote upon every site. Now, there are two sites in my. electorate, and a third upon its boundary. If it had its deserts it would ^probably include three or four more. It seems to me that the sites which were reported upon by the recent Commission should be grouped within particular areas. For example, the Southern area should include Albury and Tumut ; Armidale would require to stand alone ; and Southern Monaro would embrace Dalgety and Bombala, just as Lake George would include Yass. That is a suggestion which, I think, the Prime Minister might well consider. I believe that its adoption would tend towards a solution of this question, especially in view of the discussion which has taken place elsewhere. We now know that the action of the other branch of the Legislature, in declining to meet this House in Conference, was prompted by the fear that the votes of its members would practically be “ swamped.” But in the light of the debate which has taken place in this Chamber, members of another place now know that a majority of honorable members intend to select the site which they deem to be best. I have no doubt, therefore, that “these resolutions, if adopted, will meet with the concurrence of the other House. Certainly, they will receive more consideration than was bestowed upon them last evening. “There seems to be a general desire amongst honorable members that further information -should be obtained in regard to the value of the land which is embraced within the areas comprised in the different sites. It has been pointed out that whilst the Constitution prescribes that the Commonwealth shall acquire a minimum area of 100 square miles, the report of the last Commission contains no information as to the value of the land in the different eligible localities. Personally, I take it that we should be guided in our conclusions upon the matter by the report of Mr. Oliver, who, in collecting information for “.the New South Wales Government, was careful to call expert evidence upon this point. His report gives the value not only of the minimum area of 64,000 acres, but the approximate cost of a much larger area.
– The last Commission did not report upon the same sites.
– No ; but if the honorable member will closely examine the summary of that Commission’s report, and will allocate the proper number of points to the various .headings which are there enumerated, he will find that the Commission should have arrived at an altogether different conclusion. Surely he would not give the same number of points to a site merely because it was picturesque or accessible - : -
– I rise to. a point of order. The honorable member is discussing the wisdom or otherwise of deciding the capital site upon the basis of points. He is suggesting that we should not determine the site upon the ground of its beauty, and I submit that in doing so he is entirely out of order.
– I heard what the honorable member was saying, and it seemed to me that he was following a line of argument which was quite relevant to the question under consideration.
– I was also pursuing ah unselfish line of argument, because if the site were determined from the stand-point of beauty alone, it would be located in my electorate. But even though a particular locality may be beautiful, or may be connected * with the State capital by railway, it surely ought not to be given the same number of points as a place which possesses a magnificent climate, a good port, a grand water supply, or a large area of land which can be purchased at a reasonable price. If one carefully examines the report of the last Commission, one will find that very many points which were made by Mr. Oliver have been fully confirmed. At the same time there is a good deal in the contention qf the honorable member for Gippsland. We must consider the question of land values before we adopt these resolutions. Some honorable members have contended that so long as the land is worth the money it does not matter what we pay for it. But I would point out that in one locality there may be- splendid country which is admirably adapted to closer settlement, but which, owing to the absence of a railway or a market, is worth practically only its prairie value, whereas another area which comprises land of the same quality may be worth five times as much. We all know that around some of these sites the land is very valuable. In my own district some of the best country in the world can be purchased for £4 or £5 per acre.
– What sort of land?
– Some honorable members have a very crude idea of the value of land. The land of which I speak is of the best quality, and is altogether unlike that sandy soil blown about the streets of Melbourne, with which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is familiar. He may make light of this question, but it is one of the utmost importance. We should enter upon the work of selecting a site just as carefully as if we were going to pay for it out of our own pockets. Would it be reasonable for us to select a site comprising land worth about £20 per acre when we might obtain another site comprising land of equally good quality, and worth in its unimproved state only £5 per acre? With the assistance of the money of the people, giving access and markets, we could readily raise the value of that land to £20 per acre. I was pleased to hear the statement made by the Prime Minister that he intended to place before the House an estimate of the value of land in the several sites submitted to us. I have no doubt that it will be complete in every respect, and enable us to come to a proper decision. Such information isabsolutely necessary. In selecting a site we are very much in the position of a man who desires to purchase a house. He may see a magnificent structure which he would like to possess, but he would hesitate to pay for it five or ten times more than the price at which he could obtain an equally suitable building. While I recognise that sentiment must creep into the consideration of this question, I feel that we should not overlook the commercial aspect of it. We wish to obtain the best site at the least cost. Reference was made by the Prime Minister to the Crown lands situate within the sites submitted for our consideration, and I am pleased to know that New South Wales, through its Premier, has intimated its willingness to present the Commonwealth with any Crown lands that may bewithin the territory selected by us. But, after all, it would be unwise to attach too much importance to that fact. We know that in view of the earth hunger which has existed in Australia for sometime, it is unlikely that any Crown land of value has not been grabbed up.
– But some of the sites comprise reserves.
– The fact that a large area of land has been reserved is very often evidence that it is inferior, or possesses some other drawback.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member is travelling far beyond the bounds of this motion or any legitimate amendment of it. He is discussing the whole question of the relative values of the various sites. If that is permissible, I regret that we were not made aware of it at an earlier stage in the debate, so that we might have discussed the matter from the same stand-point.
– I would call the attention of the honorable member for Parramatta to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Gippsland, which specifically asks that the price of land in different sites therein named shall be ascertained by the Government before this question is finally decided. It seems to me that the remarks made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro bear directly on that point. So far as I can understand, he is not dealing with the specific values of any one site as compared with another, but with the question of relative values here and there. His remarks might apply not to one or two, but to the several sites. I see no reason whatever to rule the honorable member out of order.
– The honorable member appears to think that I am alluding to his electorate when I speak of” the desert land in the west. The Prime Minister, in moving this motion, urged upon the House the desirableness of passing it, but I take it that honorable members would not be prepared to deal with this question in the absence of a thorough knowledge of the values of the various lands. The Prime Minister informed us yesterday that he favoured the resumption of a large area, and we know that on a prior occasion he stated that he was in accord with the proposition submitted in favour of the resumption of a very much larger territory than 100 square miles. He went further and informed us that he was not prepared to allow any territory acquired: by the Commonwealth to pass out of its hands. He says practically to the land speculator - “Hands off ; this is the property of the people, and it will remain their property for all time.” If we are to spend the money of the people in acquiring a large territory and in building the Federal city, the people are entitled to the unearned increment. I take it that the Prime Minister inferred that at the proper time he would be prepared to show the House how the necessary funds could be provided. We have already heard a statement from the Treasurer showing that he is entirely in accord with the system now in vogue in Canada, where the banks are compelled to invest a certain proportion of their funds in Government .bonds and securities. If a similar course were adopted in the Commonwealth we should probably obtain a revenue from that source, sufficient not -only to provide for the purchase of a site, but for the erection of the necessary buildings. It would be a handsome source of revenue to the people of the Commonwealth. I am strongly in favour of the contention that we should view this question from a commercial stand-point. We should deal with it just as if we were proposing to :spend our own money in this direction, and we should select a site that will give the best return to the people. We can secure -that end only by dealing with this issue in the way suggested by the honorable member for Gippsland. Nothing is further from my thoughts than a desire to discuss the relative values of the various sites. I can quite understand points of order being raised by representatives of some of the western districts of New South Wales-
– The honorable mem”ber is not now discussing the question.
– Is land at Bombala -worth £5 per acre ?
– The honorable member is perhaps not a good judge of the value of land. We must secure good land which can be resumed at a fair price, and that is all that the honorable member for Gippsland contends. It - seems to me that if we agree to the amendment proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney the honorable* member for Gippsland will probably find little if any necessity for his proposal, because we are told by the Prime Minister that he has all the necessary information as to the value of these lands ready to put before us.
– He has not received offers of the land.
– That cannot affect the question much, because there are always men who will scramble for a good profit. I suppose most honorable members would do so.
– Many of the land-owners do not wish their land to be resumed. What . price would they put upon it 1
– If we pay even the market value for the land, how can we lose by the transaction ?
– If the Government pay twice its value they will lose.
– Most of the owners are opposed to the resumption of their land, because they know that the building of a Federal Capital would at once increase its value. I am in accord with the Prime Minister in the stand which he has taken. But much as I want a Federal Capital, and strong as I am in upholding the compact embodied in the Constitution, I would, rather than put this unearned increment into the hands of owners of large estates, wait until we can come to some more patriotic arrangement. Surely it will not be contended that the land should not be resumed. No one will advocate that we should erect a Parliament House and other public buildings, lay out streets, provide a water supply, and go to great expense in other directions, and then allow the owners of property in the district to reap the added value which these improvements would give to it. In my opinion the Federal territory should include, not only 100 square miles, but 1,000, or even 3,000 square miles.
– We could not obtain so large an area as that at Tumut.
– It will probably be found, before the debate is finished, that that area can be obtained in the district in which the site which will be selected is situated. The honorable member, from the discussion, he has heard in this Chamber, and from what he knows of the feeling in another place, must be able to make a pretty shrewd guess as to which that site will be. I, however, do not propose to give any information on the subject now, because this is not the time to do so. The . people of New South Wales are in accord with the proposal of the Prime Minister. They think that the un’earned increment created by the building of the Federal city should go, not to private individuals, but to the Commonwealth. But they are not anxious that there should be undue haste in the settlement of the question. So far, information has been obtained under pressure of time. Commissioners, engineers, and others have been sent from one place to another in the State almost by express, so that Parliament may be furnished with information. The people of New South Wales, however, show no feverish anxiety in respect to the matter. They do not support honorable members who say that the representatives of Victoria wish to do something dishonest.
– No honorable member has said that.
– It was said repeatedly last night.
– What does the honorable member think of the worthless land near Twofold Bay ?
– Although honorable members may wish to joke upon this subject, I am in earnest in regard to it. . I have not tried to have it settled, and then thrown every obstacle in the way of settlement. I have not raised points of order to prevent information from being obtained. All I ask for is a fair field and no favour. The people of New South Wales, however, know that everything possible has been done. Notwithstanding the hostile criticism which it has evoked, nothing has been suggested in substitution for the motion. Although honorable members pretend to feel alarmed at what has happened in the Senate, I am satisfied that if we carry the motion, with, perhaps, necessary amendments, it will be concurred in by the Senate. I should have no fear of that, even if we tacked to it the name of some site, because I know that the site acceptable to me is acceptable to most honorable members here, and to a majority of the members of the Senate. Right triumphs in the end, and notwithstanding the cry raised by the Sydney newspapers, and their references to a toy State, they must face the inevitable. The people of Australia federated in order that trade should flow, not to Sydney, but to its natural port, and the representatives of every State have as much right to speak upon this subject as have the representatives of New South Wales. When the people of Australia have given their verdict, the people of New South Wales must accept the decision, and they are content to wait until the matter can be decided properly and for ever. I hope that it will pass without a division, so as to give strength to the attitude of the Government in another place. I feel satisfied that while honorable members may disagree in regard to the details, they are all at one in desiring that the best site shall be selected, and that the business shall be conducted on the most economical lines. I earnestly hope that the best possible site will be chosen, and that we shall have a. city, not only beautiful to look upon and delightful to reside in, but which for all things that tend to make life more useful and noble will rival and outstrip all other cities in the world, and thus be a fitting, centre for the Government of the Australian Commonwealth.
– Which is the best place ?
– The best place is, I believe, the one that will be selected by a majority of this House - a place which enjoys a good climate, possesses a magnificent water supply, covers a large area of the best country, embraces one of Australia’s finest harbors, and will command the approbation of the members of another place, as well as of this House. If the honorable member who interjects wants to know the name of the place, it is Southern Monaro.
– It is quite refreshing that instead of witnessing a dispute between the representatives of New South Wales and Victoria, we should see one between two New South Wales members. The spectacle is quite a new one. Hitherto the attacks have been by the New South Wales members upon the Victorians.
– Or by the Victorian upon the New South Wales representatives.
– I think it has been the other way about, and that these attacks have been very unjust. There is not one Victorian who is not desirous of arriving at a decision with regard to the capital site, and there is no desire to delay the choice.
– Does the honorable member say that seriously ?
– I do. There is, however, a very serious desire to deal with the matter from a business-like point of view, and not to have it rushed through without the fullest information being brought before us. The best argument that could be adduced for that point of view has been put forward by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who has notified the House that in the report which was made by Mr. Oliver, on behalf of the New South Wales Government, the land valuations of the proposed sites were given. I, however, am not able to find that anything more is given than the value of the land’ that would be required to make up the 100 square miles limit.
– The honorable member’s trouble is that the site which he favours is at the bottom of the list.
– That site is at the top of the list in Mr. Oliver’s report. Although, as I have stated, those land values are given, there is no land value given in the report of the Federal Commission.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro wants to delay in order that the site which he favours may get to the top again.
– There is nothing before us at present to show the land values for a larger area than 100 square miles. Nor is any information given in the report as to the cost of the resumption of the land required for water supply. I thoroughly agree with the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Gippsland. I agree with it, not from a desire to delay the settlement of the question, but purely from a business point of view.
– The ascertainment of the land values will delay the settlement, though.
– I do not know that it will occasion any delay.
– If we are not going to accept the decision of the Commissioners, are we going to accept the view of those to whom the honorable member would refer the question of land values ?
– There need be no delay in obtaining the information which we require. In a number of instances the land values are given in the report of the New South Wales Commissioner, and it will only be in regard to a few of the sites not quoted in Mr. Oliver’s report that valuations would be required. Let honorable members look at the matter purely from a business point of view. If a firm or company were desirous of starting a business anywhere - and I adduce this instance because the selection of a capital may be regarded as equivalent to a business transaction - would they first of all fix the place where they intended to carry on business, so that the values would be put up on them?
– There is no necessity to do that ; the Bill can prevent that.
– There is no means by which we can force men to sell at the same price when the capital site is fixed as we should have to pay before the site is fixed.
– Yes ; we had no difficulty in connexion with the land resumptions in Sydney.
– How can we find out what the value of land was at a particular time?
– The Minister for Trade and Custom states that he did that in the case of the wharf resumptions in Sydney. Now, I had a little experience of these wharf resumptions.
– Not the wharf resumptions, but the Rocks resumptions.
– The same would apply, I suppose, to the case of the wharf resumptions. At any rate, it would be very much more satisfactory if we had these land valuations before us. As regards the wharf resumptions in Sydney, I am under the impression from my own experience that very considerable sums might have been saved if instead of resuming, in the method that was adopted private arrangements had been made for acquiring the land.
– We never could have done it.
– It may have been difficult, but, at any rate, it could have been done. At all events, my view is that the proposal of the honorable member for Gippsland is a sound one - that we ought to have full information before us and that it can be obtained in a very short space of time. It could be obtained within two or three weeks, so that the whole matter could be settled during the present session. There would be no difficulty in getting it settled before Parliament was dissolved. I can assure honorable members that in arguing the matter as I have done, I have no desire to delay the settlement of the site whilst the present Parliament remains in existence.
– Up to the present stage I have refrained from taking part in the debate in order to facilitate business, and to allow the House to come to a decision with regard to the matter before us. But we have now arrived at that stage when I think it is necessary to explain my own views. Up to the present moment the subject has been discussed as though only two States were interested in this great undertaking. While it may be very edifying to the representatives of those States to be slang-banging each other in connexion with their local rivalries-
– Who is doing that?
– It has been done all through the debate. The question has been discussed as though Victoria and New South Wales were the only States concerned. We have had an exhibition from the Government whip, who has complained bitterly of the attacks that have been made from this side of the Chamber ; but, in my opinion, if the honorable member is in earnest about the matter he should have been more conciliatory than he Kas shown himself to be. I should have preferred to see the Government taking the responsibility which properly attaches to their position. The resolution is of such importance that they ought to have taken that responsibility by bringing down a Bill in the ordinary form. It has been said that there are hopes of an understanding being arrived at with another place. As far as I can judge from the debate which took place, there is a distinct opposition to anything of the kind ; and I am afraid that between the two stiles - the Government failing to take the responsibility ‘ for their action, and the unwillingness of the other Chamber to give up certain rights - the session will end without anything whatever being done. Not being a representative of either New South Wales or Victoria, I can speak from a disinterested stand-point. Judging from the statement contained in the newspapers published in Victoria, and even in New Sou th Wales, there is an evident desire - I do not think I should be speaking too strongly if I used the word conspiracy - to prevent the provision in the Constitution relating to the selection of the capital site from being carried into effect. Not one representative of Victoria will have the courage to stand up against the press of that State and advocate the establishment of what is termed the “bush” capital. I hold that this provision is one of the gems of the Constitution, because I believe that if the Federal territory is wisely selected ‘ the revenue derived by the Commonwealth will defray the whole cost of Federation. I believe, further, that if the capital site is not selected by this Parliament, there will be no chance of the selection being made by the next Parliament. What is the meaning of all the agitation against the “ bush “ capital ? Why all this clamour that either Sydney or Melbourne should be the seat of government ?
– There is very little in it.
– I doubt whether the honorable member will be courageous > enough during the next electoral campaign to advocate the establishment of the capital. The honorable member for Gippsland has suggested that some steps should be taken to protect us against paying exorbitant prices for the land which may have to be resumed within the Federal Capital area. I sympathize with his object, but do not think his proposal is practicable. Does he believe that we could obtain valuations from every owner of land within any of the proposed sites, and at the same time select a site before the expiration of this Parliament ? I am sure that the honorable member knows that his plans could not be carried out even if we sat here until Christmas. I hope that the Government will stiffen their backs in regard to this question.
– Their backs are always stiff.
