1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the fact that the Government will have no power to acquire under section 19 of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act any area of land for the Federal territory beyond that mentioned in the Bill, will the Prime Minister promise to insert a provision requiring the resumption of not less than 900 square miles ?
– I do not think there is any limitation in the Bill as to the area to which the section referred to will apply, but I have circulated a draft clause - the insertion of which I propose to move - to put it beyond question that the provisions of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act shall apply to all land required.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister if he will request the Library Committee to furnish a report as to the progress made in regard to the commencement and continuation of a Federal Parliamentary Library?
– I understand that the Library Committee is now preparing a report upon the subject.
– Is the Minister for Defence yet in a position to say whether the transfer of Colonel Lyster is a promotion?
– These transfers are under consideration ; but I hope to be able soon to give the honorable member full information on the subject.
– Have the Government considered whether the general elections can be held upon a Saturday ?
– It goes without saying that they will be held upon a Saturday. The whole of Australia would like to see that day selected.
– I have addressed a letter to the Premiers of the States, inquiring their intentions in regard to the Senate elections, and suggesting that it is highly desirable that the same day shall be chosen for each State. As the House is aware, the States must be consulted upon the question.
– But what objection is there to choosing a Saturday ?
– An informal objection has already been urged against Saturday on behalf of the Jewish community.
– In South Australia they never make an objection.
Sir GEORGE TURNERlaid upon the table the following paper : -
Audit Act - Transfer of amounts approved by the Governor-General, 1902-3.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs any objection to lay upon the table all the papers connected with the applications for the position of Secretary to the Minister, and the recommendation of the Public Service Commissioner?
– I think that the honorable member will get all the information he wants from the reply which I shall make to the question of which notice has been given by the honorable member for Kooyong.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs,upon notice -
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I have been supplied with the following answers : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs,upon notice -
-In answer to the honorable member’s questions I have to state -
Ordered (on motion by Mr. A. McLean) -
That there be laid on the table of this House a copy of all papers, correspondence, and minutes in the matter of the forcible seizure by the Tasmanian authorities of the registered Victorianowned fishing schooner Doris.
Debate resumed from 6th October(vide page 5735), on motion by Sir William Lyne : -
That, with a view of facilitating the performance of the obligation imposed on the Parliament by Section 125 of the Constitution, this House do on Thursday, 8th October, proceed to determine the opinion of Members as to the place in New South Wales at or near which the seat of government of the Commonwealth should be situated.
That the selection be made from among the places mentioned in the Schedule hereto.
That the following be the method of selection, and that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the House from adopting such method.
A Preferential Ballot shall be taken without debate in the following manner : -
Ballot-papers shall be distributed to honorable members containing the names of the sites mentioned in the Schedule hereto.
Members shall mark each name with a figure showing the order of their preference for the respective sites, and shall sign the paper.
Theballot-papers shall then be examined by the Clerk.
If on the first examination, any site proves to have received an absolute majority of first preferences, the Speaker shall report the name of such site to the House, and such site shall be deemed to be the one preferred by honorable members.
If no site receives an absolute majority of first preferences, then the Clerk shall add together the figures opposite the name of each site respectively on all the ballot-papers, and the name of the site against which the largest total is placed shall be reported to the House and shall be struck out.
If any two or more of the sites shall receive an equal total, such total being the largest sum placed opposite the name of any of the sites, then the Speaker shall ascertain by a show of hands which of such sites should, in the opinion of honorable members, be further balloted for, and the name of the other, or others, shall be struckout.
Further ballots shall then be taken on the names of the remaining sites, and the name of the site receiving the largest total in each successive ballot shall be reported to the House and struck out in the manner aforesaid, until one of the sites receives an absolute majority of first preferences.
When one of the sites has received an absolute majority of the first preferences, the name of such site shall be reported to the House by the Speaker, and such site shall be deemed to be the site preferred by honorable members.
The House shall thereupon resolve itself into a Committee of the whole on the Bill.
– As the Minister for Trade and Customs did not obtain leave last night to continue his speech to-day, he must be taken to have spoken to the motion.
– I did not speak on the motion last night because honorable members desired an adjournment. I thought at the time that I should have an opportunity to speak to-day. .
– I suggest that, with the concurrence of the House, the honorable member might be allowed to speak to-day.
– I was about to add thatI would ask the leave of the House. Is it the pleasure of honorable members that the Minister shall speak upon the motion this afternoon ?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– The object of the motion is to provide the best method obtainable for the selection of a site for insertion in the Bill of which we passed the second reading last night. Perhaps some honorable members did not hear my explanation yesterday, and I, therefore, repeat that it is intended to afford opportunity for a general debate in Committee on the merits of the various proposed sites. The second reading of the Bill was passed on the voices last night, and a promise was then given that an opportunity would be afforded to honorable members who were not present, and who wish to speak, and also to those who did not speak because they desired the second reading to be carried, to deal generally with the question. The practical effect and outcome of the proposal which I submit will be a ballot of a preferential character. The various sites will be numbered by honorable members according to their idea of their relative merits.
– Will any plumping be allowed ?
– No ; I do not think plumping should or will be allowed. The site which has the largest number of ninth votes in the first ballot, when the votes are added together, will be struck out, and will not be considered On the second ballot. The second ballot will be taken in regard to the remaining eight sites, and the site which receives the largest number of eighth votes added together will be thrown out in the same way.
– Why not vote openly?
– It will beopen voting, because each honorable member will be required to sign his ballot-paper, and at the close of the voting the ballot-papers will be open to inspection.
– Why not take open divisions?
– We cannot do that ; if we have preferential voting it is impossible to take divisions. I have no doubt that the results of the voting can be published in Hansard.
– Cannot we settle the question by open voting without any preferential voting ?
– I must differ from the right honorable member.
– That may be, but still I think I am right.
– The right honorable member and myself usually differ, because he is a conservative, while I am a democrat. The object of the motion is to arrive at the bestmeans of reaching the conclusion which is in the minds of honorable members, and of all the systems submitted to me I know none better than that which I now propose. Two or three other ways of voting have been suggested. One was to vote openly, taking the places in alphabetical order, and though some honorable members object to that system, I do not. At the same time, I am not quite sure whether such a plan would be fair to all the sites. If the voting were carried out in that way, Tumut would have the best chance, and Albury would have the worst, seeing that Albury would come first. The leader of the Opposition may remember that the best Chairman of Committees was on one occasion not selected in the Parliament of New South Wales for the reason that three gentlemen were nominated, and that the supporters of the other two combined in order to reject the first man. That scheme was possible because the most suitable candidate happened to have been nominated first ; and the result was a lesson to me so far as open voting is concerned. Another method suggested to me is that of exhaustive voting, each honorable member voting for only one site. But, supposing that there were two sites, one in the north and one in the south, which could command a large block vote of, say, thirty votes each, if the parties voted solidly, there would be left only fifteen votes to bedistributed amongsttheothersevensites. It is quite impossible to judge beforehand whether, under such haphazard conditions, some of the best sites might not be thrown out on the first count. I have not laboured the matter, but simply ask honorable members to take the view I have submitted.
– Why not run it in heats ?
– That was the suggestion of the honorable member for North Sydney which was rejected by the House. A third method has been suggested by the honorable member for Corinella, and to my mind this method, if it could be thoroughly understood and carried out, would be the best. I should like to know more of this proposal before I can give a definite opinion, but it seems on the face of it to be fair. It was to submit the sites to a preferential vote, numbering the places according to their positions in the estimation of honorable members, and holding those who voted to their first decision. If, for example, an honorable member voted for site No. 2, until his first selection were thrown out, he would not be allowed to vary his votes backwards and forwards as he chose.
– That is the Hare svstem.
– That seemed to me a very fair way in which to prevent an honorable member throwing away a vote in order to destroy or reduce the prospects of some other competing site.
– Why not have a simple exhaustive ballot such as we provided last week ?
– If I did not make myself clear just now, I will again explain that that was a simple exhaustive ballot, in which every honorable member gave one vote only. I venture to say some of the best sites would be thrown out on the first ballot, by the blocking of a northern site or a southern site.
– It would bea more honest vote than that proposed.
– I do not think so ; and I am afraid the honorable member does not quite see what the effect of such a vote would be. Say there were thirty votes for a northern site and thirty votes for a southern site; that would leave only fifteen votes to be distributed amongst the other seven sites, and, perhaps the best site would be thrown out first. That would not be a fair vote, and, therefore, the Government submits this motion with a view to ascertain as nearly as possible the ideas of honorable members. The voting will ultimately be made public, so that all may know how each honorable member has voted on each site. I do not intend at present to deal further with the question. The only desire of the Government is to arrive at the most equitable system of voting, in order to prevent any mishap, and in order that the best site may be selected. It is very difficult to arrive at a satisfactory solution of this difficult problem. I ask honorable members to consider the matter fairly, as I am sure they will ; and I can promise that, if any suggestion is made which appears to be an improvement on the present proposals, the Government will adopt it without hesitation.
– In what manner do our Standing Orders fall short of getting at the right result?
– If the vote were taken under the Standing Orders, it would have to be by ordinary division, and each site would have to be taken separately. If a vote were taken early with regard to any particular site, and there were a combination of the advocates of other sites against it, the site in question would have its chances destroyed. That is the greatest objection I have to the direct, voting system.
– All the sites would be rejected on the first vote, and then there would be a recommittal in each case.
– No, there would not. Honorable members would be likely to vote in the second place for sites which they would not favour in the first instance.
– But the first vote in all cases would result in the site being rejected.
– No. I might explain to the honorable member what happened in the New South Wales Assembly. Three gentlemen offered themselves as candidates for the position of Chairman of Committees. The name of the candidate who seemed to have the best chance of election, and who was regarded as the most suitable for the position, happened to be submitted first. The supporters of the other two candidates combined against him, and the consequence was that his name was rejected.
– That is generally the case.
– But it should not be the case, and I hope that honorable members will assist the Government in arriving at some method under which it will not be possible to deal similarly with any of the sites.
– Minorities always combine against a stronger party.
– Yes, that is what happened in the case referred to. One of the other two candidates was elected, against the better man, who should have been appointed to the position.
– I do not think he was the better man.
– Perhaps not; but I thought so. I now leave the whole matter in the hands of honorable members.
– Of course, the simplest plan would be to submit each name upon the list and take a vote upon it. But, unless that direct voting system were accompanied by certain safeguards, it would, as the Minister has pointed out, be absolutely unfair in its results. For instance, upon the list as it stands, Albury appears first ; and, if it were submitted to the Chamber, the supporters of the other eight sites would vote in the negative, and thus Albury, would have to fight against eight sites at once. I intend to suggest a plan for the consideration of the House. Se far as I have gone I have simply stated that it would be absolutely unfair to submitthe names of the sites in the ordinary way by asking honorable members who are in favour of the Albury site to say “ Aye,”’ and those against it “ No.” That would be absolutely unfair to the sites first submitted, because, naturally, those honorable1 members in favour of the other sites would vote “No,” and we should have the supporters of eight sites fighting against tha advocates of one. That would not express, the true mind of the House.
– It would not be necessary to take a negative vote at all.
– I am coming to that, if the; right honorable gentleman will permit me. I am simply suggesting those things which we cannot do first, and I shall then explain the plan which .we can adopt. I have mentioned first the obvious ordinary plan that we adopt in Committee in dealing; with propositions, such as whether a word shall stand or be omitted, but, in this particular case, we cannot adopt that method. Now, I propose to deal with the plan proposed by the Government. The only justification for submitting such a. plan must be based on the theory that it was invented by some person of unsophisticated innocence or by a deep designingman. He must be one or the other. If theplan proposed could be worked out with a, guarantee that honorable members would loyally carry out its spirit it might be a. a good thing. The motion on the business paper provides that there shall be an order of preference, and that the site which has. the largest arithmetical total - which means that which is last in the order of preferenceshall be rejected. For instance, let ustake the names of the sites as they stand im the schedule. Suppose that honorable members numbered them in the order in which they appear in the schedule, Albury would be first, Bombala second, and so on down to Tumut, which would appear ninth on the list. Then, suppose there were only onevote - and this affords as good an illustration as if there were a thousand - Tumut would count nine, and therefore would be struck out, because it would have the largest arithmetical total. If there were an absolutemajority of first preferences in favour of any one site the whole matter would beclosed, and very properly so, because an. absolute majority always carries everything. Rut the probabilty is that there would not be an absolute majority upon the first vote, and the Government proposal provides for that. Paragraph e of the motion reads : -
If no site receives an absolute majority of first preferences, then theClerkshall add together thefigures opposite the name of each site respectively on all the ballot-papers, and the name of the site against which the largest total is placed, shall be reported to the House and shall be struck out.
Now, on the surface, that seems a fair plan, because the largest arithmethical total would represent the lowest amount of preference. Therefore, it would seem right to adopt it. Now, we may suppose that the unsophisticated supporters of Tumut, headed by the Minister for Trade and Customs
SirWilliam Lyne. - The right honorable gentleman need not say that, because I have Albury also.
– Yes ; but the Minister cannot run double on this occasion. Suppose that an unsophisticated honorable member like the Minister for Trade and Customs came along with twentynine other honorable members in favour of Tumut. They would naturally place the figure 1 opposite the name of the site, and, perhaps, honestly thinking that Bombala was the next best site, they would innocently and honorably place the figure 2 opposite that name.
-I am not suggesting that the Minister would actually do so, but I am supposing everything in favour of the Minister and his twenty-nine supporters. I am assuming that they would innocently and honorably place the figure 2 opposite the name of Bombala. I am not suggesting that that is the Minister’s real intention, because it would be difficult for any one to know what his intentions are. Suppose that the Minister and those who thought with him in favour of Tumut honestly indicated Bombala as the site which occupied the second place in their estimation. The supporters of Bombala, headed by my equally unsophisticated friend, the Minister for Defence, would then come along with his twenty-nine supporters and place No. 1 opposite the name of Bombala. But having a strong fear that Tumut was the site of which they had to beware as the probable runner-up, they would each place the figure 9 against the name of that site. As a result, the advocates of Tumut would give Bombala only thirty twos, or a total of sixty, whereas the Bombala advocates would give Tumut thirty nines, or a total of 270, and out would go Tumut. I only give that one illustration to show what might be done. I am not for a moment asserting that any honorable member would do as I suggest. I am only saying that there is a possibility of its being done, and I am sure that none of us wish that these proceedings should be clouded by any possibilities of that kind. Whatever our decision may be, we hope that it will represent the honest and direct opinion of the House. We have a common interest in securing that result, and we must not put temptations in the way of people of strong convictions. Both my honorable friends in the Ministry have extremely strong convictions - divided by two in the case of the Minister for Trade and Customs. I think that a statement of the dangers attendant upon the system of voting proposed by the Government ought to be sufficient to condemn it.
– Will the right honorable gentleman suggest something better?
– I intend to do so. There is no tinge of party element in this matter. We are absolutely free from any party feeling. As the Minister says, when we object to any proposal it is our duty to suggest another in its stead. I shall suggest an alternative scheme ; but I do so with very great diffidence, because I recognise that this problem is not an easy one to solve. I suggest that the most satisfactory and direst way in which to determine this matter is for us to take the nine eligible sites, and to indicate upon our first ballotpapers our respective preferences absolutely. That is say, each honorable member should place a cross opposite the site which he considers positively the best - the site in which he believes. No advocate of any site - whether inside or outside of this House - can object to that site being struck off the list if, amongst the nine sites, it receives absolutely the smallest number of supporters - in other words, if it is the lowest upon the poll.
– That is where the danger comes in.
– Let us suppose, for instance, that each site commands a varying number of votes, ranging perhaps from thirty in the case of the must popular site down to three or four in the case of the least attractive. Surely if the lowest site upon the poll can command only three or four votes, no human being can complain of its being eliminated from the list. My proposal is practically an open ballot, with the advantage that each honorable member can register his vote as he pleases instead of by means of the clumsy method of division. Should it be adopted, each member will be free to select what he considers to be the best site - the site that he wishes to see chosen. If amongst a House containing sixty votes the site which commands the least number of supporters can secure only three or four votes, what human being can urge that it ought not to be eliminated from consideration? It is a long process, but I suggest it in order that honorable members may be given absolute freedom of judgment in dealing with the awkward situation which is presented.
– Suppose that Bombala and Lyndhurst were strongly supported. There would then be only about five votes available for distribution amongst the remaining seven sites.
Mr.REID. - But there must be some point at which we begin to eliminate the sites. We cannot continue voting upon the nine sites through all eternity. That proposition, I suppose, will commend itself to the good sense of the House. A weedingout process must be commenced somewhere, otherwise we shall still be confronted with these nine sites next year.
– Under the right honorable member’s proposal, Tumut would be weeded out upon the first ballot.
– Does the Minister seriously suggest that Tumut will not command more than three votes?
– There would be only five votes available for distribution amongst seven sites, because about sixty votes would be recorded in favour of two sites.
– If before a ballot is taken the House has arrived so near a decision that, out of sixty members, thirty are favorable to one particular site and thirty to another, surely the site which can command only three votes can never win? Of course, I am merely suggesting my own view. The next stage would be to supply honorable members with another ballot-paper containing the names of the eight sites which then remained, so that honorable members would again have the full area of choice. Each honorable member would again indicate by means of a cross the particular site out of the eight which he favoured. That process would be continued until the number of sites had been reduced to two. As the Minister has very properly pointed out, if we reduce the number to three we cannot secure a vote which will be fair. Consequently we must reduce the number of sites to two. We could then take a straight-out vote upon those sites, because there would be no danger of complications arising. The seven would have beeneliminated by means of the lowest site having been struck out after each ballot, and when only two sites remained I should prefer that an open vote should be recorded upon them. Indeed, there would then be no object to bc gained by voting in any other way. Of course, it has been pointed out that the process which has been recommended by the Minister will leave the House absolutely free to insert in the Bill the name of any site that it may choose. I do not wish to criticize the action of the Government in refusing to insert in the Bill the name of any particular site, because it would have been a grossly improper thing for them to do, and I should have been the first to denounce them for it. I understand, however, that this is a genuine open question in the Cabinet. If there is a Cabinet agreement upon it, it is grossly improper that the Government has not suggested a site.
– There is no agreement.
– Hear, hear.
– I accept the assurance of Ministers that it is is an absolutely open question in the Cabinet, and, consequently, it is impossible for the Government to recommend any particular site. Had they nominated one, they would have been chargeable with an attempt to distort the judgment of the House. I do not at all object to the form in which the Bill has been introduced, although I confess that I do not like the present form of the resolutions.
