1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether in view of the fact that the reports of the State Commissioner of New South Wales and of the Royal Commission appointed by the Commonwealth Government upon the Federal City Site question flatly contradict each other in the matter of a final selection - the first selection of the one being placed absolutely at the bottom of the list by the other - and the State Commissioner having, in a short review of the position, revived the contention that it is not for the Federal Parliament alone to select the Federal Territory, quoting in support of that contention, page 5, an extract from a speech by the late Prime Minister - as reported in Hansard of 20th July, 1901 - he will, before proceeding to an exhaustive ballot, give this House an opportunity of discussing and voting upon the question whether fuller information should not be sought for and obtained before proceeding to a final vote?
– As I understand the obligation of the Commissioners, it was that they should report according to the best of their belief. I do not think that Parliament should require unanimous reports. Honorable members are called upon to exercise their individual judgment. All necessary information has been collected, and if they are not now capable to decide the capital site question, I do not know when they will be.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs yet sanctioned regulations to deal with the taxing of ships’ stores? I understand that they were being prepared while the right honorable and learned member for South Australia was in office, and they have been promised ever since last session .
– I have not yet had those regulations before me, but I intend to take them into consideration as soon as possible.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, in the. absence of the Minister for Home Affairs, if further provision has been made under section 112 of the Electoral Act for the appointment of persons, either from the Commonwealth or State services, authorized to witness postal votes? It was promised that authority would be given to such officers. I also wish to know if the honorable and learned gentleman will inform the House as to the latest date on which a postal ballot-paper may be received by the returning officer - whether on the day of the elections or the day of the scrutiny ?
– I understand that the list of persons qualified to take the declarations is now being prepared, but a definite reply will be given to the honorable and learned member to-morrow.
– I wish to know if it will be possible for the Minister for Defence to make arrangements whereby riflemen attending the Inter-State match, shortly to take place in New South Wales, may be furnished with railway passes ? I may add that before the inauguration of the Commonwealth, there was no difficulty whatever in providing riflemen with passes over the States railways.
– Before the Commonwealth took over the Defence administration it was the practice to issue passes to teams travelling from one State to another to attend rifle meetings ; but after the inauguration of Federation it was decided by the Government, as we have no control over the railway systems of the States, not to authorize the payment of the fares of riflemen travelling to such matches, and those concerned were referred to the Governments of the States. The Commonwealth Government have never paid the fares of riflemen travelling in this way, and in refusing to do so now, we are not departing from the course laid down at the beginning.
– Is it not desirable, in the interests of the Commonwealth, that the Government should put themselves in communication with the Governments of the States in order that the old facilities may be provided ?
– They have done so again and again, but the Governments of the States will not do anything in the matter.
– The Commonwealth Government have previously been in communication with the States Governments upon this question^ but if there is any likelihood of’ obtaining the concession referred to, we shall again approach them.
– The South Australian Government have refused again and again to grant the concession.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if he is likely to reconsider the terms under which tenders have been invited for the new over-sea mail contracts fi do so because of the number of letters I have received from all parts of my constituency, and I know that other honorable members, including the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, have also received numerous communications on the subject.
– lt is impossible to recall the advertisements of the terms upon which tenders are invited, but of course the Government and Parliament will have a free hand in dealing with the tenders received.
– -Does the leader of the House feel himself in a position to state what is the approximate date when this Parliament will bring its labours to a close 1 The matter is of interest to those of us who have long distances to go to reach our constituencies, and who may have incidental arrangements to make.
– With the co-operation of the members of both Chambers, it should be possible to close the session before the end of next week. It may be prolonged for another week, but I trust that that will be its utmost limit.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs prepared to give an answer to the petition in connexion with overtime and hours of work, sent by the lockers of the Customs Department in Sydney to the late Minister, to which I drew attention a month ago 1
– I cannot at this moment give an answer to the honorable and learned member’s question.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if arrangements are being made for the registration, in the capitals of the various States, of persons entitled to practise before the High Court. There is some difficulty in getting the evidence necessary for enrolment in Melbourne sent down here. .
– In those States in which we have received from the Government the names of officers whom they are willing to authorize to act for the High Court the preparation of lists is being proceeded with, and when names of officers are submitted by the other States, similar arrangements will be made there.
Bill returned from Senate with amendments.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The Public Service Inspectors have not 3’efc completed their investigations into the work of the officers in the several States, but the Commissioner expects to be able to gazette the classification of’ the Service by February next.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - j 1. It would be practicable to establish such a I system in the cities and large towns
– In moving -
That this Bill be now read a second time,
I think that it will perhaps be appropriate for me at this stage to deal at some length with the various sites which have been submitted for our consideration. It is not intended to take any vote with reference to the selection of the site to-day. It was understood when we adjourned last week that we should not ask honorable members to come to a decision earlier than to-morrow, and I think that we shall be very fortunate if we succeed in disposing of the matter by then ; although I hope we may do so. I shall not detain honorable members any longer than is absolutely necessary in dealing with the proposed sites. I have had the essential particulars with regard to each of them tabulated in such a way as to facilitate comparison. In the first place, I desire to point out that it has been urged by a few honorable members, but principally by the press, that there was no necessity to deal with this matter during the present session.
– That applies to only the Victorian press.
– It applies more to the Victorian newspapers than to those in other States. The selection of the Capital site occupied a very prominent place in the attention of the electors in New South Wales during the Federal campaign, and I have no doubt whatever that the provision in the Constitution that the seat of government should be fixed in that State influenced a very large number of votes in favour of the Bill submitted at the referendum. The undertaking that was given to deal with the matter at the earliest possible moment had much to do with the fate of the Constitution Bill in New South Wales.
– Does the Constitution provide that the site shall be selected at the earliest possible date?
– I take it that the provision contained in the Constitution, and the spirit of the promises made to the people of New South Wales and to the people of the Commonwealth, will not be fulfilled until the site of the Federal capital is selected, and that therefore no undue delay should be allowed to occur. At the same time, I do not consider that the question should be dealt with in a hurry-scurry fashion. It is too serious to be treated in that way. It should be considered in a full House, and not in a House constituted of half or even three-quarters of the representatives. The Government have been blamed for having incurred expenditure in affording an opportunity to honorable members and to members of the Senate to inspect the various sites. I think, however, that the action taken was absolutely justified, and that the facilities offered should have been availed of to a much larger extent.
– That was not the Minister’s fault.
– No, it was not. I had to bear a great deal of the. blame attached to the Government in connexion with the inspection of the capital sites, for which I arranged in accordance with the wishes of my colleagues. I know a number of honorable members did not take part in the visits to the proposed sites, and I venture to say that it is scarcely wise on their part to vote without having first made an inspection. It is scarcely fair to the sites themselves. The fact that many honorable members have not seen the sites is not due to any default of the Government, but to the apathy of those who did not think it worth their while to avail themselves of the opportunities offered.
– Have any honorable members inspected the sites most highly recommended by the Commission of Experts, viz., Albury, Tumut, and Bathurst ?
– I regret to say that I do not think many honorable members have seen Albury, because, upon the occasion of their visit, the weather was such that they could scarcely see anything.
– But the sites have been altered since the official visit of inspection was made.
– I do not think that it matters very much whether the proposed site is five or ten miles distant from any particular spot. The measure now before us contains a provision that a site shall be selected at or near a particular point. I do not think that we should be absolutely tied down to a particular site, but that we should be left free to adopt the most suitable spot in any locality. We might upon further investigation find some site better than that which has commended itself to the Commissioners. Therefore it does not matter whether or not the site actually recommended has ‘been inspected.’ Honorable members should, however, be in a position to form a general idea of the physical and other features of the areas within which a suitable site could be selected.
– All we should do is fix the locality.
– Quite so. I was referring to the fact that exception had been taken to the action of the Government in affording an opportunity to honorable members to inspect the proposed sites. As I before stated, it was not the fault of the Government that the opportunities afforded were not more fully availed of. Then the complaint has been made that the Commission of Experts should have been appointed earlier than it was. But the fact remains that everything could not be done at once. I can only assure honorable members - -and in this connexion I think I may speak for the Ministry as a whole - that we honestly desired to give effect to the undertaking which is embodied in the Constitution.
– How long does it take to appoint a Commission ?
– Some time was occupied in ascertaining the proper men to appoint to that Commission.
– Why, for twelve months previously we knew who would be appointed.
– Then the honorable member must have occult powers even greater than those of a thought reader, for I can assure the House that I did not know who would be appointed. I trust, however, that the honorable member will regard this matter from a serious standpoint/ instead of endeavouring to induce honorable members to believe that he knew everything before hand, though it is quite possible he imagines that he did. The Commission was appointed at as early a date as it was reasonable to expect. I know it was intended and stipulated that their report should be available for presentation to Parliament by the 30th of April last. I hold, however, that it did not matter very much whether the report was available by that date, inasmuch as the House was not in a position to deal with it. We all know that an opportunity to consider this matter did not present itself until the other day when the late Prime Minister submitted certain resolutions in respect of it.
– We cannot help thinking otherwise.
– In addition, I feel that the Commissioners went to exhaustive trouble to produce a most complete report. There is only one point in connexion with that report to which I have heard exception taken, and that has reference to the valuation of a city site only 4 miles square instead of the valuation of areas of 100,000, 200,000, 300,000, 400,000 acres. But we have had opportunities to ascertain the values of the land in all the localities surrounding the sites suggested, and I shall presently lay them upon thetable of the House. I think it will be patent to honorable members that the comparison which has been instituted is a good one. It has been taken mainly from estimates which have been made by theDepartment of Lands in Sydney. Section 125 of the Constitution provides themachinery under which we are now dealing with this matter. It declares-
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, and shall be vested in and belong to the Commonwealth, and shall be in the State of New South Wales, and be distant not less than 100 miles from Sydney.
Such territory shall contain an area of not lessthan 100 square miles, and such portion thereof as shall consist of Crown lands shall be granted to the Commonwealth without any payment therefor.
That Parliament shall sit at Melbourne until it meet at the seat of government.
Some difference of opinion has arisen as to whether the capital site is to be selected by the Commonwealth Parliament, and.whether all Crown lands within the Federal territory, irrespective of the area which they may comprise, must be transferred to the Commonwealth by the New South Wales Government without any payment therefor. I have in my possession a paper written by the late Prime Minister, in which he recites the substance of a recent conversation between himself and the New South Wales Premier upon the Capital site question. In that paper it is stated that the Premier of New South Wales assured him that no> trouble would be experienced in regard to the transfer to the Commonwealth of the 64,000 -acres mentioned in the Constitution. It is silent, however, regarding the attitude which the State Government would take up in respect of any proposal to transfer a larger area to the Commonwealth.
– Was the exPrime Minister silent in his conversation upon the matter?
– The record of the conversation which took place between the late Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales is silent upon that matter. There is apparently the inference that some arrangement will require to be made between the Government of New South Wales and the Commonwealth Government if a greater area than 64,000 acres is required.
– The Constitution is obligatory as regards the transfer of 64,000 acres, “but the transfer of a greater area would be -an act of grace.
– I must leave the question of whether or not it would be an act of grace to legal minds to decide, but as a layman it seems to me that the New South Wales Government is bound to hand over all Crown lands within the Federal territory, no matter what area they may embrace.
– Has not the Minister ascertained what was the nature of the promise which was originally made at the Premiers’ Conference ?
– Yes ; but I do not think that promise has been incorporated in our Constitution, and we can only take the language of that charter of government as we find it. If the Government of New South Wales refuses to hand over to the Commonwealth more than 64,000 acres, I feel that the proper course to adopt will be either to endeavour to arrive at an amicable arrangement with them, or to appeal to the High Court for a construction of the law Upon the matter.
– What becomes
Of the continuity -of .government? At the Premiers’ Conference the New South Wales Premier arranged .to grant all the inalienable lands.
– I am quite -aware that the statement of. the right honorable member is correct, but nevertheless that was a promise to which we could not bind any ^Subsequent Government. The record of the conversation to which I have referred contains no statement as to whether the New South Wales Government is prepared to hand over more than 64,000 acres if a greater area is required. I have already quoted section 125, which bears upon this matter, and though I do not possess as judicial a mind as do some legal members, I hold that it confers upon this Parliament, and not upon the New South Wales Legislature, the power to absolutely select the site. In my opinion there is no doubt whatever as to that. At the same time I admit that by endeavouring to avoid friction with the New South Wales Government the proper course to take under the circumstances has been taken.
– The question should receive rational treatment.
– That is what the question requires, and nothing further. There are other sections of the Constitution which refer to this matter. For instance, section 111 provides -
The Parliament of a State may surrender any part of the State to the Commonwealth ; and upon such’ surrender, and the acceptance thereof by the Commonwealth, such part of the State shall become subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commonwealth.
That provision confers power upon the State of New South Wales - even if it is not compelled to do so under the Constitution - to hand over any area of Crown lands that it may desire to the Commonwealth Government.
– What has that to do with Tumut ?
– I hope that the honorable member will have nothing to say against Tumut. Then section 5 2 gives exclusive power to this Parliament, subject to the Constitution, to make laws with respect to the seat of government of the Commonwealth. Only the other night I heard the question raised as to whether this. Parliament had power to make exclusive laws in regard to the Federal territory. To my mind section 52 places the matter beyond doubt; Further, should any trouble arise with the State of New South Wales as the result of which we cannot secure the area of Crown lands that we require, and should we desire to acquire private lands, sub-section 31 of section 51 declares that-
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to….. the acquisition of property on just terms from any State or person for any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws.
I refer to these matters in order simply to remind honorable members that, in my opinion, the Parliament has full power to deal -with every phase of this subject. I desire, also, to say that, personally, I favour the taking over of an area larger than 64,000 acres.
– One thousand square miles !
– If it were possible to obtain such an area, I think it -would be wise to take it over.
– We might as well take over half the State.
– It would represent only a very small part of some electorates. I do not believe that it would equal one-twentieth part of my own constituency. We should act wisely in taking over such an area. The value of the land would be largely increased as the result of the building of the capital in its vicinity, and the revenue derived from it by the Commonwealth would go a long way towards the cost of building the Federal city. Great exception has been taken, more especially in the southern States, to the proposal to proceed with the erection of the capital ; but the increase which would take place in the value of the land taken over by us would be such that in the end the taxpayers of the Commonwealth would not be called upon to pay a single sixpence towards the cost.
– They would not increase in value materially for a good many years.
– Some years would necessarily elapse before they reached their highest value. When I was referring ^ to this question a few days ago the honorable member for Gippsland interjected that we could not legally pass an Act of Parliament which would deprive- the present holders of the land of the unearned increment which would attach to their property. But, as I then pointed out, the legislation passed by the New South Wales Parliament for the Rocks and wharfage resumptions contained a provision that the necessary lands should be taken over at their value prior. to the determination to resume them, and there is nothing to prevent us from declaring that the increased value given to the lands to be taken over, in consequence of the decision of Parliament, shall not betaken into consideration in fixing the- price; at which they shall be resumed.
– Do the Government; intend to adopt that course of action %
– Why not insert such & provision in the Bill ?
– There is no occasion to do so. Another Bill dealing with the administration of the territory will be necessary, and the provision to which. I have referred may be made in it.. This is simply a Bill to fix the site of theCapital, and the Government did not think it advisable to insert in it the provision which I have named. I believe that underthe existing law it would be open to us toadopt this course ; but, if not, we can legislate in the direction I have indicated. Itis nonsense for honorable members to say that such a procedure cannot be adopted. Ithas been followed in the State Parliament of New South Wales, and what can be doneby that Legislature can surely be done by the Federal Parliament. The question before us is of such grave importance thatalthough, unfortunately - and I emphasizethe word “ unfortunately “ - I have two suggested sites in my electorate, I considerthat every honorable member should deal with it without regard to his constituency.: An honorable member should not allow hisdecision to be influenced by the fact thatone or more of the proposed sites happen tobe situated within his electorate. The question is far too important to allow of our being; influenced by considerations of that kind:. It seems to me that fifty or sixty yearsmust elapse before it will be known whether the best site has been selected. It is impossible at the present time to determinewhere the centre of population in Australiais likely in the future to be, and we ma)’rest assured that whatever selection is made,, some complaint is sure to be heard hereafter. My desire is - and it should be the object of” every honorable member - that the Capital shall be erected on what, having regard tothe future of Australia, is the most suitablesite.
– That is in thewest.
– I never care togo back on any statement I have made. I would remind honorable members that when I was Premier of New South Wales I endeavoured to pass a Bill through the-.
State Legislature providing for the construction of a railway to Broken Hill, and thus to place the western districts of New South Wales in direct railway communication with South Australia, and, on the construction of the transcontinental railway, with Western Australia. I also endeavoured to pass a Bill to connect the western line with the “northern - the Brisbane -line. I believe that had I been successful many eyes would now have been turned towards the West as likely to furnish, in the future, the centre of population in Australia. Those measures were not carried, however, and the West will probably not be looked upon-
– Those lines are bound to be constructed.
– Does not the Minister think that we should provide not for today but for the future ?
– That is a matter for the consideration of honorable mem”bers. It is quite impossible to say where the future centre of population of Australia will be, but it is likely to be in a district where the rainfall is better than it is in the West. I refer to this phase of the question solely because I desire to place on record the views which I entertain upon it. “We have nine different sites from which to make a selection, and I have no doubt that honorable members would be somewhat confused in wading through the evidence unless they had plenty of time to consider the various points set forth in the reports. For the information of honorable members, I have taken out particulars in regard to two or three matters which I trust will assist them in determining the relative values of the several sites, without their being forced to go through all the evidence which has been printed and submitted to the House. I shall deal with the sites in their alphabetical order. We have, first of all, the Albury site, where a territory comprising 100 square miles, including the city site and the catchment area, is estimated by the Lands Department of New South Wales to cost £252,800. An area of 400 square miles on the same basis is estimated to cost £1,668,000; 625 square miles, £1,902,000; and 900 square miles, £2,189,000.
– Does that include the town of Albury?
– I believe so. The estimated cost ‘ of the resumption of the site is £20,000. Perhaps I may be permitted at this stage to express my deep regret that on the two occasions on which honorable members inspected Albury they had but a very poor opportunity to judge of its true fitness for the purposes of the Federal Capital. I have lived in Albury for many years, but I never saw a worse day than that on which I, in company with other honorable members, visited it during the tour of inspection.
– Honorable members visited other sites in the same circumstances.
– Not on the same day.
– But under the same climatic conditions.
– It was a particularly bad day ; the worst I have ever experienced in the district.
– It has acquired a certain reputation.
– It has acquired a reputation for the possession of one of the best climates in Australia. I lived at Albury for years, and I speak, therefore, from experience. I can honestly say that it is the most healthy district in which I have ever resided. I do not deny that for two or three months in the year the weather is very warm, but during spring, autumn and winter no better climate could be desired. There are very few places to be compared with it. I come now to Armidale. The estimated cost of resumption within the suggested city site is £20,000, and within the catchment area in respect of the primary source of supply, to supply a population of 50,000, £58,500.
– There are two sites in that district.
– I am referring to the Armidale site. The hundred square miles area, including the city site and the catchment area, is estimated to cost £317,420. The estimate for 400 square miles is £1,176,000 ; for 625 square miles, £1,564,000 ; and for 900 square miles, £2,103,000. I again wish to emphasize the fact that this information is obtained from the Lands Department of New South Wales.
– What is the cost per acre ?
– I shall give some information upon that point later on. The next site in order is Bathurst. The estimated I cost of the. city site is £36,000, and the catchment area to supply 50,000 people would cost £124, 625. The estimate for 1 00 square miles is £1,354,065 ; for 400 square miles, £1,550,000; for 625 square miles, £1,920,000 ; and for 900 square miles, £2,160,000. I need say but little in reference to the Bathurst site.
– Is the honorable gentleman going to have that information distributed ?
– I shall be very glad to do so. I shall lay it upon the table when I have finished my speech. I should have had it printed and distributed, ready for use to-day, but it has taken all my time to work up the information to its present state. I have done my best to obtain the best information for the use of honorable members. As far as concerns the Bathurst site, I think that the city is not within the 100 miles limit fixed by the Constitution. The site will require to be beyond the present city, and the estimate which I have given is for land outside the 100 square miles limit. Bombala comes next. The estimated cost of resumption for the suggested city is £24,000. The estimate for resuming the catchment area for a primary water supply for 50,000 people is £121,590. The estimated cost of 100 square miles is £361,730. The estimated cost of 400 square miles is £720,000 ; of 625 square miles the estimated cost is £1,020,000; and of 900 square miles £1,560,000.
– Does that include the port ?
– I do not think the area goes quite down to the port. Honorable members know my opinion with regard to the Bombala site, and I do not wish to say anything about it at this stage, except that I do not think that a place where trees will not grow is a good port for shipping.
– Does the honorable gentleman say that trees will not grow at Bombala 1
– They will not, the country is bare of trees. I have given the cost of resuming land at Bombala, but I should say that I do not think there is very much Crown land there. The next site in rotation is Lake George. The estimated cost on the city basis is £20,000 ; and the cost of the catchment area for the supply of water to 50,000 people would be £S0,400.
– From what point would the water be brought 1
– From the Queanbeyan River. The estimated cost of 100- square miles is £290,280 ; 400 square miles, £600,000 ; 625 square miles, £S25,000 : 900 square miles, £1,300,000. I should like to say in reference to Lake Georgethat there is no doubt that if the water could be kept permanently in the lake, the conditions would be such as to constitute a beautiful site for a capital city. I am aware that great exception has been taken to that site in consequence of the lakehaving dried up three times within theknown history of New South Wales. But it does not follow that it is not possible to keep a permanent supply of water in the lake. I come next to the Lyndhurst site. The cost of resumption of the city site is- £20,000, and the cost of the catchment area for the water supply of a population of 50,000 would be £160,160. The estimated cost of resuming 100 square miles which includes the city site and. also the catchment area is £349,360. I must say that I was very much surprised when I saw this estimate was so much, because as far as buildings are concerned-
– Very much of the land there is church and school land.
– I do not think that is Government land in the true sense of the term.
– Yes ; it reverted under an Act.
– T do not think that land would come under the provisions of the Constitution. The point is very doubtful. I do not wish to argue it now, but, thinking of it casually, I do not think that it would come within the provisions of the law.
– It reverted to the Government by Act of Parliament.
– But it does not stand in the same position as does other Crown land. The estimated cost of 400 square miles is £600,000 ; 620 square miles, £800,000; 900 square miles, £1,200,000. The next site is Orange. The estimated cost of the suggested site for the city is £57,000. The catchment area for the supply of 50,000 people with water is estimated to cost £141,750. The estimated cost of 100 square miles is £1,227,670.
– Does that include the village of Orange 1
– Yes. The estimated cost of 400 square miles is £1,530,000; 620 square miles, £1,700,000 ; 900 square miles, £1,850,000. I say without hesitation that Orange is one of the finest sites that has been suggested.
– That makes four fine sites.
– Any one who knows the district is aware of what the advantages of this site are. I am afraid that it is not in the running, however. I made reference to that part of the western district a few minutes ago. I now come to the particulars relating to the Tumut site. It may be my misfortune that Tumut is one of the proposed sites, and Albury the other ; but it is no misfortune to have Tumut and Albury within my electorate, because the land is admitted to be wonderfully fertile, and they are beautiful spots. The estimated cost of resumption within the suggested city site at Tumut is £25,000, and of the catchment area to supply a population of 50,000, the estimated cost is £180.
– The cost has been pretty well “ worked down “ in that instance.
– That is the estimate given to me.
– The land cannot be very good.
– That may be so, but the catchment area is a table land on the top of a mountain. An area of 100 square miles is estimated to cost £31 8, 180, including the city site, catchment area, and municipal areas. The estimated cost of 400 square miles is £464,000 ; of 625 square miles, £625,000; and of 900 square miles, £800,000.
– The Minister has “ fixed matters up “ in regard to this site.
– The honorable member must not say that I have “ fixed matters up “ in regard to any site, because I have done nothing of the sort. Before I pass away from this proposed site, I wish to point out that Tumut is in some parts the most fertile district of which I know. The area is situated almost half way between Melbourne and Sydney, and it has the advantage of railway communication and of a very good climate.
– How about the water supply?
-The water supply, to which I shall refer presently, is better than that of any other site submitted.
– What is the area of fertile land?
– I cannot at this moment give the area of fertile land, but the whole land, until the mountains are reached, is good. Some of the land is immensely rich, and this site includes a larger area of Crown lands than there is in any other site submitted. The land is fit for the cultivation of fruit and of almost anything else, and there is one of the finest forests of timber in New South Wales.
Mr.G. B. Edwards. - What is the Minister’s standard of climate ?
– I shall deal with the question of climate presently.
– The climate is a bit hot.
– No ; this is one of the best of climates. I do not think Albury has a bad climate, but the climate of Tumut is not quite so hot as that of the border area. The following are extracts from the evidence of Mr. G. McKeown, manager of the Government experimental farm at Wagga Wagga : -
The maize crops on the flats along the road compared favorably with any I have seen on the northern rivers, such as the Manning, the Clarence, and the Richmond. It is very probable it would surpass that on the Richmond, but not the Clarence, which is of a somewhat different kind of country. The Tumut maize has a very high reputation in Sydney as being firm and free from weevils and moths ; it generally tops the market by a few pence per bushel. It is almost impervious to the attacks of insects, and should, therefore, be very profitable.