– If I were a member of the Government I should insist upon a settlement of this question before the House dissolves. The matter is of sufficient importance to justify the Government in staking their existence upon its satisfactory settlement. They need not fear the result of assuming a firm attitude. They will obtain the support of a number of members of the Opposition. They, however, appear to be afraid of the Age and the Argus. I wish to know what the Government have done in connexion with the ‘acquirement of private lands within the Federal Capital area. On the 7th June, 1901 - that was long enough ago to have given the Government fair warning - I directed the attention of the Prime Minister to section 125 of the Constitution, which provides that the seat of government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by Parliament, and shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth, and shall be vested in and belong to the Commonwealth. I went on to point, out that a number of sites in various parts of New South Wales had been offered to the Commonwealth, and that probably within each of these sites some land was held in fee simple. I therefore asked the Prime Minister whether anything could be done to get such land placed under offer to the Government prior to the selection of the site, so that we should not be compelled to pay’ very dearly for the properties which we might desire to resume. The Prime Minister replied that “all considerations of that kind will come under the careful review of the Government, who are giving special attention to the question of the site of the Federal Capital.” I presumed from that answer that either the laws of the State would enable the Government to acquire lands for public purposes on reasonable terms, or that it was intended to introduce legislation which would protect us against the payment of exorbitant prices. If we cannot insure that the land shall be sold to us at prices apart from any added value that may result from our action in regard to the capital site, we shall have to pay dearly for any property that we may require. I hope that before this discussion is ended the Government will tell us what they have done in this respect. If no action has been taken, and no inquiry has been made, the answer given by the Prime Minister amounted to nothing. I would urge the Government to stand firm. ‘ There is not the slightest chance of any choice being made by the next Parliament. We find that the candidates for the representation of Victoria in the Senate are already denouncing the proposal for the establishment of a “bush” capital. They are afraid of the press and of the electors. It is all very well for some honorable members to say that they are prepared to loyally abide by the terms of the Constitution, but as an old saying has it - “There are more ways of killing a cat than by choking it with butter.” I submit that the proposal of the honorable member for Gippsland is intended to defeat the object of the Constitution. It will result in delay and place obstacles in the way of a settlement. It is of the utmost importance that we should take definite action before this Parliament is dissolved. Even if we select the site before the session closes, it does not follow that we shall not continue to meet in Melbourne for som’e time. If we allow the matter to stand over until the next Parliament is assembled, proposals will be made for a referendum with a view to secure an amendment of the Constitution by eliminating the provision that the capital shall be not less than 100 miles distant from Sydney. The question will then be raised that the seat of government should be either in Melbourne or Sydney, or alternately in both. The very moment that such a decision is arrived at we shall be called upon, either to pay rent for the buildings which we at present occupy, or to purchase land at a hundred or a thousand times the cost of that which is contained in any of the suggested capital site areas. Cannot honorable members see the conspiracy which is in progress t I feel so strongly upon this matter, that although it is a great inconvenience to many honorable members, including myself, to be compelled to devote so much time to their parliamentary duties, I hold that we should be justified in remaining here till Christmas in orderto have the capital selected. We can talk about the expenditure afterwards. If the question be not absolutely determined during the present session, there will be some justification for the complaint that the Government are not in earnest about the matter. Personally, I should have preferred the matter to be dealt with by Bill. However, the Government are still hopeful that the other Chamber will concur in these resolutions if they are adopted, and therefore I shall support them with the amendment submitted by the honorable member for North Sydney.
– I desire to make a few remarks upon this matter, more particularly in reference to the observations of some honorable members upon the question of land values. If honorable members will turn to the first report of Mr. Oliver, they will find that in the case of nearly every site he has given the value of the adjacent land up to 64,000 acres.
– But all the sites’ upon which he reported are not identical with those upon which the last Commission reported.
– There is very little difference in the sites. For instance, at Bathurst - as will be seen by reference to page 14 of the summary of Mr. Oliver’s report - the total improved value of 64,000 acres outside the municipal boundaries (less 5,530 acres of Crown lands) at £4 per acre, is £233,880, whilst the improved value of the land within the municipal boundaries is £913,184. Similarly in the case of Orange, the improved value of 64,700 acres (less 10,800 acres of Crown lands) outside of the municipal boundaries, is £365,000. If the town of Orange be included, the improved value of lands within the municipal boundaries is 592, 26, making a total of £957,426.
– Mr. Oliver’s report does not give the cost of providing a water supply.
– But the other report sets out the cost of bringing an adequate supply of water to the various sites. In the case of Wellington, the improved value of 91,500 acres which are outside the municipal boundaries (less 15,890 acres of Crown lands) at £3 per acre is £226,830, and the improved value of lands within those boundaries is £167,535. The land values of the site at Carcoar-Garland, as roughly estimated for the whole area, including church and school lands, but excluding the town of Carcoar, total £200,000, or at £3 per acre for 50,000 acres which are outside the municipal boundaries,and£35,000 for lands within those boundaries, £185,000. Therefore it is altogether a mistake for honorable members to suppose that in nearly every instance a fair value has not been placed upon the Crown lands.
– Is the Albury site upon which Mr. Oliver reported the same site as that upon which the last Commission reported?
-In value it is. Speaking of the lands adjacent to Bombala, Mr. Oliver says -
The improved value of the area within . the municipal boundaries of the town of Bombala is given at £72,665 ; for the residue, about 74,000 acres, a fair average would be from £3 to £4 per acre, some tracts being worth no more than 30s. per acre, while others are worth £7. This Federal territory site of 125square miles (80,000 acres) is inmy opinion, altogether inadequate, and an extension of area is suggested which would increase the area up to 1,200 square miles approximately; and the average improved per acre value of the increased area would probably be £3.
I make these quotations in order to dispel the idea that no information is available as to the value of the lands which are in close proximity to the different sites.
– The Minister has had a recent valuation made of a larger area.
– I understand that the Prime Minister has obtained a valuation from the secretary of the lastCommission. In the case of Tumut there are 41,000 acres of country lands which, in their unimproved state, are worth £104,000 ; 300 acres of town lands, which are valued at £37,000 ; and 500 acres of suburban lands, which, in their unimproved condition, are worth £10,000. The improved value of alienated land - that is with existing improvements approximately estimated - is set down at £322,000. Honorable members will, therefore, see that there is really no necessity to go beyond Mr. Oliver’s report to obtain an average value of the lands in the vicinity of the various sites. It was stated this afternoon that the Commonwealth would be compelled to acquire the land which it requires at its improved value. I interjected that we need not do so. In this connexion I would point out that the Darling Harbour Wharves Resumption Act of New South Wales contains the following provision : -
The amount of compensation in respect of any land resumed, as mentioned in sections 2 and 3 of this Act, shall be estimated without reference to any alteration in the value of such land arising from any purchase or any appropriation or resumption for any purpose mentioned in this Act, or the establishing of any public works on any land the subject of any such purchase, appropriation, or resumption.
That is the law at the present time, so that, in passing a measure dealing with the acquisition of the capital site, it is quite competent for us to insert a provision that the value of the land acquired shall be its value at the time of its resumption.
– How can we ascertain that value?
– There need not be much trouble about that. I do not know what course the Prime Minister proposes to adopt in reference to the amendment which has been outlined by the honorable member for North Sydney, but personally I trust that it will not be agreed to. At this stage I desire to say a word or two in regard to the method of voting which is to be adopted, and which it is proposed to leave in the hands of Mr. President and Mr. Speaker.
– Can we obtain from the New South Wales Government, free of cost, the Crown lands upon the water-shed as well as in the Federal territory ?
– The water-shed will be within the Federal territory.
– Do not the Government of New South Wales propose to grant the Commonwealth a territory of only 100 square miles ^
– The Constitution prescribes that a minimum of 64,000 acres shall be granted.
– That is simply the minimum.
– Yes. I venture to say that the area which the Commonwealth will acquire will be considerably in excess of that. I am not prepared to say what the New South Wales Government will do in regard to Crown lands which are outside the Federal area. I feel sure, however, that they will meet the Commonwealth Government as liberally as possible in every way. If I were Premier of New South Wales I should certainly grant the Commonwealth Government all the Crown lands, irrespective of what area they might comprise, so as to assist in establishing an extensive site for the Federal Capital.
– That is what they are obliged to do. There is no question of the minimum of 64,000 acres.
– I think that the right honorable member is correct. I believe that the New South Wales Government will be required to grant all the Crown lands within the area.
– The Constitution does not provide anything of the kind.
– I think there is some such provision in the Commonwealth law.
– Is it not a fact that the Government of New South Wales have offered to give the Commonwealth only the minimum area provided by the Constitution 1
– I do not think that they have yet made any definite offer. We shall select a site, and, at the request of the Commonwealth Government, the New South Wales Government reserved the land so that there shall be no further alienation. I believe that the stipulation -applies only to the 64,000 acres provided for by the Constitution. They were not requested to go further. I do not think that they have yet made any offer in respect of a gift of Crown lands, but I have no doubt that the whole matter will be settled in a way most satisfactory to the State Government. Whatever Crown land is contained in any Federal area has to be given without payment. The motion proposes that a site shall be selected by means of an “ exhaustive ballot.” I do not quite understand what an “ exhaustive ballot “ means, but I take it that the interpretation placed upon these words will be that the whole of the sites are to be submitted together, and that honorable members will be asked to make a selection by one ballot. It. seems to me that that would be a most unwise course to pursue. For example, a large number of members from the north might favour the selection of a site in that part of New South Wales, while another large section from the south might vote for a southern site, with the result that the intermediate sites may be at once rejected.
– The proposal made by the honorable member for North Sydney would overcome that difficulty.
– I do not think so. It seems to me that this provision should be amended, and that honorable members should indicate by numbers the relative value in which each site is held by them. In other words, I think honorable members should number the sites in the order of their preference. In that way the site which honorable members placed last on the list would at once fall out, and further ballots would take place until a final selection had been made.
– That would give full play to a block vote.
– No; I think that the other system would have that objection. I have directed the attention of honorable members to this matter, because I consider it to be one of the utmost importance. I desire that, in any event, a fair method of arriving at the opinion held by the majority of honorable members shall be adopted. It would be much to be deplored if any course were followed which would have the effect of accidentally destroying the chances of some of the sites which, although at first low down on the list, might, as the ballot proceeded, under the system suggested by me, attain a far’ more prominent position. I think we should use every endeavour to prevent the rejection of sites in the earlier stages of the voting. The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, has condemned the Government for failing to do this, that, and the other thing, but I would inform him that the Government have taken very little notice of the way in which certain sections of the press have attacked their action in this matter. They are not dominated by either the Age or the Argus. Their fixed determination from the first has been to bring this question to an issue as soon as public business would permit. That desire has been in our minds from the very outset.
– The trouble is that the Government have had too much in their minds.
– If we had not held this fixed determination the motion would not now be before the House. We have advanced the consideration of the question to its present stage, and it is the intention of the Government to do all in its power to secure its settlement during the present session. In these circumstances I do riot think it is quite right for any one to blame the Government for the action which they have iaken. This should not be a party question. I fear that the proposal made by the honorable member for North Sydney would not get over the difficulty to which I have referred. Another suggestion which has been made to me is that a vote should be taken on two sites at a time, and that the one receiving the higher number of votes should be included inthe final list submitted to the House. That would be a course very similar to that proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney, but I do not think it would be a proper one to pursue.
– I did not say that such a thing should be done.
– The honorable member said that regard should be had to the geographical position of the several sites.
– The honorable member’s amendment is that the following words be added to paragraph 3 : -
Provided that before such exhaustive ballot be taken the sites in each of the following groups be reduced by ballot to one site in each group .
Thus, if there were two sites in one group, the House would be asked to decide between them,and one of them would be at once thrown out. I do not think that would be a proper course to pursue. The honorable member suggests that a site should be selected from each group, and that a final selection should then be made. I believe that if honorable members will give my proposal careful consideration, they will recognise that it is a good one. I ask the House to consider whether it would not be more equitable for honorable members to number each site submitted to the ballot according to their view of its merits.
– The honorable gentleman suggests something in the nature of a contingent vote.
– Yes. There are nine sites, and what I suggest is that the site receiving the largest number of No. 9 votes on the first round should be rejected that there should then be another ballot, and that the site receiving the largest number of No. 8 votes should be allowed to fall out The number of sites would gradually be reduced in that way until a final selection was made.
– That is not the principle of the exhaustive ballot.
– I know that it can hardly be described as an exhaustive ballot, but I think that it will be found the most equitable plan to adopt. I invite honorable members to work out the problem and see for themselves whether the suggestion I have made would not be attended with better results than would be obtained from any other scheme.
– I agree with the’ honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, that it is about time that honorable members representing States other than Victoria and New South Wales had something to say on this subject. I did not intend at first to take part in this debate, but while I recognise that Victoria and New South Wales are very keenly interested in this question, I have to deplore the fact that, during the course of the discussion, we have heard so much provincialism. It gives colour to the assertions made in the press in regard to the intriguing and wire- pulling said to be going on. Such practices have notcome under my notice, but I fear the intriguing and wire pulling that will go on outside of this Parliament if we fail to determine this question before the close of the present session. I feel sure that there are such powerful interests at work that if we cannot come to a definite decision during this session the intention of the Constitution will probably be frustrated for some considerable time. We have an evidence of this in the attitude adopted by some of the candidates for the next Federal Parliament. Amongst their number is one gentleman who has posed in this State as the champion of land nationalization, and yet we find him indicating to those whose suffrages he is seeking that he is opposed on the plea of expense to one of the grandest manifestations of this principle that the world has ever seen.
– Is the honorable member referring to Mr. Max Hirsch ?
– I do not mention names; but it is most significant of the power wielded by the press of Victoria that a man holding such definite views on the subject of land nationalization as does the individual to whom I refer should be compelled to resort to so deplorable a subterfuge in relation to a matter of this kind. I am anxious to see the Capital Site question settled, because I believe that the Federal capital will supply an object lesson to Australia, and perhaps to the world. I am very glad that the members of this Parliament as a whole appear to be thoroughly seized of the advantage of the non-alienation -of this land, and I take it that it is precisely that principle to which so much objection is being raised. By its adoption a a very considerable revenue will, before many years are over, be raised from the land, so large that perhaps the whole expense of the Federal Government may be met by it. The effect of such evidence of the’ beneficent operation of the principle will be most striking to the people of Melbourne, a city whose land values amount to several millions of pounds, upon which not a penny of taxation k levied for the benefit of the State. Bo doubt the present condition of things in Melbourne is highly acceptable to the few favoured individuals who enjoy it, and I apprehend that their hostility towards the selection of a capital in the bush is determined to no small extent by the principle that will be adopted in regard to the land and which in its beneficent operation will be an incentive to citizens elsewhere to obtain revenue on similar lines. While I am willing to recognise that we cannot get away from the financial aspect of the question, I am far from agreeing with those who wish to be guided in this matter entirely by business considerations. Business considerations are all very well in their place ; but, to look at this matter from a commercial point of view, would be to take a very short-sighted view indeed. Business people do not usually concern themselves very much with posterity. But I take it that in this matter we have a very important duty to perform as regards the future generations of Australia, a duty some of whose circumstances at least far transcend the mere question of pounds, shillings, and pence. Moreover, I can easily realize a position in which we should be led entirely astray if we determined our actions wholly by the consideration of the probable cost of resuming the land of the Federal territory. What we have to consider is not so much the present cost as the value which the land is likely to obtain in the future. A great many considerations must enter into a determination of this kind, many of them entirely foreign to the business point of view. I hope that honorable members will give them most careful thought. The future prosperity of the Federal Capital will not depend upon its initial cost, but upon its accessibility, its healthfulness, its picturesqueness, and the policy applied to its development. If we keep those aspects of the question carefully in sight, we may be enabled to make a very good bargain indeed for posterity. We may assure Australia of a capital which will be a favoured place of residence, which will develop into an important city, supplying in many respects an object lesson to the whole world. I hope that these aspects of the question will not be lost sight of, and that we shall, in all our deliberations, remember that the future of this territory is entirely in our hands. As regards the method of arriving at a decision, I do not agree with those who wish us to vote for particular districts. If the sites in any district had pretty well the same characteristics there might not be so much wrong with the method to which I take objection. But we know that the sites within some of the districts are entirely dissimilar. The voting therefore should be for particular sites and not for particular districts.
– We must adopt one site in the final selection.
– Yes ; but I hope that we shall arrive at the final selection by gradually eliminating those which are regarded as the least suitable. I should like to see a vote taken upon a method of procedure which would leave us at the last, say, four sites to choose from. We should take what might be called a reversed preferential vote ; that is, we should indicate our opposition to certain sites, and those which have no chance whatever would thus be thinned out. There would remain two or three from which we could make our final selection. If we then had an opportunity to discuss their merits in extenso, the chances are that we should be able to arrive at a wise decision. I hope that this matter will be given the most careful consideration, because so much depends upon the methods adopted. I wish to see the motion carried pretty well as it stands on the notice-paper, and I shall give it my support.
– I hesitate to take up more time upon this subject,especially after the vigorous and straightforward speech which has been delivered by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton. I do not think that the honorable member for Gippsland has done himself justice by the amendment which he has moved. Nothing in his speeches has struck me more than the directness of his utterances. There is no doubt as to his intention or meaning. But I feel that on this occasion he has not been quite true to himself. Does he not know that if his amendment is carried it will be impossible for us to decide the Federal Capital question this session?
– Does the honorable member expect that the land will be purchased during the life of the present Parliament ?
– The honorable member wishes to prevent the decision of this question until Parliament has a knowledge of the value of the land in the proposed sites.
– The carrying of my amendment would not delay the commencement of building operations.
– I do not pretend to quite understand the legal position of the matter, but 1 take it that the principle underlying the land resumption Acts of the States and of the Commonwealth is that the Crown should be protected against persons who hold land for purposes of speculation, and should be asked to give only that value which the land had before there was a demand for it for public purposes. . I take it that we should pay to the private owners of land in the Federal area only what that land was worth before this discussion took place.
– A witness could never be got to say what land was worth at any particular date. .
– In the New South Wales Land Taxation Department there is a record of the value of every acre of land in that State.
– Such records are useless, because the same values are placed upon the land in boom times as during years of depression.
– New South Wales having received thehonour of containing the seat of the Federal Capital, everything that fair play, and even generosity, can suggest will be done by her people to allow a satisfactory settlement of the question. Whatever legal methods are necessary to conserve the interests of the Commonwealth will be taken by the Commonwealth and by the State.
– There is no method provided by the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act.
– We have adopted the principle of resuming private land within the Federal area. I believe that the people of New South Wales will be willing to make us a present of any reasonable area of Crown lands over and above the minimum, but so far as the resumption of private land is concerned, are we going to put aside a good site because there happens to be a large amount of very valuable private land adjacent to it? Are we going to sacrifice an ideal site for the sake of ‘the few thousands which the resumption of private land would cost? This land when resumed will be a great asset to the Commonwealth. The more valuable the land the greater will be the income derived from it. Other things being equal, it is desirable that the site should embrace valuable land so that we may create a great industrial centre, and thus insure that the Federal Capital shall not be a mere town in the bush, but the centre of a teeming population, giving wealth, dignity, and prestige to the political centre of Australia.
– I prefer high-priced land if we can get good value for our money.
– From his Ministerial experience myhonorable friend knows that the Parliaments of Australia are very keen, in connexion with land resumption, to prevent the adventurer and speculator from getting the best of the Government. We can effectually protect ourselves, and I should be very sorry if the mere matter of the price that would have to be given for the land in a certain area were allowed to enter into the question of the selection of the site. We want a site which will be the best for Australia, and make the best centre of its dignity and prestige. Therefore, although it might have been desirable to obtain the information indicated by the honorable member, the fact that it has not been secured affords no reason for the delay which would be involved by adopting the honorable member’s proposal. I agree with the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, that it would be most disastrous to allow this matter to stand over until after the next general election. It has been reported that it is proposed to spend millions and millions of pounds upon the Federal Capital within the next few years, and although these reports are absolutely frivolous and unfounded, they have produced an impression upon the minds of the public which will probably operate against an early settlement of this question. A compact was made between New South Wales and the other States, and common sense and reason urge that effect should be given to the terms of the Constitution by this Parliament. If the capital site question be thrown into the arena of general politics during the next election, the most unfriendly feeling may be created between New South Wales and the other States. I do not agree with the honorable member for Perth in his objection to the proposal of the honorable member for North Sydney. I think that it is only reasonable that we should bring the ultimate choice to within as small a compass as possible. We should group the geographical areas as the honorable member for North Sydney proposes, becausein some cases thereis practically very little difference as regards the character of the country and the general situation between contiguous sites. Therefore, where two or three similar sites are proposed it will be best to reduce the number down to one. We must recollect that honorable members - and much less the people of the Commonwealth - can know but very little of these sites. The holiday touring which took place in connexion with the inspection of the sites could not have added very largely to the information of honorable members, and it is our duty to reduce the selection down to as small a compass as possible. For instance, if there are three sites which, apart from local feeling, do not differ very widely from one another, why should we not decide which is the best, and thus get rid of the complexity created by having to consider the claims of contiguous sites ? I think that the honorable member’s proposal has. common sense to recommend it, and I hope that it will be accepted. I would urge the honorable member for Gippsland to withdraw his amendment, because it is clear that if we are to make a final selection of the capital site during the present Parliament his proposal cannot be carried out. I am sure that the honorable member desires to act fairly to New South Wales, although naturally he would like the Federal Capital to be situated as close as possible to Victoria.