– I have listened with great interest to the remarks of the leader of the Opposition concerning the proposal which he has submitted as an alternative to the scheme which has been offered by the Government. Personally, I think that as the debate progresses - and I hold it is desirable that upon this matter we should have the fullest discussion - honorable members will discover that it is much easier to find fault with schemes which are propounded than to defend from attack the particular scheme which they may propound themselves. The attention which I have been able to be stow upon voting schemes - and with me the consideration of this question is not a matter of yesterday - has convinced me that there is absolutely no scheme which is not open to attack upon the ground that it can be abused if people are willing to abuse it. I use the term “abuse “ in no offensive sense. I merely desire to convey that any scheme of voting can be used to achieve results whicli would not be produced if honorable members expressed their absolutely independent opinion instead of making use of a certain form of procedure to put dangerous opponents out of the way.
– But some schemes are less liable to abuse than are others.
– I object to the Ministerial proposal, upon the ground that the method of adding totals is infinitely more liable to lead to wrong results - viewing the matter purely from a mathematical stand-point - than is the alternative method of transferring single votes. Of course I realize that the object of the total addition is to prevent a recurrence of the ancient illustration of Themistocles, who was second upon every general’s paper, but first upon none. That is the-object of the Government scheme as proposed. There is no doubt that it is open to the serious objections which have been urged against it by the leader of the Opposition, and to other objections also. At the same time I should like to point out what can be done under the proposal suggested by the right honorable member for East Sydney. He says - “ Let us take a ballot, and let each honorable member place a mark opposite his own first preference.” I think we may take it that upon the first ballot every honorable member would truly indicate what was his real preference. Then the right honorable member adds - “ Strike out the site which receives the smallest number of votes and take a fresh ballot.” His proposal might work very well foi- three or four ballots. But let us suppose that the number of sites had been reduced to five. I have prepared an illustration of the effect of this very proposal, but unfortunately I have used the names of particular sites.
– Refer to them as “ A,” “ B,.” and “ C.”
– I prepared this illustration on the assumption that the two Houses would sit together, but, although it allows for 100 votes, the principle is exactly the same as if only seventy-five were accounted for. Let us suppose that at a ballot the names of five sites - A, B, C, D, and E - still remained in the running ; that A got twelve votes, B forty votes, C twenty-five votes, D eight votes, and E fifteen votes. That would account for 100 votes. D, having the lowest number of votes, would drop out, and there would be eight votes to transfer to the others. At the next ballot A receives twelve votes and its share of the eight, B forty votes and its share of the eight, C twenty-five and its share of the eight, and E fifteen and its share of the eight. But let us suppose that the supporters of B, which has the lead, think that E is its dangerous opponent. B could beat C, which received only twentyfive votes at the previous ballot, but its supporters fear that if E remained in the ballot in the long run they would be beaten. In that event what would happen ‘ would be that at the next ballot A would receive twenty-one votes and B thirtyfour
– That would be a dangerous game for the supporters of B to play.
– I can show why it would not be dangerous. At the next ballot A would receive twenty-one votes, B thirty-four, C twenty-five, and E twenty. The supporters of B would run no danger in adopting these tactics, because the thirty-four votes which it would receive would be more than a third of 100. There would be four in the running, and any site receiving over twenty-five votes would safely remain in the ballot.
– E would go out t
– Quite so. At the next ballot B jumps up to its original number of forty with a few additional votes added.
– How many would it receive in the next 1
– E being out, B would be rid of its most dangerous opponent. It could beat either A or C, E being the only one which the supporters of B really feared.
– Much discipline would be necessary in order to carry out those tactics.
– And we know where to look for it.
– It would give a very fair result.
– It could not be a fair result if at the fifth ballot B had forty votes and at the sixth had only thirty-four. The system of voting which the leader of the Opposition proposes is invariably adopted by party conventions in the United States in selecting party candidates, and it has invariably proved there to be the most potent in the working of organizations and tactics in connexion with electioneering that the world has ever seen.
– That is the fault of the machines, and not of the method employed.
– It is the fault of the method employed.
– What would be the voting at the next ballot ?
– My arbitrary figures for the next ballot are A fifteen votes-
– A loss of six.
– Quite so ; the six that were temporarily transferred from B. B would receive forty-four and C forty-one votes. In the final ballot B would receive fifty-one votes and C forty-nine. I propose to point out how the danger associated with this system could be obviated. I thought, and I still think, that the best plan for honorable members to adopt would be to vote once and for all by putting the figures 1, 2, 3, and so on, opposite the names of the several sites in the order of their preference ; and I am perfectly satisfied that, on further consideration, honorable members will arrive at a conclusion that my contention is probably correct.
– The suggestion which the honorable and learned member makes is open to a serious danger, which I could point out.
– I shall come to that point. I think that honorable members should vote 1, 2, and 3 on a single ballot-paper, and that the rest should be left with the scrutineers. As an honorable member’s first preference dropped out, his second would automatically come into its place, and that is what should occur.
– It would come automatically into place if the honorable member gave it.
– Whether we voted on a single ballot-paper or by successive ballots, any honorable member who was determined to put No. 9 against X, because he was afraid of it and desired to keep it out of the running, would never vote for X from start to finish. To put No. 9 against X on the ballot-paper would be just as if no number were placed opposite to it.
– But supposing there were a second preference ?
– That is an objection to the scheme suggested by the leader of the Opposition, which does not apply to that put forward by the Government. If a certain site were every member’s second preference, it would receive no votes on the first ballot, and it therefore would be the first to drop out. The objection is equally fatal to the site which is second in the order of preference under the scheme suggested by the leader of the Opposition as it would be under any other scheme. If such a site would not get a No. 1 vote on a preference vote it would not get a No. 1 vote on a single ballot-paper. I now propose to detail my scheme and allow honorable members to point out its defects. I take it that no honorable member should alter his first preference as long as it is in the running.
– As long as he thinks that it has a chance ?
Mr.McCAY. - No ; as long as it remains in the running. While it remains in the running it has a chance. The honorable member says that no one should alter his first preference as long as he sees that it has, a chance. But how should he determine its. chances of success? From the voting, or from the speeches of honorable members?
– From the voting.
– As long as it was not last on the list it would have a chance. No member should be able to vote for any but his first choice until it had been beaten by being placed lowest upon the list. I suggest that when site M has been beaten on the first ballot, only those members who voted for it should vote on the second ballot, and the votes given for unbeaten sites still counted for those sites. A man should pin his faith to a certain site, and stick to it until it has been discarded. It may be objected that when the sites are becoming reduced in number and there are twelve or fifteen honorable members still free to vote, the others looking on, they may be assailed with good advice.
– Will they not be given an advantage over the others?
– It might be that after the result of a ballot had been seen a member might desire to change his preference.
– Why should he?
– Because he would like to vote for his second preference if he thought that his first would be beaten.
– When a site had been discarded, the members who voted for it would, under my proposal, be allowed to vote again, but other honorable members would not vote again on the second ballot, though their votes on the first ballot would be counted in the second count.
– Would the honorable and learned member allow them to know how the votes were cast on the first ballot 1
– I shall come to that in a moment. When a second site had been discarded as the result of the second ballot, the members who voted for it and no others would have the right to vote again. It may be objected that this would give opportunities for pressing upon them good advice - for remarks being made as to the chances of the other sites. To avoid that, I suggest that the only announcement to be made after the first ballot should be that site M, having received the lowest number of votes - three or whatever the number might be - those honorable members who had voted for it were entitled to vote again. Nothing more should be made known until the final determination.
– Would not the honorable and learned member allow it to be announced that the highest number of votes cast for any site was so many ?
– No. I think no announcement should be made as to the number of votes cast for any but the rejected sites until the whole of the balloting was finished. I think that some provision of that kind will be necessary if the suggestion of the leader of the Opposition is adopted. With such a modification I would prefer it to the Government method. The honorable member for North Sydney has interjected that a member might want to vote for his second preference if he saw that his first preference had no chance. The suggestion I made the other day would meet that objection. I then proposed that each member should place the figure 1 opposite his first preference, the figure 2 opposite his second preference, and so on, in order that when his first preference was defeated his vote would count for his second preference, and that when his second preference was defeated his vote would count for his third preference.
– But what about those who had placed the figure 9 against what they considered the most dangerous rival to to the site they favoured most?
– If an honorable member placed the figure 9 against a site, I take it that it would be a site for which he would not vote in any case. Let me take a, specific instance by way of illustration. There may be some honorable members who desire that Lyndhurst shall be chosen, and who would not vote for Bombala under any conceivable circumstances, while, vice versa, others would desire that Bombala should be chosen, and would not vote for Lyndhurst.
– But an honorable member who favoured Bombala might give a second preference to Lyndhurst in order to knock out Tumut.
– Yes ; although he considered Tumut the next best site to Bombala.
– That is the very condition of affairs which would arise if the method of having a series of ballots is adopted, and it is what I fear. No doubt honorable members will say, “ I know how many votes have been cast for site A, and, therefore, I shall vote so as to knock out site B, because once that site is beaten site A will have the best chance.”
– But under the honorable and learned member’s system a member would give, not his second preference, but his last preference to the site which he thought the strongest rival of that which he favoured.
– A member would place the figure 1 opposite the name of the site which he liked best, and the figure 2 against the name of the site which he liked next best.
– Not necessarily.
– He would put the figure 9 against the site which he wished to beat.
– Yes, because that would be the site for which he would have the least liking.
– It might not be. It might be the site for which he would vote if his favoured site were beaten, but which he regarded as its most dangerous rival.
– Under my system a member would have to pin himself to one site, and would be unable to change his vote to meet the varying contingencies which might arise, I admit that a member who wished to see site A chosen, and regarded site B as its most dangerous rival, would put the figure 9 against the latter, and I am not prepared to say it would be immoral to do so. But if the method of having a series of ballots is adopted, such a member would never vote for sh;e B, although he might vote for any other.
– If his favorite site were beaten, he might wish to vote for site B.
– Under my proposal, as soon as his favorite site was beaten, he could vote for site B, but he would not be at liberty to do so until site A had been beaten.
– The honorable and learned member’s method would leave the selection of the site in the hands of halfadozen members.
– How could it be said to be left in the hands of half-a-dozen members when every honorable member would have expressed his preference ? If the half-dozen did not know how the votes had been cast for the remaining sites, they would have every inducement to vote for the sites they thought best, because they would not know the effect of transferring their votes to other sites. The method of taking a series of ballots gives more opportunities for wrongdoing than any other, and unless it is’ modified, as I suggest, by allowing only those whose choice has been beaten to exercise a second preference, is a dangerous one. I am not particular as to whether the second preference is shown by marking a second ballot-paper, or by marking the order of preference upon the first ballot-paper, because the two methods are practically the same. Possibly it may be said that what I suggest as an amendment on the proposal of the leader of the Opposition is in some respects the more desirable of the two methods. I do not agree with the system of giving every member a fresh vote on each ballot, because that opens the way to possible wrong-doing ; and I have given an illustration of how the wrong can be done. I am sure honorable members know as well as I that this very system has invariably been used in all the party Conventions in the United States, and it requires very little inquiry into American politics to learn how extraordinarily thissystem may be worked by those skilful in. its use to the detriment of the true feeling, of the Convention, and in favour of the interests of a particular candidate.
– What is the honorable and. learned member’s objection to proceeding under our Standing Orders ?
– The honorable memberasks why we should not vote on each of the sites “Aye” or “No.”
– Ami then recommit.
– All the sites might be beaten on the first vote, and then, I suppose, we should have to proceed to beat them all over again, and keep on beating them.
– But we may shift our votesto the site we consider the next best.
– According to the honorable member for Wide Bay, those who voted for places which had received few votes earlier would transfer their votes to other places which seemed to have a chance. Bub that is exactly what honorable members would do, under the proposal of the leader of the Opposition, with my amendment.
– Except that honorable members would not know which werethe places with the best chance.
– That is so, and, therefore,, honorable members would have to vote for what they thought the best place, irrespective of its chances, as, I contend, we ought all todo. The only difference between the suggestion of the honorable member for Wide Bay and my suggestion is, that under the former honorable members may be induced to vote, not for what they think is the best place, but for the place which they think has the best chance. I am sorry to have detained the House so long, but I feel strongly on the matter; and I am sure honorable members, will see, on consideration, that my proposal is desirable, not because we distrust one another, but because we do not wish it to be said by the nation, which will be watching our doings during the next day or two, that there was a possibility of wrong-doing. Therefore. I recommend the proposal of the leader of the Opposition, with the proviso that only those whose sites are beaten shall vote again, because that plan will meet the exigencies of the case more fully than will any other. I do not wish to go into arithmetic, but I could show that the Government scheme lends itself to the very danger which I have described as attaching tosuccessive ballots where every member may vote again. If there were three places, A, B, and C, and the supporters of A thought that if B were out of the way they would be quite sure to beat C, they would put B third, although they believed it to be second best place. That would be doing exactly the same as could be done by transferring votes under full successive ballots. I venture to suggest to the Government the advisability of reconsidering this particular proposal. I have now exhausted my right to submit any amendment, but I hope I have made it clear to the House what I think should be done.
– If there were two sites, one northern and one southern, which had an equal number of votes, say fifteen or thirty in the first” ballot, does the honorable and learned member say that he would not callow honorable members to move their votes, but would leave the decision to the balance of the voters 1
– Undoubtedly I say that is the proper thing.
– I will not have that plan so far as I am concerned.
-There may be twenty-five honorable members who desire site A, and twenty-five who desire site B, and these “honorable members ought to be kept to their preferences until they are beaten - they have do moral right to change their preferences.
– The honorable and learned member gives no opportunity for compromise in any way.
– This is a matter of selecting what we think on the whole to be the best :site, and it is not a matter for compromise. If we were to look behind the Minister’s interjection as to compromise, we could surmise why he is in such a compromising mood to-day. I may be wrong in what I suggest, but it is my duty to express my opinion ; and, therefore, I hope that in some of the earlier sub-sections of the resolution an amendment will be made in the direction I have indicated. I do not propose myself to submit an amendment tit present, for the reason that when I moved in a similar direction a week -or two ago, I did not receive any great measure of support from honorable members ; but I have done my duty in drawing attention to the facts. We should have some system of voting which is open to as little objection as possible. There is no system to which some objection could not “be taken ; but I venture to say that my suggestion will on consideration be found open to less objection and less unkind comment than is any other likely to be submitted.
– Like the honorable and learned member for Corinella, 1 think we ought to strive to arrive at a method which is as absolutely fair as any can be. We should* especially strive to adopt some system which will stop any improper tampering with the votes of honorable members. The honorable and learned member for Corinella, in speaking in favour of his suggestion, took what to my mind is the extraordinary position that a site may be selected, although the majority of honorable members are not in favour of that site as compared with some other. The honorable and learned member arrives at that conclusion by absolutely excluding or proposing to exclude the exercise of a second preference.
– The honorable and learned member will excuse me ; but he does propose to exclude a large number of voters from a second preference. His contention is that those whose favoured site is not thrown out in the first ballot, for instance, shall have no opportunity to alter their votes, but that the second preference shall be given only to those whose sites have been thrown out.
– But if there is an absolute majority in favour of one site, that settles the matter.
– That is quite correct.
– Is the honorable member for North Sydney going to show why there should be a second preference, although an honorable member’s first preference is still an available site ?
– A man may properly say - “I prefer a given site, but if that site is thrown out, or I see that I cannot get sufficient support to carry it, then I shall vote for the site which I prefer next, and I desire to have an opportunity to do so.” That is what is done constantly in this House in the case of divisions.
– He would get an opportunity as soon as his fears were proved to be true.
– When the site which an honorable member favoured was entirely thrown out, he might have an opportunity to transfer his vote, but his second preference might have been thrown out beforehand.
– But the site which he preferred most would not have been rejected.
– Perhaps not ; but he would know that its chances were hopeless. In the same way we often recognise that it is impossible to secure that which we most desire, and therefore give our support to the proposition which we think next best. I had a great deal of admiration for the scheme which the honorable and learned member proposed on a former occasion, and if we could insure that honorable members would exercise their second preference honestly, the system would work out with good results. I recognise, however, that the second preference of an honorable member as shown by his voting would not always be in accordance with his real opinion, and, therefore, the effect desired would not be accomplished. I quite agree with the leader of the Opposition in the objections which he has urged against the proposal of the Government. I think that it offers greater opportunities for manipulation than any other plan submitted to us. The site which was regarded as the most formidable rival to that which an honorable member preferred might be placed at the bottom of the list, and in the long run we might select a site which a majority of honorable members would not regard as the best. Of all the ballot proposals which have been made, that submitted by the leader of the Opposition appears to me to offer the least opportunity for improper manipulation of votes. According to the plan suggested, an honorable member could only do one of two things with his vote. He would have only one vote, and he must support the site which he preferred at each stage of the ballot. Therefore he must either vote for that site, or, at very great risk, especially as the sites became reduced in number, give his vote to another site whichhe did not desire to see chosen.
– There would be no risk if he knew the number of votes which would be recorded in favour of each site.
– No honorable member could possibly know the number of votes in favour of any particular site, because at every fresh ballot there would be a redistribution of votes.
– If there were only four sites left, that site which obtained 25 votes out of 100 would be perfectly secure at the next ballot, and could very well spare any surplus votes.
– It would be very dangerous if two or three sites were running each other closely - and these are the sites regarding which honorable members would have to be most careful; the sites which in consequence of their superiority would obtain a large support - to try the method to which I have referred. We had an illustration from the honorable member for Corinella of what would occur under the method proposed by the leader of the Opposition. It was shown that B and C sites at the first ballot secured forty and twenty-five votes respectively, but they remained in till the last ballot, notwithstanding all the manipulation.
– The figures could be worked out to show the opposite result quite as easily.
– It would be difficult to make the figures work out in any other way, and, at the same time, to reasonably distribute the votes given in favour of the smaller sites.
– I could compile results which would be just as reasonable and work out in quite the opposite direction.
– The balloting system proposed by the leader of the Opposition appears to me to be the best.
– It is practically the same that we agreed to a fortnight ago.
– Yes. Another system has been suggested - namely, that of submitting the sites in their order, and voting for and against each. There is a grave objection to that system, because the site which was last submitted would have the best chance.
– Not if an opportunity were given for recommittal.
– Up to the stage I have indicated, the site last on the list would have the best chance. To avoid that it might be arranged that, if the sites were submitted in alphabetical order, it might be understood that the site which obtained an absolute majority, or the site which secured the largest number of votes, should be placed in the Bill. After that every other site could be proposed against the site named in the Bill in order to show that the first selection had the support of an absolute majority of honorable members, and to insure that the best site should not be rejected by accident. That would remove some of the objections raised against the system of voting by rotation, but of the ballot systems I prefer that proposed by the leader of the Opposition, which I regard as the best of those submitted.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley J. - I desire to submit a scheme by which, I think, honorable members could make a fair choice. I suggest that in the first place nine sites should be submitted, and that honorable members should be entitled to have eight votes. They would thus be called upon to leave out one site.
– Eight equal votes?
– Yes. The site which is omitted most frequently would be rejected as a result of the ballot.