Batlow appeared to me as being one of the best fruit-producing districts I have seen anywhere, and the crops exceeded anything I have seen in Tasmania, also the quality. It is the very highest. The trees seem to be perfectly healthy, with but few exceptions, which had a disease common to fruit trees everywhere, unless precautions are taken against it. Batlow is unsurpassed in the production of apples or pears, and that is attributable to soil and climate. I had heard of the quality of Batlow fruit and inspected it for myself, and I am satisfied that nothing could beat it for being as near perfection as possible. 1168. Would it (that is, the district within 50 miles radius) give the requirements of a population of 100,000 ? - Yes ; there is room capable of a very large expansion before you get into the grazing country on the upper portion of the river ; they are fairly large areas, and could be worked economically with modern machinery. That would be within 30 miles with occasional portions nearer. 1173. Do you prefer the land in this district to that in Wagga Wagga? - In the Wagga Wagga district we have nothing to compare with it for agriculture. 1174. Have you been up the Goobarragandra Valle)’ ? - I have been about 6 miles up the valley. The soil there is similar to that on the plains, but not so extensive ; it is of excellent quality. In particular places I noticed unusually good maize. I also saw English trees which are remarkable for their growth, and potatoes, and tomatoes, and pumpkins of various kinds, and in sheltered positions the crops were doing well.
The evidence taken in regard to Dalgety shows that the land within the proposed site may be taken as worth £2 10s. per acre. The existing improvements are of small value, and the cost of the resumption of the city site of 4,000 acres may be assumed to be £10,000, and the cost of the catchment area, for a primary water supply for a population of 50,000, is estimated at £40,000. The estimated cost of 100 square miles is £210,000 ; of 400 square miles, £600,000 ; of 625 square miles £850,000 ; and of 900 square miles, £1,300,000. These figures are given to me from a disinterested source. In regard to water supply, that of Albury depends on a pumping scheme. The average elevation of the proposed city site is 800 feet above sea level, and the elevation of the River Murray, where it is proposed to obtain the water, is 550 feet. A pumping scheme is, therefore, necessary, the lift required to give a good pressure being 580 feet. In appendix No. 1 of the report of the Royal Commission will be found particulars of the principal works of the proposed supply for 50,000 people ; and capitalizing the annual working expenses and maintenance at 4 per cent., the total estimated cost is £512,000. One objection to the Albury site is that the water supply must be by means of a pumping scheme, but I believe that it would be possible to have a gravitation scheme. Of course it would be necessary to go some distance up the Murray, in order to obtain water by gravitation, but I cannot think that such a scheme is impossible, although it may cost a good deal of money.
– A gravitation scheme would be rather difficult, because of the elevation of the city site.
– I do not think so. The River Murray runs close to both sites, and it is only a question of how far we go up the river.
– There is no question but that with money we might obtain a gravitation scheme.
– The water supplyto the Armidale site is by gravitation, and according to the particulars given in appendix No. 1 of the report of the Royal Commission, the estimated cost of the proposed primary scheme from the Guyra River, tosupply a population of 50,000, capitalizing the working expenses and maintenance at 4 percent., is £391,700. As to the Bathurst scheme, a supply from Campbell River is estimated on a similar basis to cost £474,865. In reference to Bombala, the report of the Royal Commission states that the Delegate River has been selected as the primary source of supply, and the estimated cost for a population of 50,000, capitalizingworking expenses and maintenance at 4 per cent, is £531,090, which could be reduced to £417,600, if electricity generated by water power obtained from the Snowy River were used for pumping, in lieu of steam. The greater part of the catchment area of the Delegate River is in Victoria, and if that were considered, an objection, the supply could be obtained from the Snowy River. In thecase of the Snowy River, the facilitiesfor obtaining water power with which togenerate electricity for pumping are so great that it has not been considered necessary toinclude an estimate for pumping by steam, power. The estimated cost to supply a. population of 50,000, capitalizing workingexpenses and maintenance at 4 per cent., is. £617,500. That is a pumping scheme, and this fact is raised as an objection, although, there is plenty of water. At Lake George, a gravitation scheme on a similar basis as the others I have mentioned, is estimated, to cost £380,500, while at Orange, a pumping scheme from Flyer’s Creek is estimated to cost £1,207,050. At Tumut, a gravitation scheme on a similar basis is estimated to cost £200,280, and a similar scheme at Lyndhurst is estimated to cost- £427,460. At Dalgety a gravitation scheme, on a similar basis, is estimated tocost £328,000. As to temperature, the highest and lowest readings at Albury are respectively, 117-3 and 20-2, wilh a mean annual shade temperature of 60-7. The readings are given in a table for each month, with which I need not trouble honorable members ; but it is shown that the Albury climate on the average is very congenial, and not the extreme climate which some people seem to think it. In the case of Armidale, the highest temperature recorded is 105-2, and the lowest 13-9. It is on the table-land of New England, and j is a fairly cold place. The highest reading of the thermometer at Bathurst is given at 112-5, and the lowest 13 degrees. Bathurst would appear to be a very cold place in winter.
– The honorable gentleman is quoting the extremes recorded during the whole period of record.
– That maybe, but I am not sure about it. I have here a table giving the maximum, minimum, and mean temperature throughout the year for each of the sites, and shows that Bathurst is a cold place, though not so cold as Armidale.
– The honorable gentleman might give the mean shade temperature in each case.
– I think it would be better that I should do so. The mean shade temperature recorded for Albury is as follows: - January, 76-5; February, 75-6 : March, 68-6 ; April, 60’-7 ; May, 52-3; June, 4S-8 ; July, 46-3; August, 49-2 ; September, 54-8 ; October, 60-8 ; November, G8-8>; December, 73-8. Those readings abundantly prove that the climate of Albury is not extremely hot. The mean shade temperatures recorded for Armidale are - January, 69-7 ; February, 67-8; March, 63-S; April, 57-2; May, 49; June,. 44-9; July, 42; August, 45-4; September, 50-9; October, 57’7 ; November, 64-3 ; December, 67 -4. Bathurst - January, 71 4; February, 70-3; March, 65-5; April, 57-8 ; May, 49-1; June, 45-4; July, 42-8 ; August, 45’6 ; September, 51-2 ; October, 57-9 ; November, 64-7 ; December, 68-8. In the case of Bombala the highest’ reading given is 104-1, and the lowest 15-5. The mean temperatures recorded are - January, 65 -2 ; February, 64-3; March, 60-9; April, 54-2; May, 47-2; June, 43-8; July, 41-3; August, 44-8; September, 50; October, 55-5; November, 60-1 ; December, 63-6.
– Those records cover a period of sixteen years.
– Yes, for about sixteen years. I think that the records for Bombala were not obtained in the same way as the others. I understand that there was no official record of temperature kept for some time, and that some reverend gentleman has supplied these records.
– The honorable gentleman is referring to Tumut.
– No, to Bombala. I believe that some reverend gentleman supplied these records.
– No ; I am certain that that refers to Tumut.
– Well, I do not like to be too positive ; perhaps the honorable member is correct. I was under a different impression. I hope the honorable gentleman will leave Tumut alone or he will get something warm about another place presently. I am trying to be as reasonable as I can in making this statement, but I am prepared to say that, whilst Tumut has one of the best climates in Australia, Bombala has one of the bleakest, coldest, and worst. The highest reading given for Lake George is 105, and the lowest 21-8. The mean temperatures for this place are - January, 70-5; February, 69’3; March, 65-8; April, 5S 4 ; May, 50-3; June, 45-5; July, 43-4; August, 46 ; September, 52; October, 57-9; November, 648 ; December, 69 8. For Lyndhurst the highest reading is 98/4 degrees, and the lowest 15-4. The mean temperatures are: - January, 69-5; February, 67-2; March, 63-3; April, 54-5; May, 46-6; June, 43-3 ; July, 40-6 ; August, 43 ; September, 48-9 ; October, 54-9 ; November, 63-2 ; December, 67-7. I had no idea that Lyndhurst was so cold as from these records it would appear to be. I do not know that the whole of the district is cold, and it may be that the site of the town gives these low readings, because it is unprotected from the south and south-westerly winds. I believe that some of the other sites record lower temperatures than would ordinarily be recorded for the districts in which they are situated, because they are not protected from the southerly and southwesterly winds. I know that Blayney is a very cold place, and Lyndhurst is close to it.
– The record appears never to reach the 100 degrees there.
– No, it is a cold place. In the case of Orange the highest reading is 102 degrees and lowest 21-3. The mean temperatures recorded are - January, 68-6 ; February, 66-8 ; March, 62-2 ; April, 54-4 ; May, 46-5; June, 43-4; July, 40-9 ; August, 43-5 ; September, 48-5 ; October, 54-9 ; November, 62-6 ; and December, 66.9. For Tumut the highest reading given is 106 degrees and the lowest 27 degrees. The climate of Tumut would appear to vary less than that of any of the other sites. The mean temperatures recorded are - January, 74 7; February, 7 2 6; March, 68-1; April, 62-5; May, 53-9; June, 50-3 ; July, 48-1 ; August, 47-5 ; September, 57-1; October, 62; November, 73-9; December, 74. In the case of Dalgety, it is stated that the temperature seldom goes over 100 degrees, and that 90 degrees is considered a hot day. The highest record mentioned is 104 degrees. In winter, temperature at night ranges from 26 degrees to 30 degrees, and a reading of 14 degrees has been observed ; while it is stated that the sunny days following frosty nights in winter are warm and pleasant. That is the information I have on the subject of. the climates of the different sites.
– Does the honorable gentleman propose to have these figures printed and supplied to honorable members 1
– We shall require next week to consider these figures.
– Except in regard to a few points, the information I am now giving is contained in the reports, but it is difficult for honorable members to collect it from the different documents. I am informed by the Principal Parliamentary Reporter that honorable members can be supplied to-morrow morning with advance proofs of my speech containing this information. I have here particulars with regard to the productiveness of the different districts. The number of acres under grain in the Albury district is given as 120,346, and under hay 13,568, or a total of. 133,914 acres under cultivation. The average yield is given at 10”3 bushels per acre for wheat; maize, 20-S; barley, 13-5; oats, 20’2 ; potatoes, 1-9 tons ; and of other crops the yield is in the same proportion. I need only say that it is one of the most productive districts we have.
– They raise 60 bushels to the acre in Dakota.
– I have not known a high yield to the acre to be produced in the Albury district. We know that in South Australia 6 or 7 bushels to the acre is considered a good crop, whilst in the Albury district the average yield per acre, according to evidence, is 10-3 bushels. In the Bathurst district I find that there are only 74,264 acres under cultivation, whilst the average yield of wheat is 10-9, maize 12-2, barley 16-S, oats 18-9 bushels to the acre, and of potatoes 1-8 tons to the acre. In Bombala there are 972 acres under grain and 534 acres under hay, and the total area of 1,506 acres averages for wheat, 12-1 bushels.
– For what period ?
– For about eight years, I think. The acreage under maize is not given ; but it is said that an area of 4, 207 acres averages 40-3 bushels; I think this is about Bega. The area under barley is 171 acres, averaging 25 “1 bushels. Oats average 20-9 bushels, and potatoes 2-6 tons. At Lake George the area under wheat is 6,348 acres, averaging 10’8 bushels ; while maize averages 16-3 bushels, barley 16- 5 bushels, and oats 16 bushels.
– Bombala is still ahead.
– Bombala cannot grow wheat to be compared with Riverina wheat. In Armidale the area under grain is 5,163 acres, averaging 13”9 bushels - the highest yield I have yet quoted - while maize averages 19-2 bushels, barley 17- 8 bushels, oats 25-2 bushels, and potatoes 2-7 tons. At Lyndhurst the area under wheat is 100,883 acres, averaging 11 bushels; while maize averages’ 10-3 bushels, barley 16-7 bushels, oats 18-58 bushels, and potatoes 1-7 tons. At Orange the area under wheat is 56,034 acres, averaging 13-4 bushels ; while maize averages 8.7 bushels, barley 18-6 bushels, oats 20-3 bushels, and potatoes 1 -6 tons. At Tumut the area under wheat is 14,669acres,averaging 12.8 bushels ; under maize, 6,692 acres, averaging 30-8 bushels ; and under barley, 157 acres, averaging 13-2 bushels ; while oats average 21-6 bushels and potatoes 2-5 tons, which is a fairly good return. At Dalgety the area under wheat is 1,763 acres, averaging 12-3 bushels ; under maize, 2 acres ; under barley, 80 acres, averaging 18 bushels ; and under oats, 984 acres, averaging IS bushels ; while potatoes average 31 tons. With regard to comparative accessibility, if
I I take the direct distance, Albury is 278 ! miles from Sydney, 172 miles from Mel- bourne, 684 miles from Brisbane, 481 miles
I from Adelaide, 1,812 miles from Perth, and 479 miles from Hobart. The average dis- ;tance is 651 miles. j Mr. Spence. - How is Brisbane made so i near?
– I do not know if the direct distance has so much to do with this question as the existing means of communication. But if I take the existing means of communication, the distance from Sydney to Albury is 376 miles, or 11 hours ; to Armidale 365 miles, or 14 hours: to Bathurst 150 miles, or 6 hours : to Bombala 324 miles, or 16 hours ; to Lake George 174 miles, or 5 hours; to Lyndhurst 191 miles, or 7 hours : to Orange 192 miles, or 6 hours; to Tumut 323 miles, or 11 hours. The distance from Melbourne to Albury is 201 miles, or 6 hours ; to Armidale 942 miles, or 31 hours ; to Bathurst 494 miles, or 16 hours; to Bombala 632 miles, or 25 hours; to Lake George 483 miles, or 15 hours; to Lyndhurst 443 miles, or 14 hours; to Orange 4S2 miles, or 15 hours: and to Tumut 394 miles, or 1 2 hours. So that Tumut is 323 miles, or 11 hours, from Sydney, and 394 miles, or 1 2 hours, from Melbourne. From Brisbane, Albury is distant 1,099 miles, Armidale 372 miles, Bathurst 873 miles, Bombala 1,047 miles, Lake George 897 miles, Lyndhurst 914 miles, Orange 915 miles, and Tumut 1,046 miles. From Adelaide, Albury is distant 684 miles, or 23 hours, Armidale 1,424 miles, Bathurst 977 miles, Bombala 1,115 miles, Lake George 965 miles, Lyndhurst 925 miles, Orange 964 miles, and Tumut 876 miles. The distances to other capital cities are also stated in these comparative tables, which I had prepared for the purpose of enabling honorable members to see exactly how the sites compare one with the other. Honorable members may be interested to know the following particulars concerning the distances of alternative routes from Bairnsdale to Bombala : -
The following Table gives approximate estimates of the cost of the Federal Capital for each of the proposed sites. The values given per acre are for a territory of 100 square miles surrounding the city site 4,000 acres, which is valued separately : -
Mr. Oliver’s second report is a criticism of the Commissioners’ report, but the excesses to which he went, and the insinuations in i which he indulged, show that he altogether lost his temper - a circumstance which I regret very much, because I appointed him ‘ in the first instance to investigate the merits i of the proposed sites, and he is a gentleman I much respect. I should have been much ‘ better pleased if in criticising the report of j the Commissioners, which I regard as a very ‘ able one, he had not gone to such extremes of language. I wish to refer to one or two discrepancies in his report. In his original report he says, speaking of the water supply for the Monaro tableland -
In regard to water supply, whatever rank is assigned to the site which possesses the most abundant, as well as the cheapest, by gravitation, from a never-failing source, with 280 feet of head, Southern Monaro nas hardly a rival, even under the conditions of the original proposal ; but with the Snowy River thrown in, as it will be by the* enlargement of the site, as suggested (post, page ‘ 24), Southern Monaro stands absolutely first in j the important matter of water resources : and the same site gives better promise than any other of affording water power for hydraulic lifts and the development of electrical energy. The character of the water supply is treated at length in the report on this site, at page 39. It may, however, be mentioned here that most of the catchment areas of the Delegate and Little Plains Rivers are in New South Wales, and within the proposed Federal territory as enlarged, although the sources of both are in swamps and springs on the other side of the Victorian border.
The Capital Sites Commissioners, however, say -
The following were found to be the most suitable sources of supply, viz. : - ( 1 ) Delegate, (2) Snowy, and (3) Little Plain Rivers, distant respectively about 18, 13, and 8 miles from the city site.
Although the examination of the country was extended to the neighbourhood of Dalgety, and the Snowy River was followed as far as Jindabyne, it was found impossible to obtain a gravitation supply on account of the elevation of the city site, and, indeed, of the country generally, with regard to the river beds. Whatever sources of supply are chosen, pumping will, therefore, have to be resorted to.
Mr. Oliver in his second report says
It will be remembered by those who are familiar with my report and its annexures, that the officer of the Works Department who accompanied me in my visits to Federal capital sites reported very favorably on the water supply available by gravitation to Lord’s Hill, on the Bombala site, from the Delegate River. His aneroid measurements unfortunately misled both himself and the State Commissioner (myself), and his estimate of cost suffered in consequence ; but the error caused by the instrument, or the then atmospheric conditions, was very soon after detected, and a further report made by an officer of the same Department satisfied me that water could not be led by gravitation from the old mill site on the Delegate River to the crest of Lord’s Hill by gravitation, although it might perhaps to the 5-Mile Post. Mr. Pridham’s report, therefore, comes as a most acceptable contribution to the important question of water supply as affecting the Southern Monaro site - Bombala-Eden.
According to that report, the Delegate River, though not available by gravitation for the site originally marked out at Lord’s Hill, yet would be sufficient for a pumping scheme, the lift being a very moderate one ot about 230 feet, for a population of 50,000. Further, Mr. Pridham stated in evidence at the inquiry held at the Public Works Department on the 7th instant that a better site, for utilizing the water supply than Lord’s Hill could bo obtained, and the same witness admitted that Bombala was entitled,- in respect of water supply, to be placed immediately after Tumut ; the class, however, assigned to Bombala by the Commissioners is no higher than a fourth.
Mr. Oliver, therefore, was originally of the opinion that a gravitation scheme of water supply should be adopted, and his recommendation of the Bombala site was based almost entirely upon that belief. But he had to admit, .after the Commissioners had checked his examination, that a gravitation scheme was impossible.
– Was not that admitted long before the Capital Sites Commission was appointed ?
– No. I understand that a copy of Mr. Wade’s report, in which the fact is pointed out, was sent to Mr. Oliver, but the information was not made public - at least, I knew nothing of it - until it. came out in the evidence taken by the Commissioners. I wish now to draw attention to another discrepancy between Mr. Oliver’s reports. The Capital Sites Commissioners allotted to Tumut 17 marks, to Albury 21, to Lyndhurst 26, to Bathurst 29, to Orange and Lake George 34 each, to Armidale and Dalgety 36 each, and to Bombala 44. Mr. Oliver, in criticising this allotment of marks, seems to me to contradict himself. On page 17 of his supplementary report he says that the marks should be allotted in this way : - For water supply, with a maximum of 100 : Albury, the Table Top site, 8 marks ; Armidale, 20 ; Bathurst, 20 ; Bombala, 25 ; Dalgety, 27 ; Lake George, 15 ; Lyndhurst, 20; Orange, 15 ; and Tumut, the Lacmalac site, 27. But, on page 29, still regarding them from the point of view of water supply, he places the sites in the following order : - First, Tumut, with a total population of 1,000,000, which can be supplied in the driest season, 623,000 by gravitation and 477,000 by pumping ; second, Bombala, with a total population of 530,000, which could be ‘ supplied by pumping, assuming one-fourth the minimum flow of the Snowy River, or 1,060,000, assuming half the minimum flow ; and, third, Albury, for a population of 1,092,000, which could be supplied by pumping. Therefore, while in the first instance he allotted the fewest number of marks to Albury and thus placed it at the bottom of the list, he put it third in the second list. The two lists seem to absolutely contradict each other.
– In one case Mr. Oliver is speaking of the Tabletop site and in the other of the Albury township site, between the elevation of which there is a difference of 400 feet.
– That does not account for the difference. If honorable members analyze Mr. Oliver’s report they will see that his statements do not coincide with the facts. Everything seems to be overdrawn, and in the instance to which I have drawn attention, Mr. Oliver has fallen foul of himself.
– Mr. Oliver thought the Commissioners’ report overdrawn.
– I am accused of doing all sorts of wrong things whenever I try to do right. I appointed a Commission, whose members were eminent professional men, chosen from four different States, because I thought that the fairest thing to do. Surely the Commissioners were able to draw reasonable and fair deductions from the evidence placed before them. In my opinion, their report is an excellent one, and most exhaustive. As I could not understand why the temperature of various sites, whose altitude is much about the same, varies so considerably, I had the following statements summarized from the evidence : -
Lyndhurst.- Not protected from either south or west winds, and situated similarly to Blayney, which has the reputation of being one of the coldest spots in New South Wales. Early residents selected Carcoar as the most suitable spot for a town, being protected by high hills. On the whole, Lyndhurst is no better as to climate than Bombala.
Orange and Bathurst. - The situation of Orange is better than that of Lyndhurst, being protected on the south-west by the Canobolas, and the climate is, consequently, milder, and evidence of this is to be seen in the fruits and foliage of the district.
Bombala. - Towards the south there are no ranges of sufficient altitude to protect the site, and the sea mists come up, producing humidity and causing both heat and cold to be more trying than they otherwise would be. The hills on the west are too far away to keep off the winds from Kosciusko.
Tumut is protected on the south and west by high mountains, and so escapes the searching; winds from these points. The absence of humidity also lessens the effect of both high and low temperatures, and the result is an equable climate particularly agreeable to live in, and very favorable to the growth of vegetables. Any place without tree-growth not tit for city.
Albury. - The climate of Albury is well known. As a winter, autumn, and spring resort no finer climate can be found in Australia, while in the summer, although there are some high readings of the thermometer, the heat is free from humidity and does not produce that languor which is so markedly felt in the districts on or near the coast. Albury is well situated for accessibility to coolclimates, such as that of Bright in Victoria, which, if Albury be chosen as the capital, will no doubt become a favorite week-end resort.
– Who picked out that evidence?
– I selected it myself to-day, with the assistance of two of my officers.
– Whose evidence is it ?
– I cannot at this moment tell the honorable member, but he will find statements of which those are a reflection.
– I simply asked the Minister for his data.
– I am not in a position to give the honorable member references to the pages, but he will find in the evidence the information which I have quoted. I have endeavoured to lay before honorable members all the facts necessary to enable them to compare the proposed sites. It would have been possible to supply much more detailed information, but I do not think that I should assist honorable members by delving too deeply into the reports. I have therefore confined my attention to the most important points.
– The Minister has omitted any reference to the most important point of all, namely, the method of procedure.
-I intended to refer to that at a later stage. I propose to give notice of a motion, which I am preparing very carefully, to provide for a system of preferential voting. It is difficult to determine the best course to adopt. As honorable members know, we might take a straight-out vote in regard to each site. We could take the sites in rotation, alphabetically, and vote upon each of them in turn.
– That would not be fair.
– I do not think it would; but, for my own part, I should not object to adopting that course. Then we might proceed by way of exhaustive ballot, which, I think, would be objectionable; or we might adopt the preferential voting system.
– Why is the exhaustive ballot objectionable?
– Because honorable members would be called upon to vote for one site, and would not, in the event of their first choice being rejected, have - an opportunity to ^express their opinions with regard to other sites. “Under the preferential system of voting we should number the nine sites and vote for them in the order of our preference. Then, at the first count, the site which had the largest number of ninth votes would be rejected. Upon the second vote the site which had the largest number of eighth votes would fall out : and so on, down to the last two sites. That seems to me to be the most equitable system of voting, and the one most likely to secure a satisfactory selection.
– How does the Minister propose to arrange for a preferential and at the same time an open system of voting t
– It has been suggested to me that the voting papers should not be made public until after the final vote is given. Every honorable member should sign his voting papers, which should be handed to the clerks. Those officers would act as scrutineers, and an- nounce which site had fallen out upon the votes recorded at each ballot.
– Honorable members would vote only once, and the scrutineers would do the rest ?
– No ; honorable members would be called upon to vote seven times. It is proposed that the first voting slip should contain the names of nine sites, and that honorable members should mark them - one, two, three, and so on in their order of preference, and then sign the paper. Upon the ballot the site which received the largest number of ninth votes would be rejected from further consideration. Then another paper containing the name of eight sites would be handed to honorable members who would mark the sites as before, and the site to which the largest number of eighth votes was given on that ballot would be rejected.
– That is exhaustive not preferential voting.
– -It is exhaustive, but at the same time preferential. Under a system of exhaustive voting only one number would be used, and that is why I object to it. The site which received the fewest number of first-class votes would be dropped out, and honorable members would not have an opportunity of expressing their second or third preference. I do not think it is possible to have an absolutely perfect system of voting.
– Order. I waited for some little time before I interrupted the Minister, because I thought that, perhaps, if he were allowed to say a few words at this stage, time might be saved later ! on. I wish to point out, however, that we i are now discussing the second reading of i the Bill, and that it is not competent for honorable members to discuss any matters which are not dealt with in the measure. No doubt the question to which the Minister has referred will come before us at a ! later stage, and be discussed in detail. Honorable members may discuss the pro- visions of the Bill or the relative merits of the sites, but it is not in order to refer in ! detail to the method by which the ballot shall be taken.
– No doubt, Mr. Speaker, your ruling is perfectly correct. I was drawn into a reference to the system of voting by the interjections and inquiries of honorable members. I do not think that there is any necessity for me to make further reference to the details of the proposed sites. I have done my best to afford honorable members the information necessary to enable them to come to a conclusion.