-I am sure that I have the business people of New South Wales with me in my desire to make a good bargain.
– I do not. think that the information which the honorable member desires is vital to the question at this stage.
– It will probably make a difference of £250,000 in the amount of the purchase-money.
– I do not think so. As the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has pointed out, we must not consider the immediate necessities of the next few years. We must look forward to the possible developments of hundreds of years. £250,000 would be a, very small amount to spend in acquiring an asset which would be at least worth that sum at the outset, and which would increase in value to a much greater extent than land of lower quality.
– But I seek to get as good land £250,000 cheaper than would otherwise be possible.
– As an agriculturist my honorable friend knows that poor land is dear at any price. You can never make poor land good, and good land in a country like this is an asset that can never lose its value.
– If you get good land at a fair value it is a sound asset.
– Although, in view of the importance of the question and the great future involved, the information desired by the honorable member should doubtless have been placed before us, I hope that he will not insist upon thwarting the reasonable ambition of honorable members representing New South
Wales and of others that this matter should be forthwith settled under the terms of the Constitution, thus obviating the necessity of making it a complicating issue at the next elections.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I had not intended to speak, and should nOt have done so but for the course which events have taken. I regret the delay that has occurred in dealing with this important question. When New South Wales entered the Federation it was understood that the capital site should be selected at the earliest possible moment, and I believe that a majority of honorable members are anxious to carry out that compact. The Government have not exhibited that expedition that the importance of the subject demanded and they have not led the House in the matter. I am very sorry that the motion submitted by their representative in the Senate has been rejected. I admit that the objections raised in that Chamber deserve the consideration of honorable members, but at the same time the importance of having the capital question settled warranted honorable members in agreeing to a departure from the ordinary course of procedure. Therefore I felt it my duty to support the proposal submitted by the Government. I do not agree with those who prefer that this matter should be dealt with in a secret manner. My name has “been referred to as the representative of a district in which two of the proposed sites are situated, and I am quite prepared to “take the responsibility of making my choice between them. I think that other members who happen to be in a similar position should take the same course. We ought to deal with the matter in an open and straightforward way, and be prepared to defend our actions at the proper time. With regard to the question of land values, I hope that the information in the possession of the Prime Minister will be submitted to honorable members at an early date. The honorable member for Gippsland urged delay because we had not full information at our disposal, and because he feared that if a determination were arrived at at present land values would be raised, and the Commonwealth would be required to pay a much larger sum than if the- land within the proposed sites were valued prior to the final selection. There will be no -difficulty in safeguarding the Commonwealth against any undue demands by land-owners. The, State laws in New South Wales provide that, in the case of land resumptions, compensation shall be paid upon the basis of the value prior to the date of resumption. The Minister for Trade and Customs has stated the position very clearly, and if the State laws should not prove sufficient to protect the Commonwealth against exorbitant demands, there would be no difficulty in introducing the legislation necessary to achieve that result. I do not intend to speak at any great length, because I feel that a protracted debate will involve further delay in the settlement of this most important question. I am anxious that expedition shall be used, and I regret that the Government are not exhibiting a firmer front, and are not displaying more determination in grappling with the difficulties which present themselves. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro pointed to the delay which had taken place in connexion with the appointment of the Commission of Experts. Authority was given by this House for the reference of the sites question to’ a Commission in October last, and a promise was made that the Commission should be appointed before the end of last session. They did not, however, commence their work until January last. Although the Minister promised that the report of the Commission would be laid upon the table of the House in April last, it was not forthcoming until the following July. Several weeks ago I preferred a request that the evidence taken before that Commission should be printed.
– Surely the honorable member knows that the Printing Committee declined to sanction that proposal.
– I am aware that objection was raised to it upon the ground of expense. At the same time I do not think that that objection was a valid one in view of all the circumstances of the case. Seeing that it was impossible to secure a full report of the evidence which was taken before the Commission, because its printing would involve an expenditure of about £200, I asked that honorable members should be supplied with a precis of it. The Minister promised to comply with my request ; but, so far, the summary which I sought is not available.
– That summary will comprise about one-third of the entire evidence.
– I know that ia some Victorian constituencies opposition is offered to any proposal to expend money upon the Federal Capital site at the present time. In my judgment, however, it is unfair to raise that objection at this late period of the day. As honorable members are aware, the electors of New South Wales refused to agree to the draft Federal Constitution when the first referendum was taken. Subsequently a Conference of Premiers was held at which they approved of an arrangement by which New South Wales was to be granted the capital, and upon that condition she joined the Federation. That arrangement was subsequently indorsed by the people of Australia upon a second referendum. All that I ask is that that compact shall be respected. I cannot understand the reason underlying the agitation which is now in progress throughout Victoria to indefinitely postpone a settlement of this question. Quite recently one of the ‘ newspapers in this city pointed out that the Constitution imposed no time limit within which it must be decided. It urged that it did not matter whether the’ seat of government remained in Melbourne for an indefinite period so long as the Federal compact was ultimately carried out.
– Will the honorable member say how the Government could raise the £10,000,000 which would be necessary to build a capital at the present time ?
– As the Prime Minister has pointed out, there is no necessity to expend more than £500,000 at the present juncture. It is the policy of the honorable member and of other representatives of this State to hoodwink the people of Victoria by raising these fatuous objections. Personally I do not believe that the electors themselves agree with the view which is taken by them. At all events, at a big meeting which was recently held in the Melbourne Town Hall: - a meeting which was convened by the supporters of the Maffra movement to protest against the selection of the capital - the great majority of those present carried a resolution in favour of keeping faith with New South Wales. I would further remind the House that not very long since the people of Maffra strongly advocated the construction of a railway to a certain place which found favour in their eyes. Possibly they have arrived at the conclusion that the site in question will not be acceptable to a. majority of this Parliament, and accordingly have changed their attitude. If therecords of the State Parliament were consulted, I think it would be found that the people of Maffra had done very well out of the Government of Victoria.
– The honorable membermust not discuss that matter.
– The object of the movement which was started by the Maffra Shire Council is delay in the settlement of this question.
– How many millions of pounds does the honorable member think, the establishment of a Federal Capital will cost?
– There is nonecessity to spend millions of pounds. I agree with the statement of the Prime Minister that an outlay of £500,000 will be ample for some time. We ought to derive sufficient rent from the lands which we resume to pay interest upon the cost of their resumption. I repeat that it is the policy of the honorable and learned member for Corio to make it appear that a large sumwill require to be expended to carry out thecompact with New South Wales. But I would pointout to him that when the peopleof Australia adopted the Constitution no stipulation was made as to the amount of money which should be expended upon the future Federal Capital. I regret that the lateCommission did not furnish us with estimates as to the outlay which would be involved in the acquisition of thevarious sites. Of course the principal question which we have to consider is the number of points which should be allotted to them on the ground of their distinctive features. I trust that I shall have anotheropportunity of placing upon record the reasons which actuate me in voting for any particular site. There is no doubt that if the terms of the compact which was entered into with New South Wales are not respected, a good deal of dissatisfaction with Federation will be created - dissatisfaction which will materially interfere with, the settlement of otherimportantquestions at theapproachingelections. In view of the brief period which is at our disposal prior to theprorogation of Parliament, I feel that I shall best be conserving the interests of New South Wales and ©f the Commonwealth by making my remarks as brief as. possible, and I shall, therefore, not trespass upon the time of the House at any further length.
– I regret that the Government have failed in this instance to pursue the ordinary course, and to take upon themselves the responsibility of asking this House to select a particular site for the Federal capital. That feeling of regret is all the more pronounced because of the decision which has been -arrived at by another place. It appears to me, however, that the Government are acting wisely in proceeding with this motion notwithstanding the action taken by the Senate. I have always held that, as the people of Australia, as a whole, have pledged themselves to New South Wales in the matter of the capital, a decision should be arrived at as soon as possible in regard to this question. Although we may select the site, it does not follow that we should incur a large expenditure in erecting buildings or carrying out other works upon it ; but, unquestionably, the site of the Federal capital should now be determined. The earnest desire evinced by honorable members representing New South Wales that this question should be at once settled reminds me of the pictorial advertisement showing a baby in a tub straining to reach a cake of Pear’s soap, with the statement at the foot of it that “he won’t be happy till he gets it.” It is evident that they will not be happy until this question is settled, and it is equally clear that the Federal Parliament will not be very happy until it has been dealt with. Honorable members from New South Wales will not give us any peace until a decision has been arrived at, and for that reason also it seems to me that a selection should be made as early as possible. If the amendment moved by the honorable member for Gippsland werecarried, it would in volve very great delay, and render it impossible for a site to be selected during the present session. In the first place some time would be occupied by the House in determining which of the three sites should be selected, while another place would also be occupied for some days in arriving at a like decision. As to the suggestion that if a selection were made in the terms of the motion we might be called upon to pay more than a reasonable price for the land, it seems to me that the Minister for Trade and Customs and the honorable member for
Wentworth have shown very satisfactorily that we shall be protected by the laws prevailing in New South Wales, as well as by the fact that land in that State is valued from time to time for land taxation purposes. In these circumstances, it is highly improbable that the people of Australia will be called upon to pay for this land a price largely in excess of its true value. While I agree that a site should be selected without delay, I wish it to be clearly understood that I do not advocate any extravagant expenditure. Notwithstanding the sanguine views held by some honorable members, a considerable sum of money must necessarily be expended on the construction, for example, of waterworks, and the interest on borrowed money expended in that way will not be met for some time. Then, again, if a site is selected which is not connected with the railway system of the State, a line will have to be constructed, and will not pay for some time to come. It remains to be seen whether any country can successfully manage its lands under a system of land nationalization. I have always advocated the making of the attempt, and it seems to me that although we should probably be unable to obtain from the various works a return sufficient to pay interest on the money borrowed for their construction, yet with good management, in a comparatively few years we should have no cause for regret. If there is a fear on the part of the people that extravagant expenditure will take place in connexion with the construction of the Federal capital, it seems to me that we might wait for a time, and do no more than select the site. I believe I am right in saying that the site on which Washington is erected was originally swamp land, and that at least ten or twelve years elapsed before the Government of the United States took steps to build upon it. Therefore, if the people of Australia declare at the next elections that money shall not be expended by us in erecting the Federal city, we might follow the example of the United States of America and allow the work to stand over for a time. I fail to see why we should not wait. The people of New South Wales would be satisfied that the compact had been observed if we merely selected the site of the capital. They would know that when we were in a better financial position money would be spent in erecting suitable Government buildings and laying out the city.
– I do not think they would be satisfied if the erection of the capital were delayed in that way.
– At all events if we select a site now we shall put an end to the rivalry between the advocates of the several sites.
– That is not the question. What we ask is that the compact shall be carried out.
– The compact would be carried out by the selection of a site.
– That would be only part of the compact.
– lt was no part of the compact that a site should be at once selected, much less that the capital city should be immediately constructed. I have always held that the site of the capital should be selected as soon as possible, and I have not been led to change that opinion by the statements in the press, or by the opinions of my friends. As a matter of fact, I have not met a Victorian who is opposed to the selection of a site. All that many of the people of Victoria fear is that the selection of a site will be followed by extravagant expenditure in connexion with the building of the city. Every Victorian with whom 1 am acquainted expresses a desire that the compact shall be observed. I intend to vote for the motion. I shall oppose the amendment moved by the honorable member for Gippsland for the reasons I have given, and I trust that the matter will be decided this session, so that this bone of contention may speedily be removed.
– I do not desire to detain the House at any length ; but there are a few words which I should like to say with regard to the amendment which has been moved by the honorable member for Gippsland. I must confess that, like other honorable members, I was at first sight somewhat taken with the amendment ; but there is no doubt that whatever other effects it might have, it would lead to the postponement of this question for the consideration of the next Parliament. J must confess that I do. not think that would be by any means an unmixed evil. I see objections to the determination of an important question of this kind during the last days of a moribund Parliament. It appears to me that some of the apprehensions expressed by certain honorable members - especially those representing New SouthWales - as to what might happen if the question were not decided during the presentParliament, are due to a feeling on theirpart that the people of Australia do not share their desire that the site of the capital should be selected forthwith.
– The people of Victoria do not.
– I am speaking for the present of the eagerness displayed by some honorable members to have this matter at once settled. I can explain that eagerness only .by the supposition that they apprehend that the electors as a whole will not indorse the views now put forward by them. Sofar as the people of Victoria are concerned, I would point out that if the electors of thisState are determined upon a certain course!, members will be found in the next Parliament who . will see that that course is adopted. The mere selection of the site will not carry very far forward those whodesire to see the capital forthwith erected.
– I do not believe that the people of Victoria wish to interfere with the compact.
– I am dealing with one point at a time. I have never approved of the compact that was made at the Conference of Premiers, and subsequently embodied in the Constitution ; but I am one of those who for the sake of federation accepted that, with other provisions in the Constitution of which I did not approve. I, consequently, feel bound toassist in carrying out the compact which was then made, however much I may- have disapproved of it at the time. I thinkthattheideaof some honorable members that the whole of this work was to be completed during the life of the first Federal Parliament is an utterly unreasonable interpretation of the Constitution. I am sure that the people of Victoria, at all events, never dreamt of any understanding such as that we should hurry off post-haste to the Federal Capital and take possession either of temporary or permanent buildings there. A matter of this kind is one in which deliberation rather than haste should be observed. I think that the selection of a site, the determination of the way in which it shall be laid out, and the time at which it shall ultimately be ready for occupation, are matters in regard to which undue haste should not be displayed. This very impotrant matter has been somewhat degraded of late by the fact that instead of regarding it solely as a question of the Federal Capital, some honorable members appear to be endeavouring ‘to make political capital out of it. It is being mixed -up with the forthcoming election. If there is one question among many which should -not be mixed up with the exigencies of a particular general election, it is a matter -such as this. I have also noticed with regret that there appears to have been something in the nature of rivalry among some sections of the House as to who should take the most credit when he goes before the electors, as we all very shortly shall do, for having pushed forward the consideration of this question.
– Does not the honorable member think that the settlement of this question will remove that undesirable element 1
– I wish to say distinctly that in yoting for a motion which will secure the determination of this question, I am not in any way pledging myself to what I regard as the extravagant demand of some honorable members that we should forthwith commence to spend large sums of money in erecting the capital, and that we should take special train to it as soon as a habitable building can be there erected for -us. I intend, if I am a member of the next Parliament, to see that we proceed with deliberation and do not indulge in any extravagance. I venture to believe that the selection of a particular site for the capital in New South Wales will cause a willingness on the part of many people in that State, who are now rushing this question forward, to proceed with more deliberation than has been exhibited up to the present time. That deliberation is necessary..
– Our action in regard to this question could not have been more deliberate. Some honorable members do not wish tq see it dealt with.
Mi-. McCAY. - I am astonished at the remark made by the honorable member. I am surprised to hear it asserted that we have shown deliberation in dealing with this question, when, during the first Parliament of the Federation, and, despite all the other work we have had to perform, we have proceeded so far towards the determination of where the capital shall be. If the honorable member thinks that we have acted deliberately in this matter, I should like to have eyesight good enough to enable me to observe what he calls haste. It seems to me that instead of this work being deliberately carried out it is being done with great expedition. I, for one, certainly never anticipated that during the first session of the Parliament we should go so far as to settle the site of the capital.
– We have not yet done so.
– I did not think that we should go as far as we have. If it had not been for the rivalry to which I have referred we should not have done so. There can be no charge of delay. As the honorable member for Wannon has pointed out, many years elapsed after the selection of the site of Washington before the building of the capital was commenced, and it was half a century or more before Washington really became a city, or in outward appearance worthy of the Federation.
– They nearly had a civil war in America before they settled upon Washington. _ Mr. McCAY. - I hope that we shall not have a civil war here. I have never placed the same importance upon the advantage of having the Federal capital situated in any particular State as others appear to place upon it. I was surprised, indeed, that the electors of New South Wales were so much influenced by the provision in the Constitution which says that the site shall be in that State.
– The honorable and learned member was no doubt surprised that the people of New South Wales were willing to give so much for so little.
– I have often heard it said that New South Wales gave up so much to join the Federation, but I do not know what she actually gave up. Until the present time she has been getting back all that she has given.
– Her people now have access to the markets of the other States.
– Other representatives besides those of New South Wales wish to leave Melbourne.
– If the only reason for hurrying on the selection of the capital site is their wish to leave Melbourne, their motive does not do them credit.
– The influences here have been to the disadvantage of the Commonwealth.
– I did not know that the honorable member had such an altruistic motive as that.
– I refer to influences like the Kyabram movement.
– I think that the people of Victoria are as much entitled to their views as to what should be done as are the people of any other State. Some honorable members show great resentment because the people of ‘ Victoria hold opinions which differ from those which they hold. Although there may be faults connected with the Kyabram movement, it is a movement towards economy, in which Victoria is leading the way, and is one of the most wholesome exhibitions of public feeling that Australia has ever seen.It must be followed in its essentials by the people of the other States if this country is to grow and prosper. We have had a saturnalia in many matters, and it is time that we sobered up.
– The honorable member for Moreton must not interject so frequently. It is impossible to conduct the debate with due regard for decorum when honorable members interject so frequently.
– I, at times, have ventured to take my own course regardless of what others may have thought of my actions. It seems to me that we have proceeded without undue delay. In my opinion there has been no delay at all. But, while I am prepared now to support the proposal for the determination of the capital site question, I reserve to myself the right to say later at what rate we should proceed with the building of the Federal capital. I am not prepared to go in for heavy borrowing in order that we may hasten the establishment of the Commonwealth Government and Parliament there. While I am prepared to vote for the settlement of the Federal site question in pursuance of the undertaking which I, with other electors, gave when we voted for the Constitution in its present form, I wish to protect myself from being considered as pledged to proposals for the immediate building of the Federal capital.
– Can the honorable and learned member explain why the representatives of New South Wales do not wish the question to be settled ? Some of them have been living upon it all the session.