– Under such circumstances, should not I leave out the name of the site which I feared most 1
– Under any scheme which may be adopted that will be done.
– Speaking roughly, that system has a tendency to knock out the “ strong “ sites, and to retain the “weak” ones.
– I thought I was dealing with this matter in a straightforward manner, but, according to the honorable and learned member for Corinella, my proposal would result in knocking out the strongest sites. Under the circumstances it seems to me that the only way in which the matter can be settled is by locking honorable members up and postponing the elections until a decision has been arrived at.
– I must ask honorable members to refrain from conversing in such a loud tone. I can quite understand that some comparison of views is necessary to facilitate a decision being arrived at, but any such comparison must be conducted in such a way as not to disturb the honorable member who is addressing the House.
– The propositions which have been submitted by the Government and by the leader of the Opposition are sufficiently familiar in theory to most honorable members, and are certainly open to considerable criticism. The same remark, however, is applicable to any method of voting that we may adopt. . We cannot possibly avoid combinations being made. They will occur anywhere short of heaven itself, and certainly in a place like this. The honorable and learned member for Corinella has put forward a scheme which I venture to think is worthy of careful consideration. There are, however,, one or two obvious objections to it, one of which was touched upon by the honorable member for North Sydney. I understand that the honorable and learned member proposes to make public only the names of those sites which are eliminated as the result of each ballot.
– I think that practice is desirable, but it is not essential. The essential feature is that each honorable member must vote again only when the site which he has favoured has been eliminated.
– Under such circumstances, suppose that I supported E site, which received the least number of votes. The Clerk would read out the total number of votes polled by E, but not the total number polled by A, B, C, and D. I should then have to record a second vote ; and it is just possible that I might record it in- favour of a site which had no chance of being selected.
– Then when that site has been eliminated from the list the honorable and learned member could vote again.
– Of course the alternative is always left to us of testing the choice which has been made by the Committee when the Bill is under consideration. But 1 fancy that the effect of the proposition of the honorable and learned member will be only to postpone the evil day. At the same time I admit that to give honorable members who voted in favour of the rejected sites an opportunity to support some other site is an eminently proper thing to do. My experience of an exhaustive ballot, however, does not coincide with that of my honorable and learned friend. In this connexion I will give the House a practical and very painful experience, from which I was the chief sufferer, some years ago. A, B, C, D, and E we will assume were persons or sites for whom other persons were asked to cast a vote. This is the way the votes were cast : - Upon the first ballot A received 6S votes, B 32, C 24, D 22, and E 6, making a total of 152 votes. E was thus defeated. The second ballot resulted in A securing 69 votes, B 36, D 25, and C 22. Upon the third ballot A received 72 votes - he had gained four votes in two ballots : B 46 - he had gained fourteen in two ballots and ten in the last, and D secured 34. In the final ballot the voting was - A 73 and D 79. What I particularly wish to point out to the honorable and learned member for Corinella is that throughout the whole of these ballots there I was no diminution in the support accorded j to A. His friends remained constant, and ; in every ballot he gained support, but the minorities at each succeeding ballot piled up . their votes in favour of D, and thus the minorities won.
– No. The majority preferred D to A, and therefore elected him.
– That is so, but the fact remains that until the last ballot there was always a majority of votes recorded in favour of A.
– The truth was never disclosed until the final ballot.
– But does not the honorable and learned member realize that combinations on the part of minorities cannot be prevented under any circumstances?
– Because they constitute a majority.
– The honorable and learned member for Corinella put forward a number of illustrations with a view to show that votes could be detached, and as a matter of fact were detached, from the individual who stood highest upon the poll, but my experience is that it is not so. Upon the whole I am inclined to support a scheme of preference voting rather than an exhaustive ballot. A preference scheme affords a very fair method of arriving at a decision. I know of no better one. Whilst admitting that there was a good deal in the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, it seems to me that his proposal is open to the objection which has been urged against it by the Minister, because it leaves to the determination of a floating vote of four or five members the question of whether A or B - say Albury or Tumut, or Bombala or Tumut - shall be selected. Personally I do not care for that system at all. I do not deny, however, that we have a fairly certain method of vetoing the selection made to which we can ultimately resort when the name of the site chosen is inserted in the Bill. It will then be within our power to alter the selection which has been made if a majority of honorable members think that the site which has been chosen is not the best one. I commend to the House the amendment suggested by my honorable friend, but I am entirely with the honorable and learned member for Corinella as to the obvious objection which he has pointed out.
– I doubt whether the procedure which is now being resorted to in this House will add to the dignity of the first Federal Parliament. The duty of selecting the site of the Federal Capital has been imposed upon us by the Constitution, and it is a duty which, I take this opportunity to say, should be discharged before the session closes. The proposition which we are now discussing is that the temporary Standing Orders under which we have so long been conducting our business shall be suspended ; but no reasonable argument has been advanced to prove that they have ever failed to enable the decision of the House to be obtained in relation to any particular question. That being so, I cannot see why they should fail on this occasion. I submit that, at the most, it would have been sufficient to slightly amend the Standing Orders, in order to enable a proper majority decision to be arrived at. I shall resist anything in the shape of a preferential ballot, or what I feel inclined to describe as fancy schemes, under which honorable members are to be gripped like children lest they should depart from what they believe the proper course. Was there anything to hinder the Government from proposing to slightly amend the Standing Orders so as to enable the nine proposed sites to be separately voted upon, and to allow the Bill to be recommitted, if, on the first divisions, the whole of the sites were negatived ? In all probability the site which I favour will be rejected on the first vote ; but if honorable members voted openly I should be able to judge at once of the view taken by them, and if I saw that the site in question . was hopelessly beaten, I should, on the second division, give my vote for the site which I placed second in the order of preference. No one would suggest that there is anything but an honest desire on the part of honorable members to select the best site.
– If the site winch the honorable member favours were a long way down the list, he would vote against all other sites which were previously submitted to the decision of the Committee.
– That would be a perfectly legitimate action to take. Only those who were prepared to support the selection of that site would vote for it. I believe that if my proposal were adopted every site would be rejected on the first vote. The Bill would then be recommitted, and we should begin the work anew. Those who desired to see finality reached would in that event allow a number of the sites to’ drop out of the running and distribute their votes amongst those which they particularly favoured. When the number had been reduced to three - and that is the stage at which a block that would prevent any decision from being arrived at is likely to occur - we could adopt the suggestion made by the honorable member for North Sydney, and insert in the Bill the name of the site which received the highest number of votes. The Government would surely not hesitate to accept that responsibility. As a matter of fact I do not think that the Ministry have recognised their proper responsibility in relation to this matter. It is the duty of an Executive to lead the House on every question, and while this is not a party matter, I hold that the Government should have submitted to the House a site recommended by the experts, leaving honorable members, if they so desired, to propose the amendment of the Bill by the substitution of the name of another site. I deeply regret the suggestion that combinations are likely to take place. I trust that nothing of the kind will occur. Nothing is more humiliating to this Parliament than the suggestion that, perhaps for the sake of defeating what honorable members are agreed is the second best site, certain members are prepared to place it last in the order of preference. I hope that there are not many honorable members who will adopt such tactics. I could understand paid advocates of particular interests or companies indulging in such a practice, but to say that representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, when called upon to arrive at a decision which must stand for all time, and be for the weal or for the woe of the Commonwealth, would tinker with their principles in this way, is a very serious charge to make. I trust that in any event we shall have nothing but open voting, that every act of every honorable member will be open to the scrutiny of the public, and that every step taken towards arriving at a decision will be known as it is taken. I shall resist the motion, and also the suggested amendment, for the very substantial reason that every attempt to depart from the
Standing Orders has led to more serious objections than have been made to the Standing Orders themselves. Why should we forsake the Standing Orders for something which is considered to be much worse? Surely we should not. carry on the business of the country in that way % We should give this matter very careful consideration. We must not fail to consider the position that may be taken up by another place, for there is grave reason to believe that, if we complicate the issue, a state of affairs will be created which may prevent the consummation of this great work by the first Federal Parliament.
– I must candidly confess that I agree with the honorable member who has just resumed his seat, that it would be far more satisfactory to decide this important question by open voting. When we remember how repeatedly honorable members have been called upon to vote openly, and for conscientious reasons have cast their votes in a way that may have given offence to their constituents, it is difficult to understand why we should not on this occasion adopt the same system. If,.however, the majority of the House decides that this question shall be settled by ballot it will be a matter for regret that the Minister in charge of the motion failed to submit a proposal that, after the number of sites had been reduced to three, a final selection should not be made until an opportunity had been given to the House to ascertain how the owners of land in the immediate vicinity of those sites were prepared to treat with the Government which desired to possess it. I cannot see how it is possible for the Federal Government if,, for example, Tumut or Bombala be selected
– Order ! The only question under discussion is the method of ballot which may take place later on. Thecost of the site to be acquired, and the question of resumption or otherwise, must be discussed at a later stage.
– In view of your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I shall say no more on this point. But if we really desire to obtain a fair and honest vote, it seems to me that the suggestion made by the honorable and learned member for Corinella should be adopted. His proposal, as I understand it, is that each honorable member shall cast one vote for the nine sites mentioned in the schedule,, and that the site which receives the least number of votes shall be declared by the scrutineers to be out of the running. Then those who voted for that site will have the right to vote again. That system seems to me to be a perfectly fair one, and would prevent any combination amongst the advocates of certain sites, in order to throw out some particular site, of whose chances they were afraid. The honorable member for North Sydney has complained that those who vote for sites other than that which receives the least number of votes will not have another opportunity to vote. But if the honorable member voted for a site which was thrown out after the third ballot, he would have an opportunity to vote on the fourth ballot. If an honorable member votes for a site which is not thrown out, he has no reason for voting again. I shall support the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella.
– At the first blush the proposal of the Government seems to be a fair one, but it has occurred to me that there maybe danger lurking beneath the apparently fair exterior, and that danger has, I think, been exposed by a number of honorable members. The honorable and learned member for Corinella has submitted, and explained very lucidly, a scientific method of voting ; but, in my opinion, we should not, upon such a great and critical occasion as this, indulge in an experiment. We should follow the beaten track. I think that the best and safest course will be to have open voting at every stage.
– If my proposal is adopted, the voting will be open, because every ballot-paper will be signed.
– I object to the limitations contained in the honorable and learned member’s system. The honorable and learned member wishes to prevent a member from changing his vote. He thinks that a member should be committed to his first preference until it has been beaten. In my opinion, a member should have an opportunity to reconsider the matter at every stage of the proceedings. There should be either a series of open ballots, the papers being handed to the Clerk, or individual propositions should be submitted one after another. If we indulge in any experiment it may land us in unexpected results. A proposal may theoretically appear fair, but in practice it may work out in such a manner as to disappoint even its most ardent supporters. 11 p
– The honorable and learned member would not say that of the principles of law. Why should he say it of the principles of mathematics?
– We are not now dealing with legal questions, but with methods of voting. I think that the best course is to have a series of exhaustive ballots. Letus play with the cards on the table, not with concealed ballot-papers. Let us have open voting at every stage. I agree with the honorable member for Wide Bay that we should stand by the Standing Orders, and adhere to the method with which we are acquainted. As I may not have another opportunity to speak upon the motion, I wish to suggest another amendment. I think that the House should be asked to choose, not the seat of Government, because that is too restricted a term, but the Federal territory within which the seat of Government is afterwards to be selected.
– All that we- are discussing now is the method by which it should be determined what name shall be inserted in the blank which exists in the Bill, and therefore, any reference to such matters as the honorable and learned member is now discussing, would find its proper place during the discussion of the measure in Committee.
– The motion provides for the choosing of a place in New South Wales -
At or near which the seat of Government of the Commonwealth should be situated.
My proposal is that the word “ territory “ be substituted for the word “place,” and that the word “ within “ be substituted for the words “at or near.”
– I cannot accept such amendments at this stage. We are now endeavouring to determine the method by which a name shall be chosen. The matters to which the honorable and learned member wishes to refer may fittingly be discussed in Committee.
– If you, sir, rule against such an amendment, I shall not persevere with it. I hope that the Government will adopt some more simple method. That proposed seems to me to be surrounded with difficulties, and with a certain amount of obscurity as to the result of adopting it. In my opinion, it would be better to have open voting at every stage in the determination of the question.
– I note with interest the various suggestions which have been made for the purpose of securing a proper vote upon this question. What we want is simply a decision by each honorable member as to what he considers the best site. Having listened to the various arguments which have been put forward, I am disposed to consider that the plan suggested by the honorable and learned member for Corinella is most likely to secure what we wish. Under the Government proposal each member will vote first for the site which he really believes to be the best, and secondly against the site whose competition he most fears. That is, he will give his ninth preference, or virtually a blackballing vote, to the most powerful rival of the site which he favours. If we provide for votingof that character, we shall make a mistake, because it is highly probable that combinations will take place in the interests of favoured sites, and that the sites will be voted upon, not according to their importance and value, but in such a way as is most likely, by getting rid of formidable rivals, to procure the selection of that which an honorable member desires shall be chosen. Whether the method proposed by the Government of allowing honorable members to indicate their order of preference by the figures one to nine, and under which an honorable member will give his first preference for the site which he wishes to have chosen and his ninth preference for that which he fears most, or whether the scheme suggested by the honorable member for Dalley of omitting the least favoured site, be adopted, the result is likely to be the same ; the second best site is liable to be struck out by a combination designed to secure the ultimate selection of some other site of which it is the most formidable opponent. I venture to think that it is a mistake to allow honorable members to cast what is virtually a blackballing vote. We do not desire to know which site an honorable member fears most ; we wish to know his honest opinion as to the best site. It seems to me that we can only get such an expression of opinion by limiting the voting to that subject alone. That I understand is the object of the method suggested by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and I shall be delighted to support it if the Government can see their way to adopt it. I think that we shall make a mistake if we provide for a form of voting which will not be exercised so as to honestly place the sites in the order in which each honorable member thinks they should stand. If the Government proposal is adopted, an honorable member will, in a great many cases, give his ninth preference for the site which he considers the next best after that which he favours, and fears as its most dangerous rival.
– If it is apparent from the ballot-papers that an honorable member has done that, will not the fact afford a justification for moving, when we get the Bill into Committee, the insertion of another site?
– How could it be proved that an honorable member considered a site to which he had given his ninth preference the next best site to that which he had given his first preference?
– It would be impossible to enter into such an investigation. Besides, we desire finality. Let every honorable member vote for the site which he considers best, and let us take from him the power to blackball the site which he fears most because of its claims to popular support.
– What would the right honorable member do if an equal number of votes were cast for two or more sites?
– I do not know if the Speaker will be entitled to vote in the ballot, but if he is not, I would allow the decision to remain with him, as in the ordinary cases in which there is an equality of votes. No doubt, the Government will propound a scheme to meet the case. I hope that whatever scheme is adopted, care will be taken that the fullest attendance of honorable members is obtained. There is a fairly full House to-day, but upon inquiry I found that only fifty-eight of the seventy-five members are present.
– How often do we get more here?
– I do not know that we often have a larger attendance, but I suggest that after the method of voting has been determined, a day should be set apart for the taking of the vote, and that notice of the intention to take a vote then should be given to honorable members.
– When - nextyear?
– No ; I am thoroughly in earnest in this suggestion. Perhaps we should have come to a decision upon the subject before, but, at any rate, the sooner we settle it the better. Some day next week might be chosen.
– That will postpone the elections another week in December.
– What is a week in connexion with the settlement of such an important matter?
– Honorable members knew that this question was to be dealt with, and they should have been here.
– I came over for the special purpose of recording my vote, but, of course, there are some honorable members who are unable to be present.
– The same thing would apply next week.
– I am only pleading the cause of the absent. It is desirable that we should secure a decision which shall fully reflect the opinions of both branches of the Legislature, and I therefore suggest that a time should be appointed at which we should have nothing to do but to consider the question of the exhaustive vote and its exercise. I venture to think that it would be strange indeed if a full House did not answer a summons in order to secure the decision of this the most interesting question in the history of Australia. We all have our own views in matters of this kind. I have mine, and I shall be glad to see effect given to them. If, however, the majority of honorable members are against me, I shall bow as pleasantly as possible to the decision of the House. All I ask is that every means should be taken to secure an honest expression of the wishes of honorable members, and the selection of the best site in the interests of the Commonwealth. I trust that we shall adopt a system of voting which will afford honorable members an opportunity of arriving at a decision to which effect will be given at the earliest possiblemoment.
– I hope that honorable members will not agree to the suggestion made by the right honorable and learned member for South Australia, that we should fix a daynext week for thevotingupon the selection of the capital site. It is quite true that a number of members are absent, but I can assure the right honorable and learned member that next week the number of absentees will be considerably larger, because every representative from the more distant States is practically bound to go away almost at once. In view of the fact that the elections will come on in the course of a few weeks from now, it is not fair that they should have been kept even so long. Every honorable member knew well enough that the capital site question was to be decided this week, and, although I do not wish to rush matters before to-morrow, I think that we should insist upon disposing of the question this week.
– Three representatives of New South Wales are away.
– Perhaps so; but they knew that this matter would come on for decision this week, andthey should have been here.
– A number of honorable members attended here specially this week for the purpose of voting upon the Capital question.
– I have waited for a fortnight already.
Mr.WATSON. - Other members are also remaining here at great disadvantage to themselves. With regard to the question at issue, it seems that the more we discuss novel methods of accomplishing our object, the more likely we are to become confused. Personally, I do not know why we should rediscuss the question in view of the decision arrived at nearly a fortnight ago. We then decided that there should be an open exhaustive ballot for the purpose of arriving at a decision at a joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament. There is no need to discuss a number of other proposals, which, however en tertaining they may be, will not afford us any assistance. I trust that the open exhaustive ballot, which the leader of the Opposition has advocated, and to which we agreed a fortnight ago, will be again approved of. With that end in view, I am prepared, if necessary, to move an amendment..
– The honorable member does not propose a preferential ballot ?
Mr.WATSON. - No, I object most distinctly to preferential voting. I do not propose to argue the matter, because we have had a long discussion this afternoon, and the House on a former occasion, by a large majority, approved - against my vote upon some details - of an open exhaustive ballot. I think we are wasting time in casting around among a number of expedients, the defects of which have been amply demonstrated by their proposers as well as by others.
– The honorable member cannot propose an amendment until we reach the Committee stage.
– I am prepared to wait until then, if necessary. Might I ask, Mr. Speaker, if I should be in order in moving an amendment at this stage?
– I know nothing of any proposal to go into Committee. It would be quite competent for the honorable member to move an amendment now ; but at the same time I am bound to tell the House that if it desires to go into Committee there are ways in which it can accomplish its object.
– If the Government are willing to go into Committee, I should prefer to move my amendment then.
– If it be the general desire of the House that the motion should be discussed in Committee, I would suggest that perhaps it would be better for me to submit the first two paragraphs together, and that paragraph 3 should then be amended to provide that the House resolve itself into a Committee to consider the paragraphs which fellow.