-I wish to say a very few words in order to justify to my own constituents and the people of Australia the vote which I am about to give. I shall cordially support the second reading of the Bill. Exception has been taken to the selection of the capital site at present by two sections. The smaller of these would have us amend the Constitution by striking out that provision under which the capital site is bound to be selected within the State of New South Wales. Another section dreads the expenditure which would be incurred in connexion with the establishment of the capital. As to the first section I am sure that honorable members will have no sympathy with their opposition. We have no course open to us, as honorable men, but to select the site in accordance with the terms of the Constitution. It is not as if by amending the Constitution we could place New South Wales in the position she occupied before she accepted the Constitution. We cannot do that. If we amended the Constitution we should lay ourselves open to the charge of having entrapped New South Wales into giving her assent to
Federation under false pretences. I am quite sure that such a course will not be thought of by honorable members. “Upon the question of expense, I hold that inasmuch as we shall have to select the Federal site sooner or later, considerations of economy should induce us to secure it at the earliest possible opportunity. The land will become no cheaper by reason of delay. We have now a better opportunity than we can ever have at a later period to secure the land at a reasonable price, and that fact alone fully justifies immediate action on our part. I hope, in common with many other honorable members, that when the site is selected the expenditure upon the capital will be proceeded with very cautiously, and only to the extent that is absolutely necessary. I agree with many honorable members, perhaps the majority, that if the new Federal territory be properly administered - that is to say, if not one rood of it be alienated, but all of it be let on lease, renewable from time to time upon, say, decennial assessments - the rentals derived will prove ample to defray all the expenses connected with the establishment of the Federal city. The expenditure will, of course, be in the hands of the Government of the day, and that Government must necessarily be controlled by the Parliament. We must all feel the heavy responsibility that rests upon us in casting our votes for the selection of the capital site. We are called upon to give a decision that will be unalterable, and I am quite sure that members will pay the fullest attention to all the particulars that can be afforded as to the claims of the sites. I am confident that they will be led by their mature judgment to vote for this site or that, not because it favours any particular State - because, to my mind, there is no question of favouring a State - but because it will best suit the whole of the people of the Commonwealth, and will enable us to establish a capital of which, as founders, we shall always have reason to be proud. It wouk be idle for us to seek to make of the Federal territory a large commercial centre. We do not desire, and it would be futile if we did, to make the Federal city a rival to Melbourne or Sydney. I think, however, that we might make of it a place that would be attractive to summer tourists, and attractive as a social centre to persons who are in search of a sanatorium. I believe, further, that we may reasonably hope to establish a city whose large population will be prepared to contribute to its maintenance in a manner befitting its position in the Commonwealth. To my mind some of the sites recommended do not possess the necessary requirementsin that respect That remark is applicable even to the Elysium which we have just, heard described - Albury. I am informed, by unprejudiced people that Albury has a. villianously hot climate in the summer, and suffers from extreme cold in the winterThat is not a good place for a sanatorium.
– The Federal Sites Commissioners conducted their inquiry there with the temperature at 110 degrees.
– In the papers which have been circulated for the* information of honorable members, Albury is shown to possess, so far as climate is concerned, the worst record of all the sices - the highest mean summer temperature. Of course the real merits of all these sites wilt be placed before us, as will doubtless a number of merits which do not exist. It will be our duty - and, I think, a pleasant duty - to sift these alleged merits, and to choose that site which will best promote the interests of the people of Australia.
– I agree with a great many of the remarks of the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon. There is no doubt that the capital we select will endure for all time. If we commit any mistake now that mistake must be of a permanent character. Concerning the question of the desirableness of the Federal territory being kept inalienable, it appears to me that it would be ridiculous for the Constitution tocompel us to acquire at least 100 square miles, if we were immediately to proceed to sell it again. I think we are all unanimous in the opinion that that territory should be retained in perpetuity by the Government in order that any accretion in value which may result from settlement there may become the property of the Commonwealth. The experiment with the leasing principle will prove a very interesting one. The principle will certainly be given a trial under the most favorable conditions. The one point which I regret is that sufficient information is not available toenable us to settle this question in a businesslike and intelligent manner. For this I do not blame the Government so much as I do some honorable members opposite, who, in their zeal to have the capital selected at the earliest possible moment, are endeavouring to drive the Government a little too fast. When the proposal was made that members of this Parliament should visit the different eligible sites suggested, I pointed out that it was not wise to rush round and make a hurried superficial inspection of twenty or more sites, the bulk of which had not the remotest chance of being chosen. I suggested that the number should be reduced to four or five, and that a thorough inspection of these should be made. That idea was scouted and honorable members visited the larger number of sites at very considerable expense to the Commonwealth and trouble to themselves. Now we find that no member of either of the parliamentary parties which visited those sites has inspected the sites which, in the opinion of the Commissioners rank highest in the order of merit. I refer to the sites at Albury, Tumut, Armidale and Bathurst, which are entirely different from those which were visited by honorable members. The House will therefore recognise that it would have been well had my suggestion been adopted at the time it was made. I do wish, however, to make another suggestion, which I hope will receive favorable consideration. In doing so, I have no desire to delay the settlement of this question for one hour longer than is necessary to enable us to make an intelligent selection, and to proceed upon thoroughly business lines. I suggest to the Government that, instead of reducing the list of eligible sites to one, they should reduce it to three. They should then ascertain from the landowners within the 100 miles radius of these sites the lowest price for which they are willing to sell their lands. Simultaneously we should secure an independent valuation of the lands in question. Of course some honorable members will say that the adoption of my proposal would delay the settlement of this matter beyond the limits of the present session of this Parliament. No doubt it would. I do not think it is possible to complete the whole of the arrangements in connexion with the selection of the site before the approaching elections are held. Even if we reduce the list of eligible sites to one, I do not see how we can possibly acquire the land at that site prior to the holding of the general elections. Indeed, I am satisfied that we cannot. In the first place we must ascertain from the owners of land in its vicinity the lowest price at which they are prepared to” sell their lands. Then, before we are in a position to judge whether that price is a» reasonable one, we must secure an independent valuation of them. I hold that wecan proceed to obtain this information in the case of three sites just as well as we can in the case of one. It would not occupy any longer period ; and, even if theinformation were not forthcoming till after the elections - as it would not be in either case - there would be nothing to prevent the Government, from giving the House a. pledge that they would call Parliamenttogether to deal with the matter at the earliest possible moment.
– They might not be in a position to carry out that promise.
– Honorable membersseem to suspect that Victoria has some diabolical scheme in view to retain the Commonwealth Parliament in Melbourne. I hold that there is no such desire on the part of this State. Victoria merely wishes to proceed on business lines, and certainly New South Wales should not be behind her in that respect. The objections to the present proposal to reduce the list of suggested sites to one must be very evident to those who have given the matter careful consideration. We know very well that as soon a’s the future seat of government has. been determined the process of booming will commence. It may be imperceptible, but itwill, nevertheless, be operative. Speculators, will endeavour to acquire land in thevicinity in the hope that they will be able to obtain a bigger price for it from the Government. I know that many honorable members rely upon the provisions of the Property Acquisition Act to prevent this, booming.
– We rely also upon: the possibility of providing against it in; this Bill.
– I will give the honorable member the benefit of all we may do in that respect, but the fact remains that nobody can determine what is the value of” land at any site which we may select at the present moment. The estimates which have been placed before us are the best available to the Government.
– Then we have the assessment of the taxation department upon which to fall back.
– The assessment by the Taxation Department is no better than is the municipal assessment, and honorable members know that the latter is no accurate guide to the value of land. Irrespective of whether we select one site or more, the Government must ask the land-owners the lowest price which they are prepared to accept for their lands. The owners - if there be no other site in competition with them - will naturally demand as high a price as they can. If the Government cannot come to terms with them, the Commonwealth will be obliged to resume those lands. Then the provision which is contained in the Property Acquisition Act will come into operation. That provision may prevent an absolutely unreasonable -accretion of value, but it will not prevent an increase of value to the extent, perhaps, of £2 or £3 per acre, which in the acquisition of 64,000 acres would represent a very serious item.
– We must have a larger territory than that.
– I am speaking of the minimum area which is laid down in the Constitution.
– The honorable member is assuming that there will be no Crown lands within that area.
– Then arbitrators will require to be appointed. The owners of the land will appoint an arbitrator, the Government will select another, and an umpire will also be appointed. These gentlemen will be able to deal only with the evidence which is presented to them. From personal experience I know the difficulty which exists in ascertaining from witnesses the value of land at any particular period. Not one witness in a hundred will venture an opinion upon that point. He will say that, to the best of his judgment, certain land is worth so much at the present time, but if he is asked what it was worth upon a certain date he will probably reply - “I presume it was worth what it is now.” In this connexion I will give to the House particulars of- the last case in which I acted as an arbitrator. Upon that occasion an arbitrator was appointed by each party to the dispute, and one of the Victorian Judges acted as umpire. We all visited the land, the value of which was in question. The case was originally tried in the Victorian Law Courts. A host of witnesses were called upon the side of the vendor, and four or five upon the side of the purchaser. In the first instance the lowest price which the vendor asked for his land was £22 per acre, and the highest price which the purchasers offered was £10 per acre. In their opinion that amount was considerably in excess of its value. Then the matter was referred to the arbitrators. We visited the land, and each of us marked down our own opinion of its value. I valued it at £7 per acre. I am not aware of the value which the umpire and my fellow arbitrator placed upon the property ; but evidence was taken by us, some fifteen or twenty witnesses were summoned by the vendor, and all of them swore that, to the best of their belief, the land was worth from i.’20 to £27 or £2S an acre.
– Do they swear like that in Victoria?
– I believe that they swore according to the best of their belief. When they were asked how they computed the value of the land, they entered into elaborate calculations as to the quantity of fruit which might be produced from it, and spoke of raspberry growing and other branches of fruit culture for which it might be utilized. On the other hand, those desiring to acquire the land called, if I remember rightly, only four or five witnesses, and their estimates of the value were all below £10 per acre - the price which had been offered for it. We found it impossible to come to an agreement, and the question was accordingly referred to the umpire. During the examination of the witnesses called by the vendor, I elicited the fact that on several occasions tenders had been publicly invited for leasing the land, and that the highest rental that it had ever brought was 5s. 6d. per acre. The true value of land is represented by the capitalization of its net income, and 5s. 6d. per acre capitalized at 4 per cent, interest - and that is equal to 25 years purchase - meant £6 17s. 6d. per acre, or 2s. 6d. below the price at which I had valued the property. The umpire had, of course, taken notes of the evidence, but I was careful to point out to him that the value placed on the land by the public had never been more than 5s. 6d. per acre per annum. The result was that a decision was given in favour of the purchasers. Honorable members will note that the witnesses called by the purchasers were unable to prove the important fact that the land had never been let for more than 5s. 6d. per acre, and but for that piece of evidence, obtained from the . other side, the overwhelming preponderance 1 of testimony was in favour of a price , amounting to something over £20 per acre. . It will thus be recognised that it is very easy for one to pay too much for land that is compulsorily acquired.
– What was the verdict of the umpire t
– He fixed the price j at £10 per acre in accordance with the offer j made by the purchasers. He could not fix it at less, although £10 per acre was about 50 per cent, in advance of the true value of the land, computed on the capitalization of its annual income. We shall have the same difficulty to contend with if we take over the Federal territory in the way proposed ; but if, for the present, we simply made a selection of three sites, and brought them into competition with each other, we should find the owners of land in each of these territories, if they desired to effect a sale, anxious to make the price as low as possible. In any case, we should be able to make our own independent valuations. Honorable members of both Houses would be in a position to inspect the three sites.
– Would they be prepared to reduce the pf ice ?
– The people in each district would be anxious to have the Federal Capital erected there.
– But every landholder would desire to obtain as high a price as possible for his property.
– I do not mean to say that if we adopted the course I suggest, every landholder in each of the three sites would demand only a moderate price for his property ; but I have indicated the lines upon which I think good business men would proceed when dealing with their own money. We should act in such a way that we shall never feel ashamed of the course adopted by us. If my suggestion were adopted, we should not only obtain the necessary area at ±’2 or £3 per acre less than the price at which we should otherwise secure it, but be able to satisfy ourselves that we had selected the best site. At the present time we have not the information necessary to enable us to make a proper selection. There is one very important piece of information which has not been put before us. I refer to the cost of resuming the land necessary for the protection of the watershed. We do not know now whether we should be able to acquirethe Crown lands within any of the catchment areas free of cost, or whether we should have to purchase them. These are most important considerations, and it is highly desirable that we should have this information before us before we proceed to make a final selection.
– There are many people living within the catchment area of the water supply of London.
– We cannot be expected to bear the expense which the city of London, with its population of 5,500,000. has incurred in this direction. The proposal put before us is that we should secure a catchment area, and an ‘estimate is given of the cost of the private lands within the catchment area of each site. But we should know the extent of Crown lands existing within each catchment area, as well as the extent of Crown lands within the 100 square miles of territory to be taken over as the site of the capital. We should also be advised whether these lands are to be obtained free of cost. We all know that, in accordance with the terms of the Constitution, any Crown lands within the 100-square-mile area must be handed over to the Commonwealth free of charge. It is quite possible that there may be valuable Crown reserves within some of these areas, and as we should obtain them free of cost, they would be a very important asset to the Commonwealth. But I trust that the territory acquired by us will not comprise Crown lands which have been neglected, and which no one has hitherto felt disposed to take up. I should like the Federal territory to consist, at least, of reasonably good land. The better the land the better it will be for us, even if we have to pay a fairly high price for it.
– That would not be thecase if we could not lease it at a rate that would pay interest on the cost.
– If we could purchase good land at its present value, there would be a steady accretion in its worth, and I feel satisfied that it would very shortly return interest sufficient to cover the outlay. If we take over the right territory at the proper price, it will return more than interest on the capital expended in acquiring it. We should know, not only the extent ©f Crown land within each area, but the quality of that land, and, in short, we should have before us all the information which a private individual would require if he were about to- acquire a property at his own cost. It would not be creditable to us to proceed on other lines. It would not be creditable to us to proceed in a way which we well know would be the most expensive, more especially when, as I have endeavoured to show, the adoption of the course I have suggested would not delay for one day the taking possession of the site. It is just as easy to obtain concurrently all the requisite information with regard to three sites as it is to obtain it in regard to only one, and, according to the Constitution, before we proceed with the erection of the seat of government, we must acquire a territory of 100 square miles. I trust that honorable members will give this phase of the question their very careful consideration. I put forward these suggestions in the interests of the Commonwealth, and honorable members may accept my assurance that, if returned to the next Parliament, I shall not be found less anxious than I now am to complete this work, as speedily as it can be completed, on business lines. I should not pledge myself to any other course, and I believe the attitude I have indicated is that which will be adopted by other representatives of Victoria in this Chamber. I do not think that any honorable member desires that we should proceed upon other than business lines, and as expeditiously as possible, having due regard to the most economical methods, to the selection of the capital site. In looking over the report of the Commissioners, I have found some statements which I cannot reconcile. For instance, from the point of view of productiveness of soil they place Bombala fifth on the list, and yet the figures which they themselves supply as to the average production per acre place it considerably ahead of all the other sites. The figures relate to the average yield of wheat, maize, barley, oats, and potatoes per -acre. We must, of course, deal separately with the figures relating to potatoes, as the output is computed in tons, whilst in the other cases it is given in bushels.
-paterson.- - -What have we to do with this consideration ?
– The element of productiveness is one of the most important considerations.
-paterson. - Nonsense !
– It is a matter of -opinion. What does the honorable and learned member intend shall be done with the Federal territory ?. I presume that for many years the city itself will not occupy more than 1,000 acres.
-paterson. - We want to cultivate, not potatoes, but brains.
– We are compelled by the Constitution to acquire 64,000 acres for the purposes of the capital, and, assuming that for some time to come the city will occupy not more than 1,000 acres, what is to be done with the remaining 63,000 acres? Would my honorable and learned friend say that they should remain idle? Surely we should turn them to the best use.
-paterson. - The- greater the desert we settle upon the better it will be for the community.
– Let me quote the Commissioners’ figures as to productiveness. I find that, taking the four cereal crops, wheat, maize, barley, and oats, Bombala averages 24 bushels per acre, whilst Tumut comes next on the list with an average of 19 bushels per acre, or 5 bushels per acre less than Bombala, which, under this heading, is placed fifth on the list. This is certainly difficult to understand. Some of the information submitted by the Commissioners is very useful, but there are certain statements which honorable members should carefully consider before attaching much importance to them. For instance, let us consider the cost of resumption. The Commissioners take the cheapest land as being necessarily the best, and place it first on the list, but I think the chances are that the highest priced land would be the most profitable. Inferior land will never increase much in value because it can never be made productive. Poor land can be used only for grazing purposes for all time, and will only bring a grazing rental ; whereas rich land, though it may cost two or three times as much money at the outset, is capable of improvement. Take a case within my own recollection. I remember when the Duffy Act came into force in Victoria in the year 1862. The best lands in Gippsland were thrown open for selection at £1 an acre. A number of the old settlers including my own father would not touch it at that price. The)7 thought £1 an acre too dear. Some of that land is bringing £3 and £4 per acre per annum rent to-day. There has been a large accretion in value on my father’s own property. I remember’ that when I was a boy he got a pre-emptive right in respect of 640 acres. He had the right to take the land at £1 an acre, but he did not think it worth so much. A quantity of the same land was recently let at £2 los. an acre per annum. Within a mile or two there is other land which to-day is not worth any more than it was worth then. No one would touch it even at 5s. per acre, the price to which the land has been reduced by the Victorian Government. So that while good land continues to increase in value because it is limited in area and capable of improvement, inferior land will never become valuable, and is never very productive. Therefore, I should certainly be in favour of the Commonwealth taking the best land that is to be obtained, although the price may be considered, and may necessarily be, somewhat high. With regard to the voting, I agree with the suggestion that has been made that honorable members should mark down the sites in rotation according to their preference. I hope that the Government and honorable members on both sides of the House will give the matter careful consideration, and that they will see their way to adopt my suggestion, or some modification of it. There is another advantage that I would point out. If we select one site, the chances are that the Senate will suggest another site. There will then be a deadlock between the two Houses. But if we select three sites, the site favoured by the Senate is almost sure to be included in the three, and the chances are that the two Houses will be able to work together. This course need not delay taking possession of the land for one day so far as I can see ; because the obtaining of the information that the Government would require could proceed as rapidly in regard to three sites as with regard to one. It would only mean that circulars would have to be sent to a larger number of persons, and that, instead of there being one set of valuers, there would be three sets working simultaneously. The Government could very easily call the next Parliament together to deal with the matter if the process extended over the elections, as I believe would be the case. In any case, we should not be able to buy the land until after the elections, even if we reduced the sites to one. We should be able to deal with three sites just as expeditiously as with one, and we should have the advantage of proceeding on lines of which every business man in the Commonwealth would approve.
– If this House selects three: sites, the Senate will practically have the final selection 1
– No; the final selection would have to be made after we had obtained the information which is necessary to enable us to deal intelligently with the matter, and after we had made a full and careful investigation of each of the three sites, which might be a very difficult matter. We could easily inspect the sites thoroughly if they were reduced to three, and we could make such a selection as would justify us in the belief that we had secured the bestpossible site for the capital of the Commonwealth. That cannot be done with the information which we have at the presenttime.
– I am not quite sure as to the situation in which we are placed with regard to this Bill. I am bound to say that it is an unique occasion within my experience, that a House of Legislature which should be engaged in the discussion of a Bill which purports to dosomething which it does not do. The BilL purports to determine the seat of government of the Commonwealth, and we arenow engaged upon its second reading, but no site is mentioned in the body of the Bill. It is verv rauch to be regretted thatthe Government had not the temerity to put in the name of a site. They need not have committed themselves absolutely to that site. They might have left it tothe House afterwards to determine by amendment what site should remain in.. But at present we are in this position - that we have no proposal before us ; we have nodefinite proposition to discuss.
-paterson. - We do notwan t one.
– The honorable and learned member may not want one, but I should like to have something definite todeal with. I do not feel disposed to stand uphere and discuss a blank. The honorable member who has preceded me has indulged in a comparison between the different proposed sites ; but it appears to me that that is. really a question to be considered in Committee, when we know what sites are going; to be seriously considered by the House. The situation in which we now find ourselves is of the most desultory character,, because we have nothing before us to debate. The first thought that has come into my mind in regard to the measure is one of retrospect
I can remember very well, three or four years ago, Sir Edmund Barton’s many assurances to the people of New South Wales that with regard to the Federal Capital they would never have anything to regret. In his hands, New South Wales was to be perfectly safe. She would, undoubtedly, have the capital chosen within her territory, and that within no considerable period of time. But to-day, nearly three years after the meeting of the Commonwealth Parliament, we are entering for the first time seriously upon a discussion as to which shall be that capital site for Australia.
– That is not very long.
– It is three years too soon.
– That is the spirit of a great many Victorians, and it is a spirit with which I shall deal in a moment. Because I shall contend that that spirit is a very dishonest one.
– Not dishonest.
– I am speaking politically, of course. I say that it is a very dishonest political spiritwhich actuates a great many of the people of Victoria in their desire to postpone indefinitely the choice of the capital site within New South Wales, according to the terms of the Constitution. I cannot help indulging in this retrospect, because, remembering so well the many eloquent speeches which were made by the ex-Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, as to the very great care which he would exercise in the interests of New South Wales, how certain he wasthatshe had nothing to fear, and that she might adopt the Constitution with every confidence ; that her interest would be looked after. We now find that that right honorable gentleman is beyond political criticism, having been removed to a more serene atmosphere without ever having taken one single personal step to carry out his promises, or towards the choice of the capital of which he assured the people of Sydney and New South Wales he would see them in possession. I think it would have been a very great deal better if the right honorable gentleman had, at all events, seen this question settled before he was removed to that atmosphere where political criticism cannot and perhaps ought not to follow him. But I naturally turn from him to the honorable gentleman who has had charge of this particular question, I allude to the Minister for Trade and Customs, who when Minister for Home Affairs had this matter placed in his hands from the time this Parliament first met. I can remember very well within six months of that time, not merely pointing out, but contending with all the force of which I was capable, that the proposal which he was making - that there should be a series of visits or circuits - I shall not call them picnics - to view different sites, was a useless procedure. I remember asking if any individual member of this House could determine what site was best fitted to become the capital of Australia by a mere personal inspection. I pointed out that the qualifications which had to be looked for were the character of the soil, the water supply, the climate and accessibility. But notwithstanding that thehonorable gentleman had before him Mr. Oliver’s report, which gave him all the necessary information, and that that was obtained before the Commonwealth Parliament came into existence, he has allowed this question to be practically neglected for three years, and, at the very last moment, dissatisfied - for no reason that has been given to the House or to the country - with the very competent, capable, and impartial report prepared by Mr. Oliver four years ago, he appointed a fresh Commission, and appointed a friend of his own as chairman of it. I am bound to say - choosing my language with as much caution as one is bound to do when speaking out of Parliament - that the choice of that gentleman as chairman of that Commission has not inspired confidence on the part of the people of New South Wales.
– A disgraceful thing to say.
– I say unhesitating, and without any feeling, that if the honorable gentleman had submitted that choice to the people of New South Wales-
– The Government did not appoint him chairman.
– I did not say the Government ; I said the honorable gentleman.
– I never appointed him chairman.
– If the appointment of that gentleman as a member of that Commission had been submitted to the people of New South Wales he would not have had one vote out of a thousand in his favour.
– He would have had more than the honorable and learned member.
– That is a personal point.
– The honorable and learned member is disgracefully personal.
– Whether he would have had more votes than I should have had is beside the question ; I was not a candidate.
– It was the Commission, and not the Government, which appointed him chairman.
– The honorable gentleman appointed a Commission of three, and nominated a friend of his own to a position to which fees were attached ; and I say again - and I have nohesitation in saying whatI believein Parliament - that if the honorable gentleman had submitted his choice of the chairman of that Commission to the people of Sydney and of New South Wales, not one vote in a thousand would have been cast in his favour.
– A disgraceful thing to say, and the honorable and learned member should be ashamed to say it.
– How did the honorable gentleman deal with that Commission ?
– A cowardly statement ; only a coward would make it.
– I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the honorable gentleman shall be compelled to withdraw that word.
– If the Minister for Trade and Customs said that, I must ask him to withdraw it.
– I said that it was a cowardly statement, and I said it because the gentleman referred to cannot defend himself here.
– It is a distinction without a difference, Mr. Speaker ; but if the honorable gentleman thinks that he escapes from your condemnation by saying that he used an adjective instead of a noun he is welcome to it. Perhaps the Minister will now allow me to proceed. I am acquainted with the gentleman who occupies the position to which I refer, and I say deliberately that if the Minister, having allowed this question to remain neglected for three years, had wished to choose a Commission which would inspire confidence on the part of the people of New South Wales, he would, at least, have consulted the feelings of those people in regard to the chairman.
An Honorable Member. - What is the objection to him ?
– I shall not carry my alleged cowardice so far as to here give the information which the honorable member asks. The question of the choice of a Capital site has been shockingly neglected. It is all very well for the Minister as a representative of New South Wales to profess that he has done justice to that State ; but there has been a period of three years in which to do that justice. The report of Mr. Oliver was before us when Parliament met, and how has the Minister bettered the position by the appointment of a second Commission ? Has the new Commission shown that Mr. Oliver did not investigate all these questions ? Besides, how could the pilgrimages of members of Parliament deal with such matters?
– Only a few honorable members went on the pilgrimages.
– What I contended was that as to accessibility all the necessary information could be obtained by consulting a railway map.
– We all know the different places.
– Does the honorable member who interjects know the climate in each of the different places?
– In every one of them.
– Could the honorable member, or any other honorable member - because I do not want to enter into a personal controversy - judge of the climate of a particular locality by paying it a visit for a day? What was the effect of the visit to Albury ? Did not the visit happen to be on a day which the Albury people did not like? After the visit did not the Albury people protest that that particular day afforded no criterion of the climate of the district? That incident illustrated the futility of attempting to determine as to the climate of a place by a flying visit. How could such visits result in any determination, for instance, as to water supply? What I contended six months after Parliament met has been quite borne out by. the facts. I contended that with regard to water supply, climate, temperature, soil and building material, accurate information could be obtained only by experts. Why were two or three years allowed to elapse before that information was collected by them?