– In reference to the method of voting to be adopted, I hope that we shall adopt the preferential system, giving to each member one ballot-paper only. I need hardly say that in my opinion the ballot should be an open one, and that every honorable member should be responsible for his vote. On the ballot-papereach member should indicate the order of his preference for the sites submitted, and the scrutiny should be followed by a transfer of the votes given in favour of the site supported by the lowest number of voters to the site supported by the next largest number.
– The Hare-Spence system?
– Practically the HareSpence system as applied to a single choice. I do not believe in it as applied to a multiple choice. The adoption of that system will prevent, not merely caballing or lobbying, but all those combinations which may be imagined if we have a succession of ballots as one site after another is dropped out. Each member will make his selection once and for all, and the ultimate choice will be clear of the suspicion of improper motives. The system, of course, has its disadvantages, as all systems have, but not one disadvantage can be urged against it which could not be urged against the system of taking a fresh ballot whenever a site hasbeen rejected, while there are objections which might be urged to the latter system, which do not apply to the former. I do not agree with those who think that the Government should have taken the responsibility of submitting sites from which one could be chosen.
– Not a site, but a district.
– I do not think that the Government was called upon to submit any district. I do not agree with the proposal to deal with the sites in districts, The best and the next best site might both be situated in the one district. Are we going to make them fight one against the other, and probably have an ultimate choice between the best and the third best, or the second best and the third best? I think that all the sites should be submitted together.
– The Commissioners are careful to point out that they did not obtain full information of all the sites in detail.
– No one can have full knowledge of all the sites, because no one can give the time necessaryfor the exhaustive personal inquiry and observation which that would demand. The Government were not bound to take the responsibility of submitting either a site or a district.
– They have taken the . responsibility of naming a State.
– The Constitution does that, If the Government had submitted any site or .district, a party complexion would have been given to the matter, and they would have been charged with interfering with the free choice of Parliament. We should have heard a great deal about brutal majorities, or whatever is the parliamentary form of that phrase. This is not a matter which should have any party complexion at all, and the Government are acting wisely in preventing it from having that complexion. I think the amendment will have no practical effect but delay. That is not ostensibly its intention, and I do not think it is a subterfuge to cause delay. In my opinion, however, we ‘ have already sufficient material to be reasonably sure of getting, on the whole, our money’s worth in any site we may select. I shall vote against the amendment,- and support the motion in its present form, reserving to myself the right to say later how far and how fast we shall proceed with the building of the Federal Capital.
– I think that the Government have proposed the right method of selecting the site that is to be the future capital of Australia, but the adoption of the amendment suggested by the honorable member for North Sydney would be an improvement, because I think it would lead to a better selection. Failing the adoption of that suggestion, to which there does not appear to be much opposition, however, I suggest that the Government should consider the possibility of treating the western district as one site. The actual location of the Federal Capital can be determined afterwards if that site is selected. Those in the western district of New South Wales who took an active interest in this matter came to the agreement that there should be no competition between the various proposed sites in that district ; that they would leave it to the Federal Parliament to choose the best site, and the Commissioners were asked to report upon three sites in the district, though practically those three sites may be regarded as one. Some of the representatives of Victoria complain because reference has been made to their action in favouring delay. I do not think that they have any right to complain, seeing that Victoria is the only State in which there is an organized effort to prevent the selection of a capital, and in which the endeavour to stave off the settlement of the question for an indefinite period is actively supported by the press. Although it is always wrong to attribute improper motives to an honorable member, the the fact that several of the representatives of Victoria are in favour of delay justifies us in being very anxious for the settlement of the question this session. If the honorable and learned member for Corinella thinks that a delay of two and a half years is too short to be taken into consideration at all, we must . assume that in his opinion it would not matter if the capital site were not chosen for five or ten years. The honorable member for Wannon said that the New South Wales members will not be happy until they get the capital site chosen, and he and the honorable and learned member for Corinella seem to think that the representatives of New South Wales are unreasonable in- wishing to have the matter settled so soon. They overlook the fact that the people living in the districts in which these nine sites are situated are waiting for the determination of the question by Parliament. The Crown lands in those sites are locked up from settlement, and it is unfair both to the Government of New South Wales and to those who wish to settle on the land to allow this state of things to continue longer than is necessary. We need, therefore, make no apology for urging the Government to see that the provision of the Constitution is complied with as soon as possible. I think, too, that after the site has been chosen temporary buildings should be erected, so that Parliament can meet there, and be free from local influences, such as the Maffra-Kyabram movement, with its pratings about economy. The honorable member for Gippsland has been lauded in the daily press of Victoria for his statesmanlike proposal in moving the amendment. He appears to assume that the people of New South Wales are desperately anxious to sell their land to the Federal Government, and consequently he proposes a Dutch auction, and wishes us to ask them to say at what price they will sell their land. Where there are towns close to the proposed sites, property owners in the neighbourhood are averse to the selection of those sites for the Federal Capital. They were very strongly and decidedly opposed to it because they realized that the capital would not be so close to their towns that they would receive any very great benefit from the new settlement. The honorable member for Gippsland seems to think that those who have land within the proposed sites are likely to offer it at low prices, because they are anxious to get rid of it. But that is about the most amusing idea of which I have heard. Although the honorable member claims to know all about land transactions, he shows an utter lack of acquaintance with the conditions which prevail within the areas reported upon by the Commissioners. The honorable member seems to think that in the event of our not having the land properly valued beforehand, the owners will claim boom prices. If that impression be correct, it is not at all probable that they” would now offer to sell at low prices. The amendment proposed by the honorable member would involve, in the first instance, the selection of three or four sites. Then it would be necessary to decide the area to be embraced in each case - whether it should be 100, 200, or 1,000 square miles. Having decided that point, we should have to send surveyors to mark out the areas. We should then require to communicate with the land-owners in each area, and ask them to name the lowest price they would be prepared to take for their properties. Upon the receipt of their replies we should have to send round valuators to inspect all the properties, and afterwards the valuators would have to compare their valuations with the offers made by the owners. The honorable member is not prepared to say that we should select the site obtainable at the lowest cost. He realizes that it might not be wise to take the, cheapest «ite ; but he indicates that we should be influenced in our ‘ selection by the valuations which most ne’arly approach the assessments of the valuators. The honorable member apparently expects that a certain amount of patriotism will be exhibited ; but the land-owners in New South Wales, like those in other States, desire to get as much as possible for their property. We know that the State always has to pay a little more than other people for any land that it may require, but the New South Wales laws provide safeguards Against any exorbitant prices being demanded. I am astonished that those honorable members who profess to be anxious to observe economy should calmly contemplate the expense that would be involved in surveying four sites and having valuations made of the properties within four areas, instead of one. I hope that we shall practise economy by insuring that there shall be no unnecessary expenditure in connexion with the selection of the capital site. The selection should not depend upon the price at which we can obtain the land, but upon the situation and climatic and other considerations. I do not consider that the Government should be called upon to take upon themselves the responsibility of selecting a .site. I believe that by the method they have proposed we shall arrive at a satisfactory .result in the most direct manner possible. If the Government had introduced a Bill naming any particular site, the whole of the nine sites would have been made the subject of discussion, and honorable members would have been required to come to a decision in respect to each of them. I give the Government every credit for having adopted the course best calculated to arrive at a selection independently of any party considerations. I hope that the Government will succeed in following out to a final conclusion the course which they have marked out in connexion with this question. I shall support the amendment proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney, because I think it will assist us in arriving at a fair conclusion. If that amendment is not carried, I hope that the Government will agree to submit the three western sites together. We cannot say at what point within any of the proposed areas the capital will be situated, and I think that in the first instance it would be preferable to submit the -three western sites as one. I am untrammeled so far as my vote is concerned. Those who had the task of suggesting sites did not travel so far west as my electorate. Some of my constituents believe that they could point out very good sites for the Federal capital within the Darling electorate, but I am perfectly free to make my choice between those which have been reported upon by the Commissioners. I hope that we shall be able to make a final selection and dispose of the whole subject, once and for all, before the session closes.
– The sooner we get rid of this Capital site question the better. I do not think that anything has done more to provoke an anti-Federal spirit than the struggle for the Capital. I regret this very much. I have always been content to leave the question absolutely to the untrammelled decision of the Federal Parliament ; but at the same time I recognised that there were many others who were not prepared to do so. The result was that we had to agree to the stipulation made by New South Wales that the Capital should be located within that State, a certain distance away from Sydney.
– The first Constitution Bill was not rejected on account of the absence of a provision regarding the Capital.
– I think that the granting of the Capital to New South Wales was the turning point between success and the failure in’ connexion with the adoption of the Constitution. I know perfectly well that there were other amendments of the Constitution to which I attached more importance, such, for instance, as that relating to the power of the Houses at a joint sitting. I thought it very important that a simple majority should rule instead of a two-thirds majority. I should have preferred to leave the whole matter of the Capital site to the Parliament, and I do not think that any injustice would have been done to New South Wales in the matter. I believe that the struggle which New South Wales made for the Capital, induced something like resentment on the part of others, and so heightened a difficulty which was naturally serious enough.
– We did not make any particular struggle for the Capital.
– I know who were the representatives of New South Whales, and the strong stand that was made by them and by the New South W ales Parliament on the point, and I believe that if we had not conceded the capital to New South Wales we should not have brought about Federation so early as we did. However, whilst I regret that it was necessary to do this, I recognise that the compact was entered into. I had the honour to represent the State of South Australia at the Conference of Premiers at which the matter was arranged. By the representatives of the other States, outside of Victoria, the question was looked upon as one chiefly between the two most populous States, New South Wales and Victoria, and when we found that Sir George Turner was willing to accept the proposal of the Premier of New
South Wales with reference to the adjustment which now appears within the fourcorners of the Constitution, we saw clearly enough that the difficulty was capable of being removed in that way, and we assented to it. It would ill become any one of thePremiers who agreed to that arrangement, or, indeed, any one who voted for the acceptance of the Bill with that stipulation on the referendum to do less than carry it out at the earliest reasonable moment.. That is the position I intend to take. I hope we shall do all we can to settle this trouble in the way provided by the Constitution, and with the best of grace at the earliest possible and reasonable dategrant New South Wales the Capital. I do not say that we should hurry, and thus possibly make a mistake that would befraught with great trouble’ to the Commonwealth ; but at the same time I do not favour any suggestion as to the inexpediency of haste for the purposes of justifying delay that ought not to take place. I should be only too glad to see an arrangement arrived at, and to visit New South. Wales - if it be the will of the electors that I should do so - as a member of the Federal Parliament. We have been verY happy here in Melbourne.’ Victoria has doneeverything possible to promote our comfort, and to treat us in the way we ought to betreated, and we should be grateful accordingly. But the people of New South Wales will welcome us quite as heartily, as, indeed, would the people of any other State. There is a sentiment in this matter towards theCommonwealth Parliament that will induce the people to do everything possible to expedite its entry to the Federal Capital, and the sooner the terms of the Constitution are carried out the better. Of course theexpense that will have to be incurred in connexion with the establishment of the Capital is an important consideration. I am not making that statement with the slightest intention of justifying delay, which should not take place’; but I trust that, before we reach the final stage, we shall at least be able to form a rough estimate as to the difference in cost of the proposed sites. Even without the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Gippsland, which commends itself tomy mind, although I am not prepared tovote for it at this moment, because of the fear of unnecessary delay, I trust that theGovernment will do everything they can,. before the two Houses are asked to vote, to “lay before honorable members every possible information that could guide them to a right conclusion in this matter. I do not regard the Government as being in the slightest degree to blame for delay. The question is a big one, and we have been very busy. Of course I might be expected to take a biased view with regard to a portion of the time during which the delay is said to have occurred. I believe that the manner in which this question has been pushed and pushed and pushed by some honorable members at different times has not been calculated to assist the movement, but has caused it to be regarded as of a party character. I hope, however, that “we shall now sink any party differences and deal with the matter in a businesslike way. What is the best way of doing it? A8 regards this proposal, I say to the Prime Minister that if he can carry it - and I shall vote for it - it is the best which can be adopted. I shall be delighted to see it carried. As a member of the House of Representatives, I should welcome more frequent applications of the principle of joint sittings to the decision of various questions, though if I were a member of the other Chamber,- I do not know that I should view the matter in quite the same light. The closer we can get to the Senate, and the more matters of national importance can be determined by a joint vote of the Houses the better. It is probably patent to members of the other branch of the Legislature that the Senate is not quite so likely to get its way by agreeing to a joint sitting as it is by the adoption of the usual course of procedure. When there are two . bodies, one of which is twice as strong numerically as is the other, and when the feeling of each runs in a different direction, what is the result of their meeting together ? The probable result is. that the view of the more numerous House will prevail. At present the Senate undoubtedly has the right of veto. It is not compelled - unless it consents to a joint sitting - to submit itself to the will and weight of superior numbers.
– But we are not united upon this question.
– Looking at the constitutional position which renders the concurrence of the two Houses desirable, I am inclined to think that if I were a member of the Senate I should be disposed to prefer a proposal by one House and its submission to the other, or a ballot by each. If, under those circumstances, we arrived at the same conclusion, so much the better. As a matter of common practice, the two Houses do not sit together. In that “way the Senate preserves a power which would scarcely exist if it consented in all cases to a joint sitting. However, let us hope for the best. I imagine that this step has not been taken by the Government without some attempt having been made to ascertain the feelings of the other branch of the Legislature, and, consequently, I hope that the best results may accrue from it. If, however, it should so happen -that the Senate, in the first instance, cannot be induced to consent to a joint sitting, possibly an agreement may be arrived at in the usual way. If that were proved by actual experience to be impossible, I take it that the other branch of the Legislature would recognise that the solution of our constitutional difficulties is to be found in a joint sitting of the Houses, and would assent to that course with the best result. I merely wish to add that, whatever we may do as regards the selection of a site. I trust that we shall resolve not to part with the fee-simple of the land. The idea underlying the proposal for the establishment of a Federal Capital and for acquiring a country area, which will be our own property, is that it shall be retained so that the increased value which may be given to it by Federal expenditure shall benefit the Commonwealth. When people talk of expenditure and possible loss in this connexion, and when they sneer at a bush capital, I venture to think of a capital which will be erected upon good land - the Crown land being a gift to the Commonwealth and the private land acquired upon reasonable terms - and which, as regards public expenditure, shall increase in value from year to year, such value being retained for the benefit of the Commonwealth - a handsome endowment for all time. In thi3 connexion we have only to look at the experience of other cities. Had an equally well considered policy been adopted in regard to any one of our capital cities, and had the land been retained for the public benefit by being let upon terms at a fair rental, with periodical reappraisements, I venture to think that instead of private speculators monopolizing the improved value of city lands there would have been reserved for the good of the public, a value which can hardly be over-estimated, and which certainly would have contributed to the enjoyment by the citizens of Australia of easier times than they expe’rience to-day. When people talk of extravagance, I say that in connexion with Federal management there has been no . extravagance which, in the slightest degree, justifies the criticisms to which we have been subjected. Rather, I believe, that we have set an example to the States Parliaments. I know perfectly well the sentiments of the Treasurer’ in that direction, and I am aware that he has never spared himself, either in. the State Legislature or in this Parliament, to give effect to the greatest practicable economy. I believe that both sides of the House have supported that policy,- and I am sure that careful as we have been in the past, we are not likely, in connexion with this Federal Capital, to rush headlong into thoughtless expenditure. I shall, indeed, welcome the time when, not only shall we have a Federal Capital which is worthy of the name, and which is free from local colour - Australian in itself - but when we shall have satisfactorily settled a Jong-vexed question, which, under the terms of the Constitution, it is our duty to settle at the earliest possible moment.
– If seems to me that the representatives of New South Wales should take advantage of the present opportunity to secure a decision upon this question, because after Kyabram has finished with the Victorian representatives there will be very little hope of settling it next session. Personally, I do not care twopence about it. It cannot affect. me upon the West Coast of Tasmania. Indeed, 40,000,000 Kyabramites with their tails cut off would not affect my position. At the same time, I desire to see justice done to the people of New South Wales. I would suggest to the Prime Minister that in the Bill dealing with the acquisition of the Federal territory a clause should be inserted providing that the land-owners interested must sell their lands at the price at which they were valued prior to the accomplishment- of Federation.
– That is already provided for.
– I am very glad to have that assurance. When I was at Tumut one man who drove me out to see ‘ the site declared that it was a crying disgrace that his land was not within the fives or ten miles limit. He affirmed that his. landlord had given him notice that when Tumut was selected as the capital site his. rent would be doubled, and that when his lease expired he would not be able to secure its renewal. It seemed to me that there was a capital confidence game upon the linesof the bunko-steerers of New York. I trust that the democratic members of the House will carefully consider this question before they arrive at a decision. The successof the experiment will be eagerly watched by people in all parts of the world. We desire to get as far away as possible from the settled portions of New South. Wales. I do not wish our chances of doing so to be jeopardized by the selection of any particular site, unless we have an absolute guarantee that we can acquire all the land that we desire. Suppose, for example, that’ we select a site in New South Wales, and. the State Government says to us, “We willgrant the Commonwealth the minimum area, prescribed by the Constitution, namely ten. miles square.” Naturally the Commonwealth Government offices would be built upon the centre of that area. A private syndicate would then be in a position to construct an electric tramway just outside the Federal territory. The result would be that the city would grow up outside the Federal boundary and the private syndicate would reap all the benefit of the Commonwealth expenditure. That is the trouble against which we have to guard. If we carry these resolutions and the Senate declines to agree to a joint sitting of the Houses, what will be the result ? We shall have wasted time ia discussing an absolutely negligible quantity. Why should we not get to work at once and select a site ! Why should not this House itself come to a decision *1 If it be the desire of honorable members to proceed to a vote at once I will discontinue my remarks
– I desire to say only a very few words on this subject. In the first place, I consider it our duty, now that the Government have submitted this, motion, to observe what I believe is the requirement of the Constitution,’ and the common understanding in the various States, that we should determine the site of the Federal capital. It is only fair to New South Wales that we should do so. Whatever our decision may be, there is one thingwith which we cannot afford to palter, and that is our honour.I cannot vote for the amendment moved by the honorable member for Gippsland, for the reason that it would commit us, in the first instance, to the rejection of all sites save those specially mentioned in it. It would compel us to take that course before we had given any consideration to the matter. I feel embarrassed by the wording of the motion, because it seems to me that it would commit us beforehand to accept and to vote in all circumstances for the site selected by the joint sitting of both Houses.
– The honorable and learned member refers to paragraph 6.
– Quite so. I should like the Government to say whether they cannot see their way to alter the wording of that, and, perhaps, the preceding paragraph, by providing that the names of the three- sites which receive the highest number of votes be reported to the House by Mr, Speaker, and that it is expedient that a Bill be introduced after such report has been made to the House, to determine whether the seat of the Government of the Commonwealth shall be the site which receives the majority of votes, or either of the two remaining ones.
– That would require an amendment of paragraph 3.
– I am not referring to the verbiage of the paragraphs. I am merely indicating my view of the position.
– Does the honorable and learned member mean to indicate that, in his opinion, the joint sitting of the two Houses should carry this question no nearer finality than by selecting three sites.