– Do I understand that if we agree to the first two paragraphs of the motion we shall be bound to come to a decision at a particular hour to-morrow ? I do not desire to come to any decision just now.
– If the first two paragraphs of the motion are passed, they will not bind the House to go into Committee at any particular hour to-morrow.
Question proposed -
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That paragraph 3 be amended by the omission of all the words after “That,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the House do now resolve itself into a Committee of the whole to consider the resolutions, and to determine the method of selection, and that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the House from adopting such method.”
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee :
A preferential ballot shall be taken without debate in the following manner : -
Mr. WATSON (Bland). - I move-
That the words “An open exhaustive” be inserted before the word “A,” line 1.
In view of the extent to which the ques tion has already been debated, I do not consider it necessary to say anything further in favour of the proposition.
– I can only repeat what was stated on a previous occasion, namely - that I fear that the adoption of the system proposed will sound the death knell of some of the best sites. There will probably be a block vote in favour of a site on the Victorian border, say Bombala, and also a block vote for a northern site, and these two groups will absorb all but five or six, or perhaps ten, of the votes in the House. This small balance will have to be distributed over seven sites. How is it possible, under these circumstances, to provide against the rejection of some of the best intermediate sites?
– We must eliminate some of them.
– Yes, no doubt ; but I venture to think that the honorable member for Bland does not realize the effect of his proposal. It will result in the rejection of some of the best sites at the very outset, and will not give honorable members a fair opportunity to express their preference. I do not see how fair play can be meted out to each site under the system proposed, and, if I find that any injustice is done, I shall go further afterwards.
– We all want fair play.
– No doubt; but honorable members do not realize the serious results which may follow from the adoption of the plan proposed. The block votes in favour of one site in the north and one site in the south will absorb all but about ten votes, and the seven sites would receive one or two votes each, or perhaps some of them would receive no votes whatever.
– If a site cannot secure more support than two or three votes, it should be dropped.
– I think that the proposal of the Government would insure fair treatment for all the sites, because it would give honorable members an opportunity, upon the rejection of their first choice, to vote for any other site which might stand second in their estimation. I do not see how the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella could be worked out in order to secure fair treatment, because it would leave the whole decision in the hands of half-a-dozen members. I cannot do more than point out the evil results which may be brought about by the proposal of the honorable member for Bland. I hope that after discussion he will see fit to withdraw it. The preferential method of voting is not without its faults, but I do not see how any perfect system could be devised. I have devoted a great deal of time to this question, with a view to arriving at some system which would prevent combinations from operating to the disadvantage of a site which might upon a preferential ballot secure the greatest share of support. I do not know of any method by which combinations can be prevented. I trust that honorable members will not agree to this proposal without thoroughly inquiring into its probable effect.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella).- I move-
That the amendment be amended by adding the following words: - “In which no member shall vote a second time until the site for which he first voted has been struck out.”
– Let each honorable member vote so long as he votes the same way. The proposal of the honorable and learned member will shut us out altogether.
– If an honorable member votes the same way upon each ballot his vote will represent so much useless repetition.
– If there are separate ballots his vote will not count.
– Yes, it will, and the votes recorded by honorable members in favour of sites which are eliminated from the list will be added to those for. the sites which still remain. The original vote of each honorable member will be counted at every ballot until it becomes necessary for him to cast a fresh vote, owing to the site which he favoured having been defeated.
– Would the honorable and learned member allow him a second preference?
– Under my suggestion each honorable member would vote for a particular site, and that vote would stand good until the site in question stood lowest upon the poll. He would then be called upon to vote for any one site amongst those which still remained. Personally I should prefer that the number of votes cast in favour of the respective sites should not be known to him.
– We should thus get the strength of the Committee on the point.
– I think that the adoption of the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella will insure the greatest majority in favour of any particular site. I trust that the Committee will accept that proposal, and thus secure what we all desire, namely, a selection by a substantial and absolute majority.
– I was disposed to regard the suggestion of the Minister with considerable favour. That, however, was only on the assumption that every honorable member would vote in accordance with his convictions, and would place the different sites in what he judged to be their proper order of merit. ButI think the objection which has been urged by the leader of the Opposition is fatal to it. I fear that honorable members who favour a particular site will place the most dangerous rival to that site the lowest upon the list, and thus assist in its defeat. Of all the proposals which have been suggested, that which has been recommended by the leader of the Opposition, in the form in which the honorable and learned member for Corinella proposes to amend it, is the safest and most likely to secure an expression of the real feeling of the House. Each honorable member will vote for the site which he believes to be best, and his vote will not be interfered with until that site has been defeated. I certainly favour the proposal that those honorable members who vote for sites which are eliminated should not be allowed to know the number of votes which have been cast in favour of the other sites until the whole question has been settled. They will sign their ballot-papers, and the manner in which they have voted will be known at the proper time. Thus they cannot be influenced by any desire to checkmate a particular site in favour of another. If they are unaware of the votes recorded in favour of different sites, when the site which they have supported has been eliminated, they will naturally support the site which they regard as the next best. To my mind that is a course which is open to least objection, and which is calculated to secure an expression of the real choice of honorable members.
– If we do that we cannot have open voting.
– Yes we can, because the way in which we cast our votes will be known at the proper time. I think it is very wise that as we proceed the least possible opportunities should be afforded for combinations. That, it appears to me, will be best secured by keeping each honorable member whose site has been defeated in ignorance of how many supporters each of the other sites command. I trust that the proposal will be carried.
– I really cannot see any argument in favour of the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. To my mind it is really a proposal to stultify our own action. Why should we not be perfectly free in this matter? In voting at a general election I can understand the proportional vote coming in, because nobody can possibly foretell what the result will be. But here we are in a position to know at every ballot how the matter stands as a whole. Why should not every honorable member be in a position to reverse his vote? The proposal, to my mind, is absolutely ridiculous.
– That is a favorite argument which the honorable member uses against every proposal with which he does not agree.
– I did not mean to be offensive. The honorable and learned member desires to define a hard and fast principle which shall guide us in the morality of outvotes. There may be conditions after the first ballot which nobody can possibly foresee. Surely it is a fair thing that every honorable member shall be able to take any new position which may arise into consideration, and to reverse his vote if he so chooses?
– Has that anything to do with the question of which is the best site?
– No one has a right to say that because an honorable member gives a certain vote under certain conditions he shall be prevented from reversing that vote subsequently. I hold that he should have that right. If the Committee wishes to stultify itself it will agree to the proposal of the honorable and learned member. Of course I could understand his position if his object were to save time. But on this occasion there is no necessity to save time. It would be far better to lose time than to stultify our action.
– I did not advocate it on the ground that it would effect a saving of time.
– That is the only argument that I can see in favour of it. There is no method of voting that we can adopt which will not be open to objection. Under any proposal certain action may be taken by honorable members which, judged by the principles of strict morality, may not be approved. At the same time the House has a right to give every honorable member at each ballot an opportunity to reconsider the entire position and to vote accordingly.
– When the resolutions dealing with the method of voting which should be adopted ‘in connexion with the selection of the Capital site were previously under consideration, considerable attention was devoted to the matter, and the same objections were urged then which are advanced to-day. On that occasion, however, we practically agreed that the future seat of government should be chosen by means of an exhaustive ballot. I see no reason to depart from that decision, especially as in connexion with the resolutions under discussion we have provided a safety valve by means of which, after the Committee have inserted in the Bill the name of the site chosen, it will be competent for any honorable member who does not regard it as reflecting the opinion of an absolute majority, to move that it be struck out. .
– And thus have the fight over again ?
– No. But it will be open to any honorable member to test -the matter. The original proposal of the Government I think contains more objectionable features than does any other scheme which has been submitted. There may be objections urged to the proposal of the leader of the Opposition also, but underlying all of them there seems to be a suspicion that combinations will be arranged. That is the whole source of- the trouble. Concerning the addendum which is now proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, I merely desire to say that I object to restricting in any shape or form the action of honorable members, in view of varying circumstances which may arise. If I had the option I should certainly prefer that the field of selection should be reduced to three territories, aad that before coming to a decision some further information should be obtained in respect of those territories. I certainly shall not vote to restrict the rights of honorable members in the slightest degree. I should not at any time support any proposal that would restrict the rights of honorable members with regard to the varying conditions under which they might be called upon to exercise their judgment.
– Does the honorable member think that members are likely to have temporary preferences ?
– All preferences are temporary. The honorable member might exercise his discretion in one direction today, whereas to-morrow, under different circumstances, he would probably exercise it in an entirely opposite way. He would be less than human and be lacking in progressive ideas if he did not do so. For these reasons I shall not support the amendment. The Government proposition is more objectionable than is the open exhaustive ballot suggested by the leader of the Opposition, and the scheme actually adopted by this House some days ago, when it was proposed that the two Houses should meet in conference.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I am opposed to the amendment, for the reason that it provides for a secret ballot. Whatever else we do, all our actions, to the ultimate point of final settlement, ought to be open to the scrutiny of the public.
– The amendment does not suggest a secret ballot.
– The honorable and learned member’s proposal is that when the votes have to be transferred, the work should be done without a knowledge of the number of votes recorded for each site.
– I have not yet moved that amendment.
– But the honorable and learned member intends to do so.
– What I have moved will, perhaps, be carried without the addition that I intend to propose later on.
– The more I hear of these ballot schemes the more I consider them to be unnecessary. I prefer the ordinary method of parliamentary procedure, and I agree with the honorable member for Wide Bay that it is the least open to objection. I fail to see why we should not be able to submit each site to a straightout vote until one has received an absolute majority. Under that system the name of the site which received an absolute majority of votes would be inserted in the Bill, and it should then be open to honorable members to move amendments pitting every other site against it. If the site named in the Bill could not stand against any other which might be pitted against it by way of amendment, it would have no right to be there. If the adoption of trie ordinary parliamentary rule caused some temporary inconvenience - if, for example, every site were negatived - it would then be time enough to resort to an open ballot. I cannot understand why the Government did not wait until the ordinary system had been exhausted before putting forward this scheme. The more I consider it, the more the ordinary rule of procedure seems to be less open to objection than any of the schemes which have been proposed. That is my attitude at the present moment ; but if I am compelled to make a choice of these ballot schemes, I shall vote for that which more closely approximates the usual parliamentary procedure, namely, the suggestion made by the leader of the Opposition. I submit, however, that the ordinary parliamentary procedure is preferable to even that proposition. I hope that the House will yet decide to resort to it, and sweep away all these ballot schemes. We should have a fair straight-out vote on every site by the best of all methods.
Mr. REID (East Sydney ).- The time has arrived when the Minister for Defence should give us the benefit of his views on these proposals. I am not particularly partial to Bombala ; but it is time that those who have pinned their faith to it should see some evidence of an open advocacy on the part of the Minister for Defence of the particular merits of that site. We see the Minister for Trade and Customs, who has two suggested sites in his electorate, going round the Chamber and arranging matters.
– But the Minister for Defence, who represents Bombala, is doing nothing. This is not a party question, and Ministers on this occasion should have no feelings of delicacy in revealing the fact that they do not agree upon it. If the Minister for Defence has given up the claims of Bombala and is co-operating with the Minister for Trade and Customs, the sooner the Committee is acquainted with that fact, the better it will be.
– I am afraid that the right honorable member is not discussing the question before the Committee.
– I shall not at present press this phase of the question. I would suggest to the honorable and learned member for Corinella that there is a practical inconvenience associated with his amendment. The ballots would be separate operations, and, as I apprehend his proposal, as long as a site for which an original vote had been given remained on the list, it would be necessary for the clerks to turn to the original ballot-papers after each ballot.
– They would keep them in separate heaps, and add fresh ones from time to time.
– Quite so. But does the honorable and learned member mean that if a member who at the first ballot had exercised his right in favour of a site found on the second ballot that-
– But his vote would be kept and still counted.
– Exactly. But we might have half-a-dozen ballots, during which a vote given on the first ballot but not on the sixth would still be reckoned.
– It is done on a very large scale in Tasmania.
– No doubt when one becomes accustomed to systems of this kind, they are all right ; but some of us would find this a very novel procedure. We have never been impressed with these novelties.
– It simply means that the scrutineer does not allow the papers to blow away.
– I think the amendment is doomed, and therefore I need say no more.
– In my opinion the honorable member for Corinella has justice on his side. Every other proposition which has been made would lead to a system under which an effort would be made not only to select the best site, but simultaneously to blackball a dangerous rival site. That would be an evil, and it exists even in connexion with a straightout system of voting. If a straight-out vote were taken as to the merits of a site which an honorable member considered to be a rival to the site that he favoured, he would vote against it, although he would be inclined to support its selection if the site which he favoured were out of the running. On these grounds we ought to get rid of the pernicious principle of blackballing a rival site, and I have heard of no system which would so well obviate that evil as would the proposal submitted by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. To my mind it is like the principle of the law regulating marriage : one has nothing to do with the second choice until the first is dead and gone.
– That does not follow.
– If it does not it should do so. My plain duty is to bring my best judgment to bear upon the selection of a site, and when I vote for one I certainly should not have the right to vote for another, so long as my original vote is counted. The moment the site for which I have voted is rejected, I should have the right to exercise another choice. The only objection which I have heard to that principle is that possibly the site which I would place second in the order of preference would in those circumstances be already out of the list ; but if that took place under this system the site would be one that from the first had had so remote a chance of success that I might well make another selection. If my first choice happened to be rejected, I could only do my best with the remaining material at my disposal, and cast my vote for the site which I considered to be next in the order of merit. I shall support the amendment as one which suggests the fairest way out of the difficulty.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).I disagree with the view put forward by the honorable member for South Sydney, for the reason that, in my opinion, we could not do better than adopt the ordinary exhaustive ballot, under which the site receiving ing the lowest number of votes at each ballot would be thrown out until a final selection had been made. The honorable and learned member for Corinella has spoken at length upon a system which he calls his own, but which is really a very old one.
– I never claimed that it was an original scheme.
– It is one which he submitted to the consideration of the House some time ago, but which was rejected. About that time it was reported that, at a meeting held by a section of this House, it was decided that the members of that section should adopt the block-vote system in dealing with this question. If that report be correct, the honorable and learned member’s amendment has certainly something to recommend it to that provincial section.
– If the meeting was held I did not receive any notice of it. I was not present at it.
-Let me tell the honorable and learned member that it has been reported that a block vote is to be cast by a section of the House in a certain direction. If that be so, it is perfectly certain that, voting in the dark, as we from New South Wales should be doing under the system suggested by the honorable and learned member, the block vote would be safe, as we should be defeated in detail. Honorable members would not be able to transfer their vote with any knowledge of what had been done, and hence the block-vote system which the honorable and learned member’s proposal favours would undoubtedly carry the day.
– What system would get rid of the block-vote difficulty ?
– There is an objection to every system, but that which is least objectionable is the simple system which I have just advocated. I trust that it will be adopted.
Question - That the words proposed to be added to the amendment be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- If the method proposed by the honorable member for Bland is found to act unjustly to any site which had a genuine chance of being selected, we shall have another opportunity of pitting that site against the selected site. We shall not be bound by the decision we come to now.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Watson) agreed to.
That the words “ A preferential,” line 1 , be omitted.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- Now that the Committee has somewhat altered the procedure laid down by the Government, I suggest to the Minister that some modification of the provision to meet the case in which there may happen to be two last sites may be necessary. I do not know what method we could adopt. I should like to protect the Chair from the very invidious task which it is proposed to cast upon it. Of course the Chairman often gives a vote which leads to further consideration, but that is an entirely different matter. In. this case his vote would have .the effect of extinguishing the chance of a site, and would afford no opportunity for further consideration. We shall have to make up our minds how we shall act if two or three sites received an equal number of votes.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- Paragraph b will require to be amended to bring it into consonance with the amendment, agreed to in the previous paragraph.
Paragraph b amended to read as follows : -
Members shall place a cross opposite the name of the site for which they desire to vote, and shall sign the paper.
Amendment (by Mr. McCay) agreed to -
That the words “ first preferences,” paragraph d, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ votes.”
Paragraph e amended to read as follows : -
If no site receives an absolute majority of votes, then the name of the site receiving the smallest number of votes shall be reported to the House and shall be struck out.
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- The leader of the Opposition referred to the course to be adopted in regard to two or more sites which might receive an equal number of votes. Paragraphf provides that in such an event the Speaker shall ascertain by a show of hands which of such sites should, in the opinion of honorable members, be struck out. That clause was inserted in order to decide the order of preference.
M r. McCay. - It will not do to allow the paragraph to stand in its present form.
That in paragraphf the word “total,” twice occurring, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ number of votes” ; that the words “ largest sum placed opposite the name of any of the sites” be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ smallest.”
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay).- I move-
That after the word “shall,” first occurring, paragraphf, the words “determine by his casting vote,” be inserted.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I entertain a very strong objection to putting Mr. Speaker in the position in which the adoption of this amendment would place him. When a tie occurs in the House, Mr. Speaker invariably votes upon a fixed principle which affords honorable members another opportunity to reconsider the matter at issue. Except on very rare occasions, no Speaker has acted upon any principle other than that. But we are now discussing a matter upon which, if we follow the ordinary practice,’ the action of Mr. Speaker would extinguish a site from the consideration of the House. I do not think that we should place Mr. Speaker in that position. We should settle the matter for ourselves.
Questions arising in the House of Representatives shall be determined by a majority of votes other than that of the Speaker. The Speaker shall not vote unless the numbers are equal, and then he shall have a casting vote.
Mi-. REID.- I think that the honorable member for Wide Bay has invited our attention to a difficulty which may arise, and from that stand-point it is well that he has done so. When I interjected whilst he was speaking, I did not contemplate the position of a tie occurring whilst Mr. Speaker was sitting in the chair of this House. I had a Committee vote in my mind, but I see that this will take place in the House. I am glad that the honorable member has moved this amendment, because it will provide a way of avoiding the difficulty.
– The leader of the Opposition has raised a point which I had intended to bring before the Committee. If the question is to be dealt with in the House, why should we depart from the ordinary procedure by taking a show of hands 1 Why should we not have a properly recorded division ? Even if the matter were to be dealt with in Committee, there would be no valid reason for taking a show of hands. I prefer the ordinary open process of dividing the Committee. I ask the Minister to consider the matter, and clearly place before the Committee the procedure to be ultimately adopted. If the vote is to be taken in the House, Mr. Speaker will be guided by the section in the Constitution which determines that in certain cases he shall have a casting vote, and there is no reason why our decisions should not be recorded by a division in the ordinary way.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay).- The amendment undoubtedly proposes a vital departure from the Government proposition. I dislike, as much as does the honorable member for Kooyong, the suggestion that there should be a show of hands ; but the main principle involved is whether Mr. i Speaker should carry out the duties which ! are constitutionally assigned to him, and, in the exercise of the high office which he adorns, give his casting vote when the voting is equal. If, to take an extreme I case, the voting on all the sites were equal, should we continue to refer the matter back to the Committee for further consideration t That would be an impossible position to take up. There is a constitutional way of settling such difficulties, and we have elected as Speaker an honorable member whom we consider to be best fitted to give a decision in the way proposed by me. I have waited patiently to hear the leader of the Opposition suggest a way out of the difficulty. The right honorable gentleman is fairly astute, and he admits that there is a difficulty. I do not wish to embarrass Mr. Speaker, and if he can vote I shall not object.