There has been shameful neglect. When this compact was entered into between New South Wales and Victoria as the one condition on which the Constitution was accepted by them there was a distinct obligation on the part of the Victorian people, who demanded the condition, as soon as was practicable to assist to choose the Capital site. The honorable member for Echuca has given expression to a sentiment which very honestly reflects the opinion of a large number of Victorian people. Only a month ago an
Article appeared in the Age, one of the leading newspapers in Melbourne, which was one of the most immoral and dishonest that was ever printed on this particular question in any part of Australia. That article practically said, “ It is truethat the Constitution says that the Federal Capital shall be within New South Wales ; but the Constitution does not say when, and, therefore, we have a right, like Shakespeare’s moneylender, to let the New South Wales people have their ‘ pound of flesh,’ but not one drop of blood ‘ ; we, Victorians, can postpone the choice of the Capital site as long as we like - that may not be absolutely the view which the New South Wales people will take, but we, as Victorians, are not going to submit to the Capital being fixed in the bush.” Now, why is it sought to fix the capital “ in the bush “ ? I want honorable members and Victorians to understand the reason. Was it ever proposed that the capital should be “ in the bush “ until Sir George Turner, as Premier of Victoria,stipulated, as a condition indispensable to the adoption of the Constitution, that the Capital must not be within 100 miles of Sydney ? Who sought to put the Capital “ in the bush “ if not the Victorian people ? Did the Sydney people want the Capital to be “in the bush”? Were the Sydney people not quite prepared to let the Federal Parliament decide as to how near to Sydney the Capital should be?
– New SouthWales would not join Federation without the bargain.
– Did not Sir George Turner, in the interests of Victoria, demand from the leader of the Opposition, who was then guarding the interests of New South Wales, that the Capital should be outside the 100 miles limit?
– That was because the leader of the Opposition said the Capital must be in New SouthWales.
– No doubt that was said by the leader of the Opposition ; but, without debating the question as to the right of New South Wales as the mother colony to have the Capital within her borders, I contend that that did not put the Capital “ in the bush.” It was the Premier of Victoria, on behalf of the people of that State, who demanded that the Capital should be “in the bush “ ; and, therefore, the argument of the Melbourne Age, the Melbourne Argus, and other newspapers, that the Capital ought never to be placed in any of the places now under consideration, is a complaint as to their own act. But if the Capital had to be placed in the bush, why has the choice of a site been delayed ? It is all very well for the Minister to say that it was impossible to bring the question on sooner. The Minister speaks as though it were necessary to have another Commission. How long does it take to appoint a commission ? I have had some experience of appointing Committees and Royal Commissions, and I can only say that the manner and matter of appointing them are such that noteven a day need be occupied in the process. But the Minister did not want to settle this question. I do not hesitate to say now, as I have said over and over again, that it suited the political exigencies of the Government to keep the Parliament in Melbourne. According to the Constitution, New South Wales is entitled to one-sixth or one-seventh more representation than isVictoria in the Commonwealth Parliament. That is a matter of population, and no one denies it, the whole representation being based on population.
– I think the difference in the representation is about an eighth.
– I shall not quarrel over the exact figure. But what has been the effect? The Parliament has been kept in Victoria, which is, no doubt, the strongest protectionist State in the whole of Australia. If honorable members refer to the divisions during last sesssion, they will find that New South Wales, by reason of its distance from the seat of Government, enjoyed one-sixth or one-seventh less voting power, instead of one- seventh or one-eighth more thanVictoria.
– That is because New South Wales representatives kept away.
– The Minister who is paid £2,100 per annum can afford to he here.
– That is a paltry thing to say !
– Does the Minister not know that members of Parliament, have their living to earn ? Does he not know, as every impartial honorable member knows - and it is to the latter I appeal - that if a member of Parliament had to follow his business he could not be here continuously over the eighteen or nineteen months of last session ?
– The honorable and learned member could not have been at a -seat of Government in the country.
– What was the effect of the circumstances I have described 1 All that the Victorian members had to do - and I cannot mention the fact without having their ready assent - was to put in an appearance in this House. If they were absent, they could be rung up on the telephone at any moment to take part in a division. At any moment a protectionist Government, in a protectionist corner of the Commonwealth, could ring up their supporters to take part in a division to the disadvantage of the more distant States, the representatives of which were compelled to be absent from time to time.
– The honorable and learned member ought to remember that pairs were very generously given.
– I admit to pairing very often, and I must say that on many occasions Victorian members have been “very obliging.
– Victorian members are kinder to the honorable and learned member than he is to them.
– I do not think so.
– The honorable and learned member’s remarks are in very bad taste.
– I do not think so ; ‘ and the honorable member for Melbourne ought certainly not to say anything on that point. By placing this Parliament in a particular part of the Commonwealth, we give a particular State a greater proportion of representation, by reason of the feet that its representatives are on the spot, while the representatives of other States sire necessarily absent at times.
– I thought the Constitution placed the seat of Government in Melbourne.
– So the Constitution did - for a time.
– Was it possible to remove the seat of Government before we had dealt with the Tariff?
– No one suspected that there was to be a protectionist Tariff. The honorable member for Gippsland smiles ; he must have been in the secret. We are all in the secret now; and all I am protesting is that Parliament, as soon as possible, ought to have been removed to a neutral atmosphere on neutral territory, just as difficult of access from Victoria as from New South Wales. I undertake to say that the whole object of the Treasurer, when Premier of Victoria, in demanding that the seat df Government should be outside 100 miles of Sydney - and I quite applaud his motive - was to remove Parliament from the influences of a great city. The very same motive which actuated the Treasurer on that occasion in insisting that the Federal Parliament should meet in a neutral atmosphere on neutral territory, instead of under the immediate influences of a great city like Sydney, is the motive which actuates me now in protesting against the Capital having been kept within the precincts and atmosphere of this great city for three years. We have seen the effect on one of the most vital” pieces of legislation that can ever come before this Parliament, namely, the Tariff of Australia, the discussion of which occupied eleven or twelve months. The honorable member for Echuca has, in the most goodnatured, good-humoured, and honorable way revealed his own feelings and the feelings of a large part of the people of Victoria. One of the indispensable conditions to the harmonious working in the future of these States is that we shall show one another that we are to be trusted. Although it may be very consoling and satisfactory to the people of Victoria to know that by having the Parliament here during the long Tariff debates, they got very considerable and material advantages with regard to the voting upon different items, they may rest assured that distrust has been excited amongst a very large number of people in New South Wales. I am not sufficiently prejudiced in favour of any particular State to desire any advantage for that State ; I should not change if to-morrow I lived in Tasmania. My feeling towards the Commonwealth - a feeling which is in favour of so conducting its business as to produce the greatest harmony amongst the States - would be just the same wherever I happened to live. But if we imagined that we could bring the people of Australia together, and at the same time constantly endeavour to get State advantages to which we are not entitled, we had better have left Federation alone. The very purpose of Federation is to harmonize our common interests, and to bring about a state of things in which we completely trust and justify trust in one another ; and, whatever the Minister for Trade and Customs may say, he has done a great injustice to New South Wales in allowing this question to remain so long in abeyance.
– The honorable and learned member should help the honorable gentleman to settle it now.
– I should like any honorable member to say what further light has been thrown upon the question by the Capital Sites Commission in addition to that thrown upon it by Mr. Oliver. Yet we have waited for nearly three years before the Government have been able to bring forth this result. It is four years since Mr. Oliver was appointed to report upon the capital sites, and now that the Tariff has been disposed of and fiscal peace is desired-
– With a preferential Tariff.
– We are told that the capital site can be chosen. I should like to say, with respect to the honorable gentleman’s criticism of my observations upon the chairman of the Royal Commission, that the honorable gentleman was equally wanting in courage when he dealt with Mr. Oliver’s report, and his motives in making it. The honorable gentleman said that Mr. Oliver had written a portion of his report in a temper. What does that mean?
– In very intemperate language.
– It is a very ordinary expression to use, but what does it mean when an honorable gentleman, with all the weight of Ministerial responsibility, accuses a man occupying so high a position as that of President of the Land Court of
New South Wales, and a man of unquestioned ability, integrity, and impartiality, of writing part of his report in a temper ? I undertake to say that the honorable gentleman cannot point to a single sentence in Mr. Oliver’s original report which has not been written in the most impartial and judicial manner.
– Has the honorable and learned member read Mr. Oliver’s comments upon the report of the Royal Commission ?
– I have. I undertake to say, further, that if this House were called upon to deal with this question upon Mr. Oliver’s original report or the report of the Commission, honorable members would get infinitely more light and leading from Mr. Oliver’s report than from the report of the Commission.
– They would get more leaning towards Bombala.
– With regard to Victorian criticism as to the probable cost involved, every honorable member representing Victoria will admit that the fact that the capital site is to be selected in a country district - called, in depreciation, “the bush” - is the result of an ex-Premier’s action on behalf of Victoria. On the subject of the cost it should be remembered that there has so far been laid down on behalf of the Government no distinct statement as to the amount of money to be spent in connexion with the capital site. It is an easy matter to have this argument used in leading articles of leading newspapers in Victoria when the people of this State are under the influence of the Kyabram fervour for economy.
– The Kyabram policy is as essential in New South Wales as in Victoria.
– I quite admit that, and I should be glad to see the Kyabram movement adopted in New South Wales.
– Except as to the capital site.
– I would apply it also to the capital site. I quite agree that whatever may be said in Victoria in regard to the necessity for State economy is applicable with even greater force to New South Wales. The honorable member for Gippsland will admit that this spirit of economy which has come over Victoria is liable to be carried to extremes, and I think it has been carried to extremes in this House. If this question is to be dealt with justly, it is very unfair that leading articles should from time to time appear in leading newspapers of the State of Victoria for the purpose of frightening the people of that State with the idea that the settlement of the capital site is going to involve them in expenditure amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not to millions.
– New South Wales will have to bear two-fifths of the cost.
– I absolutely deny that expenditure of the kind is necessary, and I have discussed the question with competent authorities.
– How much will it cost to resume the land alone ?
– I may tell the honorable member that, in my opinion, the land will be given to the Commonwealth by the State, unless we are greedy enough to desire to constitute practically another State.
– The land belonging to private persons?
– Of course not.
– The honorable and learned member must know perfectly well that much of the land is in private hands.
– I know that some of it is, but the honorable member for Gippsland knows that a much larger area of Crown lands can be obtainedin connexion with some sites than in connexion with others.
– Where that is the case it is very poor land.
– At Lyndhurst there is a large area of Church and School Lands.
– I think I need not now discuss what will be the cost of the private lands which must be resumed. Honorable members are aware that the cost of resuming private land will vary according to the site selected, but whatever that cost may be, I do not think it should influence us in our choice.
– The lands will be a valuable asset.
– If the system of leasing the Commonwealth lands which has been suggested, and which, I believe, will be adopted, is carried into effect, I believe that the result will be found to be so advantageous that in a very short time we shall find that the Commonwealth will not be out of pocket for land resumption. As regards the buildings, honorable members are aware that all we have to do is to house the two branchesof theLegislature and certain officers of the Commonwealth in buildings of an economical character. I have been assured by people possessed of sufficient building and architectural knowledge to entitle them to be considered authorities, that£200,000 may be estimated as the maximum expenditure required to make the capital site appropriate for the occasion for many years to come.
– Cheap and nasty.
– I do not agree that nastiness is a necessary consequence of cheapness. We do not require palaces. We do not need to suddenly produce a Washington for the use of the people, of Australia. Before the Commonwealth Bill was agreed to, I was selectedin Sydney as a representative of the federalist party upon a committee appointed to estimate the probable cost of the buildings required for the Federal Capital. Dr. McLaurin and Mr. French, who stood between Dr. McLaurin representing the anti-federalists and myself, arrived at an estimate of the annual cost which would represent the interest upon about £3,500,000.
– And Sir William Lyne agreed with them.
– The honorable gentleman, who is now Minister for Trade and Customs, was then one of the most rabid anti-federalists in New South Wales.
– With Mr. John Want the honorable gentleman stood upon the platform of the Town Hall in Sydney and enumerated the ills that would accrue to Australia if Federation were brought about.
– They were antiBillites.
– The honorable gentleman did not include in those ills the fact that he would himself be Minister for Home Affairs of the Commonwealth for some time and would postpone the settlement of the Federal Capital site for three years.
– The anti-Billites have not been very far wrong in their predictions.
– My colleagues upon the committee to which I have referred estimated that the cost of Federal buildings would amount to the sum of about £3,500,000, and they estimated the annual cost to the Commonwealth at 3 per cent, interest upon that sum. I protested against such an estimate, and appended an opinion of my own to their report. 1 held then, and 1 still hold, the opinion that considering the financial position of Australia there is no reason whatever why the immediate expenditure should amount to more than £100,000, or at the most £200,000.
– What about the cost of the water supply 1
– I remind the honorable member that the water supply would pay for itself. My own belief is that if a site possessing a suitable climate is chosen, the Federal capital will become the sanatorium of Australia. The fact that the Federal Parliament will be gathering there, together with the presence of the GovernorGeneral and the Justices of the High Court for many months of the year, will render the place attractive to a great many people in different parts of Australia. I have very little doubt that as soon as the lands are acquired by the Commonwealth, man)’ applications will be received for the leasing of suitable sites in order to build hotels, boarding-houses, and the other accessories which must follow upon the influx of population for Parliamentary purposes. It will be evident, therefore, that the two arguments which have been used with such force and so much repetition in the press of Victoria, are perfectly unjust. The proposed erection of the capital in the socalled “ bush “ is the result of their own action through their representative, whilst the idea of the cost is a gross exaggeration which no sensible man can justify. I say, therefore, that the two chief arguments urged by the Victorian people for the postponement indefinitely of the settlement of the site fall to the ground. The opinions expressed by the honorable member for Echuca, and which, I think, the honorable member will admit are entertained by very large numbers of the Victorian people, are not only unjust upon these two grounds, but they are unfair to the people of New South Wales. It cannot be doubted that we are entitled, at the earliest possible date, to remove this Parliament from the influence of any one of the great cities of Australia. We should be on neutral territory, and in a neutral political atmosphere. It should not be more difficult for New South Wales than it is for Victoria to get leading representative men to come to this Parliament. Honorable members will seethat if a member representing New South Wales had only to walk in the afternoon from his office, his chambers, or his home toParliamenthouse, we should probably be represented by a much better set of men than we can hope to secure when our representatives happen to reside 600 miles away from the seat of government.
– The same argument would apply to Albury.
– Not to the sameextent, because honorable members will be aware that if one or two of the sites suggested were chosen it would be possible foran honorable member to get into a train at 11 or 12 o’clock at night and find himself in the capital city at breakfast-time. The selection of the site would have this great advantage - that honorable members would find that, when the whole of their number required to be away from their homes, there would be a tendency to sit during the whole of the day instead of for half the day,: and there would also be a desire to get throughthe business much more rapidly than underexisting circumstances. This would probably be the means of drawing to the Federal Parliament a much larger number of desirable men than can possibly be expected when for six months in the year they are obliged to travel enormous distances. We have to consider the length of time during which a session lasts under present conditions, and the distances which honorable members have to travel. As a. result of these disadvantages, we know that Sir William McMillan, one of the most valuable and capable men in the House, finds himself called upon to retire from political life. No one will contend that, that is desirable. It is not desirable that, men should have to come great distances from all the States, except that in which the Parliament sits, if each session is. to last five, six, or seven months. I havealways contended, - as I do now, that this institution of the Federal Parliament is. very much exaggerated as to the part which it plays in Australian affairs. Wehave only three Departments to manage,, and a large category of subjects in connexion with which it is within our powerto hereafter assimilate the State laws. But when federation was mooted and afterwards advocated, was it ever supposed that, the Federal Parliament would sit in the. first instance for about eighteen months and afterwards for six or seven months in a year ? I, therefore, contend that if we choose a Capital site, removed from all the great capitals, so that no particular State shall get an undue influence in the Parliament, we shall not only produce equality in representation, but assemble in a place which will be equally inconvenient to the representatives of all the States.
– Equally inconvenient !
– It must be inconvenient to the representatives of five out of six States in any case, but it ought to be made equally convenient, or, if it is preferred by the honorable member, equally inconvenient to the representatives of all the States, so that we can all enjoy the representation which we get under the Constitution by reason of our population, seeing that it may lead us to sit for fewer months, and will ultimately put the Parliament in the position which it ought to occupy. Apart from all these criticisms, which I had no desire to make, there is a very serious constitutional objection to which I should like to direct the attention of legal members. It seems to me that if the Bill passed is regarded as final, it will be invalid.
– The honorable and learned member is taking a point of order now.
– No ; the honorable member will see, as I proceed to explain, that it is a matter of which the Speaker can take no cognisance. Section 125 of the Constitution says -
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.
Evidently the framers of the Constitution assumed either that some State would grant certain territory, or that the Commonwealth would acquire certain territory, before the Parliament chose a site, and, therefore, the section provides that the seat of government shall be determined by the Parliament, not within territory whichshall be granted or acquired, but within territory which “shall have been “ granted or acquired. No territory has been granted or acquired, and yet we are asked to pass a Bill to determine the seat of government of the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable and learned member mean that we must first acquire the territory and then determine the site?
– I hold that according to the Constitution the territory must have been either granted or acquired before we can choose a site.
– Are not all these sites under offer to the Commonwealth ?
– They are not under offer at all. What interpretation could the honorable and learned member for Indi put on the phrase “ shall have been granted?” It does not mean that the territory shall be granted in the future, but it means that it shall have been granted.
– Before what?
– Before the choice is made.
– The section does not say that.
– It says-
The seat of government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament,
There is no question about that - and shall be within territory which shall have been granted-
– It does not say “ shall be determined.”
– The honorable and learned member is disregarding the plain meaning of the section.
– The honorable and learned member is using a very strong argument against New South Wales.
– This very doubt appears to have occurred to the authors of the Annotated Constitution, for they say on page 807 -
The chief question which has arisen in connexion with these words is whether the determination of the seat of government rests in the last resort solely with the Federal Parliament, or whether the Federal Parliament is limited in its choice to sites offered by the Parliament of New South Wales. The opening words of the section strongly favour the former view ; but it has been argued that the words “ shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth,” point to a prior act of cession by the Parliament of New South Wales.
I adopt that very argument, and I submit that we are asked to choose a site within territory which ought to have been acquired by or granted to the Commonwealth before the Bill was submitted. I have spoken to two or three legal members, and not one of them has been able to answer this objection. I am perfectly satisfied - as satisfied as one can be with regard to a legal question of this sort - that if the Bill were passed, it would not be worth the paper on which it was printed. I go further, and say that if any important State action were adopted on the strength of the determination of the site in this Bill, it would be action beyond the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament and of the Commonwealth Government.
– “What portion of the State of New South Wales does the honorable and learned member suggest should be acquired before we proceed to the choice of a site?
– The honorable and learned member may have doubts about my opinion ; but two or three legal members of the House have taken an entirely different view from that which he apparently entertains. I spoke to the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, and I think that he entirely shares my doubt, because the phrase “shall have been” being used in the section, no other interpretation than that which I have mentioned can be placed upon it. When it says that the seat of Government shall be chosen within territory which “ shall have been granted,” it cannot mean within territory which shall be granted.
– It does not say “ shall be chosen.”
– I shall be very glad if the honorable and learned member can set my mind at rest. I can only say that two or three legal members of the House entirely agree with my view. It would not be fair for mc to state who they are, but I consulted them with very great care before raising this point, and I have no hesitation in saying that the Bill is. quite beyond the powers of this Parliament. The Constitution is the authority for passing the Bill in any shape or form. The Parliament is given the right to choose a site, but only a limited right. It is certainly given the right to choose a site within territory which shall have been granted to the Commonwealth. No land has been granted. The Act certainly contemplated that something should be done before the Parliament should be called upon to choose a site.
– The honorable and learned member means that it rests with the Parliament of New South Wales.
– Yes. Section 111 of the Constitution contains this provision -
The Parliament of a State may surrender any part of the State to the Commonwealth: and upon such surrender and the acceptance thereof by the
Commonwealth, such part of the State shall become subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commonwealth.
It was contemplated by the framers of the section that the Parliament of a State might surrender some part of its territory to the Commonwealth, and that as soon as the surrendered territory had been accepted, the Commonwealth should have the power to exercise jurisdiction over it. The jurisdiction which the Commonwealth is to exercise over the surrendered territory includes the choice of the site for the capital.
– The State has offered to surrender any site which the Commonwealth may select.
– The State has offered to surrender a site ; but it has not surrendered one, and therefore at the present time no territory has been either granted or acquired within which the capital site can be chosen.
– We should have to apply for the whole State outside the 100 miles radius from Sydney.
– The honorable and learned member may not agree with, me, but notwithstanding his observation, in which he appears to treat this matter very lightly - as the expression of the opinion of an unqualified person - I feel very strongly on it. Whatever he, as a member of the Federal Convention, may have meant, I think that the ordinary reading of the section - as a Court will read any Act of Parliament, according to its common, every-day meaning - is that the Parliament is limited in its choice of a site to territory which has previously been surrendered by a State. I am confirmed in that view by the fact that the argument was raised at the Convention, and by the fact that under section 111 that state of things is contemplated as a prior step towards the action of the Parliament in choosing a site.
– I was only endeavouring to point out to the honorable and learned member the result of his argument.
– The honorable and learned member knows that it is quite impossible for him and me to conduct s« legal argument across the floor of the House. I therefore give it up, leaving him to correct me afterwards if he chooses. Section 111 means that until the land has been surrendered by a State and accepted, the Commonwealth has not exclusive jurisdiction to deal with any part of the State. We are presuming in this Bill to deal with the land of a State without any such authority. We are presuming to take a large slice of a State for the Federal territory.
– I take it that we can only indicate what we wish.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. If the Bill were only an indication of our wish, no objection could be taken to it, but it is a Bill “ to determine the seat of government,” and clause 2 says -
It is hereby determined that the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be at or near-
If we put in one of the alternative sites - Albury or Tumut - we should have an Act of Parliament determining the site without our having consulted the State as to where it should be. I draw the attention of the House to the point for what it is worth. But you can do nothing with the matter, sir, because you can have no cognisance of the facts on which the invalidity of the Bill might depend. You cannot say whether the State of New SouthWales has not surrendered some territory or whether the Commonwealth has not accepted it, and unless you knew that in your official capacity, I take it that you could not interfere with the progress of the Bill, but to my mind it is a fatal objection to the Bill outside theHouse. I thought it a proper course to draw the attention of the Government to the point, because they evidently intended the Bill merely to indicate the site which the House wished to choose, on the assumption that the State would grant the territory to the Commonwealth.
– I do not propose to discuss the legal point which has been raised by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, with which I leave the legal members of the House to deal. I shall not be sorry, however, if it turns out to be a good one, because it will mean that this matter will be indefinitely postponed. If the honorable and learned member’s reading of the section be right, we may justas well drop the Bill, finish our work, and go home as soon as possible.
– Does the honorable member hope that the point is a good one?
– I shall not be sorry if it prove to be a good one. The honorable and learned member said that the whole of these proceedings in connexion with the choice of a site are of the most lax and loose character. I quite agree with his view. In the closing hours of the session, and in what is practically a moribund House, I find myself confronted with one of the most stupendous tasks which the Parliament has taken in hand, or could possibly take in hand - the fixing of a site for the capital of this enormous Continent. We are not properly prepared even to discuss this question, much less to select a site. We know nothing as to the area which will be taken for the Federal territory ; we know scarcely anything about the character of the land in the proposed sites, and we know little or nothing as to its value, while we have no information as to the most important part of the whole undertaking - the probable cost of the Federal Capital. If in our private capacities we undertook an enterprise such as this with such scant preparation, we should be looked upon as anything but wise men.
– New South Wales will pay two-fifths of the cost of the Federal Capital, whatever it may be.
– It is unfortunate that when objections are raised by representatives of Victoria to proposals which have the support of the representatives of New South Wales they cannot be criticised without the aspersion being cast that the people of Victoria are self-interested in this matter. I utterly repudiate that suggestion. In my opinion the selection of the Capital Site should be postponed, but I do not advocate postponement because I wish the seat of government to remain in Melbourne. I shall be quite prepared to go to whatever site may be selected, but, in my opinion, this is not an opportune time to spend money upon the erection of the Capital. According to our friends on the other side of the Murray, every proposal brought forward by the Government should have been the firstto be dealt with. Some time ago they told us that the passing of a Tariff should have been the first work of the session, and we were recently told by the leader of the Opposition that the passing of the Judiciary Bill should have been the first business undertaken. Now we are told that the first proposal of the Government should have been the selection of the Capital Site. However the Government programme might have been arranged, they would still have been dissatisfied. I feel it my duty to point out that we are entering upon this great undertaking with extremely little information in our possession, while the statements contained in the reports of Mr. Oliver and the Capital Sites Commission are so conflicting as to leave us worse off in regard to the matter than we were before. One report states that a certain locality is best, while the other puts quite another locality first. How are we to decide when experts disagree 1 All things may be lawful, but all things are not expedient. It is all very well for the honorable and learned member for Parkes to belittle the expense of building a Federal Capital, but we know that it is absurd to estimate the total cost at £200,000.