– It would be open to the joint sitting to select the three in the order of preference. It might give one site an absolute majority.
– How should we reach finality ?
– By the subsequent decision of the two Houses sitting apart. I am not sure that we have sufficient material before us to enable us to finally determine this great question. I feel pressed to a great extent by the viewpresented by the honorable member for Gippsland, that if we passed the motion in its present form we should bind ourselves when the Enabling Bill is introduced to vote for the particular site selected at the joint sitting, and not to reject it underany circumstances. I feel undoubtedly embarrassed in that if we bind ourselves hand and feet, as we should do if we passed this motion, I am not quite certain that we should be able to acquire private lands - and, after all, I understand that it will be mostly private lands that will be required - as economically as we should be able to do if there were some choice left to the Parliament.
– Would not the honorable and learned - member’s proposal reopen the danger of having one House proposing one site and the other another ?
– I think we might come to an agreement. I do not anticipate any difficulty in that respect ; but I feel strongly that a difficulty will arise, in that we shall have to make a definite selection in the absence of sufficient information to enable us to determine what the cost will be. The Prime Minister may, of course, brush aside that difficulty by showing that the Government is in possession of sufficient information to enable us to arrive at the probable cost of acquiring the land. I do not feel prepared at the present moment, however, to say that I will accept, whatever may be the cost to. the country, any site which the joint sitting proposes. That is my position. I do not think we have the means or the materials to enable us to ascertain the probable cost. At all events, I am not in possession of them. If we were to do what is suggested by the amendment - select three sites and eliminate all others - we should act unfairly, but if the Government could see their way to allow three sites tobe reported to the House, leaving the Parliament to decide, on satisfactory information as to the probable cost, which of the three should be finally selected, I think we should be relieved of a great deal of difficulty.
– That would frustrate the very object of the joint sitting.
– I do not agree with my honorable friend. I do not hesitate to say that we must not palter with this proposal. It is an undertaking given in very strong words in the Constitution, and we know quite apart from the mere words of the Constitution what the compact really was. However advantageous it may be to Victoria to have the Parliament meeting here, I do not think we should be justified in doing what would amount practically to a breach of that undertaking, and therefore I feel bound to assist in settling this question at the earliest moment. My only desire is that it should be determined on the best possible basis from the stand-point of the Commonwealth.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I should like you to state, Mr. Speaker, the procedure to be adopted in putting the motion, so that if we desire to move amendments on the different paragraphs we may not find ourselves in a difficulty.
– The present position is that any honorable member who has not spoken may move any amendment that ‘ he pleases. I should not put such an amendment until those already notified had been dealt with. Each will be put in its proper order. But any honorable member who has spoken cannot speak again save on some amendment.
– May not an honorable member move an amendment without speaking ?
– No. No honorable member who has spoken to the general question can move an amendment.
– I understood you to say last night, Mr. Speaker, that an honorable member could do so.
– I distinctly stated the position. I said in answer to a question that any honorable member who in the course of his speech expressed a desire to move an amendment must at that stage intimate the terms of the amendment to the House, and that when the proper time came I should put the amendment so notified and handed in to me from the Chamber. Pour amendments have already been notified and submitted to me. The first is that moved by the honorable member for Gippsland, the second that indicated by the honorable member for Bland, the third that foreshadowed by the honorable member for Werriwa, and the fourth that proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney. Those amendments will be put in their order.
– Why do they not appear on the notice-paper?
– Order ! I cannot allow questions to be put to me in this way. I shall answer the question which .has been put by the honorable and learned member for Corio, so that the House may fully understand the position, and if honor- able members desire to put any other questions to me they must ask them later on. At present I have been notified of the four amendments to which I have referred.
If honorable members consider this a complex question, and ask me to put the paragraphs of the motion separately I shall be bound to do so, but I can do so only when that desire is expressed.
– On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, you will probably recollect that last night I asked this very question, and also indicated whilst on my feet an amendment which I intended to move. I think that amendment should be included in the list to which you have referred.
– If the honorable member had handed me a copy of the amendment I should have placed it in its proper order. If he will do so now I will take that course. He has not yet done so, but the honorable members to whom I have referred have submitted copies of their amendments to me.
– Before the question is put I desire to say that it is my intention to support the motion, but that I think there is much weight in the suggestion which has just been made by the honorable and learned member for Indi. I was not in my place in the House yesterday, but when I read the speech delivered by the honorable member for Gippsland I felt disposed to support his amendment. In view of what I have heard this afternoon in the House, I feel constrained, however, to withhold that support. I think that the amendment is unnecessary. Although its object is entirely right, its effect would be only to cause delay. I believe I am justified in saying, as a representative of South Australia, that there is no disposition on the part of the people of that State to fail in any way to do justice to New South Wales in the matter of the compact entered into.in regard to the Federal capital. South Australia is content that a site should be selected. That having been done, the expenditure of money may be left for future consideration; there is not the least occasion for hurry, and I may say that I shall strenuously oppose anything in the way of extravagant outlay.
– I should like to ask that each paragraph in the motion be submitted separately.
– I have no objection to the adoption of that course.
– It being the desire of the House, I shall put each paragraph separately.
Question- That after the word “ That,” line 1, the following words be inserted - “ with a view to the selection of the most suitable site for the Commonwealth seat of Government, and the acquisition of same, on the most favorable terms, it is desirable that the Government should ascertain the lowest price at which they can acquire one hundred square miles of territory at each of the following proposed sites, viz : - Albury, Bombala, and Tumut ; also the lowest price at which they can secure the necessary area for the protection of the proposed sources of water supply in connexion with each of the foregoing sites. That a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Senate with a Message requesting concurrence with same.” - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question proposed -
Amendment (by Mr.Watson) proposed -
That after the word “exhaustive” the word “open” be inserted.
– I move -
That the amendment be amended by the insertion, after the word “ open “ of the words “preference transfer.”
I do not know if honorable members fear that the adoption of my amendment will impose upon them a task beyond their powers, but I can assure them that it will make things much easier for them, although the scrutineers will have a little more work to do.
– Is the honorable member in order, he having already spoken to the motion?
– The honorable member is now speaking, not to the motion, but to the amendment of the honorable member for Bland, to which he has moved an amendment.
– Are we all entitled to speak to the amendment of the honorable member for Bland ?
– Every honorable member, with the exception of the honorable member for Bland, is entitled to speak to the amendment.
– The method of balloting provided for in the motion is in effect this : Honorable members must first vote each for a single site. The site which obtains the lowest number of votes is then struck out, and a fresh ballot is taken, honorable members voting again , each for one of the remaining sites. Those who voted for the site eliminated after the first ballot - let me call it site X - will, on a second ballot, vote for the site which is their second preference. The site for which the lowest number of votes is cast on the second ballot is eliminated, and a third ballot is taken, and the voting continues in that way until one site alone remains. When a member loses his first choice, he transfers his vote to his second ; when he loses his second choice, he transfers his vote to his third ; and so on. The system proposed is similar to that adopted in the United States in. their Conventions, when they ballot until an absolute majority is obtained by one candidate. But the system allows arrangements to be made and possible bargaining to take place between the ballots. What I suggest is that each member should give a preference vote for each of the sites, but that he should do it once and for all in the first ballot. If the system which I propose is adopted, one ballot-paper will be given to each member, and opposite his first preference he will place the figure 1 ; after his second preference - the site he would choose in the event of his first preference being rejected - the figure 2 ; after his third preference - the site for which he would vote in the event of his first and second preferences being rejected - he would place the figure 3.
– That is the contingent vote.
– That is practically what it is. Instead of having seven or eight ballots before a final decision is reached, there would be one ballot, but the same result would be obtained. The system has the advantage that it makes the balloting free from any possible imputation of interference between the ballots. <-
– Is there anything wrong in arranging combinations or making bargains during the balloting?
– -I think that every honorable member should vote for the sites in the order of his preference, and that no bargaining should be possible. I desire to prevent a man saying - “If you will vote against site X, I will vote against site Y,” or, “ Let us combine to vote for site X, in order to secure the rejection of site A.” It is desirable that we should avoid even the suspicion of bargaining while the ballot is in progress.
– I see nothing in the amendment which will assist us in coming to a reasonable and clear decision upon the question. If the amendment were carried, we should have to declare at the first ballot the opinions we hold regarding every one of the sites submitted. The amendment means that honorable members cannot be trusted after the first ballot to give a second preference according to their second choice. It seems to be assumed that we do not recognise the responsibility attaching to our office, and therefore cannot be trusted to do what is right. The inherent weakness of the proposal lies in the .assumption that we can learn nothing to-morrow that we do not know to-day. Why should any honorable member be debarred from altering his mind between the first and the second ballots ? Why should he not learn something after the taking of the first ballot which would cause him to alter his opinion in regard to the remaining ballots? The honorable and learned member proposes that if I vote for site X as my first choice, and that happens to be the last on the list when the primary votes are counted, that site will be defeated and my second choice will become my first choice in the second count, and so on right down the list. Does the honorable member seriously argue that in an ordinary exhaustive ballot I should depart from my second choice on my second count ?
– I do not argue anything of the kind. I said that the system of voting I proposed would prevent any imputations being made.
– We need not trouble ourselves about imputations. . We are about to go before the electors, and we may take the consequences of any ‘ vote we may give. If we vote openly we shall act with a dignity more becoming this Parliament than if we proceed by secret methods.
– I do not propose that the voting shall be other than open.
– The honorable member’s imputation is a serious one, because he suggests that we cannot be trusted to act honestly with regard to our second, third, fourth, and fifth votes. He says that we must declare our preference, in case we. may be inveigled into voting in a way which would be inconsistent, with our real choice.
– I understand that the honorable member’s proposal embodies the principle of the contingent vote exercised in an open manner. But many honorable members could not indicate their second preference until their first preference had been thrown aside. The second preference might be determined by the way in which the first was treated. That is the great difficulty in the way of adopting the proposal of the honorable member.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I am quite satisfied that I shall have no chance of carrying my amendment - although I think it ought to be carried - and therefore, with a view to save time, I beg leave to withdraw it.
Amendment of the amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment agreed to.
– The honorable and learned member for Indi has asked me to move the following amendment : -
That the word “ three “ be inserted after the word “which.”
The object of the honorable and learned member is that the Conference shall select three sites, so that we may have an opportunity of obtaining fuller information before being called upon to make a - final choice.
– I feel very much obliged to my honorable friend for having acted for me during my absence, and I should just like to say very briefly why . I think the amendment should be agreed to. I explained on a former occasion that as the motion stands it would absolutely commit honorable members to vote for the site reported to the House as agreed to by the Conference. -My difficulty is that I am not personally in possession of sufficient information to guide me as to the probable cost involved in the selection of any particular site. I feel that we ought to proceed in any event to the selection of a site now. Since we have been invited to do so, it would be a contravention of our duty to refuse. I desire, however, to proceed as economically as possible, and to feel sure that we shall not embark upon any unnecessary expenditure. I think that the capital should be established upon the most economical basis consistent with the object we have in view, and, therefore, carrying out the idea suggested by the honorable member for Gippsland, I think that it would be advisable to ask that three sites should be submitted so that the Houses may make a final choice in the face of fair competition between the sites as to the cost. If the Prime Minister can afford the House the necessary information earlier so that we may judge for ourselves as to the advisability of selecting any one or other of the sites, that would probably be sufficient ; but I do not like to vote blindfolded or to commit myself to support whatever site may be determined upon by an absolute majority of the Conference.
– I am quite conscious of the excellence of the motives of my honorable and learned friend, but I cannot quite bring myself to believe that the amendment has as much practicality as generally marks ‘his proposals. I think, on the whole, that the project would plunge us into difficulties greater than those we must necessarily encounter. If we were to determine upon three sites at the Conference, those three sites would have to be dealt with in a Bill, and it would be very difficult to bring forward any Bill without either leaving a blank to be filled up by selecting one of the three sites by each House in turn, or by including the whole of the thi-ee sites in the Bill in the first instance, and leaving the final choice to be made by an exhaustive ballot or preferential vote. One of these consequences must ensue, and in case of either of them we should be involved in difficulty. We should have to overcome the difficulty as to voting if we nominated three sites to be determined by the Houses either separately or together. If we left a blank tobe filled in by the House of first instance, so to speak, that House would insert the name of a site or district, and if the other House differed- and, of course, we know that it is within the bounds of possibility that it would - that name would be removed and another would be substituted. Then we should have the whole trouble over again, and we should have to proceed by the usual parliamentary method of amendment, objection to amendment, and insistence upon the amendment of the amending House. After that we should have a Conference, and after that what 1 - . -
– Chaos. ‘
– There would be great difficulties at any rate, because if the Conference of the two Houses disclosed an adherence on the part of each House to the site that it had named, it would not be able to report any agreement. The difficulty of coming to an agreement would be largely enhanced by the degree .of pardonable and proper pride which members of each House would have in the decision of their own Chamber.
That would constitute a very great difficulty. Probably it could be removed - as I pointed out yesterday - only by a dead-lock, which would result in the loss of the Bill, or by the selection of some site which each House might accept for the sake of peace, although each might think it inferior to that which it originally supported. Therefore, it would probably be a site which was not so good as either of the sites which had been named in their respective proceedings. That would be a very serious difficulty, and in view of the obstacles to which I have directed attention, I would recommend the honorable and learned member for Indi to withdraw his proposal.
– If the right honorable gentleman can give me an approximate estimate of the cost, I shall be satisfied.
– We have been told by Mr. Speaker - and it quite accords with my own view in framing these resolutions - that a discussion of the merits of the several sites - which, of course, would include the question of the cost of resuming them - does not come within the scope of the resolutions. As soon as they have been passed, however, I shall lay certain papers upon the table of the House, and I shall ask my honorable colleague the Minister for Defence to lay a copy of them upon the table in the other Chamber. Honorable members will then see what would be the approximate cost of resuming 100 square miles of territory around each site named in the report. I am also in possession of figures which I have obtained by telegraph from the Lands Department in Sydney, and which I hope will be supplemented by a fuller statement shortly, which give the cost of resuming an .area of twenty miles by twenty, of twenty-five miles by twenty-five, and of thirty miles by thirty, or, in other words, of 400, 600, and 900 square miles respectively. The relative positions’ of the various sites will also be clearly shown in those papers. In the meantime, however, it seems to me that we should adhere to the one straight line which we have to observe in regard to these resolutions. Our duty is to adopt a course of procedure irrespective of what our opinions may be upon the merits of the different sites.
– I wish to support the contention of the Prime Minister. It seems to me that if we depart from the course which he has suggested we shall land ourselves iri a serious difficulty. Even as matters stand trouble may be experienced in constitutionally preventing honorable members from endeavouring to include in the Bill dealingwith the selection of the site some town, other than those which have been reported upon by the Commission. If we are required to deal with three sites we shall only add tothe labours of the Conference, and in view of the short period at our disposal prior to theclose of the session, anything which requiresthat work shall be done two or three timesover, should be discountenanced.
– Upon the whole, I think that the suggestion of the Prime Minister is the most practical one.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn..
Amendment (by Mr. Conroy) proposed -
That the words “ of the sites reported on by the Royal Commission on Sites for the Seat df Government of the Commonwealth, appointed by the Governor-General on the fourteenth day of January, 1903,” be omitted, with a view to insert the word “district.”
– Speakingwithout having given this matter as close consideration as I might have done, I haveno desire to throw any serious obstacle in. the way of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. If we were not hampered by any regard for the provisions of the Constitution, the difficulty with which we are confronted might be much more easy of solution. At the same time it is incumbent upon me to do what I can to inform honorable members upon this matter. In thisconnexion I would draw attention to section 125 of the Constitution, which says -
The seat of government of the Commonwealth, shall be determined, by the Parliament, &c.
Although in another part of the Constitution there is a provision from which it might possibly be inferred that the seat of government means the Federal area, I do not think it can be contended that it has that meaning* in a section which draws so sharp a distinction between the seat of government and the territory in which it is situated. The seat of government is one place, and the territory is another. Consequently, if we are not very careful, we may find ourselves dealing with the question of the whole territory instead of exercising our first function, which is to determine where the seat of government shall be. If, therefore, the House does not desire to hamper itself by paying too much regard to the 4,000 acres. which is the area mentioned in the Commissioners’ report, it will be necessary to go further than this amendment contemplates, in order to clearly define its intention. To use the word “district” without any explanation would probably cause the motion to be construed as referring to the selection of the Federal territory. That is not our first purpose. We wish to proceed step by step according to the provisions laid down in section 125 of the Constitution. Our first duty is to determine the seat of Government. Possibly we might add to the amendment words which would remove portion of the objection which applies to it. For instance, I take it that the power which the Parliament possesses, within the limits assigned to it, is a plenary one, and is therefore capable of being delegated. I mightrefer to the Apollo Candle case as an illustration of what I mean. Just as in that case power was given to the Collector of Customs to declare that certain articles were dutiable, so power might be conferred upon a Commission to select the place upon which the capital should be built after we had determined its locality. If that is the object of the amendment, no doubt the honorable and learned member for Werriwa will co-operate with his friends with the view to getting us out of the difficulty in which its adoption would land us. I am not so strongly wedded to the use of the word “ site” as to make a long fight in its favour. At the same time I hold that we are taking only the preparatory step towards determining the seat of Government, which is quite distinct from the territory within which it is to be located.
– The last words of the section show that.
– Yes. They show very plainly that for the time being Melbourne has been accepted as an alternative to the seat of government. I feel myself altogether in the hands of the House, a.nd not at, all adverse to the spirit of the amendment. Nevertheless, if any words are inserted we should make it perfectly clear that the place mentioned is not the seat of government, but a place within which we, afterwards, intend to give some statutory direction as to things to be done towards making the seat of government. If the House uses the word “districts,” instead of itself specifically selecting the seat of government, it will have to constitute some delegated authority, which, within a certain area, will be empowered to select the seat of government for it. T do not think that any difficulty would be experienced in that respect. If the House selected the district in which the capital is to be located, it might be quite content to allow experts to determine the site of the city. Personally, I think that such a tribunal could select it better than we could. Upon that aspect of the question I should like to hear the views of honorable members. Probably the honorable and learned member for Werriwa will co-operate with his friends with a view to safeguarding us in the matter, otherwise I think we should adhere to the terms of the resolution.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - The intention of the amendment is no doubt good. When once we have decided upon the territory, no doubt an exhaustive consideration of the whole area, with a view to throwing further light upon it, would be a very good thing. But in view of the saving of time which will thereby be effected, I think it is better to adopt the resolution in its present form, and to allow the Conference to consider the question which has been raised, especially as it involves a constitutional point. As the Government is at one with the honorable and learned member for Werriwa in his desire that the best site shall be selected within the area, it might be possible - before the Conference meets - to frame a resolution which would be in the nature of an instruction. to the Government, in the drafting of the Bill. I suggest that we should pass the resolution in its present form, and allow the matter to stand over for further consideration.