– It is not very important. This relates only to the site lowest on the list.
– But they might all be equal.
– We do not wish to occupy the whole day in dealing with this matter.
– The honorable member must exercise some patience. The late Prime Minister said that this was the most important matter that had ever come before the Parliament, and before we enter upon the work of selecting a site, we should know exactly the method of procedure to be adopted. If it were open to the nextParliament to alter our decision in regard to the site of the capital I should not be so anxious in regard to this question ; but our decision will be final, and we should, therefore, be careful to provide the most complete machinery to secure a proper decision.
– If the honorable member will temporarily withdraw his amendment. I shall move to omit the word “ Speaker “ and insert in lieu thereof the word “ House.” I shall subsequently move to strike out other words in the paragraph.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the word “Speaker,” paragraph (f), be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ House.”
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay). - In view of the fact that some of our .standing orders have been abrogated by the passing of this resolution, and that in these circumstances, Mr. Speaker may not have a casting vote, I should like to have the opinion of the leader of the Opposition on the question whether the ordinary rules will apply.
– The Constitution gives Mr. Speaker a casting vote.
– That being so, Mr. Speaker, if the voting in the House be equal, will have a casting vote, and I therefore shall not again submit my amendment.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the words “03’ a show of hands,” paragraph (f) be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “in the customary manner.”
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- Let us consider what the customary method would be. If A, B and C were at the bottom of the list, the first question to be put would be “That A be omitted.” That procedure would be somewhat unfair to that site, because the supporters of B and C would vote for the motion in order to keep their sites in the running. Nevertheless, as they would all be at the bottom of the list, it is not a matter of so much importance as it would otherwise be.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the word “largest,” paragraph (;/), be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “smallest.”
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- This is somewhat vague, but I suppose it will be quite understood that the proposal involves a ballot in which each site will be removed one by one from the list.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the word “ total,” paragraph (;/), be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ number of votes.”
That the words “ first preferences,” paragraph (</), be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ votes.”
That the words “ the first preferences,” pat :1.graph (h), be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “votes.”
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I wish to suggest to the Minister that it would be wise to provide that the number of votes recorded for each site be reported after each ballot, so that honorable members may know how the voting has gone.
– The motion has been drafted so as to provide that they shall not be so reported.
– Is the Minister prepared to insert a provision making it clear that they shall be reported 1 I think that that should be done.
– If it is not done, the ballot will really be a secret one, whereas we have provided for an open ballot.
– I hope that the Committee realize the importance of the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Bland. A feature common to both the methods of balloting which have been under consideration this afternoon is, that after each ballot the number of votes cast for each site need not be disclosed, but that only the site which has been discarded shall be indicated, so as to leave honorable members free to vote upon the true merits of the proposed sites apart from other considerations. If the voting for each site is disclosed after each ballot, an opportunity will be given for combination, and the transfer of votes for the purpose of excluding certain sites from the contest. I do not say that that may not be done with defensible motives.
– If an honorable member sees that the site he favours has no chance of being selected, why should he not be allowed to transfer his preference to some other site ?
– The Government would like all votes to be cast for the sites absolutely upon their merits, and without reference to other considerations. I am not arguing against publicity. The ballotpapers will be signed, and at the conclusion of the balloting they will be laid upon the table, so that it will be known how each honorable member voted. But I am opposed to immediate publicity after each vote. I think that a more impartial vote upon the plain merits of the sites will be obtained if honorable members know nothing as to the votes already cast. It seems to me most important that honorable members should vote upon the sites according to their advantages, rather than with a view to excluding rival sites.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- This is a very important matter, but in my opinion the Committee have already decided in favour of the view taken by the honorable member for Bland. We have decided that the ballot shall be an open one, bub if the honorable member’s suggestion is not agreed to we shall really have seven secret ballots and one open ballot, because a ballot must be regarded as secret if the result is not immediately made known. Cannot we trust ourselves? Are we a deliberative assembly, orcan we be trusted to vote properly only while we are kept in the dark as to the result of our voting ? The spirit of democracy is opposed to secrecy, and in favour of everything being done publicly and openly - not in favour of our transactions being made public only at convenient seasons.
– Would the right honorable member allow enough time between the ballots to enable honorable members to examine all the ballot-papers ?
– We must assume that the counting will be correct, but some honorable members favour the keeping of the result of the balloting secret until the last ballot has been taken. That is the old despotic doctrine - that the authorities should decide what it is needful to make public, and when it should be disclosed. I urge that we should not show a want of confidence in ourselves, and vote in the dark like a pack of children, but rather that we should act with full knowledge, and discharge our responsible duties knowing exactly what we are about.
– We shall not have full knowledge even if the suggestion of the honorable member for Bland is agreed to, because we shall not know how each honorable member votes.
– I am willing to agree to even that disclosure if honorable members think it necessary. In order that we may have a definite decision on the point raised by the honorable member for Bland, I move -
That the following paragraph be inserted : - “(h2) The total number of votes given for each site shall be reported to the House after each ballot.”
Amendment agreed to.
– I desire that it shall be made perfectly clear that in choosing a name to be inserted in the Bill we shall not be taken to have decided upon any particular site, but merely upon a district or a territory. Almost all the proposed sites are contiguous to towns, which means that their catchment areas are in many cases polluted, and, if a town itself be resumed, will mean a large expenditure in the resumption, not only of the town allotments but of the surrounding land, the value of which has been largely increased by the presence of population. We all know that the situation of an Australian township has generally been determined by the fact that some man has found a cross-roads, or the bank of a liver from which it is con- ivenient to draw water, a suitable place for ‘ an accommodation-house, and other persons 1 have followed his example, until eventu- j ally a considerable population has settled ‘ there. The choice being thus acciden- tal and dependent upon the needs or i peculiarities of an individual, important I considerations, such as water supply and drainage, are left out of sight. But the Federal Capital should be located where, if possible, it may be supplied with water by gravitation, and can be drained most advantageously and at least cost. In Sydney we have an example of the manner in which the requirements of the future, in respect to water supply and drainage and other important considerations were disregarded in the first instance. If we place the Capital on a site contiguous to a country town, we shall probably place it in a situation which has been badly chosen. Moreover, the existence of a country town within the Federal territory would be, not an advantage, but a disadvantage. It is idle to contend that it is only within close proximity to the towns which have been named that suitable sites can be found. I have already pointed out that the erection of the towns which have formed the agitating points in connexion with the Capital site question was merely a matter of accident. I desire to emphasize the necessity and wisdom of fixing the Federal Capital in a locality where land can be obtained at the cheapest rate, where an ample water supply can be secured at the smallest cost, and where the countryside has not already been disfigured by the establishment of towns or polluted by the presence of population.
– The honorable member will have to go to Tibooburra in order to find the conditions he desires.
– I do not think so. All these matters are comparative, and it would be unwise for us to incur the expense of resuming town lands, or to choose a site already rendered valuable by the presence of population. Upon the occasion of the visits of inspection paid to Albury, Bathurst, Armidale and so on, honorable members and the Commissioners have had their attention directed to places contiguous to the towns, and most favoured by the residents of the locality. These sites would involve the greatest outlay for resumption. If a site were chosen contiguous to the town of Albury it would cost £297,000.
Mi-. Thomas. - What does the honorable member suggest?
– My suggestion is that the term “district” should be used instead of “ site,” and I would define the word “ district “ as meaning within a radius of sixty miles.
– The districts would then overlap each other in some cases.
– I do not think that that is material.
– If the districts did overlap they might cover some of the rejected sites.
– I “do not think that that would be any disadvantage. Having chosen the locality in Southern Monaro, Eastern Riverina, or the Tumut district, or elsewhere, we might leave the site to be chosen within the limits of the district.
– Why not substitute the word “district.” for “site” without introducing the sixty-mile limitation, and then leave the selection of the site to the experts ?
– Some confusion might arise in connexion with the definition of the term “district,” because there are land districts bearing the names of the proposed sites.
– In one instance the word “place” is used, and in another the expression “ at or near “ is employed. Those terms would be difficult to define, and therefore I thought it well to define the term “ district “ in the way I have proposed. I take it for granted that honorable members will not consider the question of an extra- hour or two which they might have to spend in the train in travelling from Melbourne or Sydney to the capital, and that they will not sacrifice the interests of Australia to any local considerations. Therefore, if we state that a site shall be selected within sixty miles of Tumut or Bombala, or any other locality that may be chosen, we shall probably secure a more eligible spot than if we adopt a more limited definition. Having once chosen the district, we should eliminate all those’ elements of complication which now exist. I am free to admit that some honorable members may think that the sixty-mile limit would, perhaps, permit of the selection of a site close to the Victorian border.
– Does the honorable member contemplate that the distance shall extend sixty miles on every side from the site mentioned ?
– Yes; anywhere within sixty miles of the site named.
– That would be far too much to allow.
– What reason is there in an argument of that kind ?
– What reason is there in making a selection at .all 1
– By selecting the district we shall get rid of the existing conflict of interests.
– If the sixty-mile limit were adopted the proposed districts would overlap in two or three cases.
– What harm could follow if they did ? In all probability the western sites would overlap, but that would be immaterial.
– We might reject two of the sites, and then include them again within another “district.”
– I do not see that that would be any great disadvantage. If the Western districts did overlap we should have an opportunity of choosing the best site in that locality.
– I am afraid that the honorable member is anticipating the debate in connexion with the second clause of the Bill which deals with the question of the site and states that it shall be “at or near” one of the places named in the schedule. It will be competent for the honorable member to move an amendment for the addition of a name to the schedule or to excise a name, but he cannot move an amendment such as he has indicated.
– All I desire to do is to add the word “district” after the names of the sites. The Albury site, as we understand it, is virtually the town of Albury. I then propose to define the term “district” as within sixty miles of the town mentioned.
– The honorable member cannot do that at this stage, because he will be anticipating the discussion on the second ‘clause of the Bill.
– Do you rule, Mr. Chairman, that the schedule’ cannot be amended?
– No : but I rule that the honorable member cannot move an amendment of the kind indicated by him, because it would anticipate the discussion upon the Bill.
– I maintain that these are resolutions upon which the Bill is to be founded, and surely I am in order in proposing to amend them.
– The second clause of the Bill provides that the seat of government shall be “at or near” one of the sites indicated in the schedule, and it will be competent for the honorable member to introduce his amendment in the Bill.
– Would there be any objection to submitting the question to the Speaker for his ruling ?
– None whatever.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- These resolutions are intended to devise a means of arriving at a decision with regard to the site, and the necessary legislative provisions will be embodied in the Bill. Perhaps the honorable member might, in the schedule, define the meaning of “ site “ as being an area within sixty miles of such and such a place. That might be relevant.
– That is what I desire to do.
– The mere addition of the word “district” to the word “Albury” seems relevant.
– Perhaps instead of inserting the word “ district “ I maybe permitted to add the words “ at or within sixty miles” in connexion with Albury, and similar words in connexion with Armidale and the other sites
– I am sorry that I am unable to comply with the wishes of the honorable member. I am bound by the Standing Orders. The honorable member must not anticipate the discussion of the Bill. The honorable member will have’ an opportunity of defining the word “district” when the Bill is under consideration.
– I should like to obtain the decision of Mr. Speaker upon the question whether it would be in order for me to propose an amendment to add the word “ district “ after “ Albury,” or the words “ within sixty miles of Albury.”
– Is it the pleasure of the Committee that the matter be submitted to Mr. Speaker?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
In the House :
- Mr. Speaker, with the concurrence of the Committee a point of order has been referred to you for your decision. During the course of his remarks the honorable member for Richmond intimated that he desired to amend the resolutions by the addition of the word “ district “ to each of the names of the sites therein named. He was proceeding to discuss and define what those districts were. I looked at the Bill and found that clause 2 clearly relates to the determination of the seat of government. Accordingly, I called his attention to the fact that he was anticipating a discussion which would take place at a later stage, and that it was not competent for him to do so. The Committee desired that my decision should be referred to you for your ruling.
– I understand that the first portion of the third resolution to which we have agreed provides that “so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the House from adopting such methods of selection.” That is one reason why we should dissent from the Chairman’s ruling. If we are not allowed to discuss the question of distance as suggested by the honorable member for Richmond, we shall practically be defining the words “at or near,” and surely it cannot be contended that “ within a radius of sixty miles “ comes within the definition of the words in question.
– I have no desire to refer to any site in detail, but merely wish the Committee to deal with the whole of the districts surrounding the towns mentioned in the schedule to the resolutions - not with the sites but with the territories. I therefore desire to add to the schedule the word “district.”
– I understand that the honorable member for Richmond desires to submit a certain proposal concerning the method to be followed in reference to the determination of the seat of government of the Commonwealth. His desire is merely to define the method which is to be followed in connexion with the Bill.
– I would remind the House that early this afternoon, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo sought to define in some way the words “ at or near which,” which appear in the first resolution. I prevented him from proceeding upon that occasion for precisely the same reason that I think the Chairman has rightly prevented the honorable member for Richmond. In reply to the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, I would point out that resolution 3, which has been agreed to, contains the following words : - “ That the following be the method of selection “ - that is to say, the method of selecting a name which is to be inserted in a blank in the Bill - “ and that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the House from adopting such method.” Therefore, the only portion of the Standing Orders which has been suspended is so much as might hamper the House in carrying out the method of ballot which is to be determined. I would further point out that the order of the day, number 2, relates to the consideration in Committee, of the Seat of Government Bill. In Committee it may be necessary to determine in some way what the words “ at or near” in that Bill mean. Any discussion of that question, either in enlargement of those words or in definition of them, such as I understand the honorable member for Richmond proposed, would certainly be anticipating a debate which must take place at a later stage. I think that the Chairman has acted entirely in accordance with the Standing Orders in ruling as he did, for the reasons to which I have referred. We are now discussing merely the method by which a certain name shall be selected to fill a certain blank in the Bill. Whilst it will be in order to omit any of the names which appear in the resolutions, or to add others, it will not be in order to anticipate any discussion on the words “ at or near” which appear in the Bill.
In Committee :
– I move-
That the word “Yass” be added to the schedule.
When the Federal Capital Sites Commission was first appointed, the present Minister for Trade and Customs promised that Yass should be included in the Lake George site. Owing to some misunderstanding, however, that was not done, and I now avail myself of the only opportunity which will present itself to me to get the site inserted here. Perhaps I may be permitted to remind honorable members of one or two facts in connexion with that site. To begin with, Mr. Oliver, who was appointed by the New South Wales Government to report upon the eligiblesites, placed Yass absolutely first from the point of view of accessibility and means of communication. It is the only place where one could get above the 1,500 feet level upon the table-land which is in close proximity to Junee Junction and enjoy a fairly temperate climate. The only reason why it was not placed absolutely first was that at the time Mr. Oliver inspected it grave doubt existed as to whether an adequate water supply could be obtained in the vicinity. Just after he had concluded his report, however, it was found that water could be very easily brought from the Micalong Creek. Of course, an inexhaustible supply could always be obtained from the Mumimbidgee, but that would necessitate the carrying out of a pumping scheme, which the Commissioner wished to avoid. Since Mr. Oliver reported, however, the Barranjack Reservoir has been brought under notice. Indeed, at the present time there is a Bill before the New South Wales Parliament, which proposes to allow a private company to construct that reservoir. The company in question is of opinion that it will pay so well that it is perfectly prepared to spend ite money in constructing it. If that great dam is built it will throw the water back in one or two of the tributaries for nearly 50 miles from the dam itself. We shall thus have a sheet of water which, from the point of view of volume, will far exceed that of any lake in Australia. Further, I hold that it is our duty to throw as few obstacles as possible in the way of men reaching the Federal Capital from the great cities of Australia. The other sites which have been reported upon are a little off the main line. Whilst I admit that Lyndhurst has a better climate and a better soil than Yass, it is not so absolutely on the main line of railway between Melbourne to Sydney, and consequently cannot rank quite so high. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs, in view of his former promise, to agree to the inclusion of this name in the schedule.
– We shall move to include a number of additional sites, if the honorable and learned member does that.
– If by a mistake one of the best sites has been omitted, I claim that by restricting the choice of the Committee we shall not be acting wisely. If honorable members will refer to Hansard, they will find that at the time .the matter of the Federal Capital Sites Commission was under consideration, the Minister for Trade and Customs promised that Yass should be included in the Lake George site.
– What is the distance between Yass and Lake George 2
– A 50-miles radius would include both sites. I maintain that as the result of a mere inadvertence, we, should not overlook a site which Mr. Oliver placed first upon his list of recommendations from the point of view of accessibility and means of communication. I would further point out that in the event of a dispute arising between the two branches of the Legislature, this particular site might be accepted as embodying a fair compromise. For instance,- if Bombala were selected by one House, and Tumut by the other, Yass might be chosen as a compromise.
– The honorable and learned member for Werriwa has stated that the Government agreed to include Yass in the Lake George site. It is true that he spoke to me once or twice in reference to the matter, but I do not think he can urge that there was any promise of the kind made. Certainly, when a proposal was submitted to the effect that the three western sites, namely, Lyndhurst, Bathurst and Orange, might, nominally, be regarded as one, some remark was made in reference to the inclusion of Yass and Lake George in one site, but I do not think that I promised that that should be done.
– Surely Yass has as good .a, climate as .Dalgety 1
– But an adequate water supply cannot be obtained there. Had it been possible to obtain such a supply, the claims of Yass might have been further considered. But there was no possibility of that being done, and, consequently, it was -decided that Yass could not be included as ! part of the Lake George site. I trust I that honorable members will not agree to ] this proposal. Already we have a great many I sites to consider. In addition, I would point i out that Yass is situated in the neighbour- I hood of Tumut and that its chief recom- !mendation is its accessibility. At the same 1 time it is no more accessible than are the other sites which are situated upon the main 1 line. I visited Yass upon several occasions, and I do not think there is much prospect of that place being selected even if it is included in the schedule. Moreover, the object of the I Committee is to reduce the number of sites and not to increase them, unless the suggestion ! of the honorable member for Richmond is to 1 be adopted and a site chosen which is entirely removed from any centre of population, i That would be an entirely different matter, but if one or more sites, which in most respects are similar to those already in the list were added to it, the discussion would last much longer than it otherwise would. ! There is not much difference between Yass and Tumut so far as their distance from
Melbourne or Sydney is concerned. If, without consideration. I had given a definite promise to include Yass in the list of sites to be inspected, I should certainly have added it to the Lake George site. But I never gave any definite promise. When the matter was referred to the only question at issue was whether there was any possibility of a water supply being obtained at Yass.