– Is Kyabram in the honorable member’s electorate t ‘
– It is not necessary to talk about Kyabram. W e want to look at this matter from a business and commonsense point of view. We know that even if not more than the minimum area of land is acquired, it will cost a great deal more than £200,000, because as there is very little Crown land available, a great deal of private land will have to be purchased. In addition to the cost of land, there is the expense of providing a water supply, of laying out streets, and of erecting buildings. Probably, when everything is paid for, we shall find that the capital, instead of costing £200,000, has cost something between £1,000,000 and £-2,000,000. It is not a question of protecting the interests of Victoria alone, but a question of protecting the interests of every State in the Commonwealth. Australia has recently passed through a series of most severe droughts, with the result that the revenue of every State has fallen off, and the people have lost so heavily that they cannot afford to pay additional taxation. Yet in the face of these circumstances it is proposed that we should enter upon an expenditure which will probably run into millions of pounds. What we should do is to use all means for the development of this enormous continent. If we have money to spare, we should expend it in such a way as will increase our resources, and by allowing the people to earn more, prepare them for bearing a larger burden of taxation. Every £1,000,000 borrowed for the building of the Capital will impose a liability of £35,000 a year upon the people, of Australia, and while in time to come the expenditure may be recouped by the rentals derived from the land comprising the Federal territory, we cannot expect to get any large amount of revenue from that source for a number of years. I shall not detain honorable members longer, but. I was unwilling to allow the debate to conclude without entering my protest against this proposal. I feel that honorable members have made up their minds, and will proceed with the selection of the Capital site, but in my opinion they will, in doing so, act unwisely and unjustly both to themselves and the Commonwealth. If the selection of a site were delayed for two or three years, no one would be injured thereby, . and we should then have more knowledge about the proposed sites, and would be able to come to a determination in regard to them with a clearer view and in a much wiser, manner.
– I understand that it is the intention of the House to discuss the general terms of the proposal before us on the motion for the second reading, and to deal with the proposed sites in detail when we get into Committee. ;
– Let us go straight into Committee.
– The honorable member will not have as good an opportunity to deal with the whole question in Committee as he has now.
– There is a feeling in some quarters that the time is inopportune for dealing with a big question like that of the selection of a Capital site, and no doubt there is considerable force in that contention. It has been “argued by some of the representatives of Victoria that the Constitution does not impose upon Parliament the obligation to deal with this matter at the present time, and that therefore it might well be allowed to stand over until a more convenient season, though when the convenient season will arrive no one seems prepared to say. I have heard it stated that ten years hence would be soon enough, but that is not the spirit in which the matter should be approached if the terms of the Constitution are to be observed. It has been said that the people of New South Wales were induced to enter the Federation because of the promise that the Capital should be within the borders of that State ; but,, so far as lean judge, the influences which led them to support the draft Bill on the second referendum were rather the radical alterations which had been made in regard to the constitutional methods of securing reform, and more particularly for the amendment of the Constitution itself. It is true that the Bill as amended after the first referendum contained the provision in regard to the Capital site which now exists in the Constitution, and that its supporters urged the fact as a strong reason for accepting the measure, though I do not think that it had as much weight with the people of the State as some are inclined to believe. But since the provision exists in the Constitution it is our duty to see it carried into effect as speedily as possible. The Barton Government recognised this obligation, and placed the Capital site question in the forefront of their programme. It was one of the subjects of legislation referred to in both the Maitland manifesto and the opening speech of the Governor-General. The people of New South Wales - and I suppose, too, the people of the remaining States - were thus led to consider that there would be no undue delay in dealing with the question. But the Government, despite the protests of honorable members, and especially of the representatives of New South Wales, have upon various pretexts allowed it to remain in abeyance until the life of this Parliament has practically expired, and the time at our disposal is insufficient to enable us to deal with this subject as it should be dealt with. It is true that reports have been furnished to us by a Commissioner appointed by the State of New South Wales and by Commissioners appointed by the Federal Government, but they require close analysis and study such as it has been impossible for even those who are particularly interested in the matter to give to them, because of the amount of attention that has been required for other legislation which has been brought forward at the last moment. Honorable _ members and the public generally have serious cause of complaint against the Government for not placing before us earlier than last week the information obtained by the Capital Sites Commission. Instead of indicating the site which they consider to be the best, they have asked honorable members to consider the reports and make their own choice under the disadvantages that I have indicated. I protest against this procedure, because the Constitution imposes upon the Government the duty of guiding the House to a selection of the site best calculated to meet the needs of the Commonwealth. It also lays them under the necessity of selecting the site which will offer the most compensation to New South Wales for the sacrifices which she was called upon to make upon entering the Federation. The Government, however, are shirking both these obligations, and are throwing upon the House the duty of making a choice. We find, further, that two Ministers are particularly interested in four out of the niue sites suggested, and if we are to judge from the cross-firing that has taken place, the members of the Cabinet are by no means a united or happy family upon this question. Under these conditions how is it possible for the Government to do their duty to the people of New South Wales t Mr. Oliver, who was appointed by the State Government to report upon the sites suggested for the Federal Capital, made a most exhaustive report, and reduced the number of eligible sites to three, namely, Orange, Yass - which has since been abandoned - and Bombala. When the Government agreed to appoint a Commission of experts they widened the scope of the inquiry so that it should embrace nine sites. I submit that the Government were called upon, in the first instance, to arrive at some decision as to the area to be embraced within the Federal territory. The selection of the site for the capital should have been a matter for after consideration. The Commission of experts, however, reported upon a number of 4,000-acre sites for the Capital, and confined their attention to these limited areas. Their report affords very little information of value with regard to the territory of which the Capital site is to form a part. The Commission should have inspected the whole of the country included within the proposed Federal territory. There seems to be a strange conflict between the New South Wales Commissioner and the Commission of experts, and the Minister for Trade and Customs has endeavoured to discount the criticisms passed by Mr. Oliver upon the report of the experts. He referred to some alleged discrepancies in Mr. Oliver’s supplementary report, but he altogether failed to detract from the importance of that gentleman’s observations. Mr. Oliver holds a very high judicial position in New South Wales, with which State he has had almost a lifelong association. He is the President of the Land Court, and has held that position from the creation of that body for the purpose of dealing with matters arising out of the complicated land laws of the State. At no time have his ability, impartiality, or fairness been questioned. His criticisms upon the report of the Commission of experts are undoubtedly very severe. I am not prepared to say who is right, or to what extent Mr. Oliver’s criticisms may be justified ; but I think that his statements are entitled to the fullest consideration, and that further investigation should be made. The selection of the Capital site is too important to be rushed through the House in a hurried and ill-considered manner, as the Government now propose. The Government are very much to blame for the way in which they have dealt with this question from beginning to end. The appointment of the Commission of experts was left until the very last moment. Despite the promise of the Minister for Trade and Customs that the Commissioners should be selected before the close of last session, they were not appointed until January - fully three months afterwards. A promise was also given that the report of the Commission would be ready by April, but it was not presented until July. We all know that the Commissioners were not given sufficient time to properly perform their work ; they were continually pressed to bring their investigations to a close, and they were hurried in a manner which was certainly not desirable, and should not have been necessary. One of the main causes of complaint against the Government is that, despite the fact that the late Prime Minister strongly urged upon the people of New South W ales the adoption of the Constitution because it contained a provision that the Capital site should be fixed in New South Wales ; despite the prominence given to the Capital question in his electoral programme, and in the speech of the Governor-General at the opening of the Parliament, and despite the fact that the right honorable gentleman had placed himself under very peculiar and special obligations to the people of New South Wales, he did not make any attempt to deal with the subject until the last moment. Then, when he discovered that there was some difficulty in securing the assent of both Houses to the motion submitted by him, he beat a hasty retreat. I do not wish to indulge in any harsh criticism at this stage, but I am bound to say that the people of New South Wales expected that he would have given a little more time and attention to this subject before he removed himself from the sphere of Federal politics. The Minister for Trade and Customs has given us very important information with regard to the estimated cost of the resumption of the territories surrounding the proposed sites and other matters, which has been placed at our disposal for the first time this evening. We have not had sufficient time to consider these particulars. I am aware that some representatives of Victoria are strongly opposed to the proposal to establish what they are pleased to term a “ bush “ capital. But, as was pointed out by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, it was Victorian politicians who had charge of the drafting of the Constitution, both in its initial and its final stages, who were responsible for the particular provision relating to that question. The Constitution provides that the Federal capital shall be in Federal territory, that it shall not be within 100 miles of Sydney, and that it shall be in New South Wales. But all this talk in reference to the cost of establishing a “ bush” capital is a mere bugbear. At the outset there is no need whatever to erect large palatial structures, and this Parliament will be well advised if it resolves to construct only absolutely necessary buildings, with a life of say fifty years. At the expiration of that period it will be soon enough to provide for more substantial buildings. I agree very strongly with the suggestion which was put forward by Mr. Oliver in his first report that the Federal territory should be nationalized, and that it should be leased for whatever purposes might be deemed desirable. If that plan be adopted, the Commonwealth Government will obtain from this source a growing revenue, and the Capital can be established, not out of taxation levied upon the general community, but out of the rentals derived from the enhanced value which will be given to the lands over which the Government exercise control. As it has been decided not to debate the merits of the different sites at the present stage, I shall reserve my remarks upon that aspect of the question until the Bill gets into Committee. I cannot conclude, however, without entering my protest against the acti»n of the Government in delaying the consideration of this question until such a late period of the session, when it is almost impossible for it to receive that consideration which its importance demands, both from a Constitutional stand-point and from the stand-point of New South Wales for the interests of which State I have a special concern.
– Like the honorable member for Canobolas I am anxious to see this question decided during the current session, and consequently I shall not address the House at any length. Nevertheless, I should like to refer to the point which has been raised by the honorable and learned member for Parkes. If his position be at all tenable the settlement of this question must be indefinitely postponed. Had the point been raised by a Victorian representative, I could better have appreciated it, because I should have regarded it merely as an attempt to kill the Bill. In my judgment, the Government should absolutely disregard the contention which has been set up. If, after the Bill has been passed it is found that it is illegal, it will be a very easy matter to pass an indemnifying Act. I take it that the nine sites which are now under consideration are practically under offer to the Commonwealth. Those sites have been known to the Government of New South Wales for a very long time. Mr. Oliver reported upon them some three years ago, and the Government of that State have specially reserved the Crown lands surrounding them pending the selection of the future seat of government. Surely that is an indication that the State Government desires a speedy settlement of this question to be arrived at. The eagerness with which the honorable member for Echuca rose to the bait which was offered to him by the honorable and learned member for Parkes plainly evidences the feeling of Victorian representatives upon the question. At the same time I do not think that the people of this State desire any delay in its settlement. Certainly the Victorian press advocates delay. But all I have to go upon, as between press and people, is the fact that, at a public meeting which was recently convened by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne for the purpose of urging delay, a stranger from without its gates moved an amendment which was carried almost without dissent. In the latter part of his speech, the honorable and learned member for Parkes gave a cue to some of the Victorian representatives with regard to the supposed invalidity of any proceedings taken by means of this Bill. He argued that it was at variance with the Constitution, which he said provided that the Federal territory should, first of all, be granted by the State of New South Wales. The responsibility withregard to that point rests with the Government. There are many ways of getting out of the difficulty, if it exists. The New South Wales Government are aware that there are nine sites under consideration. They have not surrendered any portion of their territory in those sites, but they know what the intentions of the Commonwealth Parliament are, and what has been said by the Government. Practically the sites are under offer to the Commonwealth Parliament, and we are now indicating to the New South Wales Government our preference with regard to them. After we have done that we are aware that certain machinery has to be set in motion, and that the New South Wales Government will have to grant the land to the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Gippsland has spoken of the zeal displayed by the New South Wales members in connexion with this question. I am afraid that had it not been for the zeal of those members, the matter would not have reached its present stage. The Victorian members have been charged with a desire to delay and frustrate the selection of the capital. As a representative of New South Wales, I believe that the Victorian people have a desire that the Federal compact in this respect shall be fully carried out. They are desirous of a speedy settlement. But the press of Victoria has been sounding the tocsin for some time past as against the selection of a capital in what they are pleased to call “ the bush.” I do not know whether any of the representatives of Victoria wrote the articles which have appeared in the Melbourne newspapers on this subject. But whether they wrote them or have merely read them, the same ideas as have been expressed in those articles have been repeated in this chamber. The honorable member for Gippsland has returned to his old love. He first of all had an alphabetical order of his own. Taking first the letters A and B, he jumped to the letter T. But now he takes the whole nine sites, and, in that canny Scotch way of his, and with the caution which is characteristic of him, he desires the House to select three, after which, he says, we can find out the value of the land in each and set the propertyowners competing against each other.
I assume from that that the honorable member has an ingenious idea that if this Parliament fixes three sites, we shall ultimately be able to obtain one of them cheaper than would otherwise be the case. I do not question the honorable member’s integrity or honesty of purpose in any way when he says that, if he is returned to the next Parliament, he will, if the plan which he suggests be adopted, be thoroughly earnest in endeavouring to get a selection made. But so far from the land-owners in the three districts being pitted against each other, so that the Commonwealth may make a better bargain, it is not a wild speculation to suppose that the land-owners in the three prospective sites would meet together and fix their own values. Canny as the honorable member is, I have no doubt that there are men owning land within the three sites who are almost as cautious and far-seeing as he is. If we adopted his plan it would be quite likely that the property-owners would meet together, and by means of a mutual arrangement place a value of their own upon their land. The Government have allowed this matter to dawdle on for so long a- time that the honorable member for Echuca says that the capital should not be selected until after the general election. He declares that this is a moribund House. But there is no such feeling on the part of the representatives of the other States. The representatives of Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland are as keen as are the representatives of New South Wales that the site should be chosen. They may not be keen upon a particular site, but they want one site to be selected. The Victorian representatives are the only ones who will be inconvenienced by the seat of government not remaining in Melbourne. They are the only representatives who are at present convenienced by Parliament sitting here. The only argument they can really bring to bear against the selection is on the ground of expense. But whether the capital is selected to-day or ten years hence, the expense will practically be the same. It will have to be met in any case. There is no reason why we should erect public buildings upon the palatial scale of the Parliament House in which we are now sitting. The Commonwealth Parliament has shown no desire to spend public money lavishly. The honorable and learned member for Parkes has said that £200,000 I would be the maximum of expenditure at 1 the commencement. Whatever the sum may “be”, “two-fifths of it will have to be borne by New South Wales, and Victoria - to use the Stock Exchange phrase - will not ‘’ carry the baby.” If the initial expenditure be £200,000, New South Wales will have to pay £S0,000 of it, in addition to which all the Crown land within the area will become the property of the Commonwealth as a free gift. The remaining three-fifths -that is to say, £120,000- will not be borne by Victoria, but by the other five States of the Union. The Minister for Trade and Customs pointed out this afternoon, with a good deal of statescraft, that the capital, when selected, should be chosen with a view to the interests of the Commonwealth for the next 200 or 300 years, as well as from the point of view of present convenience. We are aware that the trend of population for some years past has been to the eastern and north-eastern shores of Australia. It is reasonable to suppose that that trend of population will continue for many years to come. At the present rate of progress the population of Queensland will, in the course of some years, exceed that of Victoria.
– As well as that of New South Wales.
– No ; because the population of the northern districts of New South Wales is growing more rapidly than is the population of Queensland. We therefore find that Queensland in the future will have much greater representation and power than has Victoria. I think that the representatives of other States are just as much concerned in the selection of the site of the Capital as are the representatives of New South Wales, and the people of that State call upon them to at once enter upon the task. It has been said during the debate that a Ministry which draws its principal support from representatives of this State is greatly benefited by the meeting of the Parliament in this city, inasmuch as its supporters can be got together at any moment to assist it, whilst the representatives of other States must either reside here altogether, as the representatives of Queensland and Western Australia find it necessary to do, or else travel to and fro from week to week. As the honorable and learned member for Parkes has said, some of the representatives of New South Wales often attend here at much inconvenience to themselves. The regularity of their attendance is a matter solely for their own consideration. Every honorable member must form his own estimate of the measure of representation which he is called upon to give to his constituency ; but personally I consider that honorable members who find it disadvantageous to themselves to attend the meetings of the Parliament should adopt one of two courses. They should either make such sacrifices as are necessary to enable them to attend with some degree of regularity, or, if they find that it is detrimental to their interests to do so, they should resign their seats.
– Had that rule been laid down, we should have lost the leader of the Opposition.
– At all events, that is the view which I take of the position. Honorable members should adopt one of those two courses. I agree with the honorable and learned member that it would be detrimental to the interests of the Commonwealth if the representatives of the people were confined to either of two classes - those who are very poor or those who are exceedingly rich. The exclusion of professional men from the House would not be to the interests of Australian politics. That is an argument in favour of the speedy selection of a site, and the building of the capital in a locality where honorable members will be able to attend the meeting of Parliament with the least inconvenience. So far as the representatives of Western Australia are concerned, it matters little to them whether Parliament meets in Melbourne or in some part of New South Wales. They cannot return to their constituencies at the end of each week, and, therefore, whether we meet here or in New South Wales they must be equally inconvenienced. Honorable members who represent Tasmania are practically in the same position, whilst once the representatives of South Australia board a train at Adelaide, it is immaterial to them whether they are called upon to go to Melbourne, or to travel on to some town in New South Wales. But we are not solely to consider the interests of honorable members. We are here to carry out a compact.
– And to look to the future.
– We must do so when we are casting our votes. When I record my vote I shall have regard to the future as much as to the immediate present, but I do not intend now to advocate or fight for any particular site. The argument advanced by the Minister for Trade and Customs, that in selecting a site we must consider where the great bulk of the population is likely to be found in the near future, is a sound one. We should regard the question from that standpoint rather than as the press of Victoria have done from the point of view of expense. We must not, of course, lose sight of that point, but it is absurd to suggest that the expenditure on the Federal capital will amount to millions of money. The Victorian press might just as well add to the cost of building the Capital the expenditure which will be involved in the construction of the transcontinental railway as debit against it some of the items which they have mentioned.
– Some of the newspapers do so.
– Quite so. They do so in order to make the picture look as repuguant as possible ; but electors of Victoria, in public meeting assembled, have shown that they will not accept such assertions. Some weeks ago the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, in response to a requisition, convened a meeting to urge the postponement of the settlement of this question, and speakers came armed with information to support the object of the gathering. An amendment, however, was moved, setting forth that the people of Victoria respected the Federal compact, and as Australians favoured the early selection of a site. This was not a packed meeting, held in the city of Sydney, but a gathering which took place in the Town Hall in this city ; and I am pleased to say that the amendment was carried. I believe that every elector in Australia desires the immediate settlement of this question. The honorable member for Echuca has said that a thing may be lawful and desirable but may not be expedient. That is a very fine piece of logic to present to the House. It shows a high moral regard for the Federal compact ! The honorable member also urged that we should allow this question to stand over until the general elections had taken place. My answer to that contention is that the metropolitan press of Victoria are apparently unanimous in the desire that the selection of a site should be delayed, and that if we delayed this work they would combine with the Kyabram and other reform leagues to make this a test question at the next elections. In that event every candidate would be asked whether he was in favour of the expenditure of a certain sum on the building of the . Federal Capital, and we should probably find a number of honorable members returned to represent Victoria pledged not to vote for such an expenditure for a number of years to come. They would say that they had taken their instructions from their constituents and intended to observe them. I trust that I shall not be accused of casting a slur upon the representatives of this State when I say that this is evidently the object which they have in view. One does not require a keen perceptive faculty in order to be able to discern the motives which actuate the Victorian press. They undoubtedly desire to defer as long as possible the settlement of 1;his question. That being so, 1 think that the Government are to be complimented for submitting this measure even at this late hour in the session. I intend to support it, for I see nothing in the objection raised by the honorable member -for Gippsland, nor do I consider that the suggestion as to expense should warrant further delay. Those who fear the expenditure which may be involved in building a Federal Capital should remember that the people of New South Wales will be called upon to bear two-fifths of the outlay, whilst, in addition, they will also be called upon to hand over to the Commonwealth, free of charge, all Crown lands within the selected area.
– It is somewhat difficult to understand what practical purpose will be secured by prolonging this debate. But the speech made by the Minister for Trade and Customs, in moving the second reading of the Bill, has, to my mind, accentuated the fact that the longer this matter is under consideration the more likely we shall be to obtain additional information in regard to it. For that reason, probably, the continuance of the debate may serve some useful purpose. I hold that the information which the Minister placed before the House to-night is of such importance that it might, with all reason, have been placed in our hands some days ago. I have consistently held the view that the unseemly haste which has been displayed in pressing this matter forward is undesirable in the interests, not only of Victoria, New South Wales, or Queensland, as individual States, but of the whole Commonwealth. As the result of the extraordinary anxiety shown by honorable members from New
South Wales to have this matter settled, we may make a selection which, a few years hence, will be regretted by every one who assisted in precipitating the consideration of this important question. I claim that the representatives of Victoria are as desirous of carrying out the spirit of the obligations imposed upon us by the Constitution as are any of the representatives of New South Wales. The honorable member for Dalley has suggested that the representatives of this State are under the domination of the Victorian press. I should not like to suggest that his intense advocacy of the early settlement of this question shows that he is under the domination of the press of New South Wales. I prefer that such suggestions should not be made, because I believe that honorable members, for the most part, realize that this important question demands the most serious and careful consideration, and should not be rushed through, as is proposed, in the dying moments of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth. Many honorable members have visited, as I have done, the city of Washington, and those who are familiar with its history know that it did not become the seat of government until 1800, after the whole subject of its selection as the site had been discussed for ten years throughout the country. It is now admitted, however, that if the selection had to be made anew the capital of the United States of America would not be in its present situation.
– Had it been settled earlier a better selection would have been made.
– My honorable friend is probably more conversant with the details of the selection of the site than I can claim to be ; but if thoughtful consideration had been given to the question of where the great bulk of the population of the United States was likely to centre, the capital would have been erected in a different situation. I am sure that honorable members realize that members of Congress are very much inconvenienced. The representatives of the Western States have to travel a tremendous distance in order to attend its I meetings, and the great travelling diffiIculties entailed are responsible for an j enormous and enduring burden upon i the United States Exchequer. It would be idle to continue to offer reasons i for opposition to the present precipitate I action. I know that already a large and overwhelming majority of honorable members have indicated their intention to proceed with this matter, and I only intend to enter my own personal protest, and express my regret that this step is being taken with such unnecessary haste. I still hope that some means may be found by which we shall not by our action during the next two or three days find ourselves finally committed to one site, without leaving an opportunity at some future date of reconsidering the situation. With others, I feel that if we, as individuals, were asked to select a small portion of any one of the territories proposed, we should commence by obtaining the best information. We are now, however, asked to decide for all time on information which is incomplete.
– Why is the information incomplete after three years ?
– The members of the Government, who are more responsible, ought to be able to give a better answer to that question than I can supply. In the last few dying hours of the Parliament we are asked to determine on a site for all time, and against such a step I protest with all the power I possess. Surely it cannot be justly charged against the Victorian members that they are opposing the selection at the present time simply because of provincial feeling. If that ‘ be the idea, I personally wish to disclaim any such suggestion. I wish the spirit of the bond to be carried out, and, if I may presume to speak on behalf of the people of another State, I believe it would be as much to their interests as to the interests of Victorians, and to the interests of the people of the Commonwealth, as a whole, if we deferred the settlement . of the question until we were in possession of further and more accurate information. Two Commissions were appointed to inquire into this question, and in their reports they presented different information and recommendations. Surely that fact alone affords a reason which would properly justify honorable members in pausing before they commit Parliament and the Commonwealth to so serious a step as that now proposed. I have risen simply in order to enter my personal protest against a decisive step at the present time. I do so without any provincial feeling whatever, but in the general interests of the Commonwealth, and with the sincere desire to see the spirit of the compact entered into under the Constitution eventually carried out.
Mr. SAWERS (New England). Although the honorable member for Kooyong has pleaded for delay, he has nevertheless admitted that in his opinion there is an overwhelming majority in the Chamber in favour of carrying the Bill. For my part, I have risen with the object of coming to close quarters on the question. In the speeches which have been delivered, honorable members, instead of coming, as I desire, to close quarters, have merely dealt with the general question. If the Government and the House agree that the more proper course would be to carry the second reading, and get the Bill into Committee, I should be quite willing to reserve my remarks. But it is about time that the question was settled, and the whole decision hangs on the preference of the majority.
– Some honorable members prefer to have no site selected.
– That may be so, but such is the position that a decision must be arrived at, and if honorable members refrain from voting that will not be of much consequence, seeing that the majority will rule. It was my desire to come to close quarters that induced me, when the honorable and learned member for Parkes was speaking, to interject the remark that instead of going over the old ground and finding fault with the Government, he should rather give his advice as to the proper site to select. I regret having interrupted the honorable and learned member, and I hope he will pardon me. Some remarks have been made, which I keenly, appreciate, as to the necessity for economy. I can quite understand the argument as sincere and patriotic, that this is not the time for the Commonwealth to indulge in any huge, or even moderate, expenditure in the formation of a Federal Capital, the creation of which might well be postponed for ten or twenty years. At the same time, I do not agree with that view of the question, because the compact which was deliberately entered into, and under which New South Wales came into the Commonwealth, should be kept. This may be a time for economy ; but because we select a site to-day, it does not mean that we are at once to spend millions in the creation of a capital. After the site is selected I shall, while I remain a member of this House, always support economy, and object to our indulging in any unnecessary expenditure, because I believe that very moderate buildings will suffice for a generation to come. My object in rising is to support one particular site as worthy of the selection. I represent the New England constituency, within which there is the proposed capital area known as Armidale. The fact that I happen to represent that district is no reason why I should advocate a site within its’ borders, and I should be ashamed to do so if I could - not show good grounds, and conscientiously say that, in my opinion, it is a proper site to be selected. I regard the report of the Commissioners as very valuable, though they have not gone the length of recommending any one particular site. That is a responsibility which must rest on honorable members. The Commissioners have, however, ventured to make a somewhat rough classification of the sites under certain heads, numbering about six. First there is general suitability, in regard to which I find Armidale is placed fifth, while under the head of climate it is placed sixth. The question of general suitability must present itself to honorable members as it does to me, very differently from the way in which it presented itself to the Commissioners. For example, it is difficult to understand how, under this head, Orange should be placed third, and, under the head of climate, should be placed fourth, considering the position in these respects given to Armidale. I know both places very well, and if I had my choice, I should infinitely prefer to reside at Armidale. I should not think of living in Orange in the winter time if I could possibly help it, whereas I have lived in Armidale throughout the year and enjoyed life particularly well. As to soil and productiveness, the Commissioners have simply based their report on the evidence given by Mr. Campbell, a public servant employed in the Agricultural Department of New South Wales. Mr. Campbell’s conception of soil and productiveness simply has reference to the district which produces the best wheat crops. Surely the selection of the capital of Australia ought not to depend on which district gives the best return per acre of wheat or cereals of any kind. That consideration I regard as one of comparatively little importance. Under this head I find that Armidale is placed sixth, and I quite admit that in the immediate vicinity of the town there is not what can be called particularly rich soil/ At the same time the Commissioners admit that the site is in every way suitable for a capital city. It is a splendid fruit district, where all sorts of English trees can be grown to great perfection. Within ten miles of Armidale there is some very productive wheat land, while in the immediate district of Tamworth - which is also in the New England Electorate and, if a large area were selected, might almost be embraced within the Federal borders - there is the richest wheat district in New South Wales, if not in Australia. So far as building material and the cost pf supply is concerned, the Commissioners place Armidale fourth. But to revert for a moment to the question of soil and productiveness, I may say that I have been in several of the great capitals of the world, and most of them, so far as I could judge, are built on particularly poor soil. Even in Australia, whoever thought, in establishing the city of Melbourne, to have regard to the productiveness of the soil? From all I can see, Melbourne is built on a bed of sand, and Sydney is on still poorer land, standing as it does on some of the most hopelessly barren country it would be possible to find in the world. Few flowers or fruit can be grown in Sydney, except by means of manures.