Mr. ISAACS (Indi).- I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth. We are not passing an Act of Parliament, and, consequently, we are not bound by the verbiage of this resolution. So long as we understand its meaning, the Bill, which will be introduced at a later stage, can provide for all the technical differences which will arise by reason of the wording of the Constitution. I do not anticipate that any difficulty will be experienced if we pass the motion in the form in which it now stands.
– I think that the suggestion made by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa is in its essence an excellent one, although it might perhaps be practicable to allow the phraseology of the motion to stand, and to make the desired provision in the Bill itself. I trust that Parliament will be seized of the unwisdom of finally fixing upon any site that may be suggested as the actual location of thecapital The Commissioners themselves have already recommended that a proper contour survey should be carried out before any final selection of the site of the city is made. We are quite competent, no doubt, to fix the location of the capital in a general way ; but I, for one, am convinced that in two instances a hurried selection, made primarily on the part of local residents, and an equally hurried inspection by the Commissioners, has ‘ led to an error in regard to the best position in which to build the city itself. In view of that fact I think that, in the absence of further expert advice, it would be highly unwise to come to a final determination in this respect. We should have a detailed survey to assist us, and I think that the necessary provision could be made in the Bill, founded on the resolution arrived at by the Conference, or by the Houses sitting separately.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I cannot help inferring from the speeches which have been made that we are disposed somewhat to depart from the right track in dealing with the motion as it stands. The resolution that has been carried relates to a determination, not as to the Federal territory to be acquired, but as ‘to the seat of government. The first paragraph in the motion is, that a conference be held- “to consider the selection of the seat of government.” The Constitution places no obstacle in the way of the extension of the Federal Territory right up to Sydney, as long as the seat of government itself be distant 100 miles from that city. The proposal to fix a district is a very vague one. What we shall have to do, if the motion stands, is to consider the seat of government, or, in other words, the particular place at which the Federal Capital shall be erected. If honorable members look at section 1 25 of the Constitution they will see that it provides that the seat of government shall be determined by the Parliament ; that if New South Wales be an original State it shall be within that State, and be distant not less than 100 miles from Sydney. There is no restriction, so far as the territory itself is concerned.
– I think that the honorable and learned member will find that, practically, there is a limit, because wehave to deal with the State Parliament 0 New South Wales.
– No doubt the practical limit will come into play. But so far as Crown lands are concerned, they must be handed over to the Commonwealth without any payment. The difficulty occurs solely in regard to private lands.
– A territory of 100 square miles would run .only 10 miles in any one direction.
– We are not limited to an area of 100 square miles. As thePrime Minister has indicated, an area o£ 400, or even 1,000 square miles, may be acquired. But I think it is clear that it is a mistake to suggest that we are simply proposing to fix the district within which the seat of government is to be. As the motion stands we shall have to fix the seat of government. We shall subsequently have to declare in the Bill what area of land adjoining the city itself shall be acquired, and in what direction it shall be taken up. We have now, as it were, to fix the centre and then to describe the circumference.
– Could we not have Federal territory outside New South Wales ?
– I shall not venture toexpress an opinion on that point. I do not think that such a thing is likely. My desire is that the House shall not vote under a misapprehension. The motion as it stands is to determine the place where the seat of government is to be - where Ministers are to have their offices.
– They have not yet been able to survey the sites.
– After we have fixed the site of the seat of government the surveyors and experts will have to submit to Parliament a scheme showing the best territory towork in with that seat of government. They will also have to submit estimates as to the cost of the lands. I simply wish to make it clear that we are to fix the seat of government, and that we shall subsequently have to determine what extent of territory shall be acquired.
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).The amendment moved by the ‘ honorable and learned member for Werriwa certainly requires some explanation. Under the third paragraph of the motion the intention appears to be that an exhaustive ballot shall be taken as to the sites which have been reported upon by the Commissioners as suitable for the seat of government. We have already obtained evidence, and the House, by resolution, has already determined upon a certain number of districts as being best adapted for the purposes of a Federal capital. This motion simply follows upon the determination already arrived at by the House, and declares that there shall be an exhaustive ballot in relation to the sites which have been reported upon. The proposal made by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa is that the paragraph shall read -
That at such Conference an exhaustive ballot be taken to ascertain which district is in the opinion of the members of the Parliament the most suitable for the establishment of such seat ‘of govern:ment.
Thus at this ballot it would be absolutely open to honorable members to select any site within New South Wales.
– No; the various sites re-, ported upon are. already grouped into districts.
– It would be absolutely necessary to insert some term defining the meaning of the word “district.” If we were to provide that an exhaustive ballot be taken to ascertain which of the districts “” which have already been reported upon “ is the most suitable, we might get over the difficulty.
– We shall otherwise reopen the whole question by adopting the -amendment.
– Quite so. If we :accepted the amendment, we should revert to “the position which we occupied before passing the resolution for the appointment of a Commission to report on these several sites. My object is to ascertain what are the intentions of the honorable and learned mem”>ber. No doubt they are honorable, and therefore he should take care to see that his amendment will give absolute effect to them.
– I agree with the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs that this amendment would practically re-open the whole question, and leave us as we were when the work of in- specting the various proposed sites was first -entered upon. When this matter, was remitted by the State Government of New South Wales to Mr. Oliver, a large number of presumably suitable sites were put before him for consideration. After a very exhaustive inquiry, he reduced the number to three - Orange, Yass, and Bombala. Subsequently, in appointing expert Commissioners to submit a report to the House, we decided to widen the scope of the inquiry by submitting to their consideration the nine sites which had been reported upon by Mr. Oliver. The motion proposes that a Conference shall take place between the two Houses to deal with the sites reported upon by the Commission, and if we turn to the report of that Commission we shall find that it deals practically with the site of the proposed .city rather than with the broad question of the territory to be acquired. As a matter of fact, it does’ not touch upon the territory to be acquired. All the information that we have as to the question of territory is that which has been compiled by Mr. Oliver, and thus, if we adopt this amendment we shall practically set aside as useless the report presented by the Commission which we appointed. I think that that Commission would have been well advised if it had dealt with the broader question, and its failure to do so has to some extent placed us at a disadvantage. If we wish to arrive at a satisfactory decision we can dp so only by carrying the motion as submitted by the Government, with the modification suggested by the honorable member for North Sydney. We should deal with the question as the Commission appointed by us has dealt with it. Once having selected the site of the city itself we should decide upon the territory to be acquired. I feel that if we adopted this amendment we should re-open the whole question and be led into an almost interminable discussion that would practically defeat the object which we have in view.
– Whilst I quite agree with the object which the honorable and learned member for Werriwa has in view in submitting this amendment, I recognise with other honorable members that his proposal would leave the question to be determined so open that it would give rise to considerable difficulty. The resolution by which we referred the selection of suitable sites to the Commission set forth-
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. . . .
In view of the language used in that resolution, would not the object which the honorable and learned member has in view be attained by substituting the word “localities” for the word “site” in paragraph 3? The word “ localities “ is used in the resolution under which the Commissioners were appointed. Then in the last line of the paragraph, after the word “establish,” the word “ therein “ might be inserted. The paragraph would then read -
That at such Conference an exhaustive open ballot be taken to ascertain which of the localities reported on by the Royal Commission on sites for the seat of government …. is in the opinion of the members of the. Parliament the most suitable for the establishment therein of such seat of government.
– How would the honorable member avoid the difficulty of having localities without any possible definition or limit put to them ?
– I presume that if a locality were determined upon by the two Houses, what would follow is what is suggested by the Commission.
– If the locality comprised an area of 400 square miles, it would not be wise to fix upon one particular site in it when, by travelling twenty miles .one way or another, a much better site might be obtained. The general features of many parts of the country remain about the same over a large area. The first point to be considered is accessibility, and the next climate, neither of which might be affected by such a change.
– I can quite understand that. But if we adopted the honorable and learned member’s proposal we might be met with this difficulty, that we should have the whole of New South Wales before us, and would be able to select a site quite apart from the localities reported upon by. the Commissioners.
– Suppose the word “ territories “ were used.
– I have already pointed out the objection to the use of the word “territories.”
– I suggest the use of the word “ localities “ for the reason I have given, that it is the word used in the resolution under which the Royal Commission was issued. The Commissioners reported upon certain localities, and indicated what they considered the best sites in those localities for the seat of government. The adoption of my suggestion would not prevent the extension of the Federal area to» any distance that Parliament might see fit to adopt upon the advice of those who may afterwards be appointed to choose the exact site for the Federal city. If we agree to the paragraph, amended as I suggest, we shall provide for the decision that a certain locality - one of those reported upon by the Commissioners - is the best for establishingtherein the seat of government.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- I stongly urge the honorable and learned member for Werriwa to withdraw his amendment. It takes us back to the stageat which we were when we provided for the appointment of Commissioners to make an inquiry respecting certain sites. TheCommissioners were appointed to find out which of certain localities would be the most suitable within which to locate the seat of government. I submit that weought not now to be asked to take a coursewhich would mean a fresh inquiry, and prevent the selection of the site by this Parliament. With the expert evidence at ourdisposal, we should now be in a position tomake a final selection, and the object of the motion is to enable us to do so. Havingcome to that point, the honorable and learned member seeks to take us back tothe position at which we were twelvemonths ago.
– Does the honorable member suggest the use of the word “ localities”?”
– I am satisfied with the paragraph as it stands. Even if it were advisable to discuss the question raised by the honorable and learned member, the time to do so is during the holding of the Conference. T urge the honorable and learned member to withdraw his amendment, so that we may come to a vote.
– In my opinion, the question raised by the amendment is of the utmost importance. It raises the inquiry - Are wegoing to decide the exact site of the capital, or the territory within which it is to be built? The Capital Sites Commission wasauthorized -
To inquire into and examine the sites proposed for the seat of the Government of the Commonwealth in the following localities.
Those localities were specified. In my opinion the Commissioners went beyond their commission in reporting upon alternatesites in threeor fourinstances,and their action in doing so has been criticised by Mr. Oliver in his later report. Some honorable members might be disposed to vote for the Tumut site reported upon by Mr. Oliver, but the Commission reported upon quite a different site. Mr. Oliver, on page 24 of his report, states that in his opinion the area suggested - 80,000 acres - is altogether inadequate, and asks whether we should not consider the advisability of providing for a very much larger area. After the speeches which I have heard in this Chamber, and especially that of the Prime Minister upon the motion of the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, some time ago, I feel certain that honorable members are of opinion that 80,000 acres is an inadequate area. Later on I shall have an opportunity to express my opinion on the action of the Commissioners in selecting alternate sites in some localities and refusing to do so in others. I should like to know why they reported upon -an area of 4,000 acres. What do we wish to know about an area like that ?
– It looks like an inspiration.
– I do not agree with the honorable member there. But after reporting .upon an area of 4,000 acres, the Commissioners, on page 3 of their report, say -
Your Commissioners have made what they believe to be the best suggestions for sites which were possible under the circumstances ; but they wish to record an emphatic opinion, that, when the locality in which the Federal Capital is to be placed shall have been selected by the Parliament, extensive contour surveys, covering the suggested site in that locality and the neighbourhood around such site, should be made before the exact city site is determined.
The Prime Minister has pointed out a difficulty. We cannot get away from the fact that we shall be practically hand cuffed if we attempt to say that any one of the sites recommended by the Commissioners is the very place that we intend to build upon. Our trouble is to define the area approximately. We should first choose a territory and afterwards fix the capital site within that territory. We should engage surveyors and engineers, the very best in the world, to fix upon the place that would be most suitable for the capital. I realize the difficulties which have been indicated by the Prime Minister, and therefore I shall not support the amendment, but I should prefer to define the territory within which the capital is to be fixed, and stop there.
– The ‘ honorable member wants to get rid of all other sites except Bombala.
– I do not wish to do anything of the kind, but I am entitled to ask honorable members to express their opinion with regard to the area they require for the Federal territory.
– Icannontunderstand why all this warmth should be exhibited. The honorable member for Eden -Monaro appears to be attempting to create difficulties beyond those which are inevitable. I hope that the honorable and learned member for Werriwa will withdraw his amendment. The word “ district “ is too comprehensive, and the word “ locality “ would be preferable. They talk of the western “ district “ of New South Wales, which includes an area of 87,000,000 acres. Honorable members seem to forget that we are dealing with a series of resolutions and not with an Act of Parliament, and that close definitions may be embodied in the Bill which will have to be brought before us. Honorable members fully understand that we shall only select the Federal territory, and that the Capital site will have to be fixed within that territory at a later stage. I do not suppose that even the Commissioner who reported upon the sites could fix upon the exact spots suitable for a Capital. We all understand what the word “site” means, and as. the motion has been very carefully framed, we should allow it to stand.
– I am very glad that the amendment has been moved, because it affords me an opportunity of making certain remarks which I was not able to address to the House last evening. When the question of the Capital sites was under consideration last session, the Minister for Trade and Customs made a promise that an inspection should be made of a site which was not included among those referred to the Commissioners, and I think that this locality might be included within one of the districts contemplated by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. The Minister said -
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.
Later on, in reply to my interjection -
Will the inspection of the Albury site include an inspection of the Upper Murray site ? - the Minister said -
No, there is no need for that, because the water supply of Albury is an assured one.
I then asked -
Might not the Commissioners be allowed to report upon the whole locality within a certain distance of any one site ?
The Minister replied -
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.
The Minister did nothing with regard to that site. Honorable members were not invited to inspect it, and the site was not referred to the Commissioners for report. The Minister said -
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.
That site was referred to the experts, but the Upper Murray site has not been dealt with. 1 understand that the Upper Murray site is only forty-six miles from Tumut, and I consider, therefore, that it might be included either within the Albury or the Tumut district. I do not know why the Minister did not carry out his promise. It was because of his failure in that respect that I took exception to the report of the Commissioners and to the manner in which it was presented to this House. The difference in the distance of Tumut from Sydney and from Melbourne is only .seventy-one miles–
– I must ask the honorable member not to discuss any special sites.
– I understood that the question of inserting the word “ districts “ was before the House, and that it was suggested that the word “locality” might be employed with greater advantage. I quite agree that to use the word “ districts “ would re-open the whole question as to the area from which the sites should be selected, but I think that the word “locality” might be adopted as a limitation of town district, and that it might be made to include the Upper Murray site, which is certainly a very promising one.
– I have not yet spoken upon the motion, but my silence must not, however, be taken to convey complete acquiescence. The discussion which, has taken place has confirmed the opinion I have entertained from the outset that the motion was hastily submitted tothe House. The Constitution prescribesthat we shall first acquire a territory. That territory might be secured by the Government even without consulting Parliament, although it would no doubt be inexpedient for them to do so without submitting a series of resolutions or a Bill. The motion would have been more appropriate if we had already acquired the Federal territory. The sixth paragraph says-
That it is expedient that a Bill be introduced’ after such report has been made to the House, todetermine, as the seat of government of the Commonwealth, the site so reported to the House.
The “ seat of government “ is the place where the parliamentary buildings are to be actually erected. The Canadian Constitution provides that, until the Queen otherwise determines, the seat of Government shall be “at” Ottawa.
– They only chose the town, without any surrounding- territory.
– No doubt, but the Constitution provided, not that the town should be the seat of government, but that the seat of government should be at Ottawa.
– But there is noplace other than the town of Ottawa known, by that name.
– The word “ seat “ is used1 to indicate the place where the Parliamentactually sits, and, as a matter of fact, wecannot constitutionally fix the seat of government until the territory has been selected. We may direct the Governmentas to the territory to be acquired, and afterwards a Bill should be introduced fixingthe site of the Federal capital, or the seat of government, within that territory. Themotion puts the cart before the horse. TheConstitution provides - .
The seat of government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament, and shall, be within territory which shall have’ been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth.
In other words, the territory is to be firstacquired, and wehavethento determine wherewithin that territory the seat of government shall be. The motion has been drafted without the necessary care, and the discussion which has taken place shows that we should not be in too great a hurry to determine this matter.
– I think that the Prime Minister might very we’ll consider the point raised by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn. He has pointed out that no reference is made in the Constitution to the Federal capital site. The only thing mentioned is the seat of government and the Federal territory, and the site of the Federal capital will have to be fixed within that territory. I suggest that the word “ territory “ should be substituted for “ site “ in the paragraph now under consideration.
– I am afraid that would launch us into still greater difficulties, because the territory will have to be dealt with subsequently.
– If the Prime Minister adopted the word “ locality “ it would overcome the difficulty.
– This is the position : Section 125 of the Constitution provides that the Parliament shall determine the seat of government. The view of the Government upon this matter was explained by me last night. First, we must determine the seat of government by Act of Parliament. When that determination has been arrived at, it will be for the New South Wales Parliament to pass a law - after such negotiation as is necessary - surrendering to the Commonwealth the territory which is comprised within the site selected. The Parliament of the Commonwealth will then pass a law accepting it as Federal territory. That step will bring the area surrendered under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. At that process I stop. There are several other processes to be undergone, but that is as far as we need contemplate going at the present time. If at this stage we complicate the question under consideration by deciding as to the Federal territory, we shall be leaping before we come to the stile. Our first object should be to determine the seat of government. To fix the Federal territory before we have absolutely defined its extent and boundaries - even if we had the power to acquire it in that way - would be premature, because our first business is to determine the seat of government.
– Not by Act of Parliament 1
– Undoubtedly. The honorable and learned member will see that, if he refers to section 125 of the Constitution.
– That provision says that the seat of government shall be within territory which “shall have been acquired.”
– I do not attribute too much importance to the words “ shall have been acquired.” In considering the whole of the ramifications of that section, I do not think they will bear the interpretation which the honorable and learned member would place upon them. If we deal with the question of the Federal territory we shall be anticipating what ought to be done after the seat of the government has been selected. I am merely stating the view at which I have arrived after long consideration. But, apart from all other objections, if we use the word “district,” or “locality,” or “territory,” even if we do not encounter some such obstacle as I have mentioned, we shall be confronted with another difficulty. We shall be using an expression which requires pome sort of definition without assigning any limits within which it shall apply. Therefore, quite contrary to our wish, the Federal territory might be almost cpextensive with the whole of the State in which the capital is to be located. That is a difficulty which might be insuperable. If the word “ district “ is employed we shall have to use it in juxtaposition with other words, which will show the kind of district we mean. If we used the word “ locality,” which has been suggested because it coincides with the expression which is employed in the Commission, and therefore has some sort of signification in that connexion, we might guard it by omitting the word “sites” in the resolution, and insert in lieu thereof the words - “ The following localities, namely Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Bombala, Dalgety, Lake George, Lyndhurst, Orange, and Tumut.” We might use some expression which would convey a definite meaning as applied to the localities which were reported upon by the Commission. Unless some such suggestion is adopted, I think that the words’ contained -in- the “resolution are susceptible of less danger than are those of the amendment.
– That would not put us any forwarder.
– Except that it would give us a choice of sites in any particular locality.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the word “sites “be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “following localities, namely, Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Bombala, Dalgety, Lake George, Lyndhurst, Orange, and Tumut.”
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I desire to point out finally that this amendment constitutes an invitation to the joint sitting to make another investigation of these localities.