– Might I suggest a reasonable way out of the diffiiculty in which the honorable and learned member for Werriwa and the honorable , member for Richmond are placed. My suggestion would involve, in the first instance, ‘ the elimination of certain names from the list although there would be no risk of their claims being overlooked. I i think it would be well for us to consider < the honorable and learned member for Werriwa’s proposal when we are dealing with the Bill itself, and that we should treat the several sites named as representing districts or territories. We could select a district covering an area of fifty miles from point to point.
– If I were sure of that proposition being carried, I should withdraw my amendment.
– I think it would have the sympathy of the Committee. In my opinion it would be the best course to adopt. If we were to deal with localities, rather than particular sites, the claims of Yass and Lake George, if either were mentioned in the schedule, would, be fully considered.
– Lake George, by rail, is SO miles further away, and I do not think that would be fair to Melbourne.
– The honorable and learned member will admit that, as the crow flies, Yass is within fifty miles of Lake George. The three western sites, Bathurst, Orange, and Lyndhurst, are all within a radius of fifty miles, while Bombala and Dalgety are practically in the same position. If the sites were grouped in districts in this way a few names would be eliminated from the list without any fear of their respective claims being overlooked. The adoption of this plan would really facilitate the due consideration of their merits. If Bathurst were selected the prospects of Orange or Lyndhurst would not be prejudiced when we came to make a final selection, and the same remark will apply to the districts of Lake George and Yass or Bombala or Dalgety. We might also extend the
Tumut site two or three miles beyond the area actually mentioned in the reports, and we could do the same with respect to the Albury site. If we decided that a district should comprise an area extending for a distance of fifty miles from a given point, we could subsequently fix the actual site within that territory upon which the city should be built.
– The honorable member cannot now discuss that phase of the question.
– I make the suggestion with a desire to expedite business. I suggest that the honorable and learned member for Werriwa should withdraw his amendment ; that Bathurst should be taken to represent the Lyndhurst and Orange sites ; and Bombala as representing the districts of Monaro. The list would then read - “ Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Bombala, Lake George and Tumut.” I think that the proposal would be fair to all parties.
– This is really in accordance with a suggestion for grouping the sites, which the House rejected a few days ago.
– I am not aware that the House has rejected such a proposition.
– We desired in the first instance to group them in this way.
– We all live to learn and doubtless some of those who opposed the suggestion to which’ the honorable member refers would not now object to it.
– That was a wholly different proposal.
– I can conceive of no objection to this proposition, and as a matter of fact, I think that it would assist the Committee in arriving at a speedy determination. I suggest to the honorable and learned member for Werriwa that he should withdraw his amendment on the understanding that we shall deal with the sites named in the schedule as representing territories or districts. In that way we should reduce their number to five or six without fear of the merits of any particular locality being overlooked.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- If it were decided that the number of sites should be reduced, as the honorable member proposes, to a certain number of districts or territories, we should be in a far more satisfactory position than at present. As the Committee appears to be willing to extend the various sites named in the way suggested, I shall withdraw my amendment with an intimation that I shall subsequently move in the direction indicated by the honorable member for Moira.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– Notwithstanding the withdrawal by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa of the amendment which he proposed, I desire to move -
That after the word “ Tumut” the words “including the Upper Murray “ be inserted.
I am led to move this amendment by the fact that when the proposal to refer the various sites to a Commission of experts was under discussion, the present Minister for Trade and Customs referred to the Upper Murray site, and made a promise from which he can hardly escape.
– I have not endeavoured to escape from any promise.
– Quite so; but I do not think that the matter can be settled other than in the way I propose.
– According to Hansard I did not make any promise in regard to Yass.
– In submitting to the House a motion to refer the sites to a Commission of experts-
– I rise to a point of order. I take it that the honorable member is seeking to do exactly what the honorable member for Richmond was not allowed to do. I submit that this is a matter to be dealt with when the Bill itself is under consideration, and when we are called upon to define the words “ at or near “ a certain place.
– I understood you to rule, Mr. Chairman, that certain words could be inserted in the schedule. You permitted the honorable and learned member for Werriwa to propose an amendment for the insertion of the word “Yass,” and I therefore consider that I am entitled to submit this amendment.
– I think you ruled, Mr. Chairman, that words could be omitted from or inserted in the schedule, but the honorable member proposes to add certain words extending the area of the Tumut site. I maintain that, according to your ruling, he would not be out of order in proposing to insert the words “Upper Murray,” as representing a separate site, but if the honorable member is proposing an extension of the Tumut site he is seeking to do that which you have already held cannot be done.
– The honorable member for Grampians indicated his desire to move an amendment for the insertion of the words “including the Upper Murray “ after the word “Tumut.” I had previously given a ruling that, at this stage, no proposal to define the area of any of these sites could be submitted, inasmuch as it would anticipate the discussion which would subsequently take place on clause 3 of the Bill, which deals with that matter. The honorable member’s proposal is not in order in its present form, but it is open to him to propose the insertion of the words “ Upper Murray,” which would place that site in the same category as those already named in the schedule. If the word “Tumut,” or the name of any other site, be placed in the Bill, he will have an opportunity later on to suggest what the extent of the territory should be.
– In accordance with your suggestion, Mr. Chairman, I move -
That the schedule be amended by the insertion of the words “ Upper Murray.”
In submitting to the House a motion to refer the several sites to the Commission of experts, the present Minister for Trade and Customs said -
It will be noticed that there is no proposal in regard to the Upper Murray, though in my opinion the finest and most beautiful valley in Australia is to be there found. It is Tumut on a triple scale, and I hope that later on honorable members will take the opportunity of visiting the district.
That statement is to be found at page 16131 of Hansard, while at page 16135 the honorable gentleman is reported to have said -
I intend to ask a few members of the House to visit it during the summer months.
The Upper Murray and Dalgety sites were not in the same position, because the Minister did not make any promise with regard to Dalgety ; yet we find that Dalgety has been inspected by the Commissioners, and included in the list of sites now before us, while the Upper Murray site has not been treated in the same way. I understand that the Minister for Home Affairs said last night that not one of the sites which he had inspected agreed with his idea of the place on which the capital of Australia should be erected. But according to the descriptions which I have received from many who are familiar with the district, the valley of the Murray should not be passed over. It has a magnificent water supply, and a much larger building area than I believe is to be obtained at Tumut. In every other respect it would also be a better site. Its omission appears to have been accidental, inasmuch as Dalgety, although not named in the motion referring the various sites to the Commissioners, was inspected by them. In my opinion the Upper Murray site should be included in the schedule. Of course it would have to be inspected as the other sites have been inspected, and a report made as to its accessibility and general suitability. It has an altitude of 1,500 or 1,600 feet, and, from the description I have had of it, I think its name should be inserted in the schedule.
– It appears to me that this great question is about to be settled more with a view to present than to future interests. The centre of population in eastern Australia is likely to be further north than any of the proposed sites. Personally I favour mostthe Armidale site, but I should like to go still further north, and if there were any chance of carrying such an amendment I would move theinsertion in the schedule of the name Tenterfield. In other parts of the world population increases most rapidly within the temperate zone, in places where there is a moderate rainfall, a healthy climate, and good soil. All those conditions operate, as I interjected the other night, between Twofold Bay and Bundaberg, in what has been called the maize belt of Australia. As we are determining the location of the capital, not for to day, but for perhaps a thousand years, we should pay some regard to the probable distribution of population in the future. Honorable members will see, by looking at the map, that eight of the proposed sites are situated within the southern half of New South Wales. Armidale is the only site which is situated in the better and northern half. Whereas in other parts of the State the average yield of wheat is five and seven bushels to the acre, on the clowns country to the north the yield is seventeen, twenty, and thirty bushels to the acre, while there is good pasturage for cattle and sheep, good soil for fruit-growing, and an immense area of back country. The Armidale site, however, seems likely to escape notice, because vested interests are operating to support the sites further south.
– The honorable member is not now at liberty to discuss the relative merits of the proposed sites. He will have an opportunity to do so when the Bill is in Committee. All he can do now is to propose the addition of names to. the schedule.
– In that case I shall reserve my remarks for another occasion.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
An open exhaustive ballot shall be taken without debate, in the following manner : -
Resolution reported and adopted.
In Committee :
Clause1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
It is hereby determined that the seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be at or near
– In order to give effect to a view with which several honorable members have expressed their concurrence, I move -
That the words “ at or near “ be omitted, with a view to insert, in lieu thereof, the words “ within a radius of sixty miles of “
– Why not make it 100 miles ?
– While I am not opposed to some such amendment as that moved by the honorable member for Richmond, it seems to me that the proposed radius is too long, and if adopted would, I think, cause the over-lapping of some of the sites. It would be unwise to strictly confine the location of the seat of Government, but a radius of sixty miles would give a choice anywhere within a district 120 miles wide.
– I cannot understand why the honorable member for Richmond is not satisfied with the clause as it stands. Surely the words “at or near” give a sufficient latitude. What has been gained by the examinations and reports of experts if we are not to take advantage of their work ?
– I believe that in detail it is absolutely useless.
– Then why not make the radius 800 miles, and take in the whole State? I submit that all reasonable elasticity is provided for.
– How would the right honorable member express the word “ near “ in miles?
– I should have some difficulty in doing so, but I should not consider a place within sixty miles of the chosen site “ near “ it. The effect of the amendment would be to leave the whole question at large again, so that we should require another series of examinations to determine the precise location of the Capital.
– If the amendment is agreed to, the examination will be confined to the country within sixty miles of the chosen site.
– Even if the amendment were agreed to, a magnificent site might be found just outside the radius, and then the Government would have to bring in a Bill to extend the radius to perhaps sixty-five miles. We ought to settle this matter once and for all, leaving of course a reasonable amount of discretion to the responsible authorities in regard to the actual location of the Capital.
– I think that the proposal submitted by the honorable member for Richmond offers the best way of dealing with a troublesome question. Moreover, his proposal is in accord with the intention of the Constitution. If honorable members will look at section 125 of the Constitution they will find that it is provided that the seat of government shall be determined by the Parliament, and that it shall be within territory to be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth. That contemplates that the region which is described in the Constitution as “ territory “ should first be selected, and that when that has been done the next step shall be to fix upon some spot within that territory as the seat of, government.
– Then this Bill should be withdrawn, and the territory should be defined. Another Bill should then be introduced to fix the seat of government.
– That course is not necessary, because the proposal of the honorable member will meet all the necessities of the case. There is a great deal to be said in support of the contention submitted by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, that under the Constitution the Federal territory “ must have been acquired “ before the seat of government can be determined. At the same time no technical point should be allowed to stand in the way of a solution of this question. We could first determine that a certain region within the State of New South Wales, having a radius of 20 or 50 miles, or whatever may be considered necessary, from a certain point, shall be the Federal territory, and then, at a subsequent stage, we could determine the spot within that territory which shall be adopted as the seat of government. The proper method is to select the territory first. We need not throw out the Bill, because it affords us a rather roundabout, but still a rough-and-ready, way of dealing with the matter. Honorable members are not in possession of sufficient information to enable them to settle the site of the future capital, but they may be prepared to decide where the Federal territory shall be situated.
– We cannot select the territory by means of this Bill.
– Why not? I apprehend that the only way in which the Federal Government can acquire territory under the provisions of the Constitution is by passing a Federal Act. The territory has not yet been granted by the Parliament of New South Wales, and can only be acquired by passing a Federal Act. Before that legislation is passed some indication should be given by Parliament of the region in which the Federal territory is to be situated. I do not wish to raise any constitutional or technical point, but I am anxious to facilitate the settlement of the question in a manner consistent with the knowledge- possessed by honorable members. I shall, therefore, support the amendment of the honorable member for Richmond as offering a somewhat rough but ready and convenient method of fixing the Federal territory within which the site of the Capital shall at some future stage be fixed.
– I am rather surprised at the action of the supporters of the Government in raising entirely new questions regarding the selection of the Capital site. It would be absurd for us to select a territory within which a site having no relation whatever to those reported upon might be fixed. All the information now before us with regard to water supply and other matters would be absolutely useless if the proposal of the honorable member for Richmond were accepted. The question as to whether water could be supplied by gravitation or whether a pumping scheme would have to be resorted to would depend entirely upon the situation of the proposed site. For instance, it might be possible to supply one of the sites reported upon by gravitation, whereas a pumping scheme might be necessary in order to supply water for a site in the same neighbourhood, but at a greater altitude. There is no reason why we should allow matters to remain so open as the honorable member contemplates, because we could not possibly foresee the position in which we might be placed with regard to the establishment of 1 the seat of government. I do not share I the fears of the honorable member for Rich- mond with regard to the selection of a site in the vicinity of some of the towns I included within the sites proposed. If we can find a suitable site close to a town : containing a few hundreds of inhabitants we should not be precluded from selecting it by ; any such considerations as those referred to. I think that the Government might have given us some indication of their intentions regarding the area they propose to acquire. It is understood that they are in favour of acquiring an area larger than 100 square miles, but, beyond that, no information has been vouchsafed to us. The Government might have indicated whether they intend j to acquire 1,000 or 2,000 square miles. I Perhaps they may be influenced in regard to area by the nature of the surrounding country. If a site were selected in the neighbourhood of Tumut, where some of the surrounding country is rough and mountainous and of comparatively small value, they might feel disposed to acquire a larger area than if the whole of the land were of good quality. I hope that the suggestion of the honorable member for Richmond will not be agreed to, because we 3hall be left absolutely helpless. All the information at our command at present will be rendered useless, because the area of selection will be extended to an inordinate degree. I think that the term “at or near” is sufficiently definite, and that at the same time we shall not be unduly restricted in our ultimate choice.
Mr. EWING (Richmond).- I desire to refer to some of the remarks made by the leader of the Opposition, who appears to be apprehensive that we shall lose control of the selection of the site. I would point out to him, however, that if we limit the selection of the site to a particular territory we shall divest the question of that element of complication which now surrounds it on account of the conflicting claims of different districts in New South Wales. The location of the Capital site within a particular territory will be purely a matter of detail. I asserted that the whole of the work in detail in connexion with the reports upon the sites was absolutely valueless, and I shall proceed to justify that statement. We may be guided by the general statements made by the Commissioners regarding the suitability of certain tracts of country as to climate and general features, but, beyond that, the information afforded us is absolutely valueless. For instance, the report made with regard to the Albury site shows that land would have to be resumed at a cost of £267,000, and that if the town of Albury were included within the Federal territory an additional £500,000 would have to be paid. Therefore, in order to secure a compact site within the vicinity of Albury, an outlay of £767,000 would be involved. Then, again, it would cost £512,000 to provide a water supply. If the Commissioners thought that we should be prepared to incur an initial outlay of £1,000,000 they entirely misunderstood the temper of the House and of the people of the Commonwealth. Therefore, the report is not worth the paper on which it is written, so far as the details in regard to the Albury site are concerned.
– I must ask the honorable member not to discuss the relative merits of the sites at this stage.
– I desire to show that it is undesirable to use the term ‘‘at or near,” and I was citing the case of Albury by way of illustration.
– There is no objection to an incidental reference to Albury or any other site for the purposes of illustration ; but the honorable member was proceeding to discuss the relative merits of the sites.
– That was not my intention. I have already stated that if we choose one of these sites the Commonwealth will be called upon to bear a special expenditure, consequent upon its proximity to a town. Take Armidale as an example. The estimated cost of the resumption of that site is £258,920. If we include the town the cost will be £393,000 additional, or £651,920.
– That is just what the honorable member’s proposal does.
– My amendment does not deal with the selection of a site at all. I am sure that if it were left to the leader of the Opposition to determine this question he would not select one of these sites. He would dismiss the whole of them upon the ground of the expense which would be involved in their acquisition. In the case of Bombala the cost is set down at £1,157,120, which, deducting the expenditure on account of railway connexion, means an expenditure of at least £600,000 for its acquisition and water supply.
At Lyndhurst the resumption of the land and the cost of providing an adequate water supply will involve an expenditure of £776,000, at Lake George of £650,000, at Orange of £1,784,000, and at Tumut of £484,000. I appeal to honorable members whether, in regard to the details of a site, this report is not absolutely valueless. To overcome that difficulty we should decide to choose aterritory upon main principles. We should go out into the prairie lands and fix upon a spot where an adequate water supply can be cheaply obtained, where the question of drainage is easy of solution, and where a city can be cheaply established. Australia will not pay an increased price for land the value of which has been created by reason of its proximity to a town. Let us get away from population and start building. I am sure that there is not an honorable member in this House who would act so meanly to Australia as to declare that if within sixty miles of any of the sites which have been reported upon, a better site is available, he would decline to accept it. What does it matter to a representative of New South Wales whether he travels an additional sixty miles? It is simply a matter of personal convenience. What is sixty miles ? It represents a journey of only an hour and a half in the train. Long after Sydney interests as we know them today have sunk into oblivion, and long after the competition which at present exists between the capitals of Victoria and New South Wales has emerged from the acute stage, we shall still have a Federal Capital. If, then, we can obtain a better site within sixty miles of any of the sites that have been recommended, I am quite satisfied that honorable members will be prepared to accept it.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- The statement which inspires the proposal of the honorable member for Richmond comes almost as a surprise to me. If it be well founded we must come to the conclusion that the whole of the researches which have been made for a Federal Capital site have been absolutely useless. Mr. Oliver, the Commissioner appointed by the New South Wales Government, was not appointed to visit the towns of Albury, Bombala, Tumut, and Bathurst, in order to investigate their merits. He was commissioned to investigate the whole of the surrounding districts, and the same remark is applicable to the members of the Federal Sites Commission.
– But did they do so 1
– If they did not we had better have them up for trial. Surely nobody will do Mr. Oliver or the members of the Federal Sites Commission the injustice to suppose that they visited the localities in question to inspect the streets of the towns 1 They traversed the whole of the adjacent country.
– Perhaps they did not do it as completely as the honorable member might have desired, but I do not think he will say that they did not attempt to do it, because that would be a very serious charge.
– They did not go ten miles from the towns to inspect the country.
– That is rather a strong statement to make, because these officers were thoroughly competent. It is too late in the day to make these charges. If honorable members are of opinion that the Commissioners neglected their duty, these charges should have been preferred long ago, because, if they are true, their work has not been done at all.
– Why, in some cases, the Commissioners gave particulars covering a radius of fifty miles.
– The experts were not tied down in any way.
– They have even reported upon different sites from those upon which they were commissioned to report.
– Yes. And, certainly, _ Mr. Oliver made a very thorough inspection of all the districts surrounding the sites.
– The trouble is that the recommendations of the two Commissions are entirely in conflict.