– But loot at “our beautiful harbor.”
– “Our beautiful harbor” has nothing to do with productiveness, except, perhaps, the production of afew bream. In the matter of water supply, Armidale stands as high as any other site considered by the Commission. They place Armidale third in this connexion, but to all intents and purposes it is equal to any other site suggested, and they admit that the Armidale water supply is sufficient for a population of 500,000. Then, as to the cost of land resumption, the Minister for Trade and Customs, in the statement he made this afternoon, showed that Armidale occupies a favorable position. The Commissioners place Armidale first as being the cheapest site which could be selected, so far as resuming the actual site of the capital is concerned, and third, if the cost of the catchment area is taken into account. However, the matter to which I desire specially to direct the attention of honorable members is that of accessibility. So far as accessibility is concerned, the Commissioners place Armidale eighth, if not last, on the list. With regard to suitability, climate, water supply, and cost of resumption Armidale is practically equal to any other site suggested : and I emphatically join issue with the Commissioners when they place Armidale so low down as eighth on the list in the matter of accessibility. What does accessibility mean? Does it mean the convenience of honorable members who sit here or who hope to sit here in the” next Parliament, or the convenience of persons during the present generation 1 Does it mean that the Federal Capital site is to be chosen for the convenience of men now living or of Australians for all time to come 1 If merely the convenience of honorable members at the present time is to be considered, doubtless Albury will stand first, but surely it is our duty not to think of our convenience or of that of our immediate successors, but of the convenience of the mass of the Australian people generations hence ! If we are to consider the future and not the present, Armidale instead of being eighth on the list is an easy and emphatic first. What is to be the future development of Australia ?; I venture to say that the country along the northern rivers of New South Wales, the rich Hunter district, the. magnificent area which goes under the name of Liverpool Plains,, and New England, will in future years support a vast population, whilst the possibilities of the development of the great State of Queensland are beyond our imagination. If honorable members draw an imaginary line “from a few miles south of Sydney due west, I venture to predict- that in a 100 years time the area of New South Wales north of .that particular line and Queensland will contain’ at least threefourths df the population of .the Commonwealth. That opinion is based not merely upon my own knowledge- of the magnificent area in northern New South Wales, and my profound belief in the great future before the State of Queensland, but is backed up by a report presented by a committee of statisticians to the Federal Convention on the question of the trend of population. The members of the committee were unbiassed, and their opinions may surely be regarded with some respect. I admit that what they predicted is not likely to happen quite as rapidly as they believed, because they did not take into account the possibility that such an overwhelming and ^disastrous drought as Australia has passed “through recently would seriously retard settlement for a time. What was the opinion of these gentlemen t They reported that in a period of thirty-eight years from the date of their report the population of Australia would be as follows - New South Wales, 8,000,000 : Queensland, 7,500,000 ; Victoria, 4,000,000 ; and South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania combined, 2,500,000. I allow a fewmore years’, and I say those gentlemen contemplated that within fifty years the -portion of New South Wales north of the line I ask honorable members to draw in imagination from a little south of Sydney to Broken Hill, and Queensland would contain fully two-thirds of the .population of the Commonwealth. If that is a fair estimate, it is shown that the great State of Queensland will within fifty, years have double the population of Victoria. Although honorable members representing Victoria may think Melbourne at present the hub of Australia, and that their convenience is of paramount importance, I conceive it to be an unanswerable argument that the trend of population will inevitably be northwards; and that Queensland, within little more than a generation, will contain double the population of the great and thriving State of Victoria. To go further, though honorable members may say that one is romancing, and is looking a little too far ahead, I believe that within 100 years three-fourths of the population of Australia will be found in the north of New South Wales and in Queensland. If that be the position of affairs, I maintain that Armidale is without a rival among all the suggested sites, because it will be as nearly as practicable the centre of the population of the .Commonwealth ; it has a magnificent climate ; it is in a splendid position ; and possesses every requirement for a Federal Capital.
– In fact the honorable member wonders why it was not settled upon as the capital instanter.
– I am quite aware that there are some honorable members of this House, and of the Federal Parliament, who will not condescend even to consider any site north of Sydney.
– That is a very narrow view, to take.
– In their opinion the capital site must- if possible be on the railway connecting the two great existing capitals of New South Wales and Victoria. ‘
– How can the honorable member say that, when a large contingent of honorable members visited Armidale, and had a very nicelunch there?
– A few members of Parliament certainly did visit Armidale; but so distinguished a gentleman as the President of the other Chamber said that he would not condescend to go to any site north of Sydney for a capital. If honorable members will consider only their own convenience, and the convenience of the present generation, by all means let them vote for a site south of Sydney.
– Lyndhurst is within the area the honorable member has referred to.
– I am not saying a word against Lyndhurst at the present time. I am prepared to admit that, after Armidale, Lyndhurst will stand first amongst the suggested sites as being nearer the centre of population than any of the rest. I know that it is absolutely useless for any one to advocate in this Parliament a site north of Sydney ; but I am glad to have had an opportunity of placing on record the opinion - which I believe will be found to be justified long after the members of this Parliament have gone to their last rest - that the centre of the population of Australia will eventually be in the north and not in the south. I desire to point out that on a question of this kind there can be no pairing; and I suggest that the Prime Minister should consult with the leader of the Opposition for the purpose of fixing a definite time, say after tea on Thursday evening, for taking the ballot upon the question.
– I support this Bill with all my heart, as I look upon it as providing a solution of a very grave question indeed. I am very pleased to note from the general tone of the speeches of honorable members that there is to be a legitimate attempt to solve the problem. The question is one of the most important with which we have had to deal. I cannot at all sympathize with the slight opposition raised to it on the ground that delay would be wise. It seems to me that every argument brought forward in support of the contention that we should delay the settlement of this question, might be made use of time and again upon any future occasion. To say that we are not possessed of sufficient information upon this subject and that we are plunging into unknown expenditure is only to use an argument which might be repeated on any future occasion. To say that there is no idea of breaking faith in connexion with one of the cardinal principles, and one of the agreements distinctly made in the Constitution with the State of New South Wales, and that the only objection is to the immediate carrying out of the specific arrangement is one of those statements which might also be repeated ad infinitum on any future occasion. I take the stand that this Parliament is pre-eminently fitted for the settlement of this question, and that no other Parliament we are ever likely to have will be so well constituted for the purpose.
– Should this Parliament be asked to settle it in a couple of days?
– I propose to deal with that aspect of the question later on, but I may say that I would rather we settled the matter in a couple of days, if we sat up night and day to do so, than that it should be left unsettled, to be dragged through the turmoil of each succeeding election, and eventually not to be settled at all. It seems to me that every honorable member of the present Parliament came here well understanding that it would be part of our duty to decide where the future capital of the Commonwealth should be situated. I am sure that not only I, but nine out of every ten honorable members of this Parliament, placed their views before their constituents on this subject, and stated what they thought should be done to have this question settled. Many, I believe, went further, and mentioned what in their opinion would be the ideal site, and how the matter should be handled in carrying out the conditions of the Constitution. Honorable members will never be able to get rid of the fact that the matter is dealt with in the Constitution, and I am glad to see that it is generally admitted that there is a specific obligation contained in the Constitution that New South Wales shall have the Federal capital in territory to be handed over by her to the Commonwealth, and that that shall be the seat of government of the Commonwealth. Unless the site is honorably settled now, we shall find that no future Parliament will be in so favorable a position as this one to perform that duty according to the spirit as well as the letter of the law. Because it is plainly to be seen that this question will be made one of the grounds of every appeal to the electors, and in various constituencies - not only in New South Wales, but in other States - men will be returned or rejected on account of their views on this matter. There is no doubt that amongst a large section of the people of Victoria - and I make no allusion to its representatives in the House - there is a feeling that it would be wise not to commit the Commonwealth to the selection of a site. We should find that candidates at any future election, particularly in Victoria, would be requested to pledge themselves not to do this, that, or the other, and so we should have honorable members in the Chamber honorably pledged to delay the settlement of the question as long as they possibly could, in order to fight a bogy. I hope before I sit clown to prove that the estimate which has been circulated broadcast of the cost of erecting the capital is neither more nor less than a bogy. I hold that all those questions which have cropped up as arguments for delay will be just as well settled to-day as they are likely to be at any future time. We are not going to settle this session, I take it, the precise locality of the site. It would be absurd to ask the Parliament to prescribe the four corner pegs within which the capital should be erected. But we do undertake to decide the locality within which the site of the capital shall be ultimately chosen. Within that limit we are acting wisely, and can go forward safely, because the question whether the. capital shall be erected on this hill or on that hill, on this range or on that range, on this plain or on that plain, can be left to experts, who will advise the Government in the matter. But as regards the selection of one locality or another, I submit that the House to-night is as well posted with information as any future House is ever likely to be. It has not been placed before us precisely in the best form, but those of us who have been industrious in this matter can pick out from this voluminous body of evidence sufficient facts to enable us at any rate to solve the problem. A good deal of this evidence - that relating to the size of the pumpkin, or the yield of grain on special areas, and so forth - is merely so much “leather and prunella.” But the facts which the two Commissions obtained from skilled experts, engineers, statisticians, and other authorities who could speak with knowledge as to building materials, temperatures, and so forth were absolutely required by the House. With those few grains of valuable information, they obtained a very large quantity of chaff. It is safe to assume that honorable members have waded through the chaff and sifted the grain of reliable information, and we are now in a position to set to work and to decide, as far as we can, where the locality of the site shall be. I approach the consideration of this question with a very honest and unprejudiced mind. I think I have already given evidence of that state of mind. My mental attitude in regard to this question is precisely that which was described by the honorable member for Kooyong a few minutes ago. He said that he was acting from patriotic motives with a view to promote the best interests of Australia in the future, and not from any provincial feeling. That is precisely the attitude which I take. When an endeavour was made to get the representatives of New South Wales to assent to a proposal to amend the Constitution so as to allow the Parliament to decide that the capital should be in Sydney, I at once repudiated the idea. Long before the House was elected, I told the electors of South Sydney, when the cry of “ Why not have the capital in Sydney 1 “ was very popular there, that it had not my sympathy. If I were prepared to have the capital located in Sydney, I should be equally prepared to let it remain in Melbourne. It is because I think that the Parliament should meet in its own House in Federal territory that I object to the capital remaining in Melbourne longer than can be avoided. For the same reason I would object to the capital being in Sydney. The advocates of this proposed amendment of the Constitution had the foolhardiness to appeal to the taxpayers on the ground of economy, but I think that they had not looked into the question at all. For the three acres of land on which to erect the necessary Federal buildings in. Sydney or Melbourne, we should have to give, it seems to me, a sum twenty times greater than the cost of the capital site, and of the water supply in most of the localities which have been proposed to us. Three acres is certainly the very smallest area on which we could erect a Parliament House, a Government House, a Mint, public offices, and! so forth, even if we did take a site here . and a site there in either city. My idea has always been that if we get a site in a good locality, possessing all the natural features and capabilities for creating a fine city, it should be obtained at its prairie value - something between £2 and £5 an acre - that the land would rapidly assume a price equivalent to so many pounds per foot frontage, and that, with this increasing value, we could naturally expect under a leasing system, to which I am pleased to note, not only the House, but the major portion of the people of this nation agree, to get a rental sufficient to pay all the interest on any sum which I have known anybody extravagant enough to advocate as necessary for erecting the requisite buildings. I take it that the most extravagant estimate of the expenditure which would be required for a long period would be £5,000,000. I think I shall be able to show later on that from the natural growth which may be expected in the value of such a city, even if it were to remain only a small city, we should have a taxing field which would yield a revenue sufficient not only to meet the interest on the expenditure, but to keep the city in splendid order, and under the most modern and successful system of administration. I do not intend to contrast one site with another closely. I shall not speak in Committee on this question, because, after I have concluded my speech, I shall do nothing further than vote. If we consider the abstract qualities which are required in an ideal site, we should look first to climate; secondly, to water supply; thirdly, to the character of the soil as being likely to support a growing population; and, fourthly, to its accessibility, and whatever is included in that term. If a site complies with those main requirements, all the subsidiary ones will be found to fall into place pretty well. Of course while a place may suffer some slight disadvantages with regard to timber supply, it will probably have the advantage of a cheap rate of freight, or if it happens to be a little colder than it ought to be, the soil will probably be a little better ; it will have some compensation. If we keep our minds fixedon those four cardinal points, I think we can find sites for the capital, not only in the territories which New South Wales has practically placed at our disposal, but in other localities, any one of which would fulfil the purpose very well. The Armidale site is one which very much attracted my attention. I agree with the honorable member for New England that it is almost taken for granted now that the increase of population is in a northerly direction. I think it would be very difficult, even for the most ardent Queenslanders in the House, to overstate the possibilities of growth in that large Northern State. I believe it is inevitable that ultimately she will out-distance Victoria very largely, and probably beat New SouthWales in regard to wealth and population. Therefore, as the honorable member pointed out just now, the Armidale site is more likely in a few years to become the centre, or the pivot, of the population areas of the nation. As a site it is admirable, because the climate is as nearly perfect as possible, while the soil and water supply are very good. But I came to the conclusion, like the honorable member, that it was of very little use indeed to attempt to go into the minute details regarding this site, for I felt that the House would not be called upon to gravely consider it, and largely as a matter of compromise and conciliation that site, and I believe a number of others, will have to be dropped. I was perfectly prepared, however, to find that Armidale was proposed as a site for the capital. Other sites besides Armidale comply very well with what I may call the abstract qualifications. The reports which have been made by the State and Federal Commissions seem to me to be largely biased in some directions. I suppose that it is almost impossible for any Commissioner or any member of the House to approach a question of this class without being biased at any rate by his individuality. I see a considerable amount of bias, and sometimes it seems to me to be rather childish bias, in some of these reports. For instance, I think that Mr. Oliver was biased very strongly in favour of Bombala, by the fact that it is 240 miles from Melbourne and 240 miles from Sydney. I think that the peculiar equidistance of that site from the two great cities was a consideration which rode him almost to death, and made him report so strongly in its favour. In setting forth his notions of what an ideal site should be, he described something very much the reverse of Bombala, because he specially warns all those interested in this question to beware of a wind-swept plain on which no tree could thrive. I think that everybody will agree with Mr. Oliver that a most essential quality in a site is that the land should be capable of growing trees of various sorts - in avenues, plantations, and parks. From what I know of Bombala I think it fails utterly to come up to his ideal in that regard.
– Has it been proved that trees will not grow there ?
– I think that proof is contained in the fact that trees do not grow there. My experience is that if trees will grow in a locality, they are found to be growing there. After wandering about the Bombala plains for nearly half a day, I had to take shelter from the wind under a great granite boulder, because there was not a tree available. Although I consider the picturesque Bombala site in many respects an ideal one, and I largely sympathise with the idea of having a large Federal territory with a port, and lying between New South Wales and Victoria, bounded on the south by the line which now divides New South Wales and Victoria, and on the north by a . line running west from some point north of Twofold Bay until it meets the Victorian boundary, I think the proposed site too cold, and that in choosing it we shall be acting rather precipitately; because it is not likely that the people of New South Wales will be ready to hand over to the Commonwealth the port of Eden, and I do not see anything -in the Constitution to either compel or induce them to do so. Mr! Oliver, in favoring Bombala, was, as I have shown, dominated by the idea that ‘the site chosen should be as nearly as possibly equidistant from Melbourne and Sydney. The Capital Site Commissioners, too, Sho wed undoubted bias in several ways. Like most of us they were carried away by the possibility of obtaining a fine water supply for the Capital. -Undoubtedly, the water supply is one of the first features to be considered. There should be no such thing as the possibility of wasting water in a model city. Water should be obtainable there in sufficient quantities for every purpose. But the Commissioners over-valued the possibilities of the Tumut water supply, and disregarded other considerations. In my opinion, neither Mr. Oliver nor the Commissioners placed anything like an adequate value upon, the qualifications of what is known as the Lyndhurst site. That is the site which I strongly favour, though, if it is not chosen, I shall be prepared to vote for any one of two or three others, because they are so good. The climate of Lyndhurst, taking the year round, ( is as nearly as possible the same as that of Hobart, while its soil closely resembles that of ‘southern Tasmania. With regard to accessibility, its advantages are unsurpassed by those of any other site except Albury. The main line to Sydney runs past its door, so to speak, while the branch line connecting the western and southern systems gives direct communication with Melbourne, and when the line from Wellington to Werris Creek has been constructed, which is likely to take place very shortly, there will also be direct communication with Queensland. The scenery in the surrounding district is very pretty, and although the possible water supply is not so great as that of some of the other sites, it would be sufficient for any population that is to be anticipated, unless some unusual manufacturing development occurs. There will be a plentiful supply of water both for domestic use and for ornamental purposes, and the city could be made very beautiful, because the soil is very suitable for the growing of trees, while fruit trees do well there. But, although I think that the Lyndhurst site fills the bill, I am prepared, as I said before, to vote for either of at least two other sites rather than see the question remain unsettled, because I feel that if it is not settled this session it is notlikely to be settled at all. In reply to the argument that the selection of a site will force us to expend millions of money upon a bush capital, I should like to draw the attention of honorable members to some of the facts connected with the value of property in” the chief cities of Australia, and I shall endeavour to make an estimate of the annual value of the’ land in the capital, supposing its population increases to 50,000 inhabitants. I assume that almost immediately some 2,000 Federal officers and employes will be located there, and they, with their wives, families, and dependents will make up a population of 8,000. No doubt another 2,000 will settle in the Capital to administer to their wants, and therefore it seems inevitable that the population of the city will, within a short time, number at least 10,000. I think that its progress to 20,000 or 25,000 will be moderately rapid, but that after that its growth will be slow, unless some industry is established there which will attract a large number of people. Eventually, however, I think that we may expect to have a population of 50,000. Without such a population,’ we shall not be called upon to expend as much money as I estimate will be spent upon the Capital, but the expenditure will be justifiable if the population increases to that number. In Sydney, which has a population of 481, S30, the annual value of rateable property is £5,060,630, or £10 10s. per head, while the annual value of rateable property per head of population in Melbourne is £8 15s. 2d.; in Brisbane, £9 3s. 3d.; in Adelaide, £7 3s. 8d.; and in Perth, £10 15s. 8d.; or an average of £9 5s. 7d. Wellington, New Zealand, has a population of 50,000, and an annual rateable value of £486,000, or £9 1 3s. 4d. per head. Newcastle has a population of 4S,830, and an annual rateable value of £6 19s. per head. Ballarat has a population of 40,000, and an annual rateable value per head of population of £5 17s. lOd. After the capital has been in existence for twenty-five years, and £5,000,000 has been spent upon it, it will not cost the taxpayers of the Commonwealth one penny of taxation. Knowing what I do of the growth of the cities of Australia, and bearing in mind the fact that we are likely to spend £.5,000,000 upon handsome buildings and public works, I assume that in twentyfive years the Capital, with a population of 50,000, would have 100 miles of streets, and would contain 12,000 houses. There would be 1,000,000 feet of street frontages, leaving out of account 56,000 feet of corner frontages and sites for Government buildings. An annual value of £4 per foot would, therefore, amount to £4,000,000. That is not an extravagant valuation for a model city upon which £5,000,000 of public money would have been spent. Reckoning that value at twenty years purchase, or at 5 per cent., it would amount to £200,000 per annum. These figures compare very well with the figures obtainable in regard to other Australian cities, although I make some allowance for the increase of value which will be caused by the large expenditure of public money which will take place. I take it that the value of the land per inhabitant, exclusive of that upon which public buildings are situated, will be £4, and the value of the buildings erected upon it £6 per inhabitant, or altogether £10 per inhabitant, which is a little more than the average value of the land and buildings in the five chief cities of Australia. The £5,000,000 ] which would be spent upon the Capital ‘ is little more than we should expect i the private holders of the leased lands I of the Federal territory to spend upon their property. I take it that these private holders, with £4,000,000 worth of land in their possession, paying a rental of £200, 000 per annum, would spend £6, 000, 000 upon buildings. The total value of the Capital would then be - Federal buildings and parks, £3,500,000, which would represent borrowed money ; municipal works, water, electric power, locomotion, and lighting, £1,500,000; leased lands, £4,000,000; and private buildings, £6,000,000, or £17,000,000 altogether, excluding the lands occupied as parks or upon which public buildings had been erected. The liabilities which would have to be undertaken to bring such a city into existence would be the borrowing of £5,000,000 upon loan at 3£ per cent. The money would be borrowed from time to time as it was required, and would probably all be obtained within twenty years. The annual charge upon the loan would be £175,000. In addition there would be £100,000 for the annual maintenance of the municipal services which I have mentioned, and £50,000 for administration and the upkeep of parks, plantations, and so on, a total of £325,000. The revenue from the leased lands being £200,000, the charges for municipal services, not debiting those services with the interest upon the original outlay, would equal their actual cost, namely £100,000, while municipal taxation at the rate of ls. 8d. in the £1 upon an annual value of £600,000 for the leased lands, and buildings would return £50,000, a total revenue of £350,000, leaving a surplus of £25,000 for a sinking fund or for other purposes. Honorable members will naturally ask if these figures are likely to be realized. My answer is that they square with the figures applicable to the chief cities of the continent, though I have made some allowance for an increase in taxable rental value owing to the probable large expenditure upon public works and buildings. I think that we can safely assume that a model city, managed with care and wisdom, would return such an annual revenue. Both Mr. Oliver and the Capital Sites Commissioners have pointed out that the expenditure upon the Capital will be greater or less according to the site chosen. The Commissioners, taking the cost of Sydney as 1 -00, estimate the cost of building a capital at Lyndhurst as 11 5, the cost of building at Tumut as 1-17, and of building at Bombala as 1’26.
Mr. Oliver, estimating the cost of Bathurst and Goulburn as 1 -00, puts that of building at Orange or Lyndhurst, which is practically the same thing, as 1 “04, and of building at Bombala as 1-15. He leaves Tumut out of the calculation, but puts Bombala and Lyndhurst in practically the same relation as that in which the Commissioners have placed them. I think that there is not more than -2 in favour of Lyndhurst as against Tumut.
– Coal must have been omitted from Mr. Oliver’s calculations.