– It actually prevents that. It provides for a ballot upon the different localities, and leaves the determination of the site to a Commission which will afterwards be appointed by Bill.
– It means a further delay in the final determination of this question.
– There must be a survey made.
– Yes ;but not a further investigation of a particular locality. There is all the difference in the world between the two things. The one means that a survey shall be made preparatory to the erection of buildings upon the exact site, and the other, that a further investigation shall be made into the merits of a particular locality. I understand that the site which is specially favoured by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa has been omitted, and that he now desires its claims to be considered. If. he achieves his purpose it will be quite open to the Conference to reconsider the merits of any other sites. The honorable member for Grampians will be entitled to have his proposal reconsidered.
– My amendment would have permitted that, but this proposal does not.
– Will this amendment admit of the claims of Yass being considered ?
– I am sorry to say that it will not.
– Then what is the object of the honorable and learned member?
– I merely wish to prevent a particular area, which perhaps measures only 2½ miles by 2½ miles from being selected as the final site.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- As I understand the position, the Minister for Trade and Customs proposes to omit the word “sites.” If his amendment be carried, the honorable member for Grampians will have a perfect right to demand that the site which he favours shall be reported upon. For that reason I intend to support it.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That after the word “ establishment “ the words “ within such locality “ be inserted.
Amendment (by Mr. Thomson) proposed -
That the following words be added : - “Provided that before such exhaustive ballot be taken the sites in each of the following groups be reduced by ballot to one site in each group ; -
– I have been thinking over this proposal. I have discussed it in a friendly way with the honorable member for North Sydney, and I must say that I am not at all sure that it would be wise to adopt it.
– We want the best horse in each stable to run.
– The proposal is to look at the stables from which the horses run, instead of viewing the horses as a whole.
– The right honorable gentleman prefers to win with one.
– If we were pursuing the methods practised on the turf, we might possibly let the “ other one “ win as is sometimes done there.
– That is the right honorable gentleman’s simile.
– I am aware of that ; but my similes, and those put forward by the honorable member, do not always apply to the same facts. I would put this consideration before honorable members : Is it not possible that by grouping the districts we might eliminate from one or other of them a site which, when subsequently compared with the site selected from another group, would be considered, in our judgment, the better of the two ? Let us say, for example, that there are two sites in one district. Only one can be the better of those two. We take that one. Then we deal with another district. Only one can be the better of the two in that district. We take that one. Then supposing that the ballot results in the rejection of the other sites - it is not necessary to suppose that it would, but we are simply considering this case by way of illustration - we should have to choose between those two. It is quite on the cards, however, that in the district dealt with in the first place, there might be two sites better than the one in another group selected to compete with only one chosen from the first-named locality. To that extent we should be fettering our choice. It may be that, in the opinion of the House, district A contains three sites which have claims for consideration, but if this amendment were adopted we should be bound to select only one of those three sites, and to compare it with one in district B, which might be worse than either of the two rejected in district A. The more the honorable member examines his proposal the more will he be convinced that my suggestion is correct. There is another point which I would submit to his consideration. Expedients of this kind, as compared with the straight-out method of the exhaustive ballot, are to some extent novel, and if, by so much novelty as we introduce into our proposal we increase the risk of disagreement with another place when the two Houses exercise their votes together - if another place agrees to meet us in conference - we shall be in a worse position. We shall be in a worse position if we increase the difficulty of inducing them to agree to meet us in conference, by laying down at the threshold a method of discussion which, being novel, may not appeal to the members of another place as being equal to an actual straight-out exhaustive ballot. I am not bigoted in regard to this matter, and I am not putting forward what is merely an imaginary difficulty. I see in this amendment a danger which may appeal very strongly to us when we come to the point of whether the Senate will agree to accept this process. If we lay down this procedure we may expect more difficulty than if we refrain from doing so. The proposal for an exhaustive ballot does not suggest the danger that the two Houses will not by that method arrive at a selection which represents the majority of the vor,ing ] power of the Parliament. If we have a process which will lead to that conclusion, is it not better that we should cleave to it rather than set up another process which, even if it’ would guide us to an equally safe conclusion - and I do not for one moment? admit that it would - would nevertheless possess an element that would be much less likely to tend to the two Houses arriving at an agreement of that kind which is absolutely necessary before we can vote at all.
– Is the right honorable gentleman aware that a member of his Government preferred that three of the sites should be dealt with as one 1
– I know that in the resolution referring to the Commission the work of inspecting and reporting upon certain sites, certain words are used in regard to Orange, Lyndhurst, and Bathurst ; but I do not think that my honorable friend can be serious in saying that the fact that they occur in that motion is a good ground for the application of this process to all the sites. If there is anything in his argument, it is that the occurrence of these words in the resolution, in reference to one group of sites, is a sufficient ground for their application to every other group.
– It is only out of fairness, to the others.
– I am rather of the opinion that if in ordinary circumstances safety can be found in an exhaustive ballot such as is proposed, none of the elements of that safety will be increased by the adoption of the amendment moved by the honorable member. The difficulty is. that the honorable member seeks to apply to. several groups an argument which is founded upon the occurrence of certain words in the Commission which apply to only one group.
– Out of fairness to the others.
– The honorable member repeats his assertion, but I fail . to see where the argument of fairness comes in. No doubt he will be able to convince’ me.
– I cannot speak at this stage.
– Then no ‘ doubt some honorable member who is equally conversant with the facts will be able to do so. The suggestion that because three sites have been bracketed together in a passage in the Commission a greater measure of fairness would be extended to the others by applying the system of grouping to them carries no conviction to one’s mind. I shall ask the House to say that the absence of the application of the expression in question to other groups of sites referred to in the resolution for the appointment of the Commission is some evidence that the use of it in one particular case is exceptional, and covers no governing implication that should cause it to be applied to all the sites named in the report. Without wishing to adopt any . strained . view of this proposal, I really think that if the honorable member reconsiders the matter he will see the advisableness of withdrawing his amendment as being calculated in itself to prevent the Senate from coming to a oneness of purpose with us by agreeing that a vote shall be taken at a joint sitting of both Houses. In my opinion, anything which would lead to that result has, as I pointed out last night, some element of danger in it.
– I should like to point out to the Prime Minister that the grouping of Orange, Bathurst, and Lyndhurst, in the resolution referring to the Commission the work of inspecting and reporting on these sites, was due to no mere error in drafting. It was deliberately done. Here is what the Minister in charge of the resolution said at the time -
STow 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 terri-, tory if any site near the Canobolas were selected, otherwise the territory which is available at the latter place would be insufficient.
I submit, therefore, that it would be unfair to deal with these three sites separately, and to put them individual])’ against others when in reality they have been considered as only one.
– Is that the reason for this amendment - that it is desired that they shall not be pitted against each other ?
– The object of the amendment is that the votes of honorable members representing the western districts of New South Wales may be consolidated.
– That is a nice admission to make.
– It will extend the fairest of fair play to those honorable members just as it will extend fair play to honorable members who favour other sites.
– Yet the honorable member has been talking about gerrymandering;
– The honorable and learned member is a good authority on gerrymandering.
– Is it not strange . that all these suggestions come from the representatives of one State which has always been protesting its bona fides in this matter? I am simply quoting Hansard to show that it has always been the Ministerial intention that these three sites - Orange, Lyndhurst, and Bathurst - should be treated as one. Inasmuch as some honorable members hold different views as to the relative value of these various sites, we think ic is. fair that they should be able to consolidate their votes when we are asked to come to a final determination. That is the main reason for this amendment, and if honorable members are prepared to determine this question upon lines of fair play they will not raise the faintest objection to it. The motion means that these three sites have been reported upon separately, and are to be dealt with separately by us, in spite of the intention that they should be regarded as one. The amendment, however, proposes that we shall revert to what was the original intention of the Minister, and so enable the vote for the western sites to be consolidated when the final determination has to be arrived at.
– I find myself unable to consider this question from the point of view taken up by the Prime Minister, and I feel that he has overlooked certain facts in arriving at the conclusion which he put before the House. We are endeavouring to arrive at a position in which we shall be called upon to select one site. It is a question of the selection of one and only one site. It is proposed, however, that more than one site in a certain district shall be submitted to the Conference, notwithstanding that they are in certain respects similar. The amendment moved by the honorable member for North Sydney, instead of seeking to limit the Conference’s choice, would give it a greater opportunity to make a satisfactory selection, inasmuch as it would enable it to make a selection first of all of the best site in each district. Three districts are named - that embracing Orange, Lyndhurst, and
Bathurst, that embracing Albury and Tumut, and the district embracing Bombala and Dalgety. The report of the Commission shows that the sices in each of these districts possess many features in common, and if the amendment be carried the Conference will be asked to select that which it conaiders to be the best in each group. The whole of the sites will be submitted to the Conference, and it will be in a position to make first of all a special selection, with the result possibly that, at the outset, sites, which otherwise would receive special consideration later on, are balloted out. The amendment introduces no difficulty, no complication, and no injustice, but will secure a greater degree of justice and of special consideration.
– It gives a choice between five separate geographical districts.
– Yes. The proposal meets the wishes of honorable members supporting the sites in the Western District, because* they feel that a greater degree of justice will be done to each site than if the motion is carried as it stands. If the adoption of the amendment would inflict injustice upon any of the other proposed sites, ,itis open to honorable gentlemen who are interested in those sites to make that apparent. I feel sure that, if they do so, the honorable member for North Sydney will be perfectly prepared to meet them. The contention of the Prime Minister, that we should not agree to any amendment lest we widen the difference between this House and the other Chamber, might have been a pertinent one early last evening, but it do«s not apply now, inasmuch as the Senate have rejected the motion as originally presented by the Government. It is as reasonable, if not more reasonable, to suppose that, by agreeing to the amendment, we should get rid of possible difficulties which may have presented themselves to members of the Senate, and led them to vote against the motion. I believe that the amendment provides a fair and reasonable way of arriving at a decision, and will insure the merits of each site being dealt .with with more special consideration than is possible under the proposals of the Government.
– When the honorable member for North Sydney suggested this amendment last night, it rather commended itself to my judgment, but, having considered it seriously since then, I see an element of danger in it. The position is put in a nutshell by an interjection of an honorable member, who said that the ‘ object of the amendment is to make the best horse in each stable start for the race. The unfortunate feature of the proposal is, to continue the simile, that there may be three high-class bipod horses in one stable and three wretched weeds in another, and it will be necessary to exclude two of the blood horses in order to admit one of the weeds. The three best sites might all be in the one locality.
– Then that locality would be selected.
– ;In my opinion, the system would provide a way for log-rolling. I think it is necessary that we should deal with each site upon its merits. Of the two methods I prefer that proposed by the Government.
– The honorable member for Gippsland has used a sporting simile, and says that he is afraid of a weed beating a blood horse. We are trying to weed out the weeds. Surely, he does not think that this is an alphabetical arrangement, such as he tried to provide for last evening. We hope that the best horse will win, whatever stable it mav come from. Nine sites were reported upon by the Commissioners, and the adoption of the amendment will reduce them to five. Surely that is in the direction of simplification, and in the interests of both this House and the Conference. The Prime Minister contended that the motion should be allowed to remain as it stands, because if it were amended some difficulty with the Senate might be created. I cannot understand that argument, because the amendment leads to simplification, and does not create difficulties. The honorable member for North Sydney has made an admirable classification of sites. He makes Armidale to stand by itself as the northern site, Lake George to stand by itself as the central site ; while Orange, Lyndhurst, and Bathurst are grouped together as the western sites ; Bombala and Dalgety, which are only about thirty-five miles apart, and are therefore for all practical purposes one site, are grouped as the southern site; and Tumut and Albury as the south-western site. Surely it is in the interests of simplification to, in the first instance, deal with Dalgety and Bombala as one site.
– Otherwise there may be a split in the voting.
– Yes, and thus each site may lose some of its support. What the honorable member proposes is that the best site should be chosen from each district. In the long run only one site can be chosen. The honorable and learned member for Corio is very much afraid of combinations, but it is very much better for him to have the sites in which he is interested - Albury and Tumut - dealt with in the first instance as a group. The adoption of the amendment would not prevent the selection of either Albury or Tumut, but, to continue the sporting simile, it would give those who support them a preliminary canter, and might enable them to decide which was the better horse to enter for the final. The reputation of the honorable member for North Sydney is a sufficient guarantee that the object of the amendment is to secure simplification and fair treatment.
– I do not know that I quite understand the amendment, but I do not like what I do understand about it. The wish of the House is to obtain the very best site possible ; it is not a question of districts at all. The proposal of the honorable member for North Sydney is, I understand, not to invite a vote in the first instance upon the sites, but upon certain districts. From that this may follow : One district may contain three proposed sites, one of them far and away the best under consideration, and two inferior. If the voting were upon the sites themselves, no doubt the first site in that district would be chosen ; but the proposal is to lump the best site with the two inferior sites which may be contiguous to it, and to oppose the district containing them to another district in which there are, perhaps, three second class sites. The result would no doubt be that, instead of the best site being chosen, the district in which the three second class sites were situated would be selected, to the exclusion of the district in which the best site was situated. , That seems to me absurd. The proposal seems to me to provide for a gigantic system of logrolling in the interests of the various sites in a district. In this way a district may be selected which does not contain the best site, and the best site may be rejected. We require one site, and one site only. Are we going to take a fair, straight-out vote upon the question which is the best site available, or are we to first select some particular district ? It is not a question of districts, but of sites.
– Parliament referred, several sites to the Commissioners as onedistrict.
– In doing that we made a mistake, and it is not too late to discoverand remedy it. I shall be delighted to hear that I have misunderstood the honorable member, but if I have not done so, I shall feel it my duty to record a vote against the amendment. We have to decide which is, in the interests of the Commonwealth, the best site to select ; we have nothing to do with the districts in which the sites are situated.’
– I think that the right honorable member for South Australia quite misunderstands the proposal. I am sorry that he used the word “log-rolling,” because what- . ever view may be taken as to the wisdom of agreeing to the amendment, the proposal is honorably made. I am surprised that theGovernment have not fallen in with the proposal. In view of the many claims advanced on behalf of different parts of New South Wales, it was agreed to allow a wide range for the selection of the capital site, and we now have nine sites submitted to us. Do honorable members mean to say that if these nine sites are placed before them they will not be puzzled to make a selection ? As. some of these sites group themselves together naturally into geographical areas, it is proposed that we should first select one site in each group. ^ If there are three sites within, a certain area, the attention of honorable members should be concentrated upon thatgeographical district in the first instance. If it be agreed that one of the three sites is decidedly the best, how can any injustice bedone to the other two ? We should absolutely eliminate from our consideration the sites least suitable, and thus minimize the confusion. I do not understand how the choice of honorable members could be in any way limited, or how the effect of the ballotcould be neutralized by adopting that course. The proposal of the honorablemember is to reduce the selection to three, four, or five sites by eliminating those in the geographical groups which are least worthy of consideration.
– If there are two good sites in one group, why should one be rejected at the outset 1
– We could only select one in the long run.
– No doubt; but why should we reject one or two good sites before it becomes necessary to do so ?
– We should take a vote with regard to three sites within one area.
– The plan proposed would result in a competition between districts instead of between sites.
– No ; we are only proposing to do in a business way what will ultimately result when the final ballot is taken. We are proposing to adopt a process of elimination which will insure simplicity in connexion with the final selection.
– Does the honorable member say that there would be no alteration in the result, apart from the provision suggested by the honorable member for North Sydney ?
– Not if the ballot were properly taken.
– Has the honorable member any reason to suspect that it will not be properly taken?
– I do not suppose that it will be improperly taken in one sense ; but if nine sites are submitted to an exhaustive ballot, absolutely ridiculous results may be brought about.
– Why should the five best sites be in five separate districts?
– The proposed plan would not necessarily excludethe selection of the other sites. There are nine sites, but there are three cases in which the sites may be grouped together.
– Under the plan proposed, Tumut and Albury could not both be in the final selection.
– We should have nine sites to submit to the ballot, and of these seven can be grouped into three geographical areas. We should in the first place decide as to the best of the sites in these three groups, and thus leave five sites upon which to exercise our final choice. I do not understand how we could stultify ourselves by adopting that business-like expedient. It is a procedure which is intended to simplify matters and to concentrate the’ attention of honorable members upon the sites with which they are called upon to deal in turn. As honorable members have not had an opportunity to thoroughly inspect the proposed sites, or to exhaustively consider the reports which have been presented, it is desirable that we should simplify the process of selection as far as possible.
– Would Tumut and Albury be in the same group?
– Then the final choice could not rest between Tumut and Albury, although they are the most highly recommended by the Commissioners.
-That is true, but if the geographical areas proposed are considered to be too wide, they can be altered.
– If the powers of the Commission had been limited in the way the honorable member now proposes to limit our power, they could not have recommended Tumut and Albury in the order in which they appear upon their list.
– No ; but if it is considered that Tumut and Albury cannot reasonably be included in one geographical area, the sites need not necessarily be grouped in the manner proposed. I am surprised that the Government are not will ing to adopt the amendment, because I believe that it would expedite matters, and that it is most reasonable.
– The difficulty is that under the plan proposed we might be called upon to make a distinction against a site in favour of one which could not be compared with it.
– If Albury and Tumut were left in the final selection, would not one or the other have to be rejected?
– Yes ; but it would at least have a second chance of selection.
– The amendment would offer a reasonable and simple means of solving the conundrum with which we now have to deal.
– We should have a fight between districts instead of between sites.
– The right honorable and learned member for South Australia touched the vital point just now. If the amendment were adopted we should, in the first instance, have to strike out one place, say Albury or Tumut, before it had been pitted against sites in other localities. Their claims would not be considered as against those of sites in other localities, and we should be robbing some of the best sites of a. fair chance of selection.
– Would not . the Minister regard the three western sites as one 1
– I do not care what is done regarding the three western sites, because they are so close together that all of them can be seen from the one point. The)’ differ entirely from any other three sites that could be named, and, as a matter of fact, I believe that the three sites would be embraced within the Federal territory if one of them were chosen.
– And yet the Minister submitted them as separate sites.
– That is because I was asked to do so at the time. I should not object to submit those three sites as one, but if the same principle were applied to any of the other sites, it might have the effect of throwing out of the running one or two of the best that could be selected.
– We should have to eliminate at the first vote either the first or the second choice of the Commission.
– That is so. The fairer way to deal with the sites which stand first among those reported upon by the Commission is to allow them to be pitted not only against others in the same locality, but against those situated elsewhere.
– But supposing that one site does not win at first, what is the use of its being rejected at the end ?
– It does not follow that that will happen. It is just possible that a site rejected at the first vote might win when a final choice had to be made. We could not expect to arrive at a true choice in the first instance, and if we adopted the plan proposed we might do a grave injustice to some of the sites which are most highly recommended by the Commissioners.