– Yet, in spite of these insuperable difficulties, we are about to choose a site. If we are not in a position to do so, had we not better acknowledge it and abandon the whole thing ? Let us act sensibly in one way or the other. The observations of my honorable friend really mean that we are making a choice without having the necessary information upon which to base our conclusions. In other words, we are taking a leap in the dark. Some honorable members would think that if we were to remain here for a hundred years. We should at any time be taking a leap in the dark if we left this delightful city. Personally, I entertain the most friendly feelings towards Melbourne and its people, although I do not towards all its journalists. Nevertheless, we have a duty to discharge. Let those who think that it ought not to be discharged endeavour to block it. If that is not possible, let them do their duty to Australia by assisting us to select the best possible site. I rose principally to show how very disastrous would be the views of the honorable member for Richmond if effect were given to them. When a great agitation was recently aroused in Victoria against the establishment of a Federal Capital upon the ground of the enormous expenditure which such a project would incur, the late Prime Minister pointed out that the only proposals which the Government would submit would involve an outlay of some £200,000 or £300,000. How could that possibly be the case if he had in his mind the ideas which are entertained by the honorable member for Richmond 1 What is the use of building a city in a wilderness ? If we establish our Federal Capital in the bush we must build not only Houses of Parliament, but houses of accommodation for its members ; we must erect shops, and provide all the conveniences of a city. In the early stages of Federation one of the great advantages to be sought in the Capital will be that it shall be so situated as to be within travelling distance of the conveniences of a civilized town. It must either be that or we must undertake what I do not hesitate to say would be a criminal act. I agree with those who urge that it would be criminal to attempt to build a city in the bush as a mushroom grows. In its initial stages there is nothing in this Federal Capital project which will involve an enormous outlay if reasonable precautions are observed. If any one of these town sites were chosen, no one would be in favour of making the town itself the Capital. If Albury, for example, were chosen, we should not think of building Parliament House in one of its streets. And so with the other towns. On the other hand, there are- many honorable members who would ridicule a proposition that, within the next two or three years, we should out of the public funds lay the foundations of a capital.
– We should either have to erect new buildings or utilize old ones.
– Might I suggest that if the site of the future capital were within reasonable daily travelling distance of a town - if it were connected with an established township by a light line of tramway, some ten or twelve miles in length - we should be able to create the capital upon an economical basis. In that case we should have to build only the inner shell of Parliament House, and of the public offices, and to erect a modest residence for the Governor-General. That is the point at which the expenditure of public funds should stop for years to come.
-paterson - What 1 Stop at the inner shell ‘?
– Surely we do propose at the very outset to indulge in that species of splendour and ornamentation which involves the expenditure of large sums of money. For instance, let us look at the building in which we are meeting–
-paterson. - Wherever the Capital is erected a considerable sum of money will have to be spent upon it.
– I quite agree with the honorable and learned member. What I wish to point out is that if we selected as the site of the Capital a spot in the bush, distant forty or fifty miles from an established township, we should have to build a small town in the neighbourhood of Parliament House, in order to secure the ordinary convenience of residence. Are we going to cause the members of the Parliament to camp out in surveyors’ tents just as if they were establishing a diggers’ settlement on the bank of an auriferous creek 1 I desire to strongly emphasize my belief that the suggestion that we shall make a lot of money out of the Federal territory is the merest moonshine. What will there be associated with the existence of the Capital for the next ten or twenty years to give a boom value to land within the Federal territory ? Nothing. We may have to choose between the resumption of the alienated lands within the Federal territory and the simple ‘ exercise of a taxing jurisdiction over the owner3 of it. In looking through the printed lists of sites which was circulated this morning, I find that there is very little land within any of the suggested areas which has not been alienated. Under the Constitution any Crown land within the selected area will be handed over to us free of charge ; but we must be curbed in our desire to acquire as a free gift a very large area of other people’s land. New South Wales, in this respect, must have something to say. We cannot expect to obtain as a gift from the State of New
South Wales an enormous area of land for the purpose of the future aggrandizement of the Federal Government.
– Not private land.
– Nor Crown land. Under the Constitution, New South Wales must give us an area of 64,000 acres. That is a fair thing. But some honorable members seem to be prepared to ask for an area of four or five times that size. One proposal is that we should take over 1,000,000 acres.
– 640,000 acres.
– That would be a delightful prospect if we could only expect New South Wales to be foolish enough to give us 640,000 acres instead of 64,000 acres. That suggestion presumes a softness on the part of New South Wales which is rather too much to expect.
– The 640,000 acres would also include private land.
– But my remark would apply if the Crown land within the territory were of any great extent. I hope that we shall not think of a speculation such as the acquirement of 640,000 acres of privatelyowned land. ‘ The value which would be attached to the land as it stands might well be more than that which would belong to it after it had been selected to be Federal territory. We cannot expect to have an area rauch greater than the minimum of 100 square miles provided for by the Constitution. We cannot expect New South Wales to give us much more than the minimum. Even if it consisted wholly of Crown lands, it would be a very considerable area to present to us ; but there is not a place in New South Wales worth thinking about where so large an area of Crown land is available.
– There is a large area of Crown land near Tumut.
– And at Lyndhurst.
– According to the printed statement which has been circulated amongst honorable members, the Carcoar-Garland site comprises 13,600 acres of Crown lands and 50,400 acres of alienated land. At Tumut there are 22,000 acres of Crown land and 41,800 acres of alienated land, and at Bombala 5,000 acres of Crown land and 75,000 acres of alienated land. The Bombala site, therefore, consists for the most part of privately-owned land. In the case of Tumut there are 22,000 acres of Crown land.
– There is a large area at Bathurst.
– I have not yet been able to examine all the details of the return ; but I think that the course suggested by the honorable member for Richmond would not be tolerated either by the House or the country. If we were to adopt it thestatement made by the late Prime Minister to a deputation representing the shire councils of Victoria which waited on him to protest against a large expenditure upon the Federal capital would be absolutely misleading. By enunciating the views to which I have just given expression, hewas able to satisfy that deputation that there would be no large expenditure, and his statement was received by them as almost entirely removing their cause of complaint. We now find a project to erect a Capital away from any existing township. I quite agree that we should be justified in erecting the Capital on a site within daily travelling distance of an adjacent township, but if we exceeded that limit we should incur the obligation of building a Capital in the bush - a chimerical project which the people of the Commonwealth would not tolerate. Only those who desired to destroy the proposal to build the Federal Capital would make such a proposition. I gather from the statement made by the late Prime Minister, which I suppose is not affected by recent changes in the Government, that the Ministry intend to. follow what I think are reasonable and prudent lines - that they will support the selection of a site sufficiently near some existing town to obviate the necessity to erect anything more than the very few public buildings which will be required, leaving time to bring with it the development, not necessarily at the public expense, of the conveniences of a city in the immediate vicinity of the public offices. I scarcely think that we are prepared to enter upon a project to supplyall the conveniences of a city at the public expense.
– The Albury site is ten miles from the town of Albury.
– Then it is within the limit which I have mentioned. The building of the Capital there would not at the outset involve the erection of a new city, but if the site were forty miles from Albury it would be impossible for members to travel every day between that town and the Houses of Parliament. We should have to obtain accommodation somewhere every night, and if there were no accommodation adjacent to the Houses of Parliament we should have to provide it, and so involve a heavy expenditure of public money. There are a hundred other requirements of civilized life which would also be necessary.
– Is it not obvious that no country town could furnish accommodation for a large body of members of Parliament, and all the officers of the Commonwealth who would be located at the Federal Capital?
– It is very reasonable for the honorable member to put his question in that way ; but I should like him to remember what the Federal Capital will mean first of all so far as the number of members of Parliament is concerned. I would ask him secondly to remember that the great bulk of the Public Service of the Commonwealth will remain in the public offices at the big seaports of Australia. They will not be gathered in the Federal Capital. As a matter of fact for a long time to come only a very small body of public officers will be stationed at the Capital. When we meet in the Federal Capital we shall sit, not at night, but during the day. Who would think of wasting his days in a country town and attending Parliament at night? The sittings of Parliament would begin in the morning. Honorable members residing in the capital would have nothing but their parliamentary duties to attend to, and they would very probably support day sittings. If Tumut or Bombala were selected as the site of the Capital, would honorable members waste their time in walking about the town all day when they couldbe transacting the business of Parliament at a reasonable hour ? The average member of Parliament would insist on attending to his parliamentary duties during ordinary business hours. That would involve the conveyance of members from the adjacent town to Parliament House every morning, and their return to their lodgings at night. I think that the idea of building a capital on a wild bush site, away from established conveniences, is the wildest project conceivable. No Government would dare to propose it, and no House would vote the necessary expenditure. Fortunately, each of the proposed sites fulfils the condition to which I have referred, and is within reasonable distance of a township. The honorable member for Richmond wishes to enlarge the clause in order to give scope for a project to which the House will never consent - to locate the site so far from existing townships that we shall have to commence by building a new city. The people of Australia are not prepared to do that.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I think that the debate has taken a wider range than the scope of the proposed amendment. 1 agree with the right honorable member that the sooner we definitely settle this matter, and the more definite we are in the terms we adopt, the better it will be for every one concerned. The present state of suspense in some localities in New South Wales must be almost unbearable. If we have not at the present time sufficient information upon which to come to a decision we shall never have it. I take it that the honorable member for Richmond wants to make the clause more definite than it is. He desires to define the word “ near “ by saying that we must not go beyond a radius of 60 miles. If the clause is left as it stands all sorts of questions will arise as to its meaning. The Capital Sites Commissioners recommended that a reasonably large area should be chosen. In the preliminary part of their report they say that -
They wish to record an emphatic opinion that, when the locality in which the Federal Capital is to be placed shall have been selected by the Parliament, extensive contour surveys, covering the suggested site in that locality, and the neighbourhood around such site, should be made before the exact city site is determined.
– That language would not apply to the location of a site anywhere within a radius of 60 miles.
– I think that it would.
– Then it would apply to the location of a site anywhere within a radius of 100 miles.
– I am not bound down to the exact proposal of the honorable member for Richmond, but his amendment is an effort to make the clause more, and not less, definite. I think it is reasonable to say that the seat of government shall be within a certain district. Having done that, let there be a contour survey to determine exactly where the necessary buildings shall be erected. The honorable member for Richmond desires to prevent the resumption of private property is very laudable, and no one would be more eager than myself to prevent the establishment of the capital being made a source of private gain. But, as he has pointed out, we must look to the future. A difference of a few hundreds of thousands of pounds should not cause us to pass over the most desirable site and choose a less desirable one. Other things being equal, we should take a site comprising only Crown land, but it behoves us to have the best site even if expensive. I hope that the Committee will agree to some limitation of distance, and I suggest to the honorable member that he should make his amendment read “at or within “ so many miles radius. Otherwise the particular township named, although the most desirable site, might be excluded.
– How could it be excluded if it were within the radius fixed upon? The centre of a circle is within its circumference.
– That may be; but “ at “ a certain place is not the same thing as “ within a certain radius “ of that place. I regret that the right honorable member for East Sydney is awakening a certain amount of bad feeling between the States.
– I hope not.
– I am sure that he does not mean to do so, but I think that that is likely to be the effect of what he has said about the tremendous sacrifices of New South Wales.
– I was dealing with the proposal to acquire ten times the area mentioned in the Constitution. The resumption of so large an area of Crown land as that would be a great sacrifice for the State.
– I do not concur with the view that it is our business first of all to fix upon the Federal territory as distinguished from the seat of government ; but we cannot establish or build a capital until we acquire the necessary territory. In my opinion we cannot in this Bill fix the position of the territory or its area, because, as we cannot go outside its title, we are allowed only to determine the site of the seat of government. To my mind, we are now rather playing round the problem than facing it, though 1 think it should be settled before Parliament is prorogued. We shall be unable to do any real business, and the people of the country will not grapple with the grave problems before them, until the Capital site has been determined. Although it is generally known that more is, as a rule, paid for land compulsorily resumed than it is actually worth, I do not think that an unduly large sum will have to be paid for the private land within the. area acquired by the Commonwealth, and therefore I am of opinion that the apprehension of the honorable member for Richmond is without good foundation. We should take pains to see that only a fair price is paid to private owners, and that price should be, as far as possible, the actual value prevailing before 1st January last.
– The proposal of the honorable member for Richmond is a much more serious one than he seems ready to acknowledge. If the amendment be carried, the money that we have spent, and the time that we have occupied, in obtaining information on this subject has been wasted. Let me remind honorable members of what has been done. In the first place every opportunity was given by the Government of New South Wales for the suggestion of suitable sites - not merely city sites, but country areas anywhere outside the 100 miles limit. Before Mr. Oliver inquired into the matter, advertisements to this effect were inserted in the country press -
Persons desirous of bringing under the notice of the Commissioner am’ area containing 64,000 acres as a suitable site for the Federal Capital are invited to forward their suggestions in writing, addressed to the Registrar of the Land Appeal Court, Sydney.
That advertisement gave an opportunity for the submission of any site outside the 100 miles limit, and was responded to very freely, so that Mr. Oliver had forty sites, containing a total area of 4,000 square miles, to investigate. Mr. Oliver went into the whole question and eliminated such sites as he considered absolutely unsuitable. He then made an investigation with regard to twenty-three sites, embracing 2,300 square miles of territory. It was afterwards decided that an Inter-State Commission of Experts should be appointed, not only to check Mr. Oliver’s statements, but to make further inquiry as to the suitability of the proposed sites. What did this Commission do ? Their report states -
In pursuing their inquiry the Commissioners have not felt bound to restrict themselves to the actual sites which had previously been suggested as suitable for the establishment of a capital city. These sites had been in every ease selected by local bodies, and it was no reflection upon either their patriotism or bona files to assume that careful examination by experts might possibly disclose other sites in the same district possessing advantages superior to those which local predilection favoured. The Commissioners, therefore, while carefully examining the actual sites locally selected, extended their inspection over practically the whole district within twentyfive or thirty miles of these areas. This extended exploration led to important results, for in the cases of Albury, Tumut, Armidale, and Bathurst, the Commissioners have suggested sites which, in their judgment, are superior to those previously pointed out. The evidence shows too that local residents admit the superiority of the new selection.
Therefore they took into consideration the very points referred to by the honorable member for Richmond.
– - Every site suggested is contiguous to a town.
– Each site is the best within the twenty-five or thirty-five mile radius over which their examination extended. The Commission reported upon particular sites, and examined for better sites the territory surrounding the sites. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne stilted that the amendment would avoid the want of exactness attaching to the expression “in or near,” but I do not think that the definition would be cleared. One of the considerations which will guide us in our selection of the Capital site will be that of climate. The climate at the site reported upon by the Commissioners might be entirely different from that at another site in the same district 1 20 miles distant. The same thing would apply to the consideration of accessibility. We might regard a certain site as sufficiently accessible, whereas it might be proposed to locate the Capital at some absolutely inaccessible spot 120 miles away. Are we to depart absolutely from the information which is intended to guide us to a decision? Then, again, we shall be called upon to consider the cost of providing railway communication to the sites reported upon by the Commissioners. If we should decide in favour of a particular site because of the small cost involved in providing railway communication, we might have our calculations entirely upset by the proposed removal of the seat of government to some spot a hundred miles away.
– Would the honorable member not allow something to come and go on?
– Certainly I should; but I think that the words “in or near” would allow us sufficient latitude.
– There is some question as to the meaning of those words.
– We shall have to decide what they mean when we fix upon the exact site of the Federal Capital.
– That may be done by the Executive.
– We shall have to approve of the actual site and also to fix the boundaries of the Federal territory. If it is thought necessary, an additional clause might be inserted to provide that these questions should be referred to Parliament. I assume, however, that the Executive will ask Parliament to approve of the site selected, and also of the boundaries of the proposed territory. The Commissioners point out that it will be necessary to have a contour survey of the proposed site, and that a survey will also be required to fix the natural boundaries of the Federal domain. I presume that, upon the completion of these surveys, Parliament will be asked to express its approval.
– Does it not strike the honorable member as remarkable that the sites suggested should in every instance be adjacent to existing towns ?
– The honorable member cannot surely have considered what he is saying. Take for instance the Lyndhurst site.
– That is an exception.
– What is the town of Lyndhurst 1 It is a collection of a few houses such as would be found in any territory extending over a radius of sixty miles from any given point. Then there is Dalgety. Small townships would be scattered over any area of 120 miles, and any site that might be selected would closely approach one or other of them. The honorable member is, in effect, asking us to discard every consideration which should guide us in the selection of a site. The suggestion of the honorable member should have been submitted before the Commissioners were appointed. They state, however, that they have examined the country for twenty-five or thirty miles around the sites proposed, and that they have selected within such areas the sites which they consider most suitable, irrespective of those i previously suggested. I hope that the amendment will be rejected.
– The honorable member for Richmond assumes that it is not possible to select a site from among those suggested except by approaching too j closely to some country town, and that, i therefore, we should be involved in undue expense in connexion with land resumptions, i It will be found, in this case as in I others, that if we desire to secure the best position we shall have to pay for it. We should be guided by considerations other than that of cheapness. For instance, the facilities for providing a good watersupply, and the productivity of the soil, are matters which should occupy a foremost place in our consideration. If the honorable member for Richmond wishes to select a site away from all settlement he will have to go out into the “ Never Never “ country of New South Wales, somewhere in the direction of Tibooburra. There he would be able to acquire plenty of Crown lands at a small cost, and would be sufficiently isolated. In other respects, however, he would find the conditions very unsuitable. In the first place it would be difficult of access, and in the next place there would be no water supply, and, moreover, the climatic conditions would not be agreeable. It has already been pointed out that the Lyndhurst, Dalgety, and Armidale sites are not open to the objection urged by the honorable member The question of the cost of resumption must not be allowed to overshadow all other considerations. At Dalgety, for instance, the site is situated some considerable distance from the nearest railway station. A railway would have to be constructed at a cost of £7,000 per mile to connect the site with the New South Wales railway system. And, further, an outlay of something like £11,000 per mile would be required to effect a connexion between the site and the Victorian railway system, and the cost of railway communication in that case would represent a larger amount than outlay upon land resumption in connexion with sites to which the honorable member has taken exception. During the debate upon the second reading of the Bill, I raised the question as to the necessity of first selecting the territory. The honorable member has substantial grounds for the objection which he has urged on that score. I think that most honorable members understood that the Commission of Experts would deal not only with the capital sites, but with the territory surrounding them, but that matter has entirely escaped their attention. Whatever information we have had concerning the territory which surrounds the different sites has been drawn from other sources. For instance, the information which was supplied to us to-night is largely compiled from Mr. Oliver’s report. In support of my contention that the Federal Sites
Commissioners did not consider the question of territory, I would point to the quotations made by the honorable member for North Sydney.
– I did not say the Commissioners.
– The Commissioners say, with respect to the territory -
The question of the extent of Federal territory, as distinct from the city site, not having been specially referred to us, we have not dealt with it, except so far as was unavoidable, in connexion with the catchment areas of streams selected as primary sources of water supply.