- Mr. Oliver is dealing with building materials pure and simple, namely, stone, timber, and iron. Mr. Bid.dulph, who seems to have been left to himself in his efforts to foster the chances of Lyndhurst, has issued a small report at his own expense. There appear to have been plenty of committees to display an interest in other sites, and to spend money in issuing pamphlets, but in regard to Lyndhurst no one has been prepared to incur any expenditure, and except Mr. Biddulph no one seems to have taken any interest in it. That gentleman, however, makes representations which I believe to be honest, and which are sufficient to induce one to believe that the Lyndhurst site should receive more consideration than appears to have been bestowed upon it. He points out in regard to a whole series of articles the difference in cost at Lyndhurst compared with other sites. He deals not only with building materials, but with coal and other articles of consumption which would be required by the residents in the Federal Capital. In the figures which I have quoted I have dealt only with the expenditure which would have to be incurred by the Government, but the articles required by the residents in the capital would involve perhaps ten or twenty times greater outlay. I have allowed £3,000,000 for the buildings, and I think that that amount would prove ample for the next half century. Mr. Oliver published a sub-report furnished by a Committee of Experts, comprising architects and other skilled men, with regard to the cost of building material. They indicate a number of the buildings which it would be necessary to erect, starting with the Houses of Parliament, and including a residence for the Governor-General, offices for the AttorneyGeneral, courthouses, and so on. They estimate that, according to Sydney prices, the buildings required will involve an outlay of £2,117,500. They allow a period of ten years for the expenditure of that sum, and I think they have acted wisely, because it would ] be foolish to rush the expenditure. I have allowed £3,000,000 as the sum which would be required during the first half century, i Although the experts referred to allow £250,000 for the laying out of the Federal city, they make no provision for parks and artificial lakes, which might with advantage be- included in the scheme of a capital city at such a site as Lyndhurst. These ornamental features would be provided for in my estimate of £3,000,000. Worked out according to the formula adopted by Mr. Oliver and checked according to that of the Commission of Experts, works which in Sydney would cost £3,000,000 would involve an outlay of £3,450,000 at Lyndhurst, £3,510,000 at Tumut, and £3,720,000 at Bombala. In view of these facts, and also of the outlay upon railway communication and ‘ water supply, I think that the Tumut or Lyndhurst schemes could under any circumstances be safely financed and prove an absolutely certain investment for the Commonwealth. As I have said, over and over again, the establishment of the Federal Capital at these sites would not cost the general taxpayer one penny. But I warn honorable members that enormously large sums would have to be spent upon a city at Bombala. We should have to provide for railway communication which would not be contemplated by the Victorian or New South Wales Governments for nearly a century, and further we should have to construct a railway between Bombala and Eden. We should also have to improve the harbor at Twofold Bay, by the construction of breakwaters, and provide for its defence. Thus we should be plunged into an enormous expenditure such as would not be entailed by moderate schemes adapted to sites like those at Lyndhurst or Tumut or Armidale. If the works connected with the establishment of the capital were intrusted to Commissioners of integrity and ex’perience, we could do everything required without involving one penny of expense to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. At Lyndhurst we should have a railway to the door ; the water supply would cost £427,360; land resumptions, £20,000; and buildings, according to my estimate, £3,450,000- making a total of £3,897,360. I mention the Armidale, Lyndhurst, and Bombala sites as those from which, I think, we shall have to make our final choice. In making my comparisons I have adopted the figures of the Commissioners in respect to the 4,000 acres which they consider will be required for the site of the actual capital. I cordially approve of the idea of acquiring a very much larger area, because I think that the Commonwealth should derive the benefit of the increased value given to the land in the neighbourhood by the establishment of the Federal Capital. In regard to the three sites mentioned, the extension of the area of the territory will not in any way affect my argument, lt would be just as wise to take in a large area of surrounding territory in one case as in the other, because in every instance a largely increased value would be imparted to the neighbouring lands by the expenditure upon the capital. In the case of Tumut, a railway extension would have to be made at a cost of £50,000, the water supply would involve an outlay of £200,2SO, land resumptions would cost £25,000, and the buildings £3,510,000, making a total of £3,785,000, or slightly less than would be required at Lyndhurst. As in the case of Lyndhurst, the works to be carried out at Tumut need not cost the nation one penny if they be honestly undertaken by men of experience and integrity. In dealing with Tumut, however, the Commissioners have omitted to take into consideration one matter which certainly should have been noted. Sooner or later a railway would be required to connect Tumut with Germanton or some other place upon the southern line. It would be preposterous to expect persons travelling from the south to Tumut to go northward as far as Cootamundra, and then southward again vid Gundagai to Tumut. We should have to build such a line, and the cost of that work should have been charged against the site. According to the evidence given by a number of witnesses the country between Tumut and Germanton is rough and mountainous, and the cost of constructing a railway would be considerable.
– I know the country very well, and a railway through it need not be very expensive.
– I can assure the Minister that expert witnesses differ from him on that point, and hold the view that a railway through that country would be very expensive - not as difficult to construct as a line to connect Bairnsdale with
Bombala, but certainly a very costly one. When we come to consider Bombala we are brought face to face with a great danger. Here the bogy of the millions assumes a definite shape. If by any misfortune we should be led to adopt the Bombala site we should be launched upon a scheme .which the infant Federation would not be able to finance for many years to come,. We should start with a mill-stone round our neck. The railways which would be required to connect Bombala with Cooma and Bairnsdale and Eden would involve an outlay of £2,449,500. .Although no estimates have been furnished as to the cost of constructing breakwaters at Eden and erecting the necessary defence works, I think that we may form a very fair idea of the heavy outlay that would be involved. If we have a Federal harbor, which will ultimately become the great shipping centre for the capital, we must provide for its defence, and I do not see how breakwaters and defence works could be constructed at a cost of less than £1,500,000. The watersupply - I admit it would be a very excellent one - would cost £531,090, the land resumptions £24,000, and the buildings, according to my estimate, £3,720,000, making a total of £S,224,590. It would be utterly impossible to finance the Bombala site without resorting to extra taxation. We know that in Australia it is difficult to make railways pay, where they are adopted as means of communication with small cities. For instance, the railway between Hobart and Launceston has not paid for years. In connexion with a Federal city at Bombala, we should not only have one railway to connect it with the rest of civilization, but three separate lines - one to connect with Sydney, one with Melbourne, and the third with the Federal port, Eden. Each of these railways would compete against the other two for the limited traffic to and from the Federal city for many years to come. I grant that if the Federal city at Bombala, which is an ideal site in many respects, made such strides that within a very short time the population reached 500,000, the scheme which would have to be carried out might be made to pay. Unless, however, some special manufacture or industry were established in the immediate neighbourhood we could not hope that the population of the Federal Capital would exceed 50,000 for a very long time, and under these circumstances it would be utterly impossible to finance a project such as would have to be carried out in connexion with the establishment of a Federal city at Bombala. I can only again express my great satisfaction that we are approaching the solution of this question. I hope that we shall be able to do so without any grave difficulty arising between the two Chambers. If we succeed, we shall have reason to say “good bye” to one another amidst congratulations that we have done good work for Australia.
– I quite agree with the honorable member for South Sydney, and desire also to emphasize the remarks of the honorable member for New England with regard to the importance of the work upon which we are entering, and not only studying the convenience of the people of to-day or next year, but of selecting a site that will be worthy of Australia and Australian aspirations for all time. To act hurriedly in a matter of this kind would be almost criminal.
– I do not think that we can be accused of criminality, in consideration of the fact that we have occupied two and a half years in arriving at the present stage.
– I was not blaming the honorable member. If any honorable member is not satisfiedthat he is in a position to vote for the best site outside of the 100 miles limit from Sydney, it is obviously his duty to endeavour to prevent any decisive action being taken. It is perfectly clear that in the selection of the Capital site local bias must operate very largely. After all members of Parliament are only human, and consequently are susceptible to local bias. Of course no member of Parliament is absolutely dishonorable, nor will any honorable member desire to choose a bad site simply because it happens to be located close to his own electorate. But he suffers from hallucinations, and the very fact of its contiguity to his district, causes him to regard it more favorably than he otherwise would. From those honorable members who entertain very strong opinions upon this question, and who seem prepared to sacrifice the interests of the whole of Australia, and of the Federal Capital, to those of their own electorates, we are likely to hear highly-coloured statements. Local bias is very common amongst all classes of people. We find it amongst savages and educated persons alike. The more pronounced the local bias the greater the savage. Consequently, the more definite the views of honorable members are in favour of particular sites which are close to their own electorates, the more clearly is it established that they have not advanced very far along the line of civilization. I do not desire to enter into any dissertation concerning the merits of the rival sites from the point of view of their accessibility, or their water supply,or of any other distinctive feature.Upon these points a report has been prepared by competent officers - by menwhose honour, speaking generally, is above suspicion - and therefore we may leave them out of consideration. It is my desire to bring before the House a matter of very much greater importance. But, before discussing it, I will say that the Constitution contains a compact in regard to the future seat of government, and one to which effect should be given as speedily as possible. We do not wish unnecessarily to emphasize these matters. In the past, although there may have been some little bickering, which originated from a want of reasonableness on the part of certain sections of the House, generally speaking the States have been generous towards one another. Consequently, I do not desire to discuss in any harsh way the constitutional compact which exists, but merely to say that when a compact is made it is taken for granted that it will be carried out ungrudgingly. Therefore, I assume that the representatives of Victoria are as anxious that the compact which confers the Federal Capital upon New South Wales shall be given effect to as speedily as was their desire to obtain the trade of Riverina, which, under Federation, flows unrestrictedly to the point where it ought to flow - namely, to the port of Melbourne. Both these matters, although they differ in their effect, form part of the Federal compact. I take it that if we can decide upon a suitable capital site in New South Wales, the Victorian representatives as a whole are prepared to fulfil their part of that compact. The site of the future seat of government should be chosen as soon as possible. There exists between the two great cities of Australia considerable jealousy. It originated in prefederation days, when Sydney and Melbourne fought along the Murrumbidgee and the Murray for the carriage of every pound of wool or ton of produce. The Victorian railways were prepared to carry that produce almost for nothing, so long as the Melbourne wharfs was its destination. Sydney retaliated, and by the adoption of differential railway rates carried produce from these localities to the port of Sydney at extremely low prices. This sort of conduct created more than business rivalry. It originated a feeling of intense antagonism between the two States - antagonism which, to a great extent, is still stimulated by men who ought to know better, and by newspapers from which we expected something better. Therefore, it was impossible for that reason, even if there were no other reasons, that the Federal Capital could be in either of the two great cities of Australia. It must be removed from the domination of the Melbourne press and free from the control or influence of the Sydney press. It must be located where Australian life can develop altogether apart from State interests. The New South Wales representatives, and those from all parts of Australia, entertain but one feeling concerning the hospitality which has been extended to us by the Government of Victoria in allowing us the use of this magnificent building without any payment whatever. That was a very magnanimous act on the part of the people of Victoria. But it cannot last. It is impossible for us to remain any longer the guests of the Victorian people. In my opinion, we have out-stayed our welcome as guests in Melbourne. Such charges -must be paid for in the future, not by Victoria, but by Federated Australia, and under no circumstances is it possible for us - even though Victoria should desire it - to continue sojourners in these parliamentary buildings.
– Only last week* the cost involved in our occupancy of them was “ thrown up “ at us.
– I have seen no evidence of any sinister design to retain the Commonwealth Parliament in this city for an indefinite period, and do not regard the action of Victoria in making us comfortable here as in any sense a plot, but simply as a genuine exhibition of Federal feeling .towards the representatives of the other States. The sooner we select the Federal Capital site the better, partly because of the jealousy which exists between the two principal States of the Union; partly because of the differences to which I have previously referred, and partly because we can no longer sojourn, here. Moreover, until we establish a Federal Capital in which our main work shall be the making of laws for Australia, we shall never lay the basis of that national life which it is so important that we should foster. Much has been said in the past about the importance of Australian unity, Australian precept, and Australian laws. Now, the whole question with regard to the benefits conferred by federation seems to have degenerated into a consideration of the Tariff, or of the price of laces or of soap. There is something more important than these. Having said so much, I desire the House to consider an important matter. When the question of the establishment of a Federal Capital was placed before the people of Australia, what happened ? At Albury, Armidale, Bombala, Bathurst, Lyndhurst, Orange and Tumut a local agitation was immediately started - an agitation which was intended to show that each of these towns furnished the most suitable place for a Federal Capital. The residents of each place agitated, and, as they possess a certain number of votes, each town naturally attracted to itself a certain number of friends. Consequently, we find the whole of these places put before us as suitable to become the capital of Federated Australia. The object of this agitation is to establish the Federal Capital close to one of these towns. That might be a very good thing for the successful town, but it might be an infinitely bad thing for Australia, which would have to pay for it. In this connexion honorable members might consider the remarks which were made to-day by the honorable and learned member for Parkes. I wish to show what Australia will be called upon to pay if a site is selected near any of these little tinroofed towns.
– The honorable member must not talk like that about Albury.
– I withdraw that remark, and will call them “ small towns.” What is the population of Albury ? Just about halfadozen thousand people. I am sure that no honorable member believes that the site which is adjacent to the town of Albury is the only eligible one in the Albury district, or that the site which is immediately adjacent to Armidale is the only suitable one in the New England district. The same remark is applicable to the other sites. To resume 64,000 acres in the vicinity of Albury will cost £252,800. The cost of resuming the minimum area prescribed by the Constitution in the vicinity of Armidale would be £317,000, and that of acquiring it near Bathurst £1,354,065. Similarly the expense of resuming 100 square miles of territory at Bombala would be £361,730 ; at Lake George, £290,290 ; at Lyndhurst, £349,360 ; at Orange, £1,227,670 ; and at Tumut, £318,120. These are the nice little sums which we should be called upon to pay for 64,000 acres of ordinary prairie land.
– The honorable member is wrong in the case of Tumut. There is some very rich agricultural land there.
– The land in the vicinity of Tumut is a combination of very rich and poor - a sort of mosaic. It is of a poor quality in the hills, but is very rich in the flats. The geography of the place is well known to honorable members. The flats upon either side of the river are very fertile, but the moment one leaves the alluvial he finds that the soil upon the hills is of inferior character. Under the circumstances quoted above, Albury would receive approximately an average price of £4 per acre, Armidale £5 per acre, Bathurst £20 per acre, Bombala £5 10s. per acre, Lake George £5 per acre, Lyndhurst £5 per acre, Orange £20 per acre, and Tumut £5 per acre.
– I may tell the honorable member that the price of resuming land at Tumut is set down at £4 5s. per acre.
– I am speaking in round figures, but leaving Tumut out of consideration - because it is difficult to estimate the cost of resumption when we do not know the respective areas of the very good and bad lands - but assuming that sites were selected not contiguous to the towns which I have mentioned, it may be taken for granted that not one of these areas of 64,000 acres would be worth more than £2 10s. per acre. Consequently the House will recognise that, in endeavouring to consider the interests of these small country towns by establishing the capital close to them, we shall be called upon to pay an advanced value for the future seat of government.
– We shall get rental from the land.
– We shall not derive more rental because the capital is located close to one of these centres.
– If we resume the town we shall.
– In Riverina, or New England, we can obtain quite as good sites as those which are available close to Albury or Armidale. A town in existence is an absolute obstacle to the satisfactory establishment of a Federal Capital. These lands which it is proposed to resume have an added value from the fact that they are the : sites of towns, or are adjacent to towns; and if we could obtain in any one of the districts as good a site as Bombala or Tumut or Armidale, or any other suggested site, without paying special rates for town sites or lands adjacent to towns which nobody wants, why not do so? A town close to the Federal Capital would be an absolute I blot upon the landscape and might be for all time. Let us get away from the j towns. The whole agitation originates in J the endeavour of these towns - to use a colloquialism - to “ boost “ themselves on to the Federal Capital of Australia, so that either the capital will be a suburb to the town or the town will be a suburb to the capital. Instead of the present population of one of (the towns being a benefit to the capital, it would be a detriment. Take items like these : At Albury, to get a water “supply, it will be necessary to spend £512,000. Surely there is some place along the Murray River where the land could be got for £2 or £3 an, acre, and where it would be possible to obtain a water supply i for £100,000. We have got on to wrong i lines. We appear to have the idea that we ought to establish the capital near to a town, whereas we ought to get away from the towns.
– Which site is the honorable member in favour of? Which site is he exciting himself about ?
– The honorable and learned member does not get excited ; it is sufficient for him to be wrong. If Armidale were chosen, the water supply for that site would cost £391,000. The land at that place already has a special value from the population which is settled there. The only thing which gives land a special value is the population settled upon or adjacent to it.
– What about gold reefs ? Do they not give a special value to land?
– A gold reef is of no ultimate use without labour. To work it you must have population. Then take Bathurst. Here again the cost of a water supply would be £474,865. The cost of the resumption of the alienated portion of the catchment area would be £124,665. At Bombala the cost of a water supply would be £531,090. Surely there can be found somewhere in Australia a place where it would not be necessary to pay half-a-million to get a water supply. That would be preposterous. We have the same sort of thing in the case of the Lake George area. The estimated cost of resumption of the alienated portion of the catchment area is £80,400, and cost of works £290,100. The total cost is estimated at £380,500. In the case of Lyndhurst the cost of resumption of catchment area would amount to £111,500,the cost of works to £159,800, and the capital cost and working expenses together £275,000. In the case of Orange the cost of resumption of catchment area would be £141,750, and the capital cost and working expenses of a water supply would be £1,227,000. In the case of Tumut the cost of the catchment area would be very small -£180, so that the land is not very much good. The total cost would be £200,280. I ask honorable members to consider this point. I admit that the full force of it has only been borne in on me to-night whilst listening to the debate, but nevertheless ask honorable members to consider whether we are not sacrificing the money of Australia to the interests of the small country towns. Does any one mean to suggest that it is not possible for us to obtain a site as good as any of the suggested sites, where a water supply would not cost a quarter to half-a-million of money, and where another huge sum will not be required to resume the land? What should have been done is this : Some absolutely competent man should have been sent to choose a site.
– Where would the Government get the competent man from ?
– Competent men are available if so instructed, I would ask the House whether even at the last moment we ought not to reconsider our position.
– What site would the honorable member suggest ?
– If I were forced to vote for any one of the proposed sites, I should vote for Tumut. I know that that place is said not to have a good summer climate, but it has many advantages.
– Is there not a site having such qualifications as the honorable member is advocating ?
– I decline to believe that on the Upper Murray or elsewhere a site such as I have advocated could not be found. The House should consider whether we are not choosing the very worst place possible in locating the Capital near to any one of these country towns.I hope that other honorable members will take up this view, and be able to speak more definitely with regard to it. It has only occurred to me within the last hour or two, but I feel that a fatal mistake may be made, and that Australia may be called upon to pay for it.
– What about the possible concentration of population in future ?
– Any one who knows Australia, is aware that the population of Western Australia, speaking largely, has been attracted there by mining. Although there is good land there it is mainly a mining settlement.
– Oh no.
– Millions of acres of our territory are equal to the land on the Darling Downs of Queensland.
– But speaking generally Western Australia consists principally of gold-fields. What attracts population to Western Australia principally is its goldfields.
– We have other lands.
– How many sheep will the honorable member say that there are in Western Australia ? Are there more than a couple of millions ?
– Three millions.
– One-third of Australia is in Western Australia, and it is inhabited by as intelligent and as enterprising men as there are on the continent; but all the sheep it can count in this year are 3,000,000.
– Western Australia is practically only fifteen years old.
– There are in Western Australia 200,000 or 300,000 cattle, not as many as there are in one district in New South Wales. Honorable members will agree with me, at any rate, in this : that except in the case of mining enterprise the rainfall absolutely controls every occupation of man. Take the rainfall of Australia, and then consider what the future of the continent is going to be. Around the eastern sea-board, as far as Adelaide, there is a fair rainfall. That is where the manhood of Australia will be bred and live.
– Where will the centre of population be in the future ?
– It will probably be somewhere about Armidale.
– And as far north as where ?
– As far north as Mackay and south to Adelaide, and extending inland say 200 miles from the coast. If it were possible to defer the selection of the Federal Capital for 100 years, probably the weight of representation would by that time be north of Sydney and not south of it.
– Now the honorable member is now using the language of a statesman.
– -But it is no use our discussing that aspect of the case, because we have to do the best we can now.
– For the future also.
– We therefore have to choose a site that will be. good enough. No man ever absolutely sacrifices the present for the future. The reason why the future is important is that it will be the present some day. Therefore, so long as we choose a site that is not too remote, or that will be near the centre of population I am prepared to agree to the selection of a compromise site. This is a Parliament of human beings - not the very wisest probably - and they will consider their interests and the ease with which they can get to the capital selected. Therefore, I feel that we must have a compromise site if we choose at all. But even now, at the eleventh hour, seeing the enormous expense which it is proposed shall be entailed by the Commonwealth because of the serious mistake made in selecting sites near to small towns - in consequence of which we shall have to pay the increased value that contiguity to the towns has already given to the land - I feel very much inclined to reconsider my view, and to state that I do not believe that any one. of the suggested sites is the proper site for the Federal Capital of Australia. It is a dilemma. A site should be chosen, but I must keep an open mind in view of such complications.
– I am sorry to say that, in my opinion, the discussion which has taken place is not likely to carry the settlement of this question very much further. The whole blame for the position in which we find ourselves rests with the Ministry. The section in the Constitution which deals with this question is a man.datory one, but until now the Government (have done nothing to give effect to it. The provision in the Constitution for the creation of the High Court has been carried out, but the Ministry have delayed to give effect to this requirement. I was one of those who did not think it should have been inserted in such a measure, but as it was inserted, and as New South Wales would otherwise have refused to join the Federation, I think that one of the first works which we should have undertaken was the making of all necessary provision for the selection of a site for the capital. With the exception of the appointment of a Commission to take evidence with regard to the suitability of sites which had already been reported upon very fully by Mr. Oliver, no step has, until now, been taken in this direction, and when we compare Mr. Oliver’s report with that just submitted by the Commission of Experts we find that we have no new information to assist us in arriving at a determination. Without further discussing the history of this question, I wish only to say that in my opinion this Bill has been introduced in an entirely wrong way. The honorable and learned member for Parkes has already pointed out the form which, in his opinion, the Bill should have taken. There is no doubt that we should have been called upon to select not a particular site, but a district. We are incompetent to select a site, because we really do not know anything about those submitted for our consideration. On the other hand, we could give reasons for selecting a locality or district, and allow it to be subsequently determined what particular part of that district was best adapted for the site of the Federal Capital. We have heard a good deal as to the fitness of the Albury site, but I would remind honorable members that if, when the clause providing that the capital shall not be within 100 miles of Sydney was inserted in the Constitution Bill, it had been understood that whilst the letter of the law was to be kept the spirit of it was to be departed from, we should have had no federation. I say -at once that the selection of a site close to the Victorian border, like Albury, would be, as far as New South Wales is concerned, a departure from the spirit of the Constitution. In proof of this assertion one has only to look at the discussions which took place when the matter was originally under consideration, and to remember the statements made by the late Prime Minister when he was before the country. When it was suggested that a site such as Albury might be chosen, the late Prime Minister asked whether the matter could not be left in his hands - whether the people did not think it might with safety be intrusted to him. If any honorable member thinks that Albury should be selected he should be equally favorable to the selection of Wagga Wagga, which is on the main line, is 80 miles nearer Sydney, and is practically midway between Sydney and Melbourne.
– Is this another compromise site ?
– There could be no reason for choosing Albury which would not apply with equal force to the selection of Wagga Wagga. The climate of both districts is exactly the same ; and, as a matter of fact, Albury is some 70 or80 feet lower than Wagga Wagga.
– But what about Tabletop at Albury?
– There are many tablelands in the vicinity of Wagga Wagga which are higher than Tabletop.
– There is little to choose between them. When some honorable members are discussing the desirableness of selecting the Albury site because of its proximity to Melbourne, and thus proposing to utterly ignore the spirit of the Constitution, why should they not be a little more generous and say that Wagga Wagga should be chosen as the site of the capital ? Wagga Wagga occupies a slightly more elevated position; it is situated on the river; its water supply is just as good as that of Albury, and as soon as the Barranjack weir is constructed it will be in many respects superior. A private company has offered to construct that weir, and evidence “in regard to the proposal is now being taken by a Select Committee appointed by the State Legislature. The two places are almost equidistant, one from Melbourne and the other from Sydney ; and if honorable members contemplate the selection of Albury, they should out of justice to New South Wales go a little further and declare in favour of Wagga Wagga.
– Is not Albury in New South Wales?
– Yes; but whilst we should comply with the spirit of the Constitution if we built the Federal Capital there, we should not comply with the letter of it.
– Was it intended to deprive Victoria of all the benefits attaching to the capital ?
– I do not say what the intention was ; I merely say that while I thought at the time, and still think, that the insertion in the Constitution of the provision to which I refer was a mistake, the Federation would not have taken place but for the action taken in that regard. It was the price which had to be paid for the Federation ; and it would be a departure from the compact then made to select a site such as Albury. Curiously enough, no honorable member has ventured to advocate the claims of Wagga Wagga to the Federal Capital, because we all know that it is too hot. The same objection applies to Albury.
– Is Wagga Wagga in the honorable and learned member’s electorate ?
– Where does the honorable and learned member think the capital should be erected ?
– It should be on the main-line between Sydney and Melbourne. Accessibility should be the first consideration.
– How would the selection of Armidale suit the honorable and learned member ?
– We are bound to recognise that at the present time Melbourne and Sydney are the great centres of population in Australia.
– But what about the future ?
– I am inclined to think that in the future the centre of population will drift towards the north ; but I do not feel myself called upon at present to support the selection of the Armidale site. If in the course of thirty or forty years hence we were sitting in Melbourne and debating this question there might be some warrant for the proposition that we should select Armidale on that ground.
– Forty years is a very short time in the history of a nation.
– No doubt; but I do not consider that to-day wo are called upon to do more than consider the possible requirements of the next half century. Having regard to the increase in population which has taken place of late years, it seems to me that it will be a long time before population will shift away from the railway line between Melbourne and Sydney. I have never believed in a bush capital ; but we have to carry out the provisions of the Constitution, and we should choose a place which is of ready access to both those centres of population. The site should be on the main-line between Sydney and Melbourne. The western line of course may also be said to run between Sydney and Melbourne, and we might choose an equally good site on it. There can be no doubt that a site such as Lyndhurst, which has been mentioned, has many advantages which are not shared by some of the other suggested sites. But my desire is to discuss, in the first place, those sites which find most favour in the eyes of the majority of the representatives of Victoria. It is for that reason that I have shown that there is not one point relating to the Albury site which does not apply equally to Wagga Wagga. A greater area of land could be obtained at Wagga Wagga, and at a lower price.
– I do not think so.
– Let us assume that the value of the land in each case is the same. There is undoubtedly a greater area of good land obtainable within a radius of twentyfive miles of Wagga Wagga than is available at Albury.
– The honorable and learned member is mistaken.
– The soil within a radius of twenty-five miles of Wagga Wagga is certainly a little superior to that of Albury, and there is a greater area of good land there.
– The honorable and learned member is in error.
– I am familiar with the characteristics of the soil at each place. The fatal objection to the selection of Tumut is that it is not on a main line and never can be. Passengers and mails from Melbourne or Sydney to Tumut would have to branch off a distance of 60 miles from the main line.
– The present line between Melbourne and Sydney goes80 miles out of the direct route. Had the route of the railway line been determined, free from political influence, the journey could have been cut down to that extent.
– To what particular part of the line is the honorable member referring?
– I could not now go into the details.
– I know the country thoroughly, and I think the honorable member is mistaken. If there had been a man like Peter the Great to draw a straight line, and to determine, regardless of expense, that the railway should be built accordingly, the length of the route might have been reduced.
– What about the old coach road?