– Like the honorable member for Gippsland, I was at first rather enamoured of the amendment submitted by the honorable member for North Sydney. Upon further consideration, however, I find myself unable to support it. Reverting to the Australian simile which was imported into this matter at an earlier stage in the discussion, it appears to me that, whilst we are all agreed that the first horse must of necessity be in one or other of the various stables, the amendment would compel us to assume that the second horse cannot by any possibility be in the same stable. as the first. It is said that the process of elimination must necessarily reduce the number of sites to one. But I would point out that a great deal will depend upon the particular stage in the votingat which our preference is expressed. It is quite possible that the final preference of this House may lie say, between Orange and Lyndhurst, or between Bombala and Dalgety.. But the amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney preludes any such assumption. It assumes that there can only be one eligible site in each group. I hold that as the amendment interferes with the free action of honorable members in voting upon the question of the final selection of the capital, it is objectionable upon that ground. It seems to me that the simple and effective means of deciding the matter is the exhaustive ballot which is proposed by the Government and I shall support it.
– There is no doubt that the reference of the honorable member for Gippsland to a horse race was fairly illustrative of our present position in regard to this question. This is a. great race - a bigger event than is the Melbourne Cup - for which all the horses, all the mules, all the donkeys, all the billy- goats, and all the “scrubs” should be allowed? to enter. Only the other day, in Sydney,, the owner of Marvel Loch intended to- “ scratch “ him, but that a friend who had backed him for £1,000 persuaded him tostart the horse. As a result he’ won the Metropolitan. The amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney would wipe out all the “scrubs,” abolish all the pacemakers, and might result in the “scratching” of the wrong horseMight I- suggest to honorable members thatthe whip has a good deal to do with the result of this great race. In this event the racehorse Bombala possesses a good jockey who is an excellent whip. The fullblooded horse, Bombala, with distended’ nostrils, high withers, and long neck, drinking in the sweetness of his own breath as he flies along, cares nothing for the billy-goats behind him. I trust that theamendment will not be accepted. Upon most matters I think that the honorablemember for North Sydney makes very wisesuggestions, but upon the present occasionI cannot agree with him, because he wishes, to unduly limit our choice.
– I am surprised at the attitude which is assumed by some honorable members who urge that they should be given an opportunity to exercise a final choice upon various sites, when the very object of the ballot proposed is that the number of sites should be gradually reduced. The amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney is one of the very best means to insure that a fair selection shall be made. To my mind, the geographical situation of any site will be a very important factor in the determination of this question. When we meet the other Chamber in conference upon the relative merits of the different sites, we shall discover that means of communication, accessibility, &c., will very largely influence the votes of honorable members. For that reason, I think that the number of sites which have been reported upon in particular localities should be narrowed down. Then, when we come to make a final selection, we shall be afforded an opportunity to make a fair choice. The right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, spoke about selecting the best and the worst sites. But the difficulty is that, in the Monaro district, the two sites of Bombala and Dalgety rank about equal, and the same remark is applicable to the three sites in the western portion of New South Wales. If a great difference existed between the relative merits of the different sites, there would be no need for the amendment which has been submitted. It is because the sites are so equal, and because it is desirable that honorable members in voting upon this question should be largely guided by geographical considerations, that the proposal of the honorable member for North Sydney is necessary. Possibly something may be said in favour of the objection which has been raised by the Minister for Trade and Customs. What is applicable to Dalgety and Bombala does not apply to the same extent to Albury and Tumut. Although Dalgety and Bombala are situated in the same district, they are not so close together as are Albury and Tumut. On the other hand, the three sites in the Western District of New South Wales are practically one. Therefore, it cannot be reasonably urged that they should not be narrowed down to one before the final selection takes place. Throughout the whole of the discussion upon these resolutions we have fought for the system of open voting. But the proposal of the Government would induce honorable members whofavour a particular site to arrange to vote together. I support the amendment, because it provides a better way of arrivingat the desired result than does the resolution.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).When this matter was under consideration upon a previous occasion, I suggested to the Minister for Trade and Customs that in order to give a fair chance to the eligible sites in the Western District of New South Wales, the Orange site should be taken, to include those at Bathurst and Lyndhurst. At that time the honorable gentleman thought that my suggestion should be adopted. He said -
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.
Subsequently, when moving an amendment to carry out what really was the proposal made by the Minister, I clearly indicated my position by stating that -
I am only asking the House to carry out a SuK gestion approved by the Minister for Home Affairs to consider Orange, Bathurst, and Lyndhurst, as one site.
I then moved an amendment which was subsequently adopted providing for theinspection of -
Orange (and, in consequence of their proximity, Bathurst and Lyndhurst).
That clearly shows that Orange, Bathurst, and Lyndhurst, were referred to the Commission as comprising practically one site. If honorable members will turn to the map submitted by the Commissioners, they will seethat a distance of only some twenty-five miles separates the three sites. Lyndhurst is midway between Bathurst and Canobolas, and all that I desire is that the ‘ three shall be considered as one. We know that they are equally good sites. I have no desire to shirk my responsibility by declining to vote on this question. I intend to support art open ballot, and, at the proper time, I shall be prepared tq openly indicate my choice. I think that the amendment moved by the honorable member for North Sydney would satisfactorily meet the position. I cannot understand, the remark made by the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, that it would give a chance for log-rolling. I fail to see that it would be possible for such a thing to occur. If the amendment be carried honorable members- will be called upon to give a straight-out vote. Unlike the Government, we say that there should be no secrecy, but that every honorable member should be called upon to accept the full responsibility of casting his vote in the broad light of day. The honorable member for Corio referred a few minutes ago to some system of gerrymandering. He should be a good authority on the subject, because he has been employed in that kind of work for some time.
– I must call the honorable member to order.
– I am merely replying to a remark which was made by the honorable and learned member.
– The honorable member is out of order in referring to that anatter.
– We have now discussed this question at considerable length and I think that every honorable member is prepared to vote upon it. I rose merely to express my view of the merits of the western sites, with which I am familiar. I wished also to show that when the Commission was appointed, it was the intention of the Government that they should be taken as one. I trust that the amendment will be carried.
Mr.FULLER (Illawarra).- As the Minister for Trade and Customs appears to consider that if the amendment were carried Albury and Tumut, by reason of the fact that they are not in the same geographical area, would be placed at some disadvantage, and as he has also intimated that he has no objection to the western sites being dealt with as one, I move -
That the amendment be amended by the omission of the words “South-western group - Albury, Tumut. Southern group - Bombala, Dalgety.’’
– What has taken place during the debate shows that the request made by the honorable member for Wentworth that this question should be considered in Committee was one to which the Government ought to have acceded. I have heard some honorable members discussing propositions which are not really contained in the amendment which I have submitted, and I have heard others intimating that they have arrived at conclusions which are altogether foreign to my proposal. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra has been led to move an amendment of my amendment because of the declaration made by the Minister of Trade and Customs that he is prepared to fulfil the agreement that was arrived at by him and by this House when the Commission was appointed. The right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, has made some reference to logrolling ; I shall accept him as an authority on that subject.
– It was a very mild suggestion.
– I contend that the Government will be guilty of a breach of faith if they do not accept the amendment as proposed to be amended by the honorable and learned member for Illawarra. The words used by the Minister for Trade and Customs when dealing with the motion for the appointment of the Commission have already been quoted. He said then that he considered that the Orange, Bathurst, and Lyndhurst sites should be taken as one, and that they would be referred to the Commission as one site. As a matter of fact, they were so referred.
– The honorable gentleman said the same thing to-night.
– Quite so, but the motion would place these sites on a different footing. The reference to the Commission was as follows : -
Orange (and in consequence of their proximity, Lyndhurst and Bathurst).
Could anything be plainer? The names of Lyndhurst and Bathurst were placed in brackets, and were not treated as separate sites. The Commissioners were merely directed to report upon Lyndhurst and Bathurst in connexion with Orange because of their proximity to that site. We find however, that the Government now propose to deal with these as three separate sites, and that honorable members, like the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, defend that procedure. I am astonished at the attitude taken up by him.
– Did not the honorable member get a report on his site? What more does he want ?
– I do not know to what the right honorable member is alluding.
– I have made my question clear, and I am sorry if the honorable member cannot understand it.
– If the right honorable gentleman puts it more clearly, I shall understand what he means. What harm’ would result from treating the three sites which I have named as one, or in doing what would be preferable - selecting from each of these closely allied localities as one site to be submitted to exhaustive ballot ? What objection can there be 1 My proposal is in accordance with the desire expressed by the Minister on a previous occasion. Indeed, ‘ it is in accordance with the view expressed to-night by him, although he seeks to induce this House to deal with the proposal in a different way. Is a straightforward course to be pursued, or are we to hear’ suggestions made which mean one thing, and acts advocated which mean entirely another? If we group the three sites I have named other districts will be entitled to similar consideration.
– But should we extend consideration to one district by taking Tumut to the exclusion of Albury, or Albury to the exclusion of Tumut, at the same moment ?
– We should extend consideration to the better site.
– How ? By putting them out of their misery ?
– Should we not have to decide between those sites if at the last they went to a ballot ?
– But why should we, make Tumut fight Albury at the outset when they might otherwise be the last two left for selection ?
– The proposal made by the honorable and learned member for Illawarra would get rid of that objection.
– Does the honorable member approve of that proposal ?
– I do not think it would be the best way to deal with the difficulty.
– -Will the honorable member vote for that amendment of his amendment ?
– T shall not; but the Minister for Trade and Customs and his predecessor in office will have an opportunity to do so. The Minister for Trade and Customs will have an opportunity to substantiate the promise made by him to-night. Is he going to desert it when called upon to take action 1 I have no desire to speak of this matter in sporting parlance such as has been adopted by some honorable members, but if at the outset we select the best site in a district, no injustice will be done. The site of the capital will be determined largely by its geographical position, and by first selecting one site in each district, we shall be free to decide by exhaustive ballot which is the best site in the five separate geographical areas. There is nothing in my proposition which would have an injurious effect upon the chances of any one of these sites, and no honorable member has succeeded in showing that there is. Now that the Minister for Trade and Customs is in the Chamber, I should like topoint out to him that the honorable and learned member for Illawarra has moved an amendment of my amendment, which would limit it to the western group. The Minister stated that he believed that the sites in that district should be treated as one site. Is he then prepared to support my amendment as limited by the honorable and learned member for Illawarra?
-The Government will oppose the amendment as a whole.
– I am not in favour of the limitation, but if the Minister does, not support my amendment as limited by the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Illawarra, he will depart from the statement he made when he moved the reference of the various sites to the Commission, and will treat the district in whichthe three sites are situated with absolute unfairness.
– I do not think the honorable member is right in saying that.
– I think I am. The Minister referred the sites in that district to the Commission as one site. Lyndhurst and Bathurst were mentioned in parentheses as attached to the Orange site. ‘ The Commission, however, reported upon them as three separate sites. I wish to provide for fair play to all the sites, but I think that fair play will not be given to thesites, in the western district at any rate, if the amendment is not agreed to ; and that it will be found that there will be a splittingof votes in regard to other sites of which there are two in one district.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Question - That the following words be added : Provided that before such exhaustive: ballot be taken, the sites in each of the following groups be reduced by ballot to one site in each group : - Western group - Bathurst, Lyndhurst, Orange ; Southwestern group - Albury, Tumut ; Southern group - Bombala, Dalgety - put. The House divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
Resolved - (3) That at such Conference an exhaustive open ballot be taken to ascertain which of the following localities, namely - Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Bombala, Dalgety, Lake George, Lyndhurst, Orange, and Tumut, reported on by the Royal Commission on Sites for the seat of Government of the Commonwealth, appointed by the Governor-General, on the 14th day of January, 1903, is in the opinion of the Members of the Parliament the most suitable for the establishment within such locality of such seat of Government.
Question proposed -
– The word “ locality “ will have to be substituted for the word “site.”
– That will be made as a consequential amendment.
– Is it meant that the name of the site receiving an absolute majority of the votes cast at any stage of the balloting shall be reported?
– The “absolute majority “ can be obtained only at the final determination.
– Not necessarily. An absolute majority may be recorded for a site during the progress of the voting. If what is meant is that the absolute majority recorded at the final vote shall be reported, we should insert after the word “cast,” the words “ in the final vote.”
– I do not think that that is necessary.
– It is necessary if it is meant, because an absolute majority might be’ cast during the process of the balloting, and then there would be a very serious position.
– I think that any doubts which my honorable friend has as to the meaning of the paragraph might be removed by the substitution of the word “ a “ for the words “ an absolute.” If we are by the process of an exhaustive ballot to eliminate time after time the site for which the fewest votes are cast, we shall at last reach the stage at which there are only two sites left to vote upon, and one of them must receive a majority.
– Yes, but we shall have a record of the votes cast during the previous ballots, and some other site might have received a majority at an earlier stage.
– I take it that the object of an exhaustive ballot is to discover which . site receives the absolute majority. Directly we arrive at the stage when there is an absolute majority in favour of a site, that is, when more votes , have been cast for it than for the other sites together have received, the ballot will be finished.
– I did not know that that was meant.
– If, when there are four sites left, one site receives more votes than the other three together, it will be the site chosen. The word “absolute” does no harm. It is not applied here as it is applied in the Constitution to the absolute majority of the members of the House. This is merely a provision for an actual majority of the votes cast, and when that point is reached the exhaustive ballot must be regarded as concluded. When we reach a point at which say four sites are left for selection, and one site obtains more votes than all those recorded for the other sites put together, surely that must be regarded as the termination of the matter.
– Is that what is meant?
– Yes. I see no magic in the word “ absolute,” and if the honorable member prefers the word “ actual,” I do not know that I should offer any serious objection, because to my mind it is quite immaterial. The moment we reach a point at which one site obtains more votes than the added votes of all the other sites then in the running, the choice of the Conference must be clear.
– Should I be in order in moving to add to the paragraph “ the cost of the buildings upon such site shall not exceed £10,000,000 “ ?
– The honorable and learned member would hot be in order.
Resolved - (5) That the name of the locality which receives an absolute majority of the votes cast at such Conference be reported to the House by Mr. Speaker.
Question proposed -
Sir EDMUND BARTON (Hunter- Minister for External Affairs). - It will be evident to honorable members that if we confine ourselves in the first instance to a choice of locality, a site for the capital within the locality chosen will afterwards have to be determined by Parliament, or by an agency under the control of Parliament. Therefore it will be necessary to provide in a Bill for determining the site within the locality chosen. It is not necessary that Parliament itself should choose the particular 2,000, 3,000., or 4,000 acres which shall form the city area, but we should probably provide some agency for determining the question. Once we have chosen the locality our common sense will suggest that experts could best locate the site of the city within the locality, and it will be my design to provide in the Bill for the means of determining the capital site in that way. The matter is one so much within the judgment of experts that we may safely leave it to their determination. I do not propose to prejudge the matter at this moment, but to make an amendment that will leave it open for our judgment. Therefore, I move-
– The Minister cannot move an amendment upon his own motion.
– I shall ask my honorable colleague the Minister for Trade and Customs to move the amendment.
Amendments (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the word ‘ ‘ determine “ be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ to provide for determining “ ; that the word “ the “ before the word “ site “be omitted with a view to insert the word “ a,” and that the words “ within the locality “ be inserted after the word “ site.”
– I should like to know how far these resolutions will really bind us when the Bill is before us ?
– The resolutions are only an instruction, and the House can vote as it likes upon the Bill.
Resolved - (6) That it is expedient that a Bill be introduced, after such report has been made to the House, to provide for determining, us the seat of government of the Commonwealth, a site within the locality so reported to the House.
Question proposed -
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the words “ and to provide funds for the commencement of the necessarj’ buildings thereon “ be added.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolved - (8) That so much of the Standing Orders of this House be suspended as would prevent the adoption or carrying into effect of any of the above resolutions.
Question, as amended, resolved as follows : -
Resolved - (1) That, with a view of facilitating the performance of the obligations imposed on
Parliament bysection 125 of the Constitution, it is expedient that a conference take place between the two Housesof the Parliament to consider the selection of the seat of government of the Commonwealth.
That this House approves of such conference being held on a day to be fixed by Mr. Speaker and Mr. President, and that it consist of all the members of both Houses.
That at such conference an exhaustive open ballot be taken to ascertain which of the following localities, namely : - Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Bombala, Dalgeby, Lake George, Lyndhurst, Orange, and Tumut, reported on by the Royal Commission onSites for the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth appointed by theGovernorGeneral, on the 14th day of January, 1903, is, in the opinion of the Members of the Parliament, the most suitable for the establishment within such locality of such seat of government.
That Mr. Speaker be empowered, in conjunction with. Mr. President, to draw up regulations for the conduct of such conference and for the taking of such exhaustive ballot.
That the name of the locality which receives an absolute majority of the votes cast at such Conference be reported to the House by Mr. Speaker.
That it is expedient that a Bill be introduced
After such report has been made to the House, to provide for determining, as the seat of government of the Commonwealth a site within the locality so reported to the House.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of messages from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, transmitting Supplementary Estimates 1901-2, Supplementary Estimates (Works and Buildings) 1901-2, Supplementary Estimates 1902-3, Supplementary Estimates (Works and Buildings) 1902-3.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from the Senate, transmitting amendments in the Public Service Regulations, and requesting concurrence therein.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
Perhaps the House will allow me to say a word or two upon the subject of the resolutions which have just been agreed to. I feel grateful to honorable members on all sides of the House for the public and Federal spirit which has actuated them in the whole of their consideration of the resolutions passed to-night. I feel so strongly upon this subject that I think it is as well that I should be allowed to congratulate the House upon an attitude which has vindicated honorable members against many comments which are now shown to have been undeserved.
SirWILLIAMMcMILL AN (Wentworth). - In vie w of certain changes in our programme the Prime Minister might inform honorable members as to the business likely to be taken to-morrow, and whether we may look for an earlier adjournment than usual.
– I should like to know if the Prime Minister can indicate whether the Parents Bill will be taken to-morrow. If it is intended to adjourn to-morrow, perhaps we might meet in the morning in order to enable us to pass the Bill through the Committee stage, and get away in the afternoon.
– I would ask the honorable and learned member not to press his request that we should sit tomorrow morning, because there are certain matters which require to be dealt with by Ministers - such matters as generally arise at this stage of a session - and I have arranged for a Cabinet meeting to-morrow morning which would have to be abandoned if the honorable member’s desire were complied with. As to other matters I may mention that the Supplementary Estimates have yet to be considered. The Patents Bill is now in the hands of my honorable colleague, the AttorneyGeneral, whose place I filled only for a time in moving the second reading of the Bill. That measure will have to be gone on with, and in view of its importance and of the fact that it has already been passed by the Senate, honorable members will, I am sure, be very anxious to see it disposed of. “We are awaiting the receipt of the Defence Bill from the Senate, and that Chamber will have to consider the resolutions which we are now sending up to them, together with the motion relating to the Eastern Extension agreement. Taking all these matters into consideration, I cannot very well fix any time for the adjournment. I do not see that there is any probability of our adjourning over Friday. It is more than probable that we shall ask the co-operation of honorable members in transacting as much business as possible this week. The more honorable members give us their co-operation in that direction, the more nearly will they approach the consummation of their desire to leave these precincts.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 September 1903, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030923_reps_1_17/>.