The members of the Commission visited the towns mentioned, and inspected the country in their immediate vicinity. They interviewed the leading residents, traversed the sites which were reported upon by Mr. Oliver, and endeavoured to ascertain if there were any other sites in the neighbourhood which were superior or equal to those which had previously been reported upon. They engaged in a general inspection, and directed their inquiries more particularly to the question of whether an adequate water supply could be provided. , They were not empowered to inspect any other sites which might be deemed to be desirable. They confined their investigations to a city site of 4,000 acres, and did not inquire into the nature of the surrounding territory. In the absence of such information, I hold that their investigations were incomplete. It is true that honorable members have been supplied with information from other sources than those of the Commissioners, but that information, which should have been in their hands weeks ago, was made available only within the last hour. With respect to the area of Crown lands, I desire to point out that the Federal Commissioners inspected certain sites other than those upon which Mr. Oliverreported. If the document which has been circulated amongst honorable members is examined, it will be seen that in three out of four cases the sites upon which they reported embrace a smaller area of Crown lands than do the sites inspected by Mr. Oliver. Take the case of Albury as an example. Mr. Oliver reported that the site in the vicinity of that town comprises 13,880 acres of Crown lands.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN(Mr. Kirwan). - Order ! I must ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the amendment before the Chair. I think that he is wandering somewhat from it.
– If so, I am merely wandering in the tracks of others who have preceded me.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- I should like the honorable member to connect his remarks with the amendment before the Chair.
– I was endeavouring to show that, from the point of view of cost, the sites recommended by Mr. Oliver are cheaper than those which have been reported upon by the Federal Sites Commissioners, inasmuch as they embrace a larger area of Crown lands. The site at Albury, upon which Mr. Oliver reported, contains 13,880 acres of Crown lands, as against 1,800 acres which are comprised within the area reported upon by the Federal Sites Commissioners. Similarly, the site at Orange, which was recommended by Mr. Oliver, includes 10,800 acres of Crown lands, as against 5,840 acres contained in the site recommended by the Commissioners. At Tumut, the site which was reported upon by the New South Wales Commissioner contains 22,000 acres of Crown lands, whereas the site at Lacmalac, which was inspected by the Federal Commissioners, comprises only 13,600 acres. The only instance in which the position has been reversed is that of the site at Bathurst. There the site inspected by Mr. Oliver contains 5,530 acres, as against 8,400 acres which are comprised in the area reported on by the Commissioners. But, whilst many objections can be urged to the absence of information relating to the territory surrounding the various sites, if we are to settle the future seat of government during the present session, it is evident that we must do so without waiting for that information. Ifeel that the consideration of this matter has been so long delayed that we must follow the lead of the Ministry, if we are to arrive at a settlement of it during the present Parliament. I am thoroughly satisfied that the people of New South Wales, and of the Commonwealth, desire that the future seat of government shall be selected as speedily as possible. I shall, therefore, vote against the amendment.
– I have no option but to support the proposal of the honorable member for Richmond, because it makes clear the intention of the Committee in regard to the question of locality. Another difficulty which presents itself to my mind is that the reports of the Commissions upon the eligible sites disclose a marked difference of opinion regarding the exact location of the Federal city within a very restricted area. For instance, Mr. Oliver selected within ten miles of Albury, a certain site, whilst the Commissioners appointed by the Federal Government reported upon an entirely different site. In such circumstances, it is very difficult for Parliament to decide which is the proper siteto select.
– Either would come within the definition of “ at or near.”
– Any words which are sufficiently specific to locate the particular district in which the capital shall be established will satisfy me. Another peculiar feature in connexion with the reports of the Commissions is that as regards two sites which have been in evidence from the very beginning, namely, Bombala and Tumut, the New South Wales Commissioner declares that Bombala is easily first, whilst the Federal Commissioners place it absolutely last.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- Order. The merits of the sites are not now before the Chair.
– I am aware of that. I was merely referring to the information which is at the disposal of the Committee to guide them in regard to the location of the seat of Government.
– When we appointed the Federal Commission we anticipated that there would be difficulties.
– But was it conceivable that there should be such a contrast between the reports of two expert bodies who had practically the same questions submitted for their consideration? Moreover, in the case of five sites, the two Commissions inspected different localities.
– If we appointed another Commission we should have the same divergence.
– Then it is not desirable for this Committee to attempt to definitely locate the seat of government. If we say “ at or near “ we shall practically limit the choice to the sites which have already been reported upon.
– The proper time to make these suggestions was when we were about to appoint the Commissioners ?
– My impression was that they would inspect the whole of the districts surrounding these sites.
– They have traversed an area of fifty or sixty miles.
– They have covered twenty-five or thirty miles, but only in the case of some of them. If we restrict ourselves to localities we shall reduce the number to three or four without any difficulty whatever. By stipulating a mileage distance from a particular point, we shall conclusively define what “at or near” means.
– But the House has already declined to eliminate any of the sites.
– What has been decided is that the present is not the proper time to make an alteration of that sort. It was said that when we reached the Committee stage we should have an opportunity to define the extent of any particular site. Two Commissions appointed for a specific purpose, and extending their range of vision over a very limited area, saw fit to select different sites in at least five different districts, namely, Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Orange, and Tumut. The same difference of opinion may have occurred in relation to the selection of sites in other districts, but on that point I cannot at the moment speak with any degree of confidence, as I have not yet completed the work of comparing the two reports. In these circumstances, we should not definitely locate the seat of government, but select a territory within which it shall be established.
– But the Bill provides for the selection of the seat of government.
– Within a clearly defined district. We should not attempt to fix the exact seat of government. The Commission of Experts appointed by the Federal Government emphasized that point when they say -
In pursuing their inquiry the Commissioners have not felt bound to restrict themselves to the actual sites which had previously been suggested as suitable for the establishment of a Capital city. These sites had been in every case selected by local bodies -
Those are the sites to which I have referred, and they have actually been reported upon by the Commissioner, Mr. Oliver, as most suitable. The report continues - and it was no reflection upon either their patriotism or bona fides to assume that careful examination by experts might possibly disclose other sites in the same district possessing advantages superior to those which local predilection favoured.
They recommend, in another portion of the report, that a further inspection should be made, and that a contour survey should be undertaken before the actual site of the Capital is fixed. For all these reasons, I shall certainly support the amendment, believing, as I do, that if we adopted it Parliament would not be restricted in the slightest degree in its choice of a particular site within the district denned by a mileage area.
– I think that the proposal submitted by the honorable member for Richmond merits very grave consideration, because . it at once raises the question of territory versus site. The Bill declares that -
It is hereby determined that the seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be at or near-
But it seems to me that that provision should be more definite.
– But this is a Government Bill.
– This is not a party matter, and I have expressed my opinion because we are free to vote as we please on this question. It is well known that the members of the Government will vote for different sites.
– That is a different thing.
– The amendment raises the question of territory, and if any honorable member considers that the radius suggested by the honorable member for Richmond is too great it is within his province to move a further amendment. The leader of the Opposition said that it would be absurd to think of taking over a very large area. He referred to the minimum area of 64,000 acres, which, under the Constitution, has to be acquired, and asserted that it was moonshine to talk about land values in relation to property beyond that area. We should have to erect the city in the centre of the 64,000 acres. In that event, one would not be able to walk a distance of five miles from the Capital without touching privatelyowned land, where, to all intents and purposes, the city would be erected. The land grabber would come in, and the people would be deprived of the unearned increment to which they should justly be entitled.
– Our expenditure upon the capital will not make much difference.
– -History teaches us that capital cities have grown by leaps and bounds. They have been villages to-day and cities to-morrow. If we establish the Capital in the right place - where there is every reason to expect closer settlement, where there will be markets open to the people, and upon a site which is likely to become a popular health resort, we may well expect to receive the unearned increment of the land acquired bv us.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable member is departing from the question before the Chair.
– The leader of the Opposition has drawn me off the track. The proposal made by the honorable member for Richmond would allow us some latitude in selecting the site of the capital. In the first instance, the sites submitted to us were selected by the local townspeople, and some of them were subsequently approved by the Commissioner appointed by the Government of New South Wales. He in turn was followed by the Commission of Experts appointed by this Government, and they, in four different instances, varied the locality in which it was proposed that the Capital should be established. Different sites were chosen by them in the Tumut, Orange, Bathurst, and Albury districts. At Albury, for instance, they went beyond the minimum area of 64,000 acres, and consequently, if we are not allowed some latitude in dealing with this question, as proposed by the honorable member for Richmond, we do not know where we shall land ourselves. In answer to the assertion of the leader of the Opposition, that the land acquired by us would not increase in value, I would point out that the Government of New South Wales, recognising that the building of the Capital at any of these sites will increase the value of land in the vicinity, have already reserved all Crown areas within a radius of fifteen miles of the sites submitted for our consideration. It will thus be recognised that the amendment raises some important considerations. I trust that when we make a final selection we shall show the leader of the Opposition that in our opinion land within the vicinity of the Capital will increase in value, and that we consider it desirable to acquire an area in excess of the minimum prescribed by the Constitution, so that the people may receive the benefit of the unearned increment. We should have some definition of the meaning of the word “ site,” so that there may be no difficulty hereafter. The Orange, Bathurst and Lyndhurst sites are all within a radius of fifty miles, and if the amendment were agreed to, any one of these sites would include the other two. The selection of any one of them would be in conformity with the wishes of all their supporters. If a site in the western district were selected, and some amendment, such as that now before the Committee, were adopted it would be for experts after a most care ul examination of the country, and with due regard to all the necessary conditions associated with the erection of the Capital, to report to us the most suitable site within the particular locality selected. I do not care how we define the term, but if we could succeed in selecting a site with a fair extent of country around it, we should be able to say to the land grabber - “Hands off.” If the land speculators are to reap the benefit of the erection of the Federal Capital - if we could not hope for anything better than the result which the leader of the Opposition has suggested - it would behove us to seriously consider whether we should do anything in this direction. In the belief that something of the kind would be of service, I commend this proposal to the consideration of honorable members. I trust that we shall acquire a large territory, and that the very best site within it will be selected for the Federal Capital, so that the people whose money will be expended upon its establishment may reap any resulting benefit.
– I hope that the honorable member for Richmond will not press his amendment to a division. My desire is to keep silent as far as possible, and to hasten this Bill to a conclusion ; but I would point out to him, as many other honorable members have indicated, that the words “ at or near “ are sufficiently wide to leave a considerable latitude. What the honorable member desires is that when the site has been chosen, it shall be possible to look around, and if a better site can be selected within the chosen area, to adopt is.
-Would it not be better to define some distance 1
– That is the point which I desire to combat. It seems to me that it will be better not to define any specific distance. This House - or the succeeding House - will have the matter entirely under its own control, and it will be perfectly possible to fix the site anywhere within the district selected. The greatest opportunities are left open as to the exact site upon which the Federal city shall ultimately be constructed. I am particularly impressed with the arguments of my honorable friend the member for Gippsland as to the wisdom of allowing ourselves a certain amount of latitude in order that we may be able to deal with the landowners on a better footing, though the Committee is not prepared to adopt his complete proposal at present. I think it will be seen that the words of the Bill as framed, even without the amendment of my honorable friend the member .for Richmond, will enable a large freedom of choice to be exercised, and will prevent the Commonwealth from being victimised by the exorbitant demands of a few individuals. But at this stage it does seem to me to be unwise to press an amendment such as _ that now proposed by the honorable member. The question having been ventilated, and it being made perfectly plain that we are not bound down to a particular portion of any site chosen, but that there will be every opportunity for choice “ at or near “ the selected site, it seems to me wiser to leave the selection of the exact area to a future Parliament. I, therefore, ask the honorable member not to press his amendment to a division.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The honorable member for Bland has interjected that a statement made by rae w,as incorrect. Let me quote what the Commissioners themselves have said. One would imagine that the Commissioners had confined themselves to a small speck in their investigations of sites for the capital city. Here is what they say in their report : -
In pursuing their inquiry the Commissioners have not felt bound to restrict themselves to the actual sites which had previously been suggested as suitable for the establishment of a capital city. These sites had been in every case selected by local bodies, and it was no reflection upon either their patriotism or bona fides to assume that careful examination by experts might possibly disclose other sites in the same district possessing advantages superior to those which local predilection favoured. The Commissioners, therefore, while carefully examining the actual sites locally selected, extended their inspection over practically the whole district within twenty-five or thirty miles of these areas.
– Will the honorable member turn to page 10, and read the third paragraph ?
– I take it that a radius of twenty-five to thirty miles would range from fifty to sixty miles, and if that is not a good stretch of country, I should like to know what is.
– The Commissioners have not reported on the wider areas.
– They have inspected, and they would have reported if there had been anything specially to report upon.
– They have reported on those sites which we have submitted to them.
– After inspecting the surrounding country.
– No contour survey or anything like that has been made ; there has only been a general inspection. “
– They did not need to make a contour survey of fifty or sixty miles, such as is suggested by the honorable member for Richmond. But they have inspected definite areas very carefully, and as the result of their inspection, they have located the sites as indicated in their report. I say therefore, that we should gain nothing by going on another fishing expedition such as is suggested by the amendment. It would mean a further delay of possibly several years. If it has taken the Commissioners twelve months to prepare a report on 64,000 acres, how long would it take them to give us a detailed report on sixty-four radial miles in respect of each site ? We might as well give up all idea of selecting the site and beginning operations upon it for the next ten or fifteen years, if this amendment be agreed to.
– Hear, hear.
– One can well imagine that the honorable member for Kooyong supports this proposition, and also understands why the honorable member for Moira in common with others who are not particularly anxious to have the capital-site determined supports it. We can easily understand why they should seize on any proposal of this kind with the utmost alacrity. But notwithstanding the excellent treatment we have received in Melbourne, we wish to get away and to have “ a local habitation and a name “ of our own. Those of us who are of that opinion, think that sufficient inquiry has already been made to enable us i to come to a decision as to where the Capital is to be located, always allowing a certain margin such as is afforded by the words “ at or near.”
– The Melbourne newspapers have already fixed up the whole matter.
– If the Victorian newspapers are to be believed, Albury is as good as chosen, though we have had evidence to-night that the representatives of “Victoria will not be dominated by the Melbourne press in the discharge of their important duty in regard to the choosing of the Capital site. I hope that the honorable member will withdraw his amendment. I cannot conceive of any friend of New South Wales persisting in such an amendment.
Mr. EWING (Richmond).- To meet the wishes of the Committee, and also because I feel sure that it would be beaten on division. I withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– Honorable members will recollect that the Government promised that an opportunity would be given for the discussion of the merits of the proposed sites. That opportunity is now open to honorable members. If they do not avail themselves of it, the matter must be regarded as finally dealt with until such time as we proceed to the actual balloting.
– Why not report progress ?
– No; let us go on.
– It is bed time.
– Surely honorable members are willing to sacrifice a night’s sleep for once.
– I intend to dealwith the sites alphabetically, though my remarks will not be lengthy. Personally, I should have liked to see. the amendment of the honorable member for Richmond carried, because I think that a good deal of latitude should be allowed in regard to the determination of the actual site of the capital. The Commissioners in their report say-
Your Commissioners have made what they believe to be the best suggestion’s for sites which were possible under the circumstances ; but they wish to recordan emphatic opinion that when the locality in which the Federal Capital is to be placed shall have been selected by the Parliament, extensive contour surveys, covering the suggested site in that locality, and the neighbourhood around such site, should be made before the exact city site is determined.
I submit that by leaving the clause as it stands we shall not give sufficient scope to those who may. be appointed to select the site of the Capital. Coming now to the proposed sites, I take Albury first. I hope that no honorable member will consider it a site to be adopted. If its claim to adoption is that it lies half-way between Sydney and Melbourne, I would point out that Junee or Wagga, and not Albury, is equidistant from Melbourne and Sydney, and that it is generally known that the climate of those places is practically the same as that of Albury, while the water supply to be obtained from the Mumimbidgee is certainly as good as that to be obtained from the Murray. Moreover, although technically the selection of Albury would be a compliance with the letter of the Constitution, it would be a violation of its spirit, because, although Albury lies within the borders of New South Wales, it is so far removed from the governing centre of the State, and is so ill-fitted to be the location of the Federal Capital, that the provision in the Constitution confining the Commonwealth territory to New South Wales would have been considered a valueless one if it had been known that Albury would be the site selected. The next site, taken alphabetically, is Armidale, on the main line between Sydney and Brisbane, to which the objection may be urged that it is too far north of Sydney. If the matter were being discussed fifty or one hundred years hence, Armidale might have a chance of being considered, but I do not think that it is likely to be chosen now, because of its distance from the main centres of population. Bathurst, too, appears to me to be rather far from the direct line of communication between the two principal cities of Australia, though if the amendment of the honorable member for Richmond had been adopted it might have been considered. For many years to come Victoria and New South Wales will be the most populous States of the Union, and most of the Federal representatives will be men residing in either Melbourne or Sydney. The representatives of the other States will, in an)’ case, have to travel so far from home that it will practically be immaterial to them where they have to go. Bombala and Dalgety must, it seems to me, be taken together. The fact that Bombala offers a fine field for extensive military manoeuvres, which appealed to Mr. Oliver, does not present itself to me as a recommendation. The reason seems an extraordinary one to advance in favour of a site.
– It was not the only reason advanced.
- Mr. Oliver considered it asof first importance, and one of his objections to the Lyndhurst site was that it would not afford scope for military manoeuvres such as he apparently desires to see. I can only wonder that a Commissioner should be guided by a reason of that kind in making a selection. Between Bombala and Dalgety a very fine water supply may be secured. The site is, from some points of view,- objectionable, and especially on account of the very poor means of communication at present existing ; but there is some extremely good soil in the district, and” the climate is certainly temperate. It may even be said to be cold. I was surveying within a few miles of one of these sites in 1894’, and on the night of the 26th or 27th January the thermometer fell to four degrees below freezing point. The lowest record known there is from ten to twelve degrees below freezing point, and honorable members who enjoy cold should be satisfied with that. I class Bombala and Dalgety together, and it is rather a misfortune that we should be asked to exercise so limited a discretion in regard to these two places. Without a very . much more extensive knowledge of them, none of us can say which of the two he would prefer if the final choice lay between them. With respect to Lake George, it must be admitted that this site was visited at a singularly inopportune time. The lake is supposed to have been dry on two occasions only, lt is said to have been dry in 1838 or 1839, but I believe it was not then so dry as it is at present. Of course, very few men are to be found who were acquainted with the district at that time. From the levels shown to me by Mr. Gipps, and certified, I believe, by the Works Department of New South Wales, some portions of the Molonglo river are 70 feet above the lake, and a dam could be made on the river from which water could be diverted into the lake.
House adjourned at 10.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 October 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19031007_reps_1_17/>.