– It would be almost impossible to construct a railway along that route. The extent of tunnelling would be enormous, and the cost of construction would be so great that the line would not pay. I understand that the honorable member is suggesting that a line might be constructed from Tumut to Yass. A direct line between those towns would involve the making of a tunnel almost as great as that of Mont Cenis. Altogether there would have to be about 20 miles of tunnelling.
– I am not making such a suggestion.
– Then I beg the honorable member’s pardon. Another consideration is the cost of carrying coal to Tumut. I presume that the wholesale price of coal delivered in Tumut would be 22s. or 23s. per ton.
– The cost would be about the same as at Yass.
– Does the honorable gentleman mean to say that coal would be carried over the railways free of charge ?
– No one would feel the difference.
– If Tumut were selected coal would have to be carried about 110 miles beyond Yass. Does the honorable gentleman mean to say that the increased journey would make no difference in the price ?
– Such a distance makes very little difference when there is good loading.
– They used to carry coal for little or nothing on the Victorian railways.
– At the expense of the people of the country. But, of course, if the money still remains in the country, according to the view of certain honorable members, there is no cause for complaint. I could quite understand the taxpayers objecting, but surely the honorable member cannot object. We know that on some of the flats around Tumut there is rich land, but the climate is not good.
– It is a splendid climate.
– We may imagine the sort of climate it is, when I say that maize and tobacco can be grown there.
– Those products can be grown almost anywhere in Australia.
-When we have the fact that maize and tobacco can be grown, we may admit that the climate is a good one for mosquitoes. The disadvantages I have pointed out, appear to me to put Tumut “out of the running.” The mails would have to be carried a distance of sixty miles off the main line, which would practically mean a delay of about three-quarters of a. day in the communication with . the Federal Capital. There is not one reason in favour of Albury which does not apply with equal or greater force to Wagga. If the land were sufficiently elevated in the neighbourhood of Junee, which is almost equi-distant from Sydney and Melbourne, we should there find about the best place for the Federal Capital ; but, here again, it is said very rightly that the climate puts that district out of the question. We might as well select Wagga as Junee, seeing that the water facilities are greater in the former place. The next place where there is a fairly decent climate, and a large area of productive soil, is Yass, and in the latter I include the whole of the area known as Lake George. In regard to Yass, it was stated in the first report that the water would have to be pumped from the Murrumbidgee, but that appears to be a mistake, seeing that water might be brought by gravitation from the Micalong Creek, 38 miles distant, from whence 1,250,000 to 1,500,000. gallons per day could be obtained at a cost of £30,000.
– That is not enough.
– It is quite enough for a population of 25,000.
– What is the use of that?
– That is quite a sufficient supply for a start. There is so much water, that it would only be necessary to duplicate the pipes in order to supply a population of 50,000, and by damming up the Micalong swamps, enough water could be obtained to supply a city of 100,000 inhabitants. Then it must be remembered that thirteen or fourteen miles away there is the Murrumbidgee River. Another point in favour of this site is that within 25 miles there is the great Barranjack Reservoir, which, when completed, will be the largest in Australia, and there is a likelihood of its being completed, because a private company has offered to carry out the work. As to Bombala, I speak with some experience of the country, and I say that between that place and Dalgety, there is a site which possesses striking advantages. From just below Dalgety all the water required can be obtained by gravitation from the Snowy River, and there is very fair soil in the district. It will, of course, have to be a pumping scheme at Bombala, and that is a grave objection. We ought to go to a place where the water supply can be obtained by gravitation.
– I am not sure that at the place indicated by the honorable and learned member water can be obtained by gravitation unless from some distance up the river.
– At all events there is plenty of water in the Snowy River.
– There are thirteen streams from which to get a water supply.
– All the water required can be got at Bombala, which possesses undoubted advantages, but the objection is the absence of railway communication. It will be many years before railway communication can be completed, and so far as Victoria is concerned, probably thirty or forty years must elapse before it will pay to construct the railway through the eastern portion of the State.
– The journey by that route would be about 100 miles longer.
– With the greater disability that the grades would be so severe, and the curves so sharp that there could not be an express service. It seems to me that if we desire climatic advantages, and prefer to have a place off the main line, a site must be fixed on the Western line, say at Lyndhurst, or somewhere about Carcoar-Garland. At Lyndhurst there is very good land, much of which is church and school lands, which by an Act passed by the New South Wales Parliament a few years ago became Crown lands, and would revert straight away to the Federal Government.
– I am not quite sure whether these lands come under that Act.
– I feel pretty confident that the lands come under the Act, and are Crown lands. Lyndhurst undoubtedly possesses a great many advantages, and all the water necessary for a population of 40,000 could be obtained at small expense. For the first 10,000 of population, I think a supply could be obtained for£30,000 or£40,000. As the population increased, the supply would, of course, become more expensive, but for a population of 40,000, the sum required would not be more than £150,000. A population of 50,000 in the Federal area is, of course, a long way off, but as much water as necessary could always be obtained, because there is the Lachlan River only twenty miles away, which could be resorted to if the catchment area became exhausted.
– That would be by means of pumping.
– Yes, while the catchment area would give a supply by gravitation. I should say that fully one-half of the area consists of basaltic soil, and there is a very fairrainf all, with one of the most equable climates in New South Wales. As soon asthe Wellington to Werris Creek railway is completed, Lyndhurst will practically be the same distance from Brisbane as Sydney is to-day.
– It will be seven miles farther.
– Lyndhurst may be slightlyfarther from Melbourne than are some ofthe other sites, but the distance from Sydney to Lyndhurst would be the same as. that from Sydney to Yass within ten or twelve miles.
– But from Melbourne to Lyndhurst would be a long distance.
– The distance to Lyndhurst from Melbourne is forty-five miles farther than to Tumut.
– In any case, how is a line to be made to Tumut?
– From Albury.
– I know the country well, and I am certain that a line could not be carried through. A line might be carried from near Germanton, but certainly not from Albury. If the House really wishes to select a site which will carry out both the letter and the spirit of the law, a place like Lyndhurst or Yass would be very suitable. To Lyndhurst coal would have to be brought only ninety miles from Lithgow, and that is an important consideration, seeing thatthe cost would be11s. or 12s. per ton, as against a cost of 21s. or 22s. per ton delivered at Tumut, with a slightly increased price for delivery at Albury. If the Wilcannia-Cobar line were made, Lyndhurst would be brought much nearer Adelaide than is the case with the present railway communication. Then, again, if at some future date a railway be taken from Bourke to Cooper’s Creek and across the Diamantina up to the Gulf country, the Federal Capital would be within reach of the Northern Territory. In my opinion the advantages offered by Lyndhurst transcend those of any other site. At all events, I hope that, as I suggested before, we shall merely decide on the district. It is impossible, unless we take a radius of twenty or twenty-five miles from a particular place, to come to any conclusion. I was rather pleased to notice that a short time ago the Minister for Home Affairs expressed the opinion that the greater the latitude we allow ourselves the better it will be. Every honorable member, I suppose, is aware that the Minister for Home Affairs earned his spurs in the way of exploration, and is thoroughly competent to give an opinion on matters of the sort. We know what he has done for Australia in the way of exploration in the past, and we fully understand the great difficulties under which his work was performed - difficulties so great that I venture to say no one who understood would now face them. Even after a lapse of thirty years, he would be a bold man who, in spite of the fact that there has been extended settlement, would traverse the areas explored by the right honorable gentleman. If the right honorable gentleman were to visit the different sites and give us the benefit of his knowledge and experience, I should place great reliance upon any opinion he expressed in regard to them. Considering the means of communication, suitability for carrying on the general work of the Federal Capital, and remembering that we must have cheap coal and other incidentals necessary for comfort in living, I am of opinion, looking at the question from every point of view, that Lyndhurst complies with the requirements of a Federal Capital more completely than does any of the other sites suggested, always supposing that a site like Lake George or Yass should not be chosen. Some of the land around Lyndhurst is better than that around Yass, and it has an advantage over the Yass district in having a better water supply. It is true that in the last report it is stated that water can be brought to Yass from
Mickalong Creek, and that fact has completely altered the value of Mr. Oliver’s first report with respect to Yass. Without a knowledge of that fact, Mr. Oliver gave Yass third place in the matter of water supply, and I think that if he had been thoroughly informed of the facts he might possibly have placed it first. He places Yass first on the ground of accessibility, and I agree with him in believing that that is a most important consideration. I am glad that the Minister for Trade and Customs has carried out the promise made last year to give all the suggested sites a chance of being included amongst those submitted for our selection, and that we now have an opportunity of considering Mr. Oliver’s report as well as the Report of the Royal Commission. I am not very hopeful that we shall come to a conclusion this session, but we can only work on and do the best we can.
– As it is probable that I shall not be present to-morrow, I should like now to say a few words upon this very important subject. I feel some difficulty in addressing myself to the matter, because I cannot forget that I am a member of the Government, and that some honorable members have sought to cast blame upon the Ministry for their action in connexion with the selection of the Federal Capital site. I do not, therefore, feel as free to speak in regard to the subject as my honorable and learned friend the member for Parkes seemed to consider himself this afternoon. I noticed that, although the honorable and learned member gave us a long speech, he did not say either that he had any preference for a particular site, or that he had made up his mind with regard to the locality or district in which the Federal Capital should be situated. Speaking not only for myself, but also for the Government, I may say that there never has been, and there certainly is not now, any desire on our part to delay the settlement of the question. I have not heard any member of the Government express himself otherwise than as being anxious that the Constitution should be completely fulfilled in regard to this important subject of fixing upon the site for the Federal seat of government.
– It is rather late in the life of this Parliament to deal with a big question like this.
– The honorable member is repeating the parrot cry about it being too late, and listening to him one would think that we had been sitting here for the last three years doing nothing, that we had an opportunity during the whole of the time to deal with the question of the Federal Capital site and had neglected the opportunity. Does the honorable member forget that we spent eighteen months in the consideration of the Tariff alone, and that every other subject had to be put aside for that?
– That was the fault of the late Minister for Trade and Customs.
– I shall not say whose fault it was. The fact remains that we occupied eighteen months in dealing with the Tariff, and I feel sure the late Minister for Trade and Customs would blame others for the delay if his opinion were asked. It is somewhat unreasonable to say that in this Parliament, in which we have had to pass the Tariff and all the legislation which is upon our statute-book, dealing with every Department necessary to make the Commonwealth machine a going concern, we should also have already dealt with the capital site, and to blame members of the Government because it has not yet been dealt with. As honorable members are aware a Commission was appointed to consider the various sites suggested. It is only recently that the report of the Commission was submitted to us, and the evidence taken by the Commission has been placed in our hands only within the last day or two. Some people may think that the selection of a capital site is a very simple duty for us to carry out ; but, as a matter of fact, I believe there is scarcely a single honorable member who at present has made up his mind where the Federal Capital ought to be. I have probably had as much experience in the selection of sites and the examination of country as most honorable members ; and I must say that I have found it very difficult indeed to make up my mind as to the best site, and I am certain that other honorable members are experiencing a similar difficulty. I have no doubt the honorable member for Canobolas has made up his mind that the site should be somewhere in his own constituency. It is remarkable that honorable members should have so decided a leaning towards or liking for sites connected with their own constituencies.
– They know so much about them.
– That is so no doubt, but it is no reason why a site should be the best for the purposes of the Federal Capital. The honorable member for Canobolas did not express any anxiety to give his opinion with regard to the suitability of other sites, and I guarantee that, when it comes to a vote, we shall not have much difficulty in deciding in which way the honorable member’s vote will be cast.
– I have not given my opinion yet.
– I think that as surely as the compass needle points directly north, the honorable member will be found to have voted for a site which will not be far from his Own constituency. The provision for the selection of a capital site is but one of many important provisions contained in the Constitution. We have dealt with many of the other provisions, and to-day we had the pleasure of inaugurating the High Court of Australia, which was chief amongst them. I think we have done well in this Parliament in having dealt with almost all the important matters contained in the Constitution, in order to make the Commonwealth machine a going concern, and to have left only this one important provision yet to be complied with. However much our honorable friends from New South Wales may desire that the site should be fixed at once - and I am quite in sympathy with them in desiring that it should be fixed as soon as possible - it will not ruin Australia if we do not rush the matter in such a way as will result in the making of an unsuitable choice. I should like every honorable member to be certain of his ground before giving a vote upon the question, and for that reason I hope that, unless honorable members have fixed opinions with regard to the matter, they will say so, and that they will hesitate to cast their votes for one place or another until they are satisfied in their minds which is the best. I think the honorable member for Richmond uttered words of wisdom when he referred to the desire expressed by local people that the Federal city should be situated somewhere near their existing township. It is not, perhaps, after all, so extraordinary as it may seem at first sight, that the people of every township that would appear to have any chance in the selection should be eager for the selection of the site nearest to it. This may be due to a desire upon their part that the advantages which they have had for many years should be shared by their fellowcountrymen. They desire that others should experience the advantages of a splendid position, “a salubrious climate, a pure water supply, and all the other good things which they have themselves enjoyed. I am inclined to think that in addition to this humanitarian view there may be some considerations of £ s. d. about their eagerness. They probably think that if they get the Federal city located near them there will be a large expenditure of public money by which their property will be enhanced in value, and their material prospects improved. We who come from the western side of Australia are influenced by no motives of that kind. It cannot be said of the honorable member for Fremantle or of myself that in this matter we have any axe to grind.
– The right honorable gentleman does not want the Federal Capital site, but he does want a Federal railway.
– We certainly want a Federal railway, because we think it would be of great benefit not only to our State but to the rest of Australia.
– If the line is extended from Kalgoorlie to Esperance Bay we will connect with it at that place.
– The history of this question is that the New South Wales Government appointed Mr. Oliver as a Commissioner to examine and report upon various sites. That gentleman selected various sites, and these have been accepted as the only suitable places for the Federal Capital. It seems to me that Mr. Oliver’s opinion has been accepted by almost every one, but I think it is quite likely that there may be other sites which may be found quite as suitable for the purpose as the half-dozen named by Mr. Oliver. The Commission of Experts who recently reported seem to have felt themselves compelled to deal with only certain sites, and not even to offer an opinion in regard to any others. I have not seen the terms ©f their commission, but I can hardly think that it could have been intended, if they saw any other suitable site, that they should not freely express their views upon it. Because the only object which every one has in view is to get at the truth, and to arrive at a just decision.
– They were only commissioned -to examine certain localities. They could not very well go outside their commission.
– I think that was tying them down to the sites named b)’ Mr. Oliver, as if those were the only ones in that vast State.
– Who tied them down ?
– Perhaps they felt themselves more tightly tied down .than was intended. But on that point I need not say anything more. I have visited Dalgety, Bombala, Bathurst, Orange, and Tumut, and of course I know a little of the country about Albury. My opinion is that although a suitable site for a Federal city may be found somewhere near those localities, I have seen no site which I would select for a great Federal city. I do not mean to say that. within a few miles in some cases - perhaps a dozen .miles - there may not be a suitable spot. ‘But I am dealing with the spot marked 4,000 acres on the map by the Commissioner. There must be “ a great many honorable members who have not seen these sites, because they have not had an opportunity since they were selected by the Commission, and, therefore, I do not think that they are in as good a position as I am to form an opinion. My idea is that a great Federal city should occupy a commanding position in a place which is cool in the summer time. There is not one capital city in Australia in which people care to stay all the summer if it can be avoided. It has always seemed to me that if the Federal city were in a locality where the climate was cool in summer, it would be visited by persons going away for a change. Who would go to a city where the thermometer registered 100 degrees, or anything like that heat, in the summer time t
– The country between Orange and Lyndhurst is the best in Australia in that respect.
– I am not saying that it is not : because some of these sites are suitable with regard to climate. When I said that there was no site amongst those I had seen which I would select, I was referring to the exact localities and not to the climate, and I went on to say that in my opinion it is a. sine qua rum that the place should be cool in the summer time. We (j want a locality -where there are rolling downs i] with .some considerable elevations.. The seven hills on which Rome is built are not very high, but they are conspicuous. They are not’ too high for building upon. Long before the Eternal City is reached its towers and spires can be seen. St. Peter’s dome- can be seen miles and miles away from Rome. Again, in the United States, the dome .of .the Capitol can be seen miles and miles:away from Washington. We wish to be able to see the Federal city with its domes and’ spires long before it is reached. We do “not want it to be built in a ravine or valley, nestling amongst the hills, and not visible until .you are close upon it. It ought to be built on some expansive place with rolling hills and conspicuous elevations, on one of the most commanding and conspicuous of which should be the House of Parliament,- with the streets .radiating from it in all directions. I have not found that sort .of place in any of the localities which I have visited.
– Did the Minister look at Mount Canobolas ?
– Yes. I am not going to say anything against the suitability of the locality there, but I do not think that the site selected at Orange was well chosen. The Government do not desire it to be said of them that they wish to delay the settlement of this question. Our desire is to select a site at once if we can. If it is the view of the House that it should be done, I am prepared to vote. I shall not vote willingly, but I am prepared to vote for the locality which I think is best.
– Which locality is that 1
– I am not going to say which it is. I think we are not acting in the interests of Australia in pushing forward this matter. If we are to be the judges, let us, at any rate, make up our own minds on some good foundation. Information and knowledge is the foundation which we want.
– Another Commission t
– I do not know about another Commission. I suppose I may say what I think on this occasion. I do not think that we have exhausted the sites in New South Wales, nor do I think that we have got the best site in any of the localities which I have seen.
– The Minister .must remember that a much larger number of sitesthirtynine, I think - were reported on by Mr. Oliver. ; *
– I do not wish to say anything more. I feel myself in a very great difficulty, because, although I have visited these sites, I have not found amongst them one which I consider suitable for a Federal city.
– Did the Minister see Lyndhurst?
– No ; and that, I think, is the only one I have not seen.
– How many did the Minister see?
– I saw Bombala, Dalgety, Tumut, Orange, and Bathurst.
– Not Albury?
– I have been to Albury several times. I have been down the river and to one place and another. I have not been to Tabletop, but I know the elevation.
– - Did the Minister see Yass ?
– I do not know Yass.
– Lake George ?
– No; but I should very much like to visit that locality because it has a great elevation. I do not know about the water supply to the elevation, but judging from the map the locality, commends itself very much to me, because it is 2,000 feet above the level of the sea. I have not been to the place, and therefore I am not able to offer an opinion. If I hesitate in regard to this matter, I am sure that there are many others in a similar position. I- certainly have had as good an opportunity as most of them, and I do not speak without having had some experience in these matters. I strongly advise that the vote, if taken, should give a latitude of 4.0 miles radius round each locality named for the final selection of the exact site. My last observation to the House is that I have not seen in any of these localities a place which I consider suitable for the Federal city.
– I understand that there are several honorable members who desire to speak.
– Cannot the honorable member speak to-night ?
– Move the adjournment of the debate. 11 n
– I am anxious to fall in with the wish of the House, but as it appears that several honorable members desire to speak on this question, I move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– 1 should like to know if the Government are really in earnest in regard to the settlement of this question, which has been hanging fire for some time? The House adjourned over Friday in order to give honorable members a holiday, and the last words of the Prime Minister were that he hoped that they would be prepared to finish the second reading of the debate to-night.
– No; on Wednesday.
– If the general election is to be held in December some honorable members will be prevented from going round the whole of their constituencies, lt takes me eight weeks to go round the whole of my constituency, but in the circumstances I shall be unable to visit a portion of it. I do not see why, even if we had to sit until the early hours of the morning, we should not finish the second -read ing debate tonight and take the Committee stage tomorrow. I enter my protest against these proceedings. Some of us have held our tongues in order to allow honorable members who are personally interested to speak, and I think it only fair to continue the debate to-night until it is finished.
– The Government would be very happy to ask the House to sit on ; but when a leading member like the honorable member for Macquarie, whose constituents are interested in this matter, pleads for an adjournment, and several honorable members urge that it would be unfair to expect them to speak at this hour, it would be very ungracious on our part to refuse to accede to their request. As the honorable member knows, I have endeavoured to persuade him and others to address themselves to the question now, so that debate might be avoided at the next stage, but it is scarcely fair to press those who represent constituencies in New South Wales, and particularly those whose constituencies are directly interested in tho question. I should be glad to sit on, but I do not wish to force honorable members to remain here if they think that they will not be able to-night to do justice to a subject which they have so much at heart.
-After the impressive address of the Minister for Trade and Customs, I think that the subject should be exhaustively and systematically debated, even at the present stage of our proceedings. I have not yet been able to make up my mind on the capital site question, and I do not wish to be rushed into a determination until there has been an exhaustive debate. The matter is of such tremendous importance that it should be dealt with fairly and earnestly at every stage.
– The question has been hanging over now for two years.
– That does not matter. Before coming to a determination, we should be in possession of all available information, and every honorable member who has knowledge of the subject should be allowed the fullest opportunity to place his views before the House, I, and I believe some other honorable members, have not been able to visit the sites or to examine the evidence, and, therefore, it is necessary that we should hear the views of those who have done so. We cannot, however, be expected to remain here until midnight. Therefore, although I do not wish to unduly prolong our proceedings, I think that the Bill should not be taken into Committee until the whole matter has been fairly debated at the present stage.
– The intention, as I understand it, is that there should be no cutting short of opportunities for the discussion of this subject. I do not desire that there shall be a full debate both at the second reading stage and in Committee. I would prefer to have the discussion in Committee, as I think that that is the better stage at which to take it ; but if honorable members choose to deal fully with the various sites on the second reading, I think it would be a mistake to waste time by repeating the discussion in Committee.
– The understanding early in the evening was that the sites should be discussed in Committee.
– Yes. Therefore we might as well let the motion for the second reading pass now. I am prepared to reserve what I have to say until the Committee stage, though I am equally ready to speak at the present stage. It is, however, undesirable to have two debates.
– In explanation, I wish to say that I moved the adjournment of the debate because I understood that other honorable members wished to speak, and I thought it right that they should have an opportunity to do so. If, however, it is the general desire that the second reading shall be taken now, I am prepared to forego my right to speak at this stage, and to reserve what I have to say until we get into Committee.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Resolved (on motion by Sir William Lyne) -
That the standing orders be suspended to enable a certain motion to be moved.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
A Preferential Ballot shall be taken without debate in the following manner:-
Debate (on motion by Mr. Deakin) adjourned.
Federal Capital Sites - Electoral rolls -
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
If honorable members before to-morrow’s sitting will make themselves acquainted with the method of procedure embodied in the motion just moved by the Minister for Trade and Customs, a good deal of time will be saved. The Government propose that method as the best which they can devise, but they will be ready to receive any suggestion whereby it can be improved. Our only object is to meet the wishes of honorable members, so that the conclusion arrived at will be, not a party one, but the decision of the whole House.
– It has been suggested to me that now that the Minister for Trade and Customs has moved a motion providing for a method of selection, there will be some difficulty in discussing the various sites in Committee. I wish to know if honorable members will be precluded from fully placing their views before the Committee?
– In reference to the question raised by the honorable member, I would point out that it is not quite easy to indicate what course will be taken. The difficulty is one with which we have not to deal every day. It has, however, been the intention of the Government from the outset that every opportunity should be given in Committee to deal with the sites in detail. It was fully understood that no restriction should be placed upon honorable members. We know that otherwise the second-reading debate would have occupied much more time. I do not anticipate any trouble, but if any technical difficulty should arise we shall take steps to insure honorable members every facility for free discussion.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister for Home Affairs the condition of the electoral rolls issued for the country districts. The rolls are not only badly compiled, so far as the individual names are concerned, but in some electorates subdivisions have been made which did not exist at the last election. In my own electorate there are apparently two new subdivisions. I suggest that the services of the municipal officials should be utilized in connexion with the scrutiny of the rolls, because it is impossible to induce electors to go even across the street to see whether their names are properly entered. The number of mistakes is positively alarming, and it is difficult to understand how they could have occurred. In one instance a married man is put down as a resident of one town, whilst his wife is entered as a resident of another town. Mistakes of this kind might give rise to serious complications.
– I shall be very glad to avail myself of the suggestion of the honorable member, and solicit the assistance of municipal officers. I am sorry to hear that some errors have crept in, but I suppose that some of them were almost inevitable.
– Does the Minister intend to engage the services of the town clerks?
– I hope that they will be only too ready to act on our behalf, but if they require payment we shall have’to consider the matter. The object of exhibiting the rolls for a month is to allow errors to be detected and corrected, and we shall avail ourselves of any assistance that may offer in carrying out this work. I hope that the electors will now take more interest than the honorable member seems to anticipate in ascertaining that their names are properly recorded.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the desire that has been expressed to bring the session to an early close, he will, if necessary, arrange for an all-day sitting on Friday, and for sittings on Saturday and Monday?
– In connexion with the capital sites question, honorable members have been furnished with copies of a short review of the report of the Commonwealth Commissioners on the sites by Mr. Alexander Oliver. I find that in his introductory note Mr. Oliver states -
This memorandum does not profess to be an exhaustive criticism of the Commonwealth Commissioners’ Report. The short time at my disposal, coupled with the state of my health, made that impossible. Still less does it profess to he in any sense a substitute for the supplementary reportnow passing through the Government press, but for various reasons not likely to be issued for some weeks.
I understand, from other references to the supplementary report, that it embraces expert evidence, given by State officials. I should like to know whethor the Government have obtained copies of the report, and whether it is possible to make them available before we are asked to vote.
– I shall be pleased to communicate with the Government of New South Wales, and if possible obtain copies of the supplementary report to which reference has been made. With regard to the transaction of the business before us, if as hope, a vote is taken upon the Federal Capital sites on Thursday next, I expect that we shall be able in the course of the ordinary sitting on Friday to dispose of all the business we have to transact until the Senate is able to deal with some of the matters awaiting its attention. If necessary, however, we shall take special measures to meet any emergency.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 October 1903, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19031006_reps_1_17/